2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the trouble which has been caused, and the comments which have been made, in regard to the privileges given to members in the way of stamps, free telegrams, and travelling expenses,, will the Prime Minister next session abolish these concessions, and raise the salaries of members to £600 a year, leaving each member to meet his own requirements?
– The approaching recess will give me an opportunity to fully consider the matter.
-I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if he has yet fixed an Enumeration Day in connexion with the redistribution of electorates, and if he has noticed that the population statistics for the past quarter, just published in the newspapers, fully justify the action of the late Government in connexion with the alteration of the representation of the States, which has been so much animadverted upon. If the fixing of an Enumeration Day is too long delayed, one of the States may lose yet another representative.
– The11th December was gazetted as Enumeration Day. I have not had time to make a close examination of the figures to which the honorable member refers.
– Will the Prime Minister, for the benefit of those who are now grappling with the white death, obtain through the Imperial authorities a supply of Professor Behring’s consumption remedy and apportion it among the Boards of Health of the six States of Australia ?
– Health matters are still under the control of the authorities of the States, but if it is convenient to them for the Commonwealth to act for them in this matter, we shall be happy to do so.
COMMUNICATION WITH KING ISLAND.
– I wish to know if the Postmaster-General has yet seen Captain Walker with a view to the establishment of communication by means of wireless telegraphy between King Island and Burnie, Tasmania?
– I have been unable to see him yet, because of the long sittings of Parliament, but I hope to have an interview with him in the course of the next few days, when the matter will receive full consideration-.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers: -
Memorandum by the Agents-General on the subject of immigration (dated 10th November).
Report of the joint House Committee on the Refreshment Rooms.
Report on British New Guinea, for year ended 30th June, 1905.
Ordered to be printed.
Copy of the contract entered into with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., for various mail services.
PUBLIC SERVICE ADMINISTRATION.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Do the Government intend to give effect to the following resolutions adopted by the Senate, vis. : -
Abolition of the grading system under £150 per annum, and each officer to reach, that amount by increments?
Better allowances to officers in remote districts ?
Substitution of a Stipendiary Police Magistrate or a Judge as Chairman of Appeal Boards, instead of the Inspector ?
– The matter has been referred to the Public Service, Commissioner for his consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
SEALING OF MAIL-BAGS.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the adoption of a more effective and economical mode of sealing mailbags, he will state-
How many mail-bags are tied up with twine and despatched annually by each State?
How many mail-bags of all kinds are de spatched annually by each State? 3 (a) What number of bags are received at the General Post Office in each State from its own suburban and country postoffices?
How many of that number are tied up with twine?
How much per lb. is the contract for twine ? 5. (a) Do all the stamp distributing officers of each State despatch their stamps, &c, in small leather bags?
Hew many bags are annually despatched by each State?
What is the total number of bags in use?
– The necessary information will be obtained, and answers; furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will grant exemption certificates for pilotage to Australian-born officers of the Mercantile Marine and thus assist them to obtain positions in the shipping companies trading with Australia ?
– The Commonwealth has no control over or regulation of the issue of exemption certificates. Such matters are at present entirely regulated by State law.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) : -
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “Black labour” includes all forms of coloured labour whether half-caste or of full blood. “ White-grown cane or beet “ means sugarcane or beet produced on a white plantation and in the production of which white labour only has been employed after the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and seven, or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture or (in respect of the cane crop which will be cut in the year1906) from the commencement of this Act to the delivery of the cane crop for manufacture. “ White plantation “ means a plantation particularized in a notice of intention to claim bounty whether given in pursuance of the regulations in force under this Act or the Sugar Bounty Act 1903.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “Black,” line 3, insert “ Coloured “ ; after “ employed,” line 9, insert “ (a) ” ; after “ or,” line 11, insert “ (b) “ ; leave out “ (in respect of the cane crop which will be cut in the year 1906) from the commencement of this Act to the delivery of the cane crop for manufacture “ insert “ (c) in the case of cane cut in the year One thousand nine hundred and six after the expiration of one month after the commencement of this Act.”
Clause 3 -
After the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and seven, there shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of white-grown cane or beet within the Commonwealth a bounty, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such cane or beet delivered for manufacture after that date and before the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and twelve.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ twelve,” line 10, insert “thirteen.”
Clause 5 (Bounty not payable in certain cases) -
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ black,” insert “coloured” (consequential).
Clause 6 -
The rates of bounty payable under this Act shall be as follow : -
In the case of sugar-cane - six shillings per ton calculated on cane giving ten per centum of sugar, to be increased or decreased proportionately according to any variation from this standard ; and
In the case of beet - sixty shillings per ton on the sugar-giving contents of the beet.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ the,” line 10, insert “ actual “ ; add to clause, “ Provided that the rates payable on all such cane or beet delivered during the years 191 1 and 1912 shall be respectively two-thirds and one-third of the aforesaid rates.”
Clause 8a -
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause 8 insert the following new clause : - 8a. Every grower of white-grown sugar who claims the bounty payable under this Act, shall, in making such claim, certify to the Minister the rate of wages paid to any. labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family. If the Minister finds that such rate of wages is below the standard rate paid in the district in which the sugar is grown, to similar white labour engaged in that industry; then the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The most important amendment made by the Senate in this Bill is one which provides that the full amount of bounty shall be paid for four years, that in the fifth year the amount shall be reduced by onethird, and in the sixth year by two-thirds, so that at the end of seven years from now it will cease entirely. I regret that the change has been made. No doubt it will fail to give the satisfaction which would have been given by the original arrangement, and will necessitate an alteration in the Excise law when the reduction begins to take effect, because otherwise the white growers will be unfairly handicapped.
– Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. The full amount of bounty will continue to be paid for the next five years.
– Does the Minister think that the bounty should be paid for all time?
– That is a question to be dealt with in thefuture. We cannot tell how things will have altered at the end of the next five years. There may have been a re-adjustment of our finances, which will create quite new conditions. If we were not so near the end of the session, the Government would ask the Committee to take action more in consonance with their views, but as we wish’ to deal with the matter this session, and to get away before Christmas, we are compelled to reluctantly ask’ honorable members to accept the amendments of the Senate. To my mind, further action will have to be taken in this matter at the end of the next five years. The desire of honorable senators seems to be to intimate to the sugar growers that the bounty will terminate seven years from now ; but I feel that further action will be forced on the Government of the day at the end of the next five years.
– Has not the Senate made an amendment providing for the payment of a minimum wage?
– The wages paid in a district.
– It is out of place in this Bill.
– Perhaps that provision would be better elsewhere, but I do not wish to delay matters by asking the House to reject it.
– I regret the action of the Senate, chiefly because I think it premature to say when the distinction now drawn beween. the Excise paid on sugar produced by coloured labour and that paid on sugar produced by white labour, should be abolished. I am afraid that when it is abolished, there will be an inducement for coloured persons in all other parts of Australia to gravitate to
Queensland, where they will make one large settlement, instead of being distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and in that way may constitute a grave social evil. I think that would be most unfortunate. For that reason, I regret very much the action of the Senate. I think that the wholematter might be considered with much, greater advantage when the Braddon sectionexpires. We should then be free to impose a much higher Excise duty than is now levied. That would go a long way towards removing the financial difficulties with which we are at present faced, and discouraging the employment of coloured labour in the industry. I think that the Government might indicate the course they intend to take with regard to the Sugar Excise Bill now before the Senate. Manifestly, if there is to be a sliding scale in respect of the bounty, there must also be at sliding scale in respect of the Excise duty. We should not lose our grip on thisBill until we know what is going to be done with the Excise duty. The two Bills are interdependent, and it is important that we should not impose an Excise duty of £4 per ton, after the full bounty has ceased to operate. No other industry in the community is subject to any such impost, excepting, of course, the beer and tobacco industries, which, however, do not stand upon the same footing as sugar growing. I should never agree to an Excise duty upon sugar, and Idoubt whether I should agree to such a large import duty, but forthe necessity of doing something to encourage the employment of white labour. We are entitled to know what attitude the Government intend to take with regard to the sugar excise before we allow this Bill todisappear from the business-paper.
– -The Government have already taken action with a view to adjust the relations between the two Bills.
– That is only proper.
– The honorable member means that the Excise duty should be adjusted after the sliding scale begins tooperate.
– The original proposition, made by the right honorable member for Adelaide when he was Minister of Trade and Customs was that the Excise and the rebate, as it was then termed - now the bounty - should be coterminous. Now the Senate has brought into operation ; a sliding scale, which will begin to operate at the end of four years.
– The honorable member means that there should be a sliding Excise to correspond with a sliding (bounty.
– Yes, and that the Excuse duty should disappear at the end of the bounty period, leaving the whole matter for reconsideration by Parliament at that stage.
– I do mot agree with the honorable member for Bland as far as the Sugar Excise Bill is concerned. He seems to think that the Excise is a burden on the sugar industry, tout I would point out that the increased value given to the sugar by the import duty, is compensated for only in part by the imposition of an Excise duty. The Excise duty is required to be paid by the producer only after he has received the benefit of an increased price to the extent 101 £6 per ton, owing to the operation of the import duties. Of the Excise duty, we return to the grower ,-£2’. as a matter of grace, to encourage him to employ white labour. I believe that instead of reducing the Excise duty, we should increase it, and so take back from the sugar-grower the full amount that he receives from the general public through the operation of the import duty. If we adopted that course, we should not be compelled to ask the farmers and others - who have enough to do to earn a living - to pay additional taxes, in order to assist the sugar planters. I am in favour of the sliding scale, and I think that we should intimate to the sugar-growers that after a certain time they must do without any bounty.. The representatives of Queensland tell us that white men can grow sugar there. If their contention be correct, it. should not “be necessary to tax the whole of the people of the Commonwealth for the benefit of those engaged in the industry. If white men cannot work on the sugar plantations, it is absurd to spend large sums of public money in order to encourage their employment. The sugar-grower has no more
Tight to the bounty than has the wheatgrower.
– There is no excise duty on wheat.
– No. But if the farmers derived an advantage of is. per bushel through the operation of import duties, they should pay an excise duty of an equivalent amount.
– The Minister has told us that the. principle of the sliding scale had been adopted in the Senate, and that the amendment now before us had resulted, as if it were a novel proposal. It is scarcely fair to this Chamber to forget that a large number of honorable members, including myself, advocated the sliding scale in this Chamber on freetrade principles, and that when the Committee divided, the Government had a majority of only two votes. The honorable member for Bland expressed the opinion that it was premature to introduce the sliding scale. I quite agree with him that it is premature to bring it into operation at the present time; but I do not share his opinion that it is premature to announce to the sugar growers of Australia as soon as possible that they are not to look for the permanent establishment of the artificial protection which the bounty gives. I suppose that some of the strongest advocates of protection look forward to the time when artificial assistance to industries will be withdrawn, and they will be able to stand alone.
– That can happen only when we have a little Heaven below.
– Victoria has been trying for 39 years to reach the millennium, and seems to be further off it than ever. Although I recognise the right of the Queensland sugar planters to claim the principle of “general average” over the whole of the people of Australia, by way of compensation for the disabilities, which have been imposed upon them by the White Australia policy, I am glad that the Senate has recognised the danger of creating the impression that the bounty is to be permanent. Although the other Chamber has extended the time during which the bonus shall be given, and has made the declivity, from the present state of affairs to nothing, more abrupt than we proposed, the principle it has adopted is a sound one; as the, sugar growers will now have notice that this Parliament will not be a party to according artificial support to their industry in perpetuity. Another amendment has been made by the Senate, and I should like to have an explanation from the Minister as to its practical effect. I have not seen the amendment, but I understand that it is intended to impose upon those planters who participate in the bounty the obligation to pay a minimum wage.
– It is proposed that they shall pay the wages current for the same class of labour in the district.
– That provision may have a most important bearing upon tha employment of white labour on the plantations. A- number of circumstantial statements have been made with regard to the great disparity of the wages paid in Queensland. Some men receive as high as 35s. per week and their keep, whilst others are paid only 12s. 6d. per week with keep -and, it is alleged, very bad keep at that, However, sufficient for the day is the session thereof, and during the next five years we shall have ample time to reconsider this question, if developments make it seem necessary.
– I deeply regret that the Senate has seen fit to insert this amendment. I understand that if Parliament is not prepared to accept it nothing can be done during the present session. To my mind, it is all important that the Bill should be passed before we prorogue. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has scarcely put the position accurately. I would point out to him that no bounty is really paid to the white growers of sugar. They merely receive a rebate upon the contribution which they make to the Treasury. If we were to abolish both the excise and the bounty the Commonwealth and the States would receive less revenue than they do now. In my opinion this matter can be better discussed at a later period, because it is absolutely necessary, in the interests of the sugargrowers of Queensland and New South Wales, that the Bill should be passed this session. One point that I want honorable members to recollect is that under this legislation the whitesugar-growers will be required to Fay £,4 per ton Excise, and out of that they will be refunded a sum of ^3 per ton to enable them to differentiate between the cost of employing white as against coloured labour. The Bill does not raise the question of free-trade versus protection. It represents an endeavour to settle the northern parts of Australia with an agricultural people, who, when once established there, will not only prove good citizens, but will provide an efficient defence of that portion of this great country.
– As far as they go, I approve of the amendments of the Senate. To my mind, the other Chamber has minimized the evils of a very bad Bill. It has extended the period during which the bounty shall be operative from 1907 to 191 1. During that term, even upon the calculations of the present year, this ‘ legislation will involve the Commonwealth in an actual expenditure of ^600,000, in addition to taxation to the extent of ^900,000, not one penny of which will find its way into the Treasury. This sum of money is to be paid to insure that some of the richest lands in Australia shall be kept under cultivation. To achieve the desired results, this taxation must be levied upon the poorer lands, and thus we are called upon to sanction the extraordinary anomaly of the occupants, of the poorer lands contributing to the support of those who are in. possession of the richest lands. In the first place, we gave the sugargrowers a protection of £6 per ton. Then Parliament, in its need for revenue, declared that it would take back ^4 per ton by way of Excise.
– The need for revenue was never advanced as a reason for our action.
– It was advanced in the first Parliament. Then we agreed to return a further sum of per ton to planters who employed white labour exclusively. That money could not be returned by way of rebate, and, consequently, it was refunded by way of bounty. The system which has been followed has been most injurious to Australia, because it has been absolutely forgotten that sugar is the raw material of hundreds of industries throughput the Commonwealth.
– We cannot deal with the matter this session.
– I am quite aware of that. In conclusion I should like to refer to one extraordinary statement which was made bv the Minister of Trade and Customs. He said that we cannot foresee what will take place in connexion with, the sugar industry, and, therefore, we ought to legislate as soon as possible. A more extraordinary reason for introducing uncertain legislation I have never heard. I predict that the difficulties created by this legislation will be made manifest to everybody during the next two or three years.
– I need not refer to the wild statements of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. His assertions are usually of an exaggerated nature.
– He has misstated what I said.
– I do not think that a fair view of this question has been taken by Parliament. When it was being discussed only a few days ago I said that I was in favour of adopting a sliding scale under which the bounty would automatically vanish ; but that, in view of the conditions surrounding the industry the term for which it was proposed to extend the bounty was altogether too short. Had the measure passed provided for a period of five years, and had the other Chamber adopted a sliding scale extending over eight years - a sliding scale under which the bounty would diminish at, say,12½ per cent. per annum -I should have been quite willing to accept it, because I believe that finality must be reached sooner or later.
– It will be quite open to us to graduate the bounty when the time comes.
– That is so, but I would be willing to have it done now. I hope that later on a more reasonable view of the situation will be taken. I do not know whether the Government intend to accept the amendment without making any alterations in theSugar Excise Bill.
– The Government is attempting to make an alteration.
– Does the honorable member think that a majority of sugargrowers are in favour of the adoption of ‘a sliding scale?
– I think that they are. No more reasonable set of men can be found in the country than are the sugar-growers. They recognise that this bounty cannot be continued indefinitely, and are, I think, prepared to accept a moderate compromise. The northern.’ sugar-grower labours under a very severe handicap indeed. He is much more unfavorably situated than are the growers of New South Wales and Southern Queensland. Although he is able, by entering into contracts with the InterState shipping companies, to secure the carriage of his product to market at a reasonable price, it must be recollected that the commodities which go north are very severely handicapped by high freights.
– In New South Wales the industry would have progressed without the aid of a bonus.
– Because the conditions which obtain there are much more favorable. Honorable members are doubtless aware that on the Australian coast there is a shipping combine whose terms are very rigid indeed. In this connexion I may observe that on the north coast of Queensland there is a small steamer owned by a private individual, which carries goods from the creeks and rivers along the coast for transhipment south, and the shipping companies even refuse to handle the produce carried by that vessel. Before concluding my remarks, I would point out that the honorable member for Parkes made a slight error when he declared that in one division, which took place in this House upon the Bill under consideration, there was a majority of only two. May I remind him that that division was upon an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Coolgardie, in favour of the substitution of the word “ ten “ for “ twelve.” The actual majority against the application of a sliding scale to the bounty was six. The honorable and learned member implied that it was a freetrade victory, when, as a matter of fact, no less than seven protectionists voted with the free-traders. I trust that before the measure is finally passed, the Committee will come to some arrangement with regard to the Excise upon sugar.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - I do not know what the other Chamber is likely to do in regard to the Excise Bill. I feel, however, that the proper course for us to take is to make the Excise fit in with the amendment which has been made in the measure under consideration. Otherwise, during the last two years the bounty is operative, the white growers will be placed at a disadvantage of £1 and £2 per ton respectively. That was not’ the intention of the House. Though we may not now be able to adjust the matter in the way that we desire we shall have ample time to do so before the termination of 1913- I trust that whatever Government may be in power will take action with regard to any law which places white men at a disadvantage. I feel very strongly that it is not right to allow the Excise to remain at its full rate until 191 3, while at the same time reducing the bounty during the last two years. The adoption of that course means to some extent departing from legislation which has been already passed with regard to the question of white labour, since it will place upon the employment of that class of labour an impost which ought not to exist. I am satisfied that as soon as the effect of this is seen Parliament will refuse to allow it to continue.
– It will be a very good argument for the introduction of another Bill next session.
– Every argument the honorable gentleman has used has been against the passing of this.
– No. If time permitted, the discussion upon this question would be very much longer thanitis likely to be, but in any event I wish my position and that of the Government to be made abundantly clear - that, in view of the fact that we have reached the closing hours of the session, we are practically forced to agree to the amendment, but that it is with very great reluctance that we ask the Committee to accept it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 18th December (vide page 7310), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I must admit that it is difficult at this stage of the session to stir up enthusiasm on the part of honorable members with respect to matters of even the gravest importance. In my view, the selection of a site for the Capital at as early a date as practicable is one of the most important matters before the Parliament. It is all very well for critics who have paid but passing attention to the whole proposition to deride the proposal as one to set up a capital in the bush. But it does appeal to me that in respect to a Federation much more than to any unified form of Government, it is essential, as far as possible to minimize those jealousies and provincial feelings which must necessarily exist between large cities by establishing the Capital on neutral territory as soon as that can be done. The suggestion has frequently been put forward that either Sydney or Melbourne should be selected as the Federal Capital; but if the Parliament were sitting in Sydney we should probably find in a very few years exactly the same state of feeling existingin Melbourne with respect to Federal legislation as that which now prevails in Sydney. Apart from parochial jealousies, there must necessarily be much difference of opinion as to the desirableness or otherwise of Federal legislation, and it is most unfortunate that that legitimate difference of opinion has beenaccentuated by the fact that we are legislating in one particular large centre of the Commonwealth. The feeling undoubtedly existstoday in Sydney that our decisions are in some measure coloured and influenced by the fact that we are surrounded by the largest aggregation of population in Victoria. In view of all this, I think that we should come to a determination of this question as early as possible. To establish the Capital in a country district where we could obtain: land at its true value would mean an actual economy. I admit that the question of expense should not be a first consideration in relation to the establishment of the home of the national Parliament and the administrative offices of the Commonwealth ; but, incidentally, it must be gratifying to the taxpayer if he can be convinced that in addition to the advantage of entering neutral territory we should be able to make an actual saving of expenditure by the selection of a suitable site in a rural district. Even if Sydney, Melbourne, or some other large centre of population, were made the Capital, we should have to erect large buildings; and the cost of the resumption of an adequate area for the administrative offices that would be required for the central staffs of the Commonwealth Departments - Departments which although comparatively small to-day must grow with every passing year - would be almost as great as would be the cost of erecting the Government buildings on an entirely new site.
– It would amount to more.
– Probably it would, and we should still have to pay practically as much for our new buildings as we should have to do in the new capital. It is ridiculous to assume that we can effect any material economy in the cost of our buildings by establishing the Capital in Melbourne or Sydney, as compared with Dalgety, Lake George, Lyndhurst, or any of the other sites which so far have been suggested. In each case we should have to expend practically the same amount, whilst the immense difference in the cost of land in the country, as compared with that of the land in one of our large cities,, is a strong argument against the selection of either
Sydney or Melbourne or any other large centre of population. Whether the system of leasing or re-selling be resorted to in respect of the Federal territory - and,, personally, I favour the system of granting leases for a long period, in order to secure the unearned increment to the people of Australia - a large profit must accrue to the Commonwealth by the selection of a site away from the present aggregations of population. In the course of a comparatively few years, a material increase in the value of the land would undoubtedly occur. Whether we adopt the leasing system or that of resale, the Commonwealth would materially benefit by that increase, and the revenue obtained in this way would go far to recoup the capital expenditure that may prove to be necessary. I have been induced to refer briefly to the importance of the question generally, in order to lead up to a review of the present situation. I, for one, regret the attitude assumed by the Government of New South Wales, and more particularly by Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of that State. I think, with others who have spoken, that the more we can keep the discussion of this matter free from personalities and bitterness, the more likely it is that we shall arrive at a conclusion in the interests of the whole of the people. Although we may differ as to the desirableness or otherwise of a particular site - although there may be some difference of opinion as to whether the most expeditious course in this relation has al,ways been followed - it does not seem to me that there is room for more than a courteous interchange of opinion, and of negotiations, as between the Commonwealth and New South Wales - the State directly concerned. The most remarkable feature of Mr. Carruthers’ attitude is that it is only a comparatively short time since that gentleman was advocating the selection of the Monaro district. He said that, from his stand-point, it was one of the most suitable districts for the Federal Capital that could be chosen. And yet, to-day, we find him putting forward the selection of a site in that district as one of the gravest objection from the stand-point of loyal New South Welshmen. In ray view the Federal Parliament has an absolute and unimpaired right to select the site of the Capital for Australia. That power rests absolutely without limitation in the hands of this Parliament Indeed, it seems to me that by reason of his recent attitude in respect of this question, Mr. Carruthers has practically admitted that contention. At first he said that the decision must rest with the Parliament of New South’ Wales, and he was anxious that some act should be performed by the Commonwealth Government which would give him an opportunity to test the matter in the High Court. But as the correspondence between himself and the Federal Government proceeded, he suddenly discovered that an act that would definitely fix the intentions of the Federal Parliament was precisely the last thing he desired, since it would give him only recourse to the High’ Court, and would leave no room for further negotiation. In objecting to such a measure being passed’, he practically admitted that this Parliament had the power, under the Constitution, to definitely fix upon the site of the Capital, and, in’ default of the requisite area being granted by New South Wales, that the Constitution gives power to us to acquire it. Practically speaking, Mr. Carruthers, in his later attitude, has admitted that view of the position.
– It would be right in the teeth of the opinion of his own AttorneyGeneral.
– I think that the honorable and learned member will see that if Mr. Carruthers had thought that he had a fair chance of contesting, before the High’ Court, the power of this Parliament to acquire land for the Federal Capital, he would not have objected as he did to our passing a measure, to take the place of the tentative Act passed last year, to definitely fix the boundaries of the land that we desire for this purpose. I think that in objecting to what might be termed permanent legislation, he gave away his case as to the power of the Federal Government. However, whilst I hold that view very strongly, the position is altogether different when it is proposed! that we should take the fullest advantage of this power, without having first exhausted all the possibilities of friendly negotiation. The people of New South Wales had a right to assume that their wishes would receive some attention at our hands. I must admit that I saw, only recently, the terms of the memorandum agreed upon at the Conference of Premiers in 1899. When I found that Mr. Carruthers, in a speech made in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales the week before last, referred to the understanding arrived at by the Premiers that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance from Sydney, I was somewhat surprised. I admit, of course, that any one taking an interest in public affairs, might have been expected’ to see the terms of that agreement after the closing of the conference. But in the fight for the adoption of the Constitution Bill in New South’ Wales, I took very little interest in the Capital question, because, as compared with the need for providing constitutional safeguards for the free expression of the people’s will, I looked upon it as a matter of minor importance. That being so, I did not pay to this question the attention which some other honorable members did. I am surprised that the leader of the Opposition failed until a day or two ago to strongly emphasize the fact that such an understanding had been arrived at. If the understanding between the Premiers had been more emphasized in the early stages of the Capital Site controversy, it would have had a very great influence upon a large number of the Members of both Houses of this Parliament. Although that understanding cannot be strictly held to bind more than the parties to it, it will be recognised by most honorable members that the people of New South Wales were encouraged by the statements of the first Prime Minister and others to believe that it would be carried out. I believe that a majority inthis Parliament would be very glad to reasonably honour it.
– The understanding bound those whom the Premiers represented.
– It is very doubtful whether the Premiers could bind any one except themselves, seeing that they were acting without express authority from their Parliaments or their peoples.
– I think that their decision bound their States, because no protest was. made against it.
– No protest was made against it, and I think that the members of this Parliament are disposed to honour the agreement. I regret that more prominence has not been given to it during the many debates which we have had on the subject of the Capital Site. The settlement of this question is of importance, not only to New South Wales, but to Australia, and fair consideration should be given to every representation on the subject before any final decision is arrived at, because the site selected should be within a reasonable distance of the chief port in New South Wales, and should comply with all the conditions necessary to make a city healthy and attractive in the eyes, not only of the people of Australia, but of visitors from abroad. New South Wales must be prepared to agree to, and the Commonwealth must insist upon getting, a site which will maintain a large population in health and comfort.
– The honorable member is speaking more strongly on the question now than he did two months ago. He used to sneer at it then.
– I have never sneered at it, though I have sneered at those who were using it as a stalking-horse, with a view to securing quite other ends.
– Who were they?
– The honorable member is one of them.
– That is a disgraceful thing for the honorable member to say.
– I was not particularly anxious to pass criticism on the actions of honorable members, but they cannot blame me if I reply to their interjections. I have not varied in my attitude on this question.
– The settlement of the Capital Site question is to us what the union label is to members of the Labour Party. We are as earnest in regard to it as they were in regard to the union label.
– The right honorable member and his party have no exclusive rights in the Capital Site question. Many others wish to have the matter settled inthe interests of Australia.
– The honorable member is going straight now, and that is all I care about.
– In my view, the Premier of New South Wales took a wrong step twelve months ago, when, instead of seeking to open up negotiations with the Government of the Commonwealth, he asked his Parliament to agree to a number of resolutions submitting certain sites for selection. It seems to me that he did not then approach the question in the right spirit, because the views of this Parliament are entitled to as much courtesy as are thoseof the Parliament of New South Wales. and we were contemptuously treated by theomission from the list of available sites; of that which we had deliberately chosen..
In his last action the honorable gentleman was still more unfortunate. He took advantage of the closing hours of the session to push through certain resolutions reflecting on this Parliament, using the gag to prevent the minority from expressing its opinion on the subject, and complaining of a number of matters, in respect to which he alleged that New South Wales had been unfairly treated. I do not wish to refer to those matters, but I say that there is no justification for the suggestion that the Members of this Parliament have acted dishonestly towards New South Wales in regard to the settlement of the Capital Site question. I believe that every honorable member has dealt with it honestly and disinterestedly, and that there has been no exhibition of mala fides towards New South Wales. .
– There has been indifference.
– Perhaps so. I know that a number of honorable members think that either Sydney or Melbourne should be selected, and we must respect the honest views of those who differ from us, however important the question may be, I deprecate the insinuation so ‘frequently made in New South Wales, and repeated by the Premier of the State, that a number of honorable members here are deliberately trying to prevent the settlement of the Capital Site question. Such an assumption is notl calculated to assist in bringing about an early settlement of the matter. If it can be shown that some more suitable site than Dalgety can be found, this Parliament should be prepared, even so late in the day as now, to retrace its steps. Dalgetv was quite out of the running in the balloting of 1902. Practicallv no one favoured the selection of that site then.
– Bombala was in the running then.
– Was not Dalgety includedin the Bombala territory?
– Not in the view of the members of this House. There is a great difference between a site at Lord’s Hill - about three miles out of Bombala - and a site at Buckley’s Crossing, on the Snowy River, nearly forty miles away.
– The Commissioner included Dalgety in the Bombala territory.
– That was subsequently. Not only was Dalgety out of the running in the first ballot, but there has never been anything approaching a majority in this House in favour of the selection of that site. At the best, not more than one-third of the members favoured Dalgety.
– Not one voted for it in the first instance.
– No; but even on the last occasion, when Bombala had dropped out of the running, not more than one-third of the House were honestly in its favour. The combination between the followers of the right honorable member for East Sydney and of the Postmaster-General was sufficient to secure the selection of Dalgety.
– That was designed to prevent the selection of Tooma.
– I am perfectly aware of that. I do not think, however, that there was any need for fear in that direction. As one of those who voted in. favour of Tumut, I was strongly opposed to the selection of Tooma on account of its position, and not because of its unsuitability in other respects. Dalgety had not at any time, and it has not now, a majority of honorable members in its favour. That being so, it seems rather a pity that we should refuse to retrace our steps.
– What site does the honorable member favour?
– I shall tell the Minister in a minute. In my view, Dalgety is not a suitable site for a city. Although it has a good water supply-
– Yes, it has, but it has no other qualification. It is practically inaccessible, unless at enormous expense.
– To an enemy.
– Or even to a friend.
– It is a. magnificent site for a hvdropathic establishment.
– Possibly as a place where people would stay through the summer, and from which they would disappear in the winter. It is an exposed, bleak, ugly place that has not one attractive feature with the exception of the Snowy River.
An Honorable Member. - And the rainbow trout.
– Yes, and I hope to catch a few of those trout in a week or two. The fact that the river will yieldgood trout does not afford any indication that the district is a good one for settlement. Mount Kosciusko is a fine place for tourists, but one would hardly plant a city on the top of it. The Postmaster-General asked me which site I favoured. His question must have been, as Josh Billings would say, “ meant sarcastic,” because he knows that when he first spoke to me in favour of the Lake George site, about five years ago, I quite agreed withhim as to its desirability. I have never wavered in that opinion. I then had a plastic mind, and the honorable member’s commendations of Lake George so impressed themselves on my memory that they have never faded.
– Thatis all so much nonsense, and the honorable knows it.
– That kind of bluff will not avail the Minister now. I remember a speech of his delivered at Braidwood, in which he told the people that he was in favour of Lake George.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The Minister afterwards favoured Bombala ; but Lake George was his first, if not his only love.
– Canthe honorable member explain how it is that he has voted for three different sites, but never for Lake George?
– My votes will bear the closest scrutiny. - Honorable members know that I took up a considerable amount of their time in endeavouring to persuade them that Lake George was a suitable site. I had plans prepared by the Department of Home Affairs, and designs drawn and circulated amongst honorable members. I may remark:, incidentally, that it is a curious thing in politics that if one does not happen to possess an ulterior motive, he need not worry about it, because the press will always find something of the kind for him. Notwithstanding the fact that I had been advocating Lake George for years, the press representatives - some of whom were fully aware of the fact I have mentioned- suddenly discovered that the only reason I was speaking in (favour of it was that I intended to offer myself as a candidate at some remote period for the constituency in which it is situated. It is tooearly to speculate upon that point, and I do not think the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is at all worried by the suggestion.
– He will have a bad time if he meets the honorable member there.
– I do not think the honorable and learned member is at all concerned, and the matter is certainly not worrying me. When I found that, after all my efforts, the Lake George site was still out of the running, and that the right honorable member for East Sydney, and his following, had decided to concentrate their votes, I also decided to bring all my influence to bear against sites which I thought were more objectionable than Tumut. I voted for that site at the first ballot, at the second ballot, and right through, until it disappeared. After that, the fight was between Dalgety and Lyndhurst, and I voted for Lyndhurst. As a matter of fact, I paired with the honorable member for Boothby, who was in favour of Dalgety. However, in any case, I was against Dalgety still. Then it became a question of voting for Dalgety, as against Tooma. I voted against the latter site, because, no matter how suitable it might be otherwise, it was too far away from Sydney to be within the running.
– That is a very lame argument. The honorable member should visit Tooma, and he would be convinced.
– I can assure the honorable member that, while eligible sites are to be found within a reasonable distance of Sydney, I am not prepared to support even a better site so near to the Victorian border as is Tooma. I voted against Wellaregang, and my course of procedure throughout was consistent. Whether or not it was the wisest, honorable members must judge for themselves. Now I wish to say a few words about Lake George. In regard to accessibility, it is superior to Dalgety. It is much more easily reached from the south, and from the north,, and, in fact, from any of the States capitals.
– At present.
– And will be in the future. With regard to that aspect of the matter, I may say that I was a member of the Public Works Committee in New South Wales which inquired into the proposed to construct arailway from Cooma to Bombala. Incidentally, we took evidence as to the probability of a line being constructed from Bairnsdale to the New South Wales border. The cost of that line was shown to be so enormous as to render its construction out of the question. It was represented that the most practicable line would have such an enormous number of high grades and short curves that, according to the evidence of the railway officials in New South Wales, a train proceeding from Melbourne to Sydney, via Gippsland, would occupy double the time that is now spent in travelling over the present railway.
– Then Dalgety is not a Victorian site?
– No. I believe that very few Victorian representatives voted for it.
– It is continually being represented that it is favoured by Victorians.
– I pay no attention to that suggestion. From the stand-point of accessibility it is not well situated. It is out of the road, and will remain so for a considerable time. In the matter of cli- mate, I contend thatLake George is superior to Dalgety. Its altitude is almost as great as that of Dalgety, and the situation is sufficiently elevated to insure a salubrious climate in the summer.
– The climate is much hotter than at Dalgety.
– I do not think it is.
– Ihave lived there in the summer time, and did not find it very hot.
– Lake George is 2,206 feet above sea level, and the surrounding country is some hundreds of feet higher. No one can say that country 2,200 feet above the sea level in that latitude has an exceedingly hot climate. The locality possesses the further advantage that in the winter time the climate is not so rigorous, as that of Dalgety. The lowest thermometer reading at Bungendore is 21.5 degrees, while the lowest reading at Bombala, which would be slightly higher thain Dalgety, is 15.3 degrees.
– There is nothing in that.
– I know that the elevation of the site and the thermometer readings are not the real tests,. Dalgety has an exposed situation, and is one of the bleakest of spots in the winter time. Hon orablemembers who havegone through Blayney in the winter time will remember that, notwithstanding the fact that its altitude is, if anything, a little below that of Orange, the climate is very much more severe, owing to the fact that it is situated on the apex of a swelling, elevation, which is exposed to the wind from all quarters. In like manner, Dalgety is exposed to every wind that blows, and the conditions in the winter time must be most severe. Lake George, however, is surrounded by chains of hills, which break the severity of the winter winds, and those who have lived there tell me that the climate is reasonably equable.
– There are not many people living there.
– That is because it is merely a pastoral holding. It is not the fault of the district that it has remained in pastoral occupation. It was granted years ago to one family, which has held it ever since. The late owner, who recently, died, informed me that he was absolutely opposed to its being acquired for the purpose of a capital site, because he needed it as a home station to be worked in conjunction with his Darling River properties. It is at prairie value, and therefore the fact that it has not been improved beyond ringbarking is in its favour. Undoubtedly there is better soil at Lake George than there is at Dalgety. At Dalgety we find decomposed granite, which does not seem to have decomposed long enough to have been converted into soil. In some parts of NewSouth Wales there are granitic soils which are excellent for wheat-growing and for agricultural purposes generally, but certainly that remark does not apply to Dalgety. The soil in its immediate vicinity is one of the poorest of which I know. It is true that twenty or thirty miles distant basaltic soils are to be found-
– And on the river flats.
-The river flats are simply streamed over with rotten granite.
– They tell pretty good stories of their production.
– They are merely stories. No man who is acquainted with agriculture will deny that the soil around Lake George is far superior to that of Dalgety. Of course I do not suggest that the character of the soil should be the only determining factor in the choice of theFederal Capital. Climatic conditions should be considered-
– And proximity to a great trunk railway counts for something.
– Quite so; but, other things being equal, it is certainly better that the land should be of such a quality as would permit of a man making a living upon a small holding. Another point upon which a number of honorable members of both Houses lay much emphasis is the proximity of Dalgety to a port. What they fear in this connexion I cannot quite understand. I do not see any real necessity for a Federal port, because the provisions of the Constitution, in my view, sufficiently protect the Federal territory against any improper attempt on the part of a State to circumscribe or hinder the trade with that territory. Consequently I do not sympathize with the suggestion that a port is a sine qua non in connexion with the permanent Seat of Government. ‘But even if it were! the idea of selecting Dalgety because of its proximity to Eden, and of voting against Lake George, which is much closer to a better port, does not appeal to me. Jervis Bay, which is within sixty miles by a direct line of Lake George, is infinitely superior to Eden as a natural harbor. ‘
– There is no comparison between the two. At Jervis Bay there are 120 square miles of anchorage foi deep shipping.
– Yes. In addition to that it is almost completely landlocked. It would require practically no expenditure to make it a first-class harbor. As a matter of fact, the vessels of the Australian Squadron, some of which draw 28 feet of water, visit Jervis Bay for practice, and experience no difficulty in manoeuvring all over it. Further, it would require a much longer line of railway to connect Dalgety with Eden than it would to connect Lake George with Jervis Bay. I frankly admit that Dalgety is superior to Lake George from the point of view of its water supply. The Snowy River is, in one respect,, the greatest river in Australia. It is the only large stream which is always flowing. But that, in itself, is not sufficient to warrant us in selecting that site, provided that a reasonable water supply can be obtained elsewhere. If it were not possible to get a supply at Lake George, which would be sufficient for all ordinary purposes, and at the same time to maintain the Lake at a reasonable level, I should not be prepared to support the choice of that site. It would be ridiculous to establish the Seat of Government alongside a mud flat, even if it were only a mud flat once in a hundred years. But I am assured bv engineers, who have made surveys, and who have gone into details - I refer to such men as Captain Gipps and the engineers of the Water Conservation Department of New South Wales - that not only are there no engineering difficulties in the way of turning the waters of the Molonglo, and, if necessary, the Queanbeyan Rivers into Lake George, but that the cost of such an operation would be comparatively small.
– What about riparian rights ‘in connexion with the Queanbeyan River ?
– It would only be necessary to take a sma 1 proportion of the waters of that river. It is a big stream, and the waters of the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan Rivers could be turned into Lake George by making a very short cutting.
– That would mean a goodsized area for the watershed.
– Yes, Lake George is situated in elevated country - some of it is more than 5,000 feet above the sea level. It is steep, and has a good rainfall and a quick “ run off.” Consequently -we could conserve a much greater proportion of the rainfall there than we could upon flat country where the “ run off “ is slight. I admit that in considering this matter, it is wise to look carefully into the question of a water supply. But I have it upon the authority of men who have made a study of it that an ample water supply could easily be secured in the Lake George district. I would remind honorable members that this is not the” first occasion that the question of filling Lake George has received attention. Years ago, when the honorable member for Hume was Minister in New South Wales, a proposal was made to turn the waters of the Murrumbidgee into that lake, and1 to use it as a vast reservoir in connexion with an irrigation scheme to S u p p 1 V the country for too miles or so towards Young.
– That would raise wry difficult questions in regard to riparian rights as between the State and the Commonwealth.
– The scheme was subsequently abandoned, but the proposal had the effect of securing a thorough survey of the whole district. Thus the feasibility of diverting the waters of various streams into Lake George was established. That conservation scheme has been superseded bv the proposal to construct a dam over the Mumimbidgee at Barrenjack. The Barrenjack reservoir, which is only about forty miles distant from Lake George, could supply all the electric power that would be required for running trams, &c, in the Federal Capital if it were established at Lake George.
– But the country around Barrenjack belongs to the State of New South Wales.
– Yes. At the same time, we must assume that the State Government - even if they have no love for the Commonwealth - will be business men. If they can find an outlet for a power that would otherwise run to waste, surely they will be glad to take advantage of it. The fall of the water of ‘Barrenjack would be of very little value from the stand-point of irrigation, but in the matter of the. generation of electricity it has immense possibilities.
– Does the honorable member know the elevation of Barrenjack above Lake George?
– It is not above, but below it.
– The power itself would have to be transmitted about fifty miles.
– In a direct line the distance would not be as far as that, but even if it were, that would be a matter of very small moment. In the United States at the present time, power is being transmitted a distance of 120 miles according to some documents that I saw only a short time ago.
– It is being transmitted 208 miles.
– If the honorable member had made this speech earlier there would have been no necessity for its delivery now.
– I made a lot of short speeches to honorable members, which did not sufficiently influence them outside of the lobbies.
– How much is the Barrenjack River below Lake George?
– I do not know:
– Is it appreciably lower?
– Yes. I do not suggest that we should insert finally in this Bill the words “ Lake George.” I would prefer to declare that the Seat of Government shall be “in the neighbourhood of Lake George,” because I am assured that there are in that locality quite a number of eligible sites. For instance, there is Lake Bathurst, which has never been known to be dry, and which, I am informed, is a magnificent sheet of water. It is only about ten miles distant from Lake George. Then we also have the Yass site, within a very short distance, and I think that in that elevated country, with its network of creeks and other advantages,, there must be almost innumerable sites suitable for the establishment of the Capital. I admit that I should prefer the selection of a site having a water frontage, if we could obtain one secure against any falling off of the water supply. ‘ There is a charm associated with such a situation that would induce me to sacrifice some other considerations in order to obtain it.
– Tooma would satisfy the honorable member in that regard.
– That may be ; but for other reasons I am not in favour of Tooma.
– If the word “Dalgety” be struck out of the Bill, I am afraid that the word “ Tooma “ will take its place.
– I do not think there need be much fear as to that. I omitted to mention that the selection of a site at Lake George would be in the direction of economy, since it would be unnecessary to spend a farthing upon railway construction. If at a later stage it were desired to bring it into more direct touch with the southern portion of Australia, a connecting line between Lake George and the Southern Railway could be constructed at small cost, the distance to be covered being only twenty-five miles. But so far as our immediate wants were concerned, we should not have to spend one penny to enable the Capital to be reached by rail. I wish only to say, in conclusion, that I favour the view put forward by the leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for North Sydney - that it is desirable that we should refrain at this stage from arriving at a final decision. It would be most unfortunate if in the present state of feeling between, the Parliament of New South Wales and the Legislature of the Commonwealth we came to an irrevocable decision upon this question. That is the way in which the situation appeals to me. The recent utterances of the Premier of New South Wales have certainly roused a feeling of irritation, bitterness, and resentment among some honorable .members.
– His remarks were not so severe as are some of the statements made from time to time by Melbourne dailies.
– I am prepared to admit that one Melbourne newspaper has taken up a most unjustifiable attitude in regard to the question of the Capital. Still, the very fact that this irritation exists is a substantial reason why we should postpone the final determination of the question until we can approach it in a calmer spirit, and at a time when there will be no feeling of resentment, so faras one of the principal parties are concerned.
– Surely we are calm enough here.
– I do not say that honorable members are excited ; but there is in the Federal Parliament to-day a certain feeling of resentment towards the attitude of the Premier of New South Wales. Some honorable members feel that he has unjustly accused them of political dishonesty.
– He has branded Victorians as being unfriendly to New South Wales.
– The representatives of Victoria, who for the most part voted against the selection of Dalgety, have been branded by him as taking up an unfriendly attitude towards New South Wales. It would be most unfortunate for the Federal Parliament, while this feeling prevails, to come to a decision with regard to this Bill, the passing of which would mean the affirmation of the previous decision of the Legislature. I think that I am speaking for most of the representatives of New South Wales when I express the hope that the Government will see their way to refrain from taking any further step before next session. If that be done, we shall be able to approach the matter in a more reasonable spirit. I think that the interests of Australia are likely to be better served when this bitterness of feeling has died away than they would if we dealt finally with the question at the present time.
Mr.FULLER (Illawarra). - I do not propose to make a lengthy speech upon this question. That determination has been strengthened by the address just delivered by the honorable member for Bland, who has criticised the Dalgety site so severely that, out of consideration for the feelings of the Postmaster-General, I am disposed to refrain from repeating the dose. I regret that this Bill has been introduced in the closing hours of the session, when many honorable members are absent, and when those who are present are anxious to leave for their homes. I agree with what has been said, notonly by the honorable member for Bland, but by the leader of the Opposition, as to what the Bill really means. We must all recognise that the selection of Dalgety as the site of the Federal Capital at no period during the time that the question was under consideration had the support of more than one-third of the members of this House. I deeply regret that at a time when there was a distinct majority of honorable members of thisHouse in favour of the striking out of the word “Dalgety,” with a view to provide for the selection of a site in the vicinity of Lake George, the Premier of New South Wales should have come upon the scene, and have made statements whichhave caused a feeling of resentment amongst a number of honorable members. I may say, in passing, that I am not disposed to vote straight out for the insertion of the Lake George site in the Bill, because those who had an opportunity to take part in the parliamentary tour of inspection know that in that district there are several picturesque sites that would be suitable for the Capital. Therefore, when I speak of Lake George I refer not only to what is known as the Lake George site, but to others in the same locality. There can be no doubt that the recent utterances of the Premier of New South Wales have aroused a feeling of resentment, not only among the members of this House, but also among certain honorable senators, who felt that New South Wales was not being properly treated, and that the carrying out of the original determination of the Parliament would not be in the best interests of Australia. Those honorable senators were honestly prepared to recede from the position originally taken up by them, and it was! most unfortunate that at this juncture the Premier of New South Wales should have made the utterances to which I refer. I feel that if this question is to be properly considered, we must regard it not alone from the stand-point of New South Wales, but from that of the whole Commonwealth, taking care, of course, not to lose sight of the agreement arrived at by the Premiers that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance of Sydney. It would be well if time were given for the feelings of resentment to which I have referred to cool down. My view of the matter is that it might well be deferred until next session, when it would receive the consideration that it ‘deserves. A printed memorandum has been recently circulated, showing the resolutions passed at the Conference of Premiers. I was not aware of the existence of these resolutions when this question was previously under consideration ;, but they serve only to bear out the contention that I have always advanced : that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance of Sydney. That provision was inserted specially! to commend the Constitution Bill to the people of! New South Wales1, and as one who fought against the Bill, I recognise the tremendous influence which that provision had upon the people. Having a desire to show the House the way in which this question was put before the people during the Federal campaign, I have taken the trouble, to turn up the report of a speech delivered by the first Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Edmund Barton, when he was advocating the adoption of the Constitution Bill at a. meeting held in Sydney. This meeting took place on 1st May, 1899, and the right honorable member for East Sydney was among those present. The statement which I am about Ito quote was made by Sir Edmund Barton, not at an excited or noisy gathering, but at a special meeting held in Sydney, to which admission was by. ticket, and at which there were about 300 people present. Sir Edmund, then Mr., Barton said -
He was perfectly satisfied that the Federal Capital would be fixed in such a place that Sydney would be its trading port. They should either not lose any of their trade if the Federal Capital were an insignificant place, or if it-were a good and big and growing place, attracting money and men from all parts of Australia, then Sydney, as its port, would get the benefit of that. Now let the gentlemen answer that, instead of vapouring as they vapoured each day.
– That is pretty strong.
– It is a direct statement of the views of the first Prime Minister of Australia. It serves only to bear out the resolution passed at the Conference of Premiers, that -
In view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers have modified the clause, so that while the Capital cannot be fixed at Sydney or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales, at a reasonable distance from that city.
Sir Edmund Barton was not the only public man in New South Wales who put that position clearly before the people. Mr: Justice O’Connor, who was then strongly supporting the adoption of the Constitution Bill, as well as many other public men, dealt with the matter in the same way. I feel satisfied that when honorable members come to realize the true nature of the compact which was entered into, they will see that it is strictly carried out, in fairness to New South Wales, and in the interests of the Commonwealth. But how can it be said that the selection of Dalgety would be a fulfilment of the compact? One of the reasons advanced for the selection of that site is that, if Dalgety were selected, the Commonwealth would have a port of its own at Twofold Bay. I do not see why the Commonwealth should have a port of its own. But, in any case, Twofold Bay could not be brought within the Federal territory without disregarding the arrangement which induced a large number of persons in New South Wales to vote for the acceptance of the Constitution, which otherwise they would have voted against. I took advantage of the facilities given during the first Parliament to visit all the suggested Capital sites, with the exception of Tooma, which was visited after the others, and, having given careful consideration to the whole matter, felt bound to cast my vote for Lake George, which seemed to me better than any of the other sites, supposing that a good water supply could be guaranteed. Now, as the honorable member for Bland has pointed out, the State Government is making a reservoir at Barrenjack, which will impound more than one-and-a-haIf times as much water) as there is in the great harbor of Port Jackson. That reservoir will furnish an ample supply for all the purposes of the Federal Capital, including electric power. The Prime Minister interjected that the reservoir, being a State property, the Commonwealth Government would have no control over it. But, no doubt, the State Government, composed as it is of business men, would be very glad to enter into a contract’ with the Federal Government to supply what water might be required for the Capital. The Attorney-General, last night, delivered a speech in opposition to the position which most of us take up on this question. It was full of close legal reasoning; but surely such treatment of the subject was not necessary to determine the meaning of the words “within a reasonable distance of the city of Sydney.” Common sense and a knowledge of the English language is all that is necessary for the interpretation of those words. The Attorney-General seems to have persuaded himself, and has attempted to persuade others, that Dalgety fulfils the conditions; but I could not follow his reasoning on the point. I shall not now discuss the merits of the various sites which have been proposed, because they have already been fully discussed, and are well known to all honorable members. The PostmasterGeneral cannot be expected to be keen for the postponement of this measure, but, in the interests of a proper settlement of the question, and recognising the strong dissatisfaction which now exists in New South Wales at the choosing of Dalgety, and the unsuitableness of that site, I hope that the Bill will be allowed to stand over until next session, when the matter can be dealt with properly.
– I, like the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, do not intend to delay the House at any great length in discussing this very important question, because I do not wish to repeat my detailed statements as to the relative merits of the’ sites which were submitted to us last session. I intend to deal with a new matter, which has come to light since I last spoke on the question. As honorable members know, I expressed, very decidedly, my preference for the Tooma site, and I do not go back on what I then said. I believe that, there is no better site in New South Wales, and it is a site which might well be selected by all who are actuated by the spirit of patriotism, and desire the welfare of the whole Commonwealth. But, since the matter was last discussed, the right honorable member for East Sydney and others have placed new facts before us, in the light of which I cannot accept the interpretation placed by the Attorney-General on the arrangement come to by the Premiers of the States. Much as I should like to stand by my original vote, I feel that we are strictly bound by the promise made to the people of New South Wales, and,. for my own part, I intend to do what I can to have it carried into effect, just as if it were a. promise made by myself. I cannot say that I have changed my opinion with any great degree of pleasure as to how I should act on this question ; but I cannot escape doing my duty in regard to it. and the interpretation that has been placedby the right honorable member for East Sydney on the agreement of the Premiers seems to me to be the right one. while the statement which he made last night as to the determination of the Victorian representatives, that the Capital should not be within 200 miles of Sydney, clinches the argument. I feel bound, under these circumstances, to endeavour to obtain strict compliance with the agreement; though I regret that the important facts which have caused me to somewhat alter my attitude were not brought to light earlier. To my mind, the right honorable member for East Sydney has committed a serious offence in hot referring before to the facts which were mentioned last night. He surely will not urge that matters of such moment have escaped his memory, though that is the most favorable interpretation to place on his conduct. The delay in the settlement of the question lies largely at his door, because of the incomprehensible manner in which he has allowed these important facts to remain unknown.
– The honorable member for North Sydney quoted every word of the agreement between the Premiers in the debate on the Capital Site question last year.
– The right honorable gentleman knows, as well as I do, that it is impossible for any honorable member to listen to all the speeches that are delivered here upon any given subject. I did not hear the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, and I rarely have time to read Hansard in order to find out what honorable members have said during my absence. If the right honorable member for East Sydney had made a similar statement, it would have riveted the attention of the House, and we should have long before this realized clearly the position in which we stood1. I have not changed my opinion of Tooma, but I realize that we must honour the bond entered into with New South Wales. Now it appears that some compromise is likely to be arrived at. I am not prepared to vote, at this juncture, in favour of Lake George, because I do not know sufficient about it. I have read the reports which have been compiled withregard to that and’ other sites, but I desire further information.
– When we visited the site, there was no water in the lake.
– That was a most exceptional occurrence.
– The fact mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and others which have come under my notice, make me hesitate to cast a vote in favour of Lake George. Ido not favour Lyndhurst, and, if I found that the feeling of honorable members ran in favour of that site, I should be placed in a very awkward position. I should have to fight against its selection, on the ground of unsuitability, whilst at the s.ame time I should feel compelled’ to respect the terms of the compact. I pay no regard to the arguments of the Premier of New South Wales, who seems to me to have stultified himself by offering to grant a site at Tumut, which is even further , removed from Sydney than is Dalgety. I do not look for guidance to the State Parliament. I regard Mr. Carruthers’ action as merely a piece of political pyrotechnics - a class of exhibition in which that gentleman is an expert. He has engaged in a political manoeuvre with the idea of diverting the attention of the public from more serious matters, and of escaping the censure which might be attached to him, owing to his action in connexion with them. I shall not be guided by the prejudices of the people of New South Wales, nor by the inclinations of honorable members of this House. I shall be influenced by the Constitution and the terms of the arrangement entered into between the Premiers,, and I shall have to withhold my final judgment until more information is available with regard to Lake George. If the selection is postponed until the next session I shall be pleased to visit the proposed site, and to assimilate all the information that can be obtained regarding it. I think the Government should secure from the Government of New South Wales the fullest possible data with regard to water supply, particularly in respect to the possibilities outlined by the honorable member for Bland’, who has indicated that an abundant supply can be derived from two sources, and conveyed into Lake George by means of cuttings or tunnels. We should have authentic information as to the distance over which the water will have to be conveyed, as to the pressure obtainable, and the cost of carrying out a gravitation scheme. I should like to know, further, whether the rivers mentioned by the honorable member for Bland are permanent streams. We mav dispense with many things ; we may deny ourselves the pleasure of gazing upon a beautiful landscape, and submit to many inconveniences, but we cannot do without a thoroughly reliable supply of pure water. The Attorney-General has argued the matter in a very able speech. He applied his logical whip without mercy to the back of the right honorable member for East Sydney. No such castigation has ever before been administered to any honorable member in this House. He exposed the right honorable gentleman’s inconsistency, lack of attention to duty, and want of appreciation of the higher responsibilities of public life. But whilst I admired his speech very much, I cannot agree with his interpretation of the Constitution, and of the arrangement arrived at between the Premiers of the States.
– The honorable member’s law is better than that of the AttorneyGeneral.
– -This is not a matter of law, but one of common sense. When honorable^ and learned members begin to argue matters from a legal stand-point, it is the duty of others to immediately apply, the rules of common sense. Lawyers, do not argue according to the principles of logic or common sense, but seek to exhibit their keenness in, putting forward legal technicalities. The duel between the right honorable member for East Sydney and the AttorneyGeneral was most entertaining, viewed from that stand-point. But I am forced to reject the interpretation of the Minister, and to do what I conceive to be necessary in order to abide by the compact entered into with New South Wales. I shall withhold my decision until I am satisfied that a suitable site can be obtained apart from Dalgety, which does not appeal to me as a desirable home for the Commonwealth Government.’
– The honorable member should read his own glowing description of last session.
– I have not changed my position one jot. I stated that the Snowy River was the main attraction at Dalgety. The water supply possibilities of that site excel those of all others, but when that has been said nothing more can be urged in favour of Dalgety. It may have its charms of landscape, but it has drawbacks in the shape of unfavorable climatic conditions, and otherwise, which place it entirely out of my consideration. I am not committed to any site, but my desire is to locate the Capital in the most suitable place consistent with adherence to the compact entered into with New South Wales. I think that during the recess honorable members should be afforded an opportunity to visit those sites other than Lyndhurst which would be included in an amended compact. If ‘that be done I am satisfied that when we re-assemble next session we shall be able to arrive at a compromise which will be satisfactory alike to the Commonwealth and to New South Wales.
– At this late hour of the session it is not my intention to. refer to the respective merits of the different sites. It appears to me that the time for such references has long since passed. I remind honorable members that we have already had full reports as to the merits of the sites submitted to us by two Royal Commissions - one of which was appointed by the Government of New South Wales and the other by the Commonwealth Government. We have also ‘had the views of experts in regard to all the essentials of a Federal Capital, and in addition, honorable members of both Houses of the Legislature have made various pilgrimages to the different sites. Having obtained all the information that we could collect upon the subject, we dealt exhaustively with the -whole matter. During the first session of the first Parliament the two Houses failed to _ agree upon the question, and consequently it had to be revived in the following session. Upon that occasion both the Senate and this House, by absolute majorities, decided in favour of Dalgety, and it appears to me that unless it can be’ shown that in so doing we committed a grave error of judgment, we should regard the matter of the selection as having, been finally settled. Personally, I am not aware of any fresh information which would justify us in reversing the decision at which we previously arrived. It is true that the Premier of New South Wales, in the exercise of his undoubted right, and I presume of what he deemed to be his duty, ‘has administered a very smart “scolding” - I cannot apply to it any more dignified term - to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Why? Simply because we have selected a site for the Seat of Government which ‘was offered to us by his predecessor in office. It is no reply to my argument to say that the Ministry which made that offer are not now in office. I do not think that anybody will seriously contend that the present Government will always be in office. The actions of any Government should be reasonably binding upon their successors. If in the absence of any better reason than the objections of the Premier df New South Wales we reverse our former decision in regard to this matter, it appears to me that we shall afford the best possible justification for the Castigation that has been administered to us, and that our action will be regarded as an open confession that we are not fit to be intrusted with the important issues committed to our care. So far as 1 can judge, the only matter which it is sought to emphasize upon the present occasion has reference to what is alleged to have been a bond entered into by the Premiers of the various States at the gathering at which it was decided that the seat of Government should be in New South Wales. If the signatories to that bond had attached any special importance to it, it is a remarkable thing that they have never referred to it when speaking upon the subject in this House.
– I cannot understand it.
– I am speaking of the Premiers who were responsible for the insertion in the Constitution of the 100-miles limit. We are now told that there was a bond within a bond. Assuming that the matter is worthy of serious consideration on our part, I would point out that the resolution does not define what is meant by a “ reasonable distance “ of Sydney. Honorable members must recollect that when we speak of a “ reasonable distance “ the term is used in a relative sense.
– Does not the 100-mile limit qualify that view of the matter?
– It merely indicates that the Seat of Government must not be too near the capital of any State. The Constitution itself describes accurately the area within which we are free to select a site. What is that area ? It consists of the whole of New South Wales outside of the 100miles limit. If the Premiers had seriously intended that! that resolution should further circumscribe the area within which we were free to select a Federal Capital, would not the Premiers have embodied that fact in the Constitution? Is it to be seriously contended that there was an implied compact amongst the Premiers which further restricted the area prescribed by the Constitution, within which we are at liberty to make our selection ? Does any one argue that it would have been a proper thing to withhold that information from the people of the Commonwealth1 when they were asked to accept the Constitution ? If when a Constitution had been placed before them, stating in clear language the area within which we were free to select a site, there had been a secret understanding that that area was to be materially reduced, I consider that it would have been little less than a fraud upon them. I cannot believe that any of the Premiers responsible for the insertion of the 100-miles limit in the Constitution would be capable of misleading the people in that way. If there had been any understanding amongst them that the area available for the selection of the Seat of Government should be less than that prescribed by the Constitution, what’ would have been easier than for them to specify in that document, say, that our choice should be limited to an area not less than 100 miles from Sydney, and not more than 200 miles? Under the circumstances, I attach no importance whatever to the resolution which has been referred to. I think it was adopted in its broader sense, to show that” the Capital, being within New South Wale’s territory, would be within “a reasonable distance of Sydney. Another argument urged during this discussion is that the Federal Capital should be so located that the whole of its trade would necessarily pass through Sydney. To my mind, that is a most extraordinary contention. In order to realize its full effect, I would ask honorable members to bear in mind the sacrifices imposed upon the other States by the Constitution. We all know perfectly well that the establishment of a Federal Capital, which includes making provision for a proper water supply, for the construction of railways, and for other requisites, will involve an expenditure Of several million pounds.
– -If it were established on some sites it would.
– Any site that we may select will within a very few years involve us in an expenditure of several millions sterling. In addition to that, we all know that great inconvenience and disability will result from establishing the Seat of Government in a bush capital. Every official connected with1 the Commonwealth, who will be compelled to reside there, must reconcile himself to living in a remote locality, with all its attendant disadvantages. Why are we asked to submit to all these sacrifices? The one and only reason is a desire to prevent any of the existing States capitals securing a monopoly of the benefits accruing from ,the establishment of the Federal city.
– Then Sir Edmund Barton had no right to mislead the people of New South Wales.
– I am not responsible for his statements.
– He never misled the people.
– I think I know sufficient of Sir Edmund Barton to satisfy me that he would not wilfully make a misleading statement. I am endeavouring to deal with this matter from a commonsense stand-point. To contend that the Federal Capital should be so situate that the whole of its trade and all the material advantages accruing from it must necessarily pass through one city is to urge that we should make it impossible to attain that for which we are to spend millions of pounds, and to submit to immense disabilities and inconvenience. ‘ We are to give to one city all the advantages flowing from the establishment of the Capital, so that it will be in the same position as it would be if the Capital were established there. Had we been asked tq arrange for an amendment of the Constitution, which would make it possible to establish the Capital in Sydney, there would be some reason in such a proposal ; but to ask us to give up to Sydney all the advantages accruing from the Federal Capital., and at the same time to submit to the inconvenience and heavy expenditure involved in the establishment of a bush Capital, ostensibly for the express purpose of insuring that no city shall enjoy a monopoly of the advantages of that Capital is to ask us to do something that would be unworthy of this Parliament.
– But New South Wales will find one- third of the cost of establishing the Capital !
– That is not the point at issue.
– But the honorable member will not mention that fact.
– The Commonwealth will find the money, and New South Waleswill have to bear her proportion of the cost.
– Which will be one-third of the total.
– New South Wales is to pay one-Third of the cost, and she asks for all the advantages.
– That was the agreement.’
– I should be prepared’ in matters of detail to make any reasonable concession to the wishes of the people of New South Wales. For instance, I was one of those who believed strongly, and still believe, that the Federal area should be a very considerable one. I strongly supported theproposal that the territory should comprise 900 square miles; but, since that is a matter in respect of which it may be reasonably conceded that New South Wales has a special interest, I should be quite willing to make a fair arrangement with her. The site of the Capital itself should be determined in the interests, not of one State, but of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. It appears to me that if, in deference to a demand from any one State, we abandoned the interests of the whole of the people, we certainly should not prove worthy representatives of those who have sent us here; and, as I hold these views very strongly, it is my intention to support the Bill as introduced by the Government.
– I quite agree with the remark that has just been made by the honorable member for Gippsland, that the question seems to have narrowed itself down to one of Commonwealth versus State. It appears that we have to decide whether one State is to dominate the Commonwealth, or whether as representatives of the different States of the Union, we are prepared to carry out the duties imposed upon us under the Constitution. I think that the honorable member for Gippsland put the position fairly when he said that, if we submitted to the domination of any one State, we should openly confess our inability to discharge the duties intrusted to us. I regret that the stage of the session we have reached precludes the possibility of dealing with this question at that length which its importance warrants, and of giving it that attention which it undoubtedly deserves. I should have liked, had time permitted, to discuss the relative merits of the different sites, especially as some of those who have preceded me have deemed it wise to make comparisons. There is a well-worn saying that when you have no case you should abuse the other side. Evidently that is the course which the Opposition have determined to pursue. Why is it necessary for honorable members to invariably fall back upon the device of denouncing the Monaro district? Why do they make such exaggerated assertions in regard to it ? If they sought to compare the climate, soil, water supply, and accessibility of Dalgety with those of other sites - if they entered upon a comparison of the main essentials to a great Capital - we should be able to disprove their statements by well-ascertained facts. But they content themselves by saying that the winds which sweep across the Monaro district are keener than those experienced anywhere else in New South Wales, and are prepared to make other statements of the same kind that cannot be reduced to the basis of solid fact. These are the tactics which they pursue. The Opposition to-day are in a very curious position. For some time past they have been lobbying, and resorting to all the methods known to old parliamentarians to induce the supporters of the other sites to combine in creating a blank in this Bill, their object being to defeat the selection of Dalgety. . But what do we find? Although the Opposition have gleefully told us during the last week that they have a majority - in fact, some of them have the supreme audacity to say that they have a majority to-day - against the selection of Dalgety, we know that they are not prepared to test the position by proceeding to a division, notwithstanding that every honorable member is either present or accounted for in the pair list.
– We are not afraid.
– The honorable member knows that the most extraordinary tactics have been resorted to by the Opposition. We have had the leader and deputy leader of the Opposition, the late Postmaster-General, and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, frantically whipping with aview to secure the rejection of Dalgety. We have also had the leader of the Labour Party making appeals to his supporters on personal grounds to vote with him ; he has appealed to those who have no strong predilections in this regard to give a vote for the Lake George district. These are the representatives of New South Wales who for the last two or three years have been pretending that they wish this question to be settled, and yet when the opportunity offers itself they are afraid to avail themselves of it. Does not this savour of hypocrisy? What has been the result of the almost superhuman efforts of the leader of the Labour Party, and his supporters on the Opposition benches? I defy any honorable member to say that they have succeeded in inducing one member to change his view.
Although they have pleaded on personal and party grounds for the rejection of Dalgety, the position remains unchanged.
– I think that the honorable member also did a little in the same direction.
– In this battle, I am almost alone, fighting with my back to the wall, facing a very formidable contingent, and surely I am not to be expected to fight with my fists, so to speak, when others are armed with tomahawks ! It is a difficult task for me, unaided, to meet the tactics of the honorable members to whom I have referred. But, after all, it would seem that there was no ground for my anxiety, since no change has been wrought in the views of honorable members. I believe that the honorable members to whom I have referred have been ably assisted by my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, but, notwithstanding his extraordinary threat that he would not speak to certain honorable members if they did not vote with him, not one vote has been shaken. No one accuses the leader of the Labour Party of being influenced byany improper motive, but I find that in one respect he is only second to the Minister of Trade and Customs, who has never been able to make up his mind as to the most suitable site to select. My honorable colleague has voted for every site except that in the Monaro district, and the leader of the Labour Party has also voted for four different sites, and now proposes to drag in a fifth. It has been suggested that I standby the establishment of the Capital in the Monaro district simply because it forms part of my electorate. I repudiate that suggestion. I stand by it because I honestly believe it to be the best site, and those who make the suggestion should not lose sight of the fact that Lake George, under the new boundaries, will probably be included in EdenMonairo; if not, it will form pant of the new electorate, the representation of which will be contestedby the leader of the Labour Party and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. No doubt the. people of that district will be saying, “ Conroy has been representing us for years, and little has been done. Look at what Watson is doing.” I do not wish to impute motives, but if the honorable member for Bland were influenced by such a consideration, his position could be easily understood. The honorable member made an elaborate statement this morning as to the accessibility of Lake George. It is worthy of mention, however, that Dalgety is nearer Sydney than Tumut is.
– It may not be so accessible.
– It may not be at present, as Tumut has railway communication; but with a railway from Cooma, about twenty-five miles, easily constructed, it will rival Tumut, in fact, beat it on the score of accessibility ; besides, there is the magnificent port of Twofold Bav,. which will he brought into touch with the Capital at Dalgety, by railway, and then it will be easily first as far as accessibility is concerned. Another point is that the climatic conditions of Dalgety are more favorable than are those of other suggested sites. When I attempt to put that fact before honorable members, I am met, in some cases, by the suggestion, that the winds which blow over the snow there are colder than those on the other side of the mountain; that the water on the other side is purer, and so forth. Any statement which cannot be met by registered ascertained facts is thought good enough to use against the Monaro site. It is. absurd for the Opposition to contend that the rich Monaro country is poor soil ; and I ask if it be true that the soil of Southern Monaro is inferior to that of other sites, how is it that the Commissioner’s estimate that the cost of resuming land there will be much greater than it would be in the case of other sites, especially whenmany of the other sites are highly improved, while Monaro is almost virgin country, and valued at its prairie value? It is all very well for the leader of the Labour Party to urge that Jervis Bay would be a far more suitableport than is Twofold Bay, but the difficulties in the way of Teaching Jervis Bay fromany southern site are twice as great as are those in the way of connecting Dalgety with Eden.
– The point is that I am familiar with the district, whilst the honorable member for Lang has never been there.
– I have.
– By way of interjection I have inquired from every speaker what site he favours. The only honorable member who hassaid what site he will vote for is the leader of the
Labour Party. Honorable members oppo site have not the courage of their opinions. The deputy leader of the Opposition would not say what site he favours, and apparently the leader of the Opposition is now in favour of Lake George, and, if he cannot secure the selection of that site, will come round again to Dalgety. At any rate, he will not have anything to do with Tooma, while the honorable member for Gwydir spoke enthusiastically of that site. The Minister of Trade and Customs is going for Lake George.
– Who says so?
– Well, what site is the Minister going for? There are all these sites, and every member is accounted for - some of them in a very mysterious way; because there has been some splendid whipping done.
– The honorable member has done some splendid whipping.
– I have not threatened that I would never speak to a member again, as the Minister of Trade and Customs has done, and received the reply, I cannot help it. I must stand by Monaro. “ When he arrived here yesterday, and found that there were forty-one members of this House who could not be moved from their support of Monaro, his previous light and airy demeanour was changed very suddenly. I know what is going to happen. I am not foolish enough to think that we shall come to a division on this question, because honorable members who are opposed to Dalgety are afraid to do so. knowing that the numbers are against them. Consequently the Bill will have to go over until next session, though, if I could have my way, honorable members would have to spend their Christmas here, or come back directly after Christmas, in order to settle the matter. New South Wales has been weeping and wailing for a long time because there has been no settlement, and has had a great deal to say about the selfishness of Victorians, who desire to keep the capital in Melbourne ; but now I am the only representative of that State who wishes to press the question to a division.
– The honorable member thinks that the numbers are with him.
– I know that they are. The leader of the Opposition, when in office last year, told us that l.e would oppose, by every means in his power, the rescinding of the vote arrived at by Parliament. This is what he said in answer to a question asked by me, which the honorable member for Parramatta advised him not to answer -
That is a question of serious importance, which I hope will never have to be considered. I hope that those who have this matter at heart, will rest satisfied that the Government will loyally regard the decision of this Parliament, unless it is rescinded, and, so far as I am concerned, any attempt to rescind it will meet with my strongest opposition.
– He spoke then as Prime Minister.
– Yes ; and as Prime Minister he should be looked upon as a man whose word may be taken, but if he goes back on what he stated then, he cannot be absolutely relied on again. In his memorandum to the Premier of New South Wales, he stated that the decision of this Parliament was final and conclusive; but now he is entering into an intrigue for opening up the matter again, although, like other representatives of New South Wales, he has been protesting that he wants the matter settled, and has been crying out against the wicked Victorians. It seems to me that the policy of the Opposition in this matter is one of win, tie, or wrangle. The Capital must be located where they wish to see it located, or not chosen at all. Time will not permit me to go into the history of this matter, and show how it has been dealt with by conferences, conventions, and meetings of Premiers. The leader of the Opposition is responsible for the I00-mile limitation which exists in the Constitution, and we, in Monaro, owe him our thanks for it, because, without that limitation, Sydney would have been chosen. “ A reasonable distance from Svdney “is a very different thing from “ within a reasonable distance of Sydney.” The New South Wales Government appointed an able man, in the person of the late Mr. Oliver, to exhaustively inquire into and .report upon the sites suitable for a Federal Capital, and. he placed the Monaro site first. Then a Commission of experts, was appointed, and honorable members visited’ the various sites, with the result that this House selected Bombala, and the Senate, Tumut. It is beyond doubt that the Dalgety site was included in the Bombala site, and the plans now on the table show it included within an area marked round by a red line. If it was not intended to offer Dalgety as a site, why did the State Government reserve the land there, which the Premier has since petulantly determined to throw open for settlement again? No doubt, honorable members who are opposed to Dalgety will say that it is the fault of the Government that there has been further delay in this matter; but if they do say so, they will brand themselves as political hypocrites. The Senate is determined to stand by its selection, and nothing will be gained by delay. I do not intend now to deal with the special report on Dalgety, or the method in which that site was -chosen. In my opinion, the Parliament having determined that the Seat of the Federal Government shall be at Dalgety, cannot go back upon its determination. If it could do so once, it could do so as often as it pleased, no matter what expense may be incurred. Under section 125 of the Constitution Act we have determined the Seat of Government. We have filled the blank in the Constitution, and I contend that before we can alter that we should have to amend the Constitution. Of course, I speak only as a layman ; but my opinion is backed up by that of some of the most eminent constitutional lawyers in the country, and, if an attempt were made to go back on the present determination, the point will certainly be tested in the High Court. The Premier of New South Wales, when in Opposition, supported the Monaro site, and wished the Parliament of New South Wales to accept it, but they refused, and passed resolutions offering us certain sites, of which Dalgety was not one. The dispute now has come to be, not about the relative merits of available sites, but one between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. Are the representatives of the other States going to submit to that? New South Wales is fully represented in this Parliament, and expression was given to the views of her people before the Dalgety site was chosen. In the first instance, five out of the six senators representing the State had a good deal to say in favour of the Dalgety site, though I do not propose to quote their remarks. It will be better done by the friends of Monaro in the Senate. The Premier of the State, instead of continuing to support the Monaro site, is opposing it merely in order that he may be on the side of the big battalions. How and when were the resolutions which were recently passed by the State Government concerning the treatment of the State by the Federal Government carried through? First of all, the resolutions were submitted to the House of Assembly at the fag end’ of the session. After a few honorablemembers had spoken in favour of them, and one or two honorable members against them,, the Premier, for some reason or other, applied the “gag,” shut up the leader of the Opposition, and would not allow anything to be said on the other side. As aconsequence, a number of honorable members trooped out of the Chamber, and not half of the total number voted for the resolution.. Mr. Carruthers has the big battalions behind him, and if he considers that he has achieved any victory he is welcometo all the satisfaction that may be derived from the thought. Now I wish to say a word or two as to the circumstances under which the resolutions were submitted to the Legislative Council of New South Wales. At 9.30 o’clock in the evening, the Hon. Dr. Nash asked the leader of the Government in that Chamber whether it was proposed to proceed with any other business, and he was told that only another Bill had tobe considered. After Dr. Nash had left, the resolution to which I have referred was submitted, and was supported mainly by strong anti-Federalists, such as the Hon. Dr. Maclaurin. A number of members had gone away, under the impression that there was practically no more business to be done, and the Government apparently warned only their own supporters to be present. Therefore, the resolution was carried without division. Now, let us inquire as. to the reasons for this treatment on the part of Mr. Carruthers. One can easily understand that he is in earnest, if he believes that thosehonorable members of this Parliament whosupport the Dalgety site are, as he hasdescribed them, escaped lunatics. If that be his opinion, he must have very strong objections to our legislating upon, any subject. Mr. Carruthers also mentioned something about Federal public servants having gold buttons, and States public servantssilver buttons. He remarked further, “ The cup of iniquity is full to overflowing “ - whatever he may mean by that. In effect, he says: “You must give us the Capita* where we want it, or we shall, secede from. the Commonwealth.” The honorable member for Dalley recently told us that unlessNew South Wales was allowed to do as she pleased with regard to the Federal Capital - unless we obeyed the instruction of theState Parliament - the representatives of that State in this House would walk out of the Chamber in a body. We are told that the Dalgety site will not* be granted under any circumstances, and that New South Wales has not yet begun to fight. Mr. Carruthers intends to submit some questions to the electors by means of the referendum. Some of us will have a word or two to say with regard to the answers to be given to those questions. I suggest that we might also be allowed to have a voice in the framing of the questions. We might ask the people what Mr. Carruthers has done to carry out his promises with regard to reform. He has accused us of hustling the State Governor out of his quarters in Sydney, and we might ask the people whether they require a State Governor, or a huge State Parliament, such as they now have. These are among the questions that I would recommend Mr. Carruthers to submit to the people. Mr. Carruthers has accused this Parliament of extravagance, and has attempted to show that it was not fit to select a site for the Capital. In every case, however, his charges of extravagance have recoiled upon himself. Whatever his object may be, he is endeavouring to drag a red herring across the trail, and his satellites here have evidently made up their minds to talk out the Bill. They find that they cannot coerce this House into doing what is required by the Premier of New South Wales. I ask those honorable members who are prepared to do Mr. Carruthers’ bidding - who stand to attention when he lifts his finger, listen to what he says with great respect, and then hasten to carry out his instructions - whether they are prepared to indorse his statements with regard to the High Court? Some time ago, Mr. Carruthers asked us to refer a case to the High Court. He sent his AttorneyGeneral over here, and after the matter had been gone into between him and my honorable colleague the Attorney-General, with a view to paving the way for submitting a case to the High Court, the negotiations fell through, owing to the indisposition of the New South Wales Government’ to pursue them to a conclusion. Now Mr. Carruthers says that the High Court is not to be trusted. He maintains that our Justices are not honorable men. He makes a statement which I am sure that even his unblushing followers in this House are not prepared to indorse.
– Why are they unblushing - are they not capable of blushing?
– The honorable member is now one of them. I hope that, .as a supporter of Mr. Carruthers’, he will play a more noble . part than he has done as a leader on this occasion. It is beneath his dignity as a great party leader to beg of his supporters to back him up in the choice of another site. Notwithstanding his great influence, and the respect ‘and liking which his supporters have for him, they were not moved by his representations. AH his efforts resulted in miserable failure. It is not very pleasant to have to say these things, but this is the time at which it is necessary to speak plainly. We respect the honorable member for his high qualities, but his best friends must recognise that he has made a great blunder. Success will excuse many things, but when a man descends to tactics such as those pursued by the honorable member, and fails miserably, nothing is to be said in his favour. I am sure, however, that notwithstanding the mistakes he has made, he is not prepared to indorse the statements of Mr. Carruthers with regard to the High Court. At this stage, it is necessary for us to ask whether New South Wales really wants to have the Capital Site fixed.
– Mr. Carruthers says “ no.”
– Exactly ; and nearly all the representatives of New South Wales in this House say the same. They are in no hurry. But I would warn them that the gun may be loaded. If it be possible - I maintain that it is not, because we have already determined the matter - to create a blank in the present Act, honorable members who are seeking to secure the selection of Lake George will find themselves left in the lurch. Already many honorable members who are absent, and who have been urged to vote against the measure, have stated specifically by wire that they are in favour of knocking out Dalgety, but that they are not prepared to fill up the blank at present. They want delay, and they are not prepared to make any definite selection. I assure honorable members that if Dalgety is knocked out, the Tooma site will find strong support.
– It is the best site in Australia.
– The honorable member had not a word to say when that site was being condemned by his leader last night. I admit that he has a perfect right to his opinion, but it does not become him to make such an interjection when he was not prepared to defend the site from the attack of the right honorable member for East Sydney. Would the honorable member tell us what site he is ready to vote for?
– There is a time for all things.
– The honorable member is like the Minister of Trade and Customs. He is prepared to see the decision of the matter delayed. Now Mr. Carruthers threatens us with secession. I suppose we shall have Western Australia coming along, and threatening to secede, unless we authorize the construction of the transcontinental railway.
– That would be a good solid reason, too.
– Then South Australia will threaten to secede, unless, we take over the Northern Territory, and relieve that State of its responsibility regarding it. I do not know that Victoria has any special grievance at present; but if we are to be threatened with secession from all points, we shall not know where we are. Many of the States have grievances just as strong as those of New South Wales, and yet they have not addressed to the members of this Parliament insulting observations similar to those used by Mr. Carruthers. This measure is being opposed by the members of the old Freetrade Party in New South Wales. They were once free-traders, but have now hauled down their flag, never to raise it again. They are backed up by a few malcontents like the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the leader of the Labour Party, who are. unable to make up their minds as to the proper site to select. We have had five years of Federation, and the Minister of Trade and Customs and the honorable member for Bland cannot tell us that they have yet made up their minds.
– I have made up my mind to oppose Dalgety.
– I am very pleased that the Minister’s special pleading in favour of Tooma has had no effect. The honorable member for Bland states that there is no special motive prompting his support of Lake George. Does the honorable member belong to the type of man who. if he favoured any particular site, would never be prepared to vote for it? He has recorded three or four votes in supportof other sites, but never once has he voted for Lake George. I do not object to his want of stability in this matter, because I am hopeful that in, time he will again come round to my point of view, and vote for Dalgety. Those who are supporting Dalgety have not been bulldozed by the Sydney press. The Sydney press is the real lion in the path. Some years ago, the Sydney Daily Telegraph was in favour of the Monaro site, and published an article in which it placed Monaro first upon the list. It is well known also that one of the principal owners of the Sydney Morning Herald has publicly expressed his appreciation of the Monaro tableland. Now, however, they are doing their best to inflame the public against that site. I am not here to condemn any of the sites. I am prepared to stand by the decision given by this Parliament after careful consideration of the reports of the experts. I would ask why the Minister of Trade and Customs is not willing to adopt a similar course? The opposition to Dalgety consists of the supporters of five sites. Yet they constitute a minority against the advocates of one site. If it be possible to strike out from the Seat of Government Act the word “Dalgety,” it will be found that a. majority of honorable members are in favour of the. selection of Tooma. It will then be too late for the opponents of Dalgetyto turn round and say that they did not anticipate any such result. Even the leader of the Opposition has informed us that, though he is opposed to Dalgety, he is still more opposed to the Tooma site. I think that the honorable member for Bland went out of his way to abuse Dalgety, but that seems to be all that the opponents of that site can do. I congratulate him and those who have fought so hard against the selection of this Parliament upon the Tesults which have attended their efforts. They may be successful in delaying a settlement of the matter for a little time, but I am satisfied that the number of the supporters of Dalgety will grow. Seeing that a majority of both Houses have chosen that site, I say that the tactics adopted by some honorable members-
– Does the PostmasterGeneral confess to being deficient in tactics ?
– From what I have seen of the honorable member recently., there is no need of the services of a black-tracker when he is engaged in any political movement. I regret that he has vacated the pedestal which he usually occupies. Success would have excused him, but failure never excuses anything. I understand that the representatives of New South Wales intend to talk out or count out this Bill. They are afraid to allow it to go to a division. However, I am confident that the Dalgety site will continue to command a majority. If it cannot, it had no right to be selected. I object to submit to the dictation of the Premier of New South Wales. I protest against members of this Parliament being referred to as “ escaped lunatics-,”1 and also to, threats, that New South Wales will secede from the Union. It is a reflection upon the Commonwealth Legislature that it should allow the people of New South Wales - even during the period covered by the recess - to remain in ignorance of the true facts,, and, possibly, to entertain the impression that we are submitting to dictation. I only wish that a referendum could be taken i:.i that State at the present time. I should like to frame one of the questions which ought to be put to the electors. I have no doubt what the result would be. I have not attempted to dictate to any honorable member as. to how he should vote upon this Bill. My exertions have been confined to undoing the wrongs that have been done by certain honorable members. It is a deplorable fact that, despite all the hypocritical pretence which has been exhibited by the representatives of New South W ales, they alone are responsible for the delay which has occurred in the settlement of ,!this question. I have every hope that they will defeat themselves, and that the Seat of Government will eventually be located at Dalgety. Notwithstanding all the tactics which have been resorted to with a view to defeating its final selection, I am satisfied that it will continue to be the choice of this Parliament.
– The PostmasterGeneral is the representative of the district in which the Seat of Government has been selected, and, from the temperate language which he has, employed, and from his weak defence of that site, I gather that there is not very much to be urged in its, favour. In respect of the action of the Premier of New South Wales, I must say that upon this question he has most accurately gauged the anger of the people of that State. It was only the other day that any honorable member who dared to open his mouth in regard to the Capital Site was openly sneered at, not only by the representatives of Victoria, but by the leader of the Labour Party. As one of the representatives of New South Wales, I wish to recognise the constitutional compact made with that State. The irritation which has been engendered by the delay which has occurred in the settlement of this question is well warranted. For the benefit of honorable members who express astonishment at the statement made by Mr. Carruthers, I quote the following extract from the Age newspaper of 8th October, 1903: -
It is very well that the public can look on and thoroughly understand the squalid meaning of this nefarious game as it is being played by the New South Wales members. The public interests are as nothing. The finances of the Federal States are a bagatelle. Queensland is told that its Federal revenue of next year will be ^100,000 short of this year’s return, Victoria’s share will show a similar falling off, and. Tasmania and South Australia are in a like proportionate plight. In all the States every £1,000 of revenue is of particular value ; and yet at the instance of one miserably jealous and greedy State, intent on feeding its vanity at the expense of all others, this project of launching the Federation into millions of useless outlay is persisted in. If anything could add to the disgust which an average patriot must feel at this senseless and sordid rush into an immature choice of a national capital, it is the spirit of levity which Mr. Reid and Sir William McMillan brought tothe question of procedure yesterday.
Honorable members will note the use of the term “miserably jealous and greedy State.” Upon this question I do not think that the Age represents the opinion of the people of Victoria. I believe that they are just as anxious to see effect given to the compact with New South Wales as are the electors of that State themselves. No honorable member who knows anything of the situation will deny that the people of New South Wales are irritated by the delay in the settlement of this question. It may be said that I am dealing with this matter from the point of view of a provincialist. I have heard of many “ bleeding “ patriots, and have seen many budding statesmen in this House, and I shall not mind being described as a parochialist because I stand up for the interests of New South Wales. It is a remarkable fact that most honorable members are prepared to deal with every question from the standpoint of statesmen, as long as it does not affect their own electorate. When Queens-;
Hand demands the sugar bounty, when Western Australia requires its Transcontinental Railway, when Victoria seeks increased protection, those who bring these matters before the House claim that they are playing the part of patriots, but when the representatives of New South Wales demand that the agreement which was made prior to Federation shall be observed, they are denounced as provincialists. It is just as well that’ I should say the worst that can be said about myself. If because of the attitude I take up on this question I am to be regarded as a member of the “ Cabbagetree mob,” let it be so. If, on the other hand, it be said that I belong to “ the Geebung push,” let it be so. Some of our so-called comic journals would so describe those who fight for the settlement of this question ; but I am not afraid of such opprobrious terms being applied to me. I am fighting for my native State. It is admitted that the Conference of Premiers agreed that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance of Sydney, and I would remind the House that the parties to that agreement are rapidly passing out of the public life of this countrv. To-day we have with us but three of them - the Treasurer, the right honorable member for Balaclava, and the leader of the Opposition. Two other parties to that agreement have passed away from this mundane sphere, whilst the right honorable member for Adelaide, the remaining party to it. is unable just now to take an active part in politics. Two out of the three who are in the House to-day agree that the arrangement arrived at was that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance of Sydney.
– Who said that?
– The Treasurer and the leader of the Opposition have said so.
Mr.Deakin. - No; the Treasurer was contradicting another statement.
– He acquiesced in the statement made by the leader of the Opposition that that was the agreement.
– No; he was contradicting a statement to which the leader of the Opposition was referring.
– He agreed that the words “ a reasonable distance from Sydney “ bore the interpretation that might ordinarily be attached to them and I am told that the right honorable member for Balaclava takes the same view. Everv day we are drifting farther from a proper comprehension of this agreement, and unless this question be speedily settled we shall have new politicians stepping into the arena, and saying that they are not responsible for an agreement made by others. This Bill simply proposes that the Commonwealth shall ask for that which the original Act demands. In the Seat of Government Act we have a clear demand for a certain site and certain territory, but in this Bill we simply propose to ask the Parliament of New South Wales to grant the site and territory. This is the result of the action taken by the New South Wales Legislature, and I think it is an admission that’ the people of that State are entitled to be consulted. The honorable member for Gippsland has a strange conception of what is the meaning of the words “a reasonable distance.” Apparently he would say that’ a site on the Murray was within a reasonable distance of Sydney. The views of some honorable members appear to be determined by those of the Age. The idea of the editor of that journal is that his front window should overlook the Capital ; he seems to think that he must take care that it is close to the editorial window lest it might suddenly pass away. When the proposal that Tooma should be selected was under consideration, the Attorney-General moved an amendment extending the area down to the Murray. That was another source of irritation. My reading of the feeling of the people of that State may be bluntly stated. Others might be disposed to use more diplomatic language, but I say, plainly that the view of the people of that State is such that if an agitation for secession were properly conducted by public men, 2 20, 000 out of300,000 votes would be cast in its favour.
– Why refer to it?
– I wish to justify the attitude taken up by the Parliament of New South Wales in requesting this Legislature to establish the Capital on a site that will be in strict accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. Hitherto when we have demanded that that course should be adopted, we have been like “ children crying in the night,” and, in some cases, we have been subjected to the sneers of certain representatives of New South Wales, who, to-day, are ready to assist us.
– The honorable member himself did not know until a day or two ago what was in the agreement arrived at by the Premiers.
– That is immaterial. The honorable member for Newcastle is going to take up a different attitude, now that he has ascertained the terms of the agreement arrived at by the. Conference of Premiers.
– The honorable member does not know what I shall do.
– It has been pointed out time after time that in the opinion of New South Wales, the Capital should be established as close as possible to the 100-mile limit, and, indeed, I have always said that, provided that a suitable site could be secured, it should be against the 100-mile peg. In view of the speech made by the Attorney-General, can we be surprised’ that Mr. Carruthers should point out to the people of New South Wales that an eni deavour is being made by means of legal quibbles to depart from the true intention of the Constitution? The honorable mem.ber for Gippsland would have us believe that the Commonwealth is going to spend millions of pounds on the Capital, and hand it over as a gift to New South Wales. Th4 point is that New South Wales must find one-third of the total cost of establishing the Capital, and must also make a free grant- of the territory. And vet it is suggested that it is to be a charitable dole tei that State ; that the Capital is to be giver to her. just as a co:n might be given to s pauper. We ask not for charity, but foi the observance of the compact. I should rot be so foolish as to advocate that New South Wales cannot .progress without the Capital. She will not depend upon it for her existence, but she certainly considers that her rights should be observed. When we find Victoria keen in regard to the preservation of her industries, when we find Queensland anxious for the sugar bounty, and Western Australia demanding a special Tariff and the Transcontinental Railway, can we blame New South Wales for standing out for the earl v establishment of the Capital ? Had the representatives of New South Wales combined in the first place, and made a selection, I am sure that this question would have been settled long ago. But the Minister of Trade and Customs naturally fought for the site in his own electorate, whilst the Postmaster- General did the same. I am not wedded to am site, but I am determined that a selection shall be made which will conform ns nearly as possible with the intention of the Constitution. The establishment of the Capital at Dalgety certainly would not do so. I do not intend to play the role of apologist for Mr. Carruthers; he can take care of himself. If he chooses to take advantage of the temper of the people of New South Wales, he may do so ; but it is not my duty to ;say whether or not his action in this regard has been actuated by a desire to advance the interests of his own Ministry. Whatever his reason may have been, his action has undoubtedly led the House “to realize the true position. Had the leader of the Labour Party, two years ago, taken up the position that he has assumed to-day, the matter would have been settled.
– Mr. Carruthers had nothing ‘to do with the attitude that he has now taken up.
– I do not say that he has.
– As a matter of fact, Mr. Carruthers tried to induce the Labour Party to assist him.
– So I have been told. I do not wish to speak disparagingly of the site of which the Postmaster-General approves, but it is within my own knowledge that many honorable members who voted for that site in dealing with this Bill, would have reversed their decision., but for the fact that they feel that if they did so, it would be said that they were marching to the music of Carruthers. That is a blunt way of putting the position, but it is, nevertheless a true statement of the facts. I would put it to honorable members, that if Mr. Carruthers was right, they should support his views, regardless of what the people may say, and that, on the other hand, if they think the position he takes up is wrong, they should oppose it. I believe that Mr. Carruthers is an adept at feeling the pulse of the public opinion of New South Wales. Many of the politicians and newspapers of Victoria assert that there is nothing in this outcry from New South’ Wales. I have pleasure in extending to those who make that statement a cordial invitation to visit the mother State and to settle the question for themselves. I appeal for the settlement of this question according to the intention of the Constitution, in the interests of Australia. New South Wales has made great sacrifices for Federation. For one thing, she has surrendered her fiscal policy, and Victoria has gained free access to her markets for all time. Dalgety is not within a reasonable distance of Sydney, and does not satisfy the people of the State. I am glad that the leader of the
Labour Party has come to see the importance of this, matter, and that the Minister of Trade and Customs is no longer wedded to a site in his electorate, but is ready to admit that the representatives of the State must stand together as one man. When I said the other day that, if there were not an amicable settlement of the question. New South Wales would call upon its delegation to withdraw from this Parliament, I said what I believe to be true. If the Capital Site is not speedily chosen, or if the Capital is located in some outlying portion of the State, there will be a serious movement for secession there, and, if led by a popular man, the number of votes cast for it will astound Australia.
– That is not my opinion.
– We have heard a great deal about the miserable greed, jealousy, and rapacity of New South Wales, and those who have used those phrases in regard to the State grumble because we are apt to speak hotly on this subject. I regret that my vocabulary does not enable me to find still more bitter terms.
Debate (on motion by Sir William Lyne) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with a request.
That the Senate’s request be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s request) :
Clause 2 -
In lieu of the Duty of Excise imposed on sugar by the Excise Tariff 1902, there shall, as from and including the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on sugar the following Duty of Excise : -
Sugar - per cwt. of manufactured sugar - Four shillings which duty shall be charged, collected, and paid to the use of the King for the purposes of the Commonwealth. . . .
Senate’s Request. - Insert after “ Commonwealth,” “until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and thirteen.”
– I move -
That the amendment requested be made, with the modification that the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided further that the duty of excise payable on sugar produced from cane delivered for manufacture in the years 191 1 and 1912 shall be respectively two-thirds and one-third of the aforesaid rate.”
I propose this amendment to bring the Bill into harmony with the Sugar Bonus Bill, which has been amended by the Senate to provide for a sliding scale at the end of four years, after the Bill takes effect. If the course I now propose is not taken, the excess of Excise revenue over bounty in 191 1 will, according to the estimate, be £462,000, and, in 1912, £615,000; while, if the amendment is agreed to, it will be only £195,000, and £82,000. Moreover, the effect ofi carrying the Bill as it stands would be, now that the Sugar Bounty Bill has been amended, to impose a great handicap on white growers in 1911 and 1912; and, by offering an inducement for the employment of black labour, would assist in the destruction of the policy which we have taken so much trouble to foster.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin).The representatives of New South Wales have been preaching secession ; but it would be well for them to profit by the lesson taught to the world in the result of the attempt made by South Carolina, Mississipi, and other southern States, who placed over 1,000,000 men in the field, and submitted their case to the arbitrament of arms, finally having to surrender to the forces of the North. Then, again, when, a few years ago, Nova Scotia attempted to -get out of the Canadian Union, she was snubbed by the British Government ; and New South Wales would be similarly snubbed if she made a similar attempt. That State was not forced or coaxed, or begged to enter the Union ; its people voted for Federation with their eyes and ears open, and now form part of an indissoluble union of States. For honorable members to talk secession is absolute presumption ; indeed, it is more. It is treason. The Premier of the State, instead of being called Joseph Hector Carruthers, ought to be called Jefferson Davis Carruthers, and should be arrested and put into gaol for threatening secession. When the Premiers of the States entered into the arrangement that the Capital should be in New South Wales, it was, in my opinion, purely a ‘bunco-steering brace game, in which only one can win. The Commonwealth wants 900 square miles of territory, and if New South Wales is not willing to cede that area any of the other States will be glad to do so. We are being jockeyed out of our rights by that State, and are allowing a fraud to be committed on posterity, although we are the guardians of its destiny. I care very little for the declaration of secession made by the Premier of New South Wales. Any man who has passed through the United States wars would not be ‘frightened D3’ him. His statements are only so much concentrated wind. It would be better for honorable members to talk conciliation. When a man purchases a property, he cannot go back on his bargain, however dissatisfied he may be with it. I ha.ve often been dissatisfied under such circumstances, but I have had to stand by my 1 contract. Similarly, New South Wales is compelled to stand bv the bargain which she made with the other States, and cannot retire from the Federation. Jeff. Davis, when he was leaving the Federal Capital at Washington, said, “ When I come again, it will be as the sovereign representative of the Southern States.” But the next thing he was doing was trying to escape from Richmond in a. woman’s dress, with the last flag of the Confederacy on his back. When we have done with Jefferson Carruthers, he will, be glad to escape in a woman’s dress, and will find it easier than Jeff. Davis did, because he is a smaller man. About a month ago the honorable member for Bland endeavoured to persuade members of the Labour Party to assist him in bringing about a” settlement of this question. He said that the selection of the Lake George site would not involve any loss to us, that’ it was a suitable location for ‘the Capital, and that there was no special reason why we should adhere to the selection of Dalgety. He urged that we should endeavour to’ satisfy the public of New South Wales. I told him that if there was any prospect of arriving at a satisfactory ‘ arrangement he could count on me. Mr. Jefferson Davis Carruthers knew that the honorable member was endeavouring to arrive at a. satisfactory understanding, and vet he tabled his secession resolutions in the New South Wales Parliament, and endea.voi.ired to raise that body to a position of paramount importance. In view of what has occurred, I would not abandon the Dalgety site. It 3s owing to Mr. Carruthers’ action that the Postmaster-General has been able to declare that he has a majority in favour of adhering to the present selection. Had Mr.
Carruthers abstained from interfering in the matter many honorable members would have supported the honorable member for Bland. Mr. Carruthers cannot frighten democrats with threats, and we are not likely to be overawed by anything that he can do. He can talk as much as he pleases about secession, but New South Wales is in the union, and will have to stay there. I should like to know whether, in the event of our selecting another site. New South Wales would be willing to grant us an area of 900 square miles. If there is any possibility of our requirements *in that respect being disregarded, I shall vote for delaying the settlement of the question until we can amend the Constitution, so that we may be free to select a site in any State that will grant us the necessary area of territory. The Federal Capital should be located somewhere on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. Dalgety would be a splendid site, but if the people of New South Wales are not satisfied with it, we should erect the Capital at Tooma. All the great capitals of the world are situated on rivers. The Murray is the great national river of Australia, and the Snowy River is next to that stream in importance. The. Federal Capital should be situated on one of these two« great water-courses. New South Wales is playing the part of an autocrat, so far as the Federal Capital Site question is concerned, and is entirely disregarding its proper relation to the Commonwealth. Our Constitution has been framed upon the soundest principles, because due regard has been paid to the rights of all the States, and to the liberties of all the individuals within them, and we must not allow it to be in any way outraged. I trust that honorable members who voted for Dalgety will have the courage to adhere to their decision.
– In the first place, this Bill seeks to delimit the area of the Federal Territory, and to render more secure, if that be possible, the selection of Dalgety as the site for the Federal Capital. Therefore, it flies in the face of the most strenuous opposition of New South Wales, first as to the excessive area of the proposed territory, and secondly as to the choice of the site. The Minister of Home Affairs, in introducing the Bill, seemed to rely upon the action of a former Premier of New South Wales, who had refused to take advantage of the- opportunity afforded to him to indicate his choice in regard to the site of the Capital. Secondly, he relied on the fact that Dalgety had been among the sites offered by New South Wales to this Parliament. He admitted that the people of that State were very strongly opposed to Dalgety, and relied on the mistakes which he asserted had been made by the Premiers of New South Wales, as sufficient reason to ignore the present agitation in that State. His advocacy of the Bill savoured strongly of partisanship, as did also that of the Attorney-General, who spoke as an Age leader, apparently because he is not able to speak as a leaderin this Chamber. The Postmaster-General endeavoured to engender a great amount of heat in regard to Dalgety, but he could not induce anything more than an artificial glow with regard to that notorious freezing chamber. He told us that only those who had a bad cause need abuse the other side, and he forthwith proceeded to violently denounce every other site than that within his own electorate. We can all admire the earnest advocacy of the Minister, but we cannot admit that Dalgety would be an acceptable site for the Federal Capital. It does not commend itself to the good judgment of two-thirds of the members in this Chamber. Under these circumstances, we should pay no regard to any mistakes that may have been committed by the State Ministers or by the people of New South Wales, to the aspiration of the Age or its creatures, or to the very natural indignation of the Postmaster-General. It1 is our duty to consider the bond, which we have to honour not only in letter, but in spirit. That bond was entered into under peculiar circumstances, which I do not propose to recapitulate. But for the arrangement embodied therein New South Wales would never have agreed to enter the Federation. Therefore, it behoves us to consider, not only the orovisions of the Constitution, but also the circumstances which led up to their adoption. Honorable members have had before them during the course of this debate the actual resolutions arrived at at the Premiers’ Conference. It was the spirit of those resolutions which induced New South Wales to enter the Federation.
– New South Wales led the Federation.
– New South Wales., as the honorable member knows, did not enter the Federation until those resolutions had been adopted.
– It was the New South Wales Premier who submitted the first motion in favour of Federation at Hobart.
– I am not referring to that matter. The particular resolution to which I am alluding reads -
It is considered that the fixing of the site of the Capital is a question which might well be left for the Parliament to decide; but in view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers have modified the clause so that, while the Capital cannot be fixed in Sydney or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales at a reasonable distance from that city.
The Constitution substitutes for “ at a reasonable distance from that city ‘ ‘ the words “ not less than 100 miles from Sydney.” The resolution declared that the Seat of Government should not be at Sydney or in its neighbourhood. The words of the Constitution clearly express that idea, but explain how near it may be. That is the bond to which we must give effect. What is the position at which we have arrived ? We are now told that “ not less than 100 miles from Sydney “ may mean 300 miles from that city. In the same way we are assured that “ not less than 100 square miles “ of territory may mean 900 square miles. Under such circumstances, is there not considerable reason for the very strong flame of discontent which is burning in the mother State? Some honorable members have made a very great point of the necessity for access to the sea from the Capital. We have been told that if it is located in the centre of New South Wales, that State may unduly influence the Commonwealth by refusing her people access to it. The Attorney-General originally supported the Welaregang site for that reason.
– I would support it now if Dalgety were out of the way.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral agree to put it out of the way?
– I will if the honorable member will agree to the substitution of Welaregang.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral agree to excise the word “ Dalgety “ from the Seat of Government Act, and to allow honorable members to fight for the selection of whatever site they may choose ? At the present time, I would point out, the Commonwealth is absolutely dependent upon the good- will of the States to carry on all its agencies. Our Customs and postal officials would find it absolutely impossible to discharge their ordinary duties if anv State refused to permit them to do sp. Seeing that the agencies of the Commonwealth can be entirely “held up” by any State at the present time, where is the need for all the* talk in which honorable members have indulged in regard to the Federal territory ‘ having access to the sea? The Government have approached this matter as if they were dealing with a hostile Power. The Minister of Home Affairs has asked for a report upon the best means of securing access to the sea from Dalgety, the strip of land to be fifteen miles wide. Surely if what is required is merely legal access, the Commonwealth does not need more than a fifty-foot roadway. In conclusion, I say that it is, our duty to settle this question as quickly as possible, and to settle it in such a way as will secure for New South Wales, a proper recognition of the spirit of the band. In this connexion, honorable members should recollect that they are the trustees of the word of honour of the States’ to the people of New South Wales. That fact should induce us to hesitate before we disregard the attitude taken up by one of the parties, to that compact. All the world over the word of an Englishman is accepted as the hall-mark of honour. I trust that as Britishers we shall endeavour to prevent the word of honour of the States being violated, and that we shall’ give effect to the constitutional compact in a way that will be worthy of the best traditions of the race to which we belong.
– I think that some of the attacks that have been made upon this Parliament by a section of the Sydney press and by certain New South Wales politicians have been entirely without justification. So far as I am concerned, I have never exhibited the slightest disposition to shirk a proper consideration of the Capital site question. When the matter first came up for discussion, I was willing to allow the Constitution to be amended, so as to permit of Sydney being made the Seat of Government. That, however, was not. acceptable to honorable members, and consequently I voted for a site which, in my judgment, is the most accessible one. I hold that accessibility must be regarded as a most important factor in determining the selection of the future Federal Capital. It seemed to me that Lyndhurst was by far the most’ accessible site available, and hence I supported its claims. At the same time, I do think that Lake George is a most suitable locality from the point of view of accessibility, climatic conditions, character of the soil, &c. I intimated that opinion upon the occasion to which I refer, and the honorable member for Darling and myself discussed the wisdom of moving an amendment in that direction. We found, however, that it was then impossible to test the question. Now that the matter has been revived, I intend to give effect to my opinion by voting for the selection of Lake George or some other site in the vicinity. I read with very great pleasure the temperate letter signed by the honorable member for Bland, which appears in the Age this morning, and I listened with exceeding interest to the speech which he delivered today. It seems to me that he has made out an unanswerable case in favour of the selection of Lake George. From a Victorian stand-point. Dalgety is about as inaccessible as is the South Pole. The same remark applies with equal force to Tasmanian and South Australian conveniences. As a matter of fact, it is not readily accessible, even to the representatives of New South Wales. During this debate, a great deal has been said in reference to the need for the site which we select possessing an ample water supply. I do not attach so much importance to that question as do some other honorable members, because I believe that as a rule it is cheaper to take the water supply to a people than it is to take people to a water supply. That is the experience of the world. 1 would further point out that the expense of constructing a railway to Dalgety from Victoria would in itself amount to nearly ,£2,000,000. I shall not detain honorable members any longer, but whenever the question is tested, I shall vote for Lake George or some other site in its vicinity.
– It is with very great reluctance that I take part in this debate, because I am obliged to address myself to the question of the Federal Capital Site under adverse conditions, or else to forfeit any opportunity I may have of uttering some, at all events, of the views which should be expressed in this connexion. I had hoped That the discussion would have proceeded for a sufficient time to enable me to extricate myself from the tangle of obligations which are incidental to the closing days of a session, in order that I might giVe consideration to a few aspects of this question which would enable me to deal with them in the manner in which they ought to be dealt with if they be referred to at all. But as both leisure and
Strength have failed me, I can only offer an apology to honorable members for the limitations within which J. shall be confined when treating a. question in which I have always taken the deepest interest, and upon which, it seems to me there still remains something to ‘be said. The request has been preferred more than once during the debate, that we should no longer revive the past, or delve into its records, but that from this moment we should begin afresh, “look only at the future, and consider the question of the selection Of a Capital Site upon its bare merits. That would be a. most pleasant course to pursue, if it were possible to take it. But, unfortunately, this subject comes before us associated with recent criticisms of our action - criticisms which render it necessary simply for the purposes of “defence that we should point” out that the accusations levelled against us - one and all of them - can be met by a simple citation of the circumstances which have led up to the present a position. I do not propose to detain the House by attempting to tell that oft-told tale, but it is unfortunate, having regard to the short memories of the public, that the hasty and partisan views presented to them obscure the essential details which go to show that the invidious reflections that are cast upon the Commonwealth Parliament and its Government are. not warranted by the plain facts. Indeed, were I to undertake the task, I should require to occupy no inconsiderable time in disposing of the fictitious and unjustifiable charges that are now accepted as fair statements in this case. We are told that in connexion with the choice of the Capital Site there has been deliberate delay. That statement is absolutely unjustifiable. We are warned that there is opposition to the establishment of any Capital, and that charge, again, with some minor exceptions that do not call for notice, is equally unsupported. It is alleged that the representatives of Victoria are responsible for procrastination in determining the question. That is a statement which, if it be true of any individuals., is not true of the great majority of the representatives which Victoria has or ever had in this Parliament. We are also told that the aim has been to retain Melbourne as the Seat of Government. That certainly has not been the object of the great bulk of the representatives of Victoria, although it may have been the aim of individual Victorians outside. Finally, we are assured that the obstacles that have strewn the path to the choice of the Federal Capital Site have been due to hostility to New South Wales. That charge, I repudiate more absolutely, and with more warmth, than any other. I am not conscious of such’ a feeling, either among those who have supported sites that I, myself, have approved, or among those who have opposed them. On the contrary, it appears to me that we have always felt that slander or censure upon the people of New South Wales,, or of any other State, are slanders and censures upon ourselves ; that we are so allied that, just as we claim to share any qualities deemed worthy of honour which they possess, we should resent as a malignant attack upon our own people any such censure as we are supposed to have passed upon the people of New South Wales. Australians are in blood, breeding, manners, habits, traditions., tastes, and aspirations, one people, and it is not possible for us to point the finger of scorn at any section living within the boundaries of any one State, without in the same degree reflecting upon ourselves in common with the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. A simple consideration of the facts will disprove each and every one of the allegations, now so commonly and so lightly made. Had my physical strength and leisure permitted, I should have undertaken to offer to honorable members some of the mass of evidence that goes to support that contention. But my present purpose will be served if I invite honorable members for a few moments to look the facts in the face, putting aside any prepossessions that may exist concerning them ; and endeavouring to view them in something like proper proportion. At present, matters that are perfectly irrelevant have been exalted, and a consideration of the particular question that we have before us to-day has been obscured, I regret to say, by the introduction of a number of points that have no real association with the Capital Site. A detailed reply to these would in itself occupy the whole of the time that I feel warranted in taking up. The Premier of New South Wales, in recently moving certain resolutions, avoided - and this ought to be frankly admitted - personalities of all kinds. He made no attack upon any member of the Federal Parliament, or any individual. Had he excluded’ from his criticism his references to a number of matters affecting our relations with his State, some of them trivial in themselves, but all incompletely stated, or wanting in supplementary information, he would have aroused less feeling, and enabled us to concentrate our attention more closely upon matters that are really serious. These irrelevant allegations - allegations which were intended1 to show some prejudice against New South’ Wales, some willingness to do an injury to that State, or to treat it unfairly - are numerous and of mixed quality. Some of the causes of complaint have admittedly ceased to exist. They have been removed by the Commonwealth without pressure from outside. And yet these relics are added apparently to swell the sum total, as it seems to me, without any just plea that could be urged in defence of such a course. Some others, such as the charges made with reference to the Customs Department, have been answered by authentic documents, and statements. Others, again, are due to misapprehensions. I do not for one moment suggest that the Premier of New South Wales has wilfully misstated the facts. But in the story which he tells, even of so simple a matter as. the case at law between the Commonwealth and the State, with reference to State imports being dutiable, he conveyed -an entirely erroneous impression.
– That would apply to all the States.
– The principle does; but his statement of the circumstances connected with the case, which we did not pursue - because, in the meantime, the High Court had been established, and we held that it was the tribunal which should finally determine that question if it thought fit - is, unintentionally, no doubt, of a misleading character. The papers from which I have refreshed my memory, serve to show that this is so. If time permitted, and if it were necessary, at this juncture, to deal with the complaints made against the administration of different Departments in relation to the Government of New South Wales, I have no doubt that I could satisfy not only this House, which may be considered biased, but also the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales itself, that they were due either to misconception or misconstruction, or that they form part of regulations that have to be dealt with by us upon a Federal basis and on Federal principles. Where that course has to be followed, it may at a particular time appear to bear more harshly upon one State than upon another. In a great continent like Australia, with its communities reared, so to speak, under different, policies, and subjected, therefore, in different degrees to the influences of the legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth, that is inevitable. No task would be easier, although it’ is one in which I do not desire to engage, than topresent a complete refutation of the incidental, accidental, and unjustifiable charges that have been associated with the main question embodied in the measurenow under consideration. For obvious reasons, I have to brush these aside, with hardly a word of explanation. I am perfectly willing, either this session, if it be possible, or next session, to lay upon> the table of the House particulars in regard to every one of the matters alluded to that will, I venture to say, disclosein no single instance a trace of bias against New South Wales. I am surethat those particulars would not indicateon the part of- the Commonwealth a different manner of dealing with that great State than has been adopted by us in regard to every other State of the Union. At times we have to take action that isnot altogether palatable to the States Governments. It may be that sometime* we take action when it is unnecessary, but in many instances our duty requiresus, in spite of our inclinations, to follow the course which we think necessary togive effect to Federal principles. If that annoys any of the constituent States, no one regrets it more than we do; but that regret would not be a sufficient excusefor our departing from the course that we believe to be marked out by true regard for our duty. May I say that in thisparticular, so far as I am aware, therehas been no alteration in the attitude I have adopted since the first proposals inregard to a Federal Capital were laid’ before the Conventions. The personal reference I am now making, is due to thefact that quotations from speeches of my own have been made by the Premier of New South Wales, and others, which I to-day indorse as cordially as when they were uttered. I was always of the opinion that it was necessary that a FederalCapital should be established ; was always convinced that it could not be anappanage to any metropolis, to any city, without injury to the Federal principle and” to Federal legislation. I was equally opposed to any attempt to place it in my own native city of Melbourne, or in any other State Capital. At all times, I was desirous that it should be situated more in the interior than are our capital cities.’ I considered that it would thus be typical of our belief that the future of Australia is to be found in its broad lands, of great production, and the free population upon them, to whom we look to found the future Australian nation. I have always felt that a city which would, in course of time, represent the Federal idea, must be free from overshadowing, influences. “It should he apart from the provincial spirit. However simple in its structure, or confined in its area, it should be a Commonwealth city in every respect. I was of opinion that we should have a Capital to which the representatives of the whole of Australia would resort, as to a home of their own, and in which Federal influences should reign supreme. This has been the ideal that I have always cherished, and that. I venture to entertain to this day.
– Is the honorable and learned gentleman going to keep it up in the clouds, or bring it down to earth?
– When the question of bringing it down to earth arose, I preferred, as did most of us, that the free and untrammelled choice of the Parliament should be exercised in regard to the particular site to be selected. When the original Constitution was altered for the benefit of New South Wales, I. bowed to the decree. In order to win the earlier adhesion of that great State to the Federation, we amended it. Far from making any demur, I accepted the change, and championed it to the best of mv ability. From that time to this I have -never engaged in any effort or put forward any proposal to retard the selection of a -site. A statement of mine as to the possibility of its being chosen within three <or four years has been cited, and my forecast has not been wrong, because Parliament has decided in a general way where the Seat of Government shall be. But -when the provision of the Constitution which deals with this matter’ was under consideration, none of us foresaw, or sufficiently allowed for1, the elaborate and persistent tactics which would be adopted “bv the representatives of rival sites, or for the clash of provincial jealousies, and the intermixture of party considerations, with which experience has now made us familiar.’ _ No one imagined that the choice would be made in any other spirit than that in which an abstract question of legislation is dealt with, though a little reflection might have shown that no opportunity would be lost by competing districts to place the merits of their sites before us. When, in addition to these local jealousies,, the temper of those concerned both in the Commonwealth and in the State became superheated on political grounds, sparks were fanned into a blaze, and intermittent conflagrations have been witnessed ever since.. If the choice had been left, to a council of dispassionate sages, they might well have found themselves embarrassed by the plethora of excellent sites put forward. It has been my privilege to visit a number of them, of which the poorest has, many excellent qualifications, so that the choice has always been between better and best. Our responsibilities were not to be met merely by the selection of a good site. M7e had to seek the best available, and to weigh the merits, of all. Our task has been like the judgment of the young Trojan whose award of the apple made two goddesses his implacable foes, and only one his friend.
– Which site is Aphrodite?
– I thought that the PostmasterGeneral had been successful in attracting to himself that charming lady, but, apparently, there are still rivals in the field. Then there has been another cause of dissension. It seems, to be the habit of no inconsiderable portion of our people, and of a large portion of our press, to misrepresent Australia, to her prejudice abroad, and to misrepresent Australians to each other. We must always be prepared for -party warfare on questions which have evoked great public feeling ; but even in warfare it is forbidden, among other things, to poison the wells. Unhappily in the undue vehemence of our party struggles upon this question, that injunction has been often lost sight of, so that we have an inflamed condition of the public mind to treat before the pros and cons of the proposition can be. calmly discussed. Ninety per cent, of the difficulties surrounding the choice of a Capital. Site are due to the emotion that has been stirred, partly bv public speakers, but chiefly, by the press. Hence in dealing with the plain facts of the case, we are encompassed with clouds of mosquitoes, whose bites carry malarial poison, so that every scratch becomes, a wound. By degrees, something like a fever crisis has been created, though, it may be but a minor one. Nevertheless, I maintain when the difficulties which have surrounded the settlement of this question come to be weighed by, reasonable men, it will be found that this Parliament does not deserve the animadversions which have been passed upon it. If, in the future, any historian is sufficiently interested to investigate the stages, by which we have arrived at our present position, I think that his verdict will be in our favour. From the time when we first invited .New South Wales to indicate her choice of sites, we have consulted her Governments at every turn, whenever they ought to be consulted, representing, as they did, the public opinion of a great body of electors of the Commonwealth. Due regard has been paid throughout to the rights of that State, and any change in its treatment has come from its own changes, and not from the Commonwealth. We have reached the present situation by a series of actions taken in concert with the Government of New South Wales, with the tacit approval of its Legislature. Therefore, having made a choice under the guidance of the State, and acting on information supplied by it, we must be given special and exceptional reasons before we can agree to its rescission. Surely that is a fair demand? We should not assert that we will not admit a mistake, if evidence of it can, be submitted to us ;. but we are entitled to ask that the demonstration shall be absolute, and such as cannot be resisted by a fair mind. If we have come into contact with the present Government and Parliament of New South Wales, it has been by no choice of our own, but by the natural drift of circumstances since we were associated in this matter at the outset with a Government and a Parliament of that Statewhose views appeared to be in exact harmony with ours as to the course to be taken. After we had gone so far, and had done so much, with the consent of the then Government of New South Wales and its Parliament, and had actually arrived at a choice, any suggestion, or proposal that we ought to retrace our steps, should have been put forward in a different manner. It is to be remembered that the Sydney press is following the well-established rule of all newspapers. Ali of them endeavour to strengthen their hold upon their surroundings, to increase their influence, and to extend their circulation. To no one is it more important than to the Sydney press that the future Federal Capital shall be as near as possible to Sydney, in order that their journals may circulate chiefly in the Capital, and that their influence may be most immediately brought to bear upon its residents and Legislature.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that the Melbourne press was influenced by the same consideration in its endeavour to retain the Seat of Government in Melbourne?
– I have no doubt that hope operated with them. It operates in all cases. Every newspaper has an ambition to assert itself, to extend its circulation, and to increase its influence. That is common to most individuals ; but the newspapers exercise it partly for themselves, and partly in the interests of the principles they profess. I am not complaining, even if this question has received an exaggerated importance largely because the great newspapers in Sydney have realized the importance of securing the establishment of the Federal Capital in a locality within the range of their influence.
– I can assure the Minister that a great many people in Sydney would object to the establishment of the Federal Capital in Sydney as Strongly as they have done to the Seat of Government remaining in Melbourne.
– I know that any true Federalist would, and, before the honorable and learned member took his place lightly ‘touched upon that point, when enrolling myself among those who desire to keep the Federal Capital beyond the sphere of influence of any State metropolis. We desire to establish a truly Federal city. If a’ll the circumstances be taken into account, it will be seen that, the delay in our choice has been unavoidable. New South Wales has a great area. I have already said that it has a great number of sites sufficiently eligible. They all had to be searched for and then examined. It was a difficult task, and it was performed twice over, first by the State, and then by a Commission appointed by the Commonwealth. I do not think that any one can allege that in carrying out those examinations any too much time or care was employed. On the contrary, we are being faced to-day. more than four years afterwards, with a demand that one site, which was perhaps cavalierly or lightly passed over, shall be much more closely examined, with a view to its substitution for that which this Parliament
Kas selected. Now the request - and it comes from all the representatives of New South Wales - is for more delay, for closer examination of the sites. If anything were needed to demonstrate the fact that the responsibility for any delay that has occurred cannot be laid at the door of this Parliament, it is to be found in the attitude of the honorable members referred to. I am not reflecting on that attitude, but assert ‘that no accusations of neglect can lie against the Federal Parliament when the representatives of the State most concerned are to be found almost unanimously asking for further postponement, partly on the ground that one or more sites that have already been looked at should be more closely scrutinized.
– The position of two of the sites has been altered in regard to . the question of water supply. The construction of the Mumimbidgee River works has brought fresh data to bear.
– But the Commonwealth Parliament cannot fairly be charged with responsibility for that or with’ delay at any time in connexion with the establishment of the Capital. Further, this Government cannot be charged with delay. The right honorable member for East Sydney reflected on us because we had submitted this Bill to honorable members at this period of the session, and in this way. He forgot for the moment that when this Government came into office in July last a correspondence was in progress between the Premier of New South Wales and his own Administration which was at once transferred to us by means of a very early communication from the former. Mr. Carruthers first desired to know our attitude with regard to the correspondence of our predecessors, and afterwards preferred a request for a settlement of the legal questions associated with the choice of a site. Now, the honorable gentleman will appreciate, better than any layman can, the many issues suggested bv the clause which the Premiers drafted. It was a very excellent clause, in view of their conflicting feelings at the time; but it is an extremely difficult one for even trained legal minds to interpret with absolute certainty. When, therefore, the Premier of New South Wales suggested that as an accompaniment to our proceedings in connexion with the chosen site, or as a preliminary to the choice of some other site, we should first dispose of the legal doubts that clustered round section 125, he made a proposition that was quite reasonable. He suggested a course that we ought to follow if he exhibited a strong preference for it, as he undoubtedly did. He asked us to assist him in taking such action as would enable the legal questions involved to be determined by the High Court. No sooner was that request preferred than we set to work to devise means by which we could achieve the object desired. Our proposed Bill was submitted to Mr. Carruthers - and surely we thus adopted the most conciliatory and considerate course possible - to enable him to criticise it, so that the Cabinet might reconsider its own handiwork if any suggestions were made by him. Next, instead of dealing with the Bill, he suggested that a conference should be held between the Attorney-General of the State and the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. As has been shown, that conference resulted in an agreement being arrived at as to what could1 be done. The way then seemed clear, but for some reason best known to himself, the Premier of New South Wales abruptly changed the whole line of his conduct.He put aside the Bill and the proposed reference to the High Court, and proposed to revive the whole question upon another basis - to reopen the whole history of the matter, and to consider that apart from legal issues. I do not say that he was not entitled to take that course, but I contend that the right honorable member for East Sydney was not justified in laying at our doors the responsibility for the postponement which has occurred. The session has been occupied in carrying out negotiations, in the whole course of which we have exhibited a cordial desire to accede to the reasonable wishes of New South Wales. When, in a recent speech delivered outside Parliament, the Premier of New South Wales stated that the responsibility for the latest delay rested with us, and that he had been obliged to take sudden action because of our tardiness, he surely forgot that ray last letter to him. was dated 15th November - a month since. To that communication I have received no reply, and, indeed, scarcely expected one. Since that date, as honorable members know, the work which this Government have had to do in this House has been of the most serious character. Our obligations with regard to the public business were crowding in upon us, and it was not possible for us, even though1 we had the strongest desire to deal promptly with the ‘question, to introduce this Bill at an earlier moment. The choice did not rest with us. The Premier of New South Wales had no doubt properly caused us to consume the whole of the session in negotiations, in the course of which we pursued him with offers to meet his wishes in any way that we could. While seeking to meet1 him, we were driven on to the last month of the session, with all its work and responsibilities - apart from the struggle in this House, which is fresh in our memories, but which has left us anything but fresh. Surely, then., it -is most unfair to suggest that there has been any delay in bringing forward this Bill. I venture to say that neither the right honorable member for East Sydney nor the Premier of New South Wales has any right to complain because we have been compelled to deal with this Bill in the closing hours of the session. A similar course was pursued in the State. The reason for adopting that course was given, and it appears to be sufficient from the point of view of the New South Wales Government. But our reason was even1 a stronger one. The discussion of the question in this Parliament has been fuller and more direct, and has not been interrupted by any action of the Government. So that, in every respect, we can challenge comparison so far as our methods are concerned with those adopted in dealing with the subject by the resolution passed in New South Wales a few days a,go. I do not wish to indulge in any recriminations, or to make any charges. I am accepting as justifiable the course followed across the border; but, by way of defence of this House and the Government, think I can fairly claim to have established the fact that neither this Parliament, nor the present Government, nor its predecessors, has ever delayed dealing with this question more than the circumstances have rendered necessary. If we are discussing this question just before the prorogation, it is due to our having pursued, out of courtesy and consideration for New South Wales, the line of conduct suggested to and pressed upon us from that State. The- alternative which has been put to us to-day by one or two honorable members, and which they say is presented by the action of the Parliament of New South Wales, is one that I am loth to accept. Yet, as it has been put as a -summary of the actual situation, and as indicating to us the only possible way -of escape from the difficulties surrounding hy I feel bound to make some reference to it. We are told by at least two of the representatives of New South Wales that the position is this: It is admitted that the Commonwealth has a free power of choice, subject, of course, to the Constitution. It is granted that we are entitled to pick our . own site, but it is claimed that it is the function of the State Parliament, not merely to consent or refuse to give effect to that choice, but to make a choice of sites for itself,, and to submit those sites to us. Furthermore, whilst admitting our right of choice,, they declare that they have the authority to tell us how we aire to choose - in other words, that they can choose how we must choose. Of course, this announcement is accompanied by a repudiation of any attempt at dictation on the part of the New South Wales Parliament. We are free to choose, but we are only to be free to choose if we choose what they choose for us. That is the alternative that has been presented to us, and I venture to say that it is one that this Parliament cannot and will not accept. It could not accept it with any regard “for its own dignity, or for the Constitution, and is not to be required to do so, either by anything in the Constitution or out of ‘it. We are in one breath censured for not making a choice, and in the next for making one that is not approved. Now the question is, what are we prepared to concede to New South Wales? We were prepared from the first to concede to them the right or privilege to select the sites which we should take into consideration. I do not know that they need be considered to have exhausted that right even now. If they have more sites to suggest, or circumstances in connexion with sites already suggested, which they think should be brought under our consideration, I see no reason; why we should close our ears and refuse to listen, or close Our eyes and refuse to see.
– That is a fair position to take.
– We have to admit that under the complex section of the Constitution to which I have referred, there is a double method of procedure open to us - by grant, or by acquisition. Possibly it was_ the intention of the framers of that section that both methods should be brought into operation before the Capital was finally established. -But, whether that be so or not, the word “grant “ is clearly there. The area specified as that to be granted is only a minimum of 100 square miles. A larger territory would be necessary, even for the establishment of a small township, and certainly a greater area would be required for the purposes of a national Capital Site.
– Especially when provision has to be made for the reservations for water supply purposes.
– Consequently, if New South Wales is to make that grant, or to have an opportunity of making the grant, and thus to have a voice with regard to the area of our territory - whether it be the final voice or only a suggestive voice - it appears that the Government and the Parliament of that State have grounds for claiming that they ought to be heard. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that, whilst the location of the Capital in New South Wales may be a concession by that State, it is certainly a concession by the rest of the Commonwealth - by all the other States and by the whole of their people. It is not a gift which New South Wales is making to the Commonwealth without consideration. It is a gift for which it’ is believed she will derive a great consideration in the future, quite apart from the compliment which the possession of the Capital conveys to the older State. Consequently we meet the Parliament and Government of New South Wales not merely on the footing which we should hold in making a bargain or in enforcing legal rights, but as fellow citizens of the same country, who are engaged in. a transaction which should be governed by a Federal spirit and by mutual consideration. Although we have act’ed with the advice and assistance of New South Wales and in consonance with the policy of its Government, in making our selection, I do not say that even at this late hour the door has been closed or ought to be closed upon any consideration of the matter, for which sufficient reason can be found. On the contrary, I think it is our duty to make it clear to our fellow citizens in New South Wales that we approach this question in the broadest possible spirit, with a desire to do no injustice to them, and subject only to out overmastering obligation to discharge our duty to the Commonwealth as a whole. Beyond that, I am sure we have no motive that! we cannot avow, and no partisanor other end in view. Subject to ourdutyto the Commonwealth, it would be our privilege and pleasure to recognise and weigh the suggestions and wishes of the Government and Parliament of New South Wales, as representing the people of that State.
– Then we shall never reach any finality.
– We have already proceeded a long distance on the road towards finality, and consequently the suggestions and proposals of New South Wales must be much stronger than they have previously been, if we are to be asked to retrace our steps. Yet when we have given them every latitude, we must recognise that thedecision of the matter rests with the Commonwealth Parliament. It is to be made upon Commonweath motives. It is for that reason - because we do not for a moment lose sight of our right in that regard - that we ought to listen to anything which may be urged, even at the eleventh hour, provided that it is urged, not as an alternative covering a threat, but as a suggestion coming from reasonable men to reasonable men on a matter which is open to argument. As I have already sai’d. the choice that we have had to make is one which it is difficult to assess. There is no mathematical means by which we can pit site against site in all respects. In the temperate and able speech which he delivered to-day, the hon orable member for Bland alluded to the value of the different factors which have to be taken into account. He put, I think - as we all put - the question of water supply foremost. We regard that factor as of the first importance, not only because water is the element most needed in any interior part of Australia, not only because without it the sanitary conditions of modern life, and many of its pleasures, are impossible; but because in many districts it is possible to find in it the cheapest generator of that motive power, electrical or other, which is now being used more and more all the world over. Niagara itself has been harnessed by tunnels, and is transmitting its motive force for more than 200 miles. It is capable of sending it still further. The possession of a water supply which can be used as a motive power is a most essential factor in the success of any city. Connected with water supply is the consideration of climate. Here differences at once assert themselves which have been very noticeable throughout this discussion. In our selection of a
Capital, our preference often depends upon whether we are thinking of summer or winter conditions*.
– The Seat of Government ought to be both ai summer and a winter city.
– Very fe,w cities are both, or are equally attractive in summer and winter.
– Melbourne is.
– Melbourne enjoys the doubtful privilege of taking its summer and its winter alternately, in irregular doses all the year round.. It is a happy enough climate for me to live and die in, but from the ideal stand-point it has defects. If the sessions of the Commonwealth Parliament are to be held in summer, we must seek a site with a high elevation, and where’ cool breezes prevail.
– We do not want to kill the civil servants in the winter.
– I am afraid we are not thinking entirely of the civil servants. There are public servants who are not styled civil, but who have to be considered. The first question which we have to decide is as between a summer and a winter city. It is noticeable how honorable members are divided into two sections in that regard. Those who would avoid the heat if they could support one site, and those who would avoid the cold if they could support another. Many of those who favour the claims of Dalgety have been governed in their choice by a consideration, not only of an adequate water supply, but by its picturesque surroundings - its, proximity to the greatest mounta’in in Australia. Besides, we believe that, in future, summer sessions will be necessary, and while we are associated with the finances of the States, - as I think we shall always be, indirectly if not directly - it is desirable that the financial year of the Commonwealth should terminate at a time prior to the States Treasurers being called upon to frame their Budgets. That, in practical politics, is a very important matter. It seems, to me that in future we shall require to hold summer sessions, and therefore we should hold them in the coolest spot that we can find. If honorable members can suggest a cooler place than Dalgety, I have not yet had an opportunity of discovering it. For summer sessions, it seems to me to be as good a place as we can hope to obtain. If, on the contrary, we are aiming at winter sessions, I admit that forcible arguments may be employed against what has been termed a “ wind swept locality “ in the neighbourhood of the snows of Kosciusko, which, however picturesque they may be, would not be admired, perhaps, in June or July. But when we come to consider water supply and climatic conditions, which are expected1 to minister to health, I venture to say that, though other places may equal, we can scarcely find one which will surpass Dalgety. It may not, perhaps, attract those who reside for the greater part of the year in the warm climate of the north, or in the dry, high temperatures of the north-west, but, looking to sanitary conditions generally, I doubt whether Dalgety can be surpassed. With me, the question of accessibility hold’s a very much smaller place than it does with the honorable member for Bland and the honorable member for Dalley. In choosing a site, I do not think that we should merely consider ourselves, or the next or the succeeding generation. We must recognise that the Seat of Government will certainly not be more than a small township for many years. I do not know that it will ever be a great city, no matter where we may place it. The question of” its accessibility appears to me to be a minor matter, for the reason that if we carry out the original anticipations of many members of the Federal Convention, the establishment of the’ Capital in the interior will be followed by very short but hard sessions. We shall meet for three months, or, at the outside, for four months during the year. Three months ought to suffice, because we shall sit all day, and practically every day, though I hope we shall not sit too late at night.
– Ministers would still require some time to attend to administrative matters.
– Whilst that is so, I think that they will have to bear their burden in the unsatisfactory manner that we have had to bear it during the past few weeks. The Capital which I have in my mind’s eye is simply a settlement sufficient to contain in legislators, during the three or four warmer months of the year.
– There will be a good many hundred civil servants there in the course of a few years.
– I doubt it.
– How many are there at present in the central offices in Melbourne ?
– I read the number the other day, and was surprised at its smallness.
– There are over 300.
– I do not think that even the whole of them would be required at the Federal Capital always for a long time to come. One of the greatest objections urged against the establishment of a Federal Capital is the cost that it will involve. In my opinion, the cos.t should be small, and need only be small.
– It will cost less to establish the Seat of Government in a new country district than it would to establish it in Melbourne or Sydney.
-It seems preposterous to contemplate the erection of palatial buildings in any Capital that we may choose. We ought not to beabove accepting the simplest accommodation. I take it that the site will be laid out on the plan of a great city, just as was Washington, which remained for half a century a city of magnificent distances. Without descending to the modesty of wattle and daub, anything that will shelter honorable members from the inclemency of the weather ought to be good enough for us, and anything which will shelter our civil servants during three or four months of the year ought to be sufficient for them.
– Our public servants, will be there for more than three or four months of the year. The administration will have to be carried on there.
– I very much doubt it. Whilst we have such a large body of people in the chief centres of Australia - in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide - we must have not only the necessary public servants resident there, but the central staff, and their chiefs must be prepared to visit them during the recess, in order to keep in touch with the great amount of work which has to be done there. The more I see of the working of Federal institutions, the smaller, I think, is the number of public servants whom it would be necessary to retain all the year in the Federal Capital for many years to come. Of course, I am speaking of our own time. It seems to me that we shall not be able to keep many of them away from the great centres of population.
– They will have to be at the Seat of Government.
– Not in this generation, and perhaps not in the next. I have been led to diverge unnecessarily, yet it may be well for the public to know that at least some of us, when speaking of the Federal Capital, have in mind a magnificent city - on paper, with buildings superb - in design ; but intend that for all the time we can see before us, or for which we can be held responsible, file simplest and plainest accommodation - nothing but the bare necessities toliving there - shall be provided. Such plainness would be advantageous to the Government of the day, as well as to the Parliament inasmuch as there would be no temptation to linger there in order to enjoy Sybaritish luxuries.
– Is the honorable and learned gentleman aware that the Financial Committee insisted on estimating the interest on £3,500,000?
– That may be the outlay by the generation of the generation after the next. I am informed that the central staff consists of only 154 officers.
– Does the list include messengers ?
– Even if it did not, the inclusion would not mean a great addition.
– The figures just referred to do not include all the officers who would be necessary in the various Departments.
– All that the electors will have to consider, when they are asked to authorize the establishment of the Federal Capital, will be a proposal to establish a small and rudimentary settlement that will provide for 200 or 300 public servants,111 Members of the Parliament, such of their families who may chose to go there, and those who supply their wants.
-And the officers of the Parliament.
– They are not very numerous. In these circumstances, the question of expenditure is one for the future. The establishment of the Capital on such a basis as I believe this House would approve, would involve practically no increase on the present cost of housing the Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne. It would, of course, be necessary to incur expenses that may be avoided here, but these would naturally be in respect of so small a number, and for only a part of the year, that after all the cost of moving to the Federal Capital, about which so much apprehension exists in some quarters, would really not be so great as many believe. A fair consideration of the facts shows that there is much misapprehension in this regard. I am perfectly sure that a Spartan-like simplicity will characterize, and ought to characterize, the earlier years, and perhaps the earlier generations of the Federal Capital. The figures handed to me a few moments ago, as to the number of officers on the central staffs of the various Departments, relate, 1 am now informed, to what are described as superior officers. Taking all into account, there would be 344 public servants in the. Capital, that is, exclusive of any who might be attached to the Government Printing Office.
– And apart from the military ?
Mr.DE AKIN.- Are they needed to controlthe Opposition, or for what purpose?
– All this emphasizes the point that there is no necessity for hurry or haste in this matter.
– I do not think there is need for hurry or haste, nor do I think that if we transferred this Parliament as soon as possible to the selected Federal site our action should be so characterized. I do not think that there is any obligation in the bond, so to speak, forcing us to select the Federal Capital now, but there is a strong obligation upon us, as representing Federal constituencies, to go into our Federal household as soon as we can. We are at present depending on generosity, most handsomely extended to us by this State, and also on the generous treatment of other States for the accommodation of Parliament, and of some of our officers. We must remember that we are occupying buildings that are the property of other legislators, and to which, for all I know, they may desire to return. At any rate, it becomes usas guests not to remain longer than necessity requires. I fail to see any reason why we should remain longer than the time required for choosing a site, laying it out properly, procuring a sufficient water supply, and erecting the necessary buildings, which should be of a temporary character.
– And which might form the kernel of other buildings.
– That could be done. That is the way in which this great building was constructed. In the first place, the two Chambers were erected, then both were connected with the Queen’s Hall. Subsequently, apartments in the basement and the front elevation were added. It is quite possible that our buildings in the Federal Capital could be constructed on the same system, but even that may not be necessary for some years. What is desired on every side is economy, and economy should be observed. The Government have submitted this Bill as affording both the simplest and most conciliatory method of dealing with the question at this stage. We have been reminded that the Parliament of New South Wales passed certain resolutions about a year ago, and that those resolutions were intended to furnish the basis for negotiations with the Commonwealth. But most inadvisedly, as it appears to me, that basis excluded even from consideration the very site which both Houses of this Parliament had already chosen. That was not only an ill omen for the success of the negotiations, but was in itself depriving the approach of the Parliament of New South Wales of that friendliness and fair consideration that we might fairly have expected. Then, again, in connexion with the resolutions carried by the State Parliament only a few days ago, a number of other complaints were introduced, which, as I have said, might easily be disposed of, but which must have inflamed the minds of those who heard them, against the attitude of this Parliament in regard to the question of the Federal Capital. We, on the contrary, when called upon to act, have taken the only course open to us consistent with the previous determination of this Parliament. We have assumed, and feel entitled to assume, that this Legislature has not altered its mind as to the site which should be selected. Moreover, with the exception of the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Government are of opinion that it ought not to be asked to alter its mind. That being so, the Bill submitted proposes to delimit distinctly in metes and bound’s the particular territory at Dalgety within which the Federal Capital should be established. We have not endeavouredby this Bill to exercise the full power we possess under the Constitution. We have not raised the question of the authority of the Parliament to proceed on its own motion, and in its own way.On the contrary, we have paved the way. for the exercise by New South Wales of the power which that State undoubtedly possesses, to offer to grant to the Commonwealth such an area within the boundaries set out in the schedule, as it feels justified in transfering. The opinion of the Government has not changed in regard to the position of the site, though we were aware that in introducing the Bill honorable members would have an opportunity to reverse our former decision if they could get a majority to vote with them. If we had gone into another Committee, as the right honorable member for East Sydney suggested, and a resolution were passed adverse to the retention of the present site, we should then have had one site named in an Act of Parliament.,, and another in a resolution of this House. That would have been a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The right honorable member overlooked the fact that in this Bill we have provided a much more effective and direct means of enabling Parliament to express its view. Honor-“ able members can, if they choose, strike out Dalgety, and substitute some other sitej. That will be an expeditious; and straightforward way of dealing with the question. The Government wish to main-‘ tain Dalgety, and merely to delimit the area of the territory, though we are willing to listen to anything that may be said on behalf of the other sites. I have not noticed a great deal of what has been said by the Premier of New South Wales, and by others in that State, because it should not affect us in dealing, with the matter. The resolutions passed by the State Parliament really . amounted to a vote of censure on the representatives of their State in this Parliament - a censure which was absolutely undeserved because those representatives, although differing widely on various subjects, have always urged the settlement of this question, and spared no pains to bring it about. Nothing has been wanting on their part. Having paid that tribute to many who are my opponents, may I say that’ I have not permitted my Victorian birth and political relation to sway me in the matter. I was opposed to the choice of Albury, although, for a winter city, that place has many great advantages, and of other sites, because they were open to the objection that they would be under the influence of two capitals instead of one. While accessibility is a consideration, it is of secondary or tertiary importance compared with the necessity that the Federal Capital shall be free from the undue influence of the capital of any of the States. I made that examination of some sites which one having no pretensions to be an expert could make by visiting them and reading the reports of experts, though I had the good fortune to be accompanied by the Treasurer, who, as an explorer and surveyor who has travelled far and donemuch, was well qualified to form a judgment on the matter. I have since seen no reason to alter my, opinion that Dalgety is the best site that has been offered to us. If the Parliament of New South Wales knows of better sites, it has now an opportunity - I think the last - to bring them forward. It is plain from the smallness of the attendance this afternoon that we cannot carry the measure to a division now, because there are members who are absent who, no doubt, would like to address themselves to the question.’ Honorable members are justified in speaking on a subject like this, because not only is the measure itself of the utmost importance, but we have now before us, for the first time, resolutions of the Parliament of New South Wales which direct.lv affect the reputation of this Parliament in that State, if not elsewhere also. If there are no honorable members who wish to continue the debate, there is no reason why we should not now divide upon the motion for the second reading.
– Members have gone away on the understanding that the debate would be adjourned.
– In that case the measure need not be pushed to a division; but I wish to place it on record that the adjournment of the debate will be assented to by the Government, not for any reason of our own, because we know that the numbers are with us, but to convenience honorable members who mav wish to speak. The perusal of the report of this debate will show that the question has been considered by us fairly and without heat, with a desire to meet the views of the citizens of New South Wales, and at the same time consult the interests of the people of the Common wealth. There must always be an unsatisfied minority, but at least we have argued our side of the question temperately and fairly. Mv view is that the choice of the capital should be made definitely, and no later than next session, and that, upon its final determination, this Parliament should take prompt action, in the most economical and inexpensive manner, to make a home for itself within its own territory. The intention if the Premiers’ Conference is perfectly plain. As the Attorney-General proved conclusively in his admirable and exhaustive speech last night, the Federal Parliament was given a free choice of sites throughout New South Wales, one small area being excepted. In making that choice due regard should be paid to the wishes of the people of New South Wales so far as they can be ascertained, but, that having been done, this Parliament is clothed with ample power to make its own selection, and to act upon it. It will do that honorably, being moved by Federal motives only, with a desire to do the best both for the citizens of the Commonwealth and the people of New South Wales.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McCay) adjourned.
Bill returned from Senate, with a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the amendments of the House of Representatives, with the exception of certain amendments in clauses. 14 and 28, to which it had disagreed, and of amendments inserting new clause 50A, and adding to clause51, to which it had agreed, with amendments.
That the Senate’s message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee : (Consideration of Senate’s message).
– The first amendment with which the Senate has disagreed may be shortly stated. If was provided by us that there should be power to appoint polling places for a division outside the division itself, but not more than ten miles from its boundary, as might be thought necessary. The Senate have struck out that amendment, and I do not think that the point is a very material one. They have also re-inserted the provision allowing persons in charge of contract post-offices, as well as justices of the peace and legally qualified medical practitioners, to witness postal votes. I can see no objection to that.
– If persons in charge of contract post-offices are to be allowed to witness postal votes that will be in contravention ofthe principle laid down by the Minister, that only those under the control of the Government should have such power.
– They have also reinserted the words which we struck out, providing that counsel may appear before the High Court, sitting as a Court of Disputed Returns, by leave of the Court itself.
– That is wrong.
– I do not think so. This power will be exercised only in certain cases. The Senate has also struck out the amendment inserted, on the motion of the honorable member for Kooyong, to enable election addresses to be sent through the post at newspaper rates. I move -
That the amendments be not insisted on.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
When this matter came before honorable members on the Estimates, they objected to special consideration being shown to the officers named, and to the form in which the proposal for compensation had been brought before them. I will trace briefly the history of the two cases. In 1902, consequent upon a vote taken in this Chamber, a large number of officers were retrenched. Colonel Price’s name was not on the list of retrenched officers, but subsequently, he having in the meantime been sent to Brisbane, the Department desired him to place his name on that list. Had he done so he would have received a gratuity.
– Was he not offered an alternative ?
– His name was not on the first list. He was asked to proceed to Brisbane, and did so. Some months afterwards, he was called upon to retire. He pointed out, however, and with justification, that in view of the fact that he had incurred considerable expense in proceeding to Brisbane, it was not quite fair to call uponhim to retire. The Department ought to have known before they sent Colonel Price to Brisbane, whether or not his services would be required.
– I think that we should have a quorum.[Quorum formed.]
– The Government of the day should have definitely stated whether Colonel Price would or would not get any gratuity on his retirement if he completed his term of service in Brisbane. He was only informed, however, that no guarantee could be given that at the expiration of his extended period of service he would . receive a gratuity. Colonel Price replied that in view of the fact that in 1902 the Government were prepared to pay him £1,160 by way of gratuity, they surely would not treat him with any less liberality if he gave the Commonwealth the benefit of two years’more service. The present Government took the whole of these circumstances into consideration, and proposed that a gratuity of £800 should be paid. They found, however, that it was hopeless to persuade honorable members to regard the matter from their point of view. They determined, therefore, to deal only with the report of the Medical Board, that Colonel Price had been injured by an accident which had occurred to him whilst on duty.
– I regret to be under the necessity of again directing attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The Medical Board recommended, and Major-General Sir Edward Hutton approved of a grant of£500 to Colonel Price, on the ground that he had been maimed, and was practically unfit for any active civilian work. The Government would have been perfectly justified, on the strength of the report of the Medical Board, and of the General Officer Commanding, in making the proposed grant without any previous reference to Parliament. But they did not consider it desirable to follow that course, because there were circumstances connected with the case which might have made it appear that their conduct was not quitestraightforward.
– Why should we not treat privates and officers alike, according to some general scheme?
– The right honorable gentleman is taking very high ground. I would point out to him that privates are treated upon the same basis as officers.
– We never see a Bill introduced in order to make provision for a private.
– We have dealt with several claims on the part of militiamen and others, and we have taken the responsibility of making grants without first bringing the matter before Parliament. If the House thinks that an officer who leaves the service of the Commonwealth as a maimed man is not entitled to any compensation, it is quite within its rights in saying so.
– How was it that Colonel Price served for a couple of years after being maimed?
– He did not do so.
– I am prepared to accept the report of the Medical Board that Colonel Price is maimed, and unable to earn his living actively as a civilian. The case appears to me to deserve special consideration. The Government have no wish to show any special favour to officers as distinguished from privates. I would invite honorable members to bring under my notice the claim of any man who has left the military service after having been declared by the Medical Board to be unfit to earn his living owing to injuries received whilst on duty.
– Will the honorable gentleman promise to deal with any such cases that may be brought under his notice?
– Certainly. I challenge any honorable member to produce a case of the kind I have indicated. The right honorable member for East Sydney has suggested that some system should be adopted for compensating officers and privates alike. I would point out, however, that we have been only five months in office. Why did the right honorable gentleman not formulate a system, and submit it to the House? We had to do the best we could in the absence of a pension or uniform retiring system, which I think should be provided for.
– Will the Government bring in a scheme of pensions?
– We have the matter under consideration.
– Then Ministers should consider these cases in connexion with such a scheme.
– The right honorable member adopted a very different attitude last year. He promised to favorably consider the matter.
– No, I did not; but the matter was considered.
– The whole matter is entirely in the hands of honorable members, and if they think that Colonel Price, after, having served in the Military Forces for twenty-three years, is not entitled to any consideration the Government will have nothing more to say. Now I desire to say a few words with regard to Colonel Bayly. He had served in the Military Forces for twenty-three years, and had reached the age of forty-five, when he was overtaken by locomotor ataxia. The Medical Board reported that his case was hopeless, and that he could not live for more than a few months, or, at the outside, twelve months. The Government, in view of the special nature of the case, decided to ask the House to grant a gratuity. The leader of the Opposition says there is no system under which such a case can be provided for. I do not want any system to enable me to deal with a matter of this kind, because I am satisfied that honorable members will act justly when the matter is submitted to them. We prefer that the House should accept the responsibility.
– The Government should have paid these officers under the regulations.
– I ask the honorable member whether, in the event of a man who had been working for him for more than twenty-three years’ being attacked by a disease which rendered his restoration to health hopeless, he would turn him into the street? If the honorable member approves of the Government paying these officers under regulation, he will approve of our paying them under an Act of Parliament.
– It is a most extraordinary proposal.
– I merely wish to know whether the claims of these officers appeal to the reasonableness of honorable members. In both cases action has been taken upon the advice of the Government Medical Board. We say that they are special cases, and we ask honorable members, as reasonable and generous men, to regard them as such.
– I think the whole House will regret that it has had to concern itself with a discussion of such a painful character as that to which we have just listened. I hope that the Minister will recognise that any oppositionto this Bill is prompted, not by a desire to prevent proper consideration being given to these two officers, who deserve so well of their country, but to the fact that honorable members strongly believe that there should be no differentiation between classes of officers in the Commonwealth.
– There is none.
– I can show that there is-
– Can the honorable member cite a case?
– The honorable member is the poor man’s friend, I suppose?
– I hope the right honorable gentleman will do his bes’t not to be ridiculous. The position is that men who have served in the ranks, and as noncommissioned officers, for thirty years, have been retired from the service at the end of that period, and allowed to starve on the streets.
– Were they injured whilst upon duty?
– No. The men to whom I am alluding, by reason of the very length of their service, are no longer able to earn a livelihood in competition with the world.
– Lt.-Col. Bayly is only fortv-five years of age.
– I will not oppose the granting of the sums proposed to the officers mentioned in this Bill, if I can receive an assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that hard cases will receive equally generous treatment.
– A man who tumbled off a waggon the other day received £300 as compensation.
– If a man has been twenty vears in the employment of the State, and has looked forward to getting one month’s pay for every year of service, should he be compelled to retire without receiving one penny as compensation, merely because the Commonwealth has taken over the Defence Department ?
– He should have his rights preserved.
– He had rights under State usage.
– The present position is a scandalous one.
– It is. I know of one man who served thirty-three years in the Department, who possesses exemplary discharges, and long-service medals. Had he retired six years ago, he would have received a sum of £300, but because he is retired under the Commonwealth, he is allowed to starve.
– Why did not the honorable member represent his case?
– I have spoken to some honorable members in reference to it.
– The honorable member has not represented it to me.
– I had no desire to worry any other Minister than the Minister of Defence. The Vice-President ot the Executive Council has just assured me that cases such as I have cited will receive proper attention at the hands of the Government.If I may regard that as a definite promise on the part of the honorable gentleman I shall not offer any further opposition to this Bill. I shall content myself with saying that the Government should have proceeded under regulation to do a fair thing to these deserving officers.
– I have no objection to the amounts specified in this Bill being paid, because so far as I can judge - and the Minister has very kindly allowed me to peruse the official papers relating to them - they appear to be particularly deserving cases. But in the case of Colonel Price, although there is a report by the Medical Board, the examination does not appear to have been quite so thorough as it might have been. The report states that he suffers from “ a locking of the shoulder joints.” That is not a technical term, and apparently it relates to some injury to the bony parts of the structure. That being so, I should like to ascertain why the X-rays were not applied to the injury ? I know of one instance in which a doctor was charged with malpractice, because he failed to restore an injured elbow in a satisfactory way. He certainly treated the injured member, but subsequently the patient was not able to extend his arm as fully as he could previously. That case was tried before a jury, who awarded the patient £200 damages. As a result, the doctor was practically ruined, although the patient is, today, walking about, and the injured arm is just as strong as is his other arm.
– I am very sorry, in deed, that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– In cases such as that, which I have outlined, we cannot be too careful. Before giving my vote in favour of granting compensation to Colonel Price, I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that his case has been thoroughly inquired into.
– Five medical men have certified toit.
– I am not reflecting in any wav upon the Government Medical Board, but we cannot be too careful as to the precedents which we establish. The case of Lt. -Col. Bayly appears to be a particularly sad one. Anybody who has any knowledge of locomotor ataxia cannot fail to sympathize with him. Of course, it may be urged that his complaint is not traceable to exposure on the field of battle or during a campaign. Nevertheless, we must sympathize with one who in the prime of life is suffering, as he is. I think that we should inaugurate a proper system-
– A system is provided under our Defence Act, but these cases occurred prior to that Act coming into operation.
– During the adjournment for dinner the Vice-President of the Executive Council allowed me to glance through the papers connected with the case of these officers.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I was not altogether satisfied with the examination made in the case of Colonel Price, and I make that statement because I happen to know some thing of its technicalities. My experience has taught me, however, that it is always well to be guided by the opinion of a duly constituted authority, such as the Medical Board, and, consequently, I have no opposition to offer to the Bill. The Minister has said that considerations of common humanity should induce us to make these grants. He instanced the position of a man who, after long years of faithful service, becomes incapacitated, and is granted compensation by his employer.
– It is seldom that he is compensated.
– That may be so, but I believe it is the custom among many large employers of labour to insure the lives of their servants, so that when they retire, at a certain age, they will not be penniless. The Commonwealth requires all its public servants to assure their lives in this way. I hold, therefore, that we should be careful not to create what may prove a dangerous precedent. I know of one case in which a member of the Public Service of New South’ Wales was pensioned off years ago, owing to some defect from which he was supposed to be suffering, but who is still well and strong. I am not altogether satisfied with the attitude of the Minister. He says that he knows of no case of hardship requiring the attention of the Government, and he has invited honorable members to bring forward any case of which they have a knowledge.
– I have tried to find out whether there are any such cases.
– It is the duty of the Government not merely to call on the public to bring forward such cases, but to seek them out themselves. I feel very strongly upon this question, because shortly before the session opened I attended a man who was in sore straits, as the result of the development of a disease consequent upon privation and exposure endured while on service in South Africa. I remember when he left these shores - when the flags were flying, drums were beating, and women were waving their adieux. He went away in the prime of life, and came back with his left breast adorned with a medal and a series of clasps. But to-day that unfortunate man is lying on a bed of sickness gasping for breath. Does that little medal which he wears afford him any relief? As a matter of fact, he has been employed as a railway porter, and has given every satisfaction, but he cannot regularly follow that occupation. When he volunteered for service in South Africa he was passed by the Medical Board as a healthy man, but subsequent events have shown that he must have had within him the seeds of disease. Upon his return to Australia, as the result of the privation and exposure which he had suffered, he developed1 consumption in its worst form. What relief has been given to him by the Government? So far as I can see none has been afforded.
– There is not a quorum, Mr. Speaker. [Quorum formed.”]
– The case to which 1 have referred is that of a man named Hickey, who has a growing family of boys and girls - as fine children as one would wish to see. He is suffering the direst poverty, for while he is out of work he receives nothing from the Government. Fortunately he is connected with a lodge which enables him to secure medical benefits.
– Has the honorable member brought his case before the House ?
– I am doing so now, and shall continue to do iso until I obtain satisfaction. He has fought for his country, and is bringing up a family in a way that is a credit to him, and yet, when he is laid upon a bed of sickness, notwithstanding that he is a servant of the State, the hat has to be sent round. This is one case. and I undertake to say that I could find many others in my electorate who are deserving of favorable consideration. I appeal to the Minister to make some effort to assist this unfortunate man in a way worthy of as great nation. I have only to repeat that I have no objection to the passing of this Bill, although I do not think it should be regarded as a precedent. We should have some proper system of assisting those who suffer in the cause of their country, and I hope that a system will be established that will be a credit to the Ministry and to the Commonwealth.
– I understand that it is proposed to move an amendment providing that the officers to whom this Bill relates shall each receive a pension of £2 per week, instead of a lump sum. I should be willing to vote for such an amendment, but it seems to me that a grant of £500 would not be of much service to Colonel Price, who has no more idea of how to handle money than a child has of how to handle salvation.
– He would be able to buy an annuity of about 28s. per week.
– Could the honorable and learned member live on such a pittance ?
– I could.
– I think that £2 per week for an ordinary man means practically starvation. At the most Colonel Price would not be able to obtain more than 6 per cent, on the sum proposed to be granted to him, and it seems to me that that would not be of much’ service to a man who has been accustomed for many years to living liberally. I should! like to know whether it is the intention of the honorable member for Melbourne to move as an amendment that these officers receive a pension of £2 per week?
– I intend, in Committee, to move such an amendment, so far as Colonel Price is concerned.
– Then I trust that the second reading of the Bill will bo agreed to. Imagine a man who* is hard up-
– I know of dozens of men and women, who are trying to live 011 is. per day
– I know that there are many such cases, and that there is no man in the House who dips deeper than does the honorable member into his security box in order to assist the poor. That is why he can beat any man who stands against him. The honorable member has a heart like the great Himalayan mountains, and I ask him not to postpone the consideration of the measure. I hope that those who are opposing it will remember that this is the Christmas season, and that the wives and childrenof these men are looking out across the plains for the crow to bring them something to eat. I ask them to put aside all prejudice, bigotry, and sordid motives - to forget that they are Democrats, Liberals, or Conservatives, and to remember only the season of the year, and the fact that these men are in want.
– I should like to say a word or two on this motion, as I was Minister of Defence when Colonel Price had the opportunity to retire on a gratuity of between £1,100 and £1,200, and elected to go to Queensland for two years as Commandant. By that action he saved the Commonwealth the amount of the allowance which would have had to be paid had he retired two years earlier, because the salary which be received as Commandant of Queensland would have had to be paid to some one else if he had not agreed to serve in that position.
– I think that there should be a quorum to hear the Minister’s explanation. [Quorum formed.]
– The Government do not now ask Parliament to grant this officer the full amount of the gratuity to which he would have been entitled had he resigned two years earlier. All they ask is that he may be paid a gratuity for injuries received, on the testimony of a Medical Board. The matter has already been twice before us. A former Government promised to give it consideration, but would not undertake the responsibility of recommending the payment of an honorarium. I have nothing to say against that decision j but had I come to a similar decision in regard to an officer who had done admittedly good service, T should have been only too glad if the House had felt disposed to view the matter more favorably, and had determined to pay a gratuity. Of all avocations, that of the soldier is the most dangerous. He has to fight the battles of his country, and Colonel Price went of his own free will to the Transvaal to do so.
– Was he fighting in defence of his country there?
– He was fighting in defence of the Empire, and the interests of the Empire and those of this country are identical. If the Empire suffers we suffer, and if it gains we gain. He did good service there at the risk of his life, being always to the fore where danger was. The thousands who welcomed him and others who returned with him from the war were very pleased to welcome him and his brave men home again.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I am disappointed that the Treasurer has not continued his appeal to the sentimental feelings of the House, thus giving further evidence of his generosity at the expense of the taxpayer.
– I am as liberal at my own expense as the honorable member is at his.
– No doubt the right honorable gentleman is more liberal than I can afford to be, but that is not the question with us now. What does a vote of £500 mean to men who have always been well paid, and appear nevertheless to have been unable to keep the wolf from the door? How long willthis vote be of assistance to them? Can it. be more than a temporary benefit? Honorable members who are supporting the Bill have done well to appeal to sentiment, because no solid reason can be adduced in favour qf the proposal. It has already been abandoned in connexion with the consideration of the Estimates, because honorable members would not countenance it.
– This is a different proposal. The vote in the Estimates was for compensation for loss of office. This is for injuries sustained.
– Is the Government going to provide similar compensation for all others who served in South Africa and came back wounded?
– The State has recently made provision.
– To my knowledge, men who have come back crippled are in the Benevolent Asylum to-day. I know of a case in which a man was brought back unable to move, and was thrown on his own resources and on those of his friends, by whom he was enabled to obtain such medical treatment that he is now able to get a living for himself.But the State did nothing for him. Another sturdy young fellow, who was one of the best who left our shores, had to be carried off the steamer on his return, and became quite blind within a fortnight. Repeated appeals were made to the Government for consideration in his ‘case, but nothing was done, and he is in a charitable institution now. Are the Government prepared to make the- Bill wide enough to meet all such cases, or will they deal only with cases with which they are compelled, by social influence, or threats, to deal? It has been stated publicly that Colonel Price has threatened to write a book, but no attempt should be made to appease him, or to prevent such action, by granting, him £500. If the Government have the numbers, of course they will carry this measure; but, to be consistent, they should include all similar cases.
– Ask them to introduce a Bill to deal with similar cases.
– It is difficult to get consideration for men who have no political or social influence to bring to bear. Appeals on behalf of such men have been made to Commonwealth Ministers of Defence.
– Not to the present Minister.
– The present Government has not been long enough in office to have had many appeals made to it. Moreover, we know that when one Minister refuses point blank to grant a request, his successor always considers he is justified in ‘following his example. I know of many appeals that have been made to Ministers of Defence on behalf of men who were crippled as the result of injuries received in South Africa. Their applications have invariably been referred to the States authorities, and any appeals made at the present time would be treated in the same way. Honorable members have the fullest justification for opposing this proposal, because, according to the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, one of the most careful Ministers of Defence that we have ever had, Colonel Price received special consideration. His term of service was extended beyond the retiring age, and he was paid in full, notwithstanding that he was unfit for dutv for a considerable period. I regard it as an outrage upon common sense to introduce a Bill of this kind at this period of the session. The
Government appear to me to have lost their heads over the Capital Site question, and I must record my protest against the course they have adopted.
– The honorable member for Moira does not appear to be so well acquainted as we are with the history of these cases. In the first place, it was proposed to pay compensation to certain officers upon their compulsory retirement from the Forces. Colonel Price was included among the officers who were entitled to a gratuity, but he elected to accept an appointment in Queensland,, his term of service being extended beyond the retiring age to permit of bis doing so. Upon his retirement from the service it was proposed to pay him an amount of .£800, which, in v?ew of all the circumstances, was regarded as a fair sum. That proposal, however, was withdrawn. It was suggested in this House that if the amount of the gratuity were reduced to the sum recommended by the Medical Board, honorable members would approve of the grant. When the Medical Board recommends that compensation- shall be paid to privates who have been rendered unfit for further duty owing to injuries received whilst on duty, the Executive makes the necessary grants without any previous reference to Parliament.
– Have many privates established their claims?
– I know of several cases in which gratuities have been paid to privates, even during the short time that this Ministry has been in office. The honorable member asks why we should introduce the Bill at this late stage of the session. On a former occasion, the discussion which took place led us to suppose that if the proposed gratuity were reduced to the amount recommended bv the Medical Board as compensation to Colonel Price for injuries received whilst on duty in Australia, the grant would be made without demur. I would point out that the injuries for which compensation is to be given are altogether apart from those received by Colonel Price in South Africa These in themselves were serious enough, and he is now suffering from their effects. He will always suffer. He has never made any claim in regard to those injuries.
– A claim was made, but it was refused.
– Not iri connexion with the injuries received in South Africa.
– Was not a claim made for ^400?
– No. Originally a grant of ,£500 was ‘recommended by the Medical Board as compensation for tlie injury received by Colonel Price whilst he was proceeding to Brisbane by steamer. The Watson Government reduced that amount to .^400, and that is the claim which the honorable member for Melbourne has in mind. A technical difficulty arose in connexion with the matter. There was no dispute as to the propriety of the award ; but the Queensland Government said that they should not be called upon to pay the amount, because Colonel Price had not, up to the time of receiving the injury, rendered any service to that State. It was because of this, and this alone, that the money was not paid at the time. He is a most gallant soldier, whose men were always devoted to him. The honorable member for Moira seems to suppose that some social or other influence has been brought to bear in favour of Colonel Price. So far as I am concerned, however, no person outside of this House has spoken to me on his behalf. The honorable member for Grampians, and one or two other honorable members, certainly mentioned the matter to me; but beyond that I have received no communication of any kind. Colonel Price has been particularly scrupulous not to approach me in the matter. No social influence has been at work.
– I happen to know differently.
– Colonel Price never spoke to me.
– I can assure the honorable member for Moira that, had we known of any other cases like those provided for in the Bill, they would have been dealt with upon exactly the same Basis. If any claims of a similar kind are brought under our notice we shall certainly consider them.
– The Government did not give notice bv advertisement that any one who had a claim would receive consideration.
– I understand that the records were examined.
– I know of a case which has been on record for a long time - that of SergeantMajor Coffey.
– I can assure the honorable member for Moira that the measure has been introduced at this late stage through force of circumstances, and owing to the desire of the Government to fulfil the undertaking given to the House when the matter was formerly under discussion.
– I think that the statement of the Prime Minister has -.cleared the air a little. Honorable members are really anxious to do what is just, but they will not have officers treated differently from members of the rank and file, and, moreover, they do not desire to create a bad precedent, if they can help it. I understand from the Prime Minister that there would have been no need for the introduction of this Bill if a private only had been concerned. The gratuity would have been dealt with by an Order in Council.
– To my knowledge there have been four cases of that kind during the last four months.
– I should like to have a distinct declaration from the Minister that men of the rank and file will be dealt with on the same basis as officers.
– The same procedure is adopted throughout.
– I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– In view of the assurance given by the Minister that men and officers who have been injured whilst on duty will- be treated upon the same basis, and that the merits of their cases will be fully considered, I .am willing to vote for the Bill.
– It cannot be said that I specially favour the officer class. When it was proposed to grant gratuities to certain officers on their retirement, I requested the Government to include non-commissioned .officers and men whose services were being dispensed with at the same time, owing to the retrenchment policy that was being carried out in the Defence Department. I am glad to say that, whether it was due to my efforts or hot, the comae indicated by me was adopted. The Minister has stated that he will consider the claims of men who have been injured whilst on duty. I wish to direct his attention to the case of Sergeant- Major Coffey. There will be no need to look up the records, so far as his case is concerned, because the present Treasurer, when he was Minister of Defence, admitted the merits of the case. Coffey ‘went from “Victoria with the first contingent, and served in South Africa with the second contingent. He contracted a throat affection, and died within ten days after the two years for which the Imperial Government had granted him a pension. He was denied any allowance, although the authorities recognised that he fully deserved it. Only to-day I received a letter from the Min<~ister of Defence in regard to a man named J. T. Costello, who formerly belonged to the Royal Australian Artillery, and was stationed <at Queenscliff. He is a resident of Ballarat East, and is now nearly blind, owing, according to his statement, to the fact that his eyes were treated with nitrate of silver while he was suffering from a cold .at > Queenscliff. He can get no employment of any sort. Yet only to-day a letter reached me, stating that the Minister cannot see his way to grant him any compensation. These are two cases which I hope the Minister will consider.
– How did Colonel Price get injured?
– I am satisfied to accept the statement of a responsible Military Board, that he was permanently injured whilst on duty. He is unable to engage in any manual labour. The evidence of the ship’s officers is, that finding his horse had broken loose, owing to the whistling of a steam-winch, he attempted to go forward, and, in doing so, fell over a steam-pipe, dislocating his shoulder. I contend that if a man suffers permanent injury in the service of the Commonwealth, he should be properly compensated. I am. sorry that the amount in his case is limited to £500. Anybody who reads the official papers connected with it will see that if Colonel Price had not desired to give an additional two years’ service to the Commonwealth in Queensland, he could have retired when others who were not at all his equal retired, with’ ,£1,153 as compensation.
– Would that amount have been paid by Victoria?
– It does not matter to us by whom the money is paid, so long as the claim is a just one. Anybody who knows anything about the history of the South African war, knows that Colonel Price was one of the bravest of the brave. He was always to be found in the firing line. He did not want any of the “ frills “ of the service, but he went to South Africa, and won the esteem and affection of his men, simply because they recognised that he was a born leader.
– He insisted - upon every officer passing through the ranks.
– Until about six years ago, I had never spoken to Colonel Price. I have frequently seen him, and I respected him for his sterling qualities. In the past he has rendered great service to Australia. I am satisfied that if an emergency arose, he would be one of the first to- respond to the call of duty. If the proposed vote can be altered to an annuity, I shall be ready to support it.
– I do not care to allow this Bill to pass without assigning some reasons for my opposition to it. I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of the claims of Colonel Price and Lt. -Col. Bayly. But the Government, I claim, are unwittingly selecting for special consideration certain persons who have been injured in the service of their country, whilst they refuse to help a number of others who have been similarly injured.
– What are the cases to which the honorable member refers?
– Last year I brought under the attention of the Government the t case of a young man who had served two years in South Africa. His services were very highly spoken of. He was attacked by fever, and contracted a lung complaint, with the result that he was in an absolutely helpless condition for a considerable time. The family to which he belonged had suffered severely from domestic afflictions, and I appealed to the Department to grant him some relief. I was immediately met with the reply that nothing could be done for him, because there were a number of similar cases, and if the Department afforded him any relief, it would establish a precedent which would involve the Commonwealth in a very large expenditure. I recognised the force of that position, and therefore desisted from further pressing his claims. The young man his since died. Upon the ground that the granting of compensation to Colonel Price and Lt.-Col. Bayly would establish a bad precedent, I cannot consistently vote for this Bill.
Although I intend to vote against the second reading of this Bill, I do not desire my action to be misunderstood. I protest against granting to Colonel Price a sum of money which, I understand, will have to be paid by Victoria alone.
– This money, will come out of the funds of the Commonwealth.
– I understood that a large portion of it would be contributed by Victoria, and a small portion by Queensland.
– It is Commonwealth expenditure.
– I have spoken to many Victorian representatives, and they have strongly objected to the proposed vote being deducted from the revenue of Victoria.
– The preamble of the Bill makes it clear that it is Commonwealth expenditure.
– When these claims were first submitted to Parliament, it was generally understood that they would be paid by Victoria. However, the Minister now assures me that they will be paid out of the Commonwealth funds. That fact makes the wisdom or otherwise of their payment an Australian question. I hold that Colonel Price - and I am speaking with no enmity whatever - was, in receipt of .a large salary for a very long period, and that he should have been able to save a certain sum of money. I regret that he was not able to do so. The party to which I belong have always advocated that when a person becomes too old to earn his livelihood he should be granted an old-age pension. The State of Victoria occupies, an almost unique position in that connexion. Her Public Service old-age pension claims amount to more than those of the rest of Australia and New Zealand combined.
– That fact has no bearing on. the rights of these officers.
– It has. It is time that those who have not been, privileged to obtain a pension should be assisted to get one. New South Wales does not pay half the amount which Victoria annually disburses in pensions. If we are going to grant pensions to persons who are unable to work, thev should be granted upon an equitable basis. The honorable member for Darwin has suggested an amendment for the payment of the grant of £500 in each case in yearly instalments, or, failing that, that we should provide for the payment of a pension which would keep the recipients from want. I should have no objection to the payment of a pension if it were placed upon a fair basis. Even if I were lacking in feelings of humanity, I certainly should not object to assistance being granted to Lt. -Col. Bayly, who is suffering from one of the most painful diseases known to the medical world. But the point remains that there are many others suffering from the same disease, contracted under circumstances equally as honorable as those under which Lt. -Col. Bayly became a victim, and I am sure that the Minister will agree that the most generous consideration should be extended to these people. Society, unfortunately, is most brutal in its treatment of the young and the old, and the party to which I belong is seeking to make life a little easier for those who have had the roughest times. The Treasurer said very truly that Colonel Price followed a very dangerous calling. I agree with him ; but I have here a small pamphlet, entitled The Tragedy of Toil, written by John Burns, a member of the present British Ministry, in which it is shown by figures that cannot be controverted, that the profession of the Army is less dangerous than most other occupations. Mr. John Burns points out that, as compared with the dangers of mining, those attaching to service in the Army are a mere bagatelle; and that, as compared with the dangers associated with any calling in which machinery is required, they are as nothing. Tn mv student days I went round with a subscription-list, trying to collect sixpences
*n purchase an invalid’s chair for one of the heroes of Balaclava, of whom something like thirty-five were allowed to die in the work-house, while many others filled paupers’ graves. I object to a Bill being brought in to grant compensation to officers while the men are left in the back-ground. I feel confident, however, that the Minister will extend as much sympathy to those in the lower ranks as any other honorable member is prepared to do. The right honorable member for East Sydney has pointed out that in no instance has a Bill been submitted to provide for compensation to a private.
– We can deal with the privates by Executive act.
– I know of many privates, who have suffered in the service of their country, but have been treated badly.
It has been stated by the honorable and learned member for Corinella that the agreement between Colonel Price and the authorities was fair and square, and that when he went to Queensland, Colonel Price absolutely understood the terms and conditions upon which his appointment was made. I admire the man for determining to go to Queensland, notwithstanding that he might gain but little by doing so. The desire to fill the post of commanding officer in one of the States, before finally retiring from the service, was certainly a most laudable one. But, so far as I have been able to examine the papers, I am not prepared to say that he was entitled to the sum of £1,160 to which reference has been made. I believe that two successive Ministries refused to entertain his claim for £400, in respect of an accident suffered by him whilst on his way to Queensland. When Major-General Hutton said that Colonel Price was entitled to something like £1,600, I think that he was under a misapprehension - that he included in the total sum of , £1,160, the amount of£400, in respect of which a further claim has been made. On the 14th May, 1902, an offer was made to Colonel Price to become Commandant of Queensland. At that time the colonel was in his sixtieth year, and, by the rules governing the Defence Department, he would have been retired at a certain date. Major-General Hutton, however, permitted him to have two years’ extra service. Had he remained in Victoria, that permission would not have been extended to him, but it was allowed in order that he might have an opportunity to secure the higher post of State Commandant of Queensland.
– I suppose that any rubbish is good enough for Queensland.
– I do not suggest anything of the kind. I have more reason than has any other honorable member to know that nothing can be said against Colonel Price so far as his physical courage is concerned. At one time I had a very serious quarrel with him, but I never questioned hig personal courage. I believe that he is possessed of those qualities that go to make good soldiers and leaders; but I certainly object to the suggestion that he is the bravest of the brave. He may be amongst the number, but some of the rank and file are as brave as any who ever handled a rifle or marched a step. It was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, during the debate on the Estimates of the Department of Defence, that -
In June ot July, 1902, Colonel Price actually proceeded to Queensland, and the Commonwealth Gazette of 18th July, 1902, contained the notification of his appointment as dating from 1st July-
Prior to that, the General Officer Commanding had written the following minute : -
Please assure Colonel Price that I can only regret that under the regulations of retirement for age it will be impossible for him to hold any active command under the Commonwealth after the age of 62, which he will, I understand, attain on the 21st October, 1904.
It will thus be seen that Colonel Price is now sixty-three year9 of age. The General Officer Commanding went on to state that -
I propose to recommend Colonel Price as a special case, to be retained in the service for two years, from the 21st October next, when he, in accordance with the date of his birth given in the gradation list, attains the age of 60.
The honorable and learned member for Corinella went on to point out that -
Six weeks after Colonel Price had entered upon his command in Queensland, the honorable and learned member for Corio asked the honorable member for Hume - who was then acting as Minister for Defence - a question as to whether any compensation was to be granted. The Acting Minister replied that he was then considering the question. The importance of this fact lies in the circumstance that at the time Colonel Price went to Queensland, the most that could have taken place was that Major-General Hutton - and Colonel Price alleges that this is so - had said that the retiring officers were , to receive gratuities. I may add that Major-General Hutton contradicts that statement, and asserts that what he promised was that he would do his best to obtain the gratuities, but that the question of granting them would depend upon Parliament.
– The honorable member understands that we are not now dealing with that point. All that has been abandoned.
– The fact remains that, if the question of these gratuities does not come up in one way, it must come up in another. It reminds one of the legend of the hydra with the many heads, any one of which when cut off was immediately succeeded by two others.
– It, is unfortunate that Major-General Hutton’s recollection of the incident is different from that of about five or six officers.
– We all have lapses of memory. Colonel Price carried on from the 1 st July, 1902, and in October of that year he raised the question of gratuities. The honorable and learned member for Corinella pointed out on the occasion to which I refer that on the 29th October, 1902, the right honorable member for Swan, who was then Minister of Defence, wrote the following minute: -
I consider that, so far as the Government is concerned, Colonel Price’s case is the only one in which the Government is committed, and in his case only to a limited extent. In order to avoid any misunderstanding in cases like that of Colonel Price, it is absolutely necessary that the General Officer Commanding should not make any promises to recommend officers for advancement, &c, until he has obtained the approval of the Minister.
The Treasurer interjected that that was a general statement.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
– It was further pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Corinella that, as the result of further correspondence, the then Minister added -
I am unable to make any promise as to whether any gratuity will be paid to him on his retirement, as the present appropriation of gratuities to retiring officers and men was made on the distinct understanding that it should not form a precedent.
That is a fair answer to the statement that, if he had not gone to Queensland, he would have been entitled to a larger retiring allowance. On the 30th October, the right honorable member for Swan wrote -
A copy of my minute should be sent to Colonel Price, so that there may be no misunderstanding on the retirement question.
That minute was communicated to Colonel Price, who, on the 5th November, wrote -
I also note that I am given the opportunity of retiring on gratuity on 31st December.
Apparently, had he retired on that date, he would have received’ his salary right up to the time of his retirement -
From a sordid point of view the latter would have been the course which I should have accepted, but careful consideration has caused me to feel that so long’ as I am able to give my service to my country pecuniary considerations (unless extreme) should not weigh against the clear call of duty. … I further note that your telegram informs me that the Minister is unable to make any promise as to gratuity on retirement at any future date, but I am constrained to believe that services, such a-s I have rendered to the country, will not be allowed to pass unrewarded, because I do not voluntarily give up my appointment at thepresent time.
The Minister wrote on the 16th’ November -
I have told him that no promise can be made, so that he can have no cause for grievance with me if his hope is not realized.
To that Colonel Price replied -
Noted. - I shall have no cause of grievance- if I do not get compensation on retirement, but seeing how small the addition to my salary has been, I retain the hope that when my time comes to retire I may receive generous treatment for my past services.
I have alluded to the fact that there was a claim for £400, which both the Watson Ministry and the Reid-McLean Ministry refused to entertain.
– We were willing to entertain it as a claim foE compensation for injuries, if the Queensland Government would” consent ; but they refused.
– I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
-The honorable and learned member for Corinella, referring to his position as Minister of Defence, in December last, said - all I would say on behalf of the Government was that if it was the general desire of honorable members the Government would reconsider thequestion. There was, however, no general desire expressed ; but, notwithstanding that, the Government did reconsider it. I have been through thepapers at least four or five times.
I do not think that it can be denied that the honorable and learned gentleman went into the matter thoroughly, and the speech which he delivered on the 27th October last showed how he would have voted’ had there been a division on it. There were other cases quite as hard as that of Colonel Price. Let me mention one which was referred toby the honorable and learned member for Corio in 1903. I will quote his own words -
I wish to refer specially to the treatment of a non-commissioned officer, Regimental Sergeant. Major Coffey. This is the third time I havecalled attention to his case, and I have no desireto be bringing it up constantly, but I find that it is necessary to reiterate a thing until it is absolutely forced into the mind of Ministersbefore they will think of doing even justice toa man. I am not now fighting for SergeantMajor Coffey, because he is dead ; but he hasleft a widow and five children, who are deserving of some consideration. He was a regimental drill instructor in Victoria, and he was directed” to go with the First Contingent to South Africa. He did not come back with that contingent, but continued in South Africa, attaching himself to the Second and Third Contingents, and he returned to Victoria with phthisis of the throat.
He died after two years from this disease, contracted while on duty. Neither he, when alive, nor his widow could get the slightest compensation from the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth authorities insisted that he was a State man. When application was made to the State Ministry, the reply was that the Commonwealth had taken over the Defence Force.
– I suppose he died before the Commonwealth was established.
– He died only last year, but he had served in the State forces. Between the two authorities his widow is left to live in a way which must be considered disgraceful by every man in the Commonwealth who contemplates the position. She has applied to the State Defence Department and to the State Premier of Victoria. Their answer was that the Commonwealth had taken over the Defence Force. When she applied to the Commonwealth authorities, their answer was that the case is one for the consideration of the State authorities, because SergeantMajor Coffey went with the First Contingent before the ist January, 1901
Is it right for the Commonwealth to refuse that widowed mother and her five children the consideration which they ask for, if this case is to be dealt with ?
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I remember the promises which were made by the Chief Justice of Victoria and the Premier of the State, when these men were going to South Africa, and, as a Labour member. I was one of the first to object to the breaking of them. They have been broken disgracefully.
– In other States besides Victoria.
– The breaking of these promises should cover those responsible for it with infamy. The party to which I belong regarded the South African war as an infamous one, and I think that the concensus of good opinion is now with us. That, however, does not justify the scandalous treatment which our soldiers have received. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has said that the amount proposed to be voted is only a small sum, but a similar amount would go a good way if distributed amongst men of the rank and file, and I ask him to assist us in widening the scope of the measure. I shall have to vote against the’ Bill as it stands, though I recognise that the case of Lt. -Col. Bayly is a very sad one, and. should the Bill be thrown out, would be willing to contribute mv share to prevent his being in want until the end of the recess. But is ‘it right to vote money to these officers when there are so many thousands in want? I have come to-day from a dying mother, who absolutely needs food for herself and her children, and whom it is hard to get into an institution. Colonel Price was paid a large salary, and if he is not now able to maintain himself that is a misfortune which is common to many. He should not be allowed to want. No officer or private, and no member of the larger army of toilers outside, should suffer in his old age. The annals of toil show that the death rate is larger among the workers than among the soldiers. Miners, run many more risks of injury and death than do military men. Therefore, if we are going to make any provision for the officers of our Defence Forces, we should extend the same consideration to others. As the honorable member for Darwin has suggested, it is. extremely unlikely that the £500 proposed to be granted to Colonel Price will serve to keep him for more than two years. Therefore, it would be better to make him an allowance that would extend over, say, five years. If the House desires to grant pensions, I shall not object, provided that all class.es of the community are treated on the same footing. In Victoria, it is considered a crime to apply for a State old-age pension. Some justices, of the peace make it as difficult as possible for the old and helpless to obtain the pensions, which should be granted to them without putting them to any more trouble or inconvenience than is absolutely necessary to safeguard the interests of the community. No doubt Colonel Price is a brave man ; but the same thing may be said of thousands of others who went from Australia to South Africa. I give him full credit for the fact that whilst he was in command of the Mounted Rifles he insisted that all his officers should graduate in the ranks. He is also to be commended for disapproving of the absurd frill which so frequently characterizes military officers. I think that it would be well for the Government to withdraw the Bill and introduce a more comprehensive measure next session.
– I intend to support the Bill. I have listened very carefully, and with an open mind, to all the speeches which have been made with a view to showing that this is an unjust measure, but I have not heard one argument which belies the statement made by the Minister. The honorable member for Melbourne has made a big-hearted speech, but it seems to me that he has altogether missed the point.
He does not appear to understand that it is, not necessary to introduce a Bill to provide for compensation to privates. All such cases cam be dealt with by the Executive.
– These claims could have been similarly dealt with, because the regulations cover them; but the Minister did not care to accept the responsibility.
– Even if that be the case, there is no harm in submitting a Bill in order that honorable members may have an opportunity of judging whether or not the claims made are just. I trust that the honorable member will be able to give some more logical reason for voting against the Bill.
– I intend to support the Government.
– I am pleased to hear it. The debate has revealed a weak spot in the Defenceadministration. I have frequently noticed complaints in the newspapers that just claims have been bandied about between State and Commonwealth because neither authority would acknowledge its responsibility. I have heard of cases without number in which the State Government has met claims bysaying, “ The Commonwealth has taken over all military matters, and, therefore, the State is not liable.” In respect to the very same claim the Commonwealth has returned the answer, “ The matter is one for the State, and the Commonwealth authorities are not responsible.’.’ I have long come to the conclusion that the military affairs of this country are managed in such a way that there is little encouragement for men of spirit to enter our service. If the present policy is to be continued, and just obligations are to be ignored by the State on the one hand and by the Commonwealth on the other, very few thinking men will care to enter, or allow their sons to enter our military service. The amount involved in the present case may be small ; but an important principle is at stake. It has been clearly shown that private soldiers have not been receiving the same treatment as officers. I have never been accused of posing as a Democrat, but I yield to no man in my desire to see equal treatment meted out. If it could be demonstrated to me that private soldiers were being placed at a disadvantage as compared with officers, by being accorded different treatment, I should be one of the very first to join with the honorable member for Melbourne in opposing the
Bill. I should like the Minister to go further than he has done. I know how easy it is to say that consideration will be given to this or that matter. Consideration is very cheap, and means nothing. I should like to feel assured that every private soldier will not only “receive consideration butwill be accorded the same treatment as is being extended to officers; and that they will be compensated in proportion to the pay to which they were entitled whilst they were in the service. It is a matter of great gravity that we should not induce men to enter our service and send them forth to do battle for us, and afterwards neglect them because of some paltry squabble of a constitutional character between the Commonwealth and the State. If there is any merit in a claim, and the question is merely as to who should meet it, the Commonwealth Government should ask Parliament to authorize the payment. If the State endeavours to escape from what this Parliament conceives to be its just obligations, we ought to be liberal enough to take upon our shoulders the burden of payment. I should like the Minister to say that he will do his utmost to see that the same treatment is accorded in every case.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
This Act may be cited as the Price and Bayly Compensation Act 1905.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilkinson) proposed -
That the words “ Price and “ be left out.
– I would suggest that the Minister should agree to the omission of both the names contained in this clause, with a view to allowing the insertion of a provision requiring the Government to procure a return showing the various amounts which should be paid as compensation in similar instances throughout the service.
– I will promise to obtain that information without any amendment being made in the clause.
– I think it would be a great mistake to expunge the name of Colonel Price from this clause. No invidious distinction should be made between the two officers concerned.
-I should like the names of the two officers mentioned in this clause to be struck out, and a provision substituted which would empower the Government to pay compensation to all who may be entitled to it throughout the service. It has been suggested to me that the substitution of the word “ Defence” for “ Price and Bayly “ would be a desirable amendment. I think that we should be just as well as generous in this matter. It is admitted that a number of other men in the Defence Force are entitled to similar consideration to that which it is proposed to extend to Colonel Price and Lt. -Col. Bayly. If the principle of paying compensation to officers injured whilst on duty is a right one to apply, why should it not be applied universally ?
– The honorable member has suggested that this Bill should contain a sort of general recognition of the claims of officers and men who have been injured on duty, rather than of two particular officers. I have consulted the Attorney-General upon the matter, and he assures/ me that, withoutinjury to the measure, the words “ Price and Bayly “ can be omitted, and the word “Defence “ substituted.
– How about the message from the Governor-General upon which this Bill is founded?
– The Attorney-General assures me that that technical point need! cause us no concern. I am prepared to accept an amendment upon the lines indicated.
– Will the Minister allow other cases to be included in the Bill ?
– This measure appears to me to be the forerunnner of a Bill which will cover such claims for compensation as can withstand the same critical test which has been applied to the cases of these two officers.
– Under the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilkinson) proposed -
That the words “Price and Bayly” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “Defence.”
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- The VicePresident of the Executive Council is prepared to accept this amendment simply as 3 sop to the sentiment which prevails-
– I am endeavouring to meet the wishes of the Committee.
– We desire to broaden the scope of the Bill, but, as I understand the position, we are prevented from doing so.
– We cannot appropriate more money under this Bill, but we can appoint a Committee to inquire into similar cases and to report upon them.
– Our object in broadening the scope of the measure is to intimate to the Government that all men in theDefence Department should be treated in the same way. I think that theidea underlying the amendment is an excellent on?.
Mr. KENNEDY (Moira).- I was rather amused at the way in which the VicePresident of the Executive Council agreed to the proposed amendment, because it means nothing.
– It is a farce.
– It is. His action evidences how generous the Government canbe when they are conceding nothing. The amendment is a mere make-believe, because if it be adopted the Bill will still remain the Price and Bayly Compensation Bill, and nothing more. I do not believe in exquisite foolery of that sort. Mv desire is that we should” reach’ those meritorious cases which the Bill will not touch. The amend- ment will serve no useful purpose whatever. Another Bill will be required to sanction the payment of compensation to any other officer in the same category as Colonel Price and Lt.-Col. Bayly. I ask the Minister if it is not possible to reach the meritorious cases to which I have referred under this Bill ?
– It cannot be done under the message upon which the Bill was originated. The Constitution prevents any proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys from being originated other than by message from the Governor-General. .
– I understand that perfectly well. Seeing that the Bill affirms a principle, could not the Government agree to defer its consideration until next session ?
– It is urgent.
– I would remind (he Attorney-General that measures of urgency affecting infinitely more people than are affected by this Bill, have been allowed to stand over until next session.
– That was not the fault of the Government.
– Nevertheless that lias occurred. I wish to make the Bill applicable to all officers and men in the Defence Forces who have been injured whilst upon duty. I would point out that one of the two officers whose names are mentioned1 in this measure, continued in the service of the Commonwealth for two years after he had reached the age of retirement.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I think that all meritorious cases should be dealt with, just as the Government propose to deal with those under consideration, and I therefore ask the Ministry to agree to the further consideration of this Bill being deferred until next session. There is an important principle involved, and, although special stress has been laid on the claims of these officers for consideration, I would remind the Committee that one of them remained in the service two years after reaching the ordinary retiring age. We know that long before reaching the retiring age many men have “passed out,” leaving behind them penniless families, and I wish some recognition to be given to those deserving cases. I would again ask the Government to agree to allow this measure to stand over until next session.
– We shall go on with it if we can do so.
– This Bill means merely that the two officers named in it are to receive compensation, and we must certainly make an effort to improve its phraseology.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - The Prime Minister has already informed the House of the position of the Ministry with regard to the general principle of compensensation, and I am justified in saying, as the result of a communication from the Minister of Defence, that the Government are prepared to deal with every meritorious case that is brought before them, just as they are treating those now under consideration. But we cannot find out every deserving case. If honorable members are aware of any, let them bring them forward, and1 we shall deal with them. We cannot promise to do more than that.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.)
– Despite the assurance of the Government, the Committee appears to be under the impression that some surreptitious action will be taken to prevent meritorious cases coming under the notice of Parliament’. I am prepared to give an undertaking something to this effect : A report shall be obtained by the Minister, and laid before Parliament, as to all cases in which compensation is claimed for injuries received by members of the Defence Force in the course of their duty.
– What would be the good of that?
– I am endeavouring to settle the matter.
– Will that mean that in the meantime this compensation will be granted to the officers named?
– Yes. We do not wish to overload the Bill. I have read the undertaking we are ready to give, and am prepared to say on behalf of the Minister of Defence that we shall regard it as mandatory that every case that can be discovered shall be laid before the House on its merits, so that it may then be dealt with by honorable members.
– When the honorable gentleman consulted the AttorneyGeneral I .was reminded of that famous character in fiction who was “ sly, devilish sly.” I was certainly deceived, for I thought that we should obtain fair play for all deserving cases.
– Our undertaking should be sufficient. We are prepared to. keep our word.
– As I understand the suggested scheme, no change is made in payment, and I think that, as far as the Government offer is concerned, it is nonsense. It would be far better to have a straight-out division on the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Moreton.
– Does the honorable member think that the twenty-six or twenty-seven honorable members now present would allow the Minister to completely ignore his undertaking ?
– The honorable and learned member should be the last to object since he pointed out the way in which we were being deceived.
– But I have enabled the honorable member to obtain from the Minister an undertaking that will be recorded in Hansard.
– I would ask the Minister whether he is prepared to agree that the Minister of Defence shall, within three months, appoint a Board of Inquiry, of which a member of the Parliament shall be a member, to inquire into, and report upon all claims for compensation for injuries to members of the Defence Forces ?
– I draw attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– The honorable member’s proposal would not cover the case of men who contracted diseases whilst on service.
– I am prepared to agree that the Board should also deal with such cases. Is the Minister ready to give an undertaking on the lines I have indicated? That would include cases of injuries received or sickness caused while on duty.
– What is the difference between the two?
– On the undertaking offered by the Minister, the course adopted would be fairly right, but if that which I propose were followed, it would be perfectly right. If he cannot accept my proposal,. I shall have to move it at the proper time. Would the Minister be prepared to agree to an amendment providing that out of the total sum of $1 , 000 for
Which this Bill provides, ^500 shall be divided amongst the two officers named, leaving the remaining ^500 to be devoted to other deserving cases.
– We would provide for deserving cas.es without interfering with the compensation proposed in this Bill.
– I would remind the honorable member that we cannot disturb the proposed destination of the compensation.
– All that we ask is that all deserving cases shall be treated alike. I do not know whether the honorable member for Moreton is willing to accept the suggestion that the word “defence” should be inserted in the clause. If he is, it will be necessary for us to omit certain words from the succeeding clause.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - Roughly, put, the position is. that we cannot introduce a proposal for any new appropriation in the Bill before us.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed],
– I wish to know if the Minister will incorporate in the Bill a provision which will show that the Government are prepared to consider the whole question of giving compensation and pensions for all ranks of the Defence Forces ?
– I do not think that any provision to that effect should be placed m the Bill; but I can inform the honorable member that we regard the subject as an important one. It has already received attention, and will receive still more during the recess. The Government will be glad to have the honorable member’s assistance in the matter.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed].
– I understand from the Minister- ‘that he has made a statement which appears in the pages of Hansard, to the effect that he is favorably considering the question of granting a pension system to the Defence Forces.
– The question is under the consideration, of the Minister.
– The honorable gentleman will find it difficult to explain away that statement, if he does not carry his promise into effect, and, as he has made it, I shall not oppose the Bill further.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the following sums : -
Amendment (by Mr. King O’Malley) put-
That after the word “ accordingly,” line 3, the words “ to be paid out at the rate of £2 per week,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the following words be left out : - “To Colonel Thomas Price, C.B., as compensation for permanent injuries received while on duty, and certified to by the Army Medical Board, £500.”
I have a great , mass of papers here which I think it is absolutely necessary to read. One honorable member has stated that it is necessary that the X rays should be employed inthe examination of injuries such as those sustained by Colonel Price. I find, by reference to the official records, that the X rays were applied, and it is stated on the authority of some gentleman whose signature is undecipherable that there was no dislocation of the shoulder. The first claim for compensation was made by Colonel Price onthe 27th October, 1902, in the following terms : -
I have the honour to request that a Medical Board may be assembled to examine, report, and assess compensation, if given me, for injuries to my right arm received when on duty.
Ihave refrained from applying hitherto for this board, as I was in hopes that during my tenure of service here the injury might heal, but as I am now under notice to leave the Forces, and have to earn my livelihood (probably by manual labour), I am compelled to ask that my case may be inquired into, and proper compensation for my accident be given to me.
I quote the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Snee, of Victoria, as a precedent.
I can quite understand the anxiety of Colonel Price as to his future. The DirectorGeneral of the Army Medical Services in his reply says : -
The General Officer Commanding directs me to inform you that since your letter of 22nd October, 1902, was written, your notification to leave the Forces has been withdrawn.
I t appears that before the accident, Colonel Priceintimated his desire to leave the Forces, but special consideration was shown to him, and he was allowed to accept a position in Queensland. I think that it is absolutely necessary that the Committee should hear these papers read. I desire to direct attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed]. I regret that an officer who has served in the Military Forces for the greater part of his life should have to contemplate the necessity of earning his living by manual labour. The memorandum, to which I have previously referred, directedthat a Medical Board should be appointed to conduct an inquiry. The Board assembled on the 17th November, and a report of its proceedings is attached. Then there is a memorandum from the Director-General of the Army Medical Services, who, in view of the opinion expressed by the Medical Board, held on 20th November, 1902. that there was a prospect of improvement in Colonel Price’s case, recommended that he should reappear before a Medical Board on 13th June, 1903. The General Officer Commanding; agreed to this, and the Medical Board assembled. Then a question arose as to the proper form of proceeding to be adopted. I think it will be of advantage to us to have the assistance of the chief military authority in this House, the honorable and learned member for Corio, and, therefore. I again call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed]
Motion (by Mr. Wilson) negatived; -
That the honorable member for Moira be no longer heard.
– Colonel Price, in his reply to the finding of the Board, said that it dealt with the question of his fitness for service abroad, which was not involved, inasmuch as he was not liable for such service, except on his own application. I am informed that the Minister in charge of the Bill wishes to report progress, and I have no desire to prevent him from doing so.
Bill returned from the Senate, with a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the modifications made by the House of Representatives in its requested amendment in clause 2.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn to 2.45 p.m. on Thursday.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 16th December, vide page 7148).
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I trust that the Minister does not intend to proceed with this Bill at such a late hour of the evening. A large number of honorable members have left for their homes in the ether States.
– We do not intend to pro.ceed with the contentious clause.
– When the Bill was introduced the Minister in charge of it said t>9.t it did not contain a contentious clause.
– I did not say that. I said it was a formal Bill to a very large extent.
– We were afterwards told that it contained only one contentious clause. Probably if we were afforded time to consider it Ave should find that all its provisions are of a contentious character. I believe that it has been introduced for the purpose of rectifying errors of administration. Those errors can only be rectified ait the expense of other patentees.
– Why does not the honorable member say what is correct ? That is not so. If he had allowed me an opportunity to do so, I intended to make a statement.
-! shall be very glad to hear the ‘Minister.
– Since this Bill was under consideration the other day, I have received two deputations from patent agents.
– Not from any body of patent agents, but from individuals. A deputation has waited upon me from the Patents Institute.
– The Patents Institute is a very peculiar institute. The deputation which waited upon me absolutely approved of this Bill, as, far as it went, but wished me to provide for an appeal being made from the Commissioner to a Crown Law officer, which I declined to do. The clause to which objection was taken the other day was clause 8.
– I objected to other clauses also.
– There is nothing in those provisions to which objection can be taken.
– The earlier clauses do not say that the Bill has been introduced in consequence of mistakes committed by the Department.
– The Commissioner says -
Section 29 of the Patents Act provided that applications for patents could be lodged immediately after the Commissioner was appointed, but any patent granted pursuant to the application was to be dated as of the day of the commencement of the Act. Such appointment took place on the 3rd of February, 1904, the patent office was established on 12th February, 1904, and the Act came into operation on ist June, 1904. Section 48 of the same Act is as follows : - “ Unless a complete specification is accepted within 12 months of the date of application, or such further time as is prescribed, then save in the case of an appeal having been lodged against the refusal the application shall lapse.”
I would point out that the period from which these applications dated is doubtful. The Commissioner proceeds -
The office was fully seized of the difficulties in regard to the administration of section 29, and in reference to applications under this section, a. special rule as to the prescribed time as empowered by section 48 was provided (see last paragraph of rule 16 of statutory rules 1904, No. 70, which reads as follows : - “ But in the case of complete specifications lodged under section 29 of the Act the Commissioner may extend the period for such acceptance to six months without the payment of a fee.”)
The time therein prescribed, namely, six months, was expected to prove sufficient to meet the difficulties likely to arise, but experience has shown to the contrary, hence the necessity for the amendment.
Section 2 of the present Bill applies only to applications under Section 29 of the Patents Act 1903, and ceases to exist on the expiration of a period of six months after the commencement of this Act.
The honorable and learned member for Parkes, and one or two others, desired to know to what cases the Bill will apply. There are only two of importance, namely, Nos. 342 and 389. The applications for sealing the patents concerned in those cases can only be validated by the amendment of section 2 of the principal , Act. The Commissioner gives particulars of the applications on which the acceptance fees were paid too late to permit of advertising and sealing within the prescribed time, but in which no request has been received from the applicants or their agents. These applications are likely to lapse. There are three cases coming within that category. There are also a number of cases in which applications were made, upon which acceptance fees were paid, and notices of acceptance advertised in the Australian Official Journal of Patents, but in which the applicants, or their agents omitted to pay the sealing fee of £5 within the statutory period allowed by section 67 of the Patents Act 1903, or any extended period allowed by regulation 16 of the Patents Regulations 1904, No. 70. There are twenty-two applications under section 29 which have been refused, abandoned, or withdrawn, &c, 407 in which letters patent havebeen issued, and fourteen which may yet be complied with. These are all. the cases that could possibly be affected by this clause, and most of them have already been dealt with.
– How many searches have been made for lapsed patents and have been acted upon?
– I am informed by the Commissioner of Patents that searches have been made in every case to which I have referred.
– The people concerned may have been searching in order to use those patents. I think ample notice should have been given of the intention to proceed with this Bill.
– I am informed by the Commissioner that a large number of these cases are not likely to be dealt with. I believe that only in a few of the smallercases is application likely to be made under this clause. I do not wish to have a long debate on this question.
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that the Bill will not pass in its present form.
– In the interests of those who are labouring under a hardship, and should be granted some relief, it is my duty to test the feeling of the Committee; but if there is no chance of passing the Bill I shall not waste the time of honorable members.
– There is no hope of getting the Bill.
– The honorable member, I understood, was strongly in favour of it. I am prepared to agree to the omission of clause 8 if the Committee will not insist upon the proposed schedule. The remaining clauses are really formal.
– Will it affect people spread all over the States?
– Yes; I havean amendment to provide that notice shall be given all over the States.
– I think that applications are likely to be made under this clause only in the five cases to which I have specially referred. Inquiry has been made by the Department in reference to nearly all the other cases, and I am informed that they do not think that other applications will be made. Had it been my intention to ask the Committee to accept the Bill as it stands I. should have read a. great deal of information that 1 have before me; but, in the circumstances, I shall refrain from doing so. On a previous occasion I was asked the reason forthe introduction of clause 8. There were two reasons. The first was the misdirection of a letter, which caused endless trouble, and possibly, loss, to an individual who was blameless in the matter, while the other was a mistake that arose through the fact being overlooked that a sealing fee was paid on the last day on which a patent could be sealed.I believe the incident occurred on a holiday. An official in the Department, overlooking the fact that it was the last day on whichthe fee could be paid, left the office without arranging for the sealing. Ibelieve that there are a good many cases in which, through the mistakes of the office, inconvenience has been caused, and the object of clause 8 was to enable office errors to be rectified. I hope that honorable members will allow the Bill to go through in the form I have indicated, so that some relief may be given to those who are hard pressed in the absence of such legislation.
– I am sorry to see the Minister occupying somewhat of the position of a suppliant-
– I am asking for something not formyself, but for others.
– The honorable member is placed in the position of having to appeal to the Opposition to enable him to pass this Bill. If he will allow me to say so, he seems to have quite mistaken the nature of my objection. I have listened with great care to his reading of certain papers, which show that a number of departmental errors have been made, which it is highly desirable to rectify. But the Minister does not seem to recognise that the occurrence of these mistakes is no justification for the introduction and passing of a measure which opens up the whole of the patent laws of Australia. There is no step in the process of obtaining a patent concerning which power is not given by the Bill to go back on the whole of the procedure. I wish the Committee to understand that I am not offering factious, opposition : I am simply moved by a desire to protect the interests of a number of people in various parts of Australia who have had no notice of this proposal to make a drastic alteration of the law, which may have retrospective effects. This Bill was, placed in our hands only on Friday last. I then showed the House that it would give the Commissioner of Patents power to revive lapsed applications, and to waive many forms of irregularity. Where certain patentees have acquired rights by reason of the non-compliance on the part of others with provisions of the original Act, the Commissioner is, by this
Bill, to be invested with power to go back on the whole of those proceedings. In order to show that my remarks are well founded, I shall read clause 2. It provides that -
The Commissioner may in relation to any application for a patent made under section 29 of the Patent Act-
There is no time limit.
– In the last two lines of the clause a limit of six months is fixed.
– But there is no limit to the time in respect of that on which the Commissioner may go back.
– This clause relates only to applications under section 29 of the principal Act.
– I hope that the Minister will not interrupt me. This is a legal question, and requires to be clearly and succinctly stated, in order that it may be understood by laymen. The clause provides that -
The Commissioner may, in relation to any application for a patent made under section 29 of the Principal Act -
The prescribed time for doing any act or taking any step may be extended under thissection, although the time has expired……
– The honorable and learned member knows that section 29 is dead.
– But it is quite possible that rival applications for patents may have been made under it whilst it was alive, and that two or three applicants may have failed by reason of their non-compliance with that section. On the other hand, some of them may have succeeded; by reason of their success their inventions may have acquired a commercial value, and may have been the subject of advances by capitalists for patent rights. But this clause would give the Commissioner the right to revive the whole of the other applications that had previously failed, and they might come into competition with those over which negotiations had taken place. . I commend the desire of the Minister to do what is right. He has put certain cases before the Committee,, and if it were provided that the cases in question should be referred to the Attorney-General to ascertain whether any vested interests were affected by them, and that those concerned should have sufficient notice to enable them to appear before the Attorney-General to show how their vested interests would be affected, I should have no objection. But to do that, we should have practically1 to reconstruct the Bill. If the Minister is prepared to limit clause 2 to cases in which mistakes or omissions have been made in the Patents Office; to append to the Bill a schedule of cases; and to agree to an amendment that the AttorneyGeneral, and not the Commissioner, shall be made responsible for examining and certifying that no vested interests are being affected by any of these steps, and that notice shall be given in such a way that it will reach the remotest parts of Australia, I do not see that much harm can be done.
– I do not think that we should agree to the passing of the Bill.
– It would take a long time to amend the Bill in the way I think necessary.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee (Consideration resumed, vide page 7434).
– I understand that the honorable member for Moira intends to quote at length from the official papers in this case, and may take hours in doing so. That being the case, it would be better for the Minister not to proceed further with the Bill now. I do not think that my honorable friends are playing the game fairly. If they knew what a miserable Christmas they will cause to two homes, they might act otherwise.
– This is not a charitable institution.
– No; but if the proposed gratuities are fair, let them be given ; if not let honorable members vote against them. I do, not think that it is fair to try to talk the measure out. I have never pursued such a course, and should feel ashamed to do so. I think that if the Minister had accepted the amendment which I suggested, it would have met most of the objections to. the Bill. If honorable members wish to talk the measure out, let them say so.
– We do not wish to be lectured by the honorable and learned member.
– Then I shall not lecture the honorable member. The Minister ought to recognise that there is not a sufficiently large attendance to enable him to put an end to frivolous and irrelevant debate.
– Is it in order to characterize the debate as frivolous and irrevelant ?
– If my remark is out of order, I withdraw it. I think that honorable members should not pursue the course which they are now following.
– It must be apparent to every honorable member that, for reaspns which it is unnecessary to detail, we have no alternative but to ask the Committee to report progress . Certain honorable members must accept the responsibility for this.
Ventilation of the Chamber : Electoral Bill: Services of Mr. Speaker, Chairman of Committees, and other officers : foundling Hospital: Arrangement of Business : Statement by Minister of Agriculture in Queensland.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– With reference to some remarks made just now-
– It is not in order on this motion to refer to anything said in the previous, debate; still less is it in order to refer to the proceedings of a Committee which has not reported to the House.
– With regard to the action of the Government, and some honorable members who have made some charges-
– The honorable member must not refer to a previous debate.
– Then I wish to know whether the Prime Minister will make a statement as to the order of business on the next day of sitting.
– The Electoral Bill which has just been passed is so involved as to be likely to cause much difficulty and confusion in its interpretation, and 1 ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will see that copies are circulated to honorable members at the earliest possible date. The character and extent of the amendments which have been made in the law are such that I believe no honorable member knows exactly what the provisions are.
– I can promise to do as the honorable member desires. The Electoral Bill, when it is issued, will appear in a codified form, so that honorable members will be able to see the whole effect of the electoral law set forth in one document. I shall take care that this matter is expedited.
– We are now about to go into recess for, I suppose, six months, and I appeal to the Prime Minister to take advantage of the opportunity to have the ventilation of this Chamber attended to. We ought not to consider the petty jealousies which arise between the State and the Commonwealth Parliaments ; but the Prime Minister ought to call for a report from the Inspector-General of Public Works of the Commonwealth, and see if something cannot be done in this connexion. Personally, I find it impossible to remain in this Chamber for more than two hours without suffering ill effects.
– I regret that a departure from the arrangement of the business-paper necessitates a word of complaint. The Seat of Government Bill was the first item to-day, but on my arrival at the House I found another measure - the Sugar Bounty Bill - had been finally dealt with. I wished to say a few words before the Bill had been finally disposed of. My purpose was to draw attention to a statement made by Mr. Denham, the Minister of Agriculture of Queensland, at a banquet held in Brisbane on the ist September last. These remarks by Mr. Denham illustrate the ingratitude of certain public men and people in Queensland in regard to the Federal Parliament. The remarks to which I refer were made in the presence of the State Treasurer, the Minister of Education, the Attorney-General, the Minister of Lands, the Home Secretary, and the Chief Justice. No apology for this libel on the Commonwealth nor any word in mitigation of ‘it, has ever been heard from the politicians or press of Queensland. This is the incendiary utterance: -
Mr. Denham, in replying, said he was confident that Queensland would prove one of the most prosperous States of the group. They had not yet surmounted the great1 difficulties of the thing called Federation, Whether that cankerworm would sap the life of the State had still to be demonstrated. Perhaps, before that stage was reached, some one of sufficient power and character might arise who would be able to free them from their bonds.
Queensland has some fifteen representatives in this House and another place, yet they have been content to pass over this libel in silence.
– The representatives of Queensland do not indorse those remarks.
– Queensland, next to Victoria, is reaping the greatest benefits from Federation. The sugar industry “receives an enormous bonus paid out of the public funds.
– Out of the Excise.
– Out of the public funds. Over £I00,000 is being paid this year, and before the bounty period expires it is expected that the annual payment will amount to over ,£500,000. Perhaps it is absurd to expect this man, whose sense of justice must be absolutely warped, to apologize and withdraw his outrageous remarks. But I think that a protest might well have been uttered by the representatives of Queensland in this House against such statements. When the honorable member for Herbert says that the representatives of Queensland do not indorse the remarks. I reply that they have indorsed! them by their silence.
– What about the Premier of Western Australia, who said he was going to lead a secession movement ?
– I am not apologizing for anybody’s errors just now, more especially as I think the Premier of Western Australia has a substantial grievance, of which this other man could not complain. The laws that apply to Queensland extend to every State in the Commonwealth, and consequently he could be under no special hardship. He also uttered a threat, with which I shall not weary the House.
– It is all bunkum.
– I agree with the honorable member that it is all bunkum, and I am surprised that, as a representative of. Queensland, he did not repudiate it. Are we to take in silence an insult such as this from a person associated officially with a State which receives, next to Victoria, the largest benefits from the Union ?
– He was full of champagne when he said it.
– That may be ; but Phillip sober sometimes has the manliness to apologize for what Phillip drunk has done.
– Queensland pays more of the particular tax to which the honorable member refers than does any other State in Australia.
– That is all very fine; but those engaged in the industry get considerably more out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the whole of the Commonwealth than the State pays in taxation. Does the honorable member defend this statement about the Commonwealth?
– Not for a moment; but I controvert the honorable member’s statement.
– I repeat that, next to Victoria, Queensland receives the greatest benefits from Federation; and I challenge the honorable member to disprove my assertion. I feel that this measure should not be allowed to leave us without some expression of displeasure at an attack so wanton and unjustifiable from a State which has every ‘reason to be grateful for the special benefits which the Commonwealth has conferred upon it.
– Honorable members know that I have taken a prominent part in connexion with one phase of the Electoral Bill. The honorable member for Wilmot was also very anxious to deal with the same phase; but, in view of the importance of the business before us, I asked him to desist, on the promise given byothe Prime Minister to afford every facility during next session to secure a final expression of opinion from the House. To-day the Senate returned the Bill to us, after having removed from it the provision inserted by this House in regard to counsel appearing at the High Court. I again desisted from offering any opposition!. I consider it desirable to mention that my reason for refraining from occupying time is due to nothing but the late period of the session. I did not desire to prevent the session from being closed, relying upon the assurance of the Prime Minister - which I know will be kept - that an opportunity will be afforded for the discussion of the question at the earliest possible moment next session.
– This will be the 1’ast opportunity I shall have of bringing under the notice of the Prime Minister a matter which, I am sure, will deeply interest him as a kind-hearted man. It is a question which, in view of our need of population, will have a special interest for him. I wish to ask him whether he cannot, as the head of the Commonwealth Government lend a helping hand to those who are endeavouring to save the infant life that is born and unnecessarily wasted in this country? In London, and’ in some parts of the Continent of Europe, there are splendid institutions, in the nature of foundling hospitals. I should like to see Australia lead in the direction of founding an institution ot an even more advanced character than those. Possibly the Prime Minister may say that his powers are limited by the terms of the Constitution ; but, knowing his sympathetic heart, I ask him whether, during the recess, it would not be possible for him to place himself in communication with the Premiers of the States, with a view to establish an. Australian institution of the character I have indicated ? I think we could establish an institution in which not only care and attention would be devoted to infants,, but also to the mothers of new-born children. I should be very grateful if something could be done in the direction of establishing foundling homes of this nature. It would prevent a large amount of child - life being unnecessarily, and’, I arn inclined to say, cruelly wasted. I urge the Prime Minister to consider the matter during the recess, and to see whether he cannot induce the various States’ Premiers to take action. I am satisfied that it would be of immense benefit to Australia in the future.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs;. - The obligation to which the honorable member for Melbourne has called1 attention is one with which all citizens of the Commonwealth, whether occupying offices of public trust or not, must acknowledge, although our own intervention in the matter may not be constitutionally authorized. As the honorable member has indicated, there is reason to fear that there is an enormous waste of infant life in most civilized countries, and certainly in our own. I am certain that anything that lies within our power to guard with greater care the best immigrant Australia could have - the Australian baby - will be gladly done. As that appears to be the only question put to me, may 1 now turn to another matter ? I take this opportunity, perhaps the last that will be afforded to me for some time, of expressing to you, sir, and to the Chairman ot Committees, who is associated with you in presiding over our deliberations, pur appreciation of the invariable courtesy which you have exhibited towards us during the session. It will be admitted on all hands that the conditions under which we. have carried on our work, and the character of the work we have had to perform, has imposed the greatest strain upon this House - a strain unequalled in any preceding session. During the whole of that most difficult and trying and wearisome time, you, sir, have held the scales of parliamentary justice absolutely even, and by your perfectly impartial demeanour, have commanded the confidence of the whole House. May I express also to the Chairman of Committees, who is associated with you, our thanks for his services, and our earnest hope that neither he nor you will suffer from the duties that have been imposed upon you. Nor is it possible for us to forget the officers of this House - those who “sit at this end of the table, and who are of such constant assistance to us ; and those who sit at the other end of the table, whose serious task it is to record our proceedings, and who have during this exceedingly trying time discharged their duties with marvellous fidelity.
– As always.
– Yes; but the strain imposed by constant sitting, during which their whole attention has had to be concentrated on every incident, upon the pro*cedure of the House, and upon the speeches of honorable members, often during periods of excitement and confusion, has been such that the accuracy of their record has been really a triumph of their art. Then, sir, we cannot forget the other servants of this House, who, on their part, have been obliged to work for many extra hours, and for- long periods, often discharging painful and toilsome tasks.
– What about the ventilating of the House?
– In that connexion, I am properly reminded that during these long sittings we have discovered the defects of the qualities of this House. I can remember that on the first occasion when I had the honour of holding Ministerial office in the Legislature of Victoria, and sat upon this bench - it must have been very nearly twenty-five years ago- I was questioned by an honorable member sitting in the Opposition corner, who was an expert in ventilation, and who called attention to the vitiated state of the atmosphere. He received on that occasion the usual Ministerial reply, that the subject would be inquired into and the evil corrected. If I have to repeat the same assurance twenty-five years afterwards, I venture to say that there has not been that “ raw haste,” which the poet says, is “ half sister to delay,” nor will my effort at improvement be described as one of those radical measures with which I am sometimes associated. May I say one other word to the members of this House. May I venture to thank those associated with me for the part they have taken in one of the most trying, tedious, but fruitful sessions within my experience. I need hardly allude to the utterly unexpected events of the early part of the session which led to a transformation, and threw the responsibilities of government upon us. But we assumed a serious obligation when we assured His Excellency the Governor-General by resolution that we were prepared to do the work that lay before us, alleging that there was work to be done, and that we were prepared to do it. I say, at the conclusion of this session, that Ave can look back upon a splendid record of. ‘ legislation accomplished - I believe efficiently accomplished - touching many great and vital issues affecting the well being of this country and vindicating the character of this Parliament. That record proves that we have been true to the pledge that we gave that we were capable of doing the work. We have accomplished it, and I trust that in the next session of this Parliament we shall be able to establish an equally satisfactory’ record of diligence and devotion to duty.
– In the absence of the leader and acting leader of the Opposition, I may be permitted to echo the sentiments of the Prime Minister. It is generally supposed that if a Speaker has a leaning one way or another, it is in the direction of the powers that be; but I should like to say, on behalf of the Opposition, that we feel as fully as the Prime Minister does the fairness with which you, sir, have held the scales of political justice. No occasion has occurred in the history of this Parliament, and certainly of this session, in which any honorable member on this side has had reason to doubt the absolute justice and impartiality of your decisions. We acknowledge not only your justice, but your great patience and consideration for those who in moments of anger or disappointment may have sometimes exceeded legitimate limits. We feel as the Prime Minister does, not only ..in regard to yourself and the Chairman of Committees, but in regard to the great assistance and care, beyond what is demanded of them, of the Hansard staff, and also in regard to the officers of the House. It is scarcely in my province, I think, to join in the congratulations of the Prime Minister on the splendid legislation which he claims to have been passed. There is some of it to which we should feel inclined to take strong exception; but the Prime Minister ‘and his colleagues are quite entitled to enjoy those congratulations, seeing that they_ have fathered most of the measures which the House has passed. It is a matter for great congratulation that, although the House has passed through a trying experience in this session - I was not here myself to see it, but I know from experience of five-and-twenty years what it must have been, because I have fought and slept through many nights in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales - in view of the trouble there has been over certain measures, it is matter for congratulation that the House is now dispersing with such goodwill amongst all its members. There is apparently not an atom of- personal ill-feeling between the members of one side and the other ; and it augurs well for our work next session that we should be parting now on such friendly terms.
– I should like to say, if I may be allowed to do so, that I am exceedingly obliged to the honorable the Prime Minister and to the honorable and learned member for Parkes for the words which they have spoken. I can only add to those words these : .That no Speaker would ever be able to do his duty in the Chair unless he felt he had the support and confidence of the House. That support and that confidence I have always felt that I have had, and in their. possession I have studied to do the best I could for the advancement of the business of the country, in fairness to all those who are members of the House. I would like to add a word or two in recognition of the very excellent help rendered to me by the Chairman of Committees, whose aid during the recent prolonged sittings enabled me to pass through hours of great strain. The good work of the officers of the House is known to us all, as is the good work of the officers of the Hansard staff. There ore some persons connected with our duties here who are engaged in offices upstairs. They are not seen, but they have also done very much to facilitate the work of the House in She preparation of its records. To the messengers .of the House I am sure our very best thanks are also due. I may say that, in response to many requests made to me privately by honorable members, and in response also to some remarks uttered’ on the floor of the House, arrangements have been made tq double ‘the usual .leave pf absence granted to these officers of the House during the coming recess, as some slight recognition of the efforts they have put forth. I shall be pleased now, if I may be permitted to do so; to wish all honorable members the compliments of the season.
– I apprehend that it is quite out of order for me to make any remarks at this stage, but I feel that perhaps I might be accused of a want of courtesy if I did not acknowledge the very kind things which you, sir, the Prime Minister, and the acting leader of the Opposition have been good enough to say. I desire to thank honorable members very sincerely for the. courtesy and consideration! with which they have always been good enough to treat me, and without which it would have been impossible for me to carry out my duties in a way which I could regard as satisfactory. I recognise that during the frying times through which we have passed some irritation has been caused, but I am very glad to believe that it has been of a purely temporary character. I have especially to thank the Temporary Chairmen of Committees for the valuable assistance they have so readily accorded me throughout the session. I re-echo the feelings of indebtedness which you, sir, have expressed towards the officers of the House, the Hansard staff, the messengers, and all concerned in the carrying on of our business. I desire also to join you in the expressions you have uttered with regard to the coming season.
Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne). - I might be allowed to say that I promised the Minister in charge of the Price and Bayly Bill that, so far as I was concerned, if action were taken on the initiative of the Executive to assist Lt.-Col. Bayly in his distress during the recess - and I understand that help to the extent of £300 could be afforded in this way - I should be willing to indorse such action at a later opportunity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 December 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051219_reps_2_30/>.