2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of the following Bills : -
Supply (No. 2).
Further Supplementary Appropriation Bill (1902-3).
RAILWAY FROM KALGOORLIE TO PORT AUGUSTA .
Mr. CARPENTER.- I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if he will obtain, and have printed for the information of honorable members, the report presented to the Government of Western Australia by the engineer sent out by them to’ prospect for water on the route of the posed Transcontinental Railway, The portion of . the report to- which I particularly direct his attention is that which states that the engineer traversed some 10,000,000 acres of good - pastoral country, which, if water were provided, would be suitable, for settlement, and that his expedition demonstrated beyond all doubt that artesian water can be obtained, he himself having opened up a bore which gives a supply of some 70,000 gallons per diem.
Mr. BATCHELOR. - I will ask the Prime Minister to communicate with the Premier of Western Australia, with a view to having the report placed at the disposal of the House. We may be able to obtain enough copies of it to make re-printing unnecessary.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the remark of the Premier and of other members of the Victorian Parliament last night in regard to the administration of the Post Office? Is there any friction between the Commonwealth and State authorities, or any real ground for the unfortunate statements which were made? If there is reason for them, will the honorable gentleman endeavour to take such steps as will secure peace and good-will in the relations of the Commonwealth and the State?
– My attention has been drawn to the report of the debate which took place in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria yesterday ; and,’ if the. newspaper accounts be correct, the only explanation I can give, of the statements alleged to have been made is .that there must be a great want of knowledge of the facts of the case on the part of those whose utterances are reported. I regret that, owing to the shortness of time at the disposal of my officers, I have not been able to obtain full details relating to the case; but it is altogether incorrect to say that the Department has not done everything that could be done to minimize friction, and to reduce the trouble which the Government of Victoria has met in trying to arrange for the sale of duty stamps to the public. As a matter of fact, the difficulty was adjusted some days ago.
– Perhaps the Premier of Victoria is not aware of that.
– If he is not aware of the fact the responsibility is not mine. The Comptroller of Stamps in Victoria has already had an interview with the Secretary to the Postmaster-General’s Department in regard to the sale of duty stamps at nonofficial post-offices.
– There has been no trouble in connexion with the official .offices.
– There has been no; trouble in connexion with what are known as the staff offices. Victorian duty stamps have always been on sale in those offices. The difficulty arose In connexion with their sale at non -official offices.
– The offices where those in charge work under contract ?
– Yes, and at what are known as allowance offices. The Victorian Comptroller of .Stamps agreed to furnish the Postmaster-General’s Department with a complete list of the non-official offices of which he desired to make use for the sale’ of duty stamps, and with a statement of the advances which he proposed to make to each - office. This advance is to be rigidly adhered to, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department ascertaining to what extent it will be desirable to increase the guarantee, so as to cover any losses which the State may sustain, and the State paying for the additional sum guaranteed. If this arrangement is approved of, action will be taken by the ‘ Comptroller to supply stamps to all unofficial offices in his list. The postage is to be paid’ by him, and the postmasters concerned are to correspond directly with him, being paid a commission of 2 j per cent, oh the sales. The criticisms passed on our action in the local Parliament last evening are quite unjust. To show the earnest’ desire of the Department to do everything in its power to meet the wishes of the Victorian Government in this matter, I may inform the House that, from the ist March, 1901, to the 1 st March, 1904, our officials have been transacting the work incidental to the sale of Victorian duty stamps without cost to the State, the value of the work done amounting to £12,160. The estimated proportion of the salaries of the officers of the General Post Office chargeable with the distribution of duty stamps, promissory notes, and bills of exchange, was £4,764 for the three years I have named. Altogether, duty stamps, promissory notes, and bills of exchange, to the value of £209,375 18s. 5d. were sold, on which the commission at 2 J percent, would be £5,234. The’ estimated, postage incurred amounted to £1,586, while for accommodation, book’s, stationery, envelopes, and so on, the sums of £156 and £300, have been put down, and £i’2b for machines ; making a total for the three years of £12,160, for which n& payment whatever has . been made to the Commonwealth by Victoria.
– Why should payment be made? Both Governments are serving the same people.
– Although we are serving the same people, the Government of Victoria makes a very substantial charge for all the services which it performs for the Commonwealth. As a case in point, I mav mention,’- for the information of honorable members, that formerly when the railway telegraph officers despatched a telegram for the public, the Railways Commissioners charged the Post and Telegraph Department 25 per cent. Now “they. retain 50 per cent. In many other ways the charges made by the State Government have been considerably increased.
Mr- McColl. - What is the practice in the other States?
– In the other States I may inform the -honorable member that the’ local Governments provided almost from the inception of the Commonwealth for the sale of duty stamps at their own cost. It was only the State of Victoria which threw upon the Commonwealth the responsibility o’f selling these stamps, and Victoria has had the sole advantage of making use of Commonwealth officials in this respect. I am also informed that the Victorian Government has increased the railway travelling rates for the Militia. As to me point that we ought not to charge anything for such services, my reply is that the Post and Telegraph Department is a purely business Department of the Government, and that it is in accordance with the law passed by this Parliament that every service rendered bv that Department shall be paid for.
– I should like to ask the Postmaster-General a further question. Is it a fact that the Post and Telegraph Department - I. do not suggest under the Minister’s direction - has insisted that when the Victorian Government wishes to supply duty stamps to the various staff offices - not contract offices - it shall communicate with each particular postmaster direct, instead of the Department taking the very small trouble of sending the duty stamps to the various postmasters, together with the ordinary postage stamps? I believe that this has caused a considerable amount of ‘irritation.
– The honorable and learned member is not correctly informed. When the State Government proposed to throw this duty upon the Post and Telegraph Department, we simply suggested to them that they should make their own arrangements with the postmasters at the contract offices.
– I referred to the staff offices.
– I presume that the staff offices always sold the duty stamps, and that they received 2
– I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether I have made a mistake in assuming that the Post and Telegraph Department and the Federal Government will do everything that is at all reasonable to meet the convenience of the Victorian public in this matter, as they would wish to meet the convenience of any other State Government and people? I hope there is such a disposition - I feel sure that there is - and that it is merely a question of detail which has now arisen - that ‘is to say, as to the best means of giving effect to the arrangements.
– I can assure the right honorable member for East Sydney that the Post and Telegraph Department has done everything possible with the object of meeting the convenience of the various States. I would add that that has been done especially in the case of Victoria.
– And the Postmaster-General still has the same disposition?
– Undoubtedly ; we desire to meet the convenience of the States Governments in every possible way recognising that, as the honorable member for Echuca has said, we are serving the same taxpayers. I’ may add that, as a matter of fact, the number of Commonwealth officers engaged in performing duties for the Slate of Victoria is greater than in any other State. There are no less than 292 officers of the Post and Telegraph Department who are discharging purely State functions in Victoria ; there are 164 of them who are engaged in distributing old-age pensions, twenty-four acting as registrars, and seventy-three acting as collectors of revenue under the Commissioner of Taxes.
– They are not solely engaged in that work.
– Certainly not.
– They are paid by the State I presume?
– I do not think so. The estimated value of the work done by these officers in Victoria is ,£5,800, whereas the total payment, so far as I can see, is a little over £200. So that I think there can be no complaint on that score.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs a question, without notice. Is it a fact that the Victorian State Government has refused to allow the Commonwealth Electoral Department to communicate in regard to the Police who are engaged in the collection of Commonwealth rolls with the Chief Secretary’s Department, but has desired that each constable shall be communicated with directly ?
– It is a fact that the Government of Victoria has declined to allow the Chief Secretary’s Department of the State to communicate to the police the instructions with reference to the collection of the rolls. The State Government considers that it is better that the Commonwealth Electoral Department shall communicate directly with the constables themselves. We asked the State Government to communicate with their own officers; but the matter has been settled so far as the State Government is concerned by their distinct refusal to comply with our request.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, without notice, with reference to a publication which has been handed to me this afternoon. It is a pamphlet which professes to set forth the case for the western Capital Sites, and is apparently issued under the authority of the Western Capital League. It is a well got-up production, which apparently has cost a good deal of money. I notice on the back page that it has been issued by “ William Applegate Gullick. Government Printer, New South Wales.” I wish to know whether it has been issued at the expense of the Commonwealth Government, and if so, whether similar publications will be authorized’ in the interests of the sites in the south and southeast?
– A copy of the publication referred to was handed to me a few minutes ago.
– It is correct in every particular.
– I assume that. I can assure the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that the pamphlet has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government. Of course, if the State Government of New South Wales cares to offer facilities for the production of a publication of this kind, it is their concern and their responsibility. I may add, however, that it does not follow that because the pamphlet bears the imprint of the New South Wales Government Printer it is a Government publication; because I know that in some cases private persons can arrange, if they pay the cost, to have printing done at the New South Wales Government Printing Office.
– I should like to know from the Attorney-General whether, in view of the probability that a site for the Federal Capital will be selected upon the Upper Murray, it would be competent for the Commonwealth Government to acquire territory in Victoria, as well as in New South Wales ?
– I must ask the honorable member to renew his question at a later date, if he considers it expedient to do so.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it would be possible for the Government to furnish honorable members with more information than is now available with reference to the Tooma site ?
– That matter is in the Department of my honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs. I understand that he has taken every opportunity that the limited time for the purpose would allow to obtain such particulars as are available in connexion with the site referred to. Mr. Chesterman, who has been inquiring, on . behalf of the Commonwealth Government, into the characteristics and general features of ihe Batlow and other sites surrounding Tumut, has also furnished a report upon the Tooma site, regarding which he has a special knowledge, owing to his having been resident in the district for some five years. His report has been laid upon the table, and I am not aware of any other information that can be obtained within the limited time at our disposal for such a purpose.
– There is magnificent country around about Tooma.
SirLangdon Bonython. - The report can scarcely be up-to-date if it is based upon information obtained some years ago.
– Perhaps not, but ‘he country would not change very much in a few years. I am sure that my honorable colleague will do his best to afford honorable members any further information he can command.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, without notice. Can he inform the House when the medals awarded to the members of the First and Second Commonwealth Contingents will be available? Major Morrisby, who had command, is, I am informed, receiving inquiries on the subject from all parts of Australia.
– I should like to have time to look into the correspondence in connexion with the matter mentioned by 1 the ‘honorable member for Franklin. I have a dim recollection of having read a communication from the Governor-General intimating when some of the medals would be available. I will have inquiries made.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. At the last Federal election some of the Victorian police were engaged at polling places. I understand that the Federal Government sent a cheque to the Chief Commissioner of Police for the purpose of paying these officers. The Chief Commissioner returned that sum to the Federal Government, and stated that he could not pay the police who were employed inside the polling-booths unless the officers who were engaged outside were also remunerated. I communicated with the Chief Commissioner of Police, and he stated that he would consent to pay the men if the Federal Government would agree to distribute the amount equally between those who were engaged outside and inside the booths. I sent the reply to the late Treasurer, and asked him whether he would be agreeable to adopt the course suggested. Statements have been made in the press to the effect that the Government would not consent, and I should now like to ask the Prime Minister whether he is agreeable to adopt the course proposed, and, if not, what his reasons are for declining to do so?
– The matter has not yet come before me, because it is still in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs. In regard’ to matters of this kind, I have, naturally, to wait for the recommendation of the Minister in whose department they originate before taking any action. . I shall invite my honorable colleague to give his attention to the matter.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is agreeable to the suggestion that :the money voted by the Commonwealth for the remuneration of the police engaged at the last general election shall be distributed equally among those employed inside and outside the polling booths?
– The position the Department has taken up is that any moneys granted to the police in connexion with the election must be paid for direct services only, and not for those rendered by the police in the ordinary way. The Government have paid over to the State authorities, a certain sum for the remuneration of the police officials who rendered direct services. That amount has been paid by the Police Department into the State Treasury, and is being held there pending a decision as to how it is to be allocated. So far as the Federal Government are concerned, they can recognise only direct services.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, during his recent visit to Queensland, he was able to ascertain if there is any truth in the allegations with regard to the misrepresentations made to kanakas as to there being no vessels available to carry them back to their island homes upon the termination of their labour contracts?
– I was afforded an opportunity to interview the Premier of Queensland and one of his colleagues, who assured me of their desire to, as far as possible, carry out the Commonwealth law, and the intentions of this Parliament. They, represented that the causes of complaint were not so serious as would appear from the feeling which has’ been exhibited here and elsewhere.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will communicate with the Premier of Victoria and obtain copies of a report recently received from the Agent-General of Victoria, recommending the establishment of a Federal depot in London for the display and sale of Australian produce?
– The answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is as follows -
Yes. The Premier of Victoria will be asked for a copy of the report.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Government, pending the introduction of a Bill dealing with quarantine, to take control of quarantine in the several States, by Proclamation ?
– This matter is at present under the consideration of the Government at the instance of the Minister of Trade and Customs- It is only right that I should state that the whole position is rather complicated so far as taking over control of the Department by proclamation is concerned, by the fact that in none of the States, so far as I am aware, is there a distinct Department of Quarantine. In all cases matters relating to quarantine are administered by the Health Departments cf the States, and therefore a complication would be introduced if it were considered desirable to take control by proclamation. There is no distinct Department of Quarantine, as there was a Post-office or Military Department, that could be taken over in going order by the Commonwealth. I do not say that the difficulties are insuperable. It may be possible to make some arrangement by which certain officers can be recognized as quarantine officials, and in that way any obstacles may be removed. In any case, the matter is under the consideration of the Government, and we hope to arrive at a speedy conclusion so far as our recommendation to the House is concerned.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I do not know what practice has been followed at Thursday Island, but I am given to understand that war vessels coaling there have usually employed local labour. I find, on making inquiry, that at Sydney the opposite practice has been followed. There, the Admiralty employ the crews in coaling their ships, and in any case, it seems to me that the question whether the Naval authorities employ local labour or utilize the services of their own men is one within the discretion of the. Admiralty.
.- I move -
That a sum not exceeding£317,387 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1905.
The reason why I am asking for a Supply Bill before the presentation of the Budget statement, which previously in this Parliament has been presented before Supply has been asked for, is that we find it impossible to get the Estimates ready in time to permit of the Financial Statement being delivered during this month. The classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner was presented only during the last week in June - the last month of the financial year just closed - and that necessitated the recasting of the Estimates, so far as salaries are concerned, throughout Australia. When it is remembered that the sending of the Estimates back through the Departmental heads involves in some cases a journey to and from Western Australia and other equallv distant parts of the Commonwealth, as well as the time occupied in altering the Estimates themselves, it will be recognised that it was not possible to get the work done in the usual time upon this occasion. The particular Supply Bill which I am about to present contains nothing more than the usual votes for the current month, based on last year’s Estimates, and not including any increase on account of the classification scheme or any other increments.
– It contains nothing new at all?
– Nothing new whatever, except that it includes the payment during this month of an item which would ordinarily be spread over a longer period, in the shape of , £30,000 for cable subsidies. These are distributed over three States, and, roughly speaking, represent £10,000 on account of each. The reason why I am asking for this amount in a lump sum is that it must be in England by a certain date, and if the Treasurer has not authority to transmit it at any time that may prove convenient,, he may be compelled to pay a heavier rate of exchange than would otherwise be the case. This amount. I would point out, would have to be paid in any circumstances. In the case of Victoria it represents the whole expenditure for the year. I draw, attention to that fact because usually honorable members do not like to be inadvertently deprived of their right of criticism in respect of any vote which has been completely expended when the ordinary Estimates come under review. Nevertheless it still comes within the general limitation that it is for services for which we are bound to pay. Consequently I do not think that there can be any real objection to this item ot £30,000. It is economical to vest the Treasurer with authority to take advantage of the money market at any period that may prove convenient for him to do so, because exchanges fluctuate, and sometimes facilities are available which allow careful officials to effect a considerable saving in the transmission of money abroad. Then there is a total sum of £18,000 in respect of ocean mail contracts. That amount represents one-fourth of the £72,000 which we have to pay under contract to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation and Orient Steam Navigation companies. I am asking for three months’ supply upon that item, because, as honorable members are aware, the contract expires in a comparatively short period, and as it is money which must be paid, precisely the same arguments apply to it as are applicable to the vote for the ordinary cable subsidies.
– To what item does the Prime Minister refer?
– To mail subsidies. It will be found upon page 26 of the Bill. The amount in question - £18,000 - is for the whole of the States. These are the only two items contained in the Bill, outside of the regular salaries. Under these circumstances, I think that we are quite justified in asking that the amounts which I have specified shall be granted during this month. I may say that the Treasurer is always anxious to reduce the cost of exchange on these remittances to the motherland. In some instances if the States Treasurers are in credit in London, and do not particularly want the money there, we are able to make an arrangement with them which saves the entire exchange between here and London They allow us to draw upon them in London, and we allow them to draw upon us here. In various ways of that kind, every care is taken to keep these expenses down to the lowest possible limit. In pursuance of that policy, I am asking that these two sums shall be included in this Bill. They have to be paid in any case, and the only question involved is, whether they should be included in this measure instead of being held over until the general Estimates are submitted a month or two later. When alluding to this measure a day or two ago, I neglected to indicate that I also desired to pass a small Supplementary Appropriation Bill for a sum of £5,000, which is intended to cover arrears for the year 1902-3. This money was paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account, and, therefore, has been allocated, but it was only brought to account with the different votes about seven or eight months ago. It is just an ordinary case of remanets, such as must be provided for from time to time. It does not involve any fresh expenditure. The money, however, has to be credited to the proper votes, in conformity with the. Audit Act. I ask that the Bill dealing with these small arrears may be passed immediately the Supply Bill has been disposed of.
– Of course we all regret that the Budget Speech cannot be delivered during the present month, but I think that on this occasion the Prime Minister has given a sufficient reason for his failure to deliver it. We must assume that, in connexion with the classification of the Public Service, the Public Service Commissioner discharged his very onerous duties with proper diligence.
– I do not wish to implythat he failed to do so.
– Assuming that to be so, the Government are clearly not in a position to lay the Estimates upon the table, and to deal with them at the present time. Consequently I do not think that any reasonable man can object to the course which Ministers are taking. They are strictly limiting their request for supply to the present month, with the addition of the special items which the Treasurer has mentioned, and personally I do not see any reason why we should not grant this-supply at once.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. WATSON (Bland - Treasurer). - I move -
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1902-3 for the several services hereunder specified, namely : -
The Parliament, ^39.
The Department of Home Affairs, £47.
The Department of the Treasury, ,£2,565.
The Department of Defence -
South Australian Military Forces.
Division No. 130.
Subdivision No. 1 - Pay.
*Special duty pay as per regulations. .
Division No. 131 - Reserve.
Subdivision No. 1 - Pay.
Special duty pay as per regulations.
- Payable out of amount provided under corresponding division and subdivision of the second schedule to the Appropriation Act 1902-3.
The Postmaster-General’s Department, £3,000.
– Are these additional amounts ?
– They merely involve the squaring up “ of the accounts for the year 1902-3. These moneys were paid out of the Treasurer’s advance, and brought to account, but no specific authority has been given to debit them against the particular votes to which they should have been debited under the Appropriation Act. It is impossible to. avoid these remanets, because it is only after the financial year has lapsed that we are able to debit them against the proper votes.
– Is there any list of the payments?
– The schedule of the Bill has been circulated, I think. All the items are mentioned upon page 2. It is purely a matter of bookkeeping and of rearrangement of the headings under which these sums shall be charged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– With the concurrence of the House I should like to alter the form of the motion of which I have given notice, so as to cover two Bills instead of one. I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass the necessary Bills through all their stages without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means covering resolutions of Supply adopted.
That Mr. Watson do prepare and bring in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Case of Major Lenehan.
Bill presented by Mr. Watson, and read a first and second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I should like the Prime Minister to give the House some information, if it is convenient for him to do so, in regard to a statement which has appeared in the press that it is proposed to reinstate Major Lenehan. I have a knowledge of the facts of the case, and think that if the Government propose to take this action they should place the papers on the table of the House. The matter is a serious one, and it is for that reason that I think the papers should be forthcoming for the information, not only of honorable members, but also of the military authorities and the public; I do not at present propose to discuss the merits of the case, but Major Lenehan was treated most harshly, and was finally turned out of South Africa. It is not reasonable to assume that he was subjected to this treatment without cause, but, so far as my memory serves me, the reason for the extreme action of the Imperial authorities is not clear. He was kept a close prisoner for months, tried by court martial, and found guilty of failing to make a report in regard to a serious crime, and was reprimanded, and released from custody. Immediately afterwards he was re-arrested, kept a close prisoner, taken to the Cape, and placed on board ship, and, so to speak, kicked out of the country. He then returned to Australia, and his case has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Government for more than twelve months. The General Officer Commanding is very much adverse to his reinstatement, and gives his reason for this in an open and straightforward manner.
– What are the reasons?
– They are on record, and I believe that they are not confidential. Previous Governments have hesitated to take any action. While Minister of Defence, I endeavoured to obtain full information with regard to the case, but was not very successful. To reinstate an officer who has practically been kicked out of the British Army in South Africa, and returned to Australia practically in disgrace, is a very serious step, and the Government should exercise the greatest care in taking action, in that direction. At the same time, no one desires that an injustice shall be done. So long a time has elapsed since the close of the war that it is now very difficult to elicit all the facts.
– Some of those who are opposed to Major Lenehan are relying not upon facts, but upon rumours.
– It will be found, from a perusal of the papers in the Defence Department, that I have never written a word against him in any of the official correspondence. If he is as innocent as he says he is, and as those who advocate his cause assume him to be, it is strange that he has suffered for such a length of time the harsh treatment which has been complained of without making more protest. If I were an innocent person who had been arrested, and, while in durance vile, had been treated with the greatest harshness, dismissed from the Army, and sent away from South Africa in disgrace, I would not let one or two years pass without making a strong protest. I would use both voice and pen in making my wrongs known throughout the British Dominions. But although I long ago advised those who support Major Lenehan’s cause to take the one straightforward course open to them, and set forth his grievances in a petition to the King, which I promised to have sent forward through His Excellency the Governor-General, my advice has never been acted on.
– They asked the right honorable member to do his duty and to institute an inquiry.
– Who did?
– I did for one, and the honorable member for North Sydney did for another.
– As far as I remember the member for North Sydney never spoke to me on the subject, but I do remember the honorable member mentioning the subject to me, and I think he wrote to me on the subject. If he had felt strongly on the matter, he might have moved some motion in the House for an inquiry.
– I wished to avoid that.
– This Chamber is the place in which to deal with injustice. If wrong has been done, let the facts be stated here. But no man should remain passive under injustice; and one of the chief things I have against Major Lenehan is that he did not make any complaint of his treatment to the Imperial authorities. Although I was Minister of Defence for a year after he returned from South Africa, be did not ask to see me.
– He asked for an inquiry shortly after he came back.
– It was done in a very mild way.
– It was done formally.
– Perhaps he- was afraid of the right honorable member.
– I was kindly disposed to him, and took a lot of trouble in his interest, but he has not acted on my advice and- petitioned the King for the redress of his grievances. That, to me, is strange conduct. . I told those who were supporting his case in Sydney that the proper thing to do was to prepare a petition to the King, and that if such a petition were forwarded to me, I would look into it, and write a minute upon it to accompany it when sending it to the Imperial authorities ; but nothing was done. Notwithstanding the fact that the correspondence on the subject is voluminous, very little indeed of it is in the writing of the individual concerned.
– He asked his officers, and through them the Minister, for a reply to his request.
– Very few of the letters are from him ; only one, I think. In my opinion the Government should lay the whole of the correspondence on the table.
– I do not agree with the right honorable member for Swan. The matter was first brought under the attention of the Department of Defence when I was acting as Defence Minister. The General Officer Commanding then recommended the dismissal of Major Lenehan from the Australian Forces, but I refused to accept that recommenda-tion until further information had been received in regard to the case. I also gave instructions that all documents and .other information relating to the court martial upon Major Lenehan, said to have taken place in South Africa, should be obtained. That information was obtained, and I venture to say that the evidence submitted is not sufficient to warrant the action which has been taken in regard to Major Lenehan. The right honorable member for Swan criticized Major Lenehan for not taking action on his own behalf. But that officer applied first to myself.
– No, through a third party, though I am not quite sure that he did not also apply directly. As I would not agree to his dismissal without further’ information, the General Officer Commanding informed me that no
British officer would serve in Australia if Major Lenehan was allowed to remain in his position j to which I replied that the Government would deal with all such matters as they thought lit’. That was as far as the case had gone when the right honorable member for Swan resumed his duties, and mv administration of the Department ceased. Had I remained in charge of the Department, I should have taken the course which . has since been taken, and perhaps a stronger one, and reinstated Major Lenehan, unless much blacker evidence than that obtained in the documents and information sent from South Africa was given. I do not think it has been proved, nor is it said to have been proved, that Major Lenehan was connected with the shooting which caused all the trouble. I heard rumours of some other charge against him for his conduct in South Africa, but it related to a private matter, and I could not take notice of it, as it was not formally placed before me. The evidence submitted does not contain anything to justify taking away this officer’s character, and unless the Imperial authorities can give better ground than appears in the papers for what was done, I shall support the action of the present Government. Representations were made on behalf of Major Lenehan, not only to myself, but also to the right honorable member for Swan, and I think to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, asking for reinstatement.
– Not representations by the officer himself. I think that he only once made a representation himself.
– I do not think that ‘Major Lenehan is to blame for not having given up all hope of being dealt with fairly and honestly bv the Minister in charge of the Defence Department, and, if necessary, sending through that channel a petition to the King.
– The trouble arose when Major Lenehan was in the King’s service in South Africa.
– Yes. He went to South Africa with the contingent sent from New South Wales.
– He was found guilty by court martial of failing to report.
– That is a very small offence.
– The papers disclose what evidence there is against him, and those who look through them ‘will see that he has been very severely dealt with.
.I deprecate the action of the right honorable member for Swan in putting an ex parte statement of this, case before the public, and then asking for the production of the papers. The proper course to follow was to ask for the papers before making any statement about the case. So far as the Government is concerned, the ‘ Minister of Defence went into the papers very carefully, and I also have gone into the case. I have taken heed of the minute of the late Minister of Defence upon the matter, and I . say that, so far as the papers show, Major Lenehan has been most unjustly treated. He has been treated unjustly as much by his own Government as by the Imperial authorities in South Africa.
– What injustice did we do to him ?
– I consider that the right honorable member - perhaps -with the best intentions in the world - did Major Lenehan a very grave injustice. The circumstances surrounding his case were these-: He was in charge of the Bushveldt Carbineers at the time that the shooting of the Boers took place-
– At the time some murders were committed.
– For which Morant, Handcock, and others were found guilty. It is admitted that Major Lenehan was in charge of the regiment, but he was some fifty or sixty miles away from the spot where the outrages occurred. He was not in any way responsible for them. It was never insinuated that he was responsible for them. That was never insinuated in the slightest degree.
– He heard of them.
– He was placed on his trial at the time that Morant and others were convicted by court-martial, not as being responsible in any way for the outrages, but foi having failed to report to his superior officer in connexion with them. He stated that he had reported verbally to his immediate superior, but that officer had, in the meantime, been sent to India, and, therefore was not able to substantiate Major Lenehan’s statement to the courtmartial. Here is the point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House in this connexion. The charge which I have just mentioned was the only one against Major Lenehan, namely, that of failing to report.
– Failing to report these murders.
– Failing; to report the circumstances under which these Boers were shot, so far as his knowledge went. Now, under the King’s Regulations, there are three grades of punishment, according to the seriousness of the offence committed. First, an officer can be cashiered ; or, secondly, he can be severely reprimanded ; or, thirdly, he can be reprimanded. Reprimanding is the lightest sentence that can be inflicted upon an officer. On going into the case thoroughly, the courtmartial, which was composed wholly of Imperial officers of high standing in the service - determined to inflict upon Major Lenehan the lightest sentence they could inflict. He was presented before them and reprimanded. But immediately afterwards, for some reason which only the authorities - other than those constituting the court martial - could explain to the public, Major Lenehan was placed under arrest, and deported from South Africa. I say that that was a most unjust and un-British thing to do. It rested with the military authorities to justify their treatment of an Australian officer in that manner. The right honorable member for Swan states that Major Lenehan allowed his case to lie without taking any action. That is absolutely incorrect. The right honorable member made the same statement to imf some time ago. I had taken an interest in the case, in conjunction with the honorable member for North Sydney. About eighteen months ago, before I went to New Zealand, the right honorable member made a similar statement to me, but I was informed later that it was not correct. The right honorable member could not have been made aware of the fact that Major Lenehan, immediately he reached Australia, or within a few weeks of his arrival in Sydney, appearing to think that the proper persons to support him in his trouble were his own Government, made a complaint and asked for an inquiry into the whole of the circumstances. It seems to me that that was a proper thing for him to do,
– How could there be an inquiry in Australia as to what had taken place in South Africa?
– The General Officer Commanding had recommended that Major Lenehan be discharged from the Australian Forces, and surely if a man’s own Government goes back upon him il is pf little use for him to turn to the Imperial authorities. If his own superiors and employers are not prepared to investigate the matter and to ascertain whether or not he was treated justly, he cannot hope for much from others. He asked for an inquiry to be made as to whether or not he was entitled to retain his commission. Major Lenehan, in fact, took the only course that was open to him, in asking for an inquiry at the hands of his superior officers.
– How could there be an inquiry here as to what took place in South Africa?
– Steps could have been taken to ascertain whether the statements made as to injustice done to one of our officers in South Africa were well founded.
– Did we not take steps ?
– For . a considerable time the right honorable member opposite took no steps. Coming to the steps that were taken more recently, I may say that when I was asked to look into the case I had a great deal of prejudice with regard to it. Naturally I thought,, from newspaper reports, as did many other people, that Major Lenehan had had something to do with the shooting of the Boers. The impression conveyed to most people outside was that he was in some way concerned in it. But when I looked into the papers for myself, and made inquiries, I found that such was not the fact. That brings me to the remark that the last Government did eventually communicate with the War Office with reference to the case.
– There were several communications.
– I take it that they had to .make several efforts before they could get a reply. The Government asked the War Office whether there was anything against Major Lenehan other than what was decided upon by the court martial, the evidence given before which was available. The War Office took some time to reply to that question, but eventually they sent the answer that there was nothing more against Major Lenehan than had been before the court martial.
– The London Times represented that to be a mere nothing.
– Quite so. Yet that appears to be the idea of justice of the right honorable member opposite - that a man, having been brought up on a particular charge, and having been found guilty of it with extenuating circumstances, and having been given the lightest possible penalty which the Court could inflict, the right honorable member would afterwards brand him with infamy.
– The Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself for saving so.
– Why did the right honorable member-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Prime Minister justified in saying that I want to brand a man with infamy ?
– The right honorable gentleman is not justified in interrupting the speaker.
– I do not say. that the right honorable member for Swan entertained any malice against Major Lenehan, but I am complaining that he wishes to brand this man as an outcast.
– I have not done anything of the sort.
– The right honorable member said that he ought to be dismissed.
– I have never said anything of the sort.
– Then I must have misunderstood the right honorable member, and I apologise to him. I understood him to say that it was justifiable to call upon Major Lenehan to resign
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I am glad that my first impression was incorrect. So far as Major Lenehan was concerned, there was nothing more against him, according to the reply received by the Australian authorities from the War Office, than was before the court-martial, by which he was punished with the lightest possible sentence. That is at least sufficient to show that nothing further should have been done by this Government against Major Lenehan. What does a reprimand mean? Is it not a fact - I have been so informed, and I believe it to be a fact - that quite a number of officers holding important commands in South Africa were at different times reprimanded - I do not say for exactly the same offence that Major Lenehan was guilty of - by the Courts of Military Inquiry, and were allowed to continue in their commands in the Imperial Service. Perhaps in some cases an error of judgment had been committed, and they were reprimanded, and nothing further occurred. I do not pretend to explain the action - which seems to me inexplicable - of the British, authorities, other than those comprising the court martial, in taking subsequent steps against Major Lenehan. It was most extraordinary that, after the court martial had inflicted the lightest, sentence that could possibly be passed, on Major Lenehan, the authorities should subsequently take steps to deport him from the country.
– Did not the late Minister deal with the case?
– I shall speak about that presently. I should like the attention of the honorable member for- Swan, when I point out that up to the period of the court martial, which administered a reprimand to Major Lenehan, there was no man in South Africa who had a better record, or who had proved . himself a better soldier. He had been complimented on many occasions by the officers in command of the various battalions or brigades with which he was associated upon the efficiency of his work, and also upon his enthusiasm.
– Is that information contained in the papers?
– That is evidenced by the fact that Major Lenehan was asked to undertake the formation of the particular corps which he subsequently commanded. When it was proposed to form the corps, a cable was sent to the New South Wales authorities asking the State Government for an extension of his leave and for permission to utilize his services. That did not make it appear that he had behaved badly, either in the cause of the Empire, or as representing Australia during the South African campaign. That alone should, I think, have been sufficient to cause most of us at any rate to suspend our judgment in regard to his case. This matter was inquired into by several Ministers. The right honorable member for Swan, as Minister of Defence, first took it in hand. Whilst he was in charge of the Defence Department, however, I do not think that the matter came to a head.
– I took a great deal of trouble - much more than any one else has taken since.
– Possibly so. In anv case, the reply of the War Office had not been received.
– Some replies had been received, but they were not sufficient.
– After that, the honorable member for Hume also dealt with the case, and subsequently the late Minister of Defence, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, left on record a minute to the following effect : -
On a close investigation the papers, which contain all the information that the Government has been able to procure, fail to disclose any specific charge against Major Lenehan, other than the two charges of culpable neglect to report, tried by court martial, on one of which he was acquitted, and on the other convicted. The sentence passed, namely, a reprimand, appears to bethe lowest that can be inflicted for such an offence.
Major Lenehan was not tried with respect to any of the rumours referred to in the papers.
That is an aspect of the case which seems to me to call for some comment. There was presented to the Minister, I think most improperly, a letter from an individual in England, who had been in South Africa, regarding some rumours relating to Major Lenehan. This document was a private letter sent to the Major-General Commanding.
– That was a blackguardlything to do.
– It was most unjust and most unfair. On the strength of that letter, forsooth, Major Lenehan’s character was to be judged. I do not suppose that any one of us would, for a moment, justify an action of that kind. In regard to that rumour, there is abundant evidence, from what I can glean, that if it were referred to Major Lenehan, he would be able to get those men who served under him at the time to say whether or not there was any truth in it. It is admitted to be a rumour only. The minute goes on to say : -
He was many miles away from the place where the crimes were committed, which formed the subject of the trial by court martial of Morant, Wilton,’ and Handcock; and the very great importance attached to their trial suggests that, if there were anything beyond the two charges against Major Lenehan, he would also have been tried with them.
It would obvibusly be impracticable for this Department to act on rumours as if they were proved facts, which there is nothing in the papers so tangible as to justify me in so regarding them, it being, indeed, officially admitted that there is no proof of facts against Major Lenehan, beyond what appears in the evidence before the court martial.
A perusal of that evidence should satisfy any unprejudiced mind that it contains nothing against” Major Lenehan, beyond the failure to report, for which he was punished, and for which his punishment was completed when the court martial rose after reprimanding him.
If the treatment subsequently meted out to tin’s officer, namely, his “arrest, confinement, and deportation, was for the failure to report, then it would seem that he has suffered additional punishment on that account beyond the sentence of the court martial. On the other hand, if this treatment was on account of rumours, as to which possibly there was no evidence, then it is equally contrary to English justice. Whichever view is, therefore, taken, I cannot see my way to sanction the removal of Major Lenehan from the Forces on account of anything that appeared in the evidence before the court martial.
Being thus thrown back upon that evidence, I find that his Judges considered a reprimand sufficient punishment for the offence there disclosed ; and it would be manifestly unjust were I, upon the same evidence, to sanction his removal from his own Forces in respect to what was considered adequate punishment by a mere reprimand by a tribunal of the Forces in which he was then serving.
With regard to Major Lenehan’s claims for pay and gratuities, and for compensation, on account of the confiscation of his horses, these are matters which took place during his service in the British Army, and the claims which he puts forward are only referable to that Service.
They constitute, therefore, matters extraneous to the control of this Department, and if Major Lenehan pursues them, his proper course is by petition through the Governor-General to the Imperial Government.
That is the minute of the late Minister of Defence. My honorable colleague, the present Minister, who had known nothing of the circumstances prior to his assuming office, . took the matter up.
-He interested himself in the matter before that.
– I do not think so. ‘ I was interested, as was also the honorable member for North Sydney; but I never heard of my honorable colleague, the Minister of Defence, having been spoken to or approached in any way prior to his assuming office. The right honorable member suggests that the present Minister of Defence was prejudiced because-
– No, I say that he had taken an interest in the matter, and I would appeal to the late Minister of Defence as to whether or not I am right.
– I have no knowledge of that.
– I think that the right honorable gentleman is confusing Major Lenehan’s case with another, in which the Minister of Defence had taken an interest. The only honorable members who, to my knowledge, took any interest in the matter were myself and the honorable member for North Sydney. It was only after the most complete inquiry possible had been made into the facts that we decided to advance anything in favor of Major Lenehan. I have no objection to lay the papers upon the table.
– The Minister would not lay confidential papers on the table?
– Of course not. Any confidential papers will have to be held back by the Department. Personally, I expressed the view, before I took office, that if justice could be done to Major Lenehan without holding an inquiry, it would be better that that course should be adopted, because if a general inquiry were entered upon, opportunity might be taken to deal ‘with a number of matters extraneous, to the particular case. It seemed to me that no good purposewould be served by digging up all the allegations which might be put forward in a time of stress and trouble such as that was. Therefore, I was not anxious that an inquiry should be held, so long as justice could be done to Major Lenehan. If, however, it was impossible to obtain that, I said that everything else must go by the board. My idea was that Major Lenehan must not be allowed to remain under an injustice which would reflect discredit upon the community as a whole.
– As one who, to some extent, has been associated with this matter, I should like to supplement what the Prime Minister has said, and to support the action of his Government. I must say that when I was first approached in connexion with the case of Major Lenehan, I was distinctly prejudiced against that officer. I had read press reports, which seemed to associate him with what were atrocious massacres in South Africa. As he had practically been put on board ship in South Africa and returned to Australia, I naturally thought that he must have some close connexion with those massacres. I informed the parties who approached me - gentlemen of reliability in Sydney - that that was my opinion, and I also added that if they desired any re-opening of South African matters, unless an extreme necessity existed to do justice to some person who had suffered injustice, I should be opposed to entering into the question of the dealings of the. British authorities with those who were engaged in the war. However, they asked if I was willing to consider facts if they were placed before me, and, whether if I thought an injustice had been done,
I would do my best to get it remedied. I at once replied that I would. I must confess ‘ that the information which was placed before’ me astonished me. I had no idea that an officer could be subjected to such treatment upon such slight grounds. I would point out that this question became one, not between the British authorities in South Africa and Major Lenehan, but between the military authorities here and Major Lenehan, inasmuch as that officer, on his return to Australia was refused reinstatement on account of alleged- events in South Africa. What did that refusal to reinstate him /mean? It meant that that officer, who had gone forth with a good character, who had entered the Forces in South Africa, who had done remarkably good work there, who ‘had so satisfied the British officers over him, that when his contingent had returned to Australia, they requested him to remain and command another corps which was being raised, was not what his service showed him to be, but was an individual who had so disgraced himself by his association with ‘ certain massacres, that he ought not to be replaced in his position in Australia. That refusal to reinstate him was tantamount to finding him guiltv of offences beyond those charged against him, and meant attaching a stigma to his name for life. That was a very serious position to take up, and one which could only be justified if the facts supported the attitude adopted by the Australian Military authorities. But what was the real position? The Prime Minister has informed us of the results of inquiries which were made from the British Government. That Government was asked, “ Is there anything against Major Lenehan beyond what was disclosed before the court martial ? “ “ No,” was the reply elicited. What were the facts connected with the court-martial? Simply that Major Lenehan was found guilty of a technical error in failing to report the death of only one of the men massacred. That officer, however, declares that he reported all to his Colonel, who was a British officer, but who unfortunately was absent from South Africa at the time the court martial was held.
– Could he not have been communicated with?
– I understand that he was communicated with.
– What was the reply?
– I cannot say; but I believe that Major Lenehan is prepared to submit evidence in support of his statement, and that he would also be ready, if he possessed the means, to go to Great Britain to clear himself before the War Office there.
– Surely that is not necessary.
– No. That is not the question which is involved. The question is, “ What attitude should the Australian authorities take in view of the facts of the case ?” The evidence before the court martial merely discloses a failure to report to the General Commanding, who was at some distance from Major Lenehan.
– That is a very serious offence, considering the circumstances.
– It was a technical offence, but Major Lenehanhas sworn that he reported the facts to his Colonel, and we have no evidence to the contrary.
– Who were the judges ?
– The court-martial which tried him in South Africa.
– Why did not the exMinister of Defence get this information from the Colonel?
– We are not the parties to judge the case. The parties entitled to judge were those upon the spot when these events were of recent date - the parties who were acquainted with the whole circumstances of the matter. What did they in court martial decide? That Major Lenehan was merely guilty of a technical offence. In support of that finding they inflicted upon him the lightest sentence that a court martial can impose - a reprimand - a sentence which has been inflicted in other cases in which the offenders have immediately gone back to their regiments and resumed their former positions. But upon his return to Australia, Major Lenehan was prevented from re-joining his regiment. He was to be excluded from his position, to be asked to send in his papers, and to be retired from the Forces.
– How does the honorable member account for that treatment?
– I cannot account for it by anything except the verdict of the Court-martial. If there is anything against Major Lenehan bevond what was disclosed at that inquiry, the British authorities should produce it, and they have been asked to do so. They say that there is nothing further against him.
– Why was he deported from South Africa?
– The honorable member can answer that question just as well as I can. The British Government declare that they have nothing against Major Lenehan beyond what was disclosed before the court martial. We know that in war timemany things are done under the stress of circumstances, and that very frequently an officer mistakenly exercises autocratic power. But if there is any reason why Major Lenehan was deported from South Africa beyond that which wasdisclosed before the court martial, surely it should be forthcoming 1 Where is it ? The British Government say that they have not got it. Should the technical offence of which he was adjudged guilty affect Major Lenehan’s reinstatement in the Australian Forces? That officer was formerly a solicitor in Sydney. He is a man whose previous history and character are altogether opposed to his association with these disgraceful proceedings in South Africa. The court martial supports that view of the position by simply reprimanding him, and by admitting that he had no connexion whatever with those matters. Then the Australian military authorities refused to do what has been done in the case- of many British officers who have been reprimanded - to replace him in the local forces.
– Surely the honorable member would not ask them to do that without making inquiries?
– That course has been followed times out of number, when a court martial has merely reprimanded an officer. He has been permitted to return to his regiment. The verdict of a court martial usually represents the extent of the offence which has been committed. In this case that verdict simplv amounted to a reprimand, and the British Government assert that they have nothing against Major Lenehan beyond what was adduced before that tribunal. But instead of sympathizing with him in the treatment to which he was subsequently subjected, the Commonwealth authorities proposed to further punish him, although there was really no evidence that he deserved to be dealt with in that way. The right honorable member can make no reply to the statement that the British authorities have nothing against Major Lenehan except that for which he was tried by court martial. The court martial decided that he was guilty of only a technical offence.
– The honorable member has probably examined papers that I have not seen. Who said that there was nothing else against him?
– That wad the reply made to the Government of which the right honorable member was a member.
– The right honorable member ought to know that his Government caused inquiries to be made fi om the Imperial authorities, and that a reply was received in accordance with the statement which I have made.
– Does the honorable member say-
– Order ! This discussion was initiated by the right honorable member for Swan, who spoke at some length, but since then he has been carrying on a running fire of interjections. As we are in Committee, the right honorable member will have another opportunity to address himself to the question, and I ask the honorable member for North Sydney to confine his attention to the matter immediately before the Chair.
– The late Government inquired whether there was anything against Major Lenehan, except that for which he had been dealt with by court martial, and, after taking time to make an investigation, the British authorities replied that there was nothing. He was tried before the court martial, and received the lightest punishment that it was open to a court martial to inflict.
– He was found guilty.
– He was found guilty, not df having had anything to do with the massacres, but of having failed to report a fact to the General Officer Commanding. He stated that he reported the fact to the colonel of his regiment, and he is now prepared to swear that he did so.
– Then there has been a miscarriage of justice?
– He was reprimanded by the court martial : but that is a frequent occurrence in the British Army.
– It implies guilt.
– It implies technical guilt.
– Some of the best men in the British Army have suffered in the same way
– Many British officers have been reprimanded, and have immediately returned to their regiments.
– Several were sent home from South Africa, and even then were allowed to rejoin their regiments.
– Quite so. The fact that he has been reprimanded does not constitute a stain upon the man’s character ; but if the Military authorities controlling the Forces to which he belongs declined to reinstate him in the position which he occupied before he went to South Africa, saying “ You have been guilty of actions which are unworthy of an officer, and should not be reinstated/’ there would be a lasting- stain against his character. If he has been guilty of such actions he certainly ought not to be reinstated, but the British Government in its reply to the inquiry made by the Commonwealth Government, acquit him of everything save that for which he was dealt with by ihe court martial. The only remedy, therefore, for the injustice . which, on the evidence, has been done to this officer, is to reinstate him in the Commonwealth Forces. I am opposed to entering into the question as between Major Lenehan and the British authorities. We should not re-open old South African sores ; if this case is to be re-opened let action be taken by Major Lenehan. He has expressed the desire, as as soon as he is possessed of the requisite means, to proceed to England and press the matter with the War Office. When it appeared that he was not to be reinstated in the local forces he asked for an inquiry, but that request was not granted, for some reason which does not appear.
– The witnesses were absent.
– They are now back from South Africa.
– But those whom he would have called were in South Africa at the time.
– He made a request quite recently for an inquiry.
– When did he do so?
– He has asked for an inquiry from the. very first.
– He never preferred such a request to me while I was Minister, save on one occasion two years ago.
– That was just after he returned to Australia. He has since made a similar request, but the fact that he had made one application should have appealed quite sufficient to a man of the right honorable member’s judgment.
– He asked for an inquiry, shortly after he returned, and has ever since been desirous “to secure one.
– Has he ever said so?
– He has.
– Has he preferred such a request in writing?
– The last Minister of Defence looked up the papers and found that he had asked for an inquiry.
– How long ago?
– The right honorable member said just now that he made a request for an inquiry two or three years ago.
– I cannot be expected to have a knowledge of all the dates, but I know that Major Lenehan asked for an inquiry. The right honorable member for Swan was under a misapprehension in suggesting that he Had not done so within the last year or two, because the honorable member who succeeded him as Minister of Defence will admit that such a request was made.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable member has the admission of his late colleague that my statement is correct. Although at the outset I was prejudiced against this officer I was forced to the conclusion, on looking into the facts submitted to me, that he was being unjustly treated, and I, acting in conjunction with the present Prime Minister, brought the matter under the notice of the late Government. They saw no ; reason for the action which had been taken, but two members of that Government, at all events, were not prepared to undertake the responsibility of reinstating him. The present Minister of Defence has done so.
– Has he been reinstated ?
– An intimation to the effect has been given.
– He should be granted an inquiry.
– It is not his fault that an inquiry has not taken place.
– He has not made a request for an inquiry during the last vear or two.
– I trust that the right honorable member will not make such a statement, because it is absolutely unjust to the officer in question. I saw him for the first time, to my knowledge, some two or three months ago, and in spite of the indication that he was likely to be reinstated he requested me to advocate an inquiry. He pressed the request, and desired that an inquiry should be held whether he was reinstated or not. I advised him that it was better that he should accept reinstatement - if it were offered to him - rather than insist upon an inquiry which would lead only to the re-opening of old South African troubles, which should be heard of no more, and possibly create friction between the British Government and the Commonwealth authorities. I said that if the wrong which was being done him were, remedied, he should be satisfied, but I had the greatest difficulty in persuading him that that was the better course for him to pursue.
– Why did he not come to seeme?
– He was in Sydney, and had not the means to travel to and fro to interview the Minister.
– He lost all that he possessed in South Africa, and was without means to travel about.
– A military officer ‘has no right except through the Commandant to make such a request of the Minister at the head of his Department.
– I am not familiar with military technicalities, but so far as I am aware, Major Lenehan has not seen the Minister. That is the whole position, and I feel satisfied that when honorable members have inquired into the matter, as the Prime Minister and I have done, they will arrive at the conclusion that this officer would have been subjected to a most serious injustice had his reinstatement been refused, when it was acknowledged by the British Government that there was no reason, and that a serious stain would have been placed’ on his character by the military authorities in his own country - such a stain as would attach not only to the man himself, but to his descendants, because these events become historic. I am sure that any honorable member who looks into the case, though he may at first be prejudiced, as I was, will come to the conclusion that the only way, not of meting out entire justice, but of doing a particle of justice to Major Lenehan, is to reinstate him in the position which he occupied before he went to South Africa.
– I have listened with a good deal of interest to the statements which have been made regarding this case ; and I was very pleased with the resume of it given by the Prime Minister. The case is one into which, as Minister of Defence, I went very deeply, not only because a big principle was at stake, since any false step might have involved a conflict between the Imperial War Office and the military authorities here, but because a man’s prospects were in danger. Major Lenehan’s profession was everything to him. I think that he cannot be blamed for not having pushed forward an inquiry. He asked foi steps to be taken to reinstate him, and the Prime Minister of the day sent to South Africa for full information in regard to his case. Major Lenehan, I understand, waited until that information should be received before asking the Government to take further steps. When I took office, there was in existence a large pile of papers relating to the case, and the present Prime Minister, together with the honorable member for North Sydney, interviewed me upon it, putting the matter before me from their stand-point, and making representations in black’ and white. I have always held that in these matters no notice can be taken of inferences, rumours, and statements in private letters which cannot be adduced as evidence, and if possible refuted by the individual concerned. Consequently, I refused to take notice of such information; but, having gone thoroughly into the whole matter. I came to the conclusion that Lenehan had not been well used. I do not remember that any one besides the gentlemen whom I had named saw me on his behalf. I was quite free from prejudice or bias in dealing with the case, because I did not know Major Lenehan, nor should I .know him now if he were to enter the chamber. The representation of the honorable member for North Sydney made a strong impression upon me, because he admitted that at first he was prejudiced against Major Lenehan. I think that a great number of people have been prejudiced against him, because of the belief that something was done in South Africa which has not reflected much credit, on Australia, and in some dim, vague way we have associated Major Lenehan and others with the occurrence. However, there was nothing in the papers sent from South Africa - and they were very full - which associated Major Lenehan with the incident to which I refer. What caused a great deal of doubt in my mind in regard to Major Lenehan’s innocence, and probably prevented the right honorable member .for Swan from coming to any decision on the case, was that it seemed strange that an Australian officer should be so harshly treated for so trifling an offence. The charge upon which Major Lenehan was convicted was what might be called a technical one. . His fault was a failure to report.
– There were two charges.
– Yes, but he was acquitted on one. He should not be loaded with it.
– The charge of failing to report would be a serious one if the officer concerned had not attempted to show that he had reported. The case was inquired into on the spot by men whose only object could have been to see that justice was done, and, after a careful examination, they gave Major. Lenehan the lightest sentence that they could impose. But, immediately afterwards, he was bundled into prison on board ship, and sent back to Australia. His horses were left behind, and his back pay is still due to him. Any one who investigated his case would naturally think that Major Lenehan must have committed some other misconduct to justify such treatment ; but when the War Office was asked if any other charges had been proved against him, nothing further of a condemnatory character was alleged. Under these circumstances, no other course was open to me than to attempt to clear Major Lenehan’s character, and I accordingly wrote a minute on the subject a few days before I left office. No doubt it would have been better policy to leave the case to my successor, because it was likely to cause trouble ; but I have always held that there are other things besides political expediency, and as Major Lenehan had been waiting for a long time to obtain justice, I felt bound to do what I could to reestablish his position. Therefore,” I wrote a minute, and left it for my successor to act upon if he . chose, and to take the responsibility of his position by deciding whether Major Lenehan should be reinstated. In my opinion, Major Lenehan should be given every assistance to prosecute a claim for compensation for the loss of his horses, and for the recovery of his back pay. I think that an inquiry should be made into all the circumstances of the case, so that the shadow still hanging over the officer may be entirely dispelled. My action was not taken until I had consulted my predecessors, who, I knew, were fully seized of the facts. But having gone further into the whole matter, with an open mind, I came to the conclusion that Major Lenehan had been hardly treated. His reinstatement is a step for which the present Government must, of course, take the full responsibility, and I am glad that they are ready to make themselves responsible for some of their actions in regard to military administration. But I regret that there seems to be a growing tendency to deal with military matters in Parliament. I have to-day been giving evidence before a Select Committee which is inquiring into the case of another military officer, and I have been summoned to attend before another Committee which is pursuing a similar investigation. I do not blame the Government entirely for the appointment of these Committees; but I to-day protested against military matters of detail being dealt with by Committees. If this kind of thing continues, the Defence Department will be practically administered by Members of Parliament. However, the matter is one for the Government.
– The appointment of a Committee is a matter for one or other of the Houses of Parliament. The Government cannot put an end to a Committee’s inquiry.
– The Committee before which I gave evidence to-day is that dealing with the case of Major J. W. M. Carroll. When in office I was pressed to agree to the appointment of either a Committee or a Royal Commission to deal with that case; but I declined to do so, and when informed that there was an inclination on the part of some honorable members to press for a Committee, 1 stated that I would resist the application, and would ask my colleague in the Senate to do the same. I do not desire to say anything in disparagement of my successor, nor do I altogether blame him for what has occurred ; but I do not think it is wise to introduce matters of military detail in Parliament. If we do, we shall have to increase the administrative staff of the Defence Department. Moreover, it is rarely that good results are obtained from the investigations of Select Committees. It has been my experience in the Parliament of New South Wales that the member who moves for the appointment of a Select Committee, and is generally made its chairman, is most often either well disposed to the person regarding whose case an inquiry is asked for, or has been pressed by the friends of that person to move for a Committee; and, consequently) the finding of the Committee is not of much value.
– A statement has been made this afternoon in regard to the Lenehan case upon which I think further action should be taken. The Prime Minister has informed us that he has seen in the papers relating to the case a letter which was received by the General Officer Commanding from some gentleman in England, whose name is attached, and that that letter contains certain rumours of misconduct on the part of Major Lenehan. If that is so, and Major-General Hutton acted upon these rumours-
– I do not say that MajorGeneral Hutton acted on them.
– It seems to me atrocious, and equivalent to stabbing a man in the back, to prevent him from getting fair play by adopting methods of that kind. It is well that we have a civil authority to overlook the military authorities, whose prosecution, or persecution, of Major Lenehan seems to be based on some rumours which are repeated in a private letter. If I have stated the facts correctly, the matter should not be allowed to rest here.
An Honorable Member. - What is the date of the letter?
– The only knowledge that I have with regard to the letter is that conveyed in the statement of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has promised that he will afford an opportunity to honorable members to inspect the papers. Whatever may be the date of the letter, it opens up the very large question of the possibility of any man in the Defence Department being made the subject of letters, written to the General Officer Commanding, which contain no real evidence, and which should not be regarded seriously. It is not fair that a man’s reputation should be ruined by some person writing behind his back to the
General Officer Commanding, and possibly creating wrong impressions which he can have no chance of dispelling. It was announced three weeks ago that the Government intended to reinstate Major Lenehan, and I should like to ask why action has not yet been taken in that direction ? It was further stated that the General Officer Commanding was so much opposed to the proposed reinstatement that he would not draw up the order, and that it would be necessary to pass an Order in Council providing for the appointment. I should like to know how long the Ministry propose to wait before they do justice to Major Lenehan. Are we to wait until the Council of Defence has been formed ? The Ministry have decided that Major Lenehan has been unjustly dealt with, and that he shall be reinstated, and yet they are staying their hands, apparently because objection has been raised by the military authorities.
– Major Lenehan will be reinstated in his previous position as major at the next meeting of the Executive Council.
– I am very glad to hear it, and I trust that there are no other cases in which the military authorities are refusing to do justice to those who have been harshly dealt with.
– Major Lenehan made an application for an inquiry in April, 1902. The right honorable member for Swan must have forgotten that.
– Was that the first application ?
– Yes; he only returned from South Africa a month or two previously.
– That is the onlyapplication of which I know. There have been scarcely any letters since.
– There have been plenty of letters from his friends, asking that his request should be complied with.
– From his friends ; but not from himself.
– He was a military officer, and could not send letters direct to the Minister.
– He could write to the General Officer Commanding.
– He did so, and received very little sympathy.
– I wish to point out that it is almost impossible to obtain reliable in formation from the Defence Department. Latterly I have adopted the course of asking questions in this House, rather than writing, and I still find myself in a difficulty. On four different occasions information supplied in response to questions asked in this House by me has subsequently been found to be incorrect. Some time ago, I thought that the Defence Department were paying too much attention to the recommendations of the Colonial Defence Committee, particularly in regard to our volunteer forces. This outside body, sitting in London, made a recommendation that our Volunteer Forces should be disbanded. I asked the Prime Minister a question on the subject, and I was informed that no such recommendation had been received. Later on, however, I pointed to a recommendation which appeared in a printed paper that had been laid on the table of the House. The Prime Minister then said -
It is regretted that, when replying to the previous question of the honorable and learned member, a later recommendation by the Colonial Defence Committee on this subject was inadvertently overlooked. The report containing the recommendation in question was made a parliamentary paper, being presented to the House of Representatives on the 19th September, 1901.
I wish honorable members to notice that, because a recommendation was made in September, 1901,’ the Defence authorities did not consider it necessary or proper to give information regarding it, or apparently to search its records since that date. Yesterday I asked a question with regard to colours and other honours received in connexion with the late South African war. The Prime Minister gave an answer for which I do not hold him responsible, because I understand that the replies are simply placed in his hands by the Defence Department.
– The answers accorded with my general memory as to what was contained in the papers I had seen previously.
– I asked whether it was a fact that the General Officer Commanding had recommended that these honours, save in the case of the Light Horse, should go to New South Wales corps only, and I received a reply in the negative.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned member said, “ Save in the case of the Light Horse.”
– Oh, yes; undoubtedly I did. I find, by reference to the last report of the General Officer Commanding, that the only two honours recommended which are not to go to the
Australian Light Horse are to be conferred upon the Royal Australian Artillery of New South Wales, and the Australian Army Medical Corps, also in that State. That is a matter in which we might fairly expect to be supplied with correct information. On the 20th inst., I aske’d the Prime Minister a question as to the number of volunteers in each of the States, and I was told that the strength of the Volunteer Corps in Western Australia on the 1st March, 1902, was 2,220. According to a paper which was presented to this House on 18th July, 1901, there were absolutely no volunteers in Western Australia, all the forces being described as partially paid, and no alteration has since been made. I do not know how the discrepancy can be accounted for, except on the supposition that inaccurate information has again been supplied. I find that the Minister of Defence, in criticising the report of the General Officer Commanding, ‘ stated that the General Officer Commanding - makes the complaint that he was not informed about any agreement that was made between the ammunition factory at Footscray and the Department, and recommends that 10,000,000 rounds of ammunition for the forthcoming year should be purchased. He does not make that complaint for the first time. He has been told distinctly that there is no agreement, that there has been no arrangement, and that no effort has been made by the permanent head of the civil branch of the Department to block any one of his recommendations in that respect. On the contrary, we provide on our Estimates for 1,000,000 rounds more than he recommended, 11,000,000 rounds. I cannot understand what the real grievance is, or what reason there is for many of the statements which appear in this report.
Apparently the Minister himself complains that the General Officer Commanding has made incorrect statements in his report. He said that the General Officer Commanding had been told that there was no agreement, and that’ no effort had been made to set aside his report. The matters to which I have directed attention may appear to some honorable members to be trivial. It may not matter very much whether there are 2,000 or 200 volunteers in Western Australia, but it is important that we should be supplied with correct information, and that information officially supplied should be reliable. I trust that the Prime Minister will ask his colleague, the Minister of Defence, to inquire into this matter with a view to insure that the information given to us shall be thoroughly trustworthy, and such as will afford us a sound basis for future action.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The question of the reinstatement of Major Lenehan appears to be regarded by some honorable members as a matter of very little consequence. I suppose that most of us were greatly shocked when we heard of the crime which was committed in South Africa by members of the Bushveldt Carbineers, for which two Australians were shot, and another was sentenced to imprisonment for life. In connexion with that case, Major Lenehan appeared on the scene after the crime had been committed, and held an inquiry, but neglected to report the matter to his superior officer. This very serious neglect of duty has been designated by the late Minister of Defence as merely a technical offence.
– It was so serious that the court martial merely reprimanded him.
– They found him guilty of a serious offence, but they imposed the lightest sentence that could be inflicted under the circumstances. He was found guilty of failing to report a serious crime to his superior officer. He represents that he did report the matter. If his statement were true he would be completely exonerated, but no evidence is forthcoming in support of it.
– Surely the honorable member would not punish a man a second time for the one offence.
– Damaging rumours have been in circulation with regard to Major Lenehan, and it is not sufficient that he should have been reinstated without any inquiry. He has made a request for investigation, and his desire should be complied with, in order that he may have an opportunity to remove the stain which now rests upon his character. He was indirectly connected with, perhaps, the most heinous crime perpetrated during the South African campaign, and yet we find that the Government are now ready to reinstate him without any further ado. Some regard should be paid to the damaging rumours which have been circulated with regard to Major Lenehan.
– The honorable member has queer ideas of British justice if he attaches so much importance to mere rumours.
– I contend that an inquiry should be held, and that the Government should not whitewash Major Lenehan in the manner now proposed.
Otherwise, they will not do full justice to Major Lenehan, or his family, or the Commonwealth. Major Lenehan, who was an officer of the Commonwealth Forces, and was held by the court martial to have disgraced his rank, and to be no longer fit to hold his former position as an officer. They say that he is unfit for his position. He is packed off without his horse or his pay-
– Does the honorable member say that the honour of a British officer is higher than that of an Australian officer ?
– No, it is exactly the same. I hold that this soldier should not be whitewashed. He should be granted the inquiry for which he asks. Let the honour of an Australian officer be held, as high as that of an officer in England. Here is a man who commits an offence against his country, and the Government desire to whitewash him, although he pleads for an inquiry that his character may be vindicated in the face of his fellows. I say it is a great scandal that this officer, who is alleged to have been associated with the foulest crime committed in South Africa-
– He was not charged with anything in connexion with that matter.
– He is charged with having come upon the scene-
– Weeks afterwards.
– It does not matter if it were a year afterwards. He is the responsible officer who appeared upon the scene to inquire into certain matters. He inquired into them, and it was his duty to report to his colonel, which the court martial found that he neglected to do. That circumstance, in. itself, shows that he was desirous of hushing up this foul crime. That is the stain which rests upon this soldier’s character. Why do not the Government grant him an inquiry?
– Because the holding of an inquiry would imply that a doubt exists in our minds, and we have no doubt.
– Why reinstate him without an inquiry when the implication remains that he is guilty of the charge which has been levelled against him?
– The implication is that he is innocent of that charge.
– At any rate the fact remains that he was reprimanded for his offence. It will be a public scandal if the Government refuse to grant this officer what he seeks as a British sub ject - an inquiry into his case. He asked for that inquiry in April, 1902, and it is within the power of the present Administration to accede to his request. But in effect they say, “No, we will not grant it ; but we will whitewash you.” That will not remove the stain which rests upon this officer and upon Australia. Two men were shot for the crime which it is alleged that he was sent to report upon, and a third was imprisoned for life. Here is an officer who was sent to the scene of fhe murder to investigate the matter. He had to inquire into it, and to report to his superior officer, a course which it was found that he failed to follow.
– Was he sent there specially to inquire into that matter?
– We can all recall the diabolical murder of several Boers in South Africa. Major Lenehan, after inquiring into the circumstances connected with that matter, neglected to report Ohern to his superior officer. Surely that officer could have been found. But the fact remains that he was- not found. His superior officer is got out of the way. After several months of correspondence upon this matter, the Imperial authorities, in order to please us, say, “We have nothing more against Major Lenehan.”
– That is a grave reflection upon the British authorities.
– Did they not release a man who was imprisoned for life, in order to please the people of Australia ? I do not believe, however, that the reinstatement of Major. Lenehan will please the people of the Commonwealth. Certainly, I am not pleased that a diabolical crime, committed by an Australian, who was found guilty of it-
– It is said that Lieutenant Witton acted under the authority of his superior officer. That fact should be remembered.
– Lieutenant Witton’s private letters have appeared in the public press, and in them he sought to justify the action of the men who were shot.
– Lieutenant Witton has been in gaol ever since.
– I repeat that his letters appearedin public prints, justifying the action taken by the men who were shot. But I do not wish to discuss that phase of the matter.I say, “ Grant this man an inquiry. Do not stain the escutcheon of Australia by reinstating an officer after having passed the whitewash brush over him.” Let us gram him a public inquiry. If he establishes his innocence, he will stand high in the esteem of his brother officers, and will be respectedby his fellow citizens. If we whitewash him, a slur will be cast upon him, and upon the innocents of his family. I trust that the Government will not reinstate him until he has been granted the inquiry for which he asks. Until this has been done, he will not have received justice. Should be succeed in dealing his character, I shall be one of the first to vote in favour of his reinstatement, but not otherwise.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I, too. think that this officer should be granted an inquiry, if he still seeks one, though I am bound to say that I do not entertain quite the same view as does the last speaker.
– The actual charge of which he was found guilty was, that having heard that certain things had occurred he did not report them. He was only charged with having heard a rumour which he failed to report. The circumstances of the massacre were not within his own knowledge. He merely failed to report what he had reason to believe.
– I understand that Major Lenehan was not sent specially to investigate the truth or otherwise of that rumour.
– He chanced to.be in the district where the massacre occurred.
– At any rate, I take it that he admits that this rumour did reach his ears.
– As a “ rumour “ he mentioned it to his colonel.
– Atrocities were being committed, and he was sent to inquire into them.
– I understand that he was fifty miles distant when the actual murders were committed. It appears that the moment he returned to Australia he asked for an inquiry. We have heard from the Prime Minister to-day that, in 1902, Major Lenehan addressed a petition to the ex-Minister of Defence upon the subject. That petition appears to have been dismissed by the Minister of the day.
– He addressed his commanding officer, and the matter was brought under the notice of the Minister of Defence by a colleague.
– He petitioned through his commanding officer. He could not petition in any other way without getting himself into trouble. What other steps could he have taken? The ex-Minister of Defence was petitioned in 1902, as soon as Major Lenehan returned to Australia. His request for an inquiry was refused.
– Where is the refusal ?
– The right honorable member did not do anything in the matter.
– I think that the refusal is obvious.
– There were no witnesses in Australia at the time . They were all in South Africa.
– Apparently, the right honorable member did nothing, except to dismiss the petition.
– Why not get the papers? The honorable member would then be in a position to talk.
– Why did not the right honorable member obtain the papers before he attacked the Government ?
– I did not attack the Government.
– The proper course for him to adopt is’ to put a question upon the business-paper-
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter.
– Nobody knows anything except the right honorable member. I know from bitter experience the difficulty of getting anything from him, particularly when he was in charge of the Department of Defence. Indeed, I do not mind telling the House of a case that occurred during his term of office, in order to show how anxious he is to do justice to a volunteer officer. I am bound to say that if he treated Major Lenehan in the same way that he treated the officer in whom I am interested, I do not’ wonder that the former troubled no further.
– To what case does the honorable member refer?
– The right honorable member knows perfectly well.
– I do not.
– Well the right honorable member ought to know. I do not see what else the Government could do under the circumstances. ‘ If any fault is to be found in connexion with Major Lenehan’s case, it rests upon the exMinister of Defence in that he did not take steps to investigate the statements made by that officer.
– Do not waste the time of the House.
– I am sure that the right honorable member would be acting wisely if he abstained from these rude remarks, and allowed me to proceed. He need not make rude interjections, because, as far as I am concerned, they fall upon deaf ears. The right honorable member may be as rude’ as he pleases, but I intend to have my say. Notwithstanding that the Chairman has already called him to order, he persistently interrupts. I say that when Major Lenehan petitioned him, and stated certain facts, it was his duty to institute inquiries with a view to ascertain their truth or otherwise. To-day he asks if Major Lenehan wrote to his colonel, who is now in India? The honorable member for North Sydney says that he did. Then the right honorable member immediately inquires, “ Did’ he receive a reply ?” I would put the same question to him. Did the right honorable member write to this colonel in India? Certainly he had better opportunities for ascertaining the truth from that officer than had Major Lenehan. It’ is not likely that the colonel would reply to a communication from the latter, especially if any reply would be calculated to incriminate himself. The right honorable member ought to have communicated with this colonel in India, asking whether the facts as stated by Major Lenehan were accurate. But in this case, he seems to have adopted the same attitude that he has taken up in many others. He arraigns himself on the side of the officers of the Department, and before any one can get in, it is necessary for them to dislodge him from that position - an almost impossible task. I speak from experience in this connexion. At the present time there is a militia officer, who, like Major Lenehan, is suffering an injustice though in a smaller degree. I trust, however, that it will be rectified, and as I see the Minister of Defence in his place, I take this opportunity of bringing the matter before him. When the inaugural ceremonies connected with Federation were in progress in Melbourne detachments of soldiers were sent over from the various States. Colonel Holborrow, of New South Wales, was given supreme command by virtue of his seniority. He had to organize the whole camp here. It so happened that at the time one of the captains of his regiment chanced to be in Melbourne in the capacity of a private citizen, attending the celebrations, and Colonel Holborrow, knowing that he possessed excellent administrative qualities, commandeered him on the spot, and. made him adjutant of the camp. It is admitted by the authorities that his -work was in every way satisfactory, and naturally he expected that, like the other visiting soldiers, he would be allowed his expenses. He applied to his superior officer, who recommended that his expenses should be paid. That recommendation was sent through the proper channel to the commanding officer in Sydney, but it was held that the request could not be granted, inasmuch as this officer had not been sent to Melbourne. No one quarrelled with that decision. I did not learn of this matter first from the officer himself, and although he feels that he is smarting under an injustice, I do not suppose that he will thank me for bringing it forward. As it was a special matter I interviewed the Minister, and requested him to treat it as such. I was then informed that the officer had the right of appeal over the heads of the authorities in Svdney to the Minister himself, and, after a good deal of persuasion on my part, be put in an appeal and asked that the papers be sent on to the Minister. Although that action was taken, at the instigation of the Department, to put the claim in order, the reply he received was that the claim was out of date, and could not be recognised.
– I am certain that it was not my fault.
– The fault was that the right honorable member would not pay the officer.
– If the honorable member perused the papers he would find that I was not to blame.
– Then it was perhaps the fault of the Treasurer.
– I cannot be held responsible for that.
– If I. were a Minister, and believed that an officer was suffering an injustice for the sake of the payment of a few pounds, the Treasurer would have to find the necessary funds, or another administrator would have to be secured for my Department. The Department recognises the justice of this officer’s claim, and the only excuse it eventually could make for non-payment was that he should have made earlier application. That was his reward for loyalty to his superior officers.
– I endeavoured to obtain the money for him, but there was no vote from which it could be taken.
– He has not yet been paid, but at the time of which I am speaking there were votes from which the payment might have been made.
– I did my best for him.
– Further inquiry has since been made, but the claim has not yet been settled. I think that it should be allowed. The Department admits that the officer is entitled to receive his expenses, and I trust that the present Treasurer willfind the necessary funds to enable justice to be . done to an officer who has suffered under this wrong for over three years. The matter is a very old one, but the officer is not responsible for the fact that it has not yet been dealt with. This incident is an illustration of the way in which the Defence Department is bound up with red tape. I cite these facts because they bear on the complaint made by the right honorable member for Swan that Major Lenehan has not been sufficiently vigorous in prosecuting his claim for an inquiry. All the facts go to prove the contrary. We are told that he applied to the right honorable member, who was then Minister of Defence, in 1902 ; but was met with a refusal. In these circumstances, it is hardly likely that he would feel justified in making another application to the right honorable member unless he had fresh facts to put before him.
– Hear, hear; why should he have done so?
– The Government should grant an inquiry before reinstating him.
– I hold that an inquiry should be granted if Major Lenehan still desires it ; but on the facts set before the House by the Prime Minister, he is also entitled to a reinstatement.
– What would be the use of an inquirv after his reinstatement?
– It would enable him to clear up one or two matters and put his conduct in quite a different light. He alleges that he reported the incident in question to his superior officer, who is now in India, and the statement is made by the honorable member for North Sydney that Major Lenehan has communicated with that officer, but has not received any reply. That is a matter which the Department should take in hand, although I do not say that it would be able to ascertain the real facts of thecase. It may be that the officer in India,, to whom reference has been made, might in some way incriminate himself if heacknowledged the truth of Major Lenehan’s statement, and that may account fcr his refusal to answer the inquiry.
– He should be dealt with.
– If we were to deal with every man connected with the case, the inquiry would never come to an end. After all, when a war is over, a very lenient view- is taken of many such incidents by the people of every civilized country in the world.
– The ‘honorable member does not wish to minimize . the horror of the massacre?
– No; it is a black page in Australian history ; but it is our duty to see that none of our officers are unjustly associated with it. The highest Court in the Empire has said that Major Lenehan was guilty of only a technical offence. The honorable member for Robertson made much of the fact that Major Lenehan had been found guilty; but the fact tihat a pronouncement of “ guilty “ is made is in itself a matter of no moment. A man might be found guilty, of an offence in respect of which the imposition of a fine of 2s. 6d. would be considered a sufficient punishment. Aman sometimes pleads guilty to a charge of furiously driving a motor car, and is fined£1 ; butI do not know that that is a very heinous offence. I would remind the honorablemember for Robertson that the mere fact that Major Lenehan was found “guilty”” does not necessarily imply that he- was guilty of a very serious offence. Judging by the sentence, the Court regarded it as being a purely technical offence. On al] these grounds the Government are justified in reinstating Major Lenehan. If he desires an inquiry every facility should be given him to clear his character from even the technical offence of which he was found guilty, and for which he has paid the penalty in South Africa.
– I certainly think, after listening to the debate, that it would be a pity if Major Lenehan were reinstated without an inquiry being held. I am not in any way prejudiced against him. I have never seen him. But. I hold that it would be fairer to him, and also better from the point of view of the proper administration . of the Department, if an inquiry took place before . his reinstatement We know that one Minister of Defence thought that his claim could not be supported.
– One of the . minutes made toy the right honorable member for Swan when he was Minister of Defence was leather favorable to Major Lenehan.
– Not one of . the minutes which I made was unfavorable to him.
– I do not think that the right honorable member was in favour of reinstating him without . an inquiry. His successor may have held : a different view. If this course of procedure isto . continue, we shall have one Minister . of Defence holding the view that Major Lenehan . should be reinstated, and therefore reinstating him. and the . next perhaps in favour of turning him out again. If he requests an inquiry, surety it is . only justthat there should be one. If he is proved to have been guilty of only a technical offence, which, under the British Army regulations, would . still permit of his rejoining his regiment, it is . obvious that he should . be reinstated; but it would be unwise to reinstatehim . until the result of . an inquiry was known. Whilst we are discussing the position of . officers : in the Defence Forces, I . should like to draw attention to several cases of injustice relating to the Permanent. Forces. A number of non-commissioned officers in the Permanent Forces went with troops to South Africa, and held commissions. Tn many cases they were given increased rank on the field ; but, owing to the exigencies of the Defence administration, thev are unable now to occupy the honorable positions which they won on the field in South Africa. I have no desire to invidiously mention names. There are but few of these cases, and it would not require a very radical change in the Administrative Department to . enable them to be dealt with. Let me mention one case - that of a man who went to South Africa as a regimental sergeant-major. He was mentioned in despatches, and was granted the distinguished conduct medal. Subsequently he returned to Australia, but went out again as adjutant in another contingent He was promoted on the field to therank of captain, was again mentioned in despatches, and received the D.S.O., which is granted to commissioned officers only. On returning to Australia, however, he was put back tohis ‘old position as a warrant officer. If he could hold the King’s commission on the battle-field in South Africa, he . should be entitled to hold it in Australia. I hope that the Government will endeavour- to do something for these officers.
– The General Officer Commanding says “ No.”
– I do not think it can be questioned that the General Officer Commanding is endeavouring to keep within the regulations.
– I suppose there is no opening for these men ?
– Then openings should be created. There . are Only three or four cases of the kind.
– Major-General Hutton does not require any “rankers.”
– The man to whom I have referred is now instructing senior officers in Light Horse drill. Surely, if he can instruct his superior officers, and isworthy of holding the D.S.O., he is good enough to hold the King’s commission in Australia ?
– All instructors have to instruct their superior officers.
– They have, more or less, to do so; but this is rather an exceptional case. If a man can -work his way up fiom the ranks, all the . more honour to him. The Government should endeavour to do something for these four men.
– Major-General Hutton will not do anything for them.
– If the regulations which bind him were alteied, he would be able to do something for them.
– We shall have to alter the General.
– Without responding to the honorable member’s invitation to discuss that matter, I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to another fact. The instructional staff in New South Wales, and, indeed, throughout the Commonwealth, was reduced very considerably some time ago, but the establishment which the staff in New South Wales had to serve was very largely increased by additions to the number of corps. As honorable members know, the instructional staff must be kept moving about the country as much as possible, in order that proper instruction may be given to the various corps; but abouttwo months ago orders were issued to stop them travelling. The result is that corps in country districts cannot secure that instruction which they were intended to receive, and the greater part- of the usefulness of these instructors has been lost. The reason for this order was, of course, that the travelling vote had been, exhausted. I sincerely hope that arrangements will be made- so. that there may be no recurrence of ihe- incident.
– The vote should be earmarked! for that particular purpose.
– It should. The instructional staff should have- every facility to travel., in order to give She proper amount of instruction to country corps. I hope that the. Government will take notice of this complaint.
– The trouble is that- the officers “ in command’ spent’ more than the provision, made by Parliament.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will, not think that I am imputing the whole of the blame to the Government.
– Parliament made certain provision for expenses, in this direction,, but that provision was exhausted by the spending of more than was anticipated..
– Then I hope that the vote will be ear-marked in. future;, so that there may not.be a recurrence of this trouble.
Sir JOHN FORREST. (Swan).- After listening, to the observations of the Prime Minister, the honorable member for North Sydney, and the honorable member for Parramatta, T feel that it is necessary for tuc to say a word or two in explanation, because I seem to have been misunderstood by them. Their speeches suggest that I opposed the claim of Major Lenehan to reinstatement.
– I did not say that. I did not hear the tight honorable member’s speech.
– The Prime Minister used very strong, and quite unjustifiable language in speaking of my actions. I presume that he has read the papers, and he must therefore have seen that, up to the time when I left the Department, my only anxiety was to get to the bottom of the case, so that justice might be done. He will not find in the correspondence a word written by me which in any way reflects upon ‘Major Lenehan, except that, in a resume” of the case which I submitted to my colleagues, I took exception to the action of that officer in not protesting more strongly and loudly against the terrible injustice and harshness with which he was alleged to have been treated. I thought that he had, to a -large extent, slept upon his rights. 6 h 2
– He was advised to do what he did.
– Then I think he followed bad advice. When a man is suffering from injustice, he should protest against it, and use every endeavour to have it removed. I believe that the papers contain only one letter from Major Lenehan- to the Department, and another letter from him to; I think, a Member of Parliament, which was sent on to the Department. All I did in connexion- with the ease to-day was to draw attention to it, and to ask. that the papers relating to it may be placed before the House. A good many things have- happened since I left the Department, and’ 1 wish to have full information respecting the actions taken by the Government in this matter.’ I know that many documents which are of a confidential character are frequently recorded by the Departments, and I do not desire that such papers shall be made public. Such a request would be unreasonable and improper. All I ask is that the public documents, which give the history of the case shall be laid upon the table for the information of the people- out- . side, and in the interest of Major Lenehan. I wish also to refresh my memory as to what was done when an inquiry was asked for.. I think that- the position which T took up- was that,, as the alleged misconduct took place in South. Africa, it would bc useless to hold an inquiry here-, because no witnesses who knew the facts could, so far as we knew, be summoned to give evidence, and the only information available would be the: statement of the officer concerned. The better course I thought was to ask the Imperial Government for a statement of the- facts, and it will be seen that, with the assistance of the Prime Minister of the d;ay, the Department made every effort to obtain information from South- Africa, and from the War Office, and I believe that we also communicated with Lord Kitchener in India. Therefore, the remark of the honorable member for Parramatta, that I did nothing, was incorrect and unjustifiable.
– I did not say that.
– Although the honorable member knew nothing about the facts of the case; he felt at liberty to state his opinion upon it; but ‘when he said that the Government of which I was a member did nothing in the matter, he made it clear that he was not aware of what was done. No one could read the papers without coming to the conclusion that we were not unmindful of the interests of Major Lenehan. We were anxious to secure evidence which would justify us in taking decisive action in his case. The Prime Minister, spoke as though I wished to brand Major Lenehan with infamy, but nothing which I wrote justifies such a charge.
– I gathered from the papers that the right honorable member wished to prevent Major Lenehan’s reinstatement.
– It is admitted that Major Lenehan was put under close arrest for months before he was courtmartialed, and although he was only reprimanded by the court martial, he was immediate! v afterwards placed under close arrest again, sent in charge of an officer to Cape Town ; at first imprisoned there, but afterwards given his liberty ; and then placed on board ship and deported to Aus- tralia.
– Does the right honorable member contend that because a man is harshly treated he must be guilty of some crime ?
– The presumption in such a case is that the authorities had good reason for what they did, and our inquiries were directed to ascertaining what was the reason in Major Lenehan’s case. We felt that unless his character could be cleared of .the stigma which attached to it, it would not be in the interests of our forces to reinstate him. “ I wished to find out whether there was proof of misconduct which showed him to be unfitted for the position which he had occupied, or whether his character could bc cleared, and he could be reinstated. Up to the time when I left office, I was not satisfied that the case against him had been proved.
– Was that before the reply was received from the War Office that they had nothing further against’ Major Lenehan ?
– About that time. I think I know what came from the War Office, and it certainly was not satisfactory. Their replies did not give good reason for the harsh treatment to which Major Lenehan was subjected. 1 was, therefore, placed in a dilemma. If good reason had been shown for the action of the British Military authorities, my course would have been clear, while, on the other hand, if the stigma had been removed from Major Lenehan it would have been only just to reinstate him immediately. I wish, however, to defend myself against the imputation that I had any desire to act unjustly towards that officer. As a matter of fact, we had nothing very definite to go on. The Home authorities seemed unwilling to say anything, and their answers to the long documents which we sent to them were very short. If Major Lenehan can be re-established in the good opinion of his fellows, no one will be more delighted than I at his reinstatement.
– Could there not be an inquiry?
– I do not think that much would be gained from an inquiry, because the misconduct complained of occurred in South Africa, and it will, therefore, be practically impossible to obtain information relating to it here. Those who have read the papers will see that I had at heart the interests of the Defence Forces and of Major Lenehan himself. There appears very little to justify the harsh treatment which Major Lenehan received ; but, on the other hand, it is difficult to imagine that such treatment was given to him without good reason.
– Why assume that a man is more guilty than he has been proved to be?
– We generally assume, in judging the actions of persons in authority, that they do not act unjustly and harshly without good reason. One has more grounds for that assumption than for its converse. Even at this eleventh hour, I think that Major Lenehan should not be reinstated until we have at least received from him a full account of the facts as he believes them to be. It would be better to have some inquiry than none at all. If the public, after reading the papers, arrive at the same conclusion thai I have done, they will be very much astonished that the treatment extended to a British officer should not have been more justified by those in authority in South Africa. I regret, however, that he did not petition the King, and set forth his grievances.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill presented by Mr. Watson and passed through all its stages.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 3525) on motion by Mr. Batchelor, as amended -
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.
That the selection be made from among the districts mentioned in the Schedule hereto.
That the following be the method of selec tion, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would preveut the House from adopting such method : -
An open exhaustive ballot shall be taken without debate in the following manner : -
Ballot papers shall be distributed to honorable members, containing the names of the sites mentioned in the Schedule hereto.
Members shall place a cross opposite the name of the site for which they desire to vote, and shall sign the paper.
The ballot-papers shall then be examined by the Clerk.
If, on the first examination, any site proves to have received an absolute majority of votes, the Speaker shall report the name of such site to the House, and such site shall be deemed to be the one preferred by honorable members.
If no site receives an absolute majority of votes, then the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes shall be reported to the House and shall be struck out.
If any two of the sites should receive an equal number of votes, such number of votes being the smallest, then the House shall ascertain in the customary manner which of such sites should, in the opinion of honorable members, be further ballotted for, and the name of the other shall bt struck out.
A further ballot shall then be taken on the names of the remaining sites, and the name of the site receiving the majority of votes shall be reported to the House by the Speaker, and such site shall be deemed to be the site preferred by honorable members.
The total number of votes given for each site shall be reported to the House after each ballot.
The House shall thereupon resolve itself into a Committee of the whole on the Bill.
Southern District (comprising an area of l”and within a radius of fifty miles from Batlow).
South-Eastern District (comprising an area of land witEin a radius of fifty miles from Bombala).
Western District (comprising an area of land within a radius of fifty miles from Lyndhurst).
Mr. WATSON (Bland- TreasurerWhen we adjourned last evening, I indicated that we, should consider the advisability of re-presenting the course suggested by the Government in connexion with the voting on the Capital Sites. The impression on my mind was that, in Connexion with the vote taken last evening on the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir, some honorable members may not have thought that the issue was particularly clear that the apparent matter for decision was whether, or not, a fifty-mile radius from a given point should be described. That has been “agreed to by the House, but it seems to the Government that, at least, we can arrive at 9. decision with respect to that starting point in each of the districts before the other vote on the districts themselves is taken. For instance, undef the suggestion I am now putting forward, we should, before proceeding to a ballot in regard to the districts, decide which site in a given district should form the centre of the radial area of fifty miles.
– No. Last night the House decided that ‘the districts should include a radius of fifty miles from any given point.
– No ; from a particular point.
– If Mr. Speaker holds the view that that decides the question, the whole matter will be placed beyond alteration, so far as we are concerned.
– This is really the question upon which the vote was taken.
– That is only one man’s idea.
– Of course, Mr. Speaker is the authority in these matters; but my own view was that, in voting for the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir, some honorable members were voting with the object of affording a wide area around a certain central point, within which to fix upon a site. That is to say, they fixed upon Batlow as a central point ; but they desired to have a range of selection extending over a fifty miles radius. I do not see how that could prevent us from arriving at some other point.
– Does the honorable member wish the radius to be smaller?
– Personally, I do, but we cannot go back upon that question, because the House has already decided it.
– The area of the district was decided; we wish to have the position of the site within that district decided approximately.
– Exactly. I should prefer to have a smaller radius, but that question has passed beyond the possibility of alteration. I propose to add a proviso to the present schedule. I therefore move -
That the following words be added to the schedule : - “ Provided that immediately before the ballot on the districts takes place, a preliminary ballot shall be taken for each district by the method aforesaid, to determine which site in the district preferred in the district ballot shall be inserted in the Bill in Committee. The ballot in each district shall be on the sites mentioned in the following schedule : -
Southern. - Batlow, Tumut, Welaregang.
South-Eastern. - Bombala, Dalgety.
Western. - Lyndhurst, Orange.
This would have the effect of enabling us to practically decide, by means of a preliminary ballot, which site shall go to the vote in the schedule referred to. Of course, if the amendment is in order, as I conceive it to be, it will be for. the’ House to decide, upon a clear issue, whether they prefer this method to that which was outlined last evening.
– That is the same question that was decided last evening.
– With all respect to the honorable member, I say that that is not the question in regard to which honorable members voted last evening. It may have been in the minds of honorable members when they -voted for the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir. I admit that the idea was the same, but the issue was noi clearly put before the House. I gave contingent notice that I would move in the direction now indicated if the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir were defeated. No clear vote was given upon my proposal.
– The Prime Minister sought the Speaker’s ruling on the subject.
– I obtained the Speaker’s ruling as to whether I could move in the direction I proposed. He then ruled against me. This is another proposal. I am still in the hands of the Speaker, but I think that the procedure now proposed is quite in order in relation to the resolutions carried last evening. If my proposal be adopted, a preliminary ballot will be taken in regard to the selection of one or other of the sites in the districts sug- gested, and a vote will then be taken upon the different districts with the sites remaining.
– The majority of honorable members declared themselves against adopting that course.
– As I have already’ stated, in reply to the honorable member for Gippsland, the majority of honorable members may be opposed to the course I now suggest, but they did not vote on that particular question last evening.
– The whole of the discussion last evening was in regardto that point, and we proceeded to vote under the impression that we were settling it.
– But, unfortunately, honorable members discussed one thing and voted upon another. They voted on the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir, whose proposal is not altogether inconsistent with the idea of having a preliminary ballot. All that the honorable member desires is that when we determine the particular district it shall have a radius of fiftymiles from the point named - that is the district.
– That would settle the question at once.
– Of course; the area within a fifty miles radius of a given point seems to be an enormous one to select as a site for the Federal Capital.
– The site for the Capital would’ be selected within that area.
– Of course that is another step.
– Were any objections made to these matters being decided separately ?
– There was a good deal of objection. However, I move my amendment, and it will be open for honorable’ members to add to it if it is in order.
– I should like to’ have your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether this amendment is in order. From what I understand, we did more last evening than settle the district question. We also named the radial starting-points within each district. That being so, I do not see how we can determine upon a new startingpoint under such a proposal as that embodied in the amendment. I understand that it is proposed practically to vary what we decided upon last evening by asking’ honorable members to fix new startingpoints within the fifty miles radii.
– If the matter were as represented by the honorable member for’
Bourke, I should certainly have to rule that the amendment could not be moved. If it were intended by the amendment to vary anything that was determined by the vote taken yesterday, of course it would be altogether out of order. It does not appear to me, however, that it is proposed to vary anything that was done yesterday. In connexion with the three votes which were taken on the amendments of the honorable member for Gwydir, it was determined that certain districts should comprise areas within a fifty miles radius of certain fixed points. What is now proposed is to select within those areas, without disturbing them at all, a particular site for the Capital. When any ruling was sought last evening, after the first amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir had been agreed to, I pointed out that what the Government then suggested could not be done at that stage, because they, desired that the words “ southern district,” “southeastern district,”” and “ western district,” should be struck out, whilst the House had determined, by adding other words, that they should not be struck out. There is, however, nothing to prevent the addition of these words, which do not conflict with the words added last night, to the resolution, as it stands, should a majority of the House so decide.
– This amendment appears to constitute a remarkable change of front on the part of the Government. Iquite agree with you, sir, that it does not conflict with the decision arrived at last nia;ht, but he would be a bold individual who declared that it does not conflict with the spirit of that decision.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that there has been any change on the part of the Government ?
– Itis not perhaps altogether a change of front. I can quite understand the position taken, up by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who supports the Government upon this question.
– I am thoroughly with the Government upon this matter. I know of the little plots that have been going on.
– The right honorable member can plot as well as can anybody else, and it ill becomes him to : talk about plots.
– I have not two sites to fight for in the same district.
– If the right honorable member refers to me, I am just as ready as he is to say frankly what I think of the sites in my district. But this is not a question of sites. Last night a majority of the House decided that the district in which the site for the Federal Capital shall be located should first be selected. The honorable member for Gwydir submitted a proposal which gave the House the option of deciding between the selection of a district first and of a site afterwards, and the choice of a site first and a district afterwards- It was decided that we should first select a district. What was the next step? The Government wished to alter that decision in some way, and you, sir, refused to allow them to do so. To-day, after all sorts of endeavours have been made to induce honorable members to alter their votes-
– No picnics.
– I do not object to any honorable member endeavouring to persuade other honorable members to reverse their previous votes ; but it ought to be known that that is being done. When the right honorable member for East Sydneytalks about plotting, I ask him whether he has not endeavoured to influence the Government to adopt the course which they are now following, and whether he has not sought to induce members to change the votes which they registered last evening?
– All that I possibly could. May I be permitted to explain, sir-
-I would point out that explanations areallowed at the conclusion of an honorable member’s speech.
– Knowing as well as I do that the right honorable member for East Sydney will say what is true, I am quite convinced that he will admit the accuracy of my assertion- I do not blame him for the action he has taken. There seems to be a very strong desire on the part of some honorable members to reverse the decision which was arrived at last night.
– I desire that we shall stait fair, that is all.
– We had a fair start upon this question. The vote which was then taken was a very noticeableone, because it brought about such a strange combination. If the Government wish to reverse that decision let them do so fairly and frankly. Let them declare that they disagree with that vote, and let them take the responsibility of trying to reverse it.
– We indicated that we should do so last night.
– Then v,hy come down with this specious amendment?
– We indicated last night the course which we intended to take.
– Last night the House decided that the district in whir_h the site for the Federal Capital is located should first be selected. The other Chamber has defined a Federal territory within this Bill. Yet in face of thaI the Government desire by the aid of a side wind to upset the decision arrived at upon the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir. I do not take exception to their action, but I say that this matter should be decided in the open. All these accusations about “plotting” are mere idle talk. Every honorable member has made up his mind upon this question, but nevertheless we ought to be frankly informed of what is proposed. Now that the right honorable member for East Sydney has confessed that he is the power behind the throne, let reasons be advanced why the decision of last evening should not be respected.
– I really cannot understand how the Government intend to fit in another amendment of this character with the determination which” was arrived at last evening. Upon that occasion, the question which we were called upon to decide was whether the ballot-paper should take a certain form. We have already dealt with that matter., and now we are asked to make a condition precedent to what we have already decided to do. The proposal states that prior to the taking of a ballot for a district, certain things shall be done. This House has determined that before a site shall be selected the ballotpaper issued shall contain the words “ Southern district, comprising an area within a radius of fifty miles from Batlow,” and also similar words in respect of the other districts. Now, however, we are asked to undo our previous decision, and to adopt something which is practically in antagonism to it. This question, I understand, is warmly debated by honorable members advocating different sites. Personally, I am not interested in any of the sites. I have no object other than that of selecting the very best site available, irrespective of where it may be located, and, consequently, I claim that I am in a position to come to an impartial decision. Such a decision, however, cannot be arrived at by the House under the amendment of the Government. There is a danger lurking under it, to which keen attention should be paid. In the western district, for example, there is practically only one elegible site. We are all aware of that. When the vote is taken, it is only reasonable to assume that there will be a solid vote cast in favour of Lyndhurst. There are two or three other sites, it is true, which may find some supporters. Similarly, there is a possibility that some honorable members will support the Bombala site, and others the Coolringdon site, but a great majority will probably vote for Dalgety. The votes will thus be split, whilst the others will be solid all the time. The same thing will happen in the case of the Tumut sites. Some honorable members will support Tumut, and others the Tooma site. The aim of the amendment is practically to give those who advocate the claims of one site or another a power which will not assist us to arrive at a just decision. In speaking upon this Bill last evening, the right honorable member for East Sydney Said, “ This is a case of four against ‘one.” We have simply to turn round that expression - to convert “ Yes ‘ ‘ into “No ‘ ‘ - and we shall find that it is a case of one against four. As is generally the case, we can understand what the right honorable member intends if we reverse what he says. I claim that this amendment does not provide for a fair method of selection. The House will not be acting fairly to itself, or to those who desire to come to a just conclusion upon this matter, if it allows the vote of last night to be reversed by any decision which may be arrived at to-night. I do not see how -it is possible to insert something in this resolution which will practically nullify the vote which was taken last evening; and I shall certainly oppose any method of selection which, in my opinion, has for its object the undermining of the equal rights of the several sites.
– As one who is not interested in any particular site, I feel that the most important consideration in the initial stages of these proceedings is the determination of the question of territory. The House ought not to hamper the action of the Committee in the manner proposed. The selection of the territory is, in my opinion, even more important than is the selection of- a particular site within that territory for the establishment of the Capital. The site of the city itself might extend over a very small area. It might be possible to select a few square miles of country in any part of New South Wales that would be a very pleasant situation for the Capital itself ; but the surroundings of the city are even more important than the actual position of the Capital, the situation of its streets and buildings, and so forth. Section 125 of the Constitution seems to contemplate that the Federal territory should be first determined, and that the site of the Seat of Government within that territory should then be decided. That is the most logical way in which to deal with this question. We should choose the territory and then select the site. I therefore believe that the proviso proposed by the Government is calculated to unnecessarily fetter the action of the Committee, and that it will probably be most injurious in its effects. That being so, I hope that the House will reject the amendment, that we shall’ then go into Committee, and that having selected the territory most suitable, and, on the whole, most convenient, for our purposes - a territory capable of affording an outlet for development in ages to come -we shall proceed to choose a site for the Capital within that territory. We should decide the more important question before proceeding to consider what is really a subordinate one.
– I desire to say a few words in reply to those who claim that the proposal now put forward by the Government is a reversal of the decision arrived at last night. I was one of those who voted last night for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gwydir, and in the course of a speech which I made I urged that the radius should be enlarged. ‘ At the same time I pointed out that unless the House were given an opportunity to vote on every site separately a number of honorable members might be forced by combinations to vote for sites of which they did not really approve. In the last’ Parliament I urged that we should have an opportunity to secure a direct ‘vote of the House on the different sites, and that one site should be pitted against another. If my first preference were rejected, there are other certain sites for which I should vote, No. 2 and No. 3, but if I were called upon to vote on a district, it might happen that in the final vote I should have to support a site of which I did not approve. It seems to me that the. best course to pursue is to take a ballot in the way now proposed by the Government. I certainly understood- last night that the radius was to be increased, and although the proposal was much larger than I suggested, I did not quarrel with the proposition made by the honorable member for Gwydir. He had adopted the suggestion which had been thrown out, and I voted with him. I did not understand that it carried the inference that we -were not to have an opportunity to vote on the individual sites. If we have a full choice of a site in each locality, district will be pitted against district in the final vote. It seems to me that under the method proposed by the Government, every honorable member would have an opportunity to vote according to his sense of the relative value of each site.
– If there were thirteen honorable members in favour of one site in a district, and fourteen in favour of another, might there not be a difficulty ?
– When a combination of those in favour of two sites in the one district takes place, the other sites are unfairly handicapped. If we voted on the districts, we might finally reject the whole of the proposed sites. That is a contingency which I wish to avoid, and it seems to me that the Government ‘ proposal offers an excellent means to narrow down the districts. There is a very large area in each district, and we should see that there is sufficient to enable us to erect the Capital on the most suitable site. It is much better that we should clear the ground one step at a time.
– It is unfortunate that we should have to fight this question over again. The matter now before us is precisely that which was under discussion last night, namely, whether we should select a particular site, or merely select a district, and subsequently choose a site within that area for the Capital. That was the whole subject of yesterday’s discussion, and honorable members took that view of the position when they voted. It seems to me unfortunate that the Government should have resorted to log-rolling in order to introduce the same question again, for, although the wording of the proposition now before us is slightly different from that diSbussed yesterday,’ it would, if carried, have precisely the same effect. I should like to know whether any honorable member who supports the Government proposal to first select the site of the Capital would adopt a similar course if he were about to select a homestead for himself. If an honorable member were called upon to select a homestead for himself in any of the proposed territories, would he willingly tie himself down to a particular part of the district before he had inspected it? I am sure that he would not. And yet, unfortunately, we find that when dealing with the affairs of the country - with the interests of other people- we are acting in a very different way. What could be more simple, straightforward, and business-like than to adopt the course first proposed by the Government - to first choose the locality in which it is desirable to establish the Capital, and then to carefully inspect every portion of the selected area. That work could be carried out within the next week or two, and then with all the knowledge <that we could acquire from a further exami- nation of the district, and with the whole of our energies concentrated on the one area, we should be able to select the best possible site within it. If we ‘acted otherwise, we should, in all probability, repeat the blunder which we perpetrated last session. With that object lesson before them, the Government now gravely ask us to enter upon the same course of action. We know that last session a number of honorable members were very strongly impressed with the merits of ‘one particular site. The fact is that they had very little knowledge of it, and those who last session were the strongest advocates of that site now admit that a blunder would have been committed had it been selected. What further information have we now before us? Are we not likely to repeat the same blunder? On the other hand, if we first’ selected the whole area to be acquired we should have regard to the most essential conditions that should attach to a Federal territory, arid should then be able to select the best site, within it on which to erect the Capital. If that course were adopted our proceedings would not be delayed for more than a week or two. Surely when we consider the importance of the question, when we remember that it will affect the interests of future generations, we ought to be a little more impressed with a sense of our proper responsibilities, arid should endeavour to proceed in the way that will give the best results. I have no particular interest in one site more than another. T have not been conferring with any one in regard to a selection. There has been no log-rolling on my part; but I regret to see so much going on in the House. If honorable members would be guided only by the merits of the several sites, I am perfectly satisfied that we should make a wise selection. If they proceed in the same way as they would do if they were selecting homes for themselves, a satisfactory selection will be made ; but if we proceed in the way that the Government - acting under some extraordinary influence, which has diverted them altogether from their original proposals, which had been well thought out - propose, I am afraid that that will not be the result. I venture to say that the original proposal made by the Government was approved by an overwhelming majority of honorable members. That fact was demonstrated yesterday, when, notwithstanding all the log-rolling that took place, and the unholy alliance between the Government and the leader of the Opposition, those who opposed it could not carry the division within six votes. The result of that division shows what an overwhelming preponderance of opinion there must have been in favour of proceeding in the way first suggested by the Ministry. It is, of course, useless to request the Government to reconsider their decision, but I trust that the House will see that the proper course is adopted, and that honorable members will uphold the decision at which they arrived last night.
– I should like to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to what would be the effect of the ballot if it took place in the House. I have committed my question to writing, and it is as ‘follows : -
If the ballot is in the House, could the decision be altered in Committee or would the decision of the House be final and binding?
It is very important that we should have your ruling on this question, Mr. Speaker. It might be held that no alteration of the decision arrived at in the House can be made in Committee, and we should, therefore, have a clear understanding on the point.
-I have no hesitation in giving my ruling. The right honorable member was good enough to put the question to me a few minutes ago, so that I have been able to give . it some consideration. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the form of the motions with which we are dealing. At the outset, the declaration is made in the resolutions so far agreed to -
Thatthis 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.
There is no reference to the Bill, nor is there anything which would bind the House in any way when subsequently dealing with it. In paragraph No. 3 we read -
That the following be the method of selection, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such method! . . .
The paragraph emphasizes the fact that the whole of this procedure is entirely outside the course usually adopted. It is outside the Standing Orders, and to enable it to be followed the Standing Orders have to be suspended. What may be done in this informal way under a suspension of the Standing Orders will not afterwards bind the Committee on the Bill in the slightest degree. Speaking simply of what is conceivable, it is possible that the ballot may result in the choice of a certain site, and that the Committee on the Bill may subsequently select some other site. Any such course of action might be possible. It may further be possible, after the Committee has considered the question, and has inserted the name of one particular site in the Bill - and it might not be the site chosen as the result of the informal ballot - to recommit the Bill, and to insert the name of some other site. The Bill might then be again recommitted, and the name of yet another site substituted, and that procedure could be continued, if the House pleased, time after time. The sense of the House may be taken in various ways. I have no hesitation in saying that whatever may be done in this House in this informal way will not bind honorable members in any particular way when dealing with the Bill in Committee.
– Would I be in order, Mr. Speaker, in moving that the words “southern district” be omitted from the schedule ?
– As it was determined by the vote taken last evening that words should be added after the words “ western district,” at the end of the schedule, it is impossible now, under the Standing Orders, to go back upon the motion. No honorable member can move the insertion of a word before the word “Lyndhurst,” or move the amendment of any part of the . motion preceding that word. All that can be done now is to add to the motion, as amended, if the House wishes to do so.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The speech of the honorable . member for Gippsland seemed an echo of that which he delivered when the (matter was under discussion by the members of last Parliament, and was, indeed, the same old speech. I remember that upon that occasion he complained that no investigation had been made of the merits of the sites, and he pleaded for delay, so that experts might be sent to report upon them. There was then no question of other . sites. The honorable member himself would have admitted that Parliament was in a position to select a site, except for its lack of information as to the value of land, and other particulars, in regard to the sites proposed. He, therefore, urged that the selection should be postponed until experts had had an opportunity to investigate the country surrounding the proposed sites, and to report upon their eligibility generally. He was not satisfied with either the preliminary investigation of Mr. Oliver, or with that of the Commission ; and he is not satisfied now. I am afraid that he will not be satisfied for many years to come. He will always want further inquiry by new experts. To be consistent, he should declare that, in his opinion, the site of the Seat of Government should not be chosen for some years to come.
– I shall be prepared to vote for a site directly the Federal Territory has been selected. When the Federal Territory has been selected, none of us will be interested in mutilating it by fixing upon the worst site in it.
– I do not know to whom the honorable member’s remark applies. It does not apply to any one with whom I am acquainted-
– It applies to several whom I know of.
– I am afraid that the unholy combinations of which the honorable member speaks have not taken place, unless they have occurred amongst those sitting on his left. He was looking towards the wrong side of the chamber when he spoke on the subject. The only combination of which I am aware took place last night amongst those sitting on the honorable member’s left. I know ‘ of no’ combination between the leader of the
Opposition and the Government. There appears to be no need for such a combination. What the Government are doing now is precisely what they promised last night to do, before the vote was taken.
– Yes, after thev had been “got at.”
– It is refreshing to hear that the leader of the Opposition is able to “get at” the Government. I have not heard that statement made here before, and I should like to listen to an expression of opinion upon it from the members of the Government and their supporters. I have no indication to lead me to suppose that it is possible for the leader of the Opposition to do anything with the members of the Government Party, let alone “get at “ them in regard to the Capital Sites question.
– I do not suggest that there was anything unfair in what was intended, or in what was done; but the Government gave way very easily. ‘
– I am afraid that it will be impossible to satisfy ths honorable member in this matter. His attitude is the same as that of those who voted last night to postpone the selection of a site for the Capital.
– I voted with the majority last night.
– I think that the honorable member would have been more consistent if he had voted with the rest of the corner on that point. At any rate, it is about time that we arrived at finality on this question. We are really in the same position now as we were in two and a half years ago; we have not got any nearer to finality. If there are other sites which have not been fully dealt with, there will be nothing to prevent us from reconsidering the matter later, if we choose to do so, since Parliament can always reverse its decisions. If a site were discovered which promised to be a sort of Elysium, 1 am sure that Parliament would not hesitate to go back on its decision. But, so far as we know, all eligible sites have been exhausted, with the exception of the Tooma site, which has been unearthed at the last moment, and therefore we are as well able to make a choice now as we shall be at any future time. I think that, in the interests of this Parliament itself, we should endeavour to secure a habitation of our own as soon as possible. I welcome the proposal of the Government as a step towards finality, and I hope that honorable members will help them to secure a decision on a straight and clear issue.
– Your ruling, Mr. Speaker, has made it perfectly clear that no site can ultimately be chosen unless it is approved of by the majority of honorable members. That being so, it hardly matters which site is chosen in the first instance, since the important question is which site will win at the end. The selection of a site for the future Capital of Australia is a matter of such great importance that it goes beyond one’s ordinary sense of responsibility to party, to electorate, or to State. We are called upon to decide what is the best site for all Australia. Whatever we may know of the views of our constituents, or. of the opinions of the public of our State, we must each of us have at the back of his mind the desire that such a site shall be selected that the future visitor to the Federal Capital will feel that in choosing it we had regard to the interests of the whole Commonwealth. ‘ I. have been asked which site I favour. My reply is that I favour the best site. So far as the Tooma site is concerned, if its merits will stand an investigation, and the majority of honorable members come to believe that it would be the best to select, we shall be bound to choose it.
– I ask the- honorable member not to refer to any particular site at the present stage.
– Then I shall not say anything more at present on the subject. It appears to me that we are wasting your time, sir, the time of the House, and the time of the country, in further discussing the proposed method of balloting, seeing that the ultimate determination of the question, whatever site may be chosen in the first instance, is entirely in our own hands.
– I think that the method to be adopted is of great importance. What we wish to arrive at is the best method for securing a right decision. It is understood that, whatever may be the result of the ballot, we shall not be precluded by the rules of the House from retracing our steps if we discover that we have made a mistake. But we do not wish to make a mistake. The honorable member for Gippsland has suggested that there has been some underhand work in connexion with the proposal of the Government. If so, I know nothing of it. At no time have I lent myself to anything of the kind. A similar suggestion was made when the matter was last under discussion, but if there was any log-rolling at all then, it was done by those who imputed it to others. I hope that that experience will not be repeated. We have been asked by the Government to choose one of three districts, each of which contains several suggested sites. There is no consolidation of interests, so far as the western district is concerned. Three different sites within that district have been strongly advocated, and, therefore, it would be much fairer to submit each site separately for the decision of the House. That was the attitude I took up in the last Parliament when I strongly urged that honorable members should consider the claims of the respective sites, and decide which was the best. That is the decision at which we have now arrived, and I am glad that the Government have recognised the wisdom of endeavouring to secure a distinct choice. In the southern district there are half-a-dozen sites, three or four of which have received a fair amount of support. There are also two or three sites in the south-eastern district. If the Lacmalac site were to be selected, I should not vote for the southern district. I should- prefer any site in the south-eastern district, even Delegate or Coolringdon, to Lacmalac, and, therefore, the determination of the House as to the best site in any one district would very largely influence my votes in regard to the districts. I have taken the trouble to visit and inspect all the sites for myself. I have not been content to judge from the reports alone, but have made a personal inspection. I agree with the honorable member for Richmond, that we have a most important obligation to discharge, and that it is of the utmost importance that we should make a selection that will meet all the requirements of the case, that will reflect credit upon ourselves, and secure the approval of the majority of the people of the Commonwealth, not only to-day, but in time to come. Therefore, it seems to me that petty personal considerations should find no place in this discussion. We should not be swayed by the circumstances that a particular site is in the electoral division represented by a particular honorable member, or in a particular part of New South Wales. We should endeavour to select that site within the whole territory of New South Wales, outside of the 100-mile limit, that would best ‘lend itself to the purposes for which it is intended. If we are pre pared to view the matter from this broad, stand-point, we need not entertain any fears with regard to the proposal submitted by the Government. The opponents: of the Government proposal have urged that it might be used improperly, with a view tosecure the adoption of a site that would defeat the selection of a particular territory. If honorable members are disposed to regard the matter from any such narrow and selfish stand-point, they will not do credit to themselves or justice to the people they represent. If honorable members honestly desire to deal with this matter straightforwardly - and if they are not so disposed they should leave the selection of the site to some other body - the Government proposal offers the most satisfactory means of arriving at a decision. The sites in one district should be dealt with entirely apart from those in others, and the merits of each should be considered impartially. Some honorable members are apparently so used to log-rolling that they suspect others of engaging in schemes similar, to those in which they have themselves taken part. There is no reason for supposing that any unholy combination has been entered into, with a view to secure the adoption of a western site. The Government proposal would not specially lend itself to the manipulation of votes, but, on the other hand, would clear the way for the selection of a territory, and would enable honorable members to see from the outset the direction in which they were being led. If the Government proposal be defeated, we shall have to select a territory embraced within a fifty-miles radius from some givencentre. Within such a radius there might be large tracts of land which would be utterly unsuitable for the purposes of the Capital site. Take the western district,, for instance, a radius of fifty miles from Lyndhurst would extend westward to Eugowra in the neighbourhood of Forbes, and would embrace territory which has never been mentioned as suitable for the purposes of a site. Thus to the westward the radius would overlap on the western plains, whilst on the eastern side it’ would encroach, upon the territory included in the 100-mile limit from Sydney. We should come to some decision as to the site to be selected within that area, and we can only do that satisfactorily by means of some such proposal as that put forward by the Government. The late Government proposed, from the outset, to select a site for the Capital, and not the territory, and investigations were entered upon accordingly. To-day we are no further advanced in respect of those investigations than we were when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was in charge of the business of the House, and invited the last Parliament to deal with this question. If we are to make the best use of the information which is at our disposal, we must deal with the matter from the standpoint of one or other of these sites. I believe that nearly all the eligible sites within these areas have already been reported upon. I claim that, upon the official information that is before us, we should proceed to select the best possible site in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I agree with the position taken up by the Government in this matter. It seems- to me that it is necessary to adopt some such process as they have outlined, in order to secure a fair vote upon the rival sites. For my ow.n part, I favour one particular site above’ all others, but, assuming .that it is rejected, I desire to know which site in the other two districts is the choice of the House. To my mind, our great aim should be to secure a Federal Territory with ;as little “new” expenditure as possible. -Consequently, the question of railway -communication will ma- Serially affect my .second of -third preference. I wish to know beforehand, what particular portion of an area as likely ito be chosen. IP Or instance, take .the southern district. I desire to be informed beforehand whether the site is to be -near Tumut, or Batlow., or Tooma. .Similarly., in the south-eastern district, I wish to know whether it is ,to be at Dalgety ©r .Bombala before I -can determine how any second vote shall be cast. The Government proposal seems ,-to aim .at giving honorable members who occupy .a similar -position ito myself, .an oPPortunity at ‘ascertaining what they are ‘ to ido m the event of the site of theisr first preference toeing rejected. To .my -mind 5:t is very important that we should ‘exercise /the .strictest economy .in this matte. I shall ‘support the proposal -of the Minist<ry, because -it will enable me, before I am called! upon to -cast a second vote, to’ determine wh’ich .’site will prove most economical from -the ‘taxpayers’ point of view. I pay little or no attention to .the -charge’s of logrolling ;or combinations which have been made. These accusations .are always made Am’ connexion -with -matters into which ,a great ideal of feeling eaters. I .think that the Government proposition is fair to all sections of the House, and therefore I shall support it.
– To my mind, the proposal to practically reverse the decision which was arrived at last .night constitutes a very bad precedent. Upon that occasion we decided that we should first select the district in which the Federal Capital should be situated, and afterwards the site. In this matter, most honorable members, although they avow their perfect honesty of purpose, seem to be frightened of the “other fellow.” Had we voted upon the question yesterday, we should have been very much more advanced than we are at the present time. I think we should be acting wisely if we selected a district first, and the .site afterwards, on the principle that we should always choose the greater before the less - a process which is generally known as that of “boiling down.” Before we can select a site it seems to me that we must choose an area. To preserve the intention of the Constitution, I shall oppose the amendment of the Government. I cannot understand why they are so anxious to reverse the .determination which was arrived at last night, except upon the assumption that pressure has been brought to bear upon them. It is not necessary .that I should occupy further time. The sooner that we decide this question the better. I am n..it particularly concerned whether we first select the district or the site; but I do not believe in reversing decisions which have been- arrived .at -by this House., ‘because, if such a practice is to be tolerated, there will be no finality .to our proceedings.
– The position is that we have mow decided to limit our selection to three districts embracing the whole of -the Capital sites that have been brought under our notice. Naturally, I thought that the next step would be to select one of those districts. The .adoption of that course wou’ld not .have prevented any honorable member from fully weighing the relative merits of the sites “contained in that .district. Under the proposal of the Government, there .is .a danger -that votes will be split, and that, I believe, is the object “ underlying it. Moreover, it seems to me that the adoption of the amendment will -unnecessarily multiply the work which we have to do. I (have mo particular .interest in any site, .but I am .anxious to avoid .any .splitting of votes. That seems to .be the danger underlying this particular proposal. It -seems -to me that the proper course for us to- follow is to. select, the. area first, and subsequently to choose the site. Otherwise’ we shall probably find certain honorable members, voting for the Gadara site, others for the; Tumut site, and still others ior the Tooma sitej thus, splitting the votes. Under the Government proposal it would be possible for. an. honorable member to deliberately vote in favour of a. weak site for the purpose of excluding a strong site from the final ballot.
– It could be finally included in the- Bill’.
– Their what is the use of. all this talk? It seems to me that the whole thing is an- absolute farce-, if,, after having, deliberately decided the matter, we can resumed! another site to upset the- arrangement that, has- been arrived at.
– Suppose- that the House agrees. withthe honorable: member; and selects a district, what does he. suggest then?
– If I were a. member of the Government I would then propose to ballot for the sites, in. that district.
– That is, what we are going to,. do.
– No.; it is. practically proposed that- w.e shall first ballot for’ the sites. If we selected a district it would thenbe for the House to- determine- in what part . of that district the Capital should*: be- “ erected. I shall vote against the. Government proposition.
– I shall support the Government proposal. Some method should be adopted- to enable an absolute majority vote to be secured by the site on which, the Capital is. to be erected. In. my opinion no- site, should- be selected unless it has. the. approval of the majority of honorable members. If we voted on districts,, it would be open to honorable, members to combine to- throw out certain territories, whereas if we voted on the sites, honorable members would probably vote in- the end foi one. which might otherwise be. rejected in the, first, instance. I favour a certain site;, but if it can be shown that an absolute majority of this House is against it. I shall bow at once to the decision arrived, at.. The opinion pf the majority can be arrived, at only by voting on the sites. There are two or three sites in some of the proposed districts, and if one district were pitted against another the western district would probably be knocked out of the- running. If we voted for districts the- supporters of Dalgety and
Bombala- or. of Tumut and Tooma, would combine to secure the- rejection of. the westera district, and then tha supporters of the western district would’ have to combine, with the supporters of one. of the other proposed territories-
– Would not the same remark: apply to a vote on- the sites ?’
– No, because there are. honorable, members who, while favouring Bombala, would vote for Lyndhurst as- against Dalgety if their site were defeated.
– Will the honorable member name one who would do so?
– I am not going to mention any names, but I feel’ satisfied that my assertion is correct. What possible objection-‘ can there be to voting on the sites?
– We need not mention the districts.
– No: Although I am one. of the unfortunate representatives of New South Wales, who are looked, upon as; desiring to, best every one else in> regard to this question, I do- not care- whether the ballot results in favour of my site- or not. I merely desire a majority of the House to speak out. The honorable- member’ for Bass said that we should vote on districts, and not. on sites1, because: the greater’ includes the less, but the Capital must be somewhere near the centre of the selected territory; and if we first selected the territory we might find it necessary to make- an alteration, after we had chosen the site of the Capital itself. I shall’ support the Government proposal, because I think it offers the best method to- determine which site the- majority of the House f avour. , U have not engineered this proposition-,, nor. have I attempted to influence any vote-.. I shall give my vote fairly and squarely, and I take it that all that we wish to do is to arrive.- at the best decision im the iaCeiests of. the Cbmmom-«-ealth..
– I should like to point out, im a very few words - because the matter has been thoroughly discussed - the reason why I. think the hon;orable member for. Gippsland should recognise the anxiety which animates us in regard to this matter. Upon the. face of it, the view advocated by the other- side appears to be thoroughly sensible and fair.. I t is- said that we- should choose a district and then devote ourselves to; the determination of the best site for the Capital in that district. On the surface, that seems a perfectly logical and sound position to take up ; but I wish to point out how, on the facts, it would work out with absolute unfairness. If honorable members who are in favour of a particular district were also equally favorable to all the sites in that district, we ought to be able to obtain a straight decision. But, as a matter of fact, that is not so. Take the district represented so- faithfully by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. He knows very well that there are honorable members who would vote for Bombala, but who would not vote for Dalgety.
– Will the right honorable member name one?
– I do not wish to mention any names.
– Why should the right honorable member make such an assertion if he cannot prove it?
– I do not desire to bandy the names of members about the Chamber.
– I do not know of any honorable member who takes up the position suggested by the right honorable member, and yet I am fairly familiar with the views of the House.
– My honorable friend ought to know; but I still think that his information, judging by that at my disposal, is not exhaustive. Take my own case. I am in favour of Lyndhurst, to begin with, but if that site be rejected, I shall probably be found voting, with my honorable friend, for Dalgety. I hope that there is nothing alarming in that statement.
– Why say “ probably “ ?
– My hope is that the matter will be put with sufficient fairness to enable me to do so. At present, however, I do not see how it will be possible to come to a straight vote on this question. That is my objection. There are honorable members who have a first preference for a particular site in one of these districts, but who are strongly against other sites in it. If the site which they favour were rejected they would vote for a site in another district.
– Why, I would ask-
– I hope that the honorable member will allow me to place my views before the House. If it were a question of district versus district there would be no difficulty. I can quite understand the statement of the honorable member that he is at a loss to know why so much trouble should be made over this question; but, as a matter of fact, the interest of honorable members is not confined to one district. If, for instance, we ask even the most erratic honorable member on the other side to state his order of preference, we find that it goes from one extreme to another. His first choice may be Tumut, or this new cemetery which has been discovered, Tooma. His first choice may be Dalgety, and his second choice Lyndhurst, but his third choice may be Tumut or Tooma, so’ that his order of preference ranges over the three districts in a most irregular way. That is the complication which arises. The fact is that if, for example, any of the advocates of Bombala were prepared to give a second vote for Lyndhurst, they would be compelled, if we voted on districts, to commence by wiping out their second choice altogether, in order to give Bombala a chance. When they came to vote for Bombala they might be beaten, and would then wish, of course, to exercise their second votes in “favour of Lyndhurst. But that site would have gone; it would have been wiped out.
– So it ought to be.
– I do not address my arguments on this question to the representatives of these districts. If we had to choose, on this occasion, between heaven itself and Tooma I know where the honorable member for Hume would have his picnic. It would take place not in heaven but in Tooma. I do not wish to waste my time’ upon the log-rolling representatives of sitehunting localities. I shall not waste my time on the honorable member for EdenMonaro. On all other subjects those two honorable members are as straight as a cork-screw; but on this particular question they must allow me to appeal to other honorable members.
– The right honorable member is an excellent judge of a political cork-screw.
– I suppose I am. I am happy to say, however, that it is not because I have had many ‘corks to draw. That has been going on at Tooma.
– What is the suggestion?
– Only ginger ale. Our complaint is that we shall not get a fair chance unless the proposal of the
Government be adopted. I suppose that my honorable friends of the Labour Party will give the Government credit for perfect straightforwardness in what they have done. I am not one of the two or three honorable members whom the Government are anxious to conciliate in the present crisis. If the Government wished to act in that way their attention would not be directed to me. They would devote their attention to other honorable members in this House, so that their straightforwardness in accepting the fair view emanating from their direct opponent in the House - from the man from whom they expect the least - ought not to be a reason for suggesting some unworthy motive on their part, lt is surprising that this rope of steel, which is branded “cork,” has become such a rope of sand. I admit that I do not make use of that figure of speech in any wrong sense, because this is a matter entirely outside party politics. I should be very sorry indeed if any one were to apply any party pressure in this matter. I wish honorable members to understand that my anxiety ‘ is not to influence them as to the selection of a particular site. I do not wish to interfere with their freedom of choice; but I desire that Lyndhurst shall be given a fair start. Honorable members may wipe it out if they please, but let it have a start from scratch. It ought not to be wiped out before the others get a start; but that would inevitably be the effect of the procedure which some honorable members advocate. I would infinitely rather have had the proposal of the honorable member for Corinella. I saw that there was risk of great abuse under his scheme, but, at any rate, it provided machinery for the fair expression of the opinions of honorable members in the order of their preference.
– The scheme of the honorable and learned member for Corinella applied to the system of voting for districts.
– It could have been applied to any other system.
– But it was not proposed to be so applied.
– That is so. At the time, the proposal I am now discussing was not before the House ; but it would have been infinitely fairer when we came to deal with particular sites. My great objection to the original proposal of the Government from the first was the manifestly ridiculous use of the word “ site,” as applying to an area within a radius of fifty miles. How can one speak of the site for a Capital, and” then refer to an area within a radius of fifty miles?
– We have said “within a radius.”
– We might as well have said within New South Wales, or within a radius of 100 miles. To agree to such an area is to select, not the site for a Capital, but the territory within which the Capital site shall be chosen. No honorable member will deny that if we proceed with the method of choosing an area within a radius of fifty miles, there must be a further decision of the House at some later time to determine the precise locality of the future Capital of the Commonwealth. No one would say that the Government should be allowed to choose a site within a radius of fifty miles of some specified place. That shows that my complaint was a just one, and that, instead, of making progress towards the selection of a site, we are getting further away from our object than we were two years ago. When the late Government brought in their Bill, they put before us the names of certain localities which were thought eligible as Capital sites, and the Bill provided that the Seat of Government should be “at or near “ Bathurst, Albury, Orange, Lyndhurst, Bombala, Dalgety, Lake George, or Tumut. Those places were mentioned, not as areas, of Federal territory, but as sites for the Federal Capital. The Constitution itself prescribes that the Parliament shall first determine the site of the Seat of Government, and then ask for a territory which will include that site. Our first step is to choose a site, and our second is to ask for a territory. We do not definitely determine the Seat of Government until the territory asked for is granted to or acquired by us; but our first duty is to choose a site for the seat’ of Government. That is the line which was followed last time. The Government then in power asked the House to choose a place “at or near” which the Seat of Government should be. If the two Houses had on that occasion chosen the same site, the Government would have negotiated with the Government of New South Wales for the acquirement of a territory which would include it. Now, however, we are in a worse position than we were in then. The Senate has done what I am objecting to. I do not suppose that the members of that Chamber have acted under influence, but it is a singular thing that they have chosen Bombala as the site of the Seat of Government, and have then fixed upon an area within a radius of fifty miles of that place.
– The honorable member must not refer to what another branch of this Parliament has done.
– I ask, would it not be a singular thing for us to name a place as the site of the Seat of Government, and then say that the Capital shall be within fiftymiles of that place?
– That is what the Senate has done.
– It is irregular to refer to the action of the Senate, and therefore, to preserve Parliamentary decorum, I am putting a supposititious case. We know that there are two rival Capital sites within fifty miles of Bombala. That suits the honorable member for Eden-Monaro beautifully, because they are the only two sites in his electorate. If there were more sites in that electorate, he would like an area wide enough to include them all to be chosen. If we agreed to the decision of the Senate, he would get all he wants. But there are honorable members who, while they would vote for Dalgety, would, if that site were not chosen, vote for some other site which is not in the south-eastern district, while there are other honorable members who would vote first for Bombala, and, if it were not selected, would vote next for another site outside the south-eastern district. Under the original proposal of the Government both those who wish to see Bombala chosen, and those who wish to see Dalgety chosen, would be compelled to vote for the south-eastern district.
– The right honorable and learned member wishes to divide and conquer.
– Such manceuvres are familiar enough to the honorable member who is interrupting me. but I am not addressing him exclusively. The point I wish to make is that those who are in favour of districts in which there are two sites are able to bring a force of two to one against the district in which there is only one site.
– Then the right honorable member admits that there is only one site in the western district?
– There is only one site in that district which is now before us. I am speaking to practical business men. There may be a hundred sites in the district if we go into the matter very closely, but we are dealing with it as men who know what the voting was on the last occasion, when Lyndhurst stood at the top of the list for five ballots, and Bathurst and Orange lasted for one ballot only. There is only one site in the Lyndhurst district which is being practically considered now. That has been the effect of the last ballot. I think, however, that if a site is chosen in each district first, and that then the districts are dealt with on their merits, all will have a fair start. Under the present arrangement the supporters of four other sites will have a common interest in exterminating Lyndhurst, to prevent a second vote from being cast for that site after the first ballot has been taken. How much better is the plan of the Government ! Under that plan no district will be wiped out on the preliminary ballot. In each district is a site which, in the judgment of the whole House, must be the best site in that district. Surely there could not be a fairer way of testing the merits of the districts than for the whole House to decide as one united body, which is the best site in each district, quite apart from the merits of the rival districts, or of the rival sites in other districts. We are now asked practically to address our intelligence to discriminating between districts A, B, and C. We decide first which is the best site in A ; then, which is the best site in B ; and, lastly, which is the best site in C. Having thus chosen a representative site for each district, but having exterminated none of the districts, we allow a fair fight, site bv site, and district by district. The objection to the other mode is that one district would be wiped out without the chance of a second vote, whereas the two remaining districts would have such a chance.
– Suppose each site stands on its: own basis, and there is something to be said in favour of the Tooma site, would the right honorable member agree to a fortnight’s postponement to allow of a thorough investigation of the merits of that site?
– It would be of no use for the right honorable member to agree. He cannot dictate to the whole House.
– After the agony the honorable member for Hume has suffered during the past few days in trying to square twenty members of Parliament, does the honorable member for Richmond ask that he should be forced to begin again?
– That is a disgraceful and- unworthy remark.’
– Is it in order for the right honorable member to say that’ the honorable member for Hume has been trying to square twenty members of Parliament ?
– The right honorable member was speaking with his back turned to me, and a considerable amount’ of conversation was going on, so that I did not hear him distinctly ; but if he made the statement attributed to him by the honorable member for Gywdir, I ask him to withdraw it.
– Certainly, I withdraw it. The honorable member had this picnic party, to which he took a number of honorable members. It was their own fault if other honorable members did not’ go. He offered equal facilities to all, I understand. I was not asked, but that is a mere detail. Some honorable members were asked. I do not know what the process of selection was; but as the undertaking was managed at’ Government expense, I think that every honorable member should have been invited.
– The projected visit was announced on the floor of the House.
– That is a very loose way of inviting men to a picnic.
– It was publicly stated by the Prime Minister that a visit would be made. I was not going to run after the right honorable member to ask him to go anywhere.
– There is nothing to be got by running after me. The honorable member knows that very well. I am willing that the honorable member should enjoy any advantage which he has obtained from that picnic. From all that I can hear, Tooma is a lovely place for a burial ground. No one could wish to lie in a more beautiful spot. I understand that if has been only lately discovered. However, we are not discussing the merits of the sites at the present time. That discussion is reserved for a later stage. What I am drawing attention to now is the unfair results which would follow if we did not adopt the proposal of the Government. It is to their credit that they have seen that their original proposal was not a fair one, and have therefore adopted a modification of it. Their present proposal was certainly not made because of the exercise of any influence on my part. If it is’ due to’ anything, it is due to the arguments urged in this Chamber yesterday. I understand that the amendment was in print then.
– No. But before that the Minister had intimated that he wished to have the sites defined, though he proposed to do it afterwards.
– That statement shows how untrue the suggestion is that it was because of some influence exercised by me that the Government brought forward the present proposal. It turns out now that this action was intimated before I said a word about it.
– Not the precise method now proposed ; but we intended to fine down the decision of the House to a distinct site.
– Exactly. The only subject to which I addressed myself yesterday was the importance of doing that, and it now turns out that it had previously been the intention of the Government to do it. That disposes of the suggestion that I had been endeavouring to influence them. I am the last man who could do so. They are proposing what is a fair thing, and I hope, that the House will consider the proposal. It is no light matter to disregard the protest of any body of members in regard to a question which has some sort of interest to the State which they represent. We should, so far as we can, treat the States generously in this matter.
– So we do. ‘ .
– I think that we have done so, and I desire that the reputation of the House shall be maintained. It comes with rather a surprise to me that, in a House which has the desire to act fairly, within bounds, to each State, so little regard is now being paid to the protest of such a large majority of the members representing New South Wales. It is not a protest against the choice of a site. If it were that, honorable members might say that it is unreasonable for New South Wales to attempt to dictate to the Commonwealth as to where the Capital shall be. But, as it is a question of giving a fair chance to all the sites - a fair chance to the site which is most favoured by the people of that State - surely our requests _ and protests might be received with fair ‘ consideration. The other States will, no doubt, come along in the future with.’ matters, by’ which their interests are particularly affected.
– - Is that the bribe which the right honorable member is hold- l ing out?
– I am not holding out any bribe. If I could hold out a bribe, there is only one man in the House to whom I would hold it out.
– That is a disgraceful thing to say. No one but a blackguard would say it.
– Order. I rose to ask the right honorable member for East Sydney to withdraw his remark that conveyed that an honorable member of this House would be open to accept a bribe, but-
– I did not say so.
– The honorable member for Hume has just stated, by way of interjection, that the statement made by the right honorable member for East Sydney was blackguardly. I must first ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw that remark, and then I shall ask the right honorable member for East Sydney to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw.
– I withdraw; but it is only fair to say that I did not put the matter in the absolute way that you, . sir, have indicated. The honorable member for Hume interrupted me by saying that my statement was blackguardly. I said, “ if I could hold out a bribe.” I did not say that I did so. I was assuming a most incredible thing, in the first pla.ce, and I assumed another incredible thing when I indicated I should hold out a bribe to only one honorable member. Sir William Lyne. - I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was called upon to withdraw, and I did so. The right honorable member for East Sydney was similarly called upon, but I submit that he has not complied with your order.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney first withdrew the remark he had previously made, as indeed he would do under the Standing Orders ; but now he is practically repeating his statement. I would ask him not to do so, as he knows that it is absolutely unparliamentary.
– I certainly withdraw my statement, especially as the honorable member for Hume has- withdrawn the congenial epithet which he used. I am in no sense offering a bribe. I am not asking honorable members to deflect from any choice of any site that they may have in their minds. I am not endeavouring to warp their judgment in regard to any particular site, but I am making an appeal - and such an appeal is generally successful - to the instincts of fairness of honorable members by asking them to exercise their consideration towards one of the States of the Commonwealth. If I asked them to change their views, or to vote for some portion of New South Wales which, in their opinion, was not the best, merely out of consideration for the interests of that State, I might be regarded as making an improper appeal. But when I ask honorable members to act with common sense and fairness, and to give a fair start to New South Wales in a matter so vitally affecting her, surely I am not making an improper appeal. ‘ That is the only request I am making. I am pointing out the effect of following a certain course. If there were only one site which-the House had any notion of adopting in the southern and south-eastern districts, I should not have a word to say except that the last method proposed would result in a waste of time, and throw us back, but inasmuch as there are rival sites in each of the two districts which are supported by bodies of antagonistic supporters, some of whom would vote for Lyndhurst upon the second ballot, I think that I am submitting a fair proposition. If the sites were narrowed down to one in each district, honorable members would be asked to choose between Tumut, Bombala, and Lyndhurst, and the selection could be made with absolute fairness. We should then have a fair start. But the existence of two absolutely separate and antagonistic bodies in each of the two districts referred to introduces an element of unfairness, because they have the effect of creating a’ double-headed compact in opposition to the Lyndhurst site.
– Against a solid body of supporters of Lyndhurst.
– There is nothing to be made out of that observation. I have made this appeal to honorable members only in the spirit which I have indicated, and if that spirit is not to prevail in the preferences affecting the different sites, honorable members who do not observe it must “not be surprised if other people accept the standard which they set up. I hope, however, that this will not occur; but I think, without referring to the sites at all. that, as a matter of fairness in the selection, some attention should be paid to what we think as to what would constitute a fair start.
– The only object the
Government had in proposing this method of procedure was to save time. It
Seems to us that if any element of unfairness were introduced, we should not save time, because the whole question would have to be reconsidered in Committee. The same thing would happen if a site were selected which did not thoroughly represent the desire of the majority of honorable members. Unquestionably the whole matter would have to be gone over again in Committee. Therefore, no good object can be served if honorable members act other than fairly and honestly. There is no escaping the fact that, under any method, the majority of the Committee must determine which site shall be selected, so that, it seems to me, this very long debate over the method of selection has been; to a large extent, unnecessary. I ask honorable members to agree to the proposal made by the Government.
– I am influenced in my attitude towards the Government proposal, first, by . the belief that every honorable member attaches great importance to the step we are about to take, and to the effect which it will have upon the future community of interests between the various States, and particularly between New South Wales and Victoria. I am influenced also by the conviction that every honorable member wishes the selected site to have the approval of the majority. Further, I hold that I must be influenced in the vote I shall give by the presumption that ‘no honorable member will prostitute his position as a representative by casting his vote for the purpose of promoting the interests of any individual site against his own honest judgment. If this be the correct view to take, I was perfectly justified in urging last evening that it was better for us to place the whole of the districts upon a uniform footing before proceeding to vote with regard to them. I think that the Government proposal is in the direction of fairness, and that it will best enable us to arrive at a just decision, and to obviate the possibility of bitterness arising in New South Wales, owing to a decision being arrived at by means of ‘ a catch vote. Therefore, whilst I still favour the method under which we select a district, I think we should, first of all, decide amongst ourselves as to the best site in each area submitted to us. If we do this we shall place all the districts upon a uniform footing, and shall be able to deal with them fairly- and justly. We shall be in a position to give a straight out vote in connexion with each of the sites. If it can be shown that any improper voting has taken place in connexion with the selection of the sites, with a view to defeat the selection of any particular district, I shall hold myself free to take any action that may be. within my power to render abortive the action of the honorable members concerned, whose conduct, under such circumstances, must be regarded as dastardly if such means were adopted.
– When I spoke upon this question last evening I was of opinion that there was very little difference between the two courses suggested, although I favoured the selection of the districts first, and the choice of the sites afterwards. Before the matter came up for discussion in the House I had conceived a plan exactly similar to that now suggested by the representatives of New South Wales. I thought that the time had arrived when those honorable members who had more than one site in their respective districts should,, make up their minds as to the one best “suited for the purposes of a Federal Capital. I considered that after we had chosen the best site in each district, we could then proceed to make a final selection. I was influenced in another direction yesterday, but I never thought that there was any particular advantage presented by one plan over the other. It seemed to me that if we selected the districts first, the site finally chosen might not prove to be the one of whichwe most highly approved. We might, for instance, be very much in favour of one site, and consequently cast our vote in favour of the district in Avhich it Avas located, but the final decision might be in favour of another site in the same district, of Avhich we did not approve. On the other hand, ifwe selected the sites first, Ave might, upon finding our first choice rejected, transfer our support to another district. For instance, if I Avere in faA’our of one site in the Bombala district, and another site in that district, Avhich I did not favour, Avere selected, I might transfer my support to Lyndhurst or Tumut. In the one case, Ave might lose the site of whichwe approved, and still be restricted to a particular district, whilst in the other case Ave might have to fall back upon our second preference as to site. It cannot be said that there would be any absolute gain in either case. We must also remember that after your ruling, Mr. -Speaker, we have the right to suggest any site to take the place of that which may be selected by the ballot. I think that constitutes a great safeguard to honorable members in dealing with this matter. If the right honorable member for East Sydney fails to secure the selection of the site which he favours, he will still be at liberty to move the excision of any other site with a view to its insertion in lieu thereof. If we look at this matter all round, and assume that no attempt will be made by honorable members to vote for a site from ulterior motives, it will be seen that no danger whatever exists that we shall not finally secure the site which is favoured by a majority Of this House. I think that all this discussion is unnecessary, because, under either plan, we shall secure what we want. Believing that both systems are good, I shall now view the matter from another stand-point. Of course, I recognise that under the Constitution the Federal Capital must be in New South Wales. I also recognise that out of twenty-six representatives of that State, quite twenty are in favour of one particular site. We know that they reflect the views of the majority of the people of New South Wales, who are unmistakably favorable to the selection of the site in the western district. For my own part, seeing that by either process we shall secure the selection of the site which is favoured by a majority of the House, I feel inclined to be very generous - especially as it will not cost much - to the representatives of New South Wales. I do not like the suggestion of the right honorable member for East Sydney, that some honorable members have been guilty of what is commonly called “ log-rolling.” The more we keep such charges out of our discussions, the more likely are we to avoid such practices. Upon a national question of this sort, we have no right to assume that any honorable member will be actuated by other than the purest motives. There never was a time when the responsibility of honorable members was greater than if is upon the present occasion. We are invited to settle for all time the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and it will be to our eternal discredit if we do not exercise that responsibility to the best advantage. Personally, I have long ago decided which particular site I favour in the western division, the south-eastern division”, and the southern division. ‘ That being so, and in order to show the people of New South Wales that we are determined that they shall labour under no imaginary grievance, I intend to vote with the right honorable member ‘ for East Sydney.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The ‘House divided.
Ayes … … … 26
Noes … …31
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Determination of Seat of Government).
– It will, perhaps, be most convenient to the Committee to enter upon a consideration of the relative merits of the several sites on this clause. I am not an advocate of any particular site, and, therefore, do not propose to open the discussion by dilating on the advantages of any one of them.
– Will a vote be taken tonight ?
– I “would draw the honorable and learned member’s attention ro the resolution that has just been carried, which provides that the House shall, at its next sitting proceed to determine the question.
– Mr. Speaker holds that that resolution need not be taken into consideration by the Committee.
– We are not discussing the technical position; but I suggest that we should proceed at once to the discussion of the merits of the several sites. Some honorable members may not feel disposed, at this hour, to enter upon, a lengthy address, but we have to arrive at a decision, and the sooner we proceed with the general debate, the sooner shall we come to a determination.
– The question is that clause 2 be agreed to.
– Are you putting the question. Mr. Chairman ?
– I would point out that honorable members do not appear to be seized of the fact that this is the most vital clause in the Bill.
– If it be carried, we shall have agreed to the Senate’s selection.
– I shall put the question again.
– This is a vital clause in the Bill, and it is somewhat extraordinary that those _most directly interested in the selection of a site appear to have nothing to say in regard to it. If we allow the clause to pass as it stands, the result will be the selection of the southeastern district, presuming that the Bill be not rejected on the third reading. I rose chiefly to intimate that I propose ‘to move an amendment. We are not likely to selectthe site of the Capital within the next quarter of a century, judging by the rate at which we are proceeding to deal with the question. The suggestion has been made that some honorable members are so dishonest that they would resort to any trickery to defeat the supporters of sites to which they are opposed, with the ultimate result that no selection would be made for some time to come. The only way to secure the speedy selection of a site is for this or some other Government to take the matter into their own hands, and to make the Seat of Government Bill a Ministerial measure. We know, however, that neither this nor any other Government is likely to do anything of the kind. It would be a very strong Ministry that would accept that responsibility. If it did, with the result that some site other than Dalgety or Bombala were selected by this House, we should at once be in conflict with another place. It is a question whether the Senate could be induced to alter the decision at which it has arrrived.
– Has not this question been before the caucus?
– My complaint is that it is not a question for consideration by a caucus, and until it is made a caucus matter, either by this or some other Government, a determination will not be arrived at. If another place insisted on adhering to the decision at which it had arrived, the only way in which it would be possible to secure a settlement of the difficulty would be for a strong Government to make the Bill a Government measure, and, after returning it to the Senate a second time without avail, to bring about a double dissolution, and allow the country to decide. As there is no likelihood of an agreement being arrived at, I think it is time some other method were adopted, and I therefore propose to move for the appointment’ of a Commission, consisting of one representative of each State, to make a selection. It would then be for. the Government of the day to accept the responsibility of disapproving of the decision of the Commission. We have heard honorable members accusing one another of intriguing and log-rolling, and even bribery has been suggested. When this is the feeling of the House, can there be any likelihood of ah early determination?
– The honorable member was only joking when he spoke of bribery
– When that statement appears in cold print it will not be read as a joke. Inasmuch as in the opinion of some honorable members the House is not to be trusted to perform this delicate task, it is about time that some other method were resorted to. In common with many other honorable members, I hold that- we should endeavour to settle the question as speedily as possible. We are at present occupying an absurd position. A statement was made in the Victorian Legislative Assembly last night which was an insult to the whole of the members of the Federal Parliament. It was said, in effect, to members of this Legislature, “We don’t want you; get out.” The Victorian Parliament generously gave us the free use of this building; but it is not very pleasant to have that fact thrown’ up from time to time.
– Those who agreed to place this House at the disposal of the Federal Legislature are not the men who are now squealing.
– Quite so. The site chosen last session by this House should not have been selected. Had it not been for the action of the representatives of certain States, who are exceedingly anxious that a particular selection should be made, the decision arrived at by this House last session would not have been secured. Much has been said in criticism of the late Mr. Oliver’s report on the action of the Commissioners in selecting the Lacmalac site. Before I visited Lacmalac I was under the impression that Mr. Oliver had exceeded his duty ; but, having inspected the site, I am now convinced that every word in his report is absolutely correct. The Commissioners went out of their way to select Lacmalac, and no one can give any reason for their action. No six men outside a lunatic asylum would think of selecting such a site.
– Would the honorable member again perpetrate the same thing on us?
– No; but I wish to force either the present or some other Government to make this a Ministerial question.
– The honorable member has a nice chance to do that.
– I know that it is a responsibility that a Government would not care to accept, and I, therefore, suggest the appointment of a Commission to make a selection. I propose that the Commission should consist, not merely of the representatives of Victoria and New South Wales, but of representatives of all the other States, who would have no- direct interest in any particular site.
– Would the honorable member approve of remitting the question to the King? That was the way in which the site of the Canadian capital was determined.
– It seems to me that we shall have to do something in that direction in order to secure finality.
– Would the honorable member remit the question to the House of Commons ?
– I would not.
– Why not allow Mr. Chamberlain to make a suggestion?
– With all his faults, I think that Mr. Chamberlain would make a better selection than we should at present.
– What about Mr. Bent?
– He would make Melbourne the Seat of Government, and compel us to meet in the Exhibition building, or in the Museum. The latter would be the right place for us to occupy if we allowed him to make a selection. I intend, at a later stage, to move that this question be referred to a Commission.
– Much as we have complained of provincialism in the opposition outside to any settlement of the Capital question, I think we have a great deal to complain of in the Chamber itself. I am not prepared to admit that the capacity of the House to settle the question has gone from it. Surely there must come a time when we shall* approach the question at close quarters,’ and finally deal with it. I am thoroughly satisfied of the earnestness of the attempt of the present Government to get it settled, and I do not think that any honorable member can take objection to the course of procedure which has been adopted, though I agree with ‘ the last speaker, that it would have been better if the Government had taken the responsibility of proposing a site, and trying to get it accepted by both Houses of the Parliament. But as the question has so far been considered as a non-party one, I do not think that we can expect the present Government to take that attitude in regard to it, especially as individual Ministers have expressed different opinions as to the merits of the sites. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Richmond this afternoon about the subject being a very much larger one than a question affecting the interests of any constituency or any one State. We have to deal with it from the point of view of the interests of Australia, and I have made up my mind to approach it from that stand-point. I have formed an idea as to which is the best site, and I voted for that site consistently when the ballots were taken two years ago; but I do not assert that that is the only site which is eligible, and if a majority of the Committee declared for one of the other sites, I would be prepared to give way. If I cannot get Lyndhurst, I am prepared to vote for Dalgety, and if Dalgety is not chosen. I shall vote for some other site in the southern district; but I am determined that, so far as I am concerned, the matter shall be definitely settled this session. I do not take much account of the objections which have been raised to the proposal to deal with the sites in districts, because it is apparent to me that, until the third reading of the Bill has been agreed to, it will be open to any section whose members feel aggrieved at the decision arrived at, either, because they suspect collusion of rival interests, or think that the result of the ballot was accidental, to have the Bill recommitted for the purpose of remedying the matter. I do not, however, apprehend that the decision of the ballot will be accidental. An analysis of the voting on the last occasion showed that only one vote could be called in question, and it was frankly admitted that this vote was cast by mistake. The error was admitted almost as soon as it was made. Otherwise, a straight-out vote was taken. In view of that experience, we may anticipate a straight-out vote again on the present occasion. I think that independent members of the- Committee - that is, independent in the sense of not being pledged to any one site - should not regard themselves as “cribbed, cabined, and confined” by the action of the three honorable gentlemen who are advocating three particular sites. The time must sooner or later arrive when we shall have to throw them over, and set to work, irrespective of their attempts to form coteries in support of one site or another. We have either to decide the question, or to confess our inability to deal with one of the most important and interesting subjects which has been brought before us. With regard to the clause now before the Committee, I take great exception to the manner in which it was originally drafted. It at first read -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be within twenty-five miles of……
That allowed a pretty wide area of choice. I indorse the remarks of the right honorable member for East Sydney, that what we are called upon to do is to determine the site of the Seat of Government pf the Commonwealth, not to choose a Federal territory. We should say definitely that the Capital shall be located within a mile or two of such and such a place.
– It would not do to make the limits too narrow.
– No doubt that is so. But if we chose as wide an area as the clause originally provided for, the advocates of rival sites within that area would be so many that Parliament would have almost as much to do in locating the site of the Capital itself as it has to do now. I think we should say that the Capital shall be situated within a few miles of some particular place. Having done that, we might adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for . Kennedy, and appoint a small Commission to decide upon the exact location. - I would be quite ready to appoint the right honorable member for Swan as a Commissioner for such a purpose. He is a gentleman of great experience in these matters, an undoubted patriot, and comes from a State which is not directly interested, so that he would not be affected by the rivalry of Victoria and New South Wales. But whether we allow the right honorable member, like Constantine of old, to go to the district with lance in his hand, and trace out on the spot the bounds of our future Capital, or intrust the work to several gentlemen, we shall do better in the first instance to definitely determine the site within a mile or two, than to say that it shall be placed within a wide area. The clause, as amended by the Senate, extends the area much beyond the original intention. If reads -
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, and within fifty miles of Bombala, in the State of New South Wales.
There we have two conflicting arid absurd designations. The definition contained in that clause falsifies all notions of logic. To say that the Seat of Government shall be within fifty miles of Bombala is in itself a sufficient designation of the locality. But in addition to that it is provided that the Seat of Government shall be located in an area which also takes in Dalgety, and which forms a large parallelogram, comprising more than the 900 square miles subsequently provided for. I do not intend to trouble the Committee any further on this subject. I have already expressed my opinion on the merits of the rival sites, and I am quite ready to cast my vote to-night. I hope that there will be no more disputing on the subject, but that as soon as the Committee is thoroughly seized of all the facts that can be put before it, we shall take a ballot, and definitely settle the question. I hope, at any rate, that we shall not come to the lame and impotent conclusion at which we arrived last session, so that the matter has to be relegated to a future Parliament. , I hope, too, that we shall recognise the great importance of the subject to the future of Australia, and disregard the temporary interests of our constituencies, and of our States.
– There may be some misapprehension as to the work which the Committee is supposed to undertake in connexion with this Bill. This is the stage at which the merits of the various proposed sites should be discussed. The House has gone into Committee to allow the fullest discussion of that subject. When this discussion is concluded, progress will be reported, and a ballot will then be taken in the House without further debate.
– I think that honorable members will be unable to form an accurate and proper judgment of the relative merits of the various sites which have been suggested, unless an opportunity is given to obtain furl her information in regard to the Tooma site. There has not been as much information laid before us in regard to that site as in regard to the other sites, and it is not fair to deal with the question until we are fully seized of all til 6 facts
– The honorable member for Kennedy was perfectly right when he stated that there is a tendency on the part of honorable members in dealing with this matter to follow the public opinion of the electorates and of the States which they represent. There are greater a’nd nobler purposes to be served. I interjected when the honorable member was speaking that we might leave the question to be settled by the King. A similar trouble arose in Canada, and it was suggested that some one absolutely trustworthy should be left to decide the matter. Eventually the selection was intrusted to the Queen. In connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital of the United States George Washington was empowered within certain limitations to select the site. It was decided that it should be situated on the Potomac, but otherwise he was allowed to exercise his choice. I do not know of any man in Australia who stands in a position similar to that formerly occupied by Washington- in the United States; but there is something in the view of the honorable member that some person not locally interested and trustworthy, and with opportunities to obtain the fullest and best information, should decide the question. I do not suggest that honorable members are not competent to deal with the matter - possibly some of them are a little too competent. I think that it is highly probable - and I say this with a full sense of my responsibility, and with a knowledge that the sentiment is not popular in New South Wales - that the best site for the Federal Capital may probably be found in the great drainage- centre of Australia, upon the Upper Murray, near Mount Kosciusko. A number of reliable men who have seen that district - I have not been there myself - tell me that in no part of Australia have they ever witnessed such a glorious panorama.
– Wonderful !
– I am perfectly sure that no considerations, with regard to abundance of water supply or magnificence of scenery would cause the honorable member to vote for any other than a western site. It is only natural that those honorable members who represent western constituencies should vote for a western site, and that those whose constituents are in the southern part of New South Wales should vote for a site in that part of the State. I know what electors are, and what human nature is. It is of no use setting high ideals against material interests. Considerations of material advantage will be paramount, and honorable members are not likely to fly in the face of their constituents. Almost every constituency labours under the hallucination that the right site is to be found within its’ own boundaries, and local bias plays a most important part. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro tells us that in his district natural beauties abound. He tells us of the place -
Where the Snowy wanders through corn and vines and flowers,
To where Kosciusko lifts to heaven her diadem of towers.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro no doubt speaks honestly, although he is probably strongly affected by local bias.
Now, what does the honorable member for Hume say with regard to the Bombala site ? His description of that site reads like a page from Nansen’s Farthest North. It could have applied to the great lone land beyond the Saskatchewan, where the only things to be seen are an occasional moose or a Cree Indian. The honorable member told us that ho sounds were heard near Dalgety except when the west wind blew, and the howls of the dingoes were wafted over the snow. The Capital should unquestionably be situated in a spot possessing great natural beauties. Some honorable members’ ideas of natural beauty are embodied in the book which has been circulated by the advocates of the Lyndhurst site. But I cannot imagine anything more prosaic or more commonplace than the features there presented. Anthony Trollope stated that we were so proud of Sydney Harbor that it might be supposed we had dug it out ourselves. Notwithstanding the way in which people laugh at us, we are proud of Port Jackson, which is the most beautiful harbor in the world. It is worthy of all that has been said of it, and must make the most favorable impression upon visitors who make their first landing in Australia upon its shores. Any man who has a heart above that of a wombat, or has any conception of what he owes to his country, must wish that when the railway train sweeps into the Federal Capital the passengers conveyed by it shall have presented to them a view that cannot be equalled in any other part of the Commonwealth. Such a view is, I believe, to be found upon the Upper Murray. Upon the question of water supply, I would urge that we should not contemplate only a supply of water sufficient for our baths, or for watering our gardens or parks, but should also consider the part which water will play in beautifying the landscape. Water in itself may not be a thing of beauty, but it has a relieving effect when combined with other physical features, and tends to perfect the scheme of beauty. There is no other part of Australia likely to be chosen which has .streams running all the year round, and which are at their fullest in the summer time, when water is most wanted. Not only from the spectacular stand-point, but also from the utilitarian point of view, we should seek a site in connexion with which we shall have a supply of water ample for all domestic purposes, and also for generating electricity and sup plying power in other forms. We should also hold in view the aid which water will render in providing means of recreation for the population of a Capital. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, the compact entered into with regard to the 100-mile limit has eliminated from our choice many of the great beauty-spots upon the New South Wales coastline. I know that in that State it is not popular to advocate the selection of a site near the Vic- torian border. But I do so - as I explained this afternoon - upon the broadest ground, and knowing that it is in opposition to the temporary feeling of my own State. But what is that temporary feeling in comparison with a proper appreciation of this subject ? In years to come, when our children and children’s children visit this site they will realize that their fathers were above provincialism, and that they were prepared to choose the best site, even though it was situated far away from Sydney, and- near the Victorian border. Our compact here to-night is to do the best we can for the Commonwealth as a whole. Believing, as I do, that a suitable site may exist within fifty miles of the Murray River, where the water comes from the snow-clad ranges, and where the best spectacular result produced by the magnificent handiwork of nature is to be found, -I must vote for that site. I should like honorable members to recollect one great fact in connexion with beauty. Men may make a pretty site by means of parks and buildings, but nature alone can make a magnificent site. We might form a pretty place at Lyndhurst, or in many other parts of New South Wales, but unless nature has done her best all the beauty which we can impart to any site in the shape of parks, and buildings will never elevate our Capital to the position which it should occupy. I wish- that it were possible for honorable members to visit this site. I wish that the representatives of New South Wales could see it. If the Welaregang site is as ‘good as it is alleged to be, we ought to know more about it, because, after all, we have not sufficient information in detail. This is a topic upon which a person might talk at very great length. In connexion with this matter we have a special responsibility. If the Welaregang site is as good as it is represented to be, I implore the House to wait another fortnight, and to give honorable members an opportunity of visiting it. If the representatives of New South Wales then de-‘ clare that it is not a worthy site, I shall have nothing further to say. I wish that, before to-morrow, the Prime Minister would think over this matter. Does he not see the difficulty in which we are placed? Although I believe that the Welaregang site is not deficient, either in regard to its water supply or building area, still, no man is in a position to finally pin his faith, to a particular - spot without possessing an absolute knowledge of it in detail. We must select a site, not by way of compromise, but on account of its magnificence- - a site which Australia will regard as a worthy one. If Welaregang be that site, I ask the Government to give us an opportunity of converting the representatives of New South Wales to the views which I have expressed.
– I am glad that the Mother State has been able to supply this House with an honorable member whose brilliant advocacy of scenery and water- will enable us to give effect to these attributes of national character. My honorable friend, like every other man of gifted imagination, occupies a position of peculiar advantage, owing to the fact that he knows nothing whatever of the particular locality of which he has .spoken. Imagination is the first essential of poetic excellence, and he occupies the happy position of being highly imaginative. Upon the strength of the impression made upon his mind by reports which have reached him from some stragglers who safely returned to the centre of civilization a day or two ago from a highly festive excursion, the honorable member for Richmond positively announces to the House that a particular site, which was not previously discovered by the member for the district, is the most beautiful in the whole world.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said more than that. He said that it was the most beautiful site in the universe, but, subsequently, corrected himself by substituting the words “ in Australia.” Is it riot a singular circumstance that one of the most indefatigable local members that Australia ever had, in the person of Sir. William Lyne, who has an intimate knowledge of that part of Australia - a knowledge which has been derived from association with it as a settler for many years, because he resided within 200 or 300 miles of it - is it net remarkable that when he impressed upon Australia that there were certain eligible Capital sites in his electo rate, this particular site which our friend has described in such magnificent terms, was never once mentioned by him as being good enough for a local pound ? It is a place which, I believe, is very beautiful. If I thought that in the settlement of this question our first consideration should be the beauty of any site, I say, at once, that from all I have heard, I would admit that it is one of the most beautiful spots in Australia. If I thought the matter could be settled in that way, I should be one of the first to say that we should have some further time to enable honorable members to get a more general and a more accurate knowledge of this particular site. But I fancy that the honorable member for Hume, if he ever thought of this site, dismissed it from his mind, because of the view which the late Government had of the main question to be studied in connexion with the selection of a Capital Site. I have before me the terms of the Commission which was issued by the late Government. I think that the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, countersigned the proclamation, but it was within the Department of Home Affairs. The Government issued a commission to a number of skilled gentlemen, who were to report, at considerable expense - I do not say unreasonable expense - upon the different sites which had been mentioned. There were a large number of sites. The proclamation set out in their order the considerations which this Commission of skilled men should have in view. The first place was given to accessibility. I wish to say that I think that the late Government properly and wisely put accessibility at the very head of the requirements. You can get up pleasure trips to beautiful scenery, but when a Capital has to become the centre of the executive business and the legislative business of a business Commonwealth, you have to consider something more than beauty. According to the view of my honorable friend, the member for Richmond, there could have been no doubt whatever as to the wisdom of placing the great Capital of the United States near the Falls of Niagara. You have plenty of water there. They would have had there the most beautiful waterfall then known in the whole world. But if any one happened to visit Niagara, as I did a year or two ago, he would have found that this scene of grandeur, which stands in the very front of the great sights of the world, has settled near it the population of a little village hamlet. Amongst 80,000,000 of highly enterprising wealthy people, prone to every form of enjoyment and luxury, we find this magnificent scene simply settled as a village-hamlet would be settled.
– It is on the border of Canada.
– That brings two great populations within reach of it. But while it is the scene of unrivalled grandeur, as we all admit - one of the wonders of the world - in spite of that, the Americans never thought of putting their capital there ; and the Canadians, when they selected a capital later on, never thought of putting it on the other side of the Falls.
– -There was not a large population in America when the capital was settled.
– But with a population of 80,000,000 to-day, there is a village hamlet close to Niagara. Notwithstanding the enormous growth of this mighty people, with this magnificently beautiful natural attraction close at hand, it is merely an attraction for pleasure-seekers, not for men of business. Men of business - except with reference to the motive power to be derived from these magnificent falls - do not consider them. Men of business do not live on beauty. They do not flock to places of great natural beauty for business purposes. The business world is not carried on by means of picnics to Niagara or by means of excursions to the Blue Mountains. We put the true national idea of this question .upon a ludicrous basis, to my mind, if we forget the obvious necessity for an accessible site, and lose our heads in a rapture about a certain volume of water, and a certain view of distant mountains. So far as a view of a mountain is concerned. I rather think that Dalgety is within view of Kosciusko. But I do want to impress upon honorable members that we are not selecting a place for a picnic, or for a pleasure resort. We must have some regard for the interests of the serious affairs of State, to say nothing of business, and, first of all, for the accessibility of the site with reference to the rest of Australia. We must have some regard for the use which is to be made of the site as the centre of our Government, and’ the centre of our Legislature. We must, as the late Government did, put that question at the very head of the requirements. Mr. Chesterman, in the report which has been furnished - and he is a gentleman whom I take to be a most competent man, and one who had the advantage of personal knowledge of this beautiful ‘district - adds most significantly that the most serious question of accessibility has to be determined. I did not visit Tooma, for various reasons, but in fairness to Tooma, I should have gone if I had not felt that even if it were the most lovely site in the world, it is from other conditions one which we could not accept. One who arrives at that opinion does no injustice to a site in not visiting it. Therefore, I feel that I am doing no injustice to this site, having regard to the grounds of the opinion at which I have arrived. I rule it out absolutely on the point of accessibility. I will admit, if you like, that it is the most beautiful site in the world. But if we wanted merely beauty could we get a grander panorama than we have in the Blue Mountains. There are no grander views in Australia than are to be found there.
– But they are within the 100-miles radius.
– Some parts of the Blue Mountains are, but some parts are not. The range is a very extensive one. But I mention that incidentally. If the Blue Mountains had been outside the 100-miles radius, who would ever have suggested building the Capital there? Probably no one. When the late Government put forward this proclamation,- no doubt they were acting under skilled advice; they had the advantage of that advice. What was the point which they put next in importance? - “ (2) Means of communication.”
That is nothing to my honorable friend. So long as there is a scene of beauty, a trip of two or three days in a coach is not of the slightest consequence. If the weather were wet, that would be inevitable. One of my honorable friends, who is an ardent believer in another site in another part of the State, was impious enough to pray that half-an-inch of rain would fall upon the recent picnic, because the result would be that those honorable members who took part in it could not, in that event, possibly be back in time to take part in the division. I understand that in wet weather this place, which is mountainous - there are a number of spurs in the ranges converging upon it - is one of the most difficult places with reference to means of communication. On the Victorian side it is difficult ; but on the New South Wales side what would it mean? You first go to, I think, Culcairn. Then you travel upon a branch line to Germanton, and then there is about fifty or sixty miles of coaching to be done. Taking the journey from Tumut, it would be fortysix miles; but I am taking it from the existing line to Germanton.
– Fifty-four miles, according to Mr. Chesterman’s report.
– I will, if honorable members prefer that I should do so, take the journey at forty-six miles from Tumut. I have every reason to believe, from what I have been, told, that a railway from Tumut to Tooma would not be by any means a cheap piece of construction. Professional men - a surveyor particularly - have told me so. This gentleman knows the district well.
– The lowest estimate of the surveyors is£9,000 per mile.
– If the Committee chose a site away from the existing railway communications of the State, and near the boundary of New South Wales and Victoria, surely no honorable member would have the audacity to ask New South Wales to spend a million of money in connecting the Federal Capital - erected at the furthest extremity of its territory, on a site which for all practical purposes is much nearer another State - with the local railway system ?
– How does the right honorable member arrive at his estimate of £1,000,000 ?
– I have not visited the district’, but I am informed that the character of the country is such that an enormous expenditure would be necessary to enable the ‘ Capital to be properly approached by railway. I shall say, however, that the necessary railway communication would involve an outlay of£500,000. Would this Committee expect New South Wales to disburse half-a-million of money in constructing a railway to carry honorable members to that out-of-the-way part of the State? Would they have the auda: city to ask New South Wales to do anything of the kind? If any other State were asked to incur such an expenditure, what a howl of execration there would be. Other States are terrified by the proposal to expend money in the establishment of the Capital, although it is a Commonwealth object, yet they apparently expect New South Wales to construct a railway at this enormous expense to carry us a distance of forty or fifty miles.
– To carry “ dead-heads.”
– We are not “dead-heads,” because our railway fares are paid by the Commonwealth. These are considerations, however, to which every honorable member must attach a certain degree of weight. The accessibility of this site from the capitals of the great States is decidedly inferior. I am now dealing ‘with the question of accessibility with absolutely no reference to any one State. I am putting the facts for the States and the representatives of each State. The difficulties are the same in both cases. Could we expect Victoria or New South Wales-they have now to look at their moneypretty closely before they throw it away - to build a railway in the one case running up to the Murray and in the other either along the Murray from Germanton or down from Tumut to the Murray? The building of the two lines would involve the expenditure of£1, 000,000, and could any reasonable man expect the two States to incur such a liability? These are matters which business men have to take into consideration. We do riot wish to make the holding of a seat in the Federal Parliament more difficult for the representative men of Australia than it is. Wherever the Capital may be, the position will be difficult for honorable members of this Legislature. Even- with the Seat of Gove!rnment in a great city like Melbourne honorable members have to suffer inconvenience in attending the Parliament; but what is that inconvenience when compared with that which would be suffered in attending the sittings if the Federal Capital were established at some inaccessible spot? Could we sit gazing on Mount Kosciusko for . three months at a stretch ? It is a lovely spot to visit for a day or two, but even my honorable and enthusiastic friend would die if he had to remain there for three weeks. The rapturous view’s gleaned from picknickers are very entertaining, but we are dealing with a matter of vast business conce’rn, and have to come down from the clouds that dignify Mount Kosciusko and my honorable friend to the prosaic facts with which the Commission was called upon to deal at the instance of the honorable member for Hume. What were the considerations to which the Commissioners were to have regard ? We find that they were to consider the question of climate: I have no doubt that the climate at Tooma is all right, and the same may be said of the climatic conditions of the other sites. But, having regard to the first two points which the Commissioners were to take into consideration, I submit that, if Tooma were the most beautiful spot in the world, it would stand self-condemned because of its inaccessibility. I have no hesitation in saying that I would rather vote for Tumut than Tooma. It would be infinitely better if those who admire beautiful sunsets and magnificent mountain effects were given a weekly excursion to Kosciusko - if they would go there instead of talking about it - and had everything provided ibr them on a sumptuous scale, rather than that the States should have to incur an unnecessary expenditure of a million of money simply to enable those who have to legislate and to do business in the Federal Capital to reach it conveniently.
– I should like to hear whatthe right honorable member would have to say if these natural advantages were associated with the western site.
– No doubt; but, fortunately for myself, although I was once a poet, the poetic would, in that case, gracefully” blend with the practical. Let us consider Lyndhurst from the point of view of accessibility. There is a great State railway running practically from Melbourne to Lyndhurst, and not touching at Sydney. A man may travel from Melbourne to Lyndhurst in two hours less than the time occupied in travelling from Melbourne to Sydney. Men of business and of common sense must take into consideration the fact that a locomotive is running practically into Lyndhurst, and that a man coming from Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, or Victoria, may enter a train at Melbourne and find himself in Lyndhurst next morning, two hours earlier than if he travelled on the main trunk line to Sydney. These are matters which affect the first two heads, or questions, which were submitted for the consideration of the Commission, and my own view is that, having regard to these considerations, Lyndhurst is the best site. Where does beauty come in in this category? There are ten heads, and when we come to the tenth, what do we find ? Picturesqueness. There are about sixty lines under ten heads in the Royal proclamation, and the very point on which my honorable friend is so strong, is dealt with in about the fiftieth line under the tenth heading. A sensible course was adopted in placing the question of beauty so far down in the list. Lovers of natural beauty could, resort to these lovely spots from the Seat pf Government if they were so in clined. If, for example, Tooma were selected, honorable members could have a country residence on the top of Mount Kosciusko, without very great inconvenience, because it is not very far away. I hope the Committee will understand that I am not acting unfairly in refraining from visiting Tooma, because if I went there and saw that it was the loveliest spot on the face of nature, I should have to condemn it, on the ground of want of accessibility and means of communication. I come now to Dalgety and Bombala. They are sites which I prefer to Tumut. I have had the advantage of travelling from Cooma to Dalgety, and my recollection is that a distance of something like thirty miles separates the two towns.
– About thirty-one.
– Judging from my journey by coach to Dalgety, I would say that it is absolutely easy country over which to carry a line.
– The estimate made years ago of the cost of constructing a line to Dalgety was ,£127,000.
– That must be a very liberal estimate.
– It is plenty.
– Dalgety is inconvenient, in the sense that it has no railway ‘ communication ; nevertheless, it is near a railway terminus. Tumut is already the terminus of a railway line.
– The construction of a line from Cooma has already been recommended.
– It has. If we wish to select a site which has no railway communication, we must study the wishes of the State to some extent, provided that we expect it to construct a line for our convenience. We are now talking in this Chamber as if the whole matter rested solely with the Commonwealth ; but when our Government have to deal, as business men, with the Government of New South Wales, a number of business considerations will press upon them, and will lead, no doubt, to some reasonable solution. We cannot expect New South Wales to run an expensive line to nowhere. Consequently, we should have, in the case of Tooma, a coach journey of fifty or sixty miles, which ‘ in “ itself would, I think, make the whole project inadmissible.” If it were likely to be a convenient site in the future we might decide to submit to very serious inconvenience for the next ten or fifty years, because of the future advantages to be gained from its adoption. I am going on the assumption that the enterprise of New South Wales, which is conducted by men who have money to risk and money to make, is more intelligent than the views taken in this matter byhonorable members who have no personal interest at stake.. Where is the hand of destiny pointing, so far as we can judge from the furrows which enterprise, is driving across the face of Australia? Where are those furrows, which will increase in depth and breadth as the years go by, leading? They point in many directions, but none of them point to Tooma. Judging from the descriptions of the place which I have read, it seems to be one of those beauty spots which no one who has his way to make in the world would live in. If it were a wonderfully productive district, I think that, in spite of its lack of railway communication, it would have shown more marked evidence of development than we have any notion of to-day. If the soil of the district were really good, it would have been more closely settled. The finger of destiny points to various trades, but it never points in the direction of Tooma. In studying the interests of the millions who will develop. Australia in the years to come, we should pay regard to their business “convenience more than to their desire for the beautiful. It is not the love of the beautiful which makes a nation great. The beautiful can be bought in pictures, or seen in art galleries, or if one wishes to study it in nature, he can make a holiday trip to some beautiful spot. But when one is thinking of business considerations he studies his convenience, not his love of the beautiful. It is those who study business convenience most who most frequently have opportunities to gaze upon the grandeur of nature. I would put all the sites to that test. Dalgety, Bombala, Tooma, and Tumut are all far removed from the broad tracks of the nation’s progress. But when we speak of Lyndhurst, we speak of a place which, because of its natural wealth, is bound to become one of the great centres of industry. The Lyndhurst district has great mineral wealth, and its soil is very rich. I do not put forward the Lyndhurst site because of its beauty, though it possesses a fair share of beauty. It is a site which is open to some praise on that score. But if we study the by no means hidden springs which control the movements of settlement, and the growth of population in new countries, we must see that Lyndhurst, which, after all, is not so far removed from Melbourne, and is connected with the great system of railways which is really Australian, in spite of the differences of gauge, must become a large and beautiful city, because it is so closely in touch with the industrial life of our people. According, as honorable members lo’ok on the map with the eye of the tourist or with the eye of the business man, they must make their choice of the proposed sites. If we are going to choose our Capital from the sickly tourist point of view, we might go anywhere ; but if we are going to deal with the question as business men, and pay regard to the movements of population on this great continent, we shall leave the arguments derived from the possession of the beautiful to some other occasion, and study practical business convenience. We should remember that the Federal Capital is to be built for the grandest of all business objects. It is not to be constructed as a place of resort for the idle and the rich, as the place to which people are to be taken by guides, to admire the elevation of “our only mountain,” or the tints of our lovely gloaming. Those are pleasures which the poor cannot afford, and which the business man has not time to enjoy, except in his hours of idleness. If we wish to make our great Capital, a mere mooning resort for the idle and the rich, let us choose Tooma as a site. But .if we wish to lay the foundation-stone of a city which will some day or other form part of the great family of Australian centres of industry, instead of a township removed to a distant place like some mysterious object of nature, having no connexion with the national life of the people, we shall choose Lyndhurst. Lyndhurst would not be under the domination of any of the great cities. The locality is situated at a great distance from Sydney, and it is separated from that city by the Blue Mountains. But it is the heart of an industrial rural population. If we wish to choose a Capital which will be connected with the future development of Australia, we shall not try to discover a place which has a beautiful view; we shall rather study the convenience of our people. We shall not choose a place so remote and so difficult of access that only the poorest intellects will bury themselves there. Tooma would be a paradise for mediocrity, but it would be a misfortune for the nation to have the Capital in such a place. We wish the Capital to be the centre of our national life, and of the national power, and the- source of our national legislation. We do not wish to make it a township to which tourist parties will go to spend a dayor two. The facts which I have mentioned in respect to Tooma should “be sufficient to condemn that site in the estimation of business men. I now leave New South Wales out of the question altogether. I thought it my duty , to refer to that State when I was dealing with the method of procedure for selecting a site, but I was defeated in what I then proposed, and I therefore deal with the matter now, not as a representative of New South Wales, but as a member of the Federal Legislature. I invite the attention of honorable members to the form in which the Bill has come to us. As I said last night, we have for three years past been spending money to obtain accurate reports on all the sites eligible for a Federal Capital, and have been setting ourselves, as a body of capable men who expect to be judged by our constituents by the ordinary standard of business capacity, to the task of fixing a site for the Seat of Government, not of choosing a Federal Territory. The Bill introduced two years ago invited us to say that the site of the Capital should be at or near a definite spot, and the measure now before us is declared to be a Bill to determine the Seat of Government. The Constitution points out that -
The Seat of Government….. shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
We know what the term “ Seat of Government “ means as opposed to the territory which is afterwards to be acquired or given. Here we have a Bill to determine the Seat of Government, which is an absolute fraud. It says, in clause 2 -
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 -
I do not know why Pambula has been dug up from the obscurity of our country towns. Has any one ever heard of Pambula before ? The honorable member for Eden-Monaro may not be quite equal to the honorable member for Hume in some respects, being a younger man ; but he. has achieved this triumph over his great rival in these matters, that he has got three towns in his electorate included in this clause - Pambula, Dalgety, and Bombala.
– And Delegate.
– If the map is examined, it will be seen that there are fifty other towns within the specified radius from the town of Pambula. In the clause they cannot even spell its name correctly. It is spelt Panbula, but the correct spelling is Pambula.
– It is a misprint.
– That acquits my honorable friend of having supplied the clause.
– There are not fifty other towns in the area, though it is a large, rich one.
– It is a really beautiful and closely settled district, which contains a number of towns.
– I quite agree with the right honorable member there.
– The clause says -
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.
I know the town well; but is it within the bounds of my honorable friend’s electorate?
– My honorable friend is not in the Senate, yet he has got the Senate to put four towns in his electorate into a Bill for this national object. From Cooma a line is drawn somewhere in the direction of the western setting sun, until it strikes the Victorian border, and thence it returns along that border to the Pacific Ocean. And yet this is called a Bill to determinethe Seat of Government of the Commonwealth ! Are our ideas of building a Capital so extensive that we propose to have a building plan of about 300 miles? I used a strong word, which, perhaps, I ought to withdraw, but it really amounts to something like what I said - to call this a Bill to determine the site of a city. Why, it is a Bill to determine that the Capital city shall not be anywhere else in New South Wales than within a big district’. That is the meaning as well as the effect of the Bill. We can have any spot we like in that big area, but all the rest of the State is excluded, and when that is barred off, then we can at some remote period in the history of Australia address ourselves again to the question of determining the site of the Seat of Government by deciding which of these several towns or localities shall be adopted. Is not that playing the fool in the face of Australia, not only with the people of New South Wales, but with this question? If the Government would straightforwardly ask Parliament to pass a Bill to acquire a territory - although it would be putting the cart before the horse-
– That is what we want them to do.
– But the Constitution most sensibly says - “ First find the point of your’ Capital city, and then get your territory in relation to that point.” That is the logical proper arrangement of the Constitution. Under the plea of determining the site of the Seat of Government, we are deliberately determining a big area out of which we shall carve a territory in which we shall select the site of the Seat of Governrment. That form of dealing with the subject is not worthy of the business capacity of the House. It is creating endless trouble. We desire to have this question, which excites a certain amount of feeling, settled with reasonable speed ; but, under the phraseology of the Bill, we are not doing anything of the kind. I hope that the House will do its duty to the subject by making up its mind about the site of the Capital. Let us do our duty. We admit that we are. here to fix the site of the Capital, not to fix a territory in order to have another fight afterwards over a site. Suppose that we passed the Bill as it has come down from the Senate, would not there be a fight between Dalgety and Bombala? Will the honorable member for Eden-Monaro get up and say that his electorate will be content to rule out one of the sites and take the other?
– Which would my honorable friend rule out?
– I shall tell my right honorable friend when I speak.
– I do not wish to press my honorable friend unfairly. That would simplify the matter very’ much. That, I think, ought to simpify our task in another way. Since the representative of the district is prepared to take that course, surely the Government especially, if it turns out that the House is in favour of one of the towns in this district, will do its part in a businesslike way by proposing that that place shall, be the site of the Capital. We are not bound by the words in the Bill. Let us do our duty ; let us carry out the title of the Bill, and determine the Seat of Government. Let us be done with the sub ject, because we are now simply taking up time over a question which has already caused a great deal of feeling, especially in New South Wales. When it has been settled in the way now proposed, after infinite trouble, we shall have got no further forward than we were, because the whole battle will have to be fought over again. Supposing that clause 2 of the Bill is passed into law. My honorable friend may say, “ I am content to take Bombala and wipe out Dalgety,” or vice versa. But there is not a town in that area which will not begin to clamour to be the Capital site, and it will be entitled to consideration. We may then have eight or ten rival sites in this small area, and we shall have to fight this battle over again.
– Any one of them would do.
– I think that I can fairly agree with my honorable friend there. But, apart from this question of sites, I really think that we, at any rate, ought to do our dutv and finish with this business once and for ‘all.
– We have ihad two speeches which have been principally devoted to a criticism of the site which is said to have been newly discovered on the Upper Murray, and is known in our discussion to-day as Welaregang. From the honorable member for Richmond we had a very glowing description of the beauties of that site, and some very strong reasons why it should be selected by the House; while we have had a denunciation of that site from the right honorable member for East Sydney just as strong as the panegyric uttered by the honorable member for Richmond. I am not sure which speech will best promote the chances of the site, because I think that the highest compliment has been paid to the Upper Murray site by the attention bestowed upon it by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– The honorable member is introducing personal matters into the discussion. Are there not also representatives of the Murray districts?
– There are nine or ten different sites in these districts, but the attack of the right honorable member has been directed solely to the Upper Murray site. Therefore, he must imagine that it is the most dangerous competitor of his special pet, Lyndhurst.
– No doubt there is a good deal in that.
– A good deal of sarcasm has been indulged in at the expense of those honorable members who have taken the trouble to inspect the Upper Murray site. We have had references to picnics and stragglers, and the pulling of corks, and so on.
– And mud.
– In this country I am always glad to see mud. Where there is mud there is money, and where there is no mud there is no money. If there is no mud at Lyndhurst, I should be very sorry to invest even j£i there. All the references, of the right honorable gentleman to the Upper Murray site have been made in ignorance, because he has never seen it, and does not know anything about it.
– Whose fault is that? Why should it have been hidden from sight if it is such a wonderful place?
– It has not been hidden. When the Tumut site was selected on the last occasion that this question was before us, it was adopted only because the area was extended down to the River Murray.
– It was understood that that was clone only with the object of providing a means of access, and that the Capital site itself would be near Tumut.
– It was selected on that account, and if the area had not been extended the Tumut site would Have had no chance of selection. The Upper Murray site was included within the area then selected. I regret very’ much that the honorable member for Moira is not present to-night. He has worked over the Upper Murray country for the last twenty years, and there is no man in this House who is a better judge of country. He says that there is no other site which approaches that upon the Upper Murray. It is comparatively out of the way, and has been somewhat neglected because of the absence of railway communication ; but it is a very fine agricultural district, and the best large stock that comes to the Melbourne markets is sent down from that locality. Mr. Chesterman, who, I understand, is a man of good repute, and has lived for some five or six years in the -Upper Murray country, speaks in high terms of the proposed site.
– He expressly abstains from discussing the question of accessibility.
– The right honorable gentleman has made a good many references to the Upper Murray site as a cemetery. He evidently fears that the chances of the Lyndhurst site will be buried there.
If honorable members desire to give all the sites fair play, they should place them upon the same footing. All the sites, with the exception of that upon the Upper Murray, have been reported upon, and therefore full particulars should be made available to us in regard to the one last suggested. The Tight honorable member for East Sydney made special reference to the question of accessibility. The proposed site on the Upper Murray- is situated only fifty miles from Germanton., and a similar distance from the Tallangatta railway line, and therefore/ it certainly cannot be regarded as inaccessible. We have been told that nothing has been heard of this site previously, but that is not correct because it has been mentioned for the last two or three years. A strong recommendation in its favour is that the land could be acquired at a comparatively small cost- at a much less cost than could the Lyndhurst area. The saving effected in this way would fully recoup the outlay involved in the construction of a line to connect the site with the existing railway systems. The right honorable gentleman said that we should have to deal with New South Wales, and he made that statement almost in the form of a threat, implying that if we did not meet the views of the representatives of- that State, we should not be able to come to any understanding. I shall be quite content to allow the matter to stand at that.
– No doubt.
– If New South Wales thinks that it is going to dictate to the Commonwealth as to where the Capital is to be, it is making a great mistake.
– Or any other State.
– Exactly. Some very flowery language has been indulged in as to where the finger of destiny is pointing. I do not know that it is pointing in the direction of Lyndhurst, of which I had never heard before it was mentioned in connexion with the selection of the Capital Site. If the right honorable member for East Sydney wants to know where the finger of destiny is pointing in Australia, I can tell him that it is directing us to the place where our silver rivers are running. That is the point at which industry, cultivation, and prosperity will reach their highest developments. The Upper -Murray area embraces the spot which the Royal Commission on Water Supply recommended as the site for the great reservoirs which will eventually prove the salvation of this country by keping the Murray running full all the year round. One reservoir at Cumberoona, it is affirmed, will supply 180,000 cubic feet per minute all the year round. A great deal has been said regarding the aesthetic side of this question. I do not despise scenery, but I do not intend to support the selection of a site simply because it possesses that qualification. We should choose it upon business principles - because it contains good land, and is readily accessible. The report of Mr. Chesterman, if carefully considered, will show that this site is equal to any other site which has been mentioned. I trust that in the interests of all Australia the Government will defer a decision upon this matter until a thorough examination has been made of the Welaregang site. At a later stage, I intend to move the adjournment of the debate, with a view to test the feeling of the House upon that question.
– I regret that the right honorable member for East Sydney has left the Chamber, because he devoted most of the time which he has occupied in addressing the House - and he has been talking a great’ deal, in fact -we have had a perfect diarrhoea of words from him - in directing attention to myself. During the debate upon the resolutions he expressed himself in anything but reasonable, fair, or gentlemanly language, and subsequently he made what he intended to be a very severe and determined attack upon the Upper Murray site. Every one, however, must have recognised that he spoke in ‘ absolute ignorance. He has not visited that site, and consequently all his arguments were based upon what he has been told. Every statement that he made was absolutely without foundation. For example, when he declared that it was inaccessible, he did not know what he was talking about’. As a matter of fact the Welaregang site is one of the easiest to reach bv rail.
– If one has a flying machine.
– What nonsense !
– The honorable member is looking out for his political boss at the present time - he is waiting to seize upon anything that I may say. Had the right honorable member for East Sydney taken the trouble to inquire, he would have learned that the New South Wales Government have already had a flying survey of a railway made to within thirty miles of the centre of that site.
– How many flying surveys have been made in New South Wales ?
– The honorable member’s mind has been flying like a kite over Lyndhurst during the past twelve or eighteen months. I am very sorry that he has jockeyed the honorable member for Canobolas out of his rights, because if there be any site in the western district which is worthy of consideration, it is that of Orange.
– The honorable member has a great regard for Orange.
– If the honorable member will speak afterwards it will be a very great convenience to me, because the reporters cannot take down two speeches at the same time. The construction of the railway to Welaregang is completed to Germanton, and flying surveys have been made to within thirty miles of this particular spot. The country is easy, and the cost would not be much. Indeed, it would, perhaps, be the cheapest line that could be constructed to any of the sites.
– The report says that it would cost £600,000.
– I should like the honorable member to visit the site for himself, and to judge of the matter in a practical way. I understand that the line can be built the distance for which it has been surveyed foi about £3,000 or £4,000 per mile, and there are only ‘about four miles of difficult country to traverse afterwards.
– Then the report is unreliable?
– I am expressing the opinion of a surveyor who was there some years ago, and who possesses a knowledge of the district.
– To whom does the honorable member refer ?
– To Mr. Chesterman.
– Is that the SUIveyor who accompanied the honorable member’s party?
– If the honorable member will be quiet, and not conduct himself like a gibbering ape- .
– The honorable member is a good judge of such things.
– Whenever the honorable member is cackling on behalf of his leader he does not do himself justice. Upon another route, if the railway were extended from Gadara Gap, near Tumut, no engineering difficulties would be encountered.
– I thought that the honorable member suggested that the railway should be built from Yass.
– I did nothing of the kind. I am not attacking the site advocated by the honorable member just now-
– I shall attack the site which is favoured by the honorable member.
– Probably, before the debate is finished. I shall have something to say concerning the Bombala site. The length of this second projected railway would be about fortysix miles. When the Murray was crossed, difficult country would have to be covered in order to connect with the line at Tallangatta or Beechworth. If the Victorian Government desire an extension in this direction to the Murray, and thence to Tumut, so as to almost duplicate the line from Sydney, they should ascertain whether it is not possible to get a survey from Beechworth; but T believe the idea is to connect with the North-Eastern railway at Huon Lane.
– The Tallangatta route is very difficult country.
– I know that. I do not wish to minimize the difficulties of constructing that railway. So much for the inaccessibility of this site. When honorable members recollect that within the past three or four weeks I have conducted two parties to the Welaregang site, that upon one occasion we travelled there and back within two days, and upon the other within four days, they will fully realize that it cannot be bad country to traverse.
– After an inch of rain it would bog a duck.
– More than an inch of rain had fallen there recently, and those honorable members who accompanied me upon visits of inspection will be able to gauge the accuracy or otherwise of the honorable member’s assertion. I agree with the honorable member for Echuca that we should select country where there is mud. Country where there is no mud is of no value. So much for the statement of the right honorable member for East
Sydney regarding the inaccessibility of this particular site. Now, as to the class of country which it comprises. There is no spot in Australia - and I think it will be acknowledged that during my life I have travelled over this continent, from north to south, as much as have most men - of the same extent that is so beautiful.
– I have always been a great admirer of the richness of the country and of the scenery round about Tooma. In these respects it is superior to any other site that I have seen. Of course, Kosciusko is the great mountain of Australia, and a great feature in the landscape.
– Does the honorable member prefer it to Tumut?
– I am very fond of Tumut. I think it is a very admirable and beautiful place, and why many honorable members have been induced to discard Tumut is a mystery to me. The upper Murray is more extensive, and Kosciusko gives added grandeur. I do not say that it is positively the best site ; and honorable members are not going to put words into my mouth, with the deliberate intention of using them against me at another time. I will do my duty. I have never been afraid to do it. The right honorable member for East Sydney said, in a glib, off-hand sort of style, that he was going to put on one side all conditions of beauty and of grandeur of scenery, and that he was going down to the bed-rock of business.
– He did not say it as the honorable member is saying it.
– He attempted to say it like that. I want to know whether, so far as business is concerned, the right honorable member is going to treat this question as he has treated others throughout his political life. He is only trying to make believe. He made a glib speech, with a view to unfairly, improperly, and untruthfully-
– I rise to order.
– The honorable member must withdraw the expression “ untruthfully.”
– I should think so.
– Untruthful in this sense - that the right honorable member said-
– The word must be withdrawn, in whatever sense it may have been used. It was applied to an ‘honorable member.
– The right honorable member said that .he had been told this and that, and I say that he had been untruthfully told those things.
– The honorable member must withdraw the expression.. I do not wish to have any qualification.
– I will withdraw it in my own way, and properly.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I have asked the honorable member for Hume to withdraw the expression “ untruthfully.” I ask him to withdraw it without any, qualification.
– I will withdraw it in my own way. This is not the first time that I have been treated in this style by the Chair.
– The honorable member must withdraw the term in a proper manner. As an old Member of Parliament he knows perfectly well-
– And I know what the Chairman’s duty is also.
– The honorable member must not interrupt the Chairman when he is speaking.
– And the Chairman must not sit on me.
– The honorable member knows that there is only one way to withdraw, and that is unconditionally. I will ask him to follow the usual course.
– I am not going to withdraw the word unconditionally, if I am not going to be allowed to state what my meaning was.
– I shall ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression, or I shall be compelled to adopt the course laid down by the Standing Orders.
– You can do so, but I have not used the word as you said 1 used it. . I will not have a meaning placed upon my words which I did not intend to convey.
– I am desirous of giving the honorable member every opportunity, and I again ask him to withdraw the word. He may make any statement which he desires to make in explanation afterwards.
– I am not going to have any words put into my mouth which I did not use. If I had used the word complained of in the sense in which it has been taken, I would withdraw it; but I did not.
– The honorable member is attempting to do something which he knows he cannot do. I ask him again to withdraw the statement which he has made.
– I have no statement to withdraw. What did I say ? I will not withdraw what I did not say.
– Without any condition whatever the. honorable member must withdraw the- expression.
The honorable member for Hume leaving the Chamber,
– The honorable member for Hume must not leave the Chamber. Such conduct is contrary to the Standing Orders. If the honorable member leaves the Chamber he does so at. his own peril.
– Is the honorable member for Hume to be treated differently from any other honorable member?
– I- thought the honorable member for Parramatta desired to assist the Chairman in maintaining order.
– I am not going to be bounced into anything. I did not make the statement which the Chairman has attributed to me.
– I ask the honorable member for. the last time if he will obey the direction of the Chair, and withdraw unconditionally the statement which he has made concerning another honorable member.
– If the right honorable member for East Sydney says–
– There is no “if.”
– I cannot withdraw anything I have not said. I want to know what you think I said.
– The honorable member has accused another honorable member of this House of making untruthful statements.
– I did nothing of the kind. That is the point. What I say is this : If I have said a word which implies that the right honorable member for East Sydney deliberately told an untruth I withdraw it. But that is not what I intended to say.
– The honorable member did not say what he intended.
– I know perfectly well what the honorable member said. He used the words “untruthfully,” “making statements untruthfully.” That is what I wish him to withdraw. If he does not withdraw I have no recourse - and the honorable member knows that as well as I do - but to-
– Yes, I know, and I am prepared to accept the consequences. But the Chairman has asked me to do a thing that I cannot do. I did not accuse the right honorable member for East Sydney of making an untruthful statement. The right honorable member said in his speech that he was making statements that had been told to him, and those statements I said were untruthful.
– Do I understand the honorable member to positively assert that he did not use the words that I have attributed to him?
– Not in the sense in which the Chairman has implied that I applied them to the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– I ask the honorable member now if he positively says that he did not make the statement which I have said that he made?
– Not with the intention of making an accusation-
– I do not refer to the intention. If the honorable member did not make the statement he need not withdraw anything. But if he made the statement he must withdraw it.
– If it is supposed that I applied the statement to the right honorable member for East Sydney, and that I accused him of being deliberately untruthful, I withdraw it. But I did not imply that. I did not intend to do so, and did not do so. What I intended to say, and what I believe I said, was that the right honorable member had made statements based upon statements made to him. I say that’ those statements are untrue.
– The statement which I heard distinctly was that the right honorable member for East Sydney had been making untruthful statements. Those were the words which I heard. If the honorable member did npt utter those words he need not withdraw.
– I have withdrawn them, if they are taken in that way.
– I understand the honorable member has withdrawn the statement.
– I do, if my statement was taken as the Chairman has interpreted it.
– Then the honorable member may proceed.
– What I meant to say was that the statements which the right honorable member for East Sydney had used, upon ‘ the authority of other people, are absolutely untrue, and that he should have ascertained if they were true before he used them in this House, instead of trying to influence honorable members’ minds in a way that was not worthy of him. When he makes statements as to the question of scenery, and as to accessibility, based upon other people’s reports, I say that he makes an unfair attack upon a particular site at the outset of a discussion which is going to last a considerable time. I repeat now what I said the other night, that the reason why I did not submit this particular site on a previous occasion, two or three years ago, was because I felt that it was so far south, and so near the Victorian border, that the Sydney people would object; and I was only induced afterwards to take any action upon it in consequence of the action taken by the honorable member for Grampians. That honorable member was very energetic in securing an extension of the territory named in the Bill dealt with last’ session, so that it would include this site. I have obtained a copy of that measure, and find that it provided that’. the Federal site should be Tumut, but that the Federal territory should extend to the Murray River. That was the first occasion on which this . site was brought under th’e notice of the House. It was again brought forward by the honorable member for Grampians, with the result that the socalled picnics to which the right honorable member has unfairly referred, in terms that are most reprehensible, took place. I should like the right honorable member to put himself to some little inconvenience in order to secure more information relative to this and to other sites ; he certainly ought to do so before he speaks of the visits of inspection as picnics. He is too fond of the comforts of his own home - too fond of his own bed - to undergo the inconvenience of travelling to the various sites in order to secure that information which he really requires. It was not because Tooma is in my electorate that I joined in the request that it should be inspected. It is well known that I was very anxious last session to secure the selection of Tumut, because I believed it to be the best and most beautiful site. Now that I know that some of the other favoured sites - Bombala and Dalgety - are further south than is that advocated by the honorable member for Grampians, the objection which I had to the extension of the territory to the Murray is removed; provided, of course, that those other sites are to be considered. Tooma is more accessible than are some of the sites in the south-eastern district. It possesses one of the best climates in Australia, and comprises land which is, perhaps, unequalled in any part of the Commonwealth. There, also, are to be found the head waters of the only great river in Australia; but apart from the grandeur of the scenery - a consideration which the right honorable member has sought to belittle - there are many reasons why it should prove one of the best sites for the Capital. I did not intend to speak to-night, but, in view of the concentrated attack of the right honorable member for East Sydney, I felt that it was my duty, as the representative of the electorate which contains the site that has been so viciously attacked by him to make some reply at once and let the antidote go forth with the disease.
Motion (bv Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to make some reference to the dispute between1 the honorable member for Riverina and myself, as to whether the Pastoralists’ Associations of Victoria and New South Wales use their funds for political purposes. I was not present when the honorable member referred to the remarks which I made on a former occasion, but I find from Hansard that he said - “ The honorable member for Grampians has questioned my veracity.” That is not correct. I simply questioned the accuracy of the honorable member’s information on the subject. Later on he proceeded to state that, to his own knowledge, a certain course of action had been adopted by the Pastoralists’ Association. He said, according to Hansard -
From my own knowledge of the circumstances which obtain in the Riverina district, I unhesitatingly affirm that during the past twenty years the funds of the Pastoralists’ Association have been very largely used for political purposes. I am assured, on the authority of a very reliable man, who is himself a pastoralist, that at one election in which he was interested, the Association engaged a special train to run from Melbourne for the purpose of conveying voters to the poll with a view to furthering the interests of the candidate who was a member of their body. These facts are within my own knowledge.
It now becomes a question of personal veracity as between the honorable member and the secretaries of these associations. The latter give a distinct contradiction to the statement of the facts which the honorable member said were within his own’ knowledge. Before Hansard was available, I wrote to the Secretary of the Pastoralists’ Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina, and the purport of that letter may be gathered from the reply, which was as follows : -
I have to thank you for your letter of 14th inst., referring to Mr. Chanter’s rejoinder in the House.
I can only reiterate that the statement that the Pastoralists’ Association funds have at any time been used for political purposes is absolutely without foundation. The train Mr. Chanter refers to is, I presume, a special between Moama and Melbourne which used to be chartered by certain pastoralists. This had nothing to do with the Pastoralists’ Association, and the cost of the train did not come out of the Association’s funds.
I enclose a further reply from the Secretary of the Pastoralists’ Union of New South Wales.
I understand from the secretary that the trains in question were run about the year 1890 or 1 891. It was in the boom time, when men were, perhaps, not so particular in regard to the expenditure of money as they now are, and the pastoralists ran these trains at their own personal expense. The honorable member also took some ‘exception to the reply which I received from the Secretary of the New South Wales Pastoralists’ Union, setting forth that -
Chanter’s statement that the Pastoralists’ Association has a fund for political purposes, and makes special levies for political purposes, is absolutely without foundation so far as Pastoralists’ Union of New South Wales is concerned.
The honorable member went on to say -
I notice that the author of this telegram is very careful not to affirm that the Pastoralists’ Association does not use its funds for political purposes.
I have a letter from the Secretary of that Association, in reply to a communication from the Secretary of the Pastoralists’ Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina, and it reads as follows : -
In reply to your letter of the 15th inst. calling attention to Mr. Chanter’s statement -in the House of Representatives that a special train was chartered by the Pastoralists’ Union to bring voters to the poll, I desire to say that the statement is absolutely false. I shall be glad if you will take steps to give it an unqualified contradiction.
In regard to my . former contradiction of Mr. Chanter’s assertion that this Union had a special fund for political purposes, I notice he insinuated that as it was only the existence of a special fund that was denied, we might be using ordinary funds for such purpose. . My contradiction only referred to a “ special “ fund, because that was what Mr. Chanter charged against us, but ‘ I now wish to say most emphatically that no funds whatever of this Union have at any time been applied to political purposes.
– The honorable member has just read a letter from some one who is not a member of the House, in the course of which it is stated that something which was said, in the House was false. I think that aueh a statement should not have been read. As honorable members are not allowed to characterize the remarks of their fellow-members as untrue, surely similar statements by outsiders should not be read here. I ask honorable members to in future omit from their quotations any expressions which are disorderly in that they are such as honorable members could not themselves use.’
– I regret very much that I have transgressed, but- my view was that the honorable member was not charged with want of veracity, -and that it was merely stated that what he had said was not accurate. He further proceeded to challenge me to produce the books of the association ; hut before one can be expected to do that, some definite charge should be preferred. If any definite charge is made, I am sure that it will be met, even if the production of the books is necessary. It will be remembered that this matter was dealt with when we were discussing whether organizations. having political objects should he allowed to register under the Arbitration Bill. I was satisfied at the time that the honorable member’s assertions were mistaken,’ and I thought it not right to allow his statements in regard to the Pastoralists’ Associations to pass without an answer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040727_reps_2_20/>.