2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 19th inst., the honorable member for Fremantle asked a question, in reference to a complaint as to the Jack of Customs facilities at Fremantle. I promised that the subject would be inquired into, and I have since received the following telegram from the Collector of Customs in Western Australia : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What progress is being made with the additional accommodation at the Port Pirie Postoffice, which was promised about . twelve months ago?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Following upon a visit of the Superintendent of Public Buildings to Port Pirie, the Deputy Postmaster-General, on the 10th June, recommended an alteration in connexion with the proposed additions to thePost-office at that place at an increased cost . of £20. This recommendation was approved of by the PostmasterGeneral on the 14th June, and the papers indorsed accordingly were sent to the Department of Home Affairs on the 17th June last.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
It may be stated, however, that it is proposed to allot a banner to the Royal Australian Artillery Regiment, of which the Permanent Artillery in Victoria forms a part, as the Regiment was directly represented at the war by “ A “ Battery, New South Wales.
Debate resumed from 20th July (vide page 3450), on motion by Mr. Watson-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Wilson had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “in the opinion of this House it is inexpedient that a selection of the site for the Federal Capital be proceeded with at the present time, and that with a view to securing greater freedom of choice in the future, steps should be taken to alter the Constitution by striking out the words ‘ and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney ‘ in the125th section of the Constitution, and to add the words or Sydney ‘ after ‘ Melbourne ‘ in the same section.”
– In resuming the discussion on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I may be permitted to express the hope that this, second consideration of the subject with which it deals will result in the definite determination of a site for the Federal Capita] this session. In my opinion, further delay in dealing with the matter must be fraught with great mischief to the best interests of Federal feeling. Very grave dissatisfaction has been caused in most parts of New South Wales by the delay which has already taken place, and it is feared to some extent that, if further delay occurs, the existence of the conflicting interests which are concerned may result in the determination of the question being postponed for a considerable time, if it is not put on . one side altogether, notwithstanding the rights acquired by the State under the Constitution, In my opinion, the question should be settled this session. Honorable members have seen all the sites which aTe likely to be chosen, and nothing remains now but to select one for the Seat of Government. The tacit understanding has been arrived at that during the discussion of the motion for the second reading of the very simple Bill now before us - in some respects it is almost too simple - the merits of the rival sites should not be discussed. I think that understanding a wise one, because there is enough to occupy our attention, during this debate, at sufficient length without such discussion. The first question which arises is whether the form of procedure adopted is that which is most likely to result in the -settlement of the matter this session. The procedure proposed is similar to that adopted on the last occasion when the matter was before us, but I regret that the Government have not seen their way clear to take the responsibility of proposing a site. The Bill before us was introduced by them in the Senate, and, with certain small modifications, has been forwarded by that body to this House..; but the Government, like their predecessors, take no responsibility in regard to it. I fear that without such Ministerial responsibility, we may on this occasion come to the lame and impotent conclusion at which we arrived last session, so that the subject may be hung up indefinitely.
– I do not think so.
– 1 hope that the prognostication of the Prime Minister is correct. I am not now so particular as I was as to the choosing of one or other of several very good sites which have been suggested, so long as we come to some determination; but I indorse the opinion expressed by the right honorable member for Adelaide last session, that the question has been before us so long, and has been dealt with in such a peculiar fashion, that the time has arrived for the Government to acknowledge their responsibility in regard to if, and to put forward some definite proposal for acceptance or rejection by Parliament. I had hoped that this Government would have taken that responsibility ; but I find that, instead of doing so, they have been content to introduce’ into the Senate a short Bill in which a blank was left for the insertion of the name of the district to be chosen. That blank has been filled by the Senate, and we are now invited to ratify their choice, or to substitute some other name. It would have been better for the Government, acting on the official advice which they had obtained, to propose the selection of some site, leaving it to the Parliament to say whether it would or would not accept that site. I am rather sorry that the Bill was first introduced into the Senate. I hold that the measure should have been introduced in the first instance into this Chamber. There is a certain amount of doubt, in my mind, upon the point - upon which I have had the honour of conferring with Mr. Speaker, who disagrees with me - whether the Bill should not constitutionally have been introduced here. We are asked in this measure to settle almost all the preliminaries in connexion with- the acquisition of the Federal Territory, and it seems to me that by passing it we shall leave the Executive in the position to perform all the acts necessary for the establishment of the Seat of Government. There would be nothing to prevent the Executive from negotiating for the acquisition of the Territory, for the purchase of which this Parliament would have to provide the money, and, without doubt, if .they arranged the terms on which the Territory should be acquired we should be committed to carrying them out. If that be so, we shall, by passing this measure, commit Parliament to a considerable expenditure, and, consequently, in my opinion, the Bill should have been introduced into this House in the first instance. That course was adopted in the American Congress, when a question similar to that now before us was under consideration. The Bill relating to the acquisition of a site for the federal capital was first introduced into the House of Representatives, and thence forwarded to the Senate.
– The Senate would not agree with the honorable member’s argument.
– Some honorable members think that there has been no delay in settling this question. They urge that it is of such magnitude, and is surrounded by so many difficulties, that we have made as much baste as could reasonably have been expected under the circumstances. Again, I should like to revert to the facts connected with the settlement of a similar difficulty in the early days of the American Union- It seems to me that, so far as we have gone, history is repeating itself, except that the early American statesmen approached the question with a greater desire for settlement at the earliest possible moment than has been manifested by the statesmen of the Commonwealth. The matter was brought up in the very first session of the American Congress, which was held at New York. A Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, and led to the most heated debate of that session. The representatives of the Southern States wished that the federal capital should be situated on the Potomac, whereas the gentlemen from Pennsylvania, who represented a considerable section of the active political life of the day, wished to return to Philadelphia, which had been the seat of the old Continental Congress prior to the Union. The House of Representatives, after a stormy debate, agreed, as a matter of compromise, to fix the seat of government on the Susquehanna. In this form, the Bill was forwarded to the Senate, which amended it by substituting ten square miles adjoining Philadelphia for the proposed site on the Susquehanna. The House considered this amendment, and practically agreed to it, but returned the Bill to the Senate with some minor amendments, which, in the then state of feeling on the part of the Southern representatives, led to the measure being shelved for the session. The question was again brought on at the beginning of the second session of Congress,- and it was then decided that the seat of government should be fixed for ten years at Philadelphia, and thereafter permanently on the Potomac, at the site now occupied by the city of Washington. To show that nothing like the delay which has taken place here occurred in America, I may mention that within ten years the Parliament of the United States met at Washington. A good deal has been said with regard to the drawbacks attendant upon the establishment of the Seat of Government in a so-called bush capital. It is a well-known fact that -the members of the United States Legislature put up with very considerable inconvenience in the early days of the meeting of Parliament at Washington. I have read that Mrs. Adams, the wife of the then President, dried her washing in the present audience chamber of the Capitol, which was then unfinished. The members of the United States Parliament had to do the best they could in the way of obtaining accommodation in those days. We have .to look forward to a similar state of affairs, and I do not think we need fear that honorable members will be unwilling to submit to the hardships and difficulties connected with life in a Federal capital in the initial stage. I hope that we shall avoid many of the mistakes that were made in connexion with the establishment of Washington. We should at least guard against the cardinal blunder then made in the selection of a site. The spot selected for the site of Washington was unfortunately a large marsh, and very large sums indeed have been spent in draining and making it. fit for use. I trust that we shall profit by this experience, and that we shall also share the view of the Americans that such a matter should be settled as speedily as possible. They foresaw that the. trouble over the question would increase, if they did not arrive at an early decision. Delay in our case also appears to be fraught with danger, and is the great weapon used by the opponents - -if 1 may so style them - of the rights of New South Wales under the Federal compact to have the Capital . fixed within her territory. All the measures that, are taken for delay, whether or not they are so intended, certainly will have the effect of prejudicing the rights of New South Wales under the Constitution. These efforts to delay a settlement are doing as much as anything else to foster that spirit of parochialism which every one seems to decry, but which so many seem to be doing something to encourage. I regret that some of our great metropolitan newspapers have done as much as probably the most malicious individual could do to foster this parochial spirit, and to create difficulty between the two States which are principally interested in the settlement of this great question. Nothing could be more anti-Federal than the spirit of the articles which have appeared in the Age. Their general tenor has been such as to stir up a strong anti-New South Wales feeling over the question of the Capital, and all the methods adopted for creating delay are apparently intended to prevent that State from securing ‘her undoubted rights. I do not think for one moment that any one can accuse the representatives or the people of New South Wales of desiring to do anything with regard to the settlement of this question in any other than a thoroughly Federal spirit. There is no desire on their part, for instance, that Sydney should be the capital. It has been suggested on more than one occasion, and even in connexion with the amendment we are now considering, that if the representatives of New South Wales agreed to a certain alteration of the Constitution, the State should have the seat of the Federal
Government in Sydney or contiguous to it. As I stated before my constituents in New South Wales, I do not desire any such alteration of the Constitution. I wish to see its provisions faithfully observed, and before I resume my seat I think I shall be able to show that in giving effect to them we shall incur less expense, less trouble, and shall secure something infinitely better than we shall do by fixing the Capital either in the midst of the city of Sydney or contiguous to it. Another objection of which use has been made by the opponents of the scheme has reference to the area of the Federal Territory. I regret to say that the Bill, which, in this respect, must be fathered by the present Administration, again embodies the principle of demanding from New South Wales an unusually large area of territory for the purposes of the Federal Capital. To my mind, we should not entertain any idea of creating a sort of Federal State. We do not want -that.
– The area mentioned in this Bill does not represent the dimensions of a cattle station.
– I am aware that we are accustomed to associate our notions of land holding in Australia with large areas. But, at’ the same time, there should be no desire to create a separate Federal State as the seat of the Commonwealth Government. Though I, in common with many other honorable members, believe that, where the nature of the country permits, or even suggests it, we should increase the minimum area of 100 square miles embodied in the Constitution, if by so doing- we can more naturally define its boundaries by means, say, of a river, or a chain of mountains, I hold that we are going the wrong way to work by declaring in this Bill that the area shall not be less than 900 square miles. Any extension of that sort must necessarily excite - as I fear many. of its advocates intend it to excite- the’ animosity of New South Wales regarding the intentions of this Parliament in respect of the Capital Site. From the present temper of the people of that State, and from the spirit which was evinced bv its last two Governments, I can conceive that New South Wales is quite prepared to meet in a liberal way any reasonable requests by this Parliament. Nevertheless, I hold that to put a pistol to the head of the Government of that State - as is attempted to be done in this Bill - will defeat the end of many of us who desire to acquire a larger” territory than the minimum area prescribed in the Constitution. If the site selected by this Parliament is in a locality where it will be a distinct advantage to obtain an enlarged territory, I do not think that any difficulty will be experienced in securing it ; but to incorporate any such demand in this Bill will probably lead to many differences. The right honorable member for Swan, who is as. patriotic as is any honorable member of this Parliament, who is sincerely interested in the welfare of Australia, and who in this matter has no particular leanings either towards Victoria or New South Wales, was forced by his sound common sense to admit that when the Constitution laid it down that the Federal territory should embrace a minimum area of 100 square miles, it meant that that area should be exceeded if necessary, and that possibly an area of 200 square miles might be acquired. But no reasonable interpretation of that particular provision of the Constitution can suggest that we should seek to acquire as much as 900 square miles, without the matter first being made the subject of negotiations between this Parliament and the Government ‘ of New South Wales. The New South Wales Federal Association - an organization which, I venture to say, has the interests of Federation very warmly at heart, and which is imbued with an enthusiasm of the broadest possible character - held a meeting on Friday evening last, to consider the present position in regard to this Bill. At that gathering the following resolutions were unanimously carried : -
I claim that these resolutions, which were passed bv the organization in question - a body which, to my knowledge, as a member of it, is actuated by the sincerest patriotism in its widest possible sense- -constitute simply an expression of justice and of the common opinion of the. people of New South Wales concerning this attempt to make the area of the Federal territory very much larger than there is any necessity for it to be. Moreover, any such attempt will engender friction with the New South Wales Government, and will possibly land us in a difficulty. It is now known that the late Premier of New South Wales, Sir John See - in opposition, I believe, to the opinion of the majority of the people of that State - at one time offered to re-open this question by endeavouring to amend the Constitution so as to permit of the Capital being located either in Melbourne or Sydney. That is the spirit of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Corangamite. He seeks to effect an amendment of the Constitution so that the Seat of Government may be permanently located either at Sydney or Melbourne. I hold that Sir John See advocated the adoption of that course - as did also many writers in the public press, including Senator Dobson, and Mr. Dangar, a gentleman who is closely identified with the interests of New South Wales - as a concession to the prejudices of other States. I claim that there is no desire, either on the part of New South Wales, or of any of the other States, to depart from the letter of the Constitution in this respect. It is better for us to carry ,out the original arrangement, and before I conclude my remarks, I hope to be able to show that it will be more economical for us to do that, than to reopen the whole question, so as to permit of the Capital being established either in Melbourne or Sydney. Further, there are many advantages to be gained, and many dangers to be avoided by adhering to that arrangement, and by erecting our Capital in some portion of the territory of New South Wales which is suitable for the purpose. The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Corangamite has not the slightest chance of being carried, although I credit its author most fully with an honest desire to bring about a settlement of. this question, in the interests of everybody concerned. But I would point out that that amendment, if supported at alU will be supported by persons who are not actuated by the same high and honorable motives. It will be used as a sort of red herring- to be dragged across the trail to prevent the settlement of this question. Many,” will doubtless support it, who have not the slightest idea of giving effect to it. Their action will be prompted rather by a desire to delay a settlement, in the hope that some new condition of affairs will arise, which will result in the Commonwealth Parliament being permanently located in Melbourne. I. cannot vote for the amendment, because I do not think that those outside this Parliament who would support it would be actuated by the same high motives which probably dictated its submission to the House. In moving it the honorable member for Corangamite referred to the two national parks, each comprising some 36,000 acres, in the vicinity of Sydney, and said that one of these might well be chosen as the site of the Seat of Government. The same suggestion was made by the Sydney Daily Telegraph during the Federal campaign. That newspaper sent a- Commissioner to one of these parks to map it out as a site for the Federal Capital, and even produced pictures showing a fortress in the style of Warwick Castle, a proposed residence for the Commander-in-Chief, after the design of Windsor Castle, and views of gondolas moving up and down the placid waters of the salt water inlets which exist there. These proposals were put forward as a bait to induce the people of Sydney and suburbs to vote against the Commonwealth Bill, in the hope that, if it were rejected, it would be so amended as to allow of the Federal Capital being established in one of these parks. As I interjected, when the honorable member < for Corangamite was speaking, however, a visitor to either of these parks would see that, although attractive and romantic, it was utterly unsuited for any such purposes as we contemplate. There is scarcely an acre in which a Tarp’eia’n rock is not- to ‘be found. The” whole country is, so to’ speak, set up on edge,’ and so broken in character that if the Capital were established there, it would be necessary to erect suspension bridges, or to resort to other engineering works of similar magnitude to enable its residents to travel even a distance of a quarter of a mile. It is utterly impossible for any sensible man to conceive of a Federal Capital being established in either of these parks. The land in the vicinity is utterly useless for productive purposes. It consists for the most part of sandstone rock, and gravel, and produces nothing but the grass tree and the wild flora of the more inaccessible parts of New South Wales. I do not think that there is any desire on the part of the people of New South Wales that the Seat of Government should be established in Sydney, but, at the same time, there is a natural feeling that it should not remain in Melbourne any longer than is necessary to enable the Parliament to determine where it shall ultimately be. There are many arguments in favour of removing it from Melbourne, apart from the overpowering influence which the large metropolitan newspapers .exercise over some minds. It has been said that the influence of these newspapers will follow us wherever we go ; but I, for one, should not mind if it did. In the new atmosphere of the Capital sentiments would arise which would be much more federal than those to which expression is given in the newspapers of some of the States capitals. I do not fear publicity ; indeed. I think the more publicity we have, the better it will be. At present we suffer from want of sufficient publicity. The Melbourne newspapers publish what can scarcely be described as reports of the proceedings of the Parliament. The so-called reports consist simply of a series of comments on what the writer believes to be the views of the honorable member with whose speech he is dealing, and very little in the nature of reasonable publicity is given to our debates. This has led me, although at one time a disbeliever in Hansard, to become as warm a supporter of it as is any honorable member, for the reports which appear in some of the newspapers are calculated to mislead, rather than to inform, the public of the Commonwealth as to what takes place in this Legislature. It was said by Gibbon, the historian, that some decent . mixture of prodigy and fable has in every age been supposed to reflect a becoming majesty on the origin of great cities, and I think that when the history of the future Federal Capital .comes to be written, a sufficient mixture of prodigy and fable will be found in the estimates which have been formed ! by some of the opponents of the proposal to establish a Federal Capital, of what it is going to cost the population. Millions have been piled on millions by many writers and speakers in estimating what is going to be squandered in the erection of the Federal Capital, and this has been done to such an extent that the wonder is that any one could believe in the proposal. If the question be approached by any business men, or any man of common sense, it will be found that we shall be able to erect the Capital without imposing one shilling of cost on the people. In the present condition of Australia, we should be guilty of the gravest sin if we plunged into any considerable expenditure in connexion with the work. I have, on a previous occasion, dealt with the increment of land values in the various cities of Australia, and more especially in cities like Ballarat, Hobart, Dunedin, and Newcastle, which I have cited as illustrations of what the Capital may be twenty-five years hence. In making these comparisons I have shown, at all events, to my own satisfaction, that if the land were purchased at about 30s. or £2 per acre, the increment in the. values which would follow when the city secured a population of about 40,000 - and I think that it will become a city of something like that magnitude, although perhaps for centuries it will not be greater than that - would pay the interest on whatever it. had been found necessary to borrow to erect the requisite public buildings, to lay out the streets, and to beautify the Capital with such parks and gardens as might be considered desirable. I have submitted these calculations to others, and no fault has been found with t’hem. Another argument used by those who object to the proposed settlement of this question is that we do not require a bush Capital. I am pleased to notice that you, sir, having preserved that measure of impartiality which is so requisite and desirable in the conduct of the deliberations of such an assembly as this, and having avoided interference in party politics, have said that there can be no possible objection to what is described as a bush Capital. You, Mr. Speaker, have given expression to that opinion, and I would go further and say that I can conceive of no argument in favour of erecting the Capital outside what may be described as a bush locality. If we are_ to have the full benefit of the increment in land values and possess a city in a healthy locality, with some striking natural features, we are bound to go to the bush. Only in this way can we insure land at prairie value, as it were; and the financing can be accomplished as we develop its worth by the judicious expenditure of money in the creation of the Capital. As to the necessity for caution, I do not think anybody can accuse me of showing, either in public or in private life, any want of economy. But our object is to give effect, not only to the provisions of the Constitution, but to the aim of the founders of the Commonwealth, who thought that by creating the Capital we should get a recognised centre for our national life. It is not often in the world’s history that an opportunity is presented to create a city - to lay out a city in accordance with ideal conditionsPrior to the foundation of Washington, there are so few instances in history that we have to go as far back as the creation of Constantinople, some 330’ years after Christ. Prior- to that, again, the only instance which I can call to mind is that of the city of Megalopolis, which was created in Greece some 370 years before Christ. These cities were each laid out on a plan which was observed from the very beginning. We have now an opportunity to appreciate and avoid the blunders which are admitted to have been made in the case of Washington. We have an opportunity to create a city which will be not only a satisfaction to ourselves, but an object of interest to the whole world, and I can see no reason, financial or otherwise, why we should not successfully carry out such a scheme. This Commonwealth will, in future, be the scene of large ‘activities. It is recognised by most writers that the activitv of the world will be made much more manifest in the region of the Pacific than it has hitherto been - that that region will rival the other great trading areas of the earth’s surface. We ought to create the Commonwealth Capital with a thorough appreciation of the future destiny of Australia. The Capital ought not only to show in the concrete all our ideals of the beautiful, but it ought to be designed to be the centre of our intellectual life, and the heart of our nationalism and patriotism. The future cityshould more than realize the dreams of Plato, of Bacon, and of Harrington, possessing as we do the additional advantages of the latest practical ideas of the electrician, the scientist, and the sanitary engineer. We can, I think, create a model city, which will be a delight to Australians, and the admiration of the world, and, as I said before, without any expense to the people of the Commonwealth. It will, I believe, be a city of which we shall be proud; and for that reason I give the. Bill my hearty support, though I shall oppose those provisions which, by causing friction with the State of New. South Wales, might prove detrimental to the accomplishment of our object. If we are to have this question settled, we should recognise that it is not necessary or desirable to say to New South Wales - “If you do not give us 900 square miles, we shall not settle the Federal Capital question.” We have only to determine on what we desire, and then say to New South Wales - “ This is the spot which we think best suited for the purpose; how much land can you give us?” If that course be taken, I believe we shall be met in a spirit of the greatest liberality, not only by the reigning powers of New South Wales, but by the whole of the people of that State. The question is said to be complicated by some constitutional difficulties. The point has been already raised whether this Parliament or the FederalGovernment is entitled td select and acquire territory, or whether we ought not, first of all, to obtain an . offer of land from New South Wales. For my own part, I do not think we need trouble ourselves with those constitutional questions. If we go in a Federal spirit to the people of New South Wales and tell them what site we think is best suited for our purpose, I believe we shall be met in the same spirit, and that we shall be told to take as much land as we like within reason. We may then hope to proceed with proper caution, and erect the necessary buildings for the use of the Commonwealth ; and I believe that in a few years this Parliament will be able to meet in the Federal Capital. Though we shall be under some disadvantage at first, I have no doubt that ultimately we shall feel that we did right in pressing forward the solution of this important question.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the motion - put. The House divided.
Majority … . 43
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Before the House goes into Committee on the Bill I beg to move the following motion of which I have given notice : -
An open exhaustive ballot shall be taken without debate in the following manner : -
The wording of the motion is fairly clear, and the practice proposed to be adopted is precisely similar to that which was adopted during the last Parliament in order to ascertain which site was favoured by a majority of honorable’ members. I understand that the honorable and . learned member for Corinella proposes to move an amendment in favour of the adoption of a preferential system of voting. I should like to hear his views before expressing an opinion on that method of selection.
– Is this method now proposed the same as the old one?
– It is a copy of that which was adopted last session, after a great deal of considerations-
– I think it is . the fairest, ‘ too.
– It will be recol’lected that there was a good deal of discussion on this question’ last session, and that finally this method of procedure was adopted.
-The schedule wasnot the same.
– No. In Committee a number of alterations were made; and these rules are a copy of those which were finally agreed to, of course with the exception of the schedule.
– That is the all-important thing.
– So far as the schedule is concerned, I anticipate that there may be some differences of opinion.
– I should think so.
– The view that appealed to the Government was that it would be much easier for the House to arrive at an absolutely fair decision by taking the votes of honorable members for districts.
– This is a case of four to one. against the district - Lyndhurst, for instance - which contains only one site. That is not a fair start.
– I do not think the honorable member is right.
– Will the honorable gentleman mention the places in the southern district referred to in the schedule.
– Does the Minister say that voting was taken in districts last time?
– No. The rules of procedure are precisely the same, as those which were adopted during last Parliament, but the schedule is different, as it groups the sites in districts.
– Does the honorable gentleman mind naming the sites in each district? For instance, what sites are there in the southern district?
– The sites which I consider to be included in the southern district are Tumut, Batlow, and Tooma.
– How far is Tooma away from Tumut, the original site?
– I have not measured the distance ; but I understand that the honorable member has been scaling the map, and no doubt he will be able to give the House complete information.
– How far is it from Dalgety?
– The south-eastern district includes Dalgety and Bombala. There are several other sites mentioned, but practically Dalgety and Bombala are, I think, the most likely ones in the southeastern district.
– But many honorable members would vote for one of those sites who would not vote for the other.
– The matter rests entirely with honorable members. It seemed to the Government that this was absolutely the fairest way of arriving at a decision, and I think that a large number of honorable members will be found to agree with that view. All we want is to secure an absolutely fair vote, and if the House should prefer these sites to be put separately I shall offer no objection. Bur. I believe that, on the whole, it will be much easier and much fairer to group the sites in districts, and then, after the district in which the Federal Territory shall be located has been determined, to select a spot at or near or within so many miles of one or other of the sites contained therein.
– What sites are contained in the western district referred to in the schedule ?
– I do not think that any other site than Lyndhurst is seriously proposed. It seems to me that the best time for discussing the actual site to be chosen will be in Committee on clause 2 ‘of the Bill. It may be fully debated then. My proposal is that when the motion which I have just moved has been carried, the House shall go into Committee to discuss the merits of the various sites, and that, when that discussion is finished, progress shall be reported to enable a ballot to be taken in the House for the purpose of choosing a site. After that ballot has been taken, we shall go into Committee again to insert in the Bill the name of the site which has been chosen by ballot.
– Does the Minister propose to give notice of the day when the ballot will take place?
– The first paragraph of my motion is in these words -
That this House do at its next sitting proceed to determine the opinion of members as to the district in New South Wales in which the Seat . of Government of the Commonwealth should be situated.
When the procedure which I have outlined has been followed, and the Committee has reported progress to ‘enable a ballot to be taken, a clear day’s notice of the intention to take that ballot will be given. I think that that is all that is needed.
– Does the honorable gentleman intend to exhibit in this chamber a map which will show the position of the different sites?
-There is such a map in the Library; but it .is rather difficult to satisfactorily exhibit a map in this chamber.
– It was done on the last occasion when the matter was before us.
– Is there any map upon which Tooma is marked? I cannot find a map with that name on it;
– I think- the right honorable member will find that Tooma appears on the map in the Library. I shall see that a suitable map is obtained, and hung in the chamber.
– I have given notice of a number of amendments of the motion just moved by the Minister, and I intend to move them in the ordinary formal way; but, prior to doing so, I wish to explain their effect, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to fully understand their exact meaning. To this end a document, bearing the title “ Federal Capital Site - proposed scheme for ballot, and illustrations,” has been printed. A paper has also been circulated, setting forth the motion of the Minister as it will read if the amendments of which I have given notice are carried. The firstnamed document contains a series of figures and illustrations designed to explain the effect of my proposal. I am sorry to trouble honorable members with the matter, but I think that the choice of a site is of sufficient importance to justify us in endeavouring to determine the right method of selection. That is my. apology, if one be needed, for my present action. I am sure that every honorable member desires that the site chosen by our ballot shall be that which is really the preference of the House as against any other site. The typical method of obtaining such a result would be to take each of the proposed sites in pairs, pitting one against the other,, in which case the site which on a series of votes had beaten all the others should be really the choice of the House. But the difficulties in the way of carrying out such a ballot are considerable, and there is also the possibility of that happening which has occasionally occurred in regard to the cricket matches played between teams representing the three largest States of the Union, when A has beaten B, B has beaten C, and C, in defiance of all the laws of logic, has beaten A. But if a scheme can be found which avoids even such a contingency, and at the same time insures a determination founded upon the actual choice of the House, I take it that it is desirable to adopt it. I do not profess to be the parent of the proposals which I am now explaining. Every mathematician of note who has considered the matter will vouch for my statement that the scheme I put forward absolutely insures the selection of the actual choice of a majority of those balloting, which is what we wish to obtain. The proposal of the Government - which was the scheme we followed last time - is that each honorable member shall vote for one site, the site obtaining the smallest number of votes in the first ballot being struck out, and a fresh ballot being taken in regard to the remaining sites, the votes for the unsuccessful site being in each case transferred to the remaining sites. Thus, by a series of exclusions, it at last happens that only one site is - left, which is, of course, that chosen. That scheme has many advantages to recommend it, - but it is open to the grave objection that it is not only possible, but probable, that the site first rejected may be that which would have been the choice of an absolute majority of honorable members if it had been pitted against every other site. The proposal which I am now putting before the House is not the same as that which I put before honorable members on the last occasion. At that time I merely wished to carry out the Government scheme by one ballot instead of by a series of ballots. My present proposal differs essentially from my original proposal in that it prevents .a site from being rejected which is really the choice of the majority of honorable members. Before proceeding to explain ‘the system whose adoption I urge, I would remind the House that the method of voting and the method of scrutiny are two very different things. The method of voting proposed is that the names of the sites - whether the three suggested by the Government or any others - shall be printed on the ballot-papers, and shall be numbered by those balloting in the order of their preference, the voter putting opposite the -:-‘. of the site which he most prefers the figure 1 ; opposite the site he next prefers Une figure 2, and so on to the end of the list. If there were eight sites, they would be numbered by voters with the figures 1 to 8. When the ballot-papers have been so marked, there are at least five different ways in which they can be scrutinized, and the question for us to determine is whether there is any method of scrutiny which will obtain absolutely satisfactory results. The Government method of striking out after each ballot the name of the site which has received the lowest number of votes is, in principle, similar to the method of marking the ballot paper in order of preference with the figures 1, 2, 3, and so on, and scrutinizing by the method of transferring the votes given to the site lowest in the list to the other sites; but to show the unsoundness of that method, since it is possible, under it, for the real choice of the majority to be beaten at the first ballot, I have prepared an illustration which is printed in the paper to which I have referred. I have named the three sites, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, since none of these places can be chosen by t’he House. I assume that seventy-one votes are polled; of which Melbourne received thirty, Sydney twenty-four, and Brisbane seventeen. If the Government method of selection were adopted, the name of Brisbane would be struck off the ballot-paper, and, on the second ballot, the seventeen votes cast for that city would be distributed between Melbourne and Sydney, one of which would win. I wish to show, however, that Brisbane, although defeated on the first ballot, might actually have been the preference of the House. It may have been that of the thirty who voted for Melboune, twenty preferred Brisbane as their second choice and ten preferred Sydney; and of the twenty-four who voted for Sydney, twenty preferred Brisbane, and four preferred Melbourne, as their second choice ; while of the seventeen who voted for Brisbane, ten preferred Sydney, and seven preferred Melbourne, as their second choice. Now, with only three sites, there are six orders of preference possible, namely, - “ Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane,” which I shall term Class I. ; “ Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney,” which I shall term Class II. ; “ Svdney, Melbourne, Brisbane,” Class III’. ; “ Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne.” Class IV. ;’ “ Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney,” Class V, ; and “ Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne.” Class VI. Of the thirty who voted for Melbourne as a first choice, I assume that ten preferred Sydney as a second choice, and Brisbane as a third choice ; while the remaining twenty preferred Brisbane as a second choice, and Sydney as a third choice. Of the twenty-four who originally voted for Sydney, I assume that four preferred Melbourne, and twenty preferred Brisbane, as their second choice. Of the seventeen who voted for Brisbane, I assume seven would put Melbourne second, and ten would put Sydney second. Pitting Melbourne against Sydney, the result would be that in Class I. Melbourne would get ten votes, and Sydney none; in Class II., Melbourne would get twenty, and Sydney none; in Class III.. Melbourne none, and Sydney four; in Class IV., Melbourne none, and, leaving Brisbane out of consideration, Sydney twenty; in Class V., Melbourne seven, and Sydney none; and in Class VI., Sydney ten, and Melbourne none. Adding up the figures, it will be seen that thirty-seven first preferences go to Melbourne, and only thirty-four to Sydney, so that Melbourne beats Sydney. Now, pitting Melbourne against Brisbane, the results are that in Class I. Melbourne obtains ten preferences; in Class II., twenty ; and in Class III., four ; while in Classes IV., V., and VI., Brisbane obtains twenty, seven, and ten preferences respectively. Adding up the figures again, we find that Melbourne obtains preferences totalling thirty-four, and Brisbane preferences totalling thirty-seven, so that Brisbane beats Melbourne. Now, comparing Sydney and Brisbane in the same way, we find that - in Class I., Sydney obtains ten preferences ; in Class II., Brisbane twenty ; in Class III., Sydney four; in Class IV.. Sydney twenty ; in Class V., Brisbane seven ; and in Class VI., Brisbane ten, giving Sydney thirty-four, and Brisbane thirtyseven, so that Brisbane beats Sydney. In other words, when Melbourne and Brisbane are contrasted, Brisbane wins ; and when Sydney and Brisbane are contrasted, Brisbane also wins. Therefore, every one will agree that Brisbane is the. choice of the House, because it has beaten each of the other places. Yet these are the very figures in the Government scheme under which Brisbane is the first to be rejected. These are the figures that I have used to illustrate the unsoundness of the system proposed by the Government. They show that the system of dropping the site which obtains the fewest number of first votes may result in the actual choice of the House being defeated at the very outset. My system works out with exactly the same result as that of pitting each site against each other site. Honorable members will mark 1 against their first choice, 2 against their second choice, and 3 against their third choice. The scrutineers will then make a list, and, still using the names I have mentioned, will place opposite Melbourne, for instance, the figure marked against it on the ballot-paper. If Melbourne were marked 1. they would place that figure against its name. If Brisbane were marked 2, they would place the figure 2 against it, and if Sydney were marked 3. that figure would go opposite the name of that place. After the whole .of the voting papers are gone through, the scrutineers will add up the totals. My illustration shows that Melbourne was marked i upon thirty papers; that is to say, thirty i’s would be marked on the scrutineers’ list opposite the name of Melbourne. Then again, if honorable members will look at the classes mentioned on the first page, they will see that in classes III. and V., Melbourne is second on the list, and in classes IV. and VI., is third. Therefore, upon eleven papers, Melbourne was marked 2, and eleven multiplied by two gives Melbourne twenty-two points. Then, Melbourne is marked 3 in classes IV. and VI. There are thirty ballot-papers in those classes, and, therefore, Melbourne is entitled to ninety points. The addition of the figures 30, 22, and 90 gives a total of T42 points for Melbourne. Sydney is first on the list in classes III. and IV., and, as the number of ballot-papers in those classes was twenty-four, is entitled to twenty-four points. Sydney comes second in classes I. and VI., in which twenty ballot-papers were used, and is, therefore, entitled to forty points. Sydney appears third on the list in classes II. and V., in which twenty-seven ballot-papers were used, and, as twenty-seven multiplied by three gives a total of eighty-one, is entitled to that number of points, making altogether a total of 145. Taking Brisbane in the same way, that site was marked 1 in classes V. and VI., in which seventeen ballotpapers were used, and, therefore, is entitled to seventeen points. Brisbane is marked second in two classes, II. and IV., and as forty ballot-papers were used in these classes is entitled to eighty points. Brisbane was placed third on the list in classes I. and III., in which fourteen ballot-papers were used, and is, therefore, entitled to forty-two points. The result is that Melbourne has a total of 142 ; Sydney, 145 ; and Brisbane, 139. These figures added together give an aggregate of 426 points, which, when divided by three - the number of sites - -yields an average of 142. Then, as every site whose total is above the average has to be- dropped, Sydney, which, in my illustration, stands in that position, has to be thrown out of consideration. Then only two names are left on the ballotpaper. The results would work out in exactly the same way if there were twenty sites. If my illustration be followed, it will be found that on the re-numbering of the ballot-papers Melbourne comes first on thirty-four of the ballot-papers, and Brisbane first in thirty-seven cases. Therefore Brisbane wins, as would have been the case if each site had been compared with each other site. All that honorable members are called upon to do is to mark a single ballotpaper, and the scrutineers do the rest. The system of averaging and knocking out the sites which have above the average of points, and retaining those which have below the average, and, if necessary, reaveraging again, insures the adoption of the absolute choice of the House. The system could not very well be used at a general election, because, if the scrutineers had to count up 20,000 ones, twos, and threes, their work would be stupendous. In an election of this kind, however, with a small number of vote’s, it is possible to adopt it and produce such results as I have shown. The paper which I have circulated shows further, that the system previously adopted might result in the site which was most favoured by honorable members being rejected at the first ballot, whereas my scheme insures that the actual choice of the electors shall be finally adopted. Some honorable members may ask whether my scheme does not present opportunities for the manipulation of votes. I do not suppose that any honorable member would be guilty 01 any such thing, but it might be suggested - “ Could -not an honorable member, by placing 3 opposite the name of the site of which he was most afraid, as compared with that which he most strongly favoured, place it at a disadvanage ?”
An Honorable Member. - That is what they would naturally do.
– I- So not think so. I think they would put the figure 2 opposite the name of the site which was second in the order of their choice. Suppose, however, some honorable members placed the figure 3 opposite the name of the site which the feared most. Two things might then happen. First of all, their action might result in the selection of the site of which they least approved. The alteration of two or three votes would be sufficient to bring about that result. Suppose, however, that that did not happen, and that the voting could be so manipulated as to knock out the site most favoured, the only result of not voting properly would be to make my system as bad as, but no worse than, the one proposed by the Government. No manipulation of the votes by some honorable members could prevent others from placing the figure 1 opposite their first choice. Therefore, at the very worst, however much the votes were manipulated - assuming’ chat such a thing were possible - it would only result in the system degenerating into something like that proposed by the Government. It could not be any worse, and its manipulation would require a great deal more cleverness, and involve many more risks. If by manipulation of votes honorable members defeated the site which they most favoured, and brought about the selection of that which thev least desired, they would probably regret it afterwards. I do not suppose for a moment that any honorable member would do such a thing/ but perhaps it is as well to point out that the risk attached to manipulation is that of bringing about the selection of the site which would not have been chosen if the voting had been genuine. In any case the wrong done could not be greater than that which might result under the system proposed by the Government. If honorable members vote in the real order of their preference, my scheme, which is very simple in its operation, although, perhaps, not easy to explain, will ascertain bv purely mathematical calculation the final choice of the House. Although it may seem complicated, and after explanation may not appear any simpler, that fault must rest with me, and not with the system.
An Honorable Member. - Would it not be simpler to put all the names in a hat?
– It would be simpler to adopt a system that produces absolutely fair results than follow one which might lead to an absolutely wrong conclusion.- We have heard a great deal with regard to the attitude of Victoria on this question, and contemplated breaches of the Constitution ; but T think that the division which has just taken1 place should afford a sufficient answer ro these observations. I think that when we are about to choose a Capital Site, which cannot well be altered once the erection of the buildings is commenced, when we are about to consider one of the few legislative enactments that cannot be altered, we should not spare any pains 01 trouble to secure that the site chosen shall be the actual and true choice of the House, rather than the result of any fortuitous system of voting. Therefore, I move -
That paragraph b be left out with a view to insert in lieu, thereof- the following words : - “ Members shall number the sites in order of preference, numbering their first preference i, their second preference 2, and so on.”
That is the first step. There are two features in my scheme. One relates tq the voting, and the other to the scrutiny. The voting is simplicity itself, and the scrutiny presents no difficulty. The scrutiny, however, is quite distinct from the voting. Once an honorable member has voted, his preference ballotpaper can be scrutinized in various ways. For example, we might scrutinize it by the single transferable vote method, under which honorable members would be called upon to strike out the places which received the fewest number of first votes, and which would simply be the Government scheme over again. My proposal is one which has been absolutely tested by mathematical results. Every mathematician of repute who has studied the system declares that it automatically insures a result exactly similar to that which is achieved by pitting each site against every other site. Thus, upon the ballot being taken, the absolute choice of honorable members is ascertained. It affords no opportunity for the manipulation of votes beyond this : that the pape s may be so manipulated as to make the scheme degenerate into the proposal of the Government. It cannot be made. less satisfactory than is the Government scheme, whereas if every honorable member, according to his honest belief, votes for the various sites in the 01 der of his preference, it will avoid difficulties which the Government scheme cannot overcome. I do not apologize to honorable members for making these suggestions, because I feel very earnestly the necessity for adopting the best possible scheme. I quite realize the difficulties which confront me, in that honorable members who have not devoted any particular attention to different methods of voting may not become fully seized of the benefits of this system upon its first explanation by me. I quite appreciate the fact that I am open to little jokelets, such as are contained in the suggestion that we might put certain numbers in a hat and draw for them, or that we are engaged in an arithmetical puzzle; but I claim that all that honorable members have to do is something which is well within the competence of all, namely, to number the sites in the order of our preference. That is not beyond the capacity of any of us. I trust that the Government will see its way to accept my proposal, because I am satisfied that in its working it will prove all that I have claimed for it. Indeed, it has been mathematically demonstrated that that is so. It is not a scheme directed against the manipulation of votes in any shape or form. It assumes that the voting will be honorably and honestly carried out, as I am sure that it will. Itdoes not involve any reflection upon the bona fides of honorable members, but it represents an effort to obtain a vote which will accurately reflect the desire of the House, which will insure that the wish of a majority is expressed in the result of the ballot.
– I would point out to honorable members that in the motion submitted by the Minister there are two distinct issues. One has reference to the method of voting, which is contained in the various clauses and sub-clauses of the resolution; the other is practically a votingpaper, which it is proposed to set before honorable members in the form of the schedule. In the earlier clauses we have an Electoral Act, and in the schedule a ballot-paper containing the various sites to be voted upon, and I suggest to the House that it is desirable to separate these two matters in the discussion. With, the consent of the House, therefore, I propose to prevent any discussion upon the places mentioned in the schedule during the debate upon the clauses. When the schedule is reached honorable members will be at liberty to discuss the question of whether districts or sites should be mentioned, and, if so, how many. Of course, I do not propose to preclude incidental reference being made to any of the places which are named in the schedule.
– Would an honorable member be allowed to show, by way of illustration, the effect of voting in a particular way ?
– So long as the relative value of districts or sites is not introduced, I shall not object, but the question of whether honorable members should vote for three sites or districts, or for more, ought to be discussed upon the schedule. That is not touched by the question of the method of voting to be adopted. I propose, therefore, to confine the debate to the question of the method of voting to be adopted until the schedule is reached.
– I see very great difficulties in the way of carrying out the suggestion N which you make, sir. Very great importance must be attached to the two issues together. I understand that the Minister of Home Affairs has submitted one resolution, and I would point out that we are not now in Committee upon the Bill. Seeing that the Minister has submitted his proposals as one resolution, I am not av/are of any parliamentary law which prevents an honorable member from discussing any part of them. I know, sir, that you do not wish to make parliamentary law, but I cannot remember any case in which an honorable member, upon being asked to consider a series of resolutions with a schedule, was precluded from discussing both the resolutions and the schedule simultaneously. I suppose, sir, that you would not insist upon taking the course which you have suggested if it had the effect of prejudicing the rights of honorable members in discussing the series of resolutions? It is an important matter.
– I recognise the importance of the subject, and consequently made the suggestion which I did. There are two distinct issues involved hereissues which have nothing to do with each other. Under our Standing Orders it is quite competent for any honorable member to suggest in reference to any complicated issue that questions should be put separately, and I merely intimated that, with the consent of the House - by common consent - I should follow the course proposed. If there be no objection raised, I shall follow that course completely, but if there be any objection urged, of course I shall not press the point. Is it the pleasure of the House that I should confine the debate to the question of the method of voting–
– Suppose that at this stage we decide to adopt sites in the schedule, what is to become of the original Bill, upon which it is now proposed that we should go into Committee? ‘ Surely, the whole matter would then be again open to discussion in the widest possible way ?
– I would point -out te the honorable member that the second reading of the Bill has been carried When this matter has been dealt with, the House will go into Committee, and will proceed to debate the Bill, if desired, upon every word and every clause.
– In fact, to go over the whole thing again.
-The whole Bill will be open to discussion in Committee, but it is not open to debate at this stage. The only matters which are now so open are two in number. The first- is - “ How shall the House proceed to vote and scrutinize its votes upon certain issues?” and the second - “What are the issues upon which the House shall be asked, in some form or other, to pronounce its judgment?” Is it the pleasure of the House that the debate at the present stage be confined to the method of voting?
– This is an important question in itself, though it is chiefly important as a matter of precedent. I should like you, sir, to consider whether it is competent for the House in the signification of its pleasure to debar any honorable member from discussing any particular matter contained in this series of resolutions. Some time ago, when the pleasure of the House was being taken as to whether a certain interruption should be allowed, one honorable member alone* objected, and you decided that his objection was sufficient to prevent the adoption of the course which was then suggested. If only one honorable member, out of seventy-five, objects to being precluded from discussing the resolutions now submitted to the House, I would ask whether the House can, by general consent, shut the mouth of that honorable member? Of course we are familiar with the course which is adopted when resolutions are put to the House seriatim. It is often a matter of convenience that the House be allowed to vote separately upon distinct propositions, but I have no recollection of a series of resolutions being put seriatim in the sense of precluding honorable members from discussing them as a whole. I have no recollection of any case of that sort.
– I said just now that any consent on the part of the House must be given unanimously. If there be a single objector, the whole matter will require to be discussed at once together. It is the pleasure of the House that I should confine the debate at the present stage to the method of voting?
– I object.
– The discussion will proceed in the ordinary way.
– I do not intend to take advantage of my objection, except in a very limited way, but upon this schedule I wish at once to make a strong appeal to Ministers, and I should have been precluded from so doing, had I not raised that objection. The Ministry cannot too soon consider what seems, to me the radical unfairness of the course which is now proposed. In saying that I entirely acquit Ministers of any desire to do anything wrong. It is merely a matter of opinion, that is all. I do not impute to Ministers any wish to do other than the fairest possible thing. At the same time I appeal to them to go back to the method which was fully considered when we dealt with a similar Bill in the last Parliament. On that occasion the sites were considered upon their merits separately. But when we look at these resolutions, what do we find? Take the first one, for example. It says -
Ballot-papers shall be distributed to honorable members, containing the names of the sites mentioned in ‘the schedule hereto.
In the schedule we find the expression “ the southern district.” That is not a site for the Capital. It may extend for hundreds, nay, even thousands of miles. “ The southern district” does not by expression define any area. It is a vague expression to which there is no geographical meaning whatever.
– As a matter of fact, it has a very distinct geographical meaning.
– I am familiar with all the Acts in connexion with New South Wales, and with all the names of districts there. In that State, the “southern district” is a term which is used, in connexion with Courts and roads. It embraces an enormous area/ “ The southeastern district “ is another well-known term in New South Wales, and it also comprises an enormous area. The same remark is applicable to “ the western district.” How can wo describe the’ “ districts “ of the State as “ sites “ for the Capital ? We are getting absolutely off the track upon which we have been from the beginning. . We commenced dealing with -this matter by making reference to particular localities, so much so that we have had the rival claims of Bombala and Dalgety under our consideration. These two places are absolutely distinct. They have always been treated as distinct, but we now find them in some mysterious union under the heading of “the south-eastern district.”
– Do we not select a Federal territory rather than a Capital site?
– I am merely pointing out that up to the present time Dalgety and Bombala have not been regarded as twin sites, to be voted upon together, because they have elicited the strongest antagonism as between their respective advocates. At the present moment there is the sharpest antagonism between these two places.
– They are situated in the same district.
– Surely the Minister must know that there are a large number of honorable members who are in favour of Dalgety and opposed to Bombala? The effect of grouping the districts in this way would be that a combination would practically take place against one site. In the southern district -we have Tumut and Tooma, which are farther apart than are Dalgety or Bombala.
– Not very much. The distance between Tooma and the town of Tumut is about forty or forty-five miles.
– It is nearer sixty miles.
– The honorable member for Hume has been to these places, and has safely returned, and we are all glad to see him.
– I do not think that the right honorable member is.
– I shall not take the exact figures given by the honorable member, but taking his statement- -
– So far as I can judge, the distance between Tumut and Tooma is between forty and forty -five miles.
– I will take the figures of the honorable member who is an authority on this question. The distance between Dalgety and Bombala is not more than that which separates Tumut and Tooma.
– About forty miles.
– There is not much difference.
– I refer to the distance between Tooma and Tumut, only to show that, although they are in the same district, they are absolutely different sites. There are many other towns in the same district. I know that the Ministry and their supporters are anxious to do what is fair. This is too serious a matter-
– Hear, hear. We do not desire that any place shall be unfairly knocked out..
– I am sure that none of us desire that a nasty taste shall be left in the mouths of the people in reference to this matter. We do not wish to raise even a suspicion that there has been a secret grouping in order to shut out some particular site.
– Why not deal with each site individually ?
– That is what I suggest. The matter was very carefully thought out by the late Government, and that system was adopted when the question was dealt with by us last session. I should not take exception to this proposal if I did not see not a technical, but a practical objection to it. Honorable members in favour of Dal gety and Bombala would combine to vote against Lyndhurst, the western district site, although a number of those who would vote for Bombala would prefer as an alternative to vote for Lyndhurst rather than Dalgety.
– The western sites have already been reduced by ballot to one - Lyndhurst.
– I am not complaining of the fact that there is only one site in Che western district, but I wish to point out to the Ministry that in my opinion there are members in favour of Bombala who, if that site were rejected, would prefer Lyndhurst to Dalgety. Then there are others in favour of Dalgety who, if that site were rejected, would rather vote for Lyndhurst than Bombala. The effect of grouping Dalgety and Bombala together would be such that the supporters of those two sites would be forced to vote together against the selection of Lyndhurst. If the issue to be determined were the district, rather than the site, to be selected, the respective supporters of these two sites in the one district would naturally be banded together as against the third site. If there were two sites in the Lyndhurst district which had considerable support, the proposed system might balance; but as there is only one site in the western district, the respective supporters of Tumut and Tooma as well as the supporters of Bombala and of Dalgety could unite against Lyndhurst.
– Practically the same result would follow the adoption of any method.
– Certainly not. Those who favoured voting Dalgety No.1 and Lyndhurst No. 2, or Bombala No.1, Lyndhurst No. 2, Dalgety No. 3, and so forth, would not be forced to vote against Lyndhurst if the sites, instead of districts, were voted upon. I have not a word to say against the perfect fairness, as a system, of the proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I see in it openings for abuse.
– The right honorable member cannot point to one that would make it less satisfactory than the Government proposal.
– I am afraid that that can be done.
– I challenge the right honorable member to point to one.
– Two honorable members have already worked out the system. and have shown me what would be the result of its adoption, but I prefer that they should explain their own figures.
– They will seek to show that it would not suit some sites.
– To me it is not a matter of sites.
– Without waiting for these honorable members to explain the calculations which they have made, I think I may point out that since the site to be rubbed out will be that which has the largest number of points opposite its name, there is great scope for the advocates of two sites who fear a third to put No. 3 opposite that site- Although on a fair issue it might be placed second on both tickets, the supporters of site No. 1 and site No. 2, each fearing not the other, but site No. 3, might put No. 3 opposite the last-named site. In that case-
– Even if they did so, they would not make the system which I support any worse than the Government proposal.
– My honorable and learned friend will see that I am not advocating the Government proposal.
– I am not advocating the schedule, but-
– I am speaking, not of the schedule, but of the systems of voting-
– I am quite open to. receive any argument to the contrary, but. from the consideration I have given to the question I prefer the method adopted by the late Government when the House dealt with the matter last session. I think that it is absolutely fair. I admit that one could not suggest any system of preference under which there might not be some degree of unfairness in the result.
– But the scheme proposed by rae could not be worse than the Government system, or that followed last session.
– I am prepared to be convinced that that is so; but at present, I prefer the system adopted by the late Government.
– That is to say, the right honorable member deliberately adopts that which would be only the worst possible result of my proposal.
– I. do not think so. My impression is that as the scheme adopted by the late Government worked out, it approximated more closely to a fair way of ascertaining the will of the House. I admit, as Mr. Speaker has said, that it would be more convenient for us to refrain from dealing at any great length with the schedule. I am merely taking this early opportunity to express very strongly my great objection to the systems which have been proposed, and my desire that we should revert to the method followed by the late Government.
– The right honorable member will lose his opportunity if he does not take advantage of it now.
– That is so, as we are in the House; but I do not wish to carry on, so to speak, two discussions.
– That is what Mr. Speaker said he wished to avoid.
– I wished to speak to the motion, as well as on the schedule.- After all, it may be the simplest plan to deal with them together. I am quite prepared to hear arguments on this question, but at present I think I can see pretty clearly that this endeavour to lump rival capital sites into one district, would operate most unfairly against a district containing only one site. The forces of those who favour the other sites would be marshalled against those who voted for the district in which there was only one, with the result that that one site might have really a larger number of ‘first votes, although not an absolute majority of the House, and yet be thrown . out at the first ballot.
– If the sites were widely separated, I think that the right honorable member’s contention would be accurate.
– My honorable friend must retain sufficient recollection of the methods which have hitherto been adopted to enable him to follow me, when I say that there is no possible consistency in grouping Dalgety and Bombala into one district. We have been dealing with them as rival and absolutely distinct sites, one competing with the. other.
– I do not agree with the right honorable member in that respect.
– I am surprised to hear the honorable gentleman say so. I have heard Dalgety placed in one category and Bombala in another.
– Not latterly.
– I can speak only of my recollection of what has been done for some years past.
– Latterly Bombala and Dalgety have always been spoken of as one site - as Dalgety.
– That shows that Bombala has wiped out Dalgety. That result has been secured not by harmony, but by destruction.
– It is the result of conviction.
– That is to say, that Dalgety and Bombala being distinct, honorable members have arrived at a decision as between them; but my objection is that the supporters of those two sites, as against the district in which there is only one, would unite against Lyndhurst, although the advocates of Bombala and of Dalgety respectively would prefer the western district as an alternative. To my mind this is not a fair start. There is no doubt that New South Wales attaches very much greater importance to the selection of the Lyndhurst site than she does to the selection of any of the sites in the south. That being the case, I strongly urge that New South Wales shall have, at any rate, a fair chance, and that all the other sites which she least desires- to see selected shall not be lumped together to crush out that which she does favour.
Mr- Page. - Give them all a square go.
– There are difficulties associated with every system, but it seems to me that that would be the fairest system - that we should take the individual sites, as we have been doing from the first, and deal with them in that way.
– I am sure that the House is indebted to the honorable and learned member for Corinella for endeavouring to devise a system of voting which would be an improvement on that suggested by the Government. He has’ to some extent succeeded; but the question that arises to my mind is whether we should adopt that system, or follow that by which Ave made a selection last session. I would point out that the system proposed by (he honorable and learned member would, as has been admitted, be subject to manipulation. If, for instance, ten of the twenty of the second votes which, in his example, placed Melbourne in the first place, were given, not to Brisbane, but to Sydney, because Brisbane was regarded as the strongest rival to Melbourne, the result would be entirely different from that shown by him.
– The result would not be the selection of Sydnev.
– No ; Brisbane would be struck out in the first exclusion.
– The same result might occur under the Government scheme.
– The Government scheme might be attended with exactly the same results.
– And so would the system which we followed last session.
-As the system followed last session was simply that of placing a cross, at each ballot, against the site preferred–
– That is the -scheme proposed by the present Government.
– Exactly the same.
– Quite so. Of course, there could under that system, be a transfer of votes; that is to say, an honorable member may put a cross opposite a site, as indicating his first preference ; but if he afterwards - although that site has not been struck out - deserts that site and supports another, with the object of manipulating the voting, then that manipulation is displayed. For the honour of the House, it has to be ‘ said that on the last occasion there w.is no such manipulation attempted. Every honorable member supported a site, and continued to support it until it was struck out;, but if there is manipulation under the proposed plan, as I understand it, that manipulation cannot be detected, seeing that the vote first given is the only recorded, vote for all the sites. Under the system followed last time - a system which I now learn is the proposal of the Government on the present occasion - we could at least detect any attempt at manipulating the figures.
– That is a further manipu”lation, which is not possible, under my system.
– There can be no manipulation on the first vote; but on the second vote there might be the transfer of the first preference, and that would be a manipulation, displayed at once in the second ballot. But I quite admit that none of the schemes get entirely over the difficulty which the honorable and learned member for Corinella says applies to his own proposal. The only advantage of the scheme proposed by the Government is that it displays manipulation. But the whole difficulty could be got over in this way : After a site is inserted in the Bill - that is, if we do not agree with the site at present in the Bill, and another name is inserted - any .of the remaining sites not chosen could be put as amendments against that particular site. There would then be a test as to whether the site finally, selected was genuinely the first choice.
– There is a site in the Bill now.
– If that is not the site selected, we could, as a further test, place the remaining sites against any site which might be inserted. . The scheme adopted on the last occasion worked very satisfactorily, it being evident from the voting that there was no attempt at manipulation. I am rather astonished to hear the proposal to vote on districts, because that is a proposal which was defeated on the last occasion.
– We practically whittled down the sites to districts.
– I know that the Minister only wants fairness to be observed ; and I ask him, how we could get a fair vote under those circumstances? There are two sites, say, in the southeastern district - Bombala and Dalgety. Some honorable members may be absolutely determined, for particular reasons, that they will not vote for one of these two sites - that they prefer any site to one of those two. . On the other hand, they may be quite ready, when the site which they favour first has been struck out, to give, if not a first ‘ vote, at any rate, a second vote for one of the sites in another district. Vet the proposal to vote in districts gives such honorable mernbers no opportunity to express their opinion as between the different sites.
– That could be done afterwards.
– But that would be after those honorable members had lost their opportunity . to vote. Suppose, for instance, that an honorable member were in favour of Dalgety, but against Bombala, and that, rather than give a vote for Bombala, he would vote for Tumut, Tooma, or Lyndhurst. Such an honorable member is given no opportunity to express his view, but is forced to vote for a site he may not want, because the district in which there is a site he would be willing to support, if the site he first favoured were struck out has been voted down.
– Suppose we named the places, we should be confronted with the same kind of difficulty.
– Not at all ; because if a range is given, say, within twenty miles of a place, we have distinct positions.
– And each site stands on its own merits.
– As the right honorable member for East Sydney says, each site would then stand on its own merits, and would receive the consideration which honorable members desired to give it. An honorable member would be enabled to either give a site a first vote, or, if a site which he favoured more were struck out, a second vote, in’ fair competition with the other sites. It is decidedly unfair, unjust, and improper to force men to vote in the way proposed. It would not matter so much, and might be fair, if there were three or four sites in each district; but it is not right to force honorable members to vote for a district, when they may be favorable to one site, and absolutely opposed to another site in that district. Altogether, I do not see- what is to be gained by the method proposed. If any site has a majority in its favour, -and the sites are separated, that site cannot avoid getting the support of that majority. Why “box” the sites up? Is not the “ boxing up ‘ ‘ some attempt to arrive at a result which would not be arrived at under other circumstances ? As I say, if there were sufficient distinctness in all the districts - even if there were several sites in each district - the House might be asked to first decide which district it desired. But the sites are close together in some cases. Tumut and Tooma are not much closer together than Tooma and Dalgety.
– There is a high range of mountains between the two latter, and that practically makes them different districts.
– But the difference between them is not very great.
– It is only the natural features of the country which separate those districts.
– There is a considerable range of mountains between Tumut and Tooma, but that range is not thought to separate the districts. If it were unjust to any particular site that the sites should be separated, I should not advocate such a course; but, in my opinion, there would be no injustice. Every site would be considered on its merits, and not attached to another site to its injury in the eyes of some honorable members, nor attached to another site to its advantage in the eyes of other honorable members. Each site would be distinctly and separately considered.
– Let us decide on the district first, and afterwards decide on the site.
– But the same difficulty would then arise. An honorable member will know before he votes that he is in favour, perhaps, of one site in a district, while absolutely against another site in the same district. An honorable member might not prefer either site as his first choice, but say, “ I would rather vote for any site in the list than one of those sites ; yet by my vote for the district I may be forcing the selection of that site as the Capital.” I think the Minister will admit, if he looks at the matter candidly, that there may be grave injustice under the system of voting for districts, whereas there can be no injustice if the sites be separated.
– But with separation we might not arrive at the real decision of the House as to which is the best site.
– That is just what we should arrive at.
– I am afraid we might not.
– There would be ‘ another chance on the Bill, of changing the site.
– I think that we should be more likely to arrive at the real decision of the House by separating the sites, rather than by taking the course now proposed. How is an honorable member to vote if he is absolutely against one site in a certain district, and places it last, and yet is favorable to another site in the same district? There can be no valid objection to separating the sites, which would then be each distinct, with its merits and demerits. In addition, when we came to consider the Bill, there would be a chance to move, an amendment that another site be inserted.
– We do not want the discussion all over again.
– That cannot be prevented, so far as I can see.
– But we do not want to encourage another discussion.
– I think we are far more likely to encourage another discussion by dealing with districts, than we are by dealing with individual sites. I suppose we are not going to insert in the Bill a district only, but will name a site within a certain radius of some place. I should not object if we decided 01 a site within, say, twenty miles of a certain place; that would be perfectly legitimate. I do not wish to limit the choice to the mere township.
– We might use the words “shall be in the southern district,” and then use the words of the schedule “ and within “ so many miles of a particular place.
– But we ought to do that at the outset. For instance, if we provide that, the site shall be within fiftv miles, say, of Tumut, we include Tooma ; and I think it ought to be indicated that the site is limited to within a certain range of country.
– Some discretion mustbe given to the Government after the detailed surveys are made.
– It should be indicated that the site shall be within a reasonable distance, so that it may be plain which of two sites may be meant.
– That is quite right.
– I therefore urge on the Ministers that, while it may be fair to all to separate the sites, it cannot be fair to some to vote on districts.
-I should have much preferred to see the discussion upon the motion divided in the way suggested by you, Mr. Speaker, because it is really difficult to discuss two distinct proposals at one time.
– It is not too late to separate the discussion upon the motion. Has an objection been raised?
– The proposals could be taken seriatim, could they not?
– The right hon orable member for East Sydney objected to the discussion upon the motion being divided, and Mr. Speaker did not wish to act on his own suggestion, unless the House were unanimous. Though I had charge of this Bill on the last occasion when the method of selection adopted was the same as that now proposed, I recognised all the time that it was most faulty; and, if it be possible, the method ought to be amended. I cannot quite follow at present the proposed amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, though I think that the principle of his- proposal is good. By the amendment, it seems to me, there would be a much better chance of getting a clear indication of the view of honorable members as to the value of the different sites. It may be too extreme, but if it is not, I certainly would suggest that that should be adopted, and an alteration made. I hope that if it is not understood, the Ministry will have a thorough examination made of the proposal of the honorable and learned member, so that we may get as near to a complete system of voting as is possible.
– We are willing to take the sense of the House on the matter.
– I do not think that all the members of the House quite clearly understand the amendment. I listened to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I am not very clear on some points now, but I think that the principle of his proposal is a good one. Then, regarding the proposal to take districts instead of sites, I must say that I strongly advocate the taking of districts. I think that the alteration in feeling and the experience we have had since the last vote was taken is such as to show honorable members that it is not wise to fix on any spot until we have exhaustive information and the fullest detailed surveys. But if the Government be limited to a district it will be possible, by future examination, to get within that district the best spot. I do not know whether the names given to. the three proposed districts - southern, western, and south-eastern - are the best.
– What names would the honorable member suggest?
– I shall think of the names later on. I shall not be able to move an amendment ; but when we get to that particular point I shall suggest to some honorable memBer that he should move an amendment.
– The honorable member will not be able to move an amendment at a later stage.
– I was saying, sir, that, although I shall not be able to move an amendment, I could ask an honorable member to move one, unless the Government accepted some proposal. The southern district is a large one ; the western district comprises all the western country of New’ South Wales; and the south-eastern district is a large one, too. But there is not very much in a name if the distances from any spot are mentioned. I take.it that, as in the Bill, the Senate has defined the boundaries of the district which it prefers. Some spot might be mentioned, and a radius of so many miles round that spot might be taken, or else lines of demarcation might’ be drawn, so to divide the three eligible places distinctly, and thus enable honorable members to know exactly what they were voting for. I have described what has been done in regard to Dalgety and Bombala. Take, for instance, the Tumut site and the Tooma or Welaregang site. Although the site which has been referred to so much lately is partly on the Tooma holding and partly on the Welaregang holding, still it would be more correctly called the Welaregang site than the Tooma site. From Tumut the distance is about forty-five miles direct. I find on measurement that Bombala is thirty-six or thirty-seven miles direct from Dalgety.
– What distance is Tumut from Batlow ?
– Without looking at the map I should say that Batlow is about seventeen or eighteen miles from Tumut.
– On the map it is twenty miles.
– I think that by the road Batlow is sixteen or eighteen miles from Tumut - it is, perhaps, fourteen or fifteen .miles direct - while from Batlow to Tooma the distance is about thirty miles.
– From Batlow to Tumberumba the distance is about eighteen miles.
– I cannot say, but the map will show the distance. I have to take the distance as the road goes, because it is more familiar to me than the distance by a direct line. I should think that the distance from Batlow to Tooma is about thirty miles, and to Welaregang thirty-three or thirty-four miles. In regard to the two distinct questions before us, I would suggest to the Minister that, in the first place, there should be an amendment made as to the method of voting - whether it should be exactly like the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella or not is a matter for further discussion - and that, in the second place, there should be certain definitions of the districts even if they are not named. In regard to the voting, I conceive that the only fair way to get finality is to let each site take its chance against every other site.
– That is the idea, but it is very difficult to work it out.
– It is, and the matter is so important that there should be no hurry about selecting the best method of deciding. But supposing that a vote were taken first between the south-eastern and the western districts, and next between the southeastern and the southern districts, and that we brought each district against every other district, so that there would be no combination of one against another that would be likely to destroy the votes which would be given for each individual district, the result should be satisfactory. I should like the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who has taken up this matter, and seems to be adept at moving amendments of this kind, to consider that point before the matter is finally .decided. Before the various districts are finally completed there should be an absolute vote taken between each district as against the other districts.
– That is exactly what my proposal does. It is a matter of mathematics.
– The honorable and learned member will see exactly whit I wish. If it can be obtained by his method it shall have my support.
– That method puts every site against every other site, and it puts them finally in their absolutely relative order.
– That is exactly what 1 wish to see done. Each site should be pitted against every other site by some means or method; and when that is done no one can complain of the final result, whatever it may be. The votes should be taken in such a way that no combination can destroy the selection of a site, although some part of that combination may be in favour of that site, which I think would be very improper. But, if two sites are against a third site - take, for instance, the case of Welaregang in the southern, and a site in the south-eastern district - they may combine to prevent Lyndhurst from succeeding. And then Lyndhurst may combine with some other site to prevent a third one from succeeding. If by the method which the honorable and learned member has submitted, that cannot happen, and we can get a fair straight vote, upon site by site, “every one should be satisfied. I hope that when this matter comes to be further examined - and it would take some little time to thoroughly understand .it - we shall not adopt the method of the last Parliament, because it was very incomplete. We have since had a little experience to show us that that method can very justly and easily be improved upon.
– After having considered the proposed schemes for balloting for a site, I cannot see my way to approve of the principle of the scheme laid down by the honorable and learned’ member for Corinella. Some time ago I was deputed by a society, of - which I am a member, to investigate various systems of voting, for the purpose of endeavouring to get a plan of preferential voting, which would be understandable by the voters, and yet would secure as nearly as practicable the wishes of the majority being carried out. I do not think that the system which my honorable and learned friend has proposed would, in practical working, have that effect, because it would be open to manipulation. It is idle for the honorable and learned member to say that every honorable member would give his vote in the order of preference which he had in his own mind. The natural inclination of every honorable member would be to give his first vote to the site in which he believed,, and his last vote against the site which he thought was the most dangerous rival to the one he favoured. That is the actual working of the scheme in practical politics; and that would be the actual working in this case. A branch of a friendly society was endeavouring to select a doctor - and that is a- matter in which every member is particularly interested - and this particular method of marking i, 2, 3 led within my knowledge to the selection not of the man who was most generally approved, but of a much weaker candidate. I fear that if the method proposed by the honorable and learned member were adopted a similar result would accrue.
– Does not the honorable and learned member see that the Government proposal would produce the same results? The Government proposal honestly followed will produce the same results as my proposal dishonestly followed.
– The provision which says that the place getting the least number of votes on the first count shall drop out is the weak feature in the scheme of the Government, because that place, pitted against the place actually inserted in the Bill, might be able to win. But the safeguard against that is that on the recommittal or third reading of the Bill we could have a straight-out fight between the site which came out first in the ballot and the. site which would be finally adopted. I therefore think that the Government scheme is less open to objection. I shall just give an example of how the proposed scheme of the honorable and learned member may be worked. Assuming t’hat there are seventy-three effective votes in the House, and, for the sake of argument, that there are twenty members who prefer Bombala to any other site, twenty-five members who prefer Tumut or Tooma to any other site, and twentyeight members who prefer Lyndhurst to any other site. In the ballot Bombala gets twenty first votes, and its supporters divide their second and third votes equally between Tumut and ‘Lyndhurst. That means that the number twenty will be placed against Bombala, the number fifty against Tumut, and the number fifty against Lyndhurst. Twenty-five members give their first vote to Tumut, but, fearing that Lyndhurst may defeat their own site, they decide to give their second vote to Bombala, and all their third votes to Lyndhurst. That means that the number twenty-five will be put against Tumut, the number fifty against Bombala, and the number seventy-five against Lyndhurst. Then we come to Lyndhurst, which has twenty-eight first votes. The members who voted for that site may decide to, so to speak, mix it in the same way as did those who voted for Bombala, which would result in seventy votes being cast against Tumut and seventy against Bombala. Bombala would thus gain in all 140 votes, Tumut 145, and Lyndhurst 153, and, the average being 146, Lyndhurst, a1, though obtaining the largest number of first votes, would, be left out on the first count.
– That happened last time, under the system now again proposed by the Government.
– Yes, and it may happen again. The case I have put is purely supposititious, but it must be remembered that honorable members may be relied upon to cast their first vote for the site they most prefer, and to give the hardest knock they can to the site which they consider its most dangerous rival.
– In the honorable member’s illustration, the result is the selection not of Bombala, but of the despised Tumut. That is the hole into which the tricksters fall.
– All I desire is the adoption of a method which will secure, as far as practicable, the expression of the real opinions of honorable members. It is well known to those who have taken part in the conduct of elections by the members of friendly societies or other similar bodies that electors vote differently in the second and third ballots from the way in which they voted in the first ballot, and it is therefore very hard to secure the expression of their true opinions. It appears to me, however, that the Government plan is the least objectionable, because it can be secured from abuse by the means I have suggested. If Tumut be carried, although on a straight-out vote Lyndhurst would have been chosen, the advocates of the latter place can, by obtaining the recommittal of the Bill, or in some other way provided for in the Standing Orders, again test the feelings of honorable members in regard to the two sites. I think it is highly desirable that the manner in which every honorable member records his vote shall be made public for the information of the people outside.
– Why, not settle the matter in the ordinary way, by division ?
– This will . secure practically the same result. If the Bill were recommitted, any one site could be pitted against any other site.
– Is there anything in the method proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella which would prevent it being made known how each honorable member had voted ?
– No ; but the system is a complicated one. It is wrapper! up in a maze of figures which would largely confuse the public. I know, from my own experience, that all these methods of preferential voting tend to confuse the public mind. What the public desire is a method of voting which they can easily understand, and it seems to me that an open vote is the best they can have. I admit that on the first trial the will of an absolute majority of honorable members may not be clearly expressed, but I believe that the forms of the House are such as Mill enable the ultimate expression of the opinion’ of the majority to be obtained. While I pay the utmost respect to the mathematical genius of the honorable and learned member for
Corinella, I do not think that the reasons which he gave for the adoption of his scheme are sufficient to justify us in departing from the proposal of the Government.
– It seems to me that the Government are doing right in asking the House to vote for the proposed sites in districts. The Minister of Home Affairs has grouped them in three districts ; Lyndhurst being the centre of the western district; in the southeastern district are grouped Bombala, Delegate, Dalgety, and Coolringdon; while in the southern district are such places as Tumut, Gadara, Batlow, Welaregang. Last session the House was asked to decide between Orange, Bathurst, and Lyndhurst in the western district., but those who favoured those sites have .now determined to join, forces in support of Lyndhurst, and it seems to me that those who are interested in the sites in the southern and south-eastern districts should have a similar opportunity to combine in favour of one or other cf those districts. I think, however, that it is desirable to more strictly define the proposed districts. Thus, we might say that the western district comprises an area within, say, fifty miles - or whatever other distance might be considered proper - of Lyndhurst; defining the south-eastern district as being the area within a radius of, say, fifty miles of Dalgety, which would include Bombala and the other sites there; and the southern district as the area within, say, fifty miles of Tumberumba, which would include Tumut, Gadara, Batlow, Welaregang, and the other sites in that district. From the ‘ point of view both of fairness and convenience, it is better to deal with the sites in districts. I do not think that every site would have a fair chance if theywere dealt with separately, because, for instance, honorable members who would join in voting for the southern district, might throw away their votes upon Gadara, Batlow, or some other site near Tumut, instead of combining as those who are supporting the Lyndhurst site have done.
– I think the proposal very unmanly, because all the remaining sites are being grouped against Lyndhurst.
– To my mind there is no unfairness at all. My only desire is to exercise my vote to the best of my judgment. It is, of course, necessary that honorable members shall have due notice of the date of the proposed ballot.
– The Government will agree to that.
– In spite of the reasons which have been advanced for the adoption of another method of voting, I think that we will do best by again follow-. -“g the method which was used last session. It must be remembered that honorable members are required to change their votes as the balloting proceeds, because, as certain sites are dropped out, their preference in regard to the remaining sites alters. If, however, the sites are voted for in districts, a member may vote for a district in order to secure the selection of a particular site, and if the district were selected, but the site which he favoured rejected, his vote would be practically nullified. It is therefore somewhat unfair to compel those who have preferences to vote for the site’s in districts. Moreover, on the last occasion, three sites in the western district, two sites in the southeastern district, and two in the southern district, were balloted for, and the system of voting for sites gave a degree of fairness which will not obtain if we now vote by districts, because whereas the number of suitable sites in the south-eastern district has increased, the number of such sites in the western district has decreased. I hope, therefore, that the House will follow the method adopted on the last occasion. The preferential system of voting may be theoretically perfect, but the results of open voting are far more satisfactory. The open voting system affords some check upon the manipulation of votes, be-‘ cause the results are published, and every honorable member who transfers his support from site to site will probably be called upon by his constituents to give his reasons for so doing. I think it is undesirable that we should be called upon to fix upon the exact site for the Capital, and I regard the proposed radius as altogether too small. It should be extended to at least twenty-five miles. Dalgety, for instance, is a long way from Bombala, and we might in dealing with those sites include the country within a radius of twentyfive miles of each place. In the same way, the Tumberumba and Tooma sites should be dealt with separately, and each should embrace a large area of country. We cannot reasonably be asked to determine the exact site of the Capital until detailed surveys have been made, and we should give the surveyors the fullest possible scope within a given district. I hope that the amendment will not be adopted, because, as site after site is rejected, honorable members may very reasonably change the order of their choice. I
– I think it is to be regretted that, the suggestion made by you, Mr. Speaker, was not adopted, because we are now dealing with two distinct questions. ‘ With regard to the method of voting to be followed, honorable members must have been impressed with the imperfections of the system adopted on the former occasion. We all know that votes were manipulated to a very large extent, and that the process was an easy one. I much .prefer the method proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, because, although under it manipulation of votes may be possible, it will be much more difficult than under the system formerly followed. I am strongly in favour of the proposal of the Government that a vote shall be taken in regard to the districts within which the Federal territory shall be located. It would be a great mistake to tie us down to any particular spot at this stage. We must remember that upon the last occasion a large majority of honorable members voted in favour of a particular locality, which is now almost universally condemned as unsuitable. We may repeat that mistake if we again vote under similar conditions. In voting for a district, we can look at its general situation, and take into consideration its centrality with regard to the various States ; its physical characteristics, climate, water supply, railway and other facilities, and all those other conditions which should weigh with us, apart from the selection of the actual spot upon which the Capital is to be built. It has been urged that if there were two sites in one district, one strongly favoured, and the other such that no one would choose it, honorable members might vote against the good site for fear that the bad one might be selected. We must, however, rely upon the exercise of common sense and reason in the selection of a site for the Capital within a given area, and I do not think that any fears of the kind indicated need be entertained. At this stage we should merely select a certain district, and leave the question of choosing a particular site for further consideration.
– I entered the House this afternoon, feeling that the fairest course for us to pursue would be to take a vote in regard to each site, but the arguments advanced by honorable members, who are opposed to the selection of a district as against a particular site, have induced me to think that we shall act wisely if we content ourselves at present with selecting a certain district within which the Capital Site shall afterwards be fixed. In the western district, for instance, there is only one site, whereas in the south-eastern district there are two, namely, Bombala and Dalgety.
– Hear, hear. There are two fighting against one.
– The same thing applies to the southern district, in which there are at least two sites, Tumut and Tooma. The unfairness does not lie on the side indicated by the interjection of the right honorable member for East Sydney, because if a vote were taken with regard to each individual site, Lyndhurst would have the advantage of undivided support as contrasted with oth<;r districts whose claims would rest upon the varying attractions of two or more totally distinct sites. If we desire to arrive at an honest conclusion, and to do that which’ is best in the interests of (he Commonwealth, we should, in the first instance, vote for districts, and afterwards choose the exact site upon which the Capital is to be built. I have arrived at this conclusion after hearing the arguments used by those honorable members who are opposed to this course, and who have demonstrated to me most clearly the injustice that might result from following their advice. I favour the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, with regard to the way in which the voting shall be conducted. It follows the method advocated by Professor Nansen, one of the most eminent of our University professors, who has given a great deal of time and thought to the perfection of a balloting system. I think that, by adopting the amendment, we shall be most likely to arrive at an honest expression ‘of the preference of honorable members. It is true that the object of the system may be defeated if honorable members do not vote straightforwardly, but I assume, at the outset, that every member of this House intends to act honestly. If, however, there should be any desire to manipulate votes, that object could be accomplished more readily, and at much less risk under the system of voting proposed by the Government. The analysis of the voting that took place on the last occasion, shows that honorable members voted honestly and straightforwardly, and we nave no justification for supposing that they will now evince a different spirit. I merely rose to give my reasons for the vote which I intend to cast upon the present’ occasion.
– To those honorable members who sat in the last Parliament the subject which is now engaging attention can scarcely be considered a new one. On that occasion the proposal which has been submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, was debated at some length in view of the limited time which was then at our disposal. A considerable period was occupied in discussing the method of voting which should be adopted - time, which some honorable members, including myself, thought should have been devoted to debating the respective merits of the different sites. Consequently, the matter is by no means a new one. The present proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, though it varies slightly in detail, is practically upon all fours with that submitted by him when this matter was dealt with by the last Parliament, and the proposition of the Government is substantially that which was adopted on that occasion. The result of the experiment which we then made was reasonably satisfactory. By this process of elimination and re-voting, we reached a stage when the final decision lay between the selection of Tumut and Lyndhurst. In view of that experience, I submit that we are amply justified in adopting the same method on the present occasion, and consequently I shall vote against the amendment and support’ the proposal of the Government. The question of the selection of districts opens up a very big matter, which also engaged our attention during the last Parliament. On the occasion referred to, I recollect that the honorable member for North Sydney was very desirous that a selection as between certain districts should first be made, rather than a selection as between particular sites. He submitted a proposal which might’ well engage the attention of the House at the present time. He proposed that the several sites contained in any district should be voted upon, irrespective of those embraced by other districts, and that whatever site commanded the largest support should be regarded as the most eligible site in that particular district. He further proposed that a vote should subsequently be taken upon the merits of the various districts. The last Government decided to deal with this matter from the stand-point of sites, and not of districts. As a result, the reports which have been submitted to us by the expert Commissioners appointed for the purpose of thoroughly investigating this question have dealt largely with the question of sites. Up to the present time, the matter of the territory to be acquired by the Commonwealth has not been considered, except in an indirect way. The only information in our possession, having reference to the question of territory, is to be found in the original report of the late Mr. Oliver. That report .was supplied at the instance of the Government of New South Wales. In it Mr. Oliver did not confine himself to the question of the suitability of certain territory for the Federal Capital site, but also took into consideration the capability of the surrounding district to support the population of a city of that character. All other reports, however, have dealt merely with the question of sites. Whatever information we have regarding the territory with which we are now asked to deal is contained either in Mr. Oliver’s report or in reports which do not pretend to deal with that question, but which only’ refer to it incidentally. At the outset I join issue with the Government as to the preparation of these reports. I hold that we should first satisfy ourselves, from the opinions of experts, as to the suitability of the different territories, and that having done that, we should then discuss the merits of the sites.
– Does the honorable member think that there would be sufficient experts left by that time?
– I must confess that I am not too strongly enamoured of expertreports. After inspecting the different sites, I claim that the site which was recommended by the expert Commissioners, as standing first upon the list, was absolutely the worst from a building stand-point.
– From all standpoints.
– Pretty well from all stand-points. The information supplied to us, at the instance of the late Government, does not deal with the question of territory, or districts, but merely with certain sites within those districts. For example, take the sites which are embraced under the heading of “ Southern district.” 1 presume they will include what were previously known as the Tumut sites. In that district we have the Gadara site, which was recommended by the late Mr. Oliver ; the Lacmalac site, which was recommended strongly by the Commonwealth Commissioner; the Tumut site; the ‘Batlow site; the Tooma site; and Welaregang site. In the selection of any district a vote may be cast which would not be unanimous regardingthe merits of any particular site within that district. Thus the selection of a site might mean the transfer of a considerable number of votes from particular districts. For instance, there are those who support the Gadara site, and who, as a result, will advocate the selection of the southern district. There are others who will advocate the selection of the Lacmalac, the Tumut, Batlow, Tooma, and Welaregang sites. If,- in the final selection, these particularly favoured sites are defeated, the probability is that, in the exercise of a second preference their advocates will favour either the Lyndhurst or the Dalgety site. That seems to me to raise a very intricate point in the selection of a site. Consequently, I prefer to act on the information which is contained in the reports which have been submitted to us, and to arrive at a decision in respect of the sites, especially as the question of territory, has not previously entered into consideration. Honorable members were invited by the Barton Administration, and later by the Deakin Government, to decide this question from that particular stand-point. The Bill which was introduced was merely intended to locate the site. We were informed that it would be followed by another measure, dealing with the question of the Federal territory. We were assured that that question would form the subject of further consideration, and of negotiation with the Government of NewSouth Wales, and would be dealt with in another Bill. I do not know what the present Government propose to do in this connexion. Apparently they have framed their Bill upon the basis which was laid down by the last Parliament. Whether they will adhere to it, or whether, like the late Government, they will turn round at the last moment and make it a measure for the selection of territory rather than of a site, remains to be seen. Apparently they propose to select territory, rather than a site, in the first instance. I claim that, in justice to ourselves, we ought to select a site, becausewe must necessarily rely to a very large extent upon the information which has been supplied to us in official reports. I should prefer that each site within the various districts should be voted upon, irrespective of the sites embraced in other territories. Whichever site in the southern, south-eastern, or western districts commands a majorityshould, I think, be regarded as the most: eligible site in that particular district. The merits of the various districts could bevoted upon in respect of those sites in the final ballot.
– I am at a loss to understand the arguments submitted against the Government proposal that a vote shall be taken, not on sites, but on districts. It is easy for the honorable member who has just resumed his seat to say that we should vote only in respect of individual sites. He forgets that on a previous occasion he made a stirring and brilliant speech in favour of Orange, and that subsequently, as the result of a clever arrangement with the honorable member for Macquarie, the sites in the western district were narrowed down to one, and no vote was given for Orange.
– I voted for Orange as long as it was in the running.
– I should have said that only one voted for Orange. It is inconsistent for those who have winnowed down the sites in the district which they favour to one, to urge that the House, should be called upon to vote for individual sites. What is the reason for this; contention? It is evidently desired that the various sites shall be voted on separately, in order that the supporters of thesite in the western district may succeed.I was at first disposed to think that the.Government were taking a rather big responsibility in placing Tumut and Tooma in the one district, because on measuring the distances shown on the map I found that Tooma was. nearly as close to Dalgety as it is to Tumut.
– Let it be bracketed with the two sites in the honorable member’s district, and then he will have a strong team.
– To my mind, it would have been fairer had Tooma been placed in a separate district. Under the present proposal, we are asked to vote on the question of its selection, although it has not been subjected to that close scrutiny which in the case of some of the other proposed sites proved so disastrous. Seeing that we shall have to discuss the merits of each site, it is somewhat strange that not only eleven sites which have been already reported on - and which have been killed by those reports - should be placed in one district, but that two other sites should be included in it, and that we should be refused information asked for in respect of them, lest they, too, might be put out of the running by the official reports, I do not wish at this stage to further discuss the relative merits of the various sites. I have simply referred to these matters in order to show why I was at first disposed to oppose the Government proposal. It seems to me that if we are to select one of these districts, it would be better, instead of calling them the southern, south-eastern, and western districts, and so forth, to call them by the names by which we know them best. They should be known as the Lyndhurst district, the Bombala district, the Tumut district, and the Murray, or the Upper Murray, district. If it is necessary that the site on the western side of the mountains should have all the chances of selection proposed to be afforded it, let us settle the question by voting on the Tumut district, the Monaro district, and the” Lyndhurst district. That would give the honorable member who objects to the Government proposal a fair OPportunity to carry out his wishes. Those who. like him, still think that Orange is the best site, would, under that system, be able to vote for Orange, as being covered by the Lyndhurst district.
– That is all I desire.
– If the Government proposal be adopted, that ought to be conceded. I think it would be better, however, to deal with this question as we should with an ordinary Bill. A Bill setting forth the selection made by another place has- been sent down to us, and it already covers one of the districts - the south-eastern - on. which the Government propose .to taKe a vote. Let us pit the southern or Tumut district against the western or Lyndhurst district, and having decided by a vote of the House which of the two has the greater number, of supporters, pit the successful one against the district named in the Bill. That would be a reasonable and simple course to pursue, and would be fair to all parties. We should thus avoid the trouble involved in taking a ballot, and be enabled to secure all that we desire.
– What about Dalgety?
– The Bill already covers Dalgety.
– We do not wish to have it under the thimble in that way ; we wish to have a vote on it. After Lyndhurst, I am in favour of One of the sites in the honorable member’s district.
– It is useless for the honorable member for Macquarie to attempt to work in a proposal of that kind. There was a strong expression of opinion in favour of Dalgety in another place.
– Let us have a vote on Dalgety.
– It is all very well for the honorable member to say that.
– But under the honorable member’s proposal we should not have a vote on Dalgety.
– We should. I am prepared to accept the Bill as it has come down to us from another place. It covers Dalgety and Twofold Bay as being within a fifty-mile radius. As we are to select not a site but a district, I favour the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Objection has been taken that under it votes might be manipulated, but no one has yet shown how any manipulation of votes could make the worst results achieved by it any different from the best results that could be secured by following the Government scheme. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has distinctly proved that his method would simply lead to the pitting of one site against another, and that we should thus be able to deal with the relative value of each. If that system were adopted it would prevent arrangements being made to anything like the extent that would be possible under the Government proposal, and, therefore, I am strongly in favour of it. It would also place on record the opinion of every member in regard to this question. Every vote would be known. An. honorable member would vote No. i for the site which, he preferred, No. 2 for that which he considered to be the next best site, and so on, and we should arrive at a conclusion by one ballot instead of being compelled to have a number, as was the case on a former occasion. I hope that we shall not go to a vote without defining in some way the term “ southern district.” That district includes Albury and Tabletop, and surely the honorable member for Hume, with thirteen sites in the vicinity of Tumut, has no desire to bring those two into the running. Let us define the area in the three districts, and give them some such distinct and familiar names as I have suggested. I do not propose to move any amendment in that direction, because, if I did, the honorable member for Hume, and the honorable member for Macquarie, would probably be disposed to oppose it; but I throw out the suggestion that such an amendment should be moved.
– I should not object. I think that in each case there should be a certain radius fixed.
– Very well. It is only fair that we should deal with this question by selecting a district. We have the south-eastern and the southern district, and Lyndhurst is practically a district. One of the representatives of the western district, the honorable . member for Canobolas, wishes to record his vote for the selection of the Lyndhurst district, and why should he be deprived of the right to do so? We should have just as much right if the honorable member for Macquarie insisted on his proposal, to vote on the selection of Orange as on the selection of Lyndhurst. This House has already put Lyndhurst out of court, and it is only out of courtesy to the honorable member for Macquarie, and because of his indefatigable log-rolling, that it has again been placed in the list from which a selection is to be made.
An Honorable Member. - Not logrolling.
– I mean logrolling outside this House.
– The honorable member has done a good deal of that lately.
– Before the amendment is dealt with, I should like the Government to “ consider my suggestion. Three districts are supposed to be in the running, and one is named in the Bill. Let iis pit the two districts not named in the measure against each other, and then pit that which is victorious against the district named in the Bill. I call upon honorable members to show that any unfair result would follow the adoption of that course. If we adopted it we should,” in my opinion, arrive at a fair result. I trust that we shall be able to select a district, and, indeed, I think we must do so. I doubt whether it would not be good policy to stand to a territory until such time as the Commonwealth Government are able to enter into negotiations with New South Wales in regard- to this matter. If we selected a territory it would cover the site that we desired ; and in the light of further information we might even be able to select a better site than would be chosen, if we dealt with the matter straight away. I am strongly in favour of selecting a territory. If we selected the Monaro territory, we should cover the proposal contained in the Bill as sent down by the Senate, and by securing a broad area should be able to choose the most desirable site in the interests of the people.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I have been somewhat amused by the statement made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, that Lyndhurst has been included in the list from which a selection is to be made, really as a matter of courtesy to me. I join issue with him, and would point out that when we dealt with the matter last session, Lyndhurst topped’the poll on the first three or four ballots, and was defeated by only a very small’ majority on the final ballot. I know that the honorable member for Hume attempted in a most peculiar way to prevent the claims of Lyndhurst being considered by the House.
– Bad as he is, I do not think he would do that.
– He did.
– I do not know what right the honorable member has to say anything of the kind. The statement is incorrect; but for me Lyndhurst would not have been submitted to-day for our consideration.
– The honorable member has not assisted me to secure the selection of the site which I favour, for on every occasion he has voted against Lyndhurst. I like a man to vote according to the views which he professes to hold. It is all very well for the honorable member to make statements abour Lyndhurst being the best site, and then to vote against it.
– I never said anything of the kind, and I told the honorable member to-dav that it was not so.
– The honorable member went 011 to say that if the railway to Cobar and to Werris Creek were constructed-
-I must ask the hon orable member not to discuss that matter.
– I was led away by the interjections of the honorable member.
– I spoke of Orange, not of Lyndhurst.
– The honorable member now talks of districts, and -says he would vote for Orange, and not for Lyndhurst, although they are only some twenty or thirty miles apart. According to his own argument, we should vote, not for the selection of a district, but for a site. He says that he would vote for Orange.
– I do not say anything of the kind.
– I understood the honorable member to say that, in his opinion, Orange was the best site in that district.
– I said that Orange was the most central place in the west, if the railway lines are connected.
– I will take it that that is what was said; but the honorable member voted against Lyndhurst because he did not think that site was central.
– I voted against Orange, too.
– The honorable member has given some peculiar votes.
– The Lyndhurst site is not to be compared with that of Orange.
– The honorable member is now attempting to lead a few honorable members into a trap, but I do not’ think that he will find, the result favorable to himself. I cannot see what objection can be urged to the system adopted on the previous occasion. No “tricky business” was carried on.
– No complaint was made of the system then adopted.’
– I know that on ::a previous occasion it was, thought that an attempt might be made to change votes in order to put a certain site out of the running, but a subsequent close scrutiny of the votes showed that everything had been done in a straightforward, honest way. Honorable members will admit that on that occasion a fair opportunity was given to determine the question; and that being the case, I do not know why, at this late period, an attempt should be made to alter the system. There must b6 some object. Is the object to confuse honorable members ?
– Does the honorable member allude to my proposal ?
– I am referring to the honorable and learned member’s amendment, and also to the proposal to group the districts.
– My amendment is proposed solely with the object of ascertaining the true wish of the House.
– I am quite sure the honorable and learned member is doing what he thinks to be right, and I am not questioning his motives. I do, however, question the suitability of his proposals to achieve the desired end.
– But the honorable member said that there, must be some other purpose in my amendment.
– I had not the honorable and learned member, but some one else, in my mind when I made the remark. I think it will be admitted that no exception was taken to the course adopted on a previous occasion.
– I took exception to it myself.
– That may be so ; but honorable members generally were satisfied with the system. I know that the Minister of Home Affairs has given this matter much consideration, and has had in review several projects.
– I had submitted to me two or three proposals.
– And after mature consideration the Minister of Home Affairs has come to the conclusion that the course proposed is the only fair one to adopt; and, further, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the right honorable member for Swan, and other members of the late Government, also considered the question, and unanimously agreed that that system was the right one. Indeed, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, on the last occasion, whipped, up honorable members in order to get a sufficient number to carry a proposal for the adoption of that system.
– That is not true. The honorable member does not seem to object to the right honorable member for Swan changing his mind on other matters.
– I do not object to honorable members changing their minds, if some good reason can be shown for the change. The honorable member for Swan and other members of the late Government took a great deal of trouble in their efforts to arrive at some satisfactory solution of this vexed question; and after mature consideration extending over some days, both in Cabinet and in the House, they came to the conclusion that the scheme now proposed was the right one.
Two Governments having agreed in this matter, why should a change be desired now ?
– The unanimity is wonderful.
– I cannot understand the unanimity ; and feeling that no exception can be taken to the course previously adopted, I shall cordially support the motion of the Government. As to grouping, some alteration ought to be made, but that is a matter with which we can deal on a proposal to amend the schedule.
Question - That paragraph b proposed to be left out stand part of the motion - put. The House divided.
Majority … … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That after the words “ Southern District,” in the schedule, the following words be inserted : - “ comprising an area of land within a radius of fifty miles from Batlow.”
The object of the amendment is to define the districts on which the House is asked to vote. Amendment of the kind is necessary in order that honorable members may know whether the districts submitted contain sites which they may favour or oppose. I intend to follow this amendment up by moving the insertion of similar words in reference to Bombala, in the south-eastern district, and to Tumut, in the western district’.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- I do not think that honorable members quite understand what is before the House.
– The object of the amendments is to define the districts a little more closely.
– Do I understand that, in place of sites, merely districts within a radius of fifty miles are to be voted upon? Will it be competent to first decide on the district, and then insert the name of a certain place, or shall we be compelled to vote for a particular district within a radius of fifty miles, without having anynames for our guidance?
-If the amendments were carried, the House would have resolved that the schedule should stand in this form -
Southern distric’t, comprising a radius of fifty miles from Batlow.
South-eastern district, comprising a radius of fifty miles from Bombala.
Western district, comprising a radius . of fifty miles from Lyndhurst.
On only those three issues would the balloting take place. If, however, honorable members desire that the issue shall be voted on in another way, it will be competent for the House to reject the amendment now moved, strike out the three districts named in the schedule, and insert a number of places in lieu thereof.
– May I suggest, sir, that it would be better to use the words “ comprising all the land “ within such and such a radius?
– I would point outto the honorable member that the House is not engaged in passing an Act of Parliament, but simply in laying down general principles to be followed later on. If the House understands what is wanted, I do not think that we need be very particular about the exact wording that is used.
– The House may understand what it means, but as the proposition reads at present, it is not couched in intelligible English. I think that it ought to be distinctly stated that the district chosen comprises all the land within a certain radius. However, I shall not press the point.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The amendment is reducing the position of this Parliament with reference to the choice of a Capital Site to one of absolute absurdity. After the elaborate reports, surveys, and Royal Commissions that we have had, the public will learn with astonishment that this House, instead of selecting or indicating a site for the Capital of Australia, has indicated a radius of fifty miles within which there may be one hundred sites. The result of it all will be that we shall be no further on than we were.
– That is what the Bill which came from the other Chamber provides.
– I am objecting to that too, as I think it is equally absurd. It is a most extraordinary thing to me to find that after the authorities have furnished all these reports, made all these surveys, and framed all these estimates, the’ whole subject is reduced to utter absurdity by our now dealing with an amendment such as has been proposed. If the map is looked at, it will be seen that within the proposed fifty-mile radius we are practically making no selection of a- site. We are not now choosing a site for the Capital, but the Federal Territory. The distinction between the Federal Territory and a sitefor the Federal Capital is a very obvious one. So far we have not been dealing so much with the question of a particular territory as with the question of a particular site for the Federal Capital. I have in my hand the report of a Royal Commission - appointed by the late Government - which went into all these matters in’ a most careful and exhaustive way. In his report, too, Mr. Oliver also went into all these matters. In fact two years ago we got to a finer point than’is now suggested. If honorable members will refer to Hansard they will find that a number of definite spots were submitted. We were not tied down to a mile or two. But a radius of fifty miles on that map means nothing. All that this amendment means is, how far can we get the site of the territory away from Sydney ?
– That is parochialism.
– It may be called parochial, or whatever honorable members like. But what is meant is, how- far can it be got away from’ Sydney ? Why cannot the question be dealt with in a straightforward way ? We are choosing a Capital Site now. We are surely not proposing to throw the whole matter to the winds, after the lapse of three years. Two years ago we had a definite proposal made. For example, we had “ Tumut,” which meant the immediate locality - that is any eminence or suitable place within a few miles. It did not mean Tooma or Cooma. It meant some place in that district. We knew what was meant by Bombala, Dalgety, Lyndhurst, Orange, Bathurst, and Albury. Those were not all wild-goose chases, but definite localities, on one of which the Capital of Australia was to be built. After dealing with this question for these years, and incurring all this expenditure, we have an honorable member proposing to throw the whole thing at large; to leave us in the dark as to where the Capital is to be by saying that it shall be, for example, anywhere within a radius of fifty miles of a given spot called Batlow.
– Including all the sites which have been inspected.
– The honorable member is only imitating what has been done in another place. The Bill contains a most extraordinary description. It is a Bill to determine, not the Federal Territory, but the Seat of Government.
– It also defines the Federal Territory.
– This is the way in which it is dealt with in the Bill : -
It is hereby determined that . the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be within that portion of New South Wales bounded on the north by a direct line running from the town of Pambula to the town of Cooma, thence due west to the border of the State of Victoria -
That is a pretty big order.
– What else?
– and within fifty miles of Bombala, in the State of New South Wales.
There are two sites within fifty miles of Bombala. Surely we have got further than this - that as the result of this legislation we are to decide practically nothing? If the Bill, naming a district contained in the schedule as proposed to be- amended, or even as it stands, were passed to-morrow, would there be any Capital Site fixed?
– What ‘ a lovely Capital Site - a fifty-mile radius! That is, reducing the matter to absolute absurdity; that may be the intention of some persons.
– Does the right honorable member say that the provision passed by the Senate is an absurdity?
– I do, absolutely. This amendment is not a bit worse than that provision. They stand on exactly the same footing. Suppose that this amendment were carried, and that the Bill were passed containing one of the districts named. If an area answering, to the . description in the schedule were selected, would any Capital Site be chosen? Could any Government build a Capital on an inch of that fifty-miles radius without first coming down and getting a special Act of Parliament to fix the site?
– Is there anything to prevent the House from defining the exact position five minutes after it has selected the area?
– Then I understand that this is not a proposal to select a site, but a proposal to get somebody boxed up somehow. You allow the disputants within this fifty-mile radius to knock some other place out, and when they have knocked it put, to fight the matter out amongst themselves. That is called a fair fight ! It resembeles very much the sort of fighting, when three individuals have to decide something. Two of them join together, and say “ Now we shall have a fight with this third man. We shall knock him out first, and then have it out between ourselves.” I do not call that fair play. If honorable members admit that they intend to do an unfair thing, I have no more to say. I understand that the Ministry have no desire to do what is not absolutely fair. The Bill is bacl enough; but the amendment does not make the absurdity any less. I admit that from one point of view it limits the absurdity to a certain extent, because the term “southern ‘district” means anything you like. Every honorable member who is acquainted with New South Wales knows that the application of the words “ southern district “ to that State does not help us one iota.
– When an honorable member tries to define what is meant, the right honorable member objects.
– The definition is not so bad as the proposal in the resolutions ; but still it is absurd. If the honorable member for Gwydir intended to build a house, and wished to settle the site of his house, he would not consider that he had settled that question when he had decided that it was to be erected within a radius of fifty miles.
– I could instruct an architect to select a site within that radius for me.
– The honorable member would, but Parliament cannot act in that way, else this measure would not be needed.
– We can do that afterwards.
– It is lamentable that after these pretentious reports about precise localities, we should have the farce of the House putting through a Bill which, while professing to determine the Seat of Government, says that it shall be anywhere within fifty miles of some other place. If that is a way to define the site of the Capital, it is also a way to make foolery of the whole project.
– Does the right honorable member remember that last sessionbe advocated that the radius should be. sixty mi les ?
– Was that on the Bill?
– The right honorable member for Richmond suggested a radius of fifty miles, and the right honorable member suggested that it should be sixty miles.
– I may have done so in a jocular spirit.
– The party led by the right honorable member wished to unite the western sites.
– If an honorable member were to suggest to-day that the radius ought to be fifty miles, I might jocularly say that it should be sixty miles.
– On page 5812 of Hansard, the suggestion of the right honorable member reads as follows: -
Perhaps the honorable member might, in the schedule, define the meaning of the word “site” as being an area within sixty miles of such and such a place.
– At that particular time there was simply a definite point in view. It was not a case of defining a site which would include two rival spots.. Surely honorable members can see the distinction.
– There is none.
– That was. distinctly the object.
– I have referred to the Hansard record of the debate from which the Prime Minister quoted, in order to deal with his accusation-
– It was not an accusation ; merely a reminder.
– It was a very unhappy reminder, then, because there is absolutely no foundation for the suggestion of inconsistency. The Bill introduced into the last Parliament provided that -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near - and a blank was left for the name of the site which might be chosen. The honorable member for Richmond wished to amend the provision by inserting the words “ within a radius of sixty miles,” and the question arose whether such an amendment was in order. Every honorable member should, I think, argue points of order on their merits, without reference to his views in regard to the proposed amendment itself,- because it behoves us to do what we can to preserve the rights of the House. If a point is taken which, if sustained, will limit the action of an honorable member, it is our duty, should we think that that action is not opposed to our rules of debate, to stand by him, and support his exercise of an undoubted right. That is the attitude which I took in reference to the point of order ‘in question. If the Prime Minister had read the very next sentence, he would have seen what I was speaking on. I said -
Perhaps the honorable member might, in the schedule, define the meaning of “ site “ as being an area within sixty miles of such and such a place. That might be relevant.
Those remarks bore entirely on the point of order. On the proposal itself I spoke in very different language, as honorable members will see by reference to the Hansard report of our debates of the 7 th October, 1903. I am there reported to have said -
I cannot understand why the honorable member for Richmond is not satisfied with the clause (as it stands. Surely the words “ at or near” give a sufficient latitude. What has been gained by the examinations and reports of experts, if we are not to take advantage of their work ?
– T believe that in detail it is absolutely useless.
– Then, why not make the radius Soo miles, and take in the whole State?
That statement might be quoted against me as an expression of my opinion that the whole State should be regarded as one district. I continued -
I submit that all reasonable elasticity is provided for.
– How would the right honorable member express the word “near” in miles?
– I should have some difficulty in doing so, but I should not consider a place within sixty miles of the chosen site “near” it. The effect of the amendment would be to leave the whole question at large again, so that we should require another series of examinations to determine the precise location of the Capital.
What I said .then is exactly what I say now. Speaking on the point of order, I thought that the honorable member for Richmond was entitled to move his amendment, and therefore I supported him. But, dealing with the amendment itself I took the same ground then as I take now.
– Reading the ‘report hur’riedly, I evidently misrepresented the right honorable member.
– No doubt. But I hope the Prime Minister will allow me to put myself right, because the quotation which he read to the House made it appear that my attitude to-night is very inconsistent. The fact is that it is the same now as it was then. The Bill of which the second reading was moved in this House on the 1st October, 1903, was entitled “A Bill for an Act to determine the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.” The Seat of Government, be it remarked, not the Federal Territory ! The Constitution shows the precise distinction between the two, because section 125 says -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory ….
So that the Seat of Government and the Federal Territory are two different things. Provisions have been introduced into the Bill now before us relating to the size of the Federal Territory ; but the title of the Bill shows that it is a measure for the determination of the Seat of Government. I admit that the two things are mixed up together, but what we have been supposed to be engaged upon for the benefit of the people of Australia is the choosing of a place for. the Capital .blf the Commonwealth. All the elaborate and expensive reports which ‘have been before us were prepared on that basis. When the last Bill was brought in, we were asked to ballot for what ? For a Federal territory ? No ; for the Seat of Government, the Capital “ Site - the place where the Capital of Australia should be built: What was the issue put to the House then? These were the places named - Bombala, Tumut, Lyndhurst, Albury, Armidale, Lake George, Orange, Bathurst, and Dalgety, and the question was not whether the Capital should be built one mile this way or the other way, but whether it should be in the neigbourhood of any of those towns, and, if so, of which of them. That was the question which this Parliament undertook to decide in 1901.
– The city site only?
– The site of the Capital. Of course that question hinges upon another, and is concerned with the Federal Territory ; but honorable members who are familiar with the debates which then took place, know that they were wholly concerned with the rival merits of the localities which had been named as containing sites suitable for the Seat of Government. The quality of the building stone there, the possibility of water conservation, the facilities for drainage, and every possible consideration was inquired into for the purpose of determining the eligibility of the sites. For what? For a Capital city. That was the scope of our labours. But now we find ourselves, nearly three years later, without the line of definite action which was followed in connexion with the former Bill, and all our debates and proceedings in connexion with it. What is the position? An indefatigable member, who represents a big electorate, and possesses a very striking personality, goes digging for sites by the score. He came here and assured us that Tumut was absolutely the best site for a Capital to be found in Australia.
– Albury first.
– I did not wish to raise that point. The honorable member for Hume was in a difficult position. He had two proposed sites in his electorate, and we had to allow him a little flutter before settling clown to serious business. He voted, on the first ballot, for Albury, because ,he was sure that that place would not be selected ; but for months he had, with his unrivalledability - and in a good cause no one could admire him more than I do - been engineering on behalf of Tumut.
– What have the right honorable member’s remarks to do with the method of voting now under discussion ?
– I am very much obliged to the honorable member for setting me right.
– Why waste our time here? The right honorable gentleman will have an opportunity to make these attacks elsewhere.
– I thank the honorable member ! His rebuke reminds me of Professor Turveydrop. Coming back, as I should do, to the question before the Chair, I would remind the House that we all solemnly visited Tumut. Some of us were nearly killed by going up the hills in its neighbourhood. We were told that there was no other place in the universe like Tumut.
But Tumut came down in the running, and then ensued a post-haste search for some other spot as near the Murray as possible, in order that the honorable member for Hume might get as many votes as he could by advocating it. A rural cemetery was discovered, in which there were no graves, because the surrounding population was not sufficiently large; and all at once this place was declared to be a wonderful site. Now, after a flying picnic lasting a day or two, we are asked to vote for that site, although we know practically nothing of it. All our information in regard to it is contained in the report of a surveyor, who says that he knows the district, but that his last visit was a hurried one, and therefore he gives us the benefit of his best recollections. I ds not object to this site being considered. If a good site can be discovered, it is never too late to bring it forward. But what I do object to is the grouping of these sites in the one district. To begin with, Tumut and Tooma are two different places.
– They are as different as light and darkness.
– That is a considerable difference. There is also a distance of many miles between them, and they are approached from different directions. Then Bombala and Dalgety are grouped in another district. Two years ago, we were asked to decide between those two places. But we are now invited by the Senate, and by the Government, to deal with the two as situated in the one district. Therefore we are almost as far from settling the location of tha Seat of Government as we ever were; because there must be a fight between Dalgety and Bombala, even if the district in which they are situated is chosen. This fooling of the public of Australia on the question ought to come to an end. If no Federal Capital Site is to be chosen, let us know it, so that we may go on with other business.
– The right honorable member knows that the Capital Site is to be chosen.
– The method now proposed means going backwards instead of going forwards. Three years ago we thought that we were in a position to choose a site for the Federal Capital-; but now the honorable member wishes the House to vote for an area within fifty miles of some given spot. No doubt he is quite within his rights in moving such an amendment, but there will be a feeling of intense disappointment amongst those really interested in the matter when they find that, after all the time which has been occupied, and the expense which has been incurred, we are not to come to some definite resolution. If the Government had said - “ We are a new Government, and this is a new Parliament. We find that the information which has been collected is not satisfactory, and that it is not sufficiently definite or exhaustive to enable Parliament to choose a Capital Site, and we, therefore, ask honorable members, to wait until we have got more,” their attitude would have been intelligible. It would have been worthy of respect, however much we might have criticised it. But for the Government to come down with a Bill for the determination of the Seat of Government, and allow the public of Australia to believe that the Capital Site is to be fixed, and then to ask the House only to choose a district in which several sites are grouped, is quite another matter. The effect of adopting the Government proposal would be most unfair to the site in which I believe thi. people of New South Wales take most interest. I have, however, already expressed my feelings on that matter. What I wish to point out now is that, if the amendment be adopted, and the schedule is left as it stands, we shall be proceeding in altogether a wrong direction. Instead of obtaining definiteness and finality, we shall be reopening the whole question again, and giving an opportunity for a repetition of the trouble. The Government have placed Dalgety and Bombala in the one district, as though they are not rival and different sites. As a matter of fact, there will be the keenest division when these two sites come to be voted upon in the House, because, while some honorable members strongly support Bombala, others are as strongly opposed to the adoption of that site, and in favour of the adoption of the Dalgety site. The inclusion of those two places in one district, therefore, is, to say the least, confusing. But it will have the most important effect in regard to the Lyndhurst site, because it will enable the opponents of that site to join together in voting against it, and to reserve their opposition until they can get rid of an inconvenient adversary. Thev will unite their forces and votes until thev get rid of the third party. I know that the Prime Minister is anxious to do his duty in this matter. He comes from the same State that I do, and knows the feeling there in regard to the question of, the Capital Site, and I beg of him to consider the point I am now putting to him. As the Minister of Home Affairs has stated, the more opponents there are the worse it is for the opponents. He had in his mind the case of an election, and so far as that is concerned his remark would apply, but the case here is is very different. Here we have three rivals, each of which is supposed to occupy an independent position. There is not supposed to be any combination of two rivals against the other one, with the object of knocking it out. There is supposed to be a straight-out fight between the three. The effect of the proposed arrangement would be to compel the advocates of Bombala and Tumut to ally themselves against those who were supporting the third site. They would concentrate their forces naturally. There is nothing to be said against it, because the Government would force that course upon them. The advocates of Bombala or Delegate, on the one hand, and Tumut or Tooma on the other, would- combine against the western district site, not from any desire to manipulate the votes or to act unfairly towards Lyndhurst, but because the very circumstances would compel them to do so. The two opponents would become allies for the purpose of shutting out Lyndhurst, not from wrong motives, but owing to the method of procedure proposed to be adopted. They would be at one in their opposition to the selection of the Lyndhurst site. They would say - “We must have the contest to ourselves,” and they would, therefore, stait by knocking out the third antagonist. I submit that that would not give all the sites a fair start. I admit that the subject is one of great difficulty. Instead of a fair start between three or five different places, we should have a forced combination of a number of sites against one. The moment that one site disappeared, the advocates of the others would begin to fight among themselves, but, in the meantime, they would have got rid of one of their adversaries. It would be a sort of triangular duel, but the conditions would not be fair to one particular angle of the triangle. Strongly as I object to what the Government propose, I must certainly oppose the amend-‘ ment, in the hope that, when we are dealing with the Bill, the Government will adopt a more reasonable interpretation than that of the honorable member for Gwydir. The honorable member’s amendment, on the face of it, limits the. scope of the schedule. It does not seem very objectionable from one point of view, but if the Government accept it they will be prevented from’ making their schedule more pointed. They will accept something which would compel them to deal with sites embracing the whole of the country within a fifty-miles radius, fi would be unfair to deal with the question in that way, and I hope that the Government will consider the matter again, and will not accept the amendment.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume).- The right honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat is always amusing, and he was not less so than usual when he ventured to hope that the time would come when there would be no further humbugging of the people. It is really most refreshing to hear such a sentiment expressed by him. The whole object of his argument was to secure for one site an advantage over all the others. If a western district site is to be considered, Orange certainly has claims far superior to those of Lyndhurst.
– How far is Orange from Lyndhurst ?
– About thirty or forty miles.
– The honorable member is in favour of adopting a fiftymiles radius.
– Quite so; and if a territory were chosen in the western district, I should do my utmost to secure the selection of Orange, instead of Lyndhurst, as a site for the Federal Capital. The right honorable member for East Sydney wishes to persuade honorable members that an attempt is being made to impose unfair conditions ; but my impression is that the question cannot be fairly dealt with except on such lines as those proposed in the amendment. In the Bill now before us we find that honorable senators have thought fit to mention one particular site, and also to provide for a larger area than that which would be selected under the conditions now proposed by the honorable member- for Gwydir.
– They did not name any particular site.
– No; the right honorable gentleman is correct. They propose that the Seat of Government shall be within the area bounded on the north bv a line running from Pambula to Cooma, then west to the Victorian border. That would represent an area larger than that proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir. They impose a condition, however, that the Capital Site shall be situated not more than fifty miles from Bombala. If such a large area is to be embraced within a given district, a similarly comprehensive provision should be made with regard to others.
– I think that is wrong.
– But other honorable members do not think so. The right honorable gentleman has been very free in attributing motives, and in implying that other honorable members desire to secure an undue , advantage for the sites which they favour, but the whole object of his argument has been to secure a special advantage for the Lyndhurst site.
– All I want is absolute equality.
– The right honorable member has very cleverly disguised his object, but I am convinced that I have indicated the motive which underlies his arguments against the amendment. The right honorable member for Swan directed my attention to the wording of the Constitution in connexion with this subject, and I am not sure that the method of selection proposed is constitutionally correct. Section 125 provides -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within the territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
If we were to fix a site for the Capital at any particular spot before we had acquired the territory, we should be placing the cart before the horse.
– We pointed that out to the honorable member when the last Bill was under discussion, but he would not listen to us.
– The right honorable member for Swan was the first to direct my attention to this particular reading of - the provision in the Constitution, which seems to me to clearly direct us first of all to select the territory, and acquire it, and then to fix the site of the Capital within that territory.
– But we must determine the site before we can ask for the territory, because we shall have to ask for the territory which will include the site.
– No; section 125 requires that the territory “shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.”
– The greater includes the less.
– The section pro- vides -that the territory must be acquired, and that the site must be selected within that territory. With regard to the sites, some honorable senators favoured Bombala, whilst others preferred Dalgety, and the Senate selected an area which would embrace these two sites. That was a fair course to take. It is proposed by the amendment that an area should be selected which would embrace two other sites - not thirteen or fourteen others. If that course were pursued in regard to Lyndhurst, we should have an opportunity to select a better site than that now contemplated in that district. Orange is infinitely superior in every way as a site for the Capital. No injustice could be done if we were to deal with the matter in the way proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir. The right honorable member for East Sydney seems to fear that we should take a retrograde step if the course now proposed were followed. It must not, however, be forgotten that this is a new Parliament, and that if a new site were discovered 500 miles away from any of those previously regarded as eligible, it would be perfectly open for us to consider it. Some honorable members regard Armidale as a very fine site, and it would be perfectly open to us to reconsidei it, if we thought fit.
– But the. honorable member knew all about Tooma when we were discussing the former Bill.’
– Not as a site. I have known Tooma for nearly thirtyyears, and I have fully appreciated its. beauties. I think that the site should be called Welaregang, because that town is fairly in the centre of the district. The reason I did not submit the site previously was because I knew that in New South Wales generally - or at least in Sydney - the feeling was in favour of acquiring a site to the westward of the metropolis. I also knew that the feeling was entirely opposed to the action taken by the right honorable member for East Sydney in fixing the 100- miles limit. That was, in my opinion, a ridiculous thing to do.
– Did he suggest it?
– He agreed to it ; I am not aware that he ‘suggested it.
– Order. We are discussing the question whether the voting paper to be used later on shall contain the names of the proposed districts, with the addition of certain words. The question whether the right honorable member for East Sydney secured the insertion in the Constitution of the 100-miles limit has nothing whatever to do with the matter under discussion.
– I recognise that. The remarks of the right honorable gentleman took a fairly wide range when he was attacking me. I recognised that the great majority of the people of Sydney wanted the site of the Federal Capital to be as near as possible to the centre of New South Wales, and I felt, when the former Bill was under discussion, that they would be strongly opposed to any site near the Murray, on the ground that if the Federal Capital were situated close to the Victorian border, the spirit of the Constitution would not be observed. When, however, I found that sites much further south, and much further removed from the heart of New South Wales, were being favorably considered, I thought that Tooma had fair claims to the regard of honorable members. The areas on the map, before honorable members will show that the two sites in the lower part of the Monaro district are further removed from the centre of New South. Wales than are the Tumut and other sites.
– How do they stand in relation to Sydney ?
– I do not know exactly.
– It does not suit the honorable member to know.
– I believe that they are a little further away.
– They are a little closer.
– The windings of the railway might make them a little closer. I have no desire, however, to deal with the merits of the sites. , I have been drawn . into these statements by the assertions of the right honorable member for East Sydney. How would it be possible, I ask, to pit a particular site in that district against another site in a different part of _ New South Wales ? In connexion with this matter, I would remind the honorable member for Macquarie that’ if we adhered to the. decision which was arrived at’ by the last Parliament, Lyndhurst would have no claims to consideration whatever.
– Because it was defeated in the exhaustive ballot which took place in the Senate and also in this House. The Senate selected Bombala, and in this House the word “Tumut” was twice inserted in its place. Had it not been for the fact that the session was very near its close, the matter would have been settled for all time, and no further consideration would have been given to Lyndhurst.
– Why should we consider the claims of Tooma. It was not mentioned before?
– I have frankly given my reasons for bringing that place under consideration at this stage of our deliberations. I do not know that I should have taken such action had it not been for the statements of the honorable member for Grampians. I feel that the site, which has come into the running because of the possibility of an area further south being selected, is far and away the finest and most picturesque that has yet been inspected. There is no comparison between it and the others, either in regard to picturesqueness, fine land, or water supply.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss that aspect of the question.
– I do not know why the right honorable member for East Sydney was allowed to debate the whole range of these questions.
– He understands how to do it better than does the honorable member.
– That is very likely. I do it in a straightforward way, and he does it in a roundabout fashion. I merely desire to insure a fair decision being arrived at as between the various sites. Though there are other eligible sites in my electorate, if it can be shown that better ones exist elsewhere, I shall be thoroughly content. Upon a big question of this character I will not fight for the selection of a place in which I do not believe.
– Why did the honorable member vote for the selection of Albury in preference to Tumut ?
– No better site than that at Albury could have been selected, but when I saw it had no possible chance,. 1 deemed it my duty to advocate the claims of the next best site.
– The honorable member was canvassing for votes in favour of Tumut before he voted for the selection of Albury.
– The circumstances I have mentioned demonstrate how very injudicious it would be to select any particular spot at the present time. _ If honorable members will read the history of the selection of the site at- Washington, or of that of the Canadian capital, they will find that the opinions of members of their Legislatures varied from time to time. In one instance thirty-three years elapsed’ before the question was finally decided.
– Does the honorable member advocate a delay of thirtythree years?
– No, certainly not. In that instance, either one, two, or three particular sites were chosen,, and their, selection subsequently cancelled when it was found that they were not the best possible sites. Under such circumstances it is far better for us to select an area from which, subsequently, the best site available may be chosen. How is it possible at the present moment to say that the Welaregang site possesses every desirable requisite? It requires to be accuratelysurveyed, and a report upon its water supply needs to be obtained.
– If we have a large area the Capital may be located at Tumut, although Parliament may be opposed to that locality.
– Immediately after an area had been selected any reasonable Ministry would obtain a contour survey of it.
– Surely we are going to settle the matter right off, and not have any further delay?
– If we do not select any spot within an area, how can we settle it?
– We understood that the House would be asked to select a site immediately after the area had been chosen.
– I think it is a matter that should be very carefully considered. If the Monaro tableland is selected as the territory within which the Capital shall be located, it should be the duty of every honorable member to discover the best site within that area.
– Surveys have been made.
– Very few surveys have been made of some of the sites. Honorable members are not going to bluff me out of securing a fair show for the Welaregang site. I have given very good reasons “why that site was not previously brought forward. It is all very well for some people in New South Wales to cry out for the early selection of a site for the Federal Capital. It is better to wait-
– The honorable member has been crying out for its settlement for a long time, and never doing anything. He is good at bluff.
– During the last Parliament the honorable member’s tongue was the greatest instrument for bluffing in the world. When he was speaking to-night he accused me of having attempted to do something unfair with regard to Lyndhurst. Any accusation of that kind is not fair, and is not true.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– The statement that something which was said by the honorable member for Macquarie is untrue.
– If the honorable member objects to my statement, I have no objection to withdrawing it.
– I would point out that, in any case - irrespective of whether the honorable member for Macquarie objects to it or not - the statement that something which an honorable member has said is “ untrue,” must be withdrawn.
– I am perfectly within my rights in saying that the statement is untrue.
– Order. Will the honorable member take his’ seat? I would point out that no honorable member has a right to say that any statement made by another honorable member is “ untrue” and that any honorable member making such a statement must at once withdraw it.
– I say’ that the statement which was made by the honorable member for Macquarie-
– Order. There is only one course which the honorable member can adopt. Without any argument, he must withdraw the expression, although he jis at liberty afterwards to make any explanation which does not amount to a reasserticn of it.
– I wish it to be understood that I did not accuse the honorable member for Macquarie of telling an untruth. However, I am perfectly willing to withdraw my statement, and I do so, but I say that the statement made to the honorable member ‘was untrue, and I have a perfect right to say so. That’ is what I said previously:
– I would point out that the honorable member distinctly said that the statement of another honorablemember was untrue. Had he made the remark which he now makes, I should certainly not have called him to order.
– I have no de- ‘ sire to do an injustice to any particular site. I did hear certain rumours of certain little games which were being played by members of the Opposition side of the House, but I did not accuse the honorable member for Macquarie of being a partv to them.
– The honorable member has played a good many little games during his time.
– All his life the honorable member for Parramatta has been playing games and hoodwinking the public. I trust that the Prime Minister will not insist upon the selection of any particular site. If he does so it may possibly mean that honorable members will be called upon to vote for the Welaregang site without being in possession of information relating to its water supply and other important matters. I cannot see what objection can be urged against dealing with this question in the way in which it was dealt with by the Senate. I ask the House to select an area before deciding any other question.
– With your permission, sir, I should like to ask the honorable member for Hume a question.
-The honorable member cannot do that.
Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby- Minister of Home Affairs). - I need scarcely assure honorable members that the sole object which the Government have in view is to insure that the opinion of a majority of this House shall be reflected in the site selected for the permanent Seat of Government. We are not interested in running any particular site, and we have no desire to adopt any plan which seems to savour of unfairness to any site. That is the position which has been consistently taken up by the Government throughout. In the first place, it seems to us that we ought to decide which district is most favoured ny. honorable members. It is of no use urging that at the present’ time the question is one as between rival sites. I claim that it is essentially a question of districts -
– The whole of the inquiries which have been made related to the ments of the various sites.
– The official reports also deal with the question of districts. The experts have considered the question of accessibility as affecting the various districts. One district is far more accessible than is another, but there is not much to choose between the accessibility of sites which are in the same neighbourhood. It is not so much a question as between the various sites, for example, on the Monaro table’-kind, as it is a question between the selection of one of the Monaro sites and, say, the western site. The suggestion that the Government wish to take a vote in a way that would be unfair to Lyndhurst is entirely contrary to fact. Our desire is that a fair expression of the opinion of the House shall be obtained ; but I am satisfied that if the suggestion made by the right honorable member for East Sydney - that we should include the names of the various sites in the different districts - were adopted, we should not secure that happy result. The western district has but one site, while in the others there are four or five different sites.
– Let those who favour the south-eastern and southern districts select one site from each.
– I was about to make a suggestion to that effect. It seems to me that what has been done in the case of the, western district might well be followed in dealing with the others. The sites in the western district have been gradually whittled away, until now only one remains.
– Lyndhurst was struck out of the list last session, but the Government have again introduced it.
– That is true; but we have to remember that this is a new Parliament. The Government would not be acting fairly by a large section of honorable members who strongly favour Lyndhurst if they failed to give them an opportunity to point out all that may be said in support of its selection, and to enable the House to deal with it.
– There was, moreover, a promise made by the late Prime Minister that it would be considered.
– I do not think that we need discuss all these matters at the present stage. I am sure that the honorable member for Gippsland would not suggest that Lyndhurst should not be included in the list, and that a vote should not be taken as to the desirableness of selecting it. The process which has been adopted in regard to the sites in the western district might well be followed by iis in dealing with the other districts. In the southern district there are some three or four sites, and it would be open to us to vote on the selection of a site at or near Batlow, Tumut, or Welaregang.
– Does the honorable gentleman suggest the taking of a vote on each district by itself?
– For the purpose of determining, first of all, the most desirable site in that district?
– For the purpose of whittling down the various sites. in each district, until only one remains, and then pitting the chosen site in one district against that selected as the most representative one in another. If that course were followed justice would be done, and the palpable unfairness that would follow the adoption of the suggestion made by the right honorable member for East Sydney would be avoided.
– The honorable gentleman’s proposal would be a great improvement.
– It’ seems to me that it would be absolutely fair. In making this suggestion I have the hearty concurrence of the Prime Minister. We have discussed it, and it appears to the Government to be the fairest and best method of determining the question.
– Would the Minister say whether he proposes to determine the site immediately afterwards, or at some later date?
– Immediately afterwards.
– That is fair.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I have no desire to discuss this question at any great length, but I wish to refer to a statement made by the honorable member for Hume, who took exception to a remark which I made as to his action in dealing with Lyndhurst. I am sure that the honorable member for Canobolas will support the statement which I am about to make. It is well known that arrangements were made for the inspection of the various districts, and that, with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government I arranged with the Government of New South Wales for a special train to convey honorable members, free of cost, to the several suggested sites. The honorable member for Hume availed himself of the special train to visit the sites in his electorate, but although it was understood that a special train would also be provided to convey honorable members from Bathurst to Lyndhurst, I discovered that he had attempted to secure the withdrawal of the concession, so far as Lyndhurst was concerned.
– That is not correct.
– I cannot see what connexion this has with the debate.
– The honorable member for Hume has made a statement
– I would remind the honorable member, as 1 have pointed out again and again, that there is no justification for a debate on an irrelevant interjection or even an irrelevant remark made in the course of a speech, more especially when that remark has been discontinued at my direction, and that I would not be justified in departing from the rules of debate which now guide us.
– I shall have another opportunity to make an explanation, and to prove my assertion.
– The honorable member always says that.
– I shall produce a telegram in support of what I have said. I also rose because I felt that honorablemembers generally were not aware of the exact position of affairs. I saw that if the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir were carried; it would be impossible for the Government proposal to receive consideration.
– The Minister does not accept that amendment.
– Had I not risen, it would have been put and carried.
– Oh no.
– There might have been some misunderstanding, and 1 therefore considered it wise to briefly put the position before the House. The compromise suggested by the Minister of Home Affairs is a very fair one. We all desire that this matter shall be settled in a way that will cause no irritation, and will not be unfair to any of the suggested sites. I am quite prepared to allow Lyndhurst to rest upon its merits, and if it cannot secure a majority of votes on its own honest merits we do not wish it to be selected. Those who are favorable to its selection feel that there are many new facts which warrant. its favorable consideration, and all that ve require is the adoption of a system that will enable a proper decision to be arrived at, and one that it will be unnecessary to review at an early date.
– How many competing sites would there be in the Lyndhurst district ?
– Only one. ,
– A suggestion was made that Orange should be included in the western district, but we are willing to accept the suggestion made by the Minister of Home Affairs that a site should be chosen from each district.
– After the district has been selected?
– No; before we have settled upon the district.
– I did not understand the Minister to say that.
– I understood that that was the suggestion which he made, and I think’ it is a fair compromise. The question is a very important one, and has received our consideration during the last four years. To my mind, too much time has been lost in dealing with it. Expensive surveys have been made, and reports from various officers have been received, and I think that we might have fairly arrived at a decision two years ago. The honorable member for Hume said that it was merely a matter of courtesy to myself that Lyndhurst was again included in the list of eligible sites. I hold, however, that it is quite within the rights of a new Parliament to review the decision of its predecessor, and, in view of the fact that when a vote was taken last session Lyndhurst was at the top of the poll in five out of six ballots, it is reasonable that we should have another opportunity to consider it. When the proper time arrives we. shall be able to adduce fresh facts and figures which must weigh with those who desire that the question shall be determined on a fair and satisfactory basis. I hope that we shall deal with it in such a way that no illfeeling or dissatisfaction will occur, and that a proper decision having been arrived at. we shall all join in endeavouring to deal with the whole question in an effective wav.
.As the Minister of Home Affairs has indicated, the desire of the Government is purely to allow the will of the House to take effect. ‘ From “the outset, this has not been regarded as a party matter. There has not been the slightest anxiety exhibited by the last Government, or, indeed, by any section of the House, to transform the selection of the site of the Seat of Government, in what we believe to be the national interest, into anything in the nature of a party fight. Consequently the Government do not seek to exert on honorable members behind them the slightest degree of influence as to their votes, either in the selection of a particular site, or as to the method by which the selection shall be arrived at. ‘ The Minister for Home Affairs has indicated to the House the desire which the Government have to select in each district a site which shall bear the flag of the particular district.
– What districts?
– The proposals seem to have fined themselves clown to the districts indicated by the Minister for Home Affairs, namely, the South-Eastern District, embracing Bombala and Dalgety; the Southern District, embracing Tumut, Batlow, and the later suggested site at Tooma or Welaregang; and the Western District generally, embracing Lyndhurst and Orange. I do not know whether there are any more sites.
– What is the object of selecting a large district, if we indicate the exact site beforehand ?
– The position seems to be that the Minister for Home Affairs had in his mind all the time the desirability of arriving at some definite point in regard to the selection.
– Otherwise we should not know where we are going.
– Quite so; and the Minister’s view was that, having selected the district, we should not allow the matter’ to stop there, but should proceed to the selection of a particular site within that district. There could really be no great objection taken to an alteration of the plan of the Minister in the direction of selecting the site first within a district, and then voting on the district.
– That’ is, voting on the principal place in each district?
– The most favoured place in each district.
– What would be the advantage of that ?
– The advantage would be that we should then get a vote of the whole House as to the desirability of a site within a particular district. I am not going to argue the question of the sites, but I have, for instance, my own view as to which is the best; and in the Monaro district I consider there is no comparison between Dalgety and Bombala. In my view Dalgety is immeasurably superior to Bombala. Why should not my view on the -general question, or as to which is the better site, be expressed by a direct vote? If I vote for my first selection I have no opportunity to distinguish between Bombala and Dalgety unless, of course, it is after all the other sites I may have favoured are eliminated. I admit that it is so difficult to arrive at the true feeling of the House that this is not a question on which one can dogmatize as to the best method to be followed. But what the Government aims at’ is the definite selection of a site, and that aim the Minister in charge of the Bill had in view all along. Hi’s proposal in the first instance - although he has since thought it wise to put the second idea forward - was, in any case, to get finality by fining down, after the district had been selected, the -various areas within it. It was not for a moment suggested by the Government that we should rest satisfied with arriving at only the same degree of definiteness that the Senate has attained. In my opinion, it would be most unfortunate if the Government of the day, whether it be this or any other Government, were asked to begin negotiations with the Government of the State of New South Wales for the fixing of the Capital, and the acquiring of an area, without a definite point having been reached as to the desires and wishes of this Parliament. We ought to come, I do not say within a mile or two, but within a reasonable distance of the place which we desire shall constitute the site of the Capital.
– That being so, what objection is there to selecting the area in the way proposed, and then selecting a site within that area?
– As I have said, I do. not myself see, so long as we have finality, that it matters to any large extent which method we follow. But, personally, I would prefer the other method, because, while I favour strongly a site in one particular district, I am not prepared to favour another site within that district ; and such a position may involve an honorable member in some little trouble. As I said before, the Government, in putting this proposal forward, have no desire to exert an influence on honorable members’ behind them, other than the influence which the proposals themselves may command. It is only reasonable that we should proceed on the lines of the utmost fairness, not only in the interests of the people of New South Wales, but in the interests of all the people of Australia. I now beg to give notice that, contingent on the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir being negatived, I shall move that the schedule be omitted, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the following: -
Preliminary Ballot : - (a) Tumut, Batlow, and Welaregang; (6) Bombala, Dalgety; (c) Lyndhurst, Orange.
Second ballot : - Between the places which in such preliminary ballots are chosen.
The amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir does not seem to advance us at this particular stage. I would point out to that honorable member that, when the Bill is before us in Committee, we shall still have an opportunity to fix the radius within which the eventual site shall be chosen in the particular district selected. Let us assume that Batlow is chosen; then, as was done on the last occasion, we may fix the radius at twenty-five or thirty miles, or whatever distance is thought to be reasonable as a limit to the negotiations on which the Government are to enter.
– To fix the territory?
– The fixing of the Seat of Government within twenty-five miles of Batlow, Lyndhurst, or Dalgety, as the case may be, would not necessarily limit the territory to that . twenty-five miles, but would merely mean that the Seat of Government must be a place within that radius. The territory might bulge out in any particular direction which local circumstances justified when the negotiations were commenced. I wish now merely to give notice of the contingent amendment I have indicated, so that the opportunity may not be lost.
Mr. McLEAN (Gippsland). - I regret that the Government have not’ seen proper to stand by their own proposal, because the latest idea is open to the gravest objection. There are three territories competing; and the object of the supporters of each is to discredit the others. Under the proposal of the Government nothing would be easier. The Prime Minister himself said that in the Monaro district one of the sites is immeasurably superior to the other. If the Prime Minister wished to discredit the Monaro district what would he do? He would vote for the worst site ; and other members would take a similar course. If I wished to discredit the Tumut site, I should vote for Tumut as against Tooma.
– We can override the whole thing, if honorable members do not vote honestly.
– Why not proceed in a rational way as sane men should - in the way likely to get the best result? If the proposal of the honorable member for Gwydir is carried we shall have a radius of fifty miles within which to select the best site.
– That is not very definite.
– But if the latest proposal of the Government be adopted, then, as I have already pointed out, the chances are that the worst site in each place will be selected for the express purpose of discrediting the other sites
– We can .upset that sort of business quite easily.
– How could it be upset?
– By starting de novo; we can easily tell if there is any movement in that direction.
– And this comes from the gentlemen who are complaining of delay !
– We shall not allow delay to stand in the way of remedying action of that sort.
– On the last occasion, this House selected one site, and the Senate selected another. If we had done- what we should have done, I believe we could have easily settled the question as between the two Houses ; but, instead, the honorable members who are now complaining of delay, dragged in another territory, which was dealt with and “knocked out.” Now, in order to improve the chances of that site, it is proposed to back down from the Government’s original proposal, which was a wise and a good one, in order to discredit other sites - in order to give the latest site, which they have dragged in for the second time, a chance of being selected over the others. I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir, and I hope the House will see its way to do the same, or, at any rate, to adopt some better course than that now proposed bv the Government. What can be the object of selecting a large territory, if we, beforehand, fix on the veryspot where the Capital is to be ? Under the circumstances, it is superfluous to select any area; and it would be much wiser to select the area first, and then make a careful selection of the best possible site within that area.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I must take exception to the statement of the honorable member for Gippsland that the site of Lyndhurst was “ knocked out “ any more than was any other site, when the matter was last dealt with.
– This is a new Parliament, in any case.
– Just so; the “knocking out” of Lyndhurst would not prevent this Parliament from making its. selection from any of the sites.
– Certainly not, if we do not mind delaying the matter.
– But, so far from being “knocked out,” Lyndhurst was placed second on the list by this House. If we are to consider sites which were not second, but much below on the list-
– Sites not thought of.
– There are, at any rate, one or two sites which had not then been named; and if we consider these, surely we ought to consider the site which was placed second by this House.
– What about the Senate?
– We are not bound by the action of the Senate.
– The other site would not have been introduced but for the Senate.
– Surely we are not to subordinate our opinions to those of the Senate?
– But we must deal with the site which the Senate has placed in the Bill.
– We must deal with that site, but we are not called upon to limit ourselves to it, simply because the Senate has chosen to put it in the Bill.
– I do not object to any number of sites being dragged in if the House will deal with them in a fair way - in territories.
– That is the point to which I was coming ; and that is where the honorable member is not looking at the matter with his usual fairness. It must be perfectly evident that if there are three or four sites in a district, and the voting is to be for a district, that district must gain an advantage as compared with another district which may contain only one or two sites. . There will be a considerable number of voters for these different sites disagreeing as to the particular site, but agreeing as to the district. What may follow if the vote is taken in that way? It is not evident that an honorable member’ who has in view a particular site in a district will vote for that district? When he votes for that district, it will be with the intention of securing the site which he favours therein, but that may be rejected. After the district has been selected, on a subsequent vote, the very site for which he gave his first vote in that, district may be put out, and he may not have the opportunity of recording his vote for a site in another district that he would have infinitely preferred to the one which has been left in. I quite agree that the Minister of Home Affairs has shown that the other proposal which I suggested previously may be open to some objection - that if we split up the sites into individual localities,. independently of districts, we may get a more concentrated vote in favour of a district which contains only one site than in favour of districts where the voting would be split, owing to the multiplicity of sites it contains. What is proposed now is a fair compromise, and is on the whole the most reasonable method of settling the difficulty. The honorable member for Gippsland has said that we should not limit the area, in case we may miss some good position. If that idea were carried out to its logical conclusion we should not cut up New South Wales, but should take the whole State in case some site might be omitted by this division.
– I do not object.
– But other honorable members do object. We have already devoted our energies to selecting the most suitable areas available. We have now to choose one, and in voting for a district we ought to know what site we are selecting. If the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir be carried, what will it mean? Shall we know where we are? Shall we know what we have done?
– A radius of fifty miles from Batlow would very nearly include Cootamundra. Are honorable members considering Cootamundra’ on the southern railway line in New South Wales as a possible site?
– If it should be the best site within a territory, why not?
– All our work in limiting the areas is to be thrown away, and we are to roam from one end of the State to the other to discover a site. The amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir is far too extensive in its range. It would nearly include Cootamundra on the southern railway line, and would extend to the Murray in the other direction. A change has been indicated in the views of honorable members. Although many honorable members who were previously in favour of Tumut seem now to be against its selection, t yet in spite of their opposition to Tumut it is the neatest township to that very Batlow centre, which is named, and it may be selected. When we are giving that vote, we shall not know that Tumut will not finally be the site chosen. Although since the last vote was taken, the opinion of honorable members seems to have changed against Tumut, yet in voting for the Batlow district we may be giving our vote for Tumut. We ought to know whether it is to be Tumut or Tooma in that district, not being confined to a point, but taking an area of, say, twenty-five miles round either place. Taking the southern district, we ought to know - whether the site is to be not at Dalgety or Bombala, but within a reasonable radius of either place - an area not too extensive to include sites which were originally rejected. The proposal of the Minister is, perhaps, the fairest which has been put forward. Previously I was in favour of the sites being voted for separately.
Mr- Webster. - This suits the honorable member’s purpose better.
– The honorable member- is very good at making insinuations. It only shows what the source must be when these insinuations, which are not very creditable, come from that source. I can only assure the honorable member that whatever my opinion may be, I have no site in my district to fight for. Whatever my opinion of any site may be, I have tried to form it on grounds not altogether relating to New South Wales, and further than that, however strongly I may feel in favour of one site or another, I only desire the adoption of a method of settlement which will be fair, and give advantage to none. I think that this last proposal removes an objection to my previous suggestion, which I admit I did not see at the time it was made; and that is that it might give some advantage to a district containing only one site as against districts which contain several sites if we were voting for individual sites.
– Could we not select a site afterwards ?
– Then the other unfairness would come in, and that is why I say the Minister’s proposal is a reasonable compromise. If we have three or four sites within a district those honorable members who are separately in favour of different sites can come together and outvote a district in which there may be only one site. The honorable member will see that there would be an element of unfairness in that.
– I do not. They must be in favour of the locality.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that there may be two sites in one district, that an honorable member may be in favour of one of those sites, but absolutely against the other, and that if he votes for the district he will shut out the other districts containing a site which he would place second. If those honorable members who are against that district are sufficiently numerous to carry it, then he will lose the opportunity of placing a vote for a site in some other district.
– That is not very probable though, is it?
– It is not merely probable; it is certain.
– I do not think so.
-It must be. I know that there are ‘honorable members who, as regards districts in which there are two sites or more, while favouring one, are absolutely against the other, and would prefer a site out of that district to that they are against in the district.- If that be so, and it is so, those members will lose their opportunity if a district is first carried, and a site in that district which they favour is thrown out. I do not for one moment anticipate what the honorable member for Gippsland speaks of, that there will be any want of genuineness in the vote, given openly, as it will be. If a vote is taken first as to the relative merits of sites in a district, and a site in each district is then voted against a site in the other districts, that will be fair. I shall support the Minister in his proposal.
– I must confess that I do not understand the suggestion of possible unfairness in giving a vote on so open a matter as the selection of a site for the Seat of Government. I shall be guided by no other consideration than that of what, in my opinion, is best in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. I shall not be guided by any parochial or provincial considerations, and I sincerely trust that in the settlement of a national question honorable members will not. I do not see that we can obtain any good result by voting for the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir, because it would leave us in just as bad a condition as we should otherwise have been in. I can see that there, are grave objections to the first proposal of the Government, and I am very glad to find that they have shown themselves to be so readily amenable to a reasonable suggestion, and evinced what I believe to be a sincere desire to approach the settlement of this question in a fair, honorable, and straightforward spirit, irrespective of all considerations of parties. For it must be remembered that this is not a party question, and it should not in any sense be sought to be made one. I think that the last proposal of the Government - to reduce the number of sites in each district to one - is a fair and legitimate method of arriving at a speedy conclusion on this question, which I hope every one is desirous of seeing settled at the earliest possible opportunity. I can think of no better method of settling the question definitely and quickly. But for ‘ once I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Hume, who has raised a point to which I incidentally referred when speaking on the second reading of the Bill ; and that is, the constitutional aspect of the. proposal before the House. I have always read section 125 of the Constitution to mean that the selection of the Federal Territory should be precedent to the selection of a site for the Seat of Government. It says -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
It seems to me that the words, “ which shall have been,” presuppose the granting or the acquisition of territory before the fixing of the site of the Seat of Government within that territory.
– Is it not more likely that it was intended to insure that we get our grant, as it were, before we go on with the building of the Capital?
– It may be capable of that interpretation. I do not wish to set my opinion as a layman in opposition to the judgment of legally trained minds. I take it that the Government, before introducing the Bill, paid full regard to that aspect of the situation, and satisfied themselves that they would be acting within the provisions of the Constitution in deciding to determine the Seat of Government before the territory in which it will be situated has been granted to or acquired byl the Commonwealth. That is a point to which I merely wish to refer in passing. I hope that honorable members will assist the Government in coming to a speedy conclusion in regard to a question which has been awaiting finality for so many years. It has been objected that certain of the sites now proposed were- rejected by a previous Parliament ; but I would remind the House that we are not bound to take cognizance of the actions of that Parliament, and that it is within our rights to choose any site we may please. I shall be prepared to give the Government proposal mv support.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan). - I regret that the Government have not adhered to their original proposal. I cannot see any advantage in the new proposals over that first made, either from the point of view of those who advocate the selection of certain sites, or for the purpose of securing the best site in the” interests of the country. It seems to me reasonable to select the Federal Territory before deciding upon the Seat of Government within that territory, and I think that the original proposal of the Government, amended as proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir, would be more likely to bear good fruit than that now before us. All kinds of .complications may arise if we proceed first to determine the exact site of the Federal Capital. On the other hand, if we choose first the Federal Territory, the whole mind of the House will afterwards be concentrated upon the selection within that territory of the best site for the Seat of Government. Before determining the site of the Federal Capital, we must say in what district or territory it should be situated, and it seems to me that all the arguments which have been advanced in favour of the proposal to first determine the site apply still more strongly if used in favour of the original proposal of the Government. While I am entirely opposed to the postponement of this question for a long period, I am not an advocate of extreme haste. I think we should not come to a decision until the fullest information is available to us. During the last few days the name of a. new site has been submitted. A good many honorable members visited it last week, and I gather from conversations which I have had with them, and from the reports which I- have read in regard to it, that the place has a good many qualifications. Why, then, should we be called upon to determine to-night the exact position of the Seat of Government, when we do not possess full information upon the site to which I refer?
– Honorable members will not be called upon to determine the site of the Seat of Government to-night. That is not to be done until the matter has been discussed in’ Committee on the Bill. To-night we deal only with the mode of procedure to be adopted in choosing a site.
– I understand that the schedule is to be amended.
– The schedule referred to is part of the motion which provides for the mode of procedure to be followed in choosing a site.
– Personally, I look with some favour upon the site which . has been recently visited by some honorable members, but if we are to vote on the question to-night I must vote against it. I should like to know from you, Mr. Speaker, what the procedure to be adopted really is.
– If the House passes the motions now before it, certain names will be selected to appear later on a votingpaper. When the question now under discussion has been disposed of, the House will resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to consider the Bill which has been received from another place. At a stage in the consideration of that Bill progress will be reported, and the House will re-, sume. Then, on an occasion to be fixed hereafter, but not less than a day, and it may be more, after passing these motions, a ballot will be taken to select a. site. After that ballot has been taken, the House will again go into Committee on the Bill, to insert in it the name of the selected site.
– Then, I take it that we are to decide which of the districts which have been named we prefer, and. if ihat district contains more than one site, to determine which of them shall be chosen for the Seat of Government But was it not originally proposed that we should deal to-night with the Bill itself?
– Then I have not fully understood the procedure. What I wish the House to do is to first select the territory in which the Seat of Government should be located, and then, after a short interval has elapsed, to determine the exact site of the Seat of Government within that territory. That seems to me a more reasonable course than the course which is now proposed. I think that a closer examination of the districts which have been named, especially where they contain sites which have not been examined very closely, is necessary. We ought, for instance, to have more information in regard to the Welaregang site. That site seems to have many of what I regard as necessary qualifications, and it is not treating it fairly to ask us to deal with it before we have obtained more information in regard to it. There are not many districts, even in New South Wales, where a large water supply, an elevated situation, and fertile country are to be found together, and the only two which have been made known to us are situated on the Snowy and the Murray rivers. I think that more difficulties will arise if we proceed, in the first instance, to determine the site of the Federal Capital, than if we first select a territory or district. Therefore, I should like to know from the Government why they have departed from their original proposal, which was a reasonable one, and in accordance with the wording of the Constitution. I have no desire to influence the votes of others in regard to this matter. I look upon the choosing of the Federal Capital Site as of great national importance, and every honorable member should be free to exercise his own judgment in regard to it. The question is certainly not a party one, though I wish I could think that it will be treated by every one as a non-party question. Those who come from other States cannot bring to its discussion the feeling which has been displayed by the representatives of New South Wales, whose constituents take such a lively interest in it. The position now is this: Three districts, or territories, are open for selection - the Eden-Monaro territory, the territory which stretches from Tumut to the Murray, and the Lyndhurst, or western territory.. I should like the
House to first select one of those territories, and then, after a week or two, to undertake the task of locating within it the site of the Seat of Government. I cannot see that any unfairness would be involved to any individual or to any State. I feel compelled to vote against the proposal of the Prime Minister, because, although no doubt his intentions are perfectly good, the object aimed at may be achieved by more satisfactory means. I regret that the Government have not adhered to the first proposal made by the Minister of Home Affairs.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority… … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir). - I move-
That after the words “ South-Eastern District” the following words be inserted: - “ comprising an area of land within a radius of fifty miles from Bombala.”
I do not wish to engage in any discussion on this question, or to reply to the many misleading statements that have been made.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Webster) proposed -
That after the words “ Western District,” the following words be inserted : - “ comprising an area of land within aradius of fifty miles from Lyndhurst.”
– I should like to point out that a fiftymiles radius would embrace all the land within fifty miles from the centre, and if we defined such an area in the case of Lyndhurst, we should either have to push the centre further back or else a large section of the area within the ordinary radius would come within the prohibition contained in the Constitution. Therefore the amendment would have the effect of prejudicing the interests of Lyndhurst. So far as the general question is concerned, I do not care whether or not a definite area is proclaimed. At the same time, I think that the proposals of the Government are so fair and reasonable, and give evidence of such a genuine desire to arrive at a settlement of this matter, that we might very well consent to allow them to make their well-intentioned effort.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I do not think it is necessary to take any serious notice of the point raised by the honorable member for South Sydney, because this is a mere resolution of the House at present. We are not proposing to enact anything. The amendments which have been carried in no way interfere with the proposals of the Government for arriving at the selection of a site in each division. I am perfectly satisfied with the statement of the Government on that point. My serious objection was to what seemed to me to be an unfair way of dealing with the matter. The amendments do not interfere with the arrangement which the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs have announced, which will, according to my view, tend to bring about finality. The area for which provision has been made in the motions does not diminish the value of that statement, becausewe shall arrive at the selection of a definite site in each district. I understand that it is proposed to take a vote upon each of the sites in each district.
– It ds too late for’ that. A vote was taken on that very question.
– No. I do not know that honorable members can vote upon any particular understanding without coming to seme arrangement with other honorable members. We have never been able to do that yet.
– If the feeling of the House is tested we shall arrive at the same decision as before.
– Of course, we shall have t’o gracefully bow to that. What I .wish is that the very fair proposal of the Government shall be acted upon, because it meets the more serious of my objections. It is for the House to settle these matters ; I am only expressing my own opinion. I can see precisely the trend of matters, and I am prepared to meet the position. I am quite satisfied with the course the Government are taking, so that all the sites in each district may be submitted for selection by the collective -wisdom of the House, and that there may be a final test with regard to the best of the sites.
Mr. WATSON (Bland- Treasurer).- I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether there is any method by which 1 could have the suggestion of the Government put before the House as a substantive motion. Of course, indirectly, it may be contended that the vote taken upon the amendment really constituted a decision upon this question, but I do not think that that was put before the House with sufficient clearness.
– It was quite clear to us.
– I am not quarrelling with that view, if honorable members entertain it, but my own feeling is that it was not quite clear to honorable members whether we were to select districts having a _ fifty-miles radius or a site within such districts. I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, as to the procedure by which that question could be settled. Motion No. 2 of the series now before us mentions the schedule, and as the schedule has been amended we shall have to add some words by way of providing an alternative. If there is any way in which I can submit a motion in the direction I have indicated, I shall be very glad to do so.
– In reply to the question put by the Prime Minister, it appears lo me that the vote which has just been taken, was, in effect, a determination not to follow the course which the Govern ment desired to follow. By inserting the express words, “Batlow,” “Bombala,” and “Lyndhurst,” the House will fix the area which shall embrace the sites in respect of which the ballot shall be taken. I do not say that there is no way in which the desire of the Prime Minister can be accomplished, but, for the moment, I do not see how his purpose can be effected. If he desires further time to look into the matter, perhaps he may see his way clear to allow of an adjournment.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that the selection of Lyndhurst as the centre of a radius of fifty miles would involve a considerable encroachment upon the territory embraced within the 100 miles limit imposed by the Constitution. Further, I think that that radius would practically embrace the whole of the sites within the western district. Certainly, it would include Bathurst and Orange.
– Would it embrace the Wellington site?
– I think so. I would therefore suggest that the honorable member should substitute the word “ Orange “ for “Lyndhurst.” That would extend the area from twenty to thirty miles west of Lyndhurst, and would, embrace territory north, in the direction of Wellington. I would further point out that no such limitation can override the provisions of the Constitution. If we declare that the area shall comprise all the territory within a. radius of fifty miles from Lyndhurst, it will simply mean, so far as land within the 100 miles limit is concerned, that the provision will be inoperative. I move -
That the word “ Lyndhurst “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Orange.”
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I think that the action of the honorable member for Canobolas is rather unfair. He is really seeking to exclude Bathurst from the area designated. I understand that Bathurst is a little more than fifty miles from Orange, and I put it to the honorable member that, in a matter of this kind, he ought not to be selfish. His object will be secured if Lyndhurst be made the centre of the radius. I trust therefore that he will withdraw his proposal, which will add nothing to the security of the Orange site, but which will take something away from that of the Lyndhurst site.
– It will take -nothing away from Lyndhurst.
– I think so.
– Its adoption will provide a greater area for the Bathurst and Lyndhurst sites.
– The honorable member is -in error. Bathurst will probably be outside the fifty miles’ radius.
– Bathurst is very nearly within the 100 miles limit from Sydney.
– That matter will not be affected by a mere resolution of the House. The proposal is subject to the provisions of the Constitution. I am sure that the honorable member for Canobolas does not desire to be unfair, and therefore I appeal to him to withdraw his amendment.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I would point out that Bathurst is 145 miles from Sydney by rail, and that Orange is an additional forty-seven miles distant. But in a direct line the distance from the metropolis may be very much less. When the 100 miles limit was inserted in the Constitution, it was popularly supposed that ‘that restriction would not exclude Bathurst from consideration. But according to a decision which was given in England, although it is 145 miles by rail or road from Bathurst to Sydney, that city is within 100 miles of . the capital as the crow flies, and consequently is regarded as being excluded from consideration. The same difficulty will probably arise in connexion with the present proposal. When I find the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and the honorable member for Hume actively supporting the amendment of the ‘honorable member for Canobolas, it suggests that he is treading upon very dangerous ground.
– Incidentally it points out the weakness of the honorable member’s position.
– It is a singular coincidence that all the Western Australian representatives entertain the same view. They are very anxious to secure the construction of the Western Australian railway, but they are not prepared to give fair consideration to New South Wales. I have heard some extraordinary things in connexion with that railway. In fact, upon one occasion, I recollect the right honorable member for Swan threatening to burst up the Federation if that line was not constructed.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the question under discussion is whether the word “ Lyndhurst “ should be struck out with a view to insert “ Orange “ in lieu thereof. Therefore, the honorable member must not refer to the question of the Western Australian railway.
– I was merely endeavouring to show that the provisions of the Constitution should be complied with. I trust that the honorable member for Canobolas will not fall into the trap which has been laid for him by two such strong opponents of the Western district.
– I do not feel that our position is quite clear in regard to this matter. We are asked to select an area within a radius of fifty miles of a given point. Suppose that we choose a site for the Federal Capital upon the edge of that radius, what position shall we occupy in regard to the acquisition of 900 square miles of territory? It seems to me that that would be a very peculiar situation for the Federal Capital. We should thus defeat the very object of the Government in wishing to secure a territory, embracing an area of 900 square miles.
– A portion of the Federal Territory will require to be in Victoria now.
– Under the present proposal, if we select Bombala, we shall have to acquire some Victorian territory.
– The first resolution contains the words “ the district in New South Wales,” which govern it.
– But it win cut off a very large portion-
– I would point out to the honorable member that the question under discusison is simply whether the centre of one of these areas shall be Lyndhurst or Orange. That is the only question open to discussion.
– I quite understand that. At the same time, I think it is onlyright that we should appreciate the position which we occupy. If we adopt the amendment, we shall make Orange the centre of the radius-
– The amendment means that the Seat of Government must be within fifty miles of Orange, but it will not affect the territory.
– It must be within fifty miles of a given point. Is it proposed that if we have an area of 900 square miles round the Capital, we shall take in country beyond the territory?
– That could not be done.
– I do not think that this is a question that will in any way affect the chances of Bathurst. I understand that, in a ‘ direct line, the distance from Bathurst to Orange is some thirtyfive miles, so that if we selected Canobolas as the centre it would still come within the ioo-miles limit. In these circumstances I do not think that the amendment would affect Bathurst to any material extent, arid it would be wise for the honorable member for Macquarie to agree to the _proposal to substitute Canobolas for Lyndhurst.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I really think that what is done in reference to Lyndhurst is not now a matter of much consequence. The Government have done everything within their power to act as we think in a fair and reasonable way, but the significance attached by the majority to the division which has recently taken place, in my opinion, absolutely deprives any site which is really in New South Wales of the slightest prospect of consideration. I recognise that the combination has been successful, and I bow to the weight of numbers; but I must be allowed to express the opinion that, although I am sure the Ministry will endeavour, if possible, to give effect to their desire, this intention on the part of the combination to defeat, the wish of the Government to act fairly to this House, has absolutely put Lyndhurst and every site in that part of the State out of consideration. I recognise that that is the intention of the House ; that it is not going to consider Lyndhurst; that it prefers to put Lyndhurst under a. test which is so obviously unequal that no site in the world could emerge triumphant from it. I accept the decision of the House for what it is worth ; but although the motion seems to transgress the provisions of the Constitution, it is, after all, a mere motion, and I think it would be very much better to allow the word “ Lyndhurst “ to remain, as proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir. Bathurst is certainly within fifty miles of Lyndhurst, and on the west there would be no restriction of the radius. The western radius would be free from any constitutional difficulty, and would include Orange and Canobolas, if the term “ Lyndhurst “ were allowed to remain. At the same time, unless the Government have some opportunity to put this matter in the way they suggest, I shall absolutely dissociate myself from the whole proceedings. I distinctly say that, unless the proposal of the Government is carried, I shall absolutely repudiate the whole thing.
– I am simply speaking as a member of this House. All that I ask is a fair start for every site in New South Wales.
– There is only one point, as I have just shown, which can be discussed at this stage, and that is the question as between Orange and Lyndhurst. I ask the honorable member not to go beyond that limit.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling).- I ‘ am rather surprised at the remarks made by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who suggests that some combination has been at work. I certainly have not heard or seen any signs of a combination. Every honorable member who has taken part in the discussion has shown a desire to give the utmost fair play and consideration to every site. That is the feeling of the House generally, and I am surprised that the honorable member for Macquarie should oppose the amendment moved by the honorable member for Canobolas. The idea was suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney, who pointed out that if Lyndhurst were made the centre, the area of the western district would be less than that named in either of the other districts.
– It would not be less on the west.
– It would be less, because it would be too near to the ioo-miles limit. In proposing to substitute “ Orange “ for “ Lyndhurst “ it is not in any way desired to damage the chances of Lyndhurst. The honorable member makes no secret of the fact that he is in favour of the last-named site. The real, object in view is to secure a centre that will allow all the western sites to be included. Bathurst would certainly be included within the limit, if Orange were named, just as it would be if Lyndhurst were made the centre.
– There is a grave doubt about that.
– It is somewhat unfortunate that a kind of triangle exists, but as long as the area beyond the ioo-miles limit is sufficient to cover what is desired - and I hope that we shall secure an area of 900 square miles - the shifting of the centre is relatively unimportant. We should see that as large an area is comprised in the western district as there is in any of the other districts to be dealt with, lt might, perhaps, be wise to select a town somewhere between the three places named, and in that event the extent of area would be important. Those who favour the selection of a site in the western district have generally centred theirhopes on Lyndhurst; and I believe that if Orange were substituted for Lyndhurst as proposed, an ample area round Lyndhurst would remain. I certainly would not favour the amendment if it could be shown that it would not conserve to Lyndhurst, within the fifty-mile radius, a sufficient area to cover the proposal to acquire a territory of 900 square miles. The distance between the two places is so short that I cannot see where the objection arises. If the amendment of the amendment were carried, the Wellington, as well as other sites, would be included.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I do not think that it is a matter of material importance whether these words are adopted or not. I should like to learn what, in the opinion of the Government, is the real meaning of the proposal now made, as well as that which has just been carried. To my mind, it means that we are going to revert to the position which we occupied a year or two ago. We then appointed a Commission, which was practically to work within areas named in this series of motions. The Commission was to report upon particular sites in those areas, so that the Parliament itself should be able to make a selection. It is now proposed to throw all that work to the winds, and we are asked to vote for areas which-
– I must remind the honorable member that the question is not one of areas, but simply one as between Lyndhurst and Orange. If the debate is ever going to end it must be kept within those limits.
– I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that the question of area is really affected by the proposal now before us. If Lyndhurst be selected as the centre, the area will be different from what it would be if Orange were selected, and I am endeavouring to point out that this amendment would practically undo the whole of the work of the past two years. It would throw to the winds the work of an expensive Commission, because we should refuse to decide which of the particular places recommended by that Commission should be selected. ‘ It is proposed to shift the centre from Lyndhurst to Orange, and, as I have already said, I do not think that is a matter of any material consequence. We are doing extraordinary things that cannot be justified, and can have only one meaning. If we took another extraordinary action by selecting a centre previously rejected instead of that which was not, it would be only on a par with what we had already done. We have even gone to the absurd length of stating that we can take territory outside the constitutional limit, for that is really what the amendment means in the case of Bombala and Lyndhurst.
– We could not do that.
– Then why cannot we express qur desire in a proper way? Are we so incapable that we cannot set forth in an amendment what our intention is ?
– The amendment serves its purpose.
– It serves the purpose which the honorable member and certain other honorable members have in view.
– The sand-baggers.
– I can see the object in view perfectly well, and can understand how the proposal has originated. I take up the position which the right honorable member for East Sydney has adopted. The passing of this amendment, following on that which has just been agreed to, would mean the rejection of all that we have already done. We propose to revert to the position of two years ago. We are creating a difficulty; we are creating absolute uncertainty. ‘ No means is proposed by which we’ should be able to select a site within this, area, or any other that is named; and if that is to be the case, then I, like the right honorable member tor East Sydney, must wash my hands of the whole affair.
Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby- Minister of Home Affairs). - I do notthink that there is any necessity for the use of these bag and baggage arguments on either side. There is no occasion to throw up the sponge because we have not secured what we desire.
– All that we want is a fair start.
– In the opinion of the Government a better method of selection would have been secured had our proposals been carried, but that is a matter on which we cannot now dwell. The suggestion that the fixing of a radius of fifty miles from one of these centres would be a breach of the Constitution is a matter of no importance, because all that the amendment really provides is that an area of land within a radius of fifty miles shall be selected. The amendment says, in effect, that we may riot go outside the fifty-mile radius. Coming to the exact issue directly before us, I would appeal to the honorable member for Canobolas to withdraw his amendment, on the ground that those who generally are in favour of the western district are almost unanimously in favour of Lyndhurst as he centre. If Lyndhurst were selected as the centre, every one of the other sites in the western district would be included.
– Practically, every one of them’ would. Unless it is proposed to again discuss all the sites which have already been dealt with at great length, it seems to me that no object will be served by shifting the centre. The honorable member would be well advised if he withdrew his proposal to remove the centre from Lyndhurst. The Government propose that there shall be an adjournment before the motion, as amended, is put, and to consider whether it is advisable to take another vote on the question. It was not very distinctly understood by honorable members when it was last dealt with. We desire to consider, first of all, whether that course is advisable, and, secondly, whether it can be carried out. and in what way.
– Will the Minister say whether, if the amendments are carried, he will accept the broad areas, or give the House an opportunity to decide?
– If the broad areas are agreed upon, the Government will certainly attempt to further limit them in the Bill/
– That will be done after the vote is taken ?
– Yes ; it could not be done before. The Government certainly desire that the Bill shall not leave the House until an area is sufficiently limited .to indicate clearly what, in the opinion of this House, ought, within reasonable limits, to be the site of the Federal Capital. That is a position we must take up in the interest of the settlement of the question. I do not wish to debate the whole question, but merely to indicate the intentions of the Government.
– I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Canobolas, in order that that district may present the same area of choice as has been provided in the case of other districts. It is right that this amendment should be adopted, or, otherwise, it might be said that the district had not been treated fairly. I may say, in reply to some observations, that I am not connected with any “ combination.” No one has asked me to vote in a particular way ; and, even if such a request had been made; I should vote according to my judgment. Whatever may be meant by “ sand-baggers,” so far as this House is concerned, I do not know; it is a term to which I have not been accustomed in deliberative assemblies of this description, and it is certainly a term which should not be applied in this House. The amendment of the honorable member for Canobolas will not shut out Lyndhurst ; and for the reasons I have given, it shall have my support.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan).- I hope the honorable member for Canobolas will withdraw his amendment, for the submission of which I can see no reason. With Lyndhurst as the centre, Orange is included ; and this is the centre which should be adopted, seeing that the Lachlan River, from ‘which the water supply must come, is considerably to the south, and I am not sure whether, with Orange as the centre, that river would be included. But, even if the water supply were included with Orange as a centre, I can see no real object in the amendment, and the honorable member who proposed it has offered no arguments in its favour. Lyndhurst is the favorite site with a great many honorable members, while I do not know of any who support Orange. That being so, why should we do anything which might cause it to be thought, for a moment, that there is an objection to Lyndhurst as a site for the Seat of Government? Such action might be misconstrued, and would certainly result in no real gain.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- I should like to say one word by way of explanation. The suggestion that there is some’ collusion on this side of the House in connexion with my amendment, is, so far as I am personally concerned, unwarranted. I never conferred with any honorable member before I drafted the amendment ; all I did was to submit it to the Minister of Home Affairs in order to ascertain whether it met with his approval and that of his colleagues.
Mr. McLEAN (Gippsland).- I felt disposed at first, for the reasons given in regard to the limitation of the area on the western site, to support the amendment of the honorable member for Canobolas. I recognise, however, that the proper body to decide the question is the supporters of this particular site; and as it appears to me that the great bulk of those who favour Lyndhurst desire that it should be made the centre, I hesitate to vote for the substitution of Orange. I was very sorry to observe the unwarranted attitude taken up by the honorable member for North Sydney. To speak of combinations is to insinuate something which we know does not exist. I have not been approached by anybody, and I gave my reasons for supporting an area instead of a particular site. I venture to say that no honorable member can assert that we shall be able to select a better site out of a limited area of twenty-five square miles than out of an area of fifty miles,or that it will takea materially longer time to find the best site within a radius of fifty miles than within a radius of twenty-five miles.
– Then why not make the radius 250 miles?
– If the honorable member for Wentworth is anxious for an area of 250 miles he can have it, so far as I am concerned ; but this sort of objection is too transparent. When the honorable member for Wentworth has done “ cackling “ I . shall proceed with what I was about to say. it is quite easy to see that honorable members Avho object to the sensible course of selecting the best site within a given area do so for a purpose that is not worthy of them.
– We thought we had got past that stage.
– As I pointed out before, a very good opportunity is presented to discredit a site by selecting the worst position within an area ; but I do not think that such tactics will impose on the credulity of a majority of honorable members.
– Why did we go to the expense of a Commission?
– Can the honorable member show that the labours of the Commission have diminished in any way the value of the reports available for us?
– We are not going to deal with the report of the Commission.
– We can deal with it; we can use all the information at our dis posal, and there is no reason why the selection of a particular site within an area should be delayed beyond a week or ten days at the most. That will give us ample time to satisfy ourselves as to the best possible site for a capital within the area selected.
– We heard that in the last Parliament.
– We did ; but, unfortunately, the honorable member for Parramatta does not always benefit by words of wisdom, though I hope he will be more fortunate on the present occasion. I do not desire to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Canobolas, for the reason that it appears to me to be opposed to the wishes of the advocates of the western site, who are the proper persons to decide which shall be the centre.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Watson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I thank the Government most sincerely for their efforts to provide work for the relief of the unemployed. I now suggest to the Government the advisability of taking steps to carry out, at any rate, a section of the work of placing telephone, telegraph, and other electric wires underground, especially in the city of Melbourne. The late Government proposed a loan of£500,000, the greater portion of which was to be devoted to this particular work; but it was urged that the scheme should be provided for out of revenue. I strongly suggest that the Government should, at any rate, commence this important work, which would not only provide employment, but go far towards removing dangerous and unsightly overhead wires in the city of Melbourne.
– There are other cities besides Melbourne.
– This particular work is considered a matter of importance to Melbourne, bearing in view fire brigade and other practical purposes.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I beg to urge the claims of Sydney to some work of this kind. I hope that when the question of the unemploye’d is under consideration the Government will not confine their attention merely to Melbourne, but will take a Federal view, and do all they can to provide work for unfortunate men. There is plenty of work which might be carried out in Sydney with immense advantage, and some has already been done, with the greatest possible advantage to the Department. I urge very strongly an extension of the work on any legitimate lines. I hope that the Government will keep this in mind when they are considering the question of the relieving the unemployed of Melbourne.
– I should like to urge upon the Government the necessity of undertaking similar work in Brisbane and other large centres in. Queensland. I can assure the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the danger from the breaking and falling pf electric wires on the electric tramways is much greater in Brisbane and Sydney than in Melbourne. The carrying out of this work is more urgently needed in Brisbane than elsewhere, owing to the streets being so narrow. Already several accidents have taken place through the breaking and falling of electric wires, and serious damage has been done. In these circumstances, I would urge on the Government the necessity of carrying out similar work - out of revenue - in Brisbane and other centres in Queensland.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has raised a question which, I am certain, pertains to the capital of every State. If the Government can see their way to undertake the work, our streets will be more sightly, as well as safer for citizens. In this city animals, as well as human beings, have sometimes been destroyed in coming in contact with live wires.
– It . would also be safer for the firemen, which is a very important consideration.
– That is a point on which my honorable friend can speak with better information than I can. In Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, the carrying out of this work is certainly needed. If we put the electric wires under the footpaths we shall be following the example which has been set in every other civilized centre in the world.
– Why not put all the pipes in one tunnel ?
– I quite agree with the honorable member that it should be done. If, for instance, the owner of a property in San Francisco will not put an arch under the footpath in front of his building, the municipality will carry out the work at his cost. By that means they have a ready mode of placing gas pipes and electric wires under the paths. That is an example which could very well be followed in Melbourne. No question of State against State is involved here. If the Government can see their way to do this work, they will help a body of men whom I am always sad to have to speak for. I spoke on their behalf many times in this chamber when it was occupied by the Legislative Assembly of ‘ Victoria. I am sorry that the necessity arises for me to speak now. I trust that when this Government are hoary with years, resting in the seats which they so well decorate, the unemployed question shall have been solved. I have seen no less than nine different Governments in Victoria, and I am sorry to say that they have not done anything definite to relieve the unemploved.
– I desire to ask tine Prime Minister whether, if the Government are not prepared to take up the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, they will give me an early opportunity of trying to get it put through the House ?
– I hope that when the Government are dealing with the suggestions made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and other honorable members, they will not fall into the old groove of considering that all the unemployed are located in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, but will remember that there are some unemployed persons in the country districts. I trust that they will ask Parliament to provide forthwith the money for carrying out any works, repairs, and painting which have been recommended, or authorized, so that the distress in the country districts may be relieved. This is just the time of the year when a little work of that kind would come in very well. The Government would probably get the work done well and cheaply at this season, because when there are a number of men out of employment they are always prepared to compete. As long as they get a reasonable price the competition will enable the Government to get the work done better than they otherwise could.
– No sweating.
– Not even in winter time.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports talks- about “ no sweating.” This unemployed question is not one to joke about, lt is one which the Government ought to take into its serious consideration. If it is to be made a mockery of in this House, for the purpose of gulling people outside, then let it be known. But I do not wish to do that. I am referring to works which are needed in my own district, which have been authorized, and for which the money is available. I ask that the men in the country districts shall receive from .the Government’ as much consideration as the men in Melbourne Ports.
– But why sweat them, why give them a lower wage than they are entitled to receive?
– Men in my district would be very glad to be able to sweat and earn some money:
– Why this assumed heat?
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to come here and interject. He has had his opportunity of addressing the House, but why should he always come here and try on this sort of business ?
– It was not I who made the interjection. The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– I resent the action of the honorable member. I am not making a mockery of the unemployed. I hope that the Prime Minister will also take into consideration the representations that were made to him on Saturday in Sydney by a deputation of wirenet workers, which I had the honour of introducing to him. The industry in Sydney employs 440 men. But the industry in Melbourne has been closed down, owing to the competition of cheap Germanmade goods. I placed before the honorable gentleman on Saturday information which clearly demonstrated that these German-made goods were being dumped into this country at a loss to the Germans, because they were trying to drive the locallymade wire-netting out of the market.
– And then up would go the price.
– As the honorable member says, immediately the local works were stopped up would go the price. I hope that something will be done in that respect.
– Hear, hear !
– Of course the honorable member may like to have- his little joke. He may come in here in a spirit of levity, and think it a good joke to laugh at the unemployed. But I am in earnest in this matter.
– That is rubbish.
– The honorable member is rather too fond of doing that kind of thing. I think it is just as well to remember that it is a serious matter to the unemployed, and I hope that threpresentations which have been made will be taken into serious consideration by the Prime Minister.
.The Government would not be justified in doing more with a view to relieving the unemployed -than carry out those works which in any case would be necessary. My honorable colleague the Minister of Home Affairs is now expediting the carrying out of works which have been authorized, or which we feel pretty certain must be undertaken and are likely to get the approval of Parliament. There is no doubt that, before very long, in all our large centres, the undergrounding of these wires will become_ an absolute necessity. The number of wires that we now have will be nearly doubled within a comparatively short time owing to the installation of a metallic return in connexion with the telephone system. Itwill soon become imperative to nut the wires under the road, so as not to interfere with the convenience of the people. For some time past we have had to incur considerable expenditure owing to the necessity of putting in other alterations. In Sydney, for instance, a large expenditure on the Post Office will not be completed until the end of this year. Constructing, as we do ar present, all our works out of revenue we cannot be expected to undertake everything in one year.
– Not quite ; but Melbourne is not’ likely to over-lap Sydney, or vice versa.
– No; I admit that the expenditure is debited against the State in which it is incurred. The Minister of Home Affairs has just informed me that he will give every consideration to this matter, and, in conjunction with the PostmasterGeneral, see how far these necessary works can be pushed on. In view of the question which the honorable member for Hume asked about a week ago, the Government have been considering the position of the Manufactures Encouragement
Bill. At a Cabinet’ meeting held on Monday night, it was decided to allow the honorable member to take up the Bill, and to afford time for its consideration, after the more urgent matters on our programme have been disposed of.
– As soon as thi-, state of Government business will allow, I suppose?
– Yes. ;
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040726_reps_2_20/>.