1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chairat10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to know from the Prime Minister if the recent changes in the constitution of the Government have modified the policy declared by the late Prime Minister in reference to the Tariff and the proposals for preferential trade with the mother country.
– The changes in the constitution of the Government have made no alteration in that regard. Australia yesterday became aware of a very remarkable and specific proposal by a distinguished Imperial statesman-
– I do not wish to bind the honorable gentleman to a statement in regard to anything that has recently transpired. My question had reference only to the Government’s general line of policy.
-Subject to our necessary adaptation to the intentions and actions of a possible partner in future arrangements, there has been no change of policy.
– In to-day’s newspapers the late Secretary of State for the Colonies is reported to have said -
It was impossible to play fast and loose with our kinsmen, who, in n spirit of brotherhood, and with an unselfish desire to promote the interests of the Empire, made us an offer, believing that mutual concessions would secure an arrangement beneficial to the mother country and the Colonies.
I ask whether Mr. Chamberlain is trying to deceive the British public, and, if not, what offer has been made by the Government?
- Mr. Chamberlain’s statement is, I take it, supported by the action of the Canadian Government in granting preferential trade to the mother country. If he alludes to more than that, he probably had in mind the resolution in favour of the establishment of preferential trade between the Empire and the Colonies, carried at the last Imperial Conference, held in London in 1900. There is also the fiscal action recently taken in South Africa.
– The resolution of the Imperial Conference was not an offer made by the Commonwealth. It was simply an expression of opinion by certain gentlemen then present in London.
– Is our present Tariff to be reduced to comply with a desire for the consolidation of the Empire ?
– Any proposals forserious reductions of duties will come from the leader of the Opposition, not from this side of the Chamber.
– The Prime Minister did not specifically answer my question. Have the Government made an offer to Mr. Chamberlain ?
– No. The leader of the Opposition doubts the applicability of the word “ offer “ to the resolution carried at the Imperial Conference, and, therefore, I tell the honorable member frankly that I know of nothing that could be so construed.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the concessions made by Canada, and offered by the other self-governing Colonies, are, with the exception of the Australian proposal, absolutely unconditional? Is he aware that the Canadian duties have been unconditionally reduced by more than onethird, and that in the case of the Cape and Natal there has been an offer to unconditionally reduce the existing Tariffs in favour pf the mother country, while the only self-governing part of the Empire which does not propose to so reduce its duties is the Commonwealth of Australia?
– And New Zealand.
– I do not think that the remark quite applies to New Zealand.
– I am aware that an unconditional reduction of duties has been made in Canada, but I am also aware that the question of maintaining or increasing that reduction has. been stated by Canadian representatives to be conditional upon certain action by the mother country. If my memory serves me aright, tho South African offer of reduction is conditional.
– No ; it is absolute.
– The right honorable member may be correct in regarding it as unconditional as regards the mother country; but I know that so far as Australia and other self-governing Colonies are concerned, it is strictly conditional upon the granting of similar redactions by them. Unfortunately the Tariff proposed by the Ministry, upon which reductions would havo been possible, was not accepted by Parliament. The existing Tariff is so imperfectly protective that, so far as we can see at the present time, it affords no sufficient scope for reduction.
– At any rate, it is lower than the Canadian Tariff.
– It is considerably lower than the Canadian Tariff. If the duties were as high as those on the Canadian Tariff, we could make concessions.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the propriety of publishing a statement contrasting our Tariff with the reduced Canadian Tariff? I think there will be no difficulty in readily preparing such a statement.
– I shall have pleasure in laying the comparison upon the table, if it has not already been furnished.
– Is the House to understand that there will be no reduction in favour of Great Britain of the protective duties on the Tariff?
– Do honorable members expect the Government to make a full statement of policy on this occasion?
– A few days ago I asked that during question time the fairest opportunity should be given to those who asked and to those who answered questions. I would again suggest that such interruptions as have taken place this morning should not occur.
– It is impossible now to make a sufficient reply to the honorable member’s question, and I suggest that, although the caucus of his party yesterday was of importance, its problems have now received sufficient attention for to-day.
– In publishing the comparisons suggested by the right honorable member for South Australia, will the Prime Minister make the document more complete by adding the original Tariff proposals of the Government?
– The return for which the right honorable member asks has already been published, and is available.
– Are the Government likely, in appointing an officer to act as Patents Commissioner, to go outside the Commonwealth in their selection?
– No consideration has yet been given to the appointment, as the Patents Bill has not been passed ; but the Government will be reluctant to go outside the Commonwealth, because, except in the mother country, we are not likely to obtain elsewhere an expert familiar with the systems which have existed in the States. In the future, expert assistance from abroad may be valuable, but, at the commencement, while the systems of the six States are being brought into line, it will be of advantage to have an officer who has already had experience of them.
– In laying upon the table the -
Report upon the charges against the Electoral Commissioner for Queensland,
I desire to explain that I intended to lay the document upon the table last evening, but omitted to do so.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will, during the recess, obtain full particulars and returns of interchange between the Commonwealth and the South African Colonies, and consider the desirableness of entering into reciprocal Customs arrangements with those Colonies without awaiting the development of any larger proposal for preferential trade within the Empire.
– Yes, with pleasure. It is a very necessary step.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Sydney have applied for and not received their annual leave of absence
– It has been necessary to refer to Sydney for the desired information.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th October, vide page 5939) :
It is hereby determined that the seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Tumut.
Upon which Mr. McDonald had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added:- “ and the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be shall contain an area of not less than one thousand square miles.”
– I am in favour of acquiring a larger area than the 100 square miles mentioned in the Constitution. But the Prime Minister has pointed out that it will be necessary to introduce another Bill to determine the area of the territory to be acquired. If the honorable member does not feel disposed to withdraw his amendment, I suggest that it should be altered, because I think it would be unwise to fix the area of the Federal territory until a complete survey has been made and negotiations have been entered into with the State Government. I am entirely with the honorable member in his desire, but I suggest that his object would be better attained by a provision in the Bill which will have to be introduced at a later stage.
– I strongly support the suggestion made by the Minister. The honorable member for Kennedy will see that anything in the nature of a gift of territory to the Commonwealth, beyond the minimum area named in the Constitution is optional with New South Wales. I am quite aware of the powers of the Commonwealth to buy, or acquire under conditions of payment, but I am speaking of the hope that the people of New South Wales will not bind us strictly to the gift of the specific area mentioned in the Constitution.
– Should we not indicate what we think is reasonable?
– In the ordinary courtesies of life we indicate our desires not by presenting a loaded pistol to the persons from whom we expect the gift, but by way of suggestion, or request, and negotiation. We have the power to enforce our wishes upon conditions of payment, but I suggest to those honorable members who have the object of the amendment at heart, that it would be a mistake to adopt the language of compulsion before any negotiations can take place between the two Governments. It will smooth the path to a satisfactory settlement if we refrain from saying at the beginning - “ You shall give us so much land.” In the ordinary transactions of life we do not begin in that way, but present our requests in a friendly manner. The suggestion of the Minister is that the matter should bedeferred until the Bill which the Government must introduce to deal with general matters connected with the site is before the House. I wish to emphasize that by pointing out that even when that time comes the word “ shall “ should not be used in connexion with a matter for negotiation. I suppose that it will be generally recognised that the State Government are entitled to some consultative share in this matter. Where two parties have to go into consultation, one of them does not commence by using the word “shall.”We might say that we particularly wished this or that, and we might even go so far as to say - “ If you do not comply with our wishes we shall exercise our power to acquire the land by purchase.”
– The word “shall” in this case does not apply to the giver, but to the Commonwealth Government.
– But the word “shall” employed in an Act of Parliament has a compulsory effect.
– Upon the Commonwealth Government.
– But the honorable member should not forget that we are dealing with property that does not belong to us at present. That is the only point which I wish to impress upon honorable members. If we were dealing with Commonwealth property the way would be perfectly clear, but we are treating of something which at present belongs to some other authority, and regarding which it would be better to negotiate in the most friendly way in the hope that we should be met in a similar spirit. I deprecate the use in an Act of
Parliament of language such as that adopted in the amendment. The amendment reads -
And the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be shall contain an area of not less than one thousand square miles.
The use of the word “ granted” and the word “shall “ in conjunction is incongruous.
– The words “ or acquired “ are also used.
– But honorable members must not lose sight of the other side of the question. At present there are two elements to be considered, namely, granting and acquiring. The word “grant” means “gift.” There is no doubt about that. The word “grant” is distinct from the word “acquire,” because the latter may be a compulsory process. I wish to point out the incongruity of referring in the terms of the amendment to territory which belongs to another, and which may be granted to us - which I hope will be granted to us. I suppose we all agree that we would rather have the territory granted to us than be required to pay for it. There is no particular insistence on our part to pay for that which the State Government would be willing to give us.
– Does the right honorable gentleman expect to get the larger area without paying for it ?
– Let the honorable member place himself in the position of the Government of New South Wales. Suppose he were possessed of a property, and were prepared to give it to others for a certain purpose, would he like to be approached in a peremptory manner, and to be told that he must grant a certain area? He would naturally say - “ I think you might have approached me in the first instance by making a request or a suggestion.” It would be much better if we could obtain a voluntary grant of all the territory we require. That would be more pleasant than if we had to pay for it. The very use of the word “ grant “ is inconsistent with the use of the word “shall.” If we were dealing with Federal territory we might say that the capital area should consist of 100,000 square miles, but in dealing with territory belonging to some one else it is premature to use the word “shall.” We should have a stage of negotiation. I think that the Prime Minister will agree with me that, in any case, he must approach the Government of New South Wales in a spirit of negotiation. Surely it would hamper the
Government if we were to put such compulsion upon them as would dispose of the whole matter before they could enter into negotiations with the State. I strongly suggest that the amendment should be withdrawn. I have not the slightest objection to it in principle. I only hope that in this rather delicate matter, in which the State of New South Wales must have a certain voice and discretion, we shall proceed according to the ordinary methods of courtesy.
Mr.McCAY (Corinella). - I think that we shall all agree that whatever may be our rights or powers under the Constitution, an arrogant, or even an unnecessarily strong assertion of them in our dealings with the State of New South Wales would not only be discourteous, but unwise and improper. Whatever is finally arranged the Government of New South Wales should, at least, be given the fullest opportunity to consider the details of our proposals. To that extent I am entirely in accord with the leader of the Opposition. I should, however, like to point out that he has hardly proved the application of the principle which he has laid down to the amendment under discussion. I consider that the amendment in its present form is a direction to the Commonwealth Executive, and not an order to the New South Wales Government.
– But does not the honorable and learned member see that if we adopt the amendment, it will amount to an indication to the Government of New South Wales that they can give us as little as they like, and that we shall pay for the rest ?
– It will be an indication that we do not propose to establish a Federal territory less than 1,000 square miles in extent. If that is the desire of the Parliament, it is quite right that it should be indicated, in order that we may not be at cross purposes and render a great deal of negotiation futile. I understand that the leader of the Opposition says, in effect, that the State of New South Wales must grant to us all the Crown lands within 100 square miles, but may require us to purchase any Crown lands beyond that area. I do not agree with him. I think that the Constitution is capable of two interpretations. I am driven to the conclusion that, whether the Federal territory ultimately embraces 100 or 1,000 square miles, so much of it as is determined to be Federal territory, and consists of Crown lands, must be granted to the Commonwealth.
– We are called upon in this Bill to determine the seat of government, and not the extent of the territory.
– Section 125 of the Constitution provides -
The seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
There is the definition of the territory within which the seat of government is tobe situated. Then the territory is described in the second paragraph as follows : -
Such territory shall contain an area of not less than 100 square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
This paragraph is capable of two interpretations. The first reading, which supports the view of the leader of the Opposition, is -
Such territory shall contain an area of not less than 100 square miles, and such portion of such 100 square miles as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
The other reading is -
Such territory shall contain an area of not less than 100 square miles, and such portion of such territory as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
The construction to be placed upon this portion of the section depends upon the meaning attached to the word “ thereof.” Though at first sight these two interpretations are possible, in accordance with the ordinary canons of construction of the English language, I am forced to the conclusion that the word “ thereof “ refers to the territory.
– Thatextreme reading would enable the Commonwealth to take the whole of the Crown lands in New South Wales.
– I admit that. I am not contending that the matter is not arguable. I think, however, that the word “ thereof “ refers to the territory.
– That would mean that we should have no capital at all.
– Obviously in matters of this kind there are considerations of a debatable character which can be put forward upon either side. At the same time I am forced to the conclusion that the word “ thereof,” in the second paragraph of section 125, refers to the Federal territory and not to the 100 square miles which is the minimum area prescribed by the Constitution. If that contention be correct, whatever Crown lands are within the Federal territory determined upon, must be granted to the Commonwealth by the New South Government without payment. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that that is an additional reason why we should be be studiously considerate to New South Wales in respect of this matter. Personally, I am of opinion that the Federal territory should embrace an area of not less than 100 square miles, but I have nodesire to take any action which might be calculated to provoke trouble. I am sorry that the Minister for Trade and Customs has not suggested some modification which he is prepared to accept.
– We might affirm that it is desirable that the Federal territory should embrace the area indicated in the clause proposed.
– In my opinion an intimation of that character would be sufficient. After all the clause proposed will amount to no more than a direction. If the honorable member for Kennedy can see his way to agree to a modification of it, which will affirm the desirableness of the Commonwealth being granted an area of 1,000 squaremiles, it will be a perfectly proper provision to insert in the Bill, and cannot possibly give offence to New South Wales.
– It is just as well to consider its operative effect upon the Parliament of New South Wales.
– I have already urged that we should be considerate to New South Wales. I should be the last to provoke any friction between this Parliament and the New South Wales Legislature upon a matter of this kind.
– We might, at least, say “Please?”
– If we content ourselves with affirming that it is desirable that the Commonwealth shall be granted an area of not less than 1,000 square miles, it will be sufficient.
– The Government should take the matter up and carry it through.
– If the Committee holds strong views upon the matter, it should indicate them. Although the clause is not so intended, it might easily be interpreted by the New South Wales Parliament to mean “ Stand and deliver “ ; and I know of nothing which is more likely to convert conciliation and good will into an attitude of open hostility than to be called upon to “ bail up “ when there is no need for that attitude.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).If I thought for one moment that, by adopting the amendment, we should be considered to be attempting to dictate terms to the Parliament of New South Wales, I should not dream of voting for it. But I have no such fear. Upon a matter of this sort, which involves the decision of the question whether the Federal territory shall embrace 100 square miles, which is the minimum area prescribed by the Constitution, or the infinitely preferable area which is suggested by the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy, we should speak definitely and without fear. All that is proposed is to declare that the total area, whether by grant or acquisition - whether by gift of the New South Wales Government in discharge of the responsibilities which are cast upon it by the Constitution, or acquired under the exercise of the various powers with which we are clothed by legislation, shall be 1,000 square miles. I venture to think that scarcely second in importance to the fixing of the locality of the capital is the determination of the area of the Federal territory. We should speak with equal force upon the subjects of locality and area. I make bold to say that if we were told that in any district we could not secure 1,000 square miles, we should prefer some other. We have decided that Tumut shall be the future seat of government. We did so, intent upon the purpose that a proper area should be reserved as Federal territory. What is a proper area ? A good many honorable members think that more than 1,000 square miles should be devoted to that purpose. I I confess that I should like a larger area. At the same time, in deciding that it shall embrace not less than 1,000 square miles, and by allowing it to be known that we regard that area as essential and that in its absence there must be a reconsideration of the Federal Capital site question, I think we do well. It seems to me that the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy is couched in the language that is usually found within the four corners of an Act of Parliament. 11 x
Do we regard the area suggested as essential ? If so, let us provide for it. When should we do so ? At the earliest possible moment - to-day. Where? In the Bill which is before us. Now is the time to prevent anything in the nature of a false impression from going abroad. We have selected Tumut as the site for the future seat of government. I did not vote for it in the first instance, but I did upon the last ballot. If we believe that we ought to have a proper area set apart as Federal territory, let us say so. lt seems to me that to affirm that “ it is desirable “ is to introduce verbiage of a character which is altogether out of place within the four corners of an Act. We want the territory, and we should indicate our wishes plainly. We put our desires before the Parliament of New South Wales with every respect, and I have not the slightest fear but that that body will treat us with perfect generosity. New South Wales, I believe, will fully discharge the obligations which she voluntarily assumed at the Premiers’ Conference. To speak plainly and honestly will not give offence. Bather it will be appreciated by all concerned. There . is no ground for objection to the course proposed. The sooner a provision of this sort is placed within the four corners of the Bill, so that there can be no doubt as to what we want, the better it will be for the future of Australia and the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– I am one of those who believe that a provision of this character should accompany any Act relating to the acquisition of the Federal territory. In Tumut we have selected a sitewhich lends itself very readily to the selection of a larger area than is prescribed by the Constitution. I happen 10 know that about ten miles south of Tumut there is very rich volcanic soil at a good elevation, and which extends, with some breaks, almost to the Murray. That being so, I am strongly in favour of that area, which is admirably adapted to closer settlement, being transferred to the Commonwealth. I was sorry to hear the leader of the Opposition indicate the other day that he did not think much was to be gained by securing a large Federal territory. To my mind, it all depends upon the character of that territory. If we obtained a large area of pastoral land, such as was available round Bombala, we should not be likely to achieve much in the way of settlement, or to appropriate much by way of unearned increment. But, in the case of good land, I am of opinion that there is a great deal to be gained by those who come after us if we select a large area of Federal territory. As to whether we should embody in this Bill a provision setting out our desires in a mandatory form, I think there is a good deal to be said in favour of the position which has been taken up by those who urge that we should adopt a conciliatory attitude towards the Government of New South Wales. I do not anticipate that any serious objections will be raised by that Government to a proposal that it should hand over to the Commonwealth the territory south of Tumut, extending as far as the Murray, as a Crown grant.
– Why not take in the whole of the State ?
– What will the loss of a tract of country twenty miles by fifty miles represent to the great State of New South Wales? Does the honorable member think so meanly of his own State as to believe that it cannot exist if a little spot be taken out of it - a spot which, in proportion to its area, is represented by a pin’s point ? Such a territory is equivalent only to a moderate-sized sheep run in the western district of New South Wales. I do not think that the Government of New South Wales would necessarily be opposed to such a proposal any more than I believed there was any truth in the slanders which were circulated by the Sydney press to the effect that the Victorian representatives in this Parliament were attempting to deprive New South Wales of fair treatment in connexion with the selection of the Capital site. Last night’s vote proved that those statements were false, and I believe that, if we approach New South Wales in a fair spirit, the action of its representatives will prove that they have the interests of Australia at heart, and are willing to meet the wishes of the Commonwealth Parliament. At the same time I think we should give expression to. our desires in this Bill. It would not be wise to allow the matter to become merely the subject of negotiation between the two Governments, because the New South Wales authorities might then say - “ We have no means of knowing that this view represents the expressed desire of the Commonwealth
Parliament.” On the other hand, if the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kennedy be carried in a slightly modified form, it will be a definite expression of opinion on the part of this Parliament, and, as such, will carry a great deal of weight with the New South Wales Government.
– I find that great minds frequently run in parallel grooves. Just before I entered the Chamber I took the trouble to scribble out what I thought would be a suitable amendment of the proposition of the honorable member for Kennedy. I intended to show it to him, and to ask his approval of it. I have, however, been anticipated by the honorable member for Bland. When I drafted my amendment I did not contemplate that the Constitution gives us the right to resume practically the whole of the Crown lands of New South Wales. My view of the wisdom of extending the area of Federal territory prescribed by the Constitution depends altogether upon whether we extend it in such a way as to increase the value of that territory. If the territory is cut off from a water frontage, nothing will be likely to enhance its value. I believe that in the first instance, having regard to the way in which we are proceeding, we shall pay more for the land than it is legitimately worth. If we can obtain it at its fair legitimate value, it will be a good asset ;. but I do not share the sanguine view of some of my honorable friends as to a great accretion in value taking place. The greatest accretion in the value of the land that will take place within the next ten or fifteen years will occur as soon as we select the seat of government, and it will be due entirely to prospective speculative purposes.
– The Ministry propose to date back the values.
– There is always a difficult)’ in ascertaining the previous value of land. If we could by Act of Parliament absolutely determine what was the value of the land at a particular date we should have no difficulty in acquiring it at its fair legitimate value ; but we know that in practice it is impossible to do anything of the kind. AVe cannot obtain proof of the value of land at any particular time. Whilst I believe in retaining this power, and in strengthening
I it as far as possible by Act of Parliament, I I feel that we should not lose sight of the fact that we cannot give effect to it as we should like to do.
– We can obtain the land tax valuations.
– They would not absolutely fix the values at any particular time.
– They would give us some criterion.
– If we can secure the alienated land at a fair value, and obtain the Crown land - which, I presume, is not very valuable, for otherwise it would have been taken up before - as a free grant, the territory will become a good asset. If we buy the land at its fair value we shall be able from the commencement to get interest on the purchase money. When a private individual acquires a property he expects to obtain interest on the purchase money from the outset, and usually has no trouble in doing so. The Only way in which we can enhance the prospective value of the territory is by securing for it a good river frontage.
– To what river?
– The only river which I know of as being available for this purpose is the Murray. The amendment which I would suggest is as follows : -
That witha view to the acquisition of one thousand square miles of territory at the proposed seat of government, it is desirable that the Commonwealth Government should ascertain from the Government of New South Wales the terms and conditions on which that State will surrender the whole of the Crown lands within such area ; the territory to be extended in such a way as to include at least twenty miles frontage to the River Murray.
We should thus secure an area fifty miles by twenty in extent - an area which the honorable member for Bland, without any knowledge of my proposal, has just suggested that we should acquire.
– Surely the honorable member would not place that provision in an Act of Parliament?
– I do not care how it is modified as long as the provision actually adopted expresses the purport of my proposal. I should not be prepared to allow a loophole in the Bill that would deprive us of this privilege, or leave the question open to subsequent wrangling. No doubt my suggestion might be embodied in more terse terms. I wish to impress upon honorable members the fact that a river frontage greatly enhances the value of any property.
– But the river would be fifty miles away.
– Would it increase the value of land fifty miles away ?
– Yes ; if the holders of that land had access to the river frontage. We should give the holders of the land different kinds of leases.
– The proposal is absurd.
– Everything is absurd in the view of my honorable friends of the Opposition which they do not themselves propose. From the very outset of the discussion of the Capital site question honorable members from New South Wales have made it clear that they do not care a rush for the money of the people of the Commonwealth. They care only for the interest of one State. Such a feeling is absolutely unworthy of any representative.
– Is the honorable member aware that he is replying to an interjection not by a representative of New South Wales but by a representative of Tasmania.
– It came from a very suspicious quarter.
Mr.Reid. - That is a most unfair remark to make.
– If the leader of the Opposition had been present to hear some of the recent debates in this House he would not express such an opinion. This feeling on the part of honorable members from New South Wales has been made as clear as any sentiment could be made by the debates of the last few weeks.
– No sane man would say that land fifty miles away from a river was enhanced in value because of the river frontage.
– I do not mean to suggest that the river frontage would enhance the value of the land at the very back of the territory; but my honorable friend, as aland-owner, must know that a river frontage to a territory enhances its value for a considerable distance back.
– But we are not going to lease this land to one man. We shall lease it to different individuals ; the men who acquire the land with the river frontage will obtain the benefit.
– We shall be able to lease it in many ways. We have not yet determined the manner in which it shall be used.
– I do not dispute the statement that the river frontage would enhance the value of the territory ; but it would not enhance the land far back from the Murray.
– We must deal with the territory as a whole. Will not my honorable friend admit that the value of the whole territory would be largely enhanced by the acquirement of a river f rontage ?
– I am speaking not to the honorable and learned member, but to an honorable member who understands the matter.
– I know something about it.
– If the whole area were leased to one man, the river frontage would undoubtedly enhance its value.
– In this case the one man is the people of the Commonwealth. The land will be owned by one proprietary.
– I do not object to the honorable member’s proposal, but I say that the river frontage would not enhance the value of the land many miles away from it.
– Order ! I call upon the honorable member for Tasmania to allow the honorable member for Gippsland to proceed without interruption.
– Every practical man will bear out my statement that the value of the whole territory would be largely enhanced by an extensive frontage to a splendid navigable river, along which a greatdeal of excellent land is to be found.
– The river is not navigable at any point at which the territory would touch it.
– It is navigable for a considerable distance.
– It cannot be navigated ten miles above Albury.
– Even if the river were not navigable, the fact that the land had a permanent water frontage would make it valuable. Would it not be an advantage to an owner of stock leasing land in a distant part of the territory to be able, in seasons of drought, to send his sheep and cattle to a place at which he might obtain an abundant supply of water?
– But, no matter what we do, the river will still be where it is.
– If the river.frontage does not belong to the owners of the territory, the leaseholders will not be allowed to trespass upon it. To acquire a large extent of land in the interior, possessing no attractive feature and having no special advantage such as a river frontage would give it, would be to play ducks and drakes with the people’s money. If we can so acquire the land that its value may be increased by giving it a river frontage, I believe it will be a great asset. Some of my honorable friends appear to imagine that a great city is at once going to spring up in the Federal territory, and that it will largely enhance the value of the land. I am not so sanguine in that regard. For the next ten or fifteen years the seat of government will, I think, be something like those figures or drawings which we sometimes see in Punch - the figures of men with enormous heads and little pigmy bodies and extremities. For some years we shall have enormous Government buildings there surrounded by a village containing a population of 300 or 400 people. Doubtless we shall be able to use a good deal of the land for agricultural purposes, but the bulk of it will have to be let for grazing, and the value of land devoted to grazing purposes is not enhanced by its proximity to a village or town. I believe that, on the whole, it would be an advantage to extend the territory if we could improve its character and enhance its value by giving it an extensive river frontage such as I have indicated.
– I regret that the honorable member for Gippsland has allowed his usually calm, philosophical temper to be disturbed by a chance remark made by an honorable member on this side of the House.
– I never speak on this subject without being overwhelmed with interjections by honorable members of the Opposition.
– That statement is scarcely correct. I invariably listen with the greatest pleasure to anything which the honorablegentleman has to say: but when he goes so far as to accuse the representatives of New South Wales of opposing every proposition to regulate the expenditure of money on the Federal Capital in accordance with a patriotic view, he is entirely in error. His statement is contradicted by the nature of the discussion of this question. It is a matter for congratulation that the question was settled this morning, as far as we could settle it, with the most extreme honesty of purpose. Theballot shows that a clear-cut, honest vote was given, and the honorable member is not entitled to say that there is anything like’ opposition on the part of the representatives of New South Wales to a desire to deal with this matter on broad national lines. I am fully with the honorable member for Gippsland as to the desirableness of extending the territory. It would be eminently advantageous to acquire an area up to 1,000 square miles in extent ; but I differ from the honorable member and from the mover of the amendment as to the wisdom of inserting in the Bill the proposal now before the Committee. In my opinion, there are very grave constitutional obstacles in the way of dealing with it in the form proposed. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Gippsland certainly would not be embodied by a sane Legislature in any Bill. It is tantamount to an abstract resolution in favour of an extension of territory, and I fail to see how any modification of it could be inserted in the measure. Tone it down as we might, any provision of this kind that was placed in the Bill would bo mandatory. Any provision, having for its object the signification of a certain desire on the part of the Parliament, if placed in the Bill would be tantamount to a demand, not only upon the Government, but upon the people of the various States. While we have almost unanimously expressed, not only in the discussion this morning, but on many other occasions, our opinion that the territory of the Commonwealth should be much larger than the minimum required by the Constitution, it would be impolitic to place in the Bill a provision demanding from New South Wales a grant of 1,000 square miles. Furthermore, I doubt our power te enforce such a demand. I wish to refer honorable members to section 123 of the Constitution, which provides that -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may, with the consent of the Parliament of a State, and the approval of the majority of the electors of the State voting upon the question, increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of the State, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed on, and may, with the like consent, make provision respecting the effect and operation of any increase or diminution or alteration of territory in relation to any State affected.
Although, no doubt, a subsequent section provides for legislation by this Parliament in regard to the Federal territory, I think that if we place in the Bill a provision demanding ‘from New South Wales the grant of a larger area than that mentioned in section 125, it may involve us in constitutional difficulties, because any elector of the State can then move the High Court to declare the measure to that extent at least ultra vires of the Constitution.
– The two powers given in the Constitution are not inconsistent, and they may, therefore, both be exercised.
– It seems to me that a demand upon the State of New South Wales for 1,000 square “ miles would be inconsistent with the provisions of section 123 of the Constitution. Moreover, it is not desirable to place any provision in the Bill which may create friction between the Commonwealth and New South Wales. The utmost facilities have been given by the Government and Parliament of that State for the selection of the Capital site. The Government have reserved from sale the Crown lands in the nine proposed sites, and have intimated their willingness _ to co-operate with us in regard to the acquisition of suitable territory by the Commonwealth. I fully believe that all the territory required will be given by New South Wales, and that the Commonwealth will thus be able to secure the increment in value created by its expenditure upon the Capital. I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that it is desirable that the Commonwealth territory should run right down to the Murray, though I do not attach as much value as he does to having a frontage to a river, because, as has been pointed out, nothing that we can do in acquiring a frontage to it will deepen or broaden, or in any way improve it, or give to the people any advantage in regard to it that they have not at present.
– It will give access to it.
– I admit that if we take the Commonwealth territory down to the Murray it will be so much better for the terrioty. When the honorable member for Kennedy spoke to me on this subject, I told him that, although I would support any motion affirming the desirability of obtaining an extensive area, I doubted the wisdom of making a demand upon the State of New South Wales. Although the land near the site which has been chosen is not of much value in its present state, it must be remembered that New South Wales, in transferring it to the Commonwealth, will be parting with a taxable area from which she obtains a certain amount of revenue, and that the district in question is one which no doubt will ultimately become one of the finest tourist resorts in Australia.
– But the tourists will have to pass through New South Wales to get there, so that that State will have the benefit of them.
– I should like the Commonwealth to reserve a large part of its territory as a park for the benefit of the whole nation.
– If the present attitude of the representatives of New South Wales towards this proposal is to be taken as an indication of what will happen if we leave the granting of a larger territory than 100 square miles optional to the people of that State, it seems to me that we shall be confined to that area. New South Wales has a territory of nearly 200,000 square miles, and yet there is a howl from its representatives when we ask for the surrender to the Commonwealth of only 1,000 square miles. Our friends from New South Wales argue as though we were proposing to put the land in question on a steamer, and carry it away to America or England. It will still remain in New South Wales. In 1872, when the Italian army took Rome, the merchants of Chicago raised £100,000,000 in less than two hours to buy up 10,000 square miles in the State of Illinois and establish the Vatican there, because it was known that such an arrangement would bring thousands “of people to America who would not. under other circumstances go there. New South Wales will get millions of money from the people of Australia through having the Federal Capital established in its territory. I have had on the business-paper for the last two years a notice of motion setting forth the terms on which I think it desirable that the Commonwealth territory should be acquired, and I propose to read it to honorable members. It is as follows : -
That in the opinion of this House it is desirable in the interests of human progress-
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to a matter set down upon the notice-paper for subsequent consideration 1
– The honorable member will not be in order in anticipating discussion upon such a matter.
– Then I will give the gist of my proposal without referring to the notice-paper. It is that the Commonwealth should secure a territory of not less than 1,000 square miles in a good fertile part of New South Wales. I shall divide the Committee upon this question, if only one man votes for the amendment, and that man is myself.
– If the honorable member is acknowledged as the originator of the proposal, why need he trouble himself further about it 1
– It does not matter tome who gets the credit for it. The members of the party to which I belong do not fight as disintegrated units, but as a collective body ; we are all one. If we leave this, matter to the people of New South Wales. they will probably give us no more than 1 00 square miles, and we shall therefore be required to pay exorbitant prices for any additional area that we may require. This, is too important a matter to the democrats of Australia to be left to the decision of the people of New South Wales. AVe must consider the interests of the 4,000,000 inhabitants of the Commonwealth. I ask the honorable member for Kennedy not toinsert in his amendment the word “ desirable.” In the South Australian House of Assembly I have by big majoritiescarried resolutions affirming that certain things were desirable, but the right honorable member for South Australia, who was Premier there at the time, gave no effect to them. Such resolutions are not worth the paper they are printed upon. To be of use this provision must be mandatory. I am afraid, however, that the matter will be decided against the democrats, although I do not blame the honorable member for Bland for trying tobe conciliatory.
– I do not anticipate any constitutional difficulties in the adoption of the proposed amendment, nor do I think it will cause friction with the State of New South Wales. I anticipate that now that the site has been virtually chosen, the State Parliament will cooperate with this Parliament in facilitating the final determination of the question, and that it is not only desirable, but extremely convenient, that we, as the grantees, shall indicate what area of territory we require. To do so will, I think, save time in the subsequent procedure.
It is most desirable that the Parliament of New South Wales should make a grant, but I do not wish to bring any unnecessary pressure to bear upon them. If they did not not grant the territory required, it would be in our power to acquire the necessary area. I hope, however, that we shall treat the right of acquisition as a reserve power, and not bring it into operation by any sovereign act until all conciliatory methods have been exhausted. The amendment does not contemplate an act of acquisition, but merely indicates that when the grant by the Parliament of New South Wales, or the acquisition by Bill of the Federal territory is considered, the area must not be less than 1,000 square miles, and that it will be of no use to offer anything less. A resolution might be couched in different language; but, as the amendment is intended to be embodied in an Act of Parliament, I do not see how it could be fairly or reasonably altered. I support the amendment, not only because I believe that the Federal territory should embrace not less than 1,000 square miles, but because I think that an extended area would present special advantages in connexion with the Tumut site. I voted in favour of the adoption of that site for two reasons. First of all, because of its proximity to a main line of railway - I supported Albury as possessing the greatest advantage in that respect, but I found that it was hopeless to secure the adoption of that site - and secondly, because I believed that the Tumut site could be extended southwards to the River Murray. I believe that alarge Federal territory in that district could be made a very important centre in the years to come, and that, if it extended to the Murray, a great impulse would be given to legislation relating to the navigation of that stream, and to the construction of works for the storage of waters in the higher reaches of the river. I see looming ahead of us a splendid Federal policy for the development of that portion of Australia. I support the amendment in order to facilitate matters, and to assist the Government and the Parliament of New South Wales in coming to a conclusion. If they wish to expedite this great enterprise, they will take advantage of the information contained in the amendment.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella) - I move
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the word “shall,” second occurring, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word ‘'’should.”
By making this alteration we shall adopt more conciliatory language without weakening the effect of the original proposal.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to the words “ at or near.” I take it that the words mean “in close proximity to,” or “in the vicinity of,” and that those who wish to have the Capital site situated on a plateau, more elevated than Lacmalac, and not so much enclosed by hills, might be thwarted, unless it were permissible to place the Capital some miles away from that locality. It was never intended that we should bind ourselves to any particular spot.
– I ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether the suggestion of the Minister has anything to do with the motion before the Chair.
– The question before the Chair is the omission of the word “ shall,” and the substitution therefor of the word “ should.”
– I understood that the whole Bill was recommitted. I shall withdraw my amendment if necessary to enable the Minister for Home Affairs to effect his desire.
– The honorable member is mistaken ; the Bill has not been recommitted.
– The Prime Minister stated last night that the Government proposed to pass the clause, and that they should then recommit the Bill.
– The honorable member is quite correct. I said that, and proposed it ; but it was pointed out that if we did not pass the clause there would be no necessity for a recommittal. Consequently we did not pass the clause, but reported progress, afterwards inserted the word “ Tumut,’’ and then went straight on. If my honorable colleague wishes to propose an amendment relating to the words “ at or near “ he can do so, either by asking for a recommittal, or by adopting, perhaps, the better course of adding a proviso to define the expression “ at or near “ in the way he considers desirable.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I cannot accept the amendment of the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I take it that we either want an area of 1,000 square miles, or we do not. If we want it, let us say so. It has been suggested that the amendment should be withdrawn, and that the Government should regard the opinions which have been expressed by honorable members as an instruction to them in their negotiations with the New South Wales authorities. But in that case they would be in exactly the same position as if the amendment were retained, because they would have to meet the New South Wales Government on the clear understanding that no less an area than 1,000 square miles would be acceptable. Under these circumstances I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that by adopting the amendment we shall not only assist the Executive, but also the Government of New South Wales, in arriving at a decision. We shall tell them distinctly that we do not think it wise to spend money in the establishment of a Capital within a territory of less area than that stated. There has been too much shuffling and quibbling in connexion with the whole management of affairs relating to the Capital site. The Government have not acted so straightforwardly as we might have expected. In the instructions given to the Capital Sites Commission, no mention was made of the area that would probably be required for the Federal territory. The Commissioners restricted their inquiries to sites embracing an area of only 4,000 acres. Therefore, we were left practically in the dark as to the territory available beyond the 4,000 acres required for the erection of the buildings at the Capital. Under these circumstances it is imperative that we should clearly indicate what we require. It was never intended to put any affront on New South Wales, and no reasonable person could construe the action as being equivalent to holding a loaded pistol at the head of the New South Wales Government, or adopting any offensive attitude towards it. It might as well be urged that, in deciding upon the locality in which the Federal Capital shall be situated, we are holding a loaded pistol at the head of the people of New South Wales.
– No ; because they offered us a choice from the whole of the sites.
– That does not affect the question in any way. I know that a number of honorable members do not share my opinion that the Federal territory should comprise an area of not less than 1,000 square miles. They believe that a much smaller area would be sufficient. But in years to come the Commonwealth Government will be called upon to spend an enormous sum of money upon the Federal Capital. That expenditure must necessarily enhance the value of the lands surrounding it, and 1 claim that the Commonwealth itself should appropriate that unearned increment by leasing the lands which are comprised in a reasonable area of Federal territory. I should not be acting honestly to the people in this matter if I did not declare exactly what I want.
Mr. REID(East Sydney).- I think it is about time that the Prime Minister indicated the position which the Government propose to adopt in regard to this proposal.
– I have already spoken.
– I was not aware of that. This is not a party question. We know that the Government have to conduct certain negotiations relating to the acquisition of the Federal territory. To some extent, therefore, they must approach the State which happens to possess the land. Since that is so, I should like to know whether the Government - the members of which, in matters of this kind, have had long experience in connexion with other Governments - do not feel that we should endeavour, as far as we can, to follow the ordinary courtesies of even intercolonial intercourse in affairs of State? Of course, there are rough and ready methods which might be adopted, but which, if adopted as between two nations, might plunge them into a serious difficulty.We must follow the ordinary groove of diplomatic courtesy in dealing with another power which owns this land. I do not suppose that the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, will claim that he possesses a larger knowledge of the people of New South Wales than I do, and I can assure him that the feeling of that State in reference to the selection which was made last night will certainly not be one of rejoicing or satisfaction, to put the matter in the mildest possible way. At the same time, it seems to me perfectly clear that the preponderance of the impartial opinion of this Committee pointed clearly to Tumut.We must recognise that. The New SouthWales representatives must recognise the right of the representatives from other States to exercise their choice in a broad spirit and without reference . to our views. I shall never complain of the course which the Committee took in reference to the selection of the site, although it is not the site which I prefer. I wish to point out to honorable members - and I am assuming, as I hare a right to do, that we are nob anxious to throw combustible’ elements into the problem, that we are not in that mood and have no such design - that we really must remember that the question of the exact area to be acquired is one upon which there should be friendly negotiations with the State which possesses the land. It is a novel method for Parliament to indicate its wishes in connexion with an approaching negotiation between two parliamentary authorities - to express its opinion of what is desirable in the language of an Act of Parliament. That is confusing the functions of Parliament in passing laws with the functions of the Legislature in altogether another direction. It is unprecedented, I believe. I do not say that fact shows that it is wrong, but the point is certainly worthy of consideration. Where it is not absolutely necessary to establish a basis for negotiation, I do not think we can point to an Act which expresses the opinion that a certain thing is desirable in connexion with negotiations which are about to begin between two friendly Governments. I would suggest that it is quite possible for this Committee - as it has pretty well done already - to impress upon the Government its views as to the area of .Federal territory which should be acquired without adopting what, I think, is a clumsy and unfortunate method of expressing them. I admit that the change which has been suggested in the amendment removes very considerably the objection which I entertained to the original proposal. But the very fact that that change is thought’ to be necessary condemns the suggestion that we should use such an expression in an Act of Parliament as that “ it is desirable “ that something should be done. The necessities which have driven honorable members to such a suggestion point more forcibly than ever to the unwisdom of expressing such opinions in a statute of this sort. This Bill is simply confined to the question of determining the site of the Federal Capital. It has nothing whatever to do with the size of the Federal territory. That is another matter, which is quite independent. I admit that if we were in a position to put our hands upon this land without taking the trouble to ask the grantor how much he was willing to let us take, my remarks would not have much force. The force would be on the other side, but it would be brute force. The fact is that we do not want to put the iron fist forward until the gentle glove of negotiation proves unworkable. As ohe who may be allowed to express an opinion as to the state of things in New South Wales, I assure honorable members that we do claim that in a matter which intimately affects our territory, Parliament should follow the usual method of negotiation, and should not speak by means of a statute. If we wish to express an opinion which shall guide the Government as negotiators, it seems to me that to pass a Commonwealth Act is an extraordinary way of accomplishing our purpose. The amendment proposed will very considerably remove the objections which I had previously entertained to the honorable member’s proposal. Upon the other hand, it seems to me to point more clearly than ever to the unwisdom of incorporating any such expression of opinion in a statute. I quite recognise the possibilities which lie behind the proposals that are now being made. They will not fail to excite the anxious consideration of the New South Wales Government. I do express my earnest hope that there is no latent desire - I will not say design - to remove the site which we determined upon so solemnly last night. I am sure that no honorable member of this Committee which is proceeding to -ask New South Wales to grant us a Federal territory on the faith of the future seat of government being located “at or near” Tumut, entertains any latent desire that, after the territory has been acquired, the capital shall be removed from the site which has been selected. Yet one of the Ministers of this Government, which is about to negotiate withNew South Wales on the faith of the selection of Tumut - and unsatisfactory as it may be to New South Wales, that site was very properly chosen, as I said before, by the Committee - simultaneously with the submission of a proposal to extend the Federal territory to the banks of the Murray within twenty or thirty miles of Albury- a site which was_ rejected by an overwhelming majority last night–
– The right honorable mem ber is wrong as to the distance.
– I have no personal knowledge of it, but at any rate it is a very short distance. The proposal to extend the territory to the banks of the Murray is one upon which I express no opinion at present. I think these are matters to be threshed out by the two Governments in a most friendly way. But simultaneously with that proposal, we have the Minister inviting this Committee to break loose from the choice at which it arrived last night, by omitting from the clause the words “at or near.” For what purpose? In order that the capital may not be “ at or near “ Tumut.
– Order. I ruled the Minister out of order upon that point.
– I am obliged to you, sir, for having allowed me to say so much. This matter must be considered by the New South Wales Government, as well as by ourselves, and, with an earnest desire to facilitate the work of the Ministry - because it is one of some importance - I ask honorable members not to take the part of negotiators themselves. If the two Parliaments passed separate Acts with a view to settle these negotiations, they would get into an extraordinary tangle in no time. It would be an impossible task to undertake. Negotiations, where the rights of independent powers are concerned, can never proceed by Act of Parliament. Moreover, such a statute would not only bind ourselves, but, being a Commonwealth Act, would practically exercise power in the case of New South Wales.
Mr.REID. - Yes ; because we have the power behind us - the power of acquiring the territory. The fact that we possess that power suggests that if we wish to obtain the land by friendly arrangement - in the way of gift - we had better adopt the methods of negotiation and conciliation. If the Committee wish to take the other course, let us pass an Act which shall plainly declare “ This is what we want, and this is what we intend to have.”
– In connexion with the Post and Telegraph Act we distinctly told the Government that black labour was not to be employed upon mail steamers which are subsidized by the Commonwealth.
– But upon the question of postal arrangements the Commonwealth was the supreme lawgiver. May I suggest to my honorable friend that this is not yet a matter of our own particular business ? When we have acquired the territory it will be so. But whilst the land remains in the possession of New South Wales, and the Ministry are about to approach the Government of that State with a view to arrive at a friendly settlement of the matter, it is better to preserve the spirit of conciliation. I think that an Act of Parliament is a clumsy way of expressing the opinion of the Houses, and I suggest that the object of the honorable member for Kennedy would be attained if the Prime Minister would say that, in view of the discussion which has taken place, he regards it as the desire of the Committee that an area approaching 1,000 square miles shall be embraced in the Federal territory. The adoption of such a course would be infinitely preferable to embodying this provision in an Act of Parliament.. Are the Government in favour of acquiring, if possible, an area of the extent named ?
– That removes one difficulty. The Government will endeavour to obtain this increased area, and after this discussion I think they may fairly take it to be the wish of the Committee that it should if possible be secured. I ask my honorable friends who have had experience in managing Governments, whether in these circumstances, and since negotiations of some kind are inevitable, the Committee should not rest satisfied with the expression of opinion which has been given ? My desire is that no complications should occur in carrying out the decision which has been arrived at. I have accepted it as final, and my wish is that it should be carried out in the most agreeable and friendly way. If I might be allowed to express the New South Wales view of the situation, I would strongly urge the Committee to adopt the more conciliatory course to which I have referred.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - In this matter I occupy a dual position. In regard to the choice of the site, and the conditions relating to it, Ministers simply speak and act as individual members of the House. One of my right honorable colleagues, for example, has just indicated that he intends to move an amendment, and of that proposal his colleagues will form their own opinions.
– It will be an amendment of a Bill which has been approved by the Cabinet.
– The honorable member is mistaken. It seems to me that a certain amount of confusion is being ! imported into this debate by the use of the words “ seat of government “ and ‘ “ territory,” as if they were “inter- . changeable, and by considering proposals intended only to affect the territory as if they were designed to affect the site. ! Speaking as a member of a Ministry which 1 has already been charged with communica-I tions with the Government of New South I Wales in this connexion, and which, for the present at all events, is likely to be charged with similar negotiations, I think that the question has to be looked at from another stand-point. I was viewing it from that stand-point when I spoke last night, and when, by way of interjection, I indicated this morning my desire that the honorable member for Kennedy should not persist in asking the Committee to adopt the amendment proposed by him. It is only fair that I should say frankly, and with the utmost publicity, that in all the communications which have been exchanged by us with the Government of New South Wales there has been exhibited on the part of the Government and Parliament ‘ of that State the most generous and even anxious desire to meet our wishes. We have not to complain of a single discourtesy, delay, or evasion on their part. It is only fair to admit that in the selection of the Capital site the ‘State Government have lent us every assistance at every stage of these proposals. We have now to enter not upon fresh negotiations, but to continue those which have already taken place between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales. It is not as if we were making new proposals of whose reception we might be doubtful. I feel satisfied that any proposal made by this House will be met by the Government of New South Wales in the spirit which has always marked their dealings with us, and that we shall have their ready assistance in this matter. I invite honorable members to ask themselves what position we should occupy if section 125 of the Constitution did not exist, and how we should have to approach the Government of New South Wales if this House, after deliberately considering the whole matter, had come to the conclusion that the Capital site ought to be in that State. Some reference has been made to the powers conferred upon us by section 125 of the Constitution. To those, however, I do not propose to allude. Granting the utmost claims as to those powers that have been made under the strongest interpretation of that section, I venture to say that the more desirable course for us to adopt in this regard is to approach the State Government as if no such power were in existence. We should approach it as if we were treating with a State which had the right, if it chose, to decline to meet our views. Assuming that our constitutional power exists, everyone will admit that it should be exercised only in the last resort, and only after we have exhausted every other means to arrive at an arrangement with the State. All our experience tends to show that a reasonable arrangement can be arrived at. When the subject has to be approached it will necessitate inquiries which, as the honorable member for Kennedy has said, might have been made before, in regard to large areas of land around the site. We purposely omitted from our instructions to the Commissioners a direction to make these inquiries in regard to all the sites, because it was thought that investigations of so extensive a character would tend to still ‘further delay the consideration of any proposal by the House.
– It took the Government four months to appoint the Commission.
– And to prepare all the details of the inquiry. Even a “ delay of four months in regard to a matter of this importance is not greater than its consideration requires. I am making this statement, not for the purpose of explaining anything that has been done, but to show that we now approach an important stage when, so to speak, our task has already been half completed. We have been met, so far, in a most generous way in every case, and there is no reason to assume that there will be any alteration in the attitude adopted towards us by the State. It seems to be desirable therefore, that we should approach the Government of New South Wales as if no Constitutional power existed to enforce anything in this direction. We should simply ask them to meet us as they have already met us.
– How do the Government propose to ascertain a suitable area ?
– I shall explain that point. In this Bill we are dealing only with the seat of government. I expressly excluded from the measure all reference to territory, because I felt that it would involve two sets of questions. One of these, which might be termed permanent, was how we should acquire an area sufficiently large to cover as far as possible what might be the unearned increment to be gained from the establishment of the Capital on a particular site. Then there was what I might call a temporary set of considerations - that is to say, those dependent upon the site actually chosen. If, for example, Bombala had been selected, the next question to decide would have been whether a port should be secured in the neighbourhood, and that would have affected the determination of the particular area to be acquired. A similar question might have arisen i n regard to Lake George. It was consequently felt that the area to be acquired might vary according to the position of the site selected. Tumut has now been chosen as the site “ at or near” which the seat of government shall be ; but we have not sought to settle what territory should surround the seat of government, nor in which direction it should extend until we were sure it would be chosen.
– The amendment does not declare the direction in which the territory shall extend.
-Quite true. What the Government would have done, apart from any questions of constitutional power or instructions from the House, would have been to ask the New South Wales Government what area of land they were prepared to grant “ at or near “ Tumut, so far as it might be in their power to grant it. Then the State Government would have indicated the area whichit was prepared to hand over, and I venture to say that, whatever its extent, the smallest territory which this Government would have desired would have been an area of at least 1,000 square miles. When that area is put into measurements - thirty by thirty - it will be seen that it is none too large a territory to be acquired in order to include the distance within which the unearned increment would be likely to operate from any given centre. We should then have had a reply from the State Government, “ We are prepared to grant you such and such an area which includes so much Crown land.”
– I do not think there would be any objection to the Commonwealth Government indicating in the first place what area it would like to acquire.
– Not at all. But I do not wish to pin ourselves down, even to the area named in the amendment, until we have had a survey made. Everything will depend upon the examination of the land “ at or near “ Tumut. Of course the question of water supply has been partially dealt with, but much remains to be done–
– What is the meaning of the words “ at or near “?
– I told the House last night that I did not think it was possible to express in any number of yards or miles what “ at or near “ meant ; that everything depended on the particular character of the site chosen, and that it could not matter much yet because the site could not be chosen without the approval of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I do not attach any strict limitation to the words “at or near.” The clause simply directs that the site of the seat of government shall be “ at or near “ Tumut. Nothing can be done to fix the precise spot at which the Capital shall be established until another measure has been introduced and has received the assent of this Parliament. That measure will show on a plan the precise points at which the territory shall start and end ; and the exact spot in the territory - probably the centre - where the Capital shall be erected. This House will have it in its absolute power, not only to control the extent of the area, but to alter or extend it.
-Would not the Government desire to obtain this information before asking for a definite site ? Unless they do so they will be working in the dark.
– We have a direction that the seat of government shall be “at or near “ Tumut, and I take it that our duty will be to at once direct a survey of the district. We shall forward our request to the State Government, with the knowledge that their own examination, with a view to determine the area of Crown land available, will occupy the time during which we shall be engaged in making a general contour survey of the country. Exactly where that territory shall be and the size of itwill be absolutely subject to the free will of the Federal Parliament.
– Would the honorable and learned gentleman mind expressly declaring that the approval of the site is subject to the approval by the Parliament of the territory ?
– No ; that stands as a matter of course.
– The Minister would not object to insert a provision to that effect.
– No. There is no possibility, even if it were desired, of any private or executive bargain between this Government or its successors, and any Parliament of New South Wales, as to the site of the territory. There can be no site or territory forced on the Commonwealth by any one, even if a site or territory can be refused to us, which is very doubtful. All that will have, to be settled hereafter in this House. When the future Parliament looks at the proposal made, it may offer to push a boundary in a certain direction or to shift the site. It may adopt any proposal denning with precision the particular district, place, and spot preferred, together with every other matter with which it chooses to deal. If the present amendment is to be taken as an instruction to the Government, I can assure the honorable member for Kennedy that it is .not needed. Even without such a direction we should have followed the course proposed, but the knowledge that it meets with the approval of this House will make us doubly careful. All that this can accomplish has already been accomplished. So far as the Government of New South Wales are concerned, what will this provision secure? It will not, and ought not to coerce that Government into expressing any opinion favorable or unfavorable, or making any offer which it does not think fit to make. It will not compel them to offer a greater area than they intended to offer. On the contrary, it might be taken to be a preliminary proceeding that showed an unjustifiable suspicion of the State Government, and some expectation that its members were about to alter the character of their dealings with the Commonwealth. That I should be-very loath to see even insinuated. This Government, acting as the executive agents of Parliament, will be freer, and can approach the Government of New South Wales in a more satisfactory manner, if the honorable member will accept the undertaking which I am prepared to give, that in our negotiations we will have in view an area not less than that which he has named.
– Will the honorable gentleman agree not to take a smaller area?
– The Government cannot take either a smaller or a larger area without the consent of Parliament. All we ask the House to do, in passing this Bill, is to declare as the basis for our negotiations that the seat of the Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Tumut, so that the necessary contour surveys may be made to enable us to propose the exact site of the city, and the area round it which we think should be transferred to the Commonwealth. We shall be in a better position to deal with the Government of New South Wales if the amendment is not carried than if it is inserted in the Bill. Every honorable member appears to approve of its intention ; but as nothing can be done in the matter until a subsequent measure is passed, I trust that the honorable member will rest assured that he has already accomplished as much as it is possible to accomplish at this stage, and will not place us in a position which might make it appear that we expect that the Government of New South Wales, which has not yet refused us anything, will deal differently with us when we come to practical business. Having obtained that assurance, I hope that the honorable member will not insist upon an amendment, the adoption of which might be a cause of delay, or create friction between this Government and that of New South Wales, against which we have no possible ground of complaint. Whatever shape the Bill may take, the Government should be free to approach the Government of New South Wa es, not as an agent authorized only to make a certain bargain, but able to make propositions which we think will be accepted by Parliament, and which can have no binding force until so accepted and confirmed by legislation.
– As a suggestion has been made in regard to the possibility of an attempt to go back upon the decision arrived at last night, I wish to assure the Committee that nothing is further from my mind. All I wish to do is to make the selection more agreeable to my ideas of what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth. I am perfectly satisfied to accept the site which has been chosen, subject to one or two conditions which I think recommend themselves to honorable members. The conclusion to which we came yesterday was not that under all circumstances, and irrespective of the area we can obtain, Tumut shall be the site of the seat of Government. We chose Tumut subject to considerations which were placed before us, or presented themselves to our minds, chief among which were that the territory shall be suitable as regards both position and area. The suggestion of the honorable member for Kennedy strongly recommends itself to me, and I also consider it desirable that the Federal territory shall have a frontage to the Murray. I confess that I voted for another site for a variety of reasons, one of which was the possibility of obtaining a port. As we are now denied that possibility we should endeavour to obtain what may be considered next best, a river frontage. Do not honorable members agree with me that that is highly desirable ?
– That is a matter for decision later.
– Parliament is not empowered to determine the site of the Federal Capital from time to time. We determine it once and for all, unless our determination is subject to conditions. If we determine that the site of the Capital shall be Tumut, irrespective of conditions as regards area and river frontage, we cannot afterwards select another site. The Constitution empowers Parliament to determine the seat of Government within a territory of not less than 100 square miles; but I ask the Prime Minister whether, if, without any limitation, we’ definitely determine that Tumut is to be the site of the seat of Government, we can afterwards go back on our determination and declare for some other site. The -power given by the Constitution is not one which can be exercised from time to time ; once exercised it is gone. There are two reasons why we should not come to an unconditional determination. One is that we want a large area. That is necessary. The other is that we wish for a river frontage. That is highly desirable. I have not considered this matter wholly from the point of view of the State which I represent. I think that we have all done our best to deal with it in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I am inclined to think that if the conditions I speak of are insisted upon we shall hare made a fair choice. In insisting upon these conditions we shall not be dictating to New South Wales, or seeking to exert pressure upon the Government of that State. We could not justify such action. But if we are resolved upon certain conditions, we should indicate the fast as clearly as we can. I venture to say that we are agreed that the minimum area mentioned in the Constitution is altogether too small. It would be worse than a farce to accept such a small area. An area of not less than 1,000 square miles will, I am sure, recommend itself to every member present.
– Then, to the great majority of honorable members. Personally, I should like to see a still larger area determined upon ; but I feel sure that an area of not less than 1,000 square miles would obtain the support of a majority of the members of both Houses, and would meet with the concurrence of the public generally. Therefore, let us say that we require that area, and if we believe, as I venture to say that we do, in the importance of a river frontage, why should we not make that clear, too 1 Talk of a free hand ! AVe give a free hand to our agents ; but we are resolved that they shall make no other arrangement than that the minimum area shall be not less than 1,000 square miles, and that there shall be a frontage to the Murray. I am confident that the people of New South Wales will not seek offence where none is intended. AVe intend nothing but fair dealing. We wish to place in the Bill a simple, straightforward specification of what we desire. No representative of New South Wales can find cause of resentment in the fact that we make plain our wishes to the Government, who, as the representatives of the Commonwealth, must have bargaining in this matter with the Government of New South Wales. It is a matter in which, except so far as the transfer of the property is concerned, the other States are as much interested as is the State of New South Wales. I venture to think that it would be a disaster if an area smaller than 1,000 square miles were accepted. What man amongst us if, in a private transaction, he strongly desired certain conditions, would not instruct his agent to obtain them? The amendment is only an instruction to our agents, the Government. I hope that we shall declare with no uncertain voice j what we want, and make the determination : of the site absolutely subject to the con- Iditions that the territory shall not be less I than a certain area, and that it shall have a river frontage, both to be subsequently approved by Parliament.
– I hope that the conciliatory and weighty words of the Prime Minister will’ receive consideration from the Committee. It is well known that the site selected is not that which I supported ; but I consider myself bound to submit to the decision arrived at. I never anticipated, however, that in voting for a particular site we should be taken as outlining the area, even to the extent of saying that it should have a frontage to a certain river.
– It was a promise made by the Minister for Trade and Customs that induced a number of honorable members to vote for Tumut.
– I do not know what induced the honorable and learned member to vote for Tumut. The Bill is a Government measure, and I shall be very much astonished if the Government will permit an alteration of the character proposed.
– The Bill, as introduced, with a blank foi1 the name of a site, was merely so much waste paper.
– The Bill.as introduced, provided that the seat of government should be at or near a site to be fixed upon by the House. The words “at or near “ allow considerable latitude.
– What latitude would the honorable member give ?
– A sufficient latitude to enable us to acquire, if necessary, land of the altitude the Minister spoke of.
– That may mean an extension of only two or three miles.
– I take it that “ at or near” Tumut means nearer Tumut than any other site.
– Is it not a fact that every proposition of the Government in regard to this matter will have to come before Parliament? Why, therefore, should we at this stage come to a decision upon a matter in regard to which we have not sufficient information ? I do not necessarily object to an area of 1,000 square miles, but there is no virtue in an area of either 100 or 1,000 square miles, so far as the mere figures are concerned. It may be found that for certain reasons a lesser or larger area than 1,000 square miles is desirable. I know that the amendment does not bind us to 1,000 square miles, because it says “ not less than 1,000 square miles.” The actual area of the territory, however, is a matter which can be determined only after the site has been surveyed, and we have the fullest information in regard to it. We have not obtained that information. It is not necessary for us to cast any reflection upon the Parliament of New South Wales, or to create indignation among the people of that State. We should not accomplish anything by means of the amendment that could not be as well done without it.
– Without it we should give carte blanche in regard to the determination for ever of the area of Federal territory and precise position of the Federal Capital.
– The right honorable and learned gentleman must know that we shall have an opportunity to express our approval or otherwise of the area proposed to be embraced within the Federal territory and of the exact position chosen for the erection of the Federal Capital.
– If we determine the site unconditionally we shall have no opportunity to make a change.
– We shall determine nothing of the sort.
– We desire to determine the site, subject to our being able to acquire a desirable area. If we pass a Bill determining the site unconditionally, we shall never be able to turn back.
– If we fixed the area of the Federal territory at 100 square miles or 1,000 square miles, we should not affect the site. Until Parliament determines where the site is to be, and also the area of the Federal territory, there can be neither site nor territory.
– If we determine unconditionally that the site shall be located at or near Tumut we cannot alter it.
– I see now the object of the right honorable and learned gentleman. He desires that we should have liberty, even after fixing on the district in which the Federal Capital shall be, to range over the whole of New South Wales. I never anticipated that.
– The honorable member is wrong in anticipating it now. If we cannot secure a suitable area I desire that we should not be tied clown to Tumut.
– I understand the right honorable gentleman to mean that if we cannot secure a sufficient area in the Tumut district, the hands of Parliament shall not be tied to Tumut, but that it shall be free to select some other part of New South Wales.
– It would still be necessary to obtain the consent of the New South Wales Parliament to grant us the area required, or the land would have to be resumed. Therefore we should be no better off than at Tumut.
– It might not be necessary to acquire such a large area elsewhere. That would depend upon circumstances.
– Exactly. We are not in possession of sufficient particulars to enable us to judge as to the requirements at Tumut or elsewhere. In the meantime, there is no necessity for us to cast reflections upon New South Wales, which, as the Prime Minister admits, has always dealt honorably and liberally with the Commonwealth. By adopting the amendment, we should run the risk of creating indignation on the part of the Parliament and the people of New South Wales when there is no necessity to do so. We could exercise our powers to the fullest extent without inserting one word in the Bill with regard to the area of the Federal territory. I trust, therefore, that full weight will be attached to the words of the Prime Minister, and that we shall not throw any combustible matter into the arena at this stage.
– After the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition have- put forth their best efforts to convince honorable members that a certain course is the proper one to adopt, it may seem somewhat ungracious on my part to say that although I listened to them very carefully they have utterly failed to show that the amendment is unnecessary, or that it would involve any discourtesy to the Government of New South Wales. I am one of the last to do anything calculated to create friction with New South Wales, and I am quite at a loss to conceive how any member of the New South Wales Legislature could be annoyed or hurt by our expressing in a straightforward way our ideas regarding the conditions which are essential to the establishment of the Federal Capital. The leader of the Opposition impressed upon us the necessity of adopting diplomatic methods, but, to my mind, he was very unfortunate in such a reference. According to my reading of history, the dark and devious methods of diplomacy have created many troubles which would have been averted by a plain and straightforward statement of the facts. I started out with a very high ideal regarding the Federal territory, and I am sorry to have to confess that I have met with some disappointments. We are gradually detracting very seriously from the advantages that many of us hoped would be secured by the establishment of the capital. I believe that an area of at least 1,000 square miles is indispensible to the future welfare and development of the Federal territory. If we could not secure that area, I should prefer to allow the whole matter to remain in abeyance until there is some further access of that Federal spirit which has been so deplorably weak in our discussions up to the present. I shall support the amendment.
– After all, there is no difference in principle between honorable members on opposite sides in regard to this question. We all desire a worthy site for the Federal Capital, and a sufficient Federal, area. The question, however, is whether, in commencing negotiations, we should approach the other party with a hatchet or an olive branch, whether we should use vitriol or sweet oil. I am inclined to believe that sweet oil proves more satisfactory as a rule. I fought as hard as I could to provide for an extended area, in order that we should not be tied down to any special site. I. protested against being limited to a particular spot in the vicinity of a particular country town. Perhaps the honorable member for Gippsland is right when he urges that the Federal territory should have a frontage to the great Murray River. It may prove, however, after investigation, that we shall not require the land adjacent to the Murray. If that be so, why should we complicate the early negotiations by giving that condition a prominent place ? If we found that the best available land were to be found south of Tumut we should have the power to acquire it. My knowledge of the Upper Murray is gained only from hearsay, and in that respect I think most other honorable members are in the same position. Perhaps the possession of Federal territory abutting on that great line of water communication extending into South Australia may not be attended with so much advantage as would now appear probable. Therefore, I think that we should leave the matter perfectly open, and that we should not complicate matters by preferring any demand for land which may not be required.
– It seems to me that a great deal too much is being made of this matter. There is no doubt that we shall require a large area, and the advantage of making our requirements known at the earliest possible moment should be perfectly clear to all honorable members. We should state exactly what we require and leave no room for doubt in the minds of the people of New South Wales as to the conditions which we regard as essential for the successful establishment of the Federal Capital. I think it is desirable that we should, if possible, secure a river frontage, which might, in the future, compensate us to some extent for the want of a harbor within the Federal territory. My own idea is that we must look to the future. It behoves us, therefore, to secure as much territory as we possibly can, because, as time goes on, and the city develops, the land will increase in value. Consequently great difficulty will be experienced in increasing the area in the future. It has been said that the better the quality of the land the more advantageous will it be to the Commonwealth. I think that that is so. If we secure good land, and subdivide it into small areas which can be profitably leased, the development must necessarily be greater. Concerning Tumut, I desire to refer to the evidence of Mr. Walter Campbell, the Director of Agriculture in New South Wales, who, in speaking of that site, says : -
Taking the town of Tumut as a centre, a radius of fifty miles would include a considerable area of land suitable for the production of wheat of high quality. This area would extend to Wagga on the west, Cootamundra on the north, within a few miles of Queanbeyan on the east, and some miles beyond Tumbarumba to the south, and embrace a great variety of soils, situations, and climates. It is well watered with permanent streams, and should irrigation be desirable at any time, suitable places are abundant.
If land of that description is available within a reasonable distance of the site, I think that the Commonwealth Government should acquire it. I shall, therefore, support the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy, believing that it is far better that we should definitely state our wishes at once, than that we should dilly-dally over the matter.
– I intend to support this clause, although I think that the honorable member for Kennedy would
I have acted wisely by accepting a modifica tion of it. Personally, I am of opinion that the new clause, of which I gave notice the other day, would have achieved the same purpose better. It reads -
This Act shall not come into operation until the State of New South Wales shall have granted to the Commonwealth an area for the seat of government containing not less than 1,000 square miles : and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands without any payment therefor.
The Prime Minister has appealed to us to allow this matter to remain the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales. I hold, however, that it is only right that we should definitely declare our intentions at once. The Federal Capital is to be established at Tumut, but only upon certain terms. We desire 1,000 square miles as Federal territory, and we wish that territory extended to the Murray. If I find that the promise which was made by the Minister for Trade and Customs is not to be redeemed, and that we are to be denied a frontage to the Murray, I shall feel absolved from any obligation to vote for Tumut in the future. There is no doubt that the plan of the tract of country which he placed before the honorable member for Grampians induced a great many honorable members to support that site. I hold that the conditions under which we agreed to select Tumut should be clearly expressed in this Bill as a part of the bargain. Only the other day the ex-Prime Minister declared that he had had a conversation with the Premier of New South Wales regarding the selection of the Federal Capital site. Upon that occasion he assured us that the New South Wales Premier was quite willing to transfer to the Commonwealth 100 square miles - the minimum area which is prescribed by the Constitution. That fact clearly indicates that, unless the Government approach the New South Wales authorities with a request for a larger area, we shall have to be content with the minimum. Of course the question of whether we are to secure 100 or 1,000 square miles touches very closely the matter of cost. I venture to say that if the people of Australia have to pronounce upon this question at the approaching elections, they will be simply overwhelmed by the knowledge that the establishment of the Federal Capital will involve an expenditure of millions of money, and that is the reason why I am against this Capital being established for some time to come.When we inform them that we have selected the site of the future seat of government, and that the erection of the Capital will cost at least £10,000,000, they will stand aghast. Of course, if we secure the transfer of 1,000 square miles of territory, there will be some slight justification for that expenditure, inasmuch as we shall be able to lease more land than would be possible if we acquired only 100 square miles. I trust that a subsequent amendment will be submitted with a view to limit the cost of this project to £500,000, which was the amount mentioned by the ex-Prime Minister to a deputation which waited upon him from the Maffra Shire Council. Personally, I contend that the expenditure will reach £10,000,000.
– Say £20,000,000 at once.
– If I did say so, possibly I should be more nearly correct. In the course of his remarks, the honorable member for Macquarie stated distinctly that there was nothing in the Constitution to limit the cost of this undertaking - nothing to prevent the Commonwealth from spending £10,000,000 in that direction.
– I look upon the utterances of the honorable and learned member as a joke.
– The cost is too serious, and the necessity for economy too great to be the subject of joke. Ten millions may be a joke to the Sydney people; but Australia is not in a position to bear that enormous outlay at the present time. It is just as well to let the people of New South Wales know that their share of the interest upon that amount will represent £100,000 annually. I am very glad that the honorable member for Kennedy has submitted this proposal. I trust that it will be followed by another which will insist upon the Government of New South Wales transferring to the Commonwealth, free of charge, every acre of Crown lands within the Federal territory.
– I am entirely opposed to the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy. The amendment, which has been submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, does not alter the substance of that proposal in the slightest degree.
– What does the honorable member think should be the minimum cost?
– The honorable and learned member thinks that the cost will be something like £10,000,000. He stated that if we secured a territory of 1,000 square miles from New South Wales - an area to which I do not think we are entitled - we should be able to recoup that expenditure at the cost of the State.
– Not at the cost of the State.
– That is really the effectof the statement made by the honorable and learned member. The honorable member for Bland said that if we acquired an area of 1,000 square miles, taking in Tarcutta, which borders on his electorate, and running away down to the Murray, we should develop closer settlement within the Federal area. I do not object to the honorable member’s views as to settlement, but I reserve to myself the right to combat his contention in favour of the resumption of so extensive a territory. If we take over that large area of land, carrying an industrious population, and comprising, as it does, some very rich country, New South Wales will suffer the loss of the taxable value of that land.
– It is not worth much at present, because it has never been developed.
– In the Tarcutta district there is land valued at £20 per acre.
– Tarcutta is not on the route from Tumut to the Murray.
– It lies between the honorable member’s electorate and Adelong.
– My electorate is not in question. I said that the territory should extend in a southerly direction towards the Murray.
– I thought the honorable member suggested that it should extend towards the north.
– If we extended the territory towards the Murray, we should take in a lot of rich and closely-settled country adjacent to the Tumut site, and it is for that reason that the honorable member thinks we should acquire an area of 1,000 square miles. The loss of the taxable value of that land would be a very serious one to New South Wales.
– The area is not very great, and the loss to New South Wales would not be serious.
– It represents an area equal to more than a third of the county of Cumberland, in which the city of Sydney is situate, and its agricultural lands are far superior to the whole of the agricultural country in that county. There will be a large population within this area, and, I take it, that the Customs revenue derived by way of duties on the goods consumed within the territory would go the Commonwealth. Thus New South Wales would, in that way, sustain another distinct loss. There is a section in the Constitution, however, under which it would not be possible for the Commonwealth to take over this area without the consent of the State Parliament. On the 20th July, 1901, the late Prime Minister, speaking in this House, declared -
This territory is no doubt to be ultimately selected by the Federal Parliament from such land as shall be offered to it byNew South Wales. I think the Constitution itself contemplates that the offer shall be made under any circumstances by New South Wales, and any action beyond the acceptance of one of the offers made is not intended to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, except as a last resource. ThatI feel secure about.
Section 125 of the Constitution provides that -
The seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
The words “shall have been” have a meaning, and the late Prime Minister has declared that the interpretation to be placed upon them is that the territory must first of all have been offered to us by the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Or acquired by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– It can be acquired by the Parliament of the Commonwealth only when it has been granted by the State of New South Wales.
– Who says so?
– We can, by resolution, acquire territory granted to us.
– And territory that is not granted to us.
– The honorable member will find that the opinion of lawyers all over Australia differs from the view enunciated by him.
– The leading lawyers in this House favour it.
– The leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of New South Wales, Mr. Carruthers, who is a lawyer, and a very shrewd one, shares the view expressed by the late Prime Minister. Sir John See, Premier of New South Wales, has requested the Attorney-General of the State to furnish him with an opinion on the question, and I may state that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes, agree with the reading of the section which I have put before the Committee. They hold the view that the territory must be granted by the Parliament of New South Wales before it can be acquired by the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member does not mean to say that any one of those lawyers has expressed that opinion?
– The same opinion has been expressed by the late Prime Minister. Any honorable member who turns to the Hansard report of the proceedings of this House on the 20th July, 1901, will find that Sir Edmund Barton made the statement which I have just quoted.
– He said more than that.
– I do not intend merely for the sake of gratifying the desire of those who wish to stonewall this measure to again read the quotation. There is very little likelihood of the New South Wales Parliament offering to give us 1,000 square miles of territory when such an extensive area is not absolutely necessary for our requirements. I believe that so extensive an area is unnecessary, and that if we expend £500,000 on the Capital, the Commonwealth will secure the unearned increment of the land within the territory. For these reasons I shall oppose the amendment, which, I know, is intended to be an intimation to the Parliament of New South Wales of the views held by honorable members. The Prime Minister stated before the luncheon adjournment that the House was almost unanimously of opinion that we should acquire an area of 1,000 square miles, but I think it will be found when we go to a division that a number of honorable members agree with me that such an area is not required.
– I understand that the proposal immediately before the Committee is that the amendment be amended by substituting the word “ should “ for the word “shall.” I favour that proposal. Those who are most likely to know what the effect of the use of the word “ shall “ in this provision would be upon the Parliament of New South Wales desire that the change shall be made, and in these circumstances it is idle for other honorable members to say that the use of the word “ shall “ would not cause irritation. We must all know from our experience in ordinary business dealings, and from our reading of history, that at times the use of the wrong word has involved trouble. I may be permitted, perhaps, to cite, as an illustration, an experience of my own which caused considerable pain. A telegram was sent to me intimating that a relation was dying, and at the same time a message was sent to the local postmaster to forward it to my addresssome two and ahalf milesdistant from the post-office. The postmaster, however, declined to comply with that request because the word “ please” was omitted, and the result was that the delivery of the telegram was delayed. It is now proposed that we shall use a word in this measure which may cause irritation to New South Wales. I say, avoid such a word. We still retain, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, a reserve power under section 125 of the Constitution. Of course, the right honorable member for South Australia prefers to be rather fortiter in re than suaviter in modo. He is strong in action, but he is not altogether suave in manner. I am in favour of having the larger area, but I certainly think that we should use the word “ should “ instead of the word “shall.”
Question - That the word “ shall,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion, after the word “should,” of the words “ extend to the River Murray, and”
The amendment will then read -
The territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the seat of government shall be should extend to the River Murray, and should contain an area of not less than 1,000 square miles.
I should not trouble the Committee with this subject to-day were it not that the reasons for which I advocate the extension of the Federal territory to the Murray have not yet been stated as I wish them to be. I pointed out on a former occasion that if the Federal territory is completely within the State of New South Wales, a difficulty may in future arise with respect to railway communication.
– The Constitution provides that trade and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free.
– The opinion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is that the Inter-State Commission, when appointed, will have great difficulty in dealing with this question, because of the requirement of section 102 of the Constitution, that regard shall be paid to the financial responsibility incurred by the State in connexion with the construction and maintenance of its railways. I understand that it has been suggested that I have some ulterior motive in moving this amendment, but that is not so. All I ask is that the Commonwealth territory shall extend to the Victorian boundary, so that a railway may be made to it from Victoria direct. The present position of affairs is fairly satisfactory. The site chosen is, under the circumstances, a reasonable compromise. It is more nearly equi-distant from Sydney and Melbourne than any ether we could have chosen, the difference in favour of Sydney being only seventy-one - miles. The distance from Sydney to the Federal Capital might be shortened very much by constructing a line from Yass to Tumut. A proposal has been made for the construction of such a railway, but the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who knows the country, says that there are engineering difficulties in the way.
– I say that it would be practically impossible to construct a railway between Yass and Tumut, but that a line might be built from Bowning to Tumut.
– Of course, we cannot discuss this matter with any accuracy at this stage. If, however, a line were constructed from Bowning to Tumut, the people of Victoria would be placed at a great disadvantage, because they would have to travel a much greater distance than if a line were constructed from Albury to Tumut. We should, therefore, be entirely at the mercy of New South Wales. If, however, the Federal territory extended to the River Murray in the form of a strip, say fifty miles long by twenty miles wide, a line might be constructed from the Victorian border at Tallangatta, through Federal territory to the capital. I do not, for a moment, suggest that the capital should be built upon the banks of the Murray, because such a situation would probably prove as undesirable as Albury, from the point of view of climate. Moreover, such a site would be open to the objection that the benefit of the unearned increment imparted to the land in the vicinity of the capital, would be shared, to a large extent, by the property owners on the Victorian side, beyond the Federal area. I quite agree with the Minister for Home Affairs, that the capital should be located at an altitude of at least 1,500 or 1,600 feet, and there is no reason why that idea should not be carried out. We should include within the Federal territory the best place for crossing the Murray by rail, and the country most favourable for railway construction. There are high ranges lying1 between the Murray and Tumut, and the capital will probably be erected either upon the slopes towards the Murray or upon those on the Tumut side. The Batlow slopes, near
Tumut, would probably furnish the best site, and there seems to be no reason why a water supply by gravitation should not be provided there, even if the capital were built at a considerable altitude in that portion of the district. I do not wish to interfere in any way with the selection of the site. I would point out that if a strip of country such as I suggest were acquired by the Commonwealth, and the capital were situated in the middle, it would be ten miles from the boundary on either side, and, therefore, as far removed from the State territory as if it were fixed in the centre of a block containing 200 square miles. Moreover, if a railway were constructed from the Murray to the capital, it would serve the requirements of the whole of the settlers in the Federal territory, . and would enable them to provide any necessary supplies for the capital. My sole object is to secure access to the Federal site from Victoria by means of railway communication, apart from any works which the New South Wales Govern-, ment may see fit to carry out. The people of Victoria should not be shut out from the Federal territory, or be subjected to the difficulties which still arise in connexion with Inter-State trade, and which represent a partial survival of the old cut-throat policy.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- It is desirable for many reasons that the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy should be submitted separately, and, perhaps, it would serve the purpose of the honorable member for. Grampians if he were to move his amendment in the form of an addition to the main amendment.
Mr. SKENE (Grampians).- I do not wish to complicate matters, and I am, therefore, willing to adopt the suggestion. In the meantime, I desire to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Skene) put -
That the following words be added “ and shall extend to the River Murray.”
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I feel very dissatisfied with the turn which events have taken as the result of the last division. I am strongly of opinion that there ought to be a decent-sized area of Federal territory.
– The honorable member cannot reopen that question after it has been decided by the Committee.
– I simply wish to enter my protest against what has been done. Had I thought that the Government would accept the amendment-
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member, but he must not discuss that matter.
– Then I move as a further amendment -
That the following words be added, “ and the River Mumimbidgee. “
The argument has been put forward that it is necessary to have a river frontage to the Federal area, but the honorable member for Gippsland, and others who take that view, seem to have overlooked the fact that to the north of Tumut - though it may be a misfortune that it is to the north - there is the Murrumbidgee, a better and far more imposing river than the Murray in the south. If it is all important that there should be a river frontage, why should the
Murrumbidgee be overlooked ? Is the fact that the Murrumbidgee is to the north, a strong and sufficient reason for its exclusion?
-! have an amendment to move upon that submitted by the honorable member for Canobolas. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition after the word “ Mumimbidgee “ of the words “ and to the Tweed River on the north.”
– And eastward to the
– We might just as well say that the territory should extend eastward to the Pacific.
– I cannot accept the amendment.
– I think the sense of the Committee was in favour of not tying the hands of those who will in future have to determine the exact site of the capital and the exact features of the territory. It will be, we may say, a territory in the centre of Australia, governed under the Commonwealth and not interfering with any other part of Australia, and, all things being equal, I say that this territory ought to be as compact as possible. But what is the amendment which has been carried ? This is gerrymandering run mad. It is very unwise that a sensible body of men should seek to impose a hardandfast condition in this Bill governing the outlines of the Federal territory simply in order to gain a certain object which is not important after all.
– What is the object ?
– The object has been defined in the speeches of those who have advocated the amendment which has been agreed to, and it is not necessary that I should again define it. I say that it is a tremendous mistake that at this stage of our proceedings, before we have negotiated with New South Wales for a territory in excess of 100 square miles, we should attempt to fix arbitrarily the lines which the proposed extension of territory should take. The proposal of the honorable member for Werriwa is, of course, but a reductio ad absurdum.
– Made to show the folly of the other proposal.
– Unfortunately, I did not hear all the arguments used in support of the amendment to which the Committee has agreed ; but I can conceive of nothing worse than that we should have a long, straggling territory in the middle of New South Wales, along whose borders certain rights may have been acquired which cannot be abrogated, instead of a compact Federal territory. The amendment has been passed, and I presume that the Bill is not likely to be recommitted. But I doubt very much whether, seeing that we shall shortly separate, and after the excitement of the ballot, honorable members are in a temper to seriously decide this question at the present time. I have no desire that the Bill should be delayed ; but I do think that it would be better to postpone the completion of our work upon it until next week, if possible, rather than that proposals which are sprung upon honorable members, so far as I know without any notice, and which are an infringement of the decision come to by the Committee last night, should be hurriedly agreed to.
– And proposals which the Committee refused to accept before.
– What is it proposed that we should do? The very lowest votes polled last night were those given in favour of Albury ; and yet honorable members now desire to drag this Federal territory again into Albury. Surely that is a breach of faith, and is against common sense ?
– I remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair is, that the words “ and the River Murrumbidgee “ be added.
– The same arguments will apply to the proposed extension to the Murrumbidgee, and to any other definite and drastic proposal discussed by the Committee without a complete knowledge of the situation. It is far better that these matters should be left for consideration in another Bill. I take it that the position we are in is this : According to the Constitution there is no doubt of our right to negotiate for 100 square miles of territory. This Committee has taken it upon itself to decide that there shall be a Federal territory of 1,000 square miles. That decision must involve very serious and important negotiations with the people of New South Wales ; and the result of those negotiations will have to be referred to the Federal Parliament. No doubt, legislation will then take place, and that will be the fitting time at which to raise the question as to the trend of the boundaries of the Federal territory. I think that any proposal of this kind made at the present time must be premature, and should not be entertained.
– Speaking on the amendment proposed adding the words “ and the River Murrumbidgee,” I may perhaps be permitted to say that I had the misfortune to be out of the chamber when the discussion was proceeding on the prior proposal.
– The honorable and learned gentleman supported it.
– I had the misfortune to be out of the chamber at the time, but understood that my honorable colleague who was in charge would have addressed the Committee in regard to it.
– The honorable gentleman spoke well.
– I am informed that he did not speak upon the amendment at all.
– Silence is sometimes eloquent.
– I understand that he had also the misfortune to be called out for a moment. When I returned I found that a division was being taken upon an amendment. Had I been here, I certainly should have asked that such an amendment should not be put to the Committee. Honorable members having made the initial error of introducing into legislation intended only for the selection of the capital site, a clause suggesting a minimum area for its territory, and the Committee having adopted that suggestion, when I was called upon to make my decision under these circumstances, I voted for the last proposal. It is one which is as worthy of consideration as the other. It amounts to nothing more than another recommendation. It is nothing more than a suggestion of something which the Government are called upon to endeavour to obtain. Having unnecessarily put in one suggestion of the kind, we might just as well put in a third, and a fourth. As I protested before against the introduction of any suggestion with respect to the area of the territory, so I should have protested against this second suggestion. What has been done does not affect the decision arrived at last night in relation to the site. That is a decision which nothing since done can alter. The proposal which has been agreed to cannot remove the site of the capital a single inch from where the Committee last night decided that it should be. The subsequent amendments only relate to the territory around the site. But even as such, the last amendment is as mischievous as the first. It will only serve to render the task of dealing with New South Wales more difficult. Whatever merits there may be in the last proposal it should not have been put into the Bill. The whole fault lies, if I may be permitted to say so, in the endeavour to put into this Bill suggestions with regard to the Federal territory, whereas we should have concentrated our attention upon what the Bill was introduced to deal with, and that is the selection of the site. We have fixed the site at or near Tumut, and to add that the Federal territory shall reach to the Murray is no more called for than to say that it shall reach to the Murrumbidgee or anywhere else.
– Not at all. The last amendment is an absurd proposal, and there were arguments in favour of the first amendment.
– I was not present then, and am not acquainted with the arguments advanced.
– Because the honorable and learned gentleman did not know of them is no reason for saying that other honorable members know nothing of them.
– I do not intend to say that, and hope I did not say it. All that we ought to do in this Bill is to say that the capital site shall be at or near Tumut. To suggest at this stage that the Federal territory shall be of any particular shape, size, or frontage is to make a premature proposal which can have no legislative effect. I am sorry the Committee has agreed to the amendment, but, as I have explained, when called upon to give a vote, I felt that if we are to make suggestions with respect to the Federal territory, this suggestion ‘was one which might be considered as “well as others.
– We can strike out the clause as amended.
– It is true that the clause requires to be put as amended, but it includes the choice of Tumut. We must retain that ; but all the attached suggestions can be taken as directed to be considered. Perhaps the better method of dealing with the difficulty now will be for the Government to take the sense of the Committee as ascertained by the amendments which have been agreed to without carrying any specific mention of them into the clause. They ought all of them to be left out of this Bill.
– I think that the difficulty may be got over by what is proposed to be done subsequently. There is in the Committee at the present time, especially on the part of New South Wales members, a feeling that the Victorian members are desirous, by taking the Federal territory down to the Murray, to draw the capital site down to the Murray. I am merely saying that that is the feeling. I am not approving of it ; I do not justify it, because I know that the Victorian members have no such desire. The difficulty will be overcome by an amendment which the Minister for Home Affairs intends to move, and which will get rid of that suspicion. The amendment, if accepted, will give expression to the opinion of the Committee that the capital should be within 25 miles from Tumut, and at a minimum height of 1,500 feet above sea level. If the suspicion to which I have referred exists, as we know it does, and it will be overcome by this amendment, there should be no objection to it. The New South Wales people may be asked to say - “We will let the Federal territory be extended to the Murray, so that the Victorian people may have railway communication from Tallangatta across the Murray through the intervening territory to Tumut, and so save a journey of, say, -two or three hours.” No New South Wales member, who has the true Federal spirit, can object for a moment to the territory being carried in that direction. Two reasons have been given why the territory should run down to the Murray. One is that a railway from Victoria may be constructed through the territory to the capital, so as to save considerable trouble to the Victorian people. Another reason given by the honorable member for Gippsland is that it is of the highest importance that the Federal territory should have a frontage to a river. I think it is universally admitted that the Murrumbidgee is a better, a fuller, and a finer river than the Murray at the point at which it would be touched, and, therefore, those honorable members who voted for the territory running to the Murray can have no objection to its also running to the Murrumbidgee; so that it may have two river frontages. Of course, it may have to be a little narrower, in order that it may be a little longer. It will have to be narrower so as not to cover a larger area. But the amendment will have this advantage : that in treating this clause as an expression of the opinion of the Federal Parliament, the Parliament of New South Wales will see that the object of the Commonwealth Parliament is not merely to obtain a Victorian advantage, but to improve the Federal territory on both sides, north and south, by river frontages ; and that it is not intended to bring the Federal city down to the River Murray, or to put it near Albury, which has been rejected. That being so we are all of one mind.
– It will make the territory very narrow.
– The territory will, under the amendment as agreed to, have to be about 20 miles wide by about 50 miles long. I amtold by people who know - I do not profess to know myself - that it is something like 20 miles from the Murrumbidgee. It means, therefore, that the territory will run ‘north 20 miles, and south 50 miles ; that will be 70 miles. It will be narrowed by being lengthened, but still it will be 14 miles wide. After all, we do not know yet with any degree of certainty that the New South Wales Parliament will be prepared to give us that extent of territory ; but, at all events, there will be a greater chance of our getting it, or the larger part of it, from the fact that the New South Wales people will see that our object is not merely to get to the Murray, but.to get to two river frontages. They will also have the assurance, from the amendment which the Minister for Home Affairs intends to propose, that our object is not to drag down the capital, so as to put it in the same latitude as Albury, but to keep it up and also to insure that it shall be within 25 miles from Tumut itself. Therefore, I do not regret that an amendment has been carried increasing the area of the territory, because if the amendment to be moved by the Minister for Home Affairs is agreed to, as I believe it will be, I have confidence that every one will be satisfied.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I have suggested that the Tweed River should be one of the limits of the territory, because it is on the Queensland border. Do not let us make any mistake about this matter. We are trying to do something which we cannot do, and, therefore, we are absolutely destroying any chance of the capital being selected, and are indirectly nullifying the vote which we gave yesterday. Honorable members have only to wait until next week to see that what I say is correct. Not to mention what will be done in the other House, we know very well what will be the result in the Parliament of New South Wales. Do not let us be under any misapprehension. Let us do this business properly or not at all. I protest against the amendment of the Minister for Home Affairs being brought forward. We have voted upon the Bill by an exhaustive ballot, and the word Tumut has been inserted.
– The honorable and learned member himself wanted to mention a district.
– Because I saw part of the difficulty which might arise. But the position now is that we have chosen a place that is nearly 60 miles away from the main railway line. I am not going into the question of climate, although I think that a mistake has been made in regard to that. Now we propose to locate the capital about 80 or 90 miles from the main line. Will those who supported the Tumut site, under the former circumstances, be prepared to vote for it now? I do not think so. Furthermore, I do not think that the suggested amendment comes within the term used by the Bill, “at or near.” I very much question whether we can strictly, by an amendment, practically reverse the decision arrived at by ballot. Therefore, I do not think any alteration should be made. A. serious mistake has already been committed. We are nullifying the work of yesterday and last week. In fact, it seems to me that it is not intended to come to any decision at all. I would prefer honorable members to act openly rather than covertly. I very much regret that, before the vote was taken on the proposal to extend the Federal territory to the Murray, not one representative of Victoria rose and pointed out that it was a departure from the agreement which had been arrived at. It seems to me that this matter is resolving itself into a question of rivalry between New South Wales and Victoria. What have the representatives of other States to do with that ? We were senthere to select thesitewhich we think will be the most suitable for the Commonwealth ; but now it is sought in one way and another, merely to meet the convenience of honorable members, to make suitable, perhaps at some time or other, a place which is unsuitable. In fact, it has been decided to go away from the main line of communication, and to try to rectify a mistake in an indirect way.
– Does the honorable and learned member claim that the representatives of the other States have no voice in the settlement of this question 1
– No. I admit that they ought to have a voice in its settlement, but it is very singular that the representatives of Victoria are not divided in opinion on this point. In New South Wales our whole proceedings will be treated as a farce, and the impression will be formed that there is no intention to carry out the spirit of the Constitution. I can only say that, as a mistake was made in the first instance from my point of view, I shall support the amendment, just to show what I think of the whole business.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I was extremely pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, because he put the view of most of the supporters of this proposal as well as they could have done. We do not wish to drag the capita] site one inch nearer the border than we did by our vote last night. I voted for the Tumut site in the hope that the Federal territory would be extended to the Murray - the only water-way which touches three States - and would be Federal in fact as well as in name. I am equally willing to vote for the amendment to extend the territory to the Murrumbidgee, because, in my opinion, it is an even better proposition than the other. It may result in the Federal territory being a narrower strip than was anticipated, but that, I think, is immaterial. If it were necessary to convince honorable members that there is no intention to take away any advantage which was given to New South Wales by the decision of last night, I am prepared to agree that the capital site should be located even north of the Tumut site. What I wish to secure is that the Federal territory shall extend from the Murrumbidgee to the Murray, and that I think is the view of honorable members generally.
– I am quite sure that no representative of New South Wales would object to give facilities for railway communication with Victoria from the Tumut site, but, as I said before, this is not the time to enter into those questions. It looks very bad indeed, when we are dealing with what ought to be a perfectly open measure, to try to get this advantage or the other advantage before the negotiations with New South Wales have neeb commenced. There is a proper time for taking that course. I, for one, would never act in the dog-in-the-manger fashion of trying to exclude the Victorian representatives from” the advantage of having railway communication to the capital site. I think that the best and shortest possible route to Melbourne ought to be adopted. But we ought, first of all, to allow the negotiations to be commenced - the Ministry being apprised fully of the view of the Parliament - and not to try beforehand to secure an advantage for one party, even though it may be the Commonwealth. There will be time enough subsequently to deal with all those questions. The extension of the Federal territory to the Murrumbidgee does not get over the objection to that course. Had the first proposal been for an extension to the Murrumbidgee it would have met with my strong opposition. The matter ought to be left open to negotiation by the Ministry, subject to parliamentary approval. No provision to embarrass the hands of one party or the other should be embodied in this Bill. A fair and proper course of procedure would be far more likely to lead to an amicable settlement. I do not desire any one of these contentious matters to become a fighting question, perhaps in the long run a separation question. The history of the “United States shows that such a question might well become a burning one. I am not saying that it will, or that it is my desire that it should, become a burning question.
– Is it wise to mention it?
– I think it is. My desire is to prevent any differences from arising. I do not necessarily disapprove of the area which is desired, but I do not see any advantage in inserting the amendment. I do not see why we should tie the hands of the negotiating party in regard to a question which must become a somewhat delicate one in its treatment. I shall certainly vote against the amendment, and if there is to be much more of this kind of manipulation of the measure, it had better be withdrawn.
– The Prime Minister has informed the Committee that the clause in the form in which it has been carried is an absurd one. Personally, I am of opinion that if we hedge round the selection of the site with all sorts of conditions, the New South Wales Parliament will view our action with suspicion, and will be disposed to say, “This has not been done with a view to carry out the constitutional compact.” In my judgment the clause in its original form should have been adopted. When in its amended form it is put from the Chair, I ask the Prime Minister to make an appeal to the Committee to reject it.
– The clause includes Tumut.
– If the negotiations with the New South Wales Government show that it is advisable to extend the Federal territory to the Murray or the Murrumbidgee, by all means let that course be adopted ; but do not let us impose all sorts of conditions here.
Question - That the words “and the River Murrumbidgee” proposed to be added, be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “Provided that the site snail be within a distance of twenty-five miles from Tumut, and at an altitude of not less than 1,500 feet above the sea.”
I have not the slightest desire to depart from the decision which was arrived at by the Committee last night. We should certainly select a suitable site as near as possible to Tumut, but we should not be bound down to any particular part of the territory. If we do not insert these words in the Bill we may raise false hopes in the minds of the people residing in the township of Tumut. Doubtless they will expect the capital to be established in the township or in the Lacmalac or Gadara site, and although they may be very desirable places, I do not think that they occupy a sufficiently elevated position. From the outset of this debate I have advocated the selection of a site favoured by a cool climate, and I should not have moved this amendment but for the fact that I desire that our intention that the capital shall be at as great an altitude as possible shall be placed beyond doubt. It is most important that the capital should be established on an elevated plateau, and if honorable members are not prepared to declare that it shall be at least 1,500 feet above the sea, I do not care what becomes of the rest of the amendment. This is the only object which I have in view.
– Is the right honorable gentleman satisfied that such elevated sites are available in the district.
– I have consulted those who are familar with the locality, and they assure me that there are suitable sites in the neighbourhood of Tumut which are 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet above the sea level. Some honorable members have informed me that there are even more elevated sites in the district.
– What about the water supply?
– I believe that we shall have no difficulty in that respect, because rivers flow from much higher altitudes. It will not be necessary at the outset to obtain a water supply sufficient for a population of 50,000 people. During the early days of the capital we shall require only a temporary scheme, and it will be open to us to extend the scheme as the population increases. Honorable members from Western Australia know that we have been able to overcome great difficulties there in regard to the water supply for the Coolgardie gold-fields, and I do not fear being able to do the same in this case. . My only desire is to insure the building of the capital on a site where the climate will be fairly cool during the summer months, and to avoid building a city on a site in a narrow valley with an altitude of perhaps 700 or 800 feet above the level of the sea. Such sites, although suitable in other respects, would be most undesirable in summer time. There are quite enough cities in Australia which labour under the disadvantage of a warm climate, and surely when we are setting out to establish a new city we should take care to select a site favoured by a cool climate in summer.
– I think the Committee will agree with the first part of the right honorable gentleman’s amendment, although it would be exceedingly foolish for us to accept the last proviso. When the motion was carried to extend the Federal territory if possible to the Murray, it evidently gave rise to an’ active suspicion on the part of honorable members from New South Wales that it was a move on the part of Victoria to obtain if possible a site on the banks of the river.
– Who said that there was such a suspicion ?
– That was a natural suspicion which probably occurred in the minds of some honorable members from New South Wales. This amendment, however, will remove any such fear. I am quite in accord with the proposal that the Federal Capital shall be within 25 miles of Tumut, but I disagree with that portion of the amendment which the right honorable gentleman considers to be the most important. Future Parliaments will have ample opportunity to deal with the plans for the Capital, and it goes without saying that, all other things- being equal, care will be taken to erect it on as elevated a site as it is possible to obtain. To say, however, that it shall be erected on a site at least 1,500 feet above sea level would be to tie the hands of the experts who may be directed to furnish the next Parliament with fresh reports as to the proper locality for the capital. They will doubtless be directed to select, if possible, an elevated site,- and Parliament itself will not lose sight of that consideration. It would be foolish, therefore, to attempt to tie the hands of future Parliaments by declaring in this Bill that the capital shall be built on a site at least 1,500 feet above sea level. I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by omitting the words “and at an altitude of not less than 1,500 feet above the sea.”
– I trust that the honorable member for New England, with a desire to conserve time, will not press his proposal. We know perfectly well that the question of the location of the Federal territory must again come before the House, and it is merely a waste of energy and time at the present stage to discuss all these details.
– The honorable member has voted for every one of these proposals.
– The honorable member is endeavouring to allay a suspicion which really does not exist, and which, if it did exist, would not have much influence with reasonable men. The suggestion that the capital shall be ‘built at an altitude of not less than 1,500 feet above the level of the sea is altogether unwise. For the sake of securing an additional altitude of 100 feet, we might involve ourselves in an expenditure of £500,000 on a water supply scheme ; but, after all, the matter is, at this stage, of no consequence. Like a number of other things with which we have to deal in every-day life, it is immaterial.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).In view of the vote given this morning by the Minister for Home Affairs, I have listened with a good deal of astonishment to the remarks which have just fallen from his lips. Ho tells us now ‘in effect that it would be absurd to build the capital on the Tumut site, because it has an altitude of only 1 ,050 feet above sea level ; but the right honorable gentleman voted against a site which would have met his desire for a good climate, and supplied the capital with every convenience.
– He voted for the Bom- bala site.
– The right honorable gentleman eventually voted for Tumut. He now admits that unless his ! amendment be carried the capital may not be erected on a desirable site. It would have been far better to have left the matter open in the way suggested by the Prime Minister. He indicated a few nights ago that it -would be unwise to adopt the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Richmond, and now we find Ministers supporting a proposal which would have exactly the same effect. The Minister for Home Affairs evidently feels that he has made a mistake, and he desires to get away from Tumut.
– No, I do not. I am assured that there are plenty of places within the area selected which will fulfil the conditions proposed to be laid down.
– The right honorable gentleman should have been better advised before he cast his vote in favour of the site to which he now objects.
– I believe that a site at an elevation of 1,500 feet could be obtained within twenty miles of Tumut.
– Within ten miles.
– Perhaps so ; but I question the wisdom of specifying any particular altitude. Personally I could not say whether there is sufficient level land at that altitude to provide a site suitable for the erection of a city. I know that there is plenty of good rich soil to be found at a considerable height, but I could not say how far the water supply might be affected by the location of the capital at a high elevation. Mr. Blomfield, in giving evidence in connexion with Mr. Oliver’s report, stated that a supply could be obtained by gravitation from the Buddong Falls for a city built upon the Gadara site at an average elevation of 1,300 feet above sea level. That would be 300 feet higher than Lacmalac. The proposed off-take from above the Buddong Falls is 1,800 feet above the highest point on the Gadara site’, and that would give an ample fall ; but in order to secure the extra 200 feet in elevation, we might have to leave Gadara, and select another site, say ten miles away, which could not be supplied by a gravitation scheme. It would be unwise to impose any condition as to altitude, and we should be content to specify that the site shall be within twenty-five miles of Tumut.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- We are departing considerably from the original terms of the clause, by interpreting the words “ at or near “ in a way never previously contemplated. We considered Tumut as a site, sixty-five miles off the main line of communication, and now we are face to face with the possibility that a site may be selected twenty-five miles farther away. The consideration of that, additional distance might have turned a number of votes in favour of Bombala or Lyndhurst.
– We could not select the capital site at the township itself.
– I admit that ; but we were restricted to a site at or near Tumut.
– A spot within twenty-five miles of Tumut is near to it.
– Then we should have considered the Bombala site in its relation to Dalgety, which is only thirty miles distant. One of the objections to Bombala was that the existing means of communication were not sufficient, but, under the altered conditions, the Tumut site may be subject to the same drawback. I have really had no opportunity to give a clear vote upon the question before us. I believe that fully six or seven honorable members would have voted in favour of Bombala instead of Tumut, if they had known that the site of the capital might be removed in the way now rendered possible, and the final struggle might therefore have been between Bombala and Lyndhurst, instead of between Tumut and Lyndhurst. We are now being asked to consider a site entirely different from that which was originally contemplated. Tumut is one place, and a site twenty-five miles away is another.
– It is not imperative that the site of the capital shall be twentyfive miles away from Tumut.
– No ; but- it might be taken there if the proposal now before us were adopted. We should have been allowed a similar range of choice in regard to the Bombala and Dalgety sites. I oppose the amendment, not so much because I object to the capital site being moved to a place which I consider very unsuitable because of the climate, as because the proposal is a departure from the provisions in the Bill which we have already carried.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes).- Many of the speeches delivered seem to be in the nature of post-mortem examinations of previous decisions. The Committee has decided in the most emphatic way, in the first place, that Tumut shall be the site of the Federal capital, and it has also been determined that the Federal territory shall consist of 1,000 square miles, extending not only to the Murray, but to the Murrumbidgee ; and on those decisions we cannot very well go back.
– The Committee very often does go back on its decisions.
– That may be so, but we do not want to encourage the practice without good reason. The Minister for Home Affairs has now made a simple proposal, for which the New South Wales members should, I think, be grateful. I do not care how many other New South Wales representatives may repudiate the suggestion, I had a suspicion - as I am sure a large number of the people of New South Wales would have had a suspicion - that an attempt was being made, on the part of Victorian members, to drag the Federal Capital site down to the Murray River. The Minister for Heme Affairs has now submitted an amendment, which affords some guarantee to New South Wales.
– No one is objecting to the amendment.
– The honorable member for Macquarie spoke for ten minutes against the amendment.
– No ; I said that I accepted the amendment.
– There is no doubt that the amendment affords a guarantee to the people of New South Wales that the extension of the Federal territory to the Murray is not an insidious attempt to drag the Federal Capital site down to that river. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa seems to regard the words of the amendment as if they limited or reduced the area in which the Federal Capital site was to be placed, to 25 miles. As a matter of fact, the amendment simply guarantees that the site of the Federal Capital shall not be more than 25 miles distant from Tumut. Nobody is in a position to say yet how far thesite shall be from Tumut. In the report of the Commissioners I find these words : -
Your Commissioners have made what they believe to be the best suggestions for sites which were possible under the circumstances ; but they wish to record an emphatic opinion that, when the locality in which the Federal Capital is to be placed shall have been selected by the Parliament, extensive contour surveys, covering the suggested site in that locality, and the neighbourhood around such site, should be made before the exact city site is determined.
Having the assurance that the Royal Commissioners have not fixed on the site with any degree of certainty, the amendment of the Minister for Home Affairs seems to give the people and Parliament of New South Wales, whom we have to ask to concede this territory, a guarantee that the concession will not be used for the purpose of dragging the site down to the River Murray, so as by a subterfuge to gain a site equivalent to that of Albury. I cannot understand why New South Wales members should hesitate to vote for the amendment, which ought to remove all suspicion, and assure them that the interests of their State are not to be injured.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The honorable and learned member for Parkes a moment ago said that I occupied the floor of the House for ten minutes in opposing the amendment. I did nothing of the kind ; on the contrary, I quite approve of the amendment as affording a guarantee to New South Wales.
– I apologize to the honorable member.
– I accept the honorable andlearned member’s apology.
Amendment of theamendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added : ‘ When territory has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Seat of Government, land acquired by the Commonwealth within that territory shall, within the meaning of section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901, be deemed to be taken for the purpose of a work or undertaking the construction or carrying out whereof has been specially authorized by this Act.”
The effect of the clause is that if any property is taken over, it shall be acquired on the valuation in the January previous to the passing of the Bill.
-If this Bill does not pass immediately, the “ previous January “ may be next January.
– But it is provided that the valuation shall be that of last January, so that the Commonwealth will not have to pay any enhanced price in consequence of rumours that the Federal Capital site is to be fixed in any particular place.
– I quite agree with the object of the new clause, but I am afraid that as drafted it will fail to serve the purpose intended, which is to incorporate the Property for Public Purposes
Acquisition Act. Section1 9 of that Act is as follows : -
Provided that where land is taken for the purpose of any work or undertaking, the construction or carrying out whereof has been specialty authorized by an Act, the land, estate, or interest of the claimant shall not be assessed at a value exceeding the value thereof on the first day of January last, preceding the first day of the session of Parliament in which the Act was passed.
That section applies only to Acts which specially authorize the construction or carrying out of works, for which land is being taken, and the Bill before us is not one which gives special authorization.
– The Bill does not resume land.
– That is not necessary; but the Bill does not authorize the construction or carrying out of works, and, therefore, is not an Act within the meaning of section 19 of the Act from which I have quoted.
– But that is what the new clause declares the Bill to be. The land is “ to be deemed to be taken “ for the purpose of a work specially authorized.
– The clause provides that when territory has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, land acquired by the Commonwealth within that territory shall “be deemed to be taken for the purpose of a work or undertaking, the construction or carrying out whereof has been specially authorized by this Act,” and my point is that a construction or carrying out of any work is not to be authorized by this Bill. We do not say that this Bill shall be deemed to be an Act authorizing a construction or carrying out. Would it not be more simple to say that the value shall be that obtaining on the 1st day of January, 1903. I think that in order to make the clause effective to incorporate the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, the Bill before us must be an Act for the purpose of. the construction or carrying out of a work. This amendment does not make it such an Act.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I believe that honorable members are agreed that the object aimed at by the Government in this clause is a proper one, but I cannot understand what objection there can to specifically stating in the Bill that the values to be paid forland shall be those obtaining on the1st day of January, 1903. It is said that this clause incorporating the Property for Public
Purposes Acquisition Act means that, and if it does, why should we not say so in so many words in order that he who runs may read ?
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - The objection to the course proposed by the honorable member, lies in the advantage of connecting this with section19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, since then we secure the advantage of the method of estimating compensation provided for in that Act. Section 19 provides that -
In estimating the compensation to be paid regard shall in every case be had, by the valuators or the justice, not only to the value of the land taken, but also to the damage, (if any), caused
That the valuators, or the justice, in estimating such compensation, shall take into consideration by way of set-off or abatement, any enhancement in the value of the interest of the claimant in any land adjoining the land taken, or severed therefrom, by the carrying out of the public purpose for which the land is taken.
By embodying that in this clause we get the advantage of those important provisions. We might have set out in this clause the whole of that section of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, but that would have been unnecessary prolixity.
Mr.F. E. McLEAN (Lang).- I hope the Prime Minister has fully considered the objection raised by the honorable member for Bland that if the provisions of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act are to apply the value will have to be taken after the passage of a subsequent Act.
– I think not.
– I desire that the value shall be taken as that obtaining in last January, and not at some future date. If thePrime Minister is satisfied that that is covered by this clause I think it would be better to adopt the clause as submitted.
– I think it is.
– I commend the clause to the very careful consideration of the Prime Minister. I venture to think that it may be improved in many ways. The honorable and learned gentleman will see that it is proposed that -
When territory has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the seat of government, land acquired by the Commonwealth within that territory - and that is rather an odd repetition - shall, within the meaning of section1 9 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901, be deemed to be taken for the purpose of a work or undertaking the construction or carrying out whereof has been specially authorized by this Act.
As I understand it, there are two things to be provided for. There is the seat of government and the surrounding territory, and as regards the taking and acquisition of each of these, we intend that we shall not be mulct in the speculative values which might be attached to the land by the declaration which we now make with respect to the district in which land is intended to be taken. The Prime Minister will see that it is fixed in this way : that territory has been granted, and then that land is to be acquired by the Commonwealth within that territory. I believe we could make the clause very much clearer by saying in so many words that the value of the land shall be taken to be the value at a certain date, and, further, that not only shall land be taken for the seat of government, but for the Federal territory.
– That is the intention.
– Unfortunately, it is not expressed in the clause. The Prime Minister will note that the preliminary to this being brought into force at all is that territory has been granted, and there is then a subsequent taking of land within the territory. I take it that that is not the real position, and that, whether we take the territory for the seat of Government or not, it is intended to go back to the 1st January, 1903, to estimate the value. The honorable and’ learned gentleman will admit that the provision might be made much more plain, and I venture to suggest that in dealing with a matter of this sort, in which there will probably be involved a definition of private rights, and which may therefore lead to litigation, we cannot make our intention too plain.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - To put it briefly, if I had designed a clause which would be logical in the sense suggested by my right honorable friend I should have followed his advice, but if he looks again at section 125 of the Constitution, under which we are acting, the right honorable gentleman will find a section open to contrary interpretations in almost every one of its phases. Consequently I have clung to the language of that section, though I have not approved it in any degree whatever, simply in order to be sure that whatever that section means this also shall mean. I quite admit that there is the redundancy and apparent contradiction of which the right honorable gentleman has spoken. I shall be very pleased to reconsider the clause with his assistance and that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, of whose criticisms I always have regard, in order that we may make the meaning plainer on its face. When we come to examine section 125 of the Constitution, and endeavour to to give a precise meaning to the words “ granted to “ or “acquired by,” and their repetition in the section–
– But section 125 does not deal with the question of value at all, and in this clause we deal simply with the question of values.
– Section 125 sometimes deals with the question of territorial rights, sometimes with the question of property rights, with the question of Crown lands given to us, and sometimes with lands purchased by us. All these classes of rights are combined, or rather confused, in that section in such a manner that one may acquire a perfect education in the attempt to unravel it. I suggest that at this stage honorable members should agree to pass the clause as it stands, and I shall be very glad of the assistance of honorable and learned members of the Committee in reconsidering it, in order to secure, as we may do in another place, that it shall give clearer effect to its intention. I wish to finish the measure to-night, and therefore ask honorable members to pass the clause now, and to favour me with suggestions, so that it may be revised, if it can be revised with safety, having regard to all the obstacles contained in section 125 of the Constitution.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Even after the explanation of the Prime Minister, it seems to me that if this clause is passed in its present form the value will be taken to be the value on the 1st day of January preceding the date of resumption and not preceding this Bill.
– The Act says - “ the first day of January last preceding the first day of the session of Parliament in which the Act was passed.”
– Which Act?
– It is to be deemed to be taken for the purpose of a work or undertaking, and that brings it within section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– But it does not fix the date.
– The date is fixed by the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– I should like to know if the Prime Minister has any objection to the addition of the words - “ and the value to be paid for such territory shall be that existing ason the1stdayof January, 1903”? If that is meant, why can it not be stated ? Surely to include those words will not make the preceding verbiage any less understandable.
– What the honorable member is asking for is contained in the clause already, and there is no necessity to repeat it.
– I cannot understand the persistent anxiety exhibited by gentlemen of the legal profession to so wrap up everything that an ordinary layman cannot understand it. I do not see why what we desire should not be stated in simple language in this clause.
– I have promised a reconsideration of the clause.
– But if we do not amend the clause now we shall have lost our opportunity to do so. We shall lose control over one of the most important factors concerning the resumption of this site. I desire to move -
That the following words be added : - “and the value to be paid for such territory shall be that existing at 1st January, 1903.”
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I would appeal to the honorable member for Bland not to interfere with the drafting of the Bill against the views of the Prime Minister unless he is perfectly certain that he is right. The Prime Minister is responsible. The honorable member will assume, of course, that the Prime Minister is as genuine in his desire to achieve this object as he is himself.
– But we all have to be satisfied ; we are responsible to our constituents.
– I feel quite sure that, with a vigilant Committee, it is not likely that anything will be allowed to go through which is ill-drafted, especially when we have the assistance of one of the best draftsmen in Australia in the person of the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. I speak in accordance with the experience of many honorable members when I say that to interfere with the drafting of a clause framed by the Minister, who has worked out the measure privately with the Parliamentary Draftsman, is always a mistake. The practice which I have followed, and which I have found best, is this : When I see drafting which I think sufficiently bad to demand attention, I call the Minister’s attention to it privately ; and I have never found, except in one instance, any objection to revising it. The honorable member for Bland has only one point in view - values on the 1st January. This clause has in view several other things.
– I do not deny that.
– The honorable member will understand what is meant by mortising and dove-tailing. We want to try to dove-tail this clause with section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– It is because there is so much dove-tailing and not enough plain English that the lawyers get so much work to do.
– If this amendment is carried it will be less conducive to the honorable member’s object than as it stands.
– It is very plain, anyway.
– It does not cover the whole ground. What we need is to fit in the clause with section 1 9 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, and with section 125 of the Constitution. That is the Minister’s difficulty. Section 125 of the Constitution was drafted by the Premiers after the Convention, and drafted badly. The result is that the Prime Minister has a difficulty in fitting in his new clause with that section. Speaking roughly, I think it will answer the purpose if we simply say that land granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the purposes of section 125 of the Constitution shall be subject to the provisions of section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– But there is still the question of the particular 1st of January that will be applicable.
– The honorable member has not noticed that under section 19 of the Property Acquisition Act it is the first day of January preceding the acquisition.
– This Bill does not propose to acquire the territory. The next Parliament will acquire it, and the 1st of January next will be taken as the date.
– The longer the debate proceeds the more the Committee sees the impossibility of altering the drafting ofthis clause in Committee. Do I understand that the Prime Minister undertakes that in the quiet of his chambers, and with the aid of the draftsman, he will reconsider the clause ?
– I should be very glad to consider it with my honorable and learned friend.
– In drafting, more than anything else, one man will do better than a hundred. There must be one man’s mode of expression. We cannot have several modes of expression. I understand the Prime Minister to say that if the clause is now passed he will have it recommitted.
– I want to have the amendments made in the Senate.
– I think we should set it right before the Bill leaves this Chamber. It is going too far to ask the Committee to pass the clause, leaving the other House to make amendments. The clause does not express clearly what we want, but there is a great deal in the point that, before we take the responsibility of allowing the measure to goout of our hands, we should put it right.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - The best course will be to negative the clause ; then we can have a new clause inserted in the Senate. I am willing, to save time, to have the clause redrafted, and there is no fear that the Senate will not deal with it. A private Bill has been launched in the Senate dealing with this very matter, and I have no doubt that we shall be able to put in a satisfactory clause there.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).The Prime Minister has a very nice way of putting things, but I do not think that he has met the point put by the honorable member for Bland. We have a defective provision for the protection of the public. The Prime Minister proposes to strike out that provision and leave nothing else in, and to send the Bill to the Senate in that condition. But we shall then lose control of the Bill. It will be better to have an inferior provision than noneat all. My opinion is that the clause does not read. Let honorable members look at it : -
When territory has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the seat of government land acquired by the Commonwealth within that territory - and so on. Is not that a funny way of putting things ? The Commonwealth acquires the territory, and then it acquires it again. I am going to throw out a suggestion. It is that the clause shall be amended to read as follows : -
Land acquired by theCommonwealth for the purposes of the seat of government, or the surrounding territory, shall not be assessed at a value exceeding the value thereof on the 1st January, 1903. but in other respects shall be subject to the provisions of section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901.
– I think that that will probably do ; but I shall have an opportunity of making a further scrutiny of it before it is dealt with in the Senate.
Proposed new clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (byMr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted - “ Land acquired by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Seat of Government, or the surrounding territory, shall not be assessed at a value exceeding the value thereof on the 1st January, 1903, but, in other respects, shall be subject to the provisions of section 19 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901.’
Bill reported with amendments : report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– Having regard to the fact that the Appropriation Bill has not yet been entirely dealt with in another place, and cannot be received here before late on Tuesday night, I am willing to meet the convenience of honorable members from other States by asking the House to meet on Wednesday next.
– Which States?
– New South Wales and South Australia.
M r. Fisher. - And Victoria?
– Not so far as I am aware. As the Seat of Government Bill is certain to occupy the attention of the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday, we shall have those days on which to clear our business-paper of everything which has to be done. I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
– The statement of the Prime Minister may be quite right, but the reasons which he has given for the motion are bad. The representatives of distant States are bound to be in Melbourne, and if there is any business to go on with, it is his duty to those honorable members to ask the House to meet on Tuesday.
– There is work to go on with, but not enough to fill up the whole week.
– It is not correct to say that it is for the convenience of the representatives of distant States that the House is not to be asked to sit on Tuesday.
– I do not understand the reason for this adjournment until Wednesday, because, apart from Government business, there is private business to be considered.
– There will be something going on at Tumut.
– It may be very nice for some honorable members to go to Tumut - in fact, I should like to go too - but there is private business to be dealt with. I have a motion relating to the introduction of coloured aliens in South Africa, which I should like to be disposed of.
– And the adoption of the draft Standing Orders.
– Yes. On the businesspaper I see a number of motions which could be taken on Tuesday and disposed of. It seems to me that we are to come here next week to discuss Government business, and that after it is disposed of, all the business in the names of private members is to be cast on one side That is not fair.
– Only this once.
– I hope that another adjournment will not be required this session, which I should like to be brought to an end next week. I feel inclined to move an amendment in order to provide an opportunity for the consideration of private business in the names of those honorable members who do not take any interest in the opening of the railway to Tumut. The feeling of the House on this question is so strong that my motion might be allowed to go without discussion. I earnestly ask the honorable and learned gentleman if he will give honorable members some time during next week to deal with private business.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat - Minister for External Affairs). - I would prefer to sit on Tuesday and dispose of the business ; but have satisfied myself by inquiry through the member of the Government who leads in the Senate, and by inquiry here, that we are not likely to have any measure returned before Friday, or at the earliest Thursday. If we assembled as usual on Tuesday, we should have disposed of our business just in time to allow honorable members to adjourn on Thursday.
– Why not deal with the adoption of the draft Standing Orders on Tuesday?
– That would take some time.
– I am informed that the Standing Orders are likely to be accepted with very little discussion, and am not without hope that they may be adopted next week, even though we meet on Wednesday. I understand that controversial matter has been omitted, and that the Standing Orders are practically ready for adoption. We could scarcely take up private business without giving some notice to a number of honorable members whose names I see on the notice - paper. The first two or three motions would occupy far more time than we are likely to bo able to spare. I shall be very glad to give the honorable member for Kennedy any opportunity which may occur to reach his motion.
– Thatisvery nice, but indefinite.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I wish to ask the Prime Minister if, before the end of the present session, the Government intend to give honorable members an opportunity to discuss the consolidation and conversion of the public debts of the States. The ex-Prime Minister promised me that he would endeavour to find lime for the question to bo debated. I can assure the Prime Minister that there is a very general feeling throughout the community that this Parliament has seriously neglected its duty, by failing to take action in regard to this important matter. Its discussion in the public press and elsewhere would probably lead to some practical suggestions for the proper treatment of this grave problem.
. -Necessarilyany assurance such as the honorable member desires, can be given with much less confidence now that we are so closely approaching the close of the session. Indeed, I fear that we could expect contributions to a debate of that character only from the honorable and learned member himself , and a few others who have given the subject very careful attention. My honorable colleague, the Treasurer, had hoped that he would be able to meet the Premiers of the various States in conference to discuss how far their future finances would be affected by the adoption of the course he has suggested. It might not help some of them to have a public debate on this question just now. Necessarily, we can regard the matter only from the standpoint of the Common wealth ; but we must remember that it has also to be viewed from the stand-point of the States. .I fear that the chance of its adequate discussion during the present session is now very remote.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjournedat 4.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19031009_reps_1_17/>.