3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table all the correspondence in reference to clause 9 of the report of the Navigation Conference, held in London last year, to which reference was made yesterday in another place by the representative of the Government, in connexion with the despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies about the powers of this Government with regard to navigation ?
– My honorable colleague will to-day lay the whole of the correspondence on the table in another place, and I hope to lay a copy of it on this table to-morrow.
– Owing to the inadequacy of the information concerning the production of iron in Australia which is now available, rendering bonus proposals mere matters of speculation, will the Government agree to the appointment of a Select Committee to provide Parliament with reliable information on which intelligent legislation can be based?
– I am not aware that the information is inadequate. As the appointment of a Committee would mean the indefinite postponement of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, I do not think it should be asked for. Similar legislation has been before us on two or three occasions; and in the debates upon it full use has been made of the results of the prolonged investigation of a Commonwealth Royal Commission. I am at a loss to understand how anything can be added of that kind.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Manufacture in Australia of brass and cupronickcl cups, required for the making of rifle cartridges, and of silver and bronze blanks for the coinage of tokens -Report of Board on
Naval Defence - Further correspondence between the Commonwealth Government and the Admiralty, in regard to the Naval Defence of Australia.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the Government considered proposals for Commonwealth borrowing ; and, if so, what conclusions have been arrived at?
– There is always the contingency that it may be profitable to obtain money by borrowing; but the Government has never seriously considered any particular proposal for raising money by loan.
Report (No.1) presented by Sir John Quick, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
Undergrounding of Wires, Adelaide - Temporary Fitters, General Post Office, Sydney- Quorn Post Office Staff - Wallace Butter Factory Telephone
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that if the underground installation of telegraph wires at Adelaide is not completed before the electrification of the tramways, which it is expected will, in parts of the city, be finished within six weeks or two months, there will be a serious interference with telegraphic and telephonic communication there? Under these circumstances, will he see that money is provided to continue the installation begun some months ago?
– The greater part of the installation is nearly completed, and my experts advise me that what remains to be done will not be affected by the tramway works. Every effort will be made to complete the installation at the earliest possible moment.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The desired information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether he has noticed the following reference to the undermanned staff of the Quorn office, and will he take steps to have the staff increased : -
Quorn Post Office
The staff at the post office is considerably undermanned. Under a State Department there were four officers; now, under Federal control, there are a postmaster, one officer, and a lad. The work of the office has nearly doubled with the return of good seasons. Mails are now forwarded to the Far North by nearly every special, and, as these trains leave at various times of the day and night, this, in itself, is no small task to cope with?
– Yes; steps have already been taken to increase the staff.
asked the Postmaster-General., upon notice -
Is it intended to connect the Wallace Butter Factory by telephone, and when is it expected that such work will be completed?
– Inquiry is proceeding in connexion with the desired service referred to. No definite statement can be made on the subject at present.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) agreed to -
That a Return be laid upon the table of the House showing -
Na mes of officers in Federal Departments transferred from State to State since the initiation of the Federal Departments concerned.
Grades and salaries of said offices from which transferred.
Grades and salaries of said offices to which transferred.
– Before private members’ business is called on, I would ask the honorable member for Denison to allow the motions standing in his name to be postponed until an early date in order that the Capital Site Bill may, be dealt with at once. I think every other private member who has business on the paper will agree to allow it to be postponed, unless it is by the unanimous consent of the House taken as absolutely formal, without any opposition.
– The motion to which the honorable gentleman refers would only take a minute.
– On the contrary, the motion has already been moved and opposed on a previous occasion, and it will be necessary for it to be opposed again.
– The honorable member never got a chance before.
– There will be no chance to-day, because it will be opposed. I am quite willing to give the honorable member an early opportunity of the same nature and for the same amount of time.
– Say, within a month ?
– Yes, I will tryto do it within a few days.
.- On a former occasion I asked the Treasurer to permit the motion to be regarded as unopposed, but he did not extend to me the courtesy that I hoped he would. He told me that it would be opposed, and consequently the motionwhich was on the paper all through last session never came before the House. It involves information which I hope will be useful to the Commonwealth, and there should be no opposition to any motion of that kind. In these circumstances, I shall press it.
– I crave the indulgence of the House while I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to appoint a Select Committee for the purposes of -
Inquiring into the methods of operating Fire, Life, Prudential, and Industrial Insurance Companies.
Reporting on and recommending a system which, while economical, will guarantee the poor against extortion.
Lately there has been a great deal of discussion all over Australia on the methods of conducting fire, life, industrial and other forms of insurance. In South Australia recently Judge Gordon, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, declared that the system of industrialinsurance prevailing in Australia was a good deal like Shylock sharpening his knife on the misfortunes of the poor.
– He said, “On the wornout shoes of the artisan.”
– It comes to the same thing, and I would rather put it my own way. So much attention has been called to this question that I thought it advisable to ask the House, without saying anything detrimental to any of the companies, to help me to obtain a Select Committee to quietly examine witnesses, go into the whole question of insurance, and ascertain whether or not the present method is honest, just, legitimate, and righteous. If it is not, let us devise some system or form that will do justice to .the whole of the people without injuring any. The basis of all life assurance is a graduated system of premiums according to age. The actuaries are ‘able to state what is the expectation of any healthy man’s life at any age. That is all laid out, and on it they are able to calculate how much a man al any age should be called upon to pay. If, then, we can get at the absolute figures, and are in a position to secure the required information, it seems to ms that no honorable member should hesitate to agree to the appointment of this Committee. I have not named the Committee, because I want to draw it from all parts of the House. Mr. Knibbs, in his Official Year-Book for 1908, gives most interesting figures. For ordinary life assurance the number of policies in force in Australia, in 1906, exclusive of annuities, was 446,894. The amounts assured, exclusive of bonus additions, etc., were ,£107,809,911; the bonus additions totalled £13,809,062 ; or a grand total of £121,618,973. The annual premium income for the whole of he Commonwealth was ,£3,648,914. In regard to industrial insurance, the number of policies in force in 1906 was 346,283. The amount assured came to ,£7,301,581, and the annual premium income was *£$9A5i- The receipts and expenses for 1906 for ordinary life assurance” in Australia were - receipts, £5,372,054; expenditure, £3688,338 ; excess receipts- addition to funds - £1,683,716. The receipts and expenditure for industrial insurance for 1906 were as follow : - Receipts, ;£42°>337 ; expenditure, £284,385; excess receipts - addition to funds - £135,992. It is claimed - I do not sa.y that I have any evidence of the fact, except the common reports - that the expenses of industrial insurance are very high, and fall particularly on the poor ; that some of the companies that are doing industrial insurance get so much extra for it that it enables them to reduce the cost of the ordinary insurance ; whereas, if the ordinary insurance had to stand upon its own basis its expenses would come out very heavy indeed. It is asserted that by taxing the very poorest people in the community - those cases where the collectors go from house to house gathering in 6d. or is. a week, as the case may be - and by adding that to the totals, the companies are enabled to reduce the cost of the ordinary insurance on those that are- well able to pay for it. We have to ascertain if there is any truth in that statement. I am not making charges against any company ; I think that all the companies are endeavouring to do what they conscientiously believe to be right. But the time has come for all parties of whatever shade or colour of politics to take a broad, liberal view of the legitimate commercial enterprises of the Commonwealth, wherever carried on. It is our duty to guard both rich and poor, and particularly to guard the weak against the encroachments of the strong. As the great Gladstone said1, it is the obligation of the Government to make it as hard as possible to do wrong, and as easy, as possible to do right. I should like now to quote from the speech of Mr. Moore, the President of the Congress of Actuaries of New South Wales, as reported in the *Banking and Insurance Record of the present month. Mr. Moore, in the course of his remarks, said -
It has been stated by actuaries and statisticians that every man is an asset to his nation, an asset of monetary value, well into three figures in pounds sterling. How does the nation treat these valuable assets? Is not the nation criminally wasteful or ignorantly uneconomic in its behaviour towards these assets? Is not a better system possible, and cannot you actuaries supply us with some better scheme, and afford us some idea of the financial cost of inaugurating and carrying on some such improved and more rational scheme? This question, or series of questions, were put to me somewhat in these very words only last Christmas. Not being able to deal with these points off my own bat, I now pass them on to my own brethren.
At the present time a certain section of the community meets this demand by mutual cooperation in the shape of medical attention and sick pay at their own cost. It is suggestive to notice how the friendly societies are more and more becoming endowed by the State, but also more and more tending to what I may call unofficial servants of the State. This process of nationalising friendly society benefits will probably continue. The provision for premature death is at present met by life assurance, supplied to the member at his own cost, by private companies, run for profit to the members, and, in some cases, for profit to shareholders. Will such a condition continue? I doubt it. Will the State, which has, in the interests of all, taken over the police from local government, the education of the people from the religious bodies, the management of water supply and sewerage, the management of railways, tramways, harbours, roads, lighting, ferries, and so on, now stop short? Personally, I think it will not be allowed to so continue, although I am not yet prepared to admit as desirable such a measure of interference as some others advocate so strongly ; but we must certainly expect a steady increase in this governmental interference. At the present moment in this Commonwealth we are promised new insurance legislation, and in this I hope our society will make its influence felt. The development on collective lines will not come all at once; it will follow the present course of social development, and gradually nationalize one industry after another. There is but little room even now for small omnibus lines, factories, gas companies, water companies, tramways or shops; the field is occupied more and more by large companies, mammoth stores, universal providers, and so on. The same is true in insurance companies, everything points to the business being done by a few giants in place of a multitude of small companies. This may be strictly “ economic “ as far as the nation-unit is concerned, and 1 have no doubt that it is; but as far as the individual unit is affected he may be excused for looking at the prospect from his own or selfish point of view. Now he is a man able’ to look forward to working his way on to independence, trusting to the might of his own right arm and brain; in the future all but a very few can only look forward to positions- of salaried servants in huge offices or companies. The prospect is not too alluring, but that is how it appears to me. These huge offices and companies will practically form monopolies - and since monopolies are rightly distrusted except when under very stringent legislative conditions, as far as the indispensable necessities of life are concerned, the State will practically have to lake charge of them. Insurance will not for long be permitted to remain in the hands of private bodies, mutual associations or proprietary companies. It will be supplied by the State at public cost to all. Not only insurance against death, but also insurance against illness, and consequent lack of income for those dependent on the sick man, and also provision for maintenance and old age will be provided by the State. Every man will be assured that in case of premature death his wife and children will not be left to the somewhat cold mercies of a heedless public; he will know that if he falls ill, he and his will be kept during the period of his incapacitation, he will know that if from old age or from incapacity through illness he will have a steady income. The field of insurance companies will be restricted to providing additional benefits over and above those provided by the State; friendly societies and accident assurance will probably find themselves functus officio. Insurance thus being a matter of State concern, like education, many companies will disappear as so many private schools have done. The field for managers and actuaries will be sadly circumscribed in comparison with the present field.
In the field of life assurance as we all understand it, the principal shoals seem to be well and clearly marked’, and every one who has well and truly learned his trade can safely steer his way through and reach his port safely. Of shoals known to exist, but not precisely surveyed, buoyed and lit, is one, namely, the admission into a valuation of -the lapse ele- i ment. This element does exist always, and in any particular experience follows a law varying in each case, of course, much more steady and calculable than some are disposed to admit. To treat this factor as absolutely non-existent we know makes for safety, but to know of the existence of a factor always existent and yet to contentedly remain ignorant of how and to what extent it affects our results is, I venture to think, a reproach to us as a scientific body.
I have quoted largely from the remarks of Mr. Moore, because he is not a labour man or a Socialist, and because he recognises that in this age of progress and civilization, the time has arrived for the State to do its duty towards the poor and the weak of the community. One of the fundamental functions of Government is to keep the peace. The Government must interfere whenever necessary to prevent violence, oppression, extortion, or any other wrong sought to be inflicted upon the people. We ought to have in Australia laws regulating and governing fire, life, and industrial insurance; but, if we have any of consequence, I have failed to discover them. It seems to me that they live only in the imagination, or that, if they do exist, they consist principally of statistical inventions and irresponsible evasions. We want prosperity for all in the Commonwealth, and honorable members will stand in their own light if they attempt to oppose the inquiry for which I ask. At times it appears to me to be almost preposterous to ask the House to carry a proposal of this kind. I admit that to a certain extent the inquiry will involve an interference with vested interests; but no honorable member desires even to attempt to touch or interfere with legitimate, honest business. Honest business and prosperity axe synonymous terms. Wherever a business is honestly conducted, wherever it is legitimate, the people engaged in it need have no fear. It is unnecessary for me to enlarge upon this subject. Honorable members are familiar with, it, and I understand that the Government do not intend to oppose my motion. Will the Attorney-General inform me whether that is so?
– As soon as the honorable member concludes his speech, I shall make a statement in favour of an inquiry.
– I have great pleasure in accepting the honorable member’s assurance.
.- We have on the notice-paper at the present time three notices of motion dealing with the question of insurance. That now before us has been submitted -before the
Cabinet has had an opportunity to consider it and the others to which I have referred, but I am prepared to recommend to my colleagues - and as a matter of fact I have already consulted the Prime Minister - that there be a form of inquiry wider, if anything, than the honorable member suggests, whether it be by a Select Committee or a Royal Commission. Until the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill becomes law, however, a Select Committee would not have the power necessary to enable it to make a thorough investigation.
– What should we learn by the inquiries of a Royal Commission on a question of this kind?
– I shall show the honorable member. Under the Constitution we have full power to legislate with reference to lire, life, and marine insurance. Just before we went into recess at the close of the session of 1906, this matter came before the House, and I then promised that the whole question of insurance would be inquired into, with a view, if possible, to its being dealt with in a comprehensive measure. Almost immediately afterwards we were plunged into the throes of a general election. But on returning to Melbourne in February or March of last year I caused the question of the drafting of a Bill for fire, life, and marine insurance to be inquired into. I have now before me a rough draft of a Bill containing sixty or seventy clauses, dealing with life insurance generally. I may say that the matter of fire insurance was considered, and that a’ request was sent by the Government to the United States with a, view to obtaining the latest information regarding the proposed legislation there. In reply we have recently received certain information together with draft copies of proposed legislation. I also noticed that the . Imperial Parliament had recently passed an Act dealing generally. with the codification of the law of marine insurance. That codification was prepared by the greatest English expert on the subject, but it related only to the law of contract of insurance. I had circulated a Bill on the same subject; but when we come to deal with the whole question of insurance, and especially with the life assurance branch, we find that difficulties arise not only in regard to the contracts made between insurers and insured, but, as the honorable member for Darwin has incidentally mentioned, as to the particular terms and conditions under which life assurance should be carried on.
We have involved in connexion with the question of life assurance a series of problems; such as the terms and conditions under which foreign insurance companies should be allowed to carry on business in Australia, and the guarantees which they should be required to give if allowed to conduct business here. Then a further question arises as to the nature of the returns which should be furnished by insurance companies. That branch of the subject alone involves inquiry. We haveto consider whether we should have complete supervision over insurance business - whether we should continue the existing system under which a lot of returns are sent in and nothing more is heard of them, or whether we should have a superintendent of life, marine and fire insurance business to examine on behalf of the people the reports that are presented to Parliament by these companies, and to report upon them-
– Does not the honorable member think that we need the same supervision over the banks?
– Maybe ; but I am dealing now with only one problem. Considering the diversity of operations that are carried on, it seems to me that something in the direction I have mentioned is necessary. -In Australia we have no less than twenty companies carrying on _ life asance business, the majority having their head offices in the Commonwealth. The sure assured on the lives of Australian policy holders is upwards of £100,000,000, and the assets of Australian companies total £38,000,000. These are large sums, and inquiry shows that probably as much life assurance business is done proportionately in Australia as in any other country. An analysis of the returns shows that in Australia nearly all the policies are for small amounts, the average policy being for about £250. The policy-holders are scattered all over the continent, many of them at great distances from the places where their affairs are conducted by the directors of the companies with which they are assured. Therefore, so far as life assurance is concerned, it is highly desirable to obtain thorough and complete publicity as to the manner of doing business. In inquiring how best to frame a uniform insurance law, which would be of great advantage to policy-holders, I found that the law of life insurance is in many of the States involved in the law of corporations, and it seems to me that when we come to deal with insurance, banking, and other commercial law, it will be our first duty to frame a basic corporations Act, building upon it the Acts necessary to govern special branches of commercial dealings.
– Could a general companies law be framed which would apply to banking and insurance transactions?
– I think that there should be a general companies law, and, built on it, particular Acts containing the modifications requisite for the various branches. At the present time, the law’ relating to life insurance is, in some States, involved in the companies law. In each of the States a different provision exists for the winding’ up of insurance companies, and there are six different provisions for the amalgamation of such companies. The framing of a general corporation law is a matter which will be expedited as much as possible, anc! I have already a rough draft containing a large number of sections.
– It is not proposed to mix up insurance and corporation law ?
– No. My view is that there should be a basic corporations Act for the Commonwealth, which should be used as the foundation for Acts relating to banking, insurance, and so forth. In the Victorian Companies Act, Part II., consisting of a large number of sections, provides ail the modifications necessary for a law relating to insurance.
– -Strictly speaking, those provisions would be better in an insurance Act.
– That is the conclusion at which I arrived after considering the matter. I have investigated the laws relating to insurance, including, as .1 promised the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, fire insurance, in regard to which legislation is particularly necessary.
– In some of the States any one can start a life insurance office.
– In Queensland there is a. good Act, requiring a deposit beforehand ; but in New South Wales there is no law on the subject. The position in regard to fire insurance is unsatisfactory, and I found it impossible to obtain satisfactory statistical returns dealing with that business. It appears desirable, both for the purpose of safeguarding the public, and also for valuable statistical purposes, that the principle of publicity should be enforced. On applying to the Statistical Department I ascertained that it was impossible to get reliable statistics; but according to the information furnished to the
Sydney Fire Brigades Board, the amount of lire insurance in the metropolitan area of that State at the end of 1905, appears to have teen .£78,000,000. 0It was impossible to obtain information as to the value of the risks in Melbourne, but, according to the information furnished to the Fire Brigades Board here, the premiums paid in 1906 amounted to £304,123. It is, however, impossible to obtain reliable information as to the fire insurance business of the Commonwealth.
– The Banking and Financial Journal for 1906 stated the total losses for the preceding year throughout Australia to be ,£750,000.
– I do not know how that estimate was compiled. It is necessary that this business should be placed on a proper b:isis. The English method of dealing with insurance has been to require full publicity, so that the people might judge of the stability and soundness of the companies doing business, whereas the American system has been to appoint State supervisors, and to fix standards ; but even in the United States there have been serious difficulties in connexion with insurance. After looking into the matter carefully, I intend to recommend to my colleagues that complete inquiry should be made regarding, not merely methods of business, but insurance law generally.
– An inquiry into the law governing insurance would be a lawyer’s matter. Does the Minister mean merely such an inquiry, or does he mean an investigation of the manner in which the various companies and societies are conducting, business ?
– I would leave the scope of the inquiry open. It would be necessary to -furnish any Committee of investigation with a .succinct statement of. the laws of the States, and it would be the duty of its members to inquire as to the need for further legislation. If they thought such legislation necessary, it would be for them to suggest the lines on which it should be based.
– The honorable member would recommend an inquiry into the manner in which the various companies are doing business.
– Certainly ; so far as that might be necessary to guide Parliament in framing Commonwealth legislation. Industrial insurance, for instance, is an illustration of what would be a. fair subject for inquiry, also the need for legislation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
– There are most objectionable features and methods in connexion with that branch of insurance business.
– Those should be inquired into so that, if they exist, they may be legislated against.
– The inquiry should be of a judicial character.
– It must be thorough and complete. As regards fire insurance, it is necessary to investigate, first, the general methods of doing business, and, secondly, the forms of policy in vogue.
-A standard policy is needed.
– I should like to see a standard policy adopted. Some elasticity would, nodoubt, be desirable, and it would be for Parliament to say, in framing such a policy, what portions of it should, and what portions of it should not, be capable of variation. I should not, however, care to frame such a policy without first obtaining the opinions of those interested as to what would be fair conditions to impose.
– Does the Minister propose to accept the motion ?
– I desire that the debate shall proceed for a time, but, before the motion is put, I hope that there may be some amendment which will be acceptable. I have had but short notice in this matter ; but I have made considerable inquiry into the subject, and am satisfied that there should be an investigation, and that the intention underlying the motion is a good one.
-Is not the Minister in favour of including every form of insurance ? There is stock insurance, for instance.
-I have said that I am.
– This motion is limited.
– I said it would require to be widened and altered. Strictly speaking it confines the inquiry only to matters of management. The inquiry ought to be into something more. It would be of advantage to hear the opinion of honorable members generally upon a subject which is so obviously above party. It is a matter affecting very seriously very many individuals in the community, because, to the credit of Australians generally it can be said that the duty of the individual to insure for the benefit of those dependent upon him is widely recognised in the Commonwealth. At present, I am rather inclined to favour the appointment of a Commission, but that is a matter upon which I shall have to consult my colleagues. The trouble about appointing a Select Committee is that I do not see how any adequate inquiry into this matter could be conducted within this session.
– The Committee could always be formed into a Royal Commission if necessary.
– Upon the question, I promise that I shall consult with my colleagues, and have a statement made at an early stage. Personally, I think that a small Commission, that will take complete evidence, and be properly equipped with powers to conduct a thorough investigation, is the proper thing, because the law relating to life, marine, and fire insurance has not, so far as the whole public of Australia are concerned, been adequately considered. In Queensland, the life insurancelaw is fairly good. I think the honorable member for Brisbane introduced it.
Colonel Foxton. - It was Sir Arthur Rutledge.
– He deserves credit for it, because he certainly introduced very necessary safeguards, but, on looking into that measure carefully, especially its schedules, I find that even it is deficient in some respects, and can see that important amendments can be made in it. I am quite prepared to recommend to my colleagues the principle of inquiry before legislation.
– I am glad that the AttorneyGeneral is satisfied that the honorable member for Darwin was justified in bringing forward the motion, but it does not go far enough. I move -
That after the word “ industrial “ the words “ and other “ be inserted ; that the word “ companies “ be left out, and the word “institutions “ substituted in lieu thereof, and that the word “ poor “ be left out and the word “ public” inserted in lieu thereof.
The first two amendments would extend the inquiry in the way the AttorneyGeneral seems to favour. I disagree with the wording of the second paragraph. I do not think we wish to see even the rich subject to extortion. We ought to put the motion in order, forwe do not legislate for either the poor or the rich. We legislate in the interests of both, and the wording should be “To protect the public against extortion.” If the motion is amended in the way I have indicated, it should cover all that is desired. The mover was wise in not making any charges against any of the companies. The question of insurance has agitated some of the State Legislatures for a good many years, and it is quite true, as the AttorneyGeneral says, especially in South Australia, that it is difficult to get the necessary information. I am satisfied, however, that a Committee would get information, because, as a private member, I was able to get information that ought to have been given to Parliament at any time, and yet suein was the power of the companies that it was imsible for it to be given. I, however, found that it was possible to learn sufficient to make what turned out to be an accurate guess as to what happened. The insurance companies in South Australia were so anxious to hide their business that their compliance with the law was practically an evasion. Although the whole of the returns as to premiums received, and losses paid, had to be sent in to the Fire Brigades Board, they used simply to be handed to the secretary, and the members of the Board did not see them at all, because they were locked up in a drawer. The idea, of course, was that one company should not know another company’s business; but we have a right to know a good deal more of insurance companies than we do at present. It is no secret that there is a solid ring controlling fire insurance - one that has operated most injuriously for years, according to some of the leading business people of South Australia. There will be no difficulty in getting information in regard to that matter, and I ami satisfied that if a Committee were appointed, information would be obtained that, whether complete or not, would be useful to the House and to the Government in framing legislation.
.- The honorable member for Darwin is to be congratulated upon presenting the motion in its present wide form. If the House desires to make it still wider, I have no doubt the honorable member will willingly agree. I was pleased to hear the AttorneyGeneral’s speech as to the necessity for legislation to deal with insurance companies throughout Australia. In dealing previously with one form of insurance, I have made pretty definite charges against the, methods employed, and it was very satisfactory to me to hear the Minister this afternoon state that there is urgent need for legislation to remove some of the disabilities under which the insuring public at present suffer. I quite agree with the Minister that if there is to be an inquiry into insurance matters, it is not necessary at this stage to enter into exhaustive reasons why certain conditions that now exist should be altered. That may well be left till we have the conclusions of those who will have an opportunity of thoroughly examining the methods at present in force, and recommending alterations which will be satisfactory to the public. I want to see something definite done. In view of the great difficulty of getting a private Bill through the House, and as I now have the assurance of the Minister that the Cabinet will at once take the question into serious consideration, I am prepared to postpone the discussion of my Bill dealing with fire insurance. I am satisfied that if inquiry is made into the methods of dealing with the unfortunate victims of fire in various portions of the Commonwealth, the need for immediate reform will be amply demonstrated to the House. Consequently I am prepared to accept the Minister’s word that he will have the question attended to immediately. Anything that the mover may consider to be the most satisfactory way of achieving the object which we are aiming at, I am prepared to fall in with.
– I desire to move an amendment prior to that moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, if the honorable member will temporarily withdraw it to allow me to do so.
Amendment, bv leave, withdrawn.
.- Itwould be a mistake to exclude from the inquiry men who have special knowledge of this complex question. Hence, I propose to move to leave out the words “ Select Committee,” and substitute other words that will not curtail the Government in its choice of investigators. The question of life, fire, and marine insurance is highly technical, and it would be more satisfactory if, instead of restricting the inquiry to members of this House, we were able to draw upon the expert knowledge of outside authorities. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Darwin that an inquiry into the question of insurance institutions is highly desirable. And I am absolutely certain that one of the companies, on which onslaught has recently been made, will cordially welcome the most exhaustive inquiry that the House is prepared to authorize, and that a great many other Australian companies have nothing to fear from the most rigid scrutiny of their affairs. I move -
That the words “ Select Committee “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ Royal Commission composed of persons having special knowledge of the subject of assurance.”
– They can have their own inquiry ; that is not a national inquiry.
– I am not suggesting that the companies should conduct the inquiry. I am merely extending the choice of the Government to men who have special knowledge on the subject. I am not wedded to any particular form of words. My only desire is to provide thatmen of special knowledge shall be appointed to investigate.
– I think that I know as much as anybody of “ the game.”
– I have no doubt that that is so ; and my amendment would not exclude the honorable member, whom I should like to see appointed to any Commission of the kind. Personally, I should not like to be appointed on such a Commission, because I have no practical knowledge whatever of life assurance.
– A Judge has no knowledge until he hears the evidence.
– A Judge is trained to weigh evidence, whereas 1 have had no such training in actuarial work as would enable me to thoroughly appreciate the facts and figures laid before me. We ought not to give an inquiry of this kind anything of the nature of a parliamentary complexion, seeing that amongst honorable members on both sides are many directors of assurance companies. It would remove any danger of a misunderstanding, if an inquiry of the kind were conducted by outside individuals.
– We are quite as competent as any outsiders to make the inquiry.
– And, in any case, the ultimate action will rest with Parliament.
– No doubt Parliament would take the conclusions and findings of the Commission as a guide.
– Is not the appointment of a Royal Commission purely a right of the Crown?
– Yes, I believe so, and the proposal I make is merely a recommendation to the Government to have a Royal Commission appointed. The wording of the motion of the honorable member for Darwin would limit the inquiry to one made by members of Parliament.
– Hear, hear !
– I do not agree with that view ; the Government ought to call to its assistance persons who have special knowledge; and for that reason I beg to submit the amendment.
.- The honorable member for Darwin has again placed the House under a debt to him for bringing before us a matter of vital importance to the general public. Indeed, marine, fire, life, and prudential insurance is a question on which the Commonwealth Government should have taken action a considerable time ago; my own opinion is that this was one of the first duties of the Federation. Apparently, however, it is necessary for a private member to move, in order to make the Government take any action out of routine. The object of the honorable member for Darwin is to have some method devised by which the poor may be guarded against extortion; and the honorable member, as one who for years was engaged as a canvasser, desires, doubtless, to give us the benefit of his knowledge. It would appear, according to the motion, that extortion is practised by insurance companies in the case of the poor of the community. Here I may observe that this House is as full of insurance directors as a hawthorn bush is of berries; and my only hope is that those gentlemen will give us the benefit of what knowledge they possess, so as to enable us to decide whether or not it is absolutely necessary a . Select Committee should be appointed. Fears are justly felt in regard to the weakness of many of these institutions ; and, if possible, I should like those fears to be allayed. The honorable member for Coolgardie is the only live director who has up to the present favoured us with his views on the motion ; and I think that we might have had a few words from others. I intend to oppose the amendment for the reason that a Select Committee could obtain evidence from accountants and actuaries, whose assistance the honorable member for
Coolgardie so much desires. Insurance companies have enough support in this House to guarantee that their case will not be badly placed before the country. We do not need to have experts on the Committee, but only a number of representative men who rightly or wrongly-
– The success of the Postal Commission proves the value of such an investigation !
– If the honorable member were not a greater success on a body of the kind than he was as PostmasterGeneral, we could not look for satisfactory results. We all know what an abject failure he wasat the head of the Post Office. The word poor “ ought not to be eliminated, and the word “ public “ inserted ; because the rich do not need any protection from extortion, seeing that they can take very good care of their own investments. I am astonished that the honorable member for Coolgardie should be so anxious about insurance companies when he, as a member of the Labour Party, ought to be keenly solicitous as to the position of the general public who contribute to the. funds of these organizations. The honorable member ought to be prepared to trust his fellow members, who are returned as the representatives of the masses and of the general public, and not as the representatives of accountants and actuaries, who, after the Commission is over, will depend on insurance companies for their livelihood.
– Would their position not also affect their evidence before a Select Committee ?
– But the Select Committee would be able to balance the evidence of one witness as against that of another. The fees of the honorable member, as a director of the Citizens Life Insurance Company, ought to be increased in view of the attitude he has taken to-day ; but his experience must have shown him that one, the Mutual Provident Association, for instance, might reject the evidence of a well-known actuary, whose testimony had been accepted by another association. Only in bad times can the stability of insurance companies be tested ; we have had no such cataclysms as those which occurred in the United States, and good times have really preserved the solvency of many of the institutions. In other words a succession of good seasons has put a screen across most of the insurance companies, and there has been no severe test of their solvency. I make no charge of insolvency, because to do so would be unfair ; but I have a strong suspicion that many of the companies are levying unfair charges on the public.
– Some companies have “ gone under.”
– And with them the funds of the poor ; and it is in this regard that I desire to have information elicited. This is a very inviting subject; but, as I said before, I do not desire to make any charges. I certainly hold the view that there is not room for all the present insurance companies in a small community like that of Australia ; and I am astounded that they should continue year after year to declare such enormous dividends. The honorable member for Darwin is to be conplimented on bringing this subject before us. While I oppose the amendment of the honorable member for Coolgardie, I should have no objection to turning the Select Committee into a Royal Commission ; but men appointed by both Houses ought to be capable of presenting a report on which we could take action. No doubt, if a Select Committee be appointed, we shall have among its members men who are large shareholders or directors of insurance companies doing business in Australia. It would be mostdifficult for the Prime Minister, in appointing a Select Committee of members of this House, to avoid men who were not actively connected with such companies. That being so, the various institutions into whose business the Committee will inquire will have ample protection.
– There are not many directors of insurance companies in this House.
– With the exception of myself and one or two others, I believe that the House consists wholly of directors of” companies.
– Not one-third of the members of this House are directors.
– At all events, we have a great many honorable members who, if not directors, are policy-holders in insurance companies, and are therefore interested in them.
– A man who insures his life does not do so with a desire to fleece the public.
– I do not say that he does, nor do I suggest that a director of an insurance company tries to do so. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood. All that I have contended is that it is unnecessary to appoint a Royal Commission of accountants and experts, because the object which the honorable member for Coolgardie has in view will be amply met by the appointment of a Select Committee. I do not wish to insinuate that because a man is a member of Parliament he should not be a director of a company. If I held such a view, I should not hesitate to express it ; I am not given to making insinuations.
– The honorable member said, in effect, that if a man takes out a policy of life insurance, he becomes an interested party, so far as the company which issued that policy is concerned.
– He would naturally have an interest in the company. Members of this Parliament who are directors of insurance companies will have to vote upon the report of the Select Committee, and if they can be trusted to do that, surely they can be trusted to act as members of the Committee.
– Would it be fair to call upon an honorable member who was a director of one company to inquire into the business of a rival institution ?
– I do not think that it would be fair. An honorable member so situated would, I am sure, refuse to act.
– We might have two Select Committees, one consisting entirely of directors, and another composed of honorable members who were not directors of these institutions. We could then toss up to determine which report we. should adopt.
– All that I contend is that the insurance companies have nothing to fear; that members of the Select Committee who were directors of such institutions would take care that their interests were not improperly interfered with. There ought to be an inquiry, and I propose to vote for the motion. A Select Committee consisting of honorable members should be able to make a thorough investigation, and to obtain from experts the information it desires. I am surprised that the Government have not long since introduced legislation on this subject. Shortly before Federation, when Australia was passing through a very serious crisis, it was discovered that faulty banking laws, or the absence of banking legislation, permitted unstable institutions to trade on the credulity of the public. Something was said at the time as to the position of insurance companies, but the results of the failure of the Government to introduce legislation dealing with the whole question have been minimized by the good seasons which we have since experienced. Bad seasons would have tested the statements made as to the stability of some of these institutions. The investments of insurance societies are interwoven with the general welfare of the community, and it is well known that the dividends declared in some cases are out of all proportion to those declared by similar companies in other parts of the world. So far as Australian life assurance companies are concerned the people are so much interested in them, and so familiar with their investments that they can fairly well determine their solidity or otherwise. I do not think that the honorable member for Darwin is adopting an attitude of spread-eaglism in asking for this inquiry. In the honorable member we have a representative of the people who has done well for himself on what may be described as the seamy side of life assurance business. He has vied with other canvassers in trying to put before the general public the advantages of life assurance, and if a select committee be appointed he will be able to place before it the result of his own practical experience. From the remarks that he has made to-day one may gather that his knowledge of the inner working of life assurance companies in Australia is sufficient to enable him to present to the House a good case for inquiry. Companies that are solid and substantial will heartily welcome the proposed investigation, and I am satisfied that any body of men that we may appoint will deal fairly with the whole question, and present a report that will place Parliament in a better position than it is at present to legislate on the general question of insurance. I have read at times most alarming statements with respect to certain institutions - statements in which their . stability has been called in question. I do not know whether they are stable or unstable, but the sooner we take action with a view of ascertaining their position the better. If these charges cannot be sustained it is only right that the public should be so informed, and I hope that the House will agree to appoint the select committee for which the honorable member for Darwin has moved.
.- The motion meets with my full approval, and I may say at once that I fully expected the favorable reply which the AttorneyGeneral has made to the remarks of the honorable member for Darwin, knowing that it is only afew years since he introduced a Bill dealing with the question of insurance. I was somewhat surprised at the proposal of the honorable member for Coolgardie, that we should deprive members of Parliament of the right to examine into the statements, whether true or false, that are, or may be, made against any of these companies.
– I made no such proposal. Under my amendment the Government would have power to appoint any honorable member as a member of the Royal Commission.
– But does not the honorable member desire that the majority of the members shall be actuaries or accountants ?
– The honorable member has moved an amendment providing for the omission of the words “ Select Committee” with a view to inserting words providing for the appointment of a Royal Commission consisting of persons “ with special knowledge.” I would ask the honorable member what the policy-owners in these various companies would say if we proposed that a charge against a lawyer should be investigated by a Judge and jury consisting wholly of lawyers, or that a charge against a doctor should be dealt with by a jury consisting wholly of medical men. We all know that those occupying the most lowly positions are mulcted in larger percentages than are those in the higher walks of life, and I am satisfied that they will have more confidence in a Select Committee consisting wholly of members of Parliament than they would have in an expert board. If a Select Committee is appointed, it will be able to avail itself of expert skill ; it will be able to take upon oath the evidence of actuaries, accountants, and others familiar with the technicalities of insurance business. Like the honorable member for Darwin, I do not intend to make an attack upon any company. I shall not mention names, and I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Dalley, whose views I almost wholly indorse, refer specifically to one company. I propose, however, to put before the House what was my own experience. I had taken out a policy of insurance, and being somewhat pressed for money, inquired at the office of the company how long my policy would remain in force if the premium remained unpaid. I obtained from the company a statement in writing on the subject. In the course of a few years, I mislaid that document, and subsequently received from the company a peremptory note. I may say, in passing, that it was not a mutual company in the highest sense of the term - such as the Australian Mutual Provident, the National Mutual Life Association, and other mutual societies, but I was determined not to Ipse my policy. Having perhaps a little more fight in me than the average man, I instructed a lawyer to take the matter in hand. I could not discover the missing letter from the company, and in the circumstances my lawyer was surprised at my action, and advised me to pay up. My reply’ was: “No; I intend to stand on my rights.” Ultimately the letter on which I relied, but of which the company could find no record, turned up, and my legal adviser was then informed that, in the circumstances, mv policy would be continued, and I would be allowed to nay my premiums. I venture to say that had my experience been that of the average working man, or one who did not care to consult a solicitor, the policy would have been sacrificed. As it is, my lawyer’s bill of costs has not yet been paid by the very wealthy company in question. Reference has been made- to the profits of these institutions, and I believe that many honorable members agree with me that it would be to the advantage of the people to establish a Government system of fire, life, and marine insurance. I have here copies of Bills dealing with the question of insurance which were passed by the Parliament of New Zealand as far back as 1874. One of these is out of print, but by the courtesy of the late Mr. Seddon, who was my friend, I am able to produce three copies of Acts. We know that many life assurance companies incur heavy expenditure, but when Government officers - men in the Railway Department of this State - are allowed to collect premiums for some of them, I think that honorable members will agree that the cost of collecting must be materially reduced.
– The officers insured received a special concession. The time within which they were required to pay premiums was extended without the risk of fine.
– The premiums they had to pay, however, were not reduced, although, speaking generally, large bodies of public servants are, on the whole, of much better physique than are those outside the service. On the 24th September, 1903-,
I was informed by the Secretary to the Railways Commissioners that - the total amount paid to insurance companies on the lives of railway employes from 1st February, 1884, to the present date is £295,085 ros. 2d. The amount paid to the companies for the year ending 18th September, 1903, is £29,786 14s. i id.
In reply to a further inquiry as to how much the companies had paid to the employes, I was informed that - since 1884 the insurance companies have paid £64,400 as insurance in the cases of 449 employes who were killed or who died in the railway service.
Therefore the companies received .£230,685 more than they paid away.
– They were carrying a liability all the time.
– No doubt; but the greater part of the amount went in providing profits. Seeing how easy it was to collect the premiums, and how small the risks were, the men being on the average much better physically than the majority, the payments should have been smaller. It is the duty of the State to undertake this form of insurance.
– The companies were on a good wicket.
– That must be allowed. No public official should be permitted to insure with other than a purely mutual society. That was the desire of most honorable members when the Public Service Act was framed, but, because of some technicality, effect was not given to it.
– How has the New Zealand State insurance department got on?
– It ranks next in Australia after the Australian Mutual Provident Society.
– New Zealand has done more for her people in the matter of lire and life assurance than has been done “by any other State. Some honorable mem-, b’ers may not like to hear hex name mentioned, but it is a favorite one with me. I have visited the country three times, and like it, the fine race of people which inhabits it. and the laws which govern them. If the Minister in framing his Bill would like to be supplied with the information which I possess on this subject, I shall be pleased to place it at his disposal. I am glad that he has dealt so courteously with the motion, and I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn, because, in my opinion, it is opposed to the teachings of the party to which! both the mover and myself belong, and to those of every liberal. Splendid as the hospital systems of the Continent mav be, they are not comparable with those of Great Britain and Australia, because, while they are managed by clever and able physicians and surgeons, ours are managed chiefly by the laity. On this point my facts are incontrovertible, as I could make plain to any one by going into details. With regard to Royal Commissions, I hold that the witty and caustic German philosopher spoke truly when he said that, had the Almighty placed the_ -making of the earth in the hands of a Commission, it would never have been made. My experience of Commissions in State politics was that they only created delay. Fortunately, the Commonwealth1 Commissions have shown more energy and push.
– The Tariff Commission pushed the Tariff up 25 per cent., on the average.
– The duties are not yet high enough. I should have liked to see more stalwart protectionists on that Commission. Time is ripe for something to be done in amending our insurance laws. The statements have circulated freely, not merely in small, but also in large newspapers, that threats of legal proceedings are treated with contempt and laughter, and that dead men’s hands can trace signatures. These and similar statements are too serious to be left unnoticed. There must be something wrong about the operations of companies which send collectors to the kitchen doors and charge servant girls three or fours times as much as is paid by their mistress for like insurances.
– It is merely a matter of cost - of expense of collection.
– My honorable friend knows more about costs that I do. The Post Office is not administered in that way. A servant is not charged for a postal note , four times as much as her mistress is required to pay. Although the expense of collection may be great, those who insure ought to get at least as much from their policies as they would get if they deposited the amount of the premiums in a savings bank, where every depositor gets his money returned with interest. Would any one defend a system under which working men and women pay, say, £1 in premiums, to ultimately receive back 12s. or 15s.? The Attorney-General introduced, about two years ago, a Bill which I regret has not become law. In speaking on it the honorable member for Hunter mentioned some very grave facts which come under the notice of medical men in Great Britain more often than here. He showed that child insurance often causes child murder.
– Those remarks were made on the Industrial Life Insurance Bill.
– Our infantile mortality is alarming.
– The way to prevent these abuses is to follow the example of Switzerland, where no man, woman, or child is buried as a pauper, all being given decent burial. An insurance agent came to my house, and, catching my good lady napping, got her to insure my boy. The company wished to call in the policy, but, either from a spirit of mischief, or because I felt that I had not been fairly treated, I insisted on keeping it open, and am paying a premium of 6d. a week to see what I shall get out of it. The appointment of a Committee of this House would be justified, and would have the confidence of the people. If I called a meeting of my electors, and said to it, “ Would you like your life insurance affairs investigated by a Committee of Accountants and Actuaries?” the people would say, “ We considered you a fit person to represent us in Parliament, and we consider you fit to represent us on a Commission or Committee of Inquiry, where you will have power to take sworn evidence, and to make use of the brains of the best experts available.” I hope that the motion will be agreed to, so that a Committee may be appointed, presided over by the honorable member for Darwin, who has a larger knowledge of life insurance than any other man in Australia. Its appointment would be of great advantage to the public, and would do great good for those who cannot afford to pav lawyers to look after their interests, and are now sometimes dealt with in a way in which we should not permit any company carrying on business under the Australian flag to deal with its clients.
– There has been a good deal of argument in favour of a Committee pf Inquiry into the methods of insurance companies, and I am glad that the AttorneyGeneral has expressed at least some opinion as to the attitude of the Government towards it. I have had to complain before, when private motions were brought forward, seriously affecting the business of the Government, that the Government have sat by and given no indication to the House of their attitude. On this occasion some indication has been given. The vagueness is as to whether the Government will favour a Select Committee or a Royal Commission.
– How could they decide, when the Labour Party are divided on the subject ?
– That maybe the reason - that a larger and more influential mind has not made itself up, and that when it has come to a decision the minor mind may find reasons for adopting it. Various Committees and Commissions have been appointed by this House, but I should like to know where any effective result has come from any of them.
– Hear, hear. Not even the Tariff Commission.
-The Tariff Commission travelled at considerable expense all over Australia, took- evidence in different States, and reported very fully, yet when we came to consider the Tariff itself, each honorable member was engaged in deciding, not on the views of the Commission, but by his own free will, how he should vote.
– Even the Commissioners did not follow their own recommendations.
– That is very true. Even they did not always indorse their own recommendations by their votes.
– Will the Navigation Commission do so?
– It is verv doubtful what effect that Commission will have.
– Its recommendations went to the Imperial Conference, and were indorsed.
– I know; and then the Government, who agreed tocertain proposals at the Conference, brought in a Bill that differed from the recommendations of the Commission, and from the decision unanimously arrived at at the Imperial Conference. That is the result of that Commission so far. Mv point is that the result of these Commissions is not at all in proportion to the work or the expense. There was a Committee on Coinage, whose report was, I think, unanimous, and adopted by the House, but that is all the effect it had. Nothing has been done since. I fail at the present moment to remember one Commission whose decisions were so influential that they had any practical effect.
– The Select Committee on the Electoral Act was one. Every one of its recommendations was carried into effect.
– That is one out of a number, and one also which specially appertained ‘to members themselves.
– It affected public interests as well.
– It largely affected honorable members, and, consequently, one section of them would be likely to be influenced in the same direction as the whole body. I am not going to oppose the motion, for I do not object to an inquiry into assurance institutions if the inquiring body be properly constituted, but I am afraid that it is a simple method of delaying legislation for an indefinite period. The Minister has before the House at present one Bill dealing with insurance. He has also promised a Life Insurance Bill. Is he going to delay those measures until the Committee or Commission reports?
– Not the Marine Insurance Bill. There is no reason why that should not be proceeded with, but, as regards life insurance, I would much prefer to have the report of the Committee or Commission first.
– Consequently, that necessary legislation, which should have been brought forward much earlier in the history of the Commonwealth, and which we are empowered by the Constitution to deal with, will be delayed. There is a necessity for uniform legislation in connexion with life and fire insurance. That is one of the duties imposed upon the Federal Parliament, but, instead of doing those things which were near at hand, we have been seeking to legislate on speculative lines, trusting to our work going through the High Court. But here we have important work at hand committed to us by the Constitution. We have neglected it, and now, when the Minister is about to enter upon it, we are asked to delay it still further for the report of a Committee or Commission, which, to judge by other Committees or Commissions, will probably have little influence on the House or on legislation. There are two aspects of this matter. The first is the necessity for imposing uniform laws for Australia. That must be founded upon the experience and the most advanced legislation of other countries. After that there is room for inquiry, if desired. :as to the proceedings and methods of management of the companies which work under our insurance laws in Australia. But, distinct from that altogether, there is the immediate need for a law of which the provisions should be gathered largely from the experience, not only in this country, but throughout the world, of different insurance systems and of the different dangers which have been shown to exist. All the dangers have not been shown here. We have not experienced many which have been shown throughout the world to affect life, fire, and other insurance. Such a law is wanted, irrespective of any inquiry, and no inquiry will form a sufficient basis for an Act of that nature.
– Why not, if the inquiry is sufficiently exhaustive?
– We have a sufficient basis for that legislation without any Committee of Inquiry. We have the laws and experiences of other countries. If this Commission or Committee is to rove the world for information, or to seek that which the Minister has now ready to his hand in the legal enactments of other countries in the Library and elsewhere - if the Commission is to embody all that sort of thing, it will be unending, and I am afraid no one will ever read its lengthy report. I quite admit that such a body may give us useful information as regards the management and methods of offices in Australia, but, apart from that, the Minister has already a sufficient mass of information to prepare legislation on the. lines I have indicated. If he is going to delay that by waiting for the report of this body, another’ Parliament, another Ministry, and another set of members may have to deal with it. Why should the Minister delay legislation on lines based on the experience in Australia hitherto, and on that of other countries, and on the most up-to-date provisions now existing?
– I explained that a good many of those provisions were so bound up in the law of corporations that we were now engaged in preparing a draft of a basic Act for corporations generally, upon which our special provisions would be based. That Bill is necessarily heavy; but its preparation will not be delayed. It will be submitted at the earliest possible date, irrespective of any Commission.
– I was referring to life and fire insurance.
– I am speaking of life insurance also. A great many of the provisions of life insurance are bound up in the companies law.
– Could we not have a life insurance law entirely separate and complete?
– Not to deal; with the matter satisfactorily, because such questions as winding up, amalgamation, and supervision, are involved.
– Even so, that legislation ought not to be delayed for the report of a Committee or Commission. If the inquiry is to deal with all that has been .foreshadowed or indicated, its report will probably not come before this Parliament. Our object in any Parliament ought to be to get what we consider necessary legislation carried out in the life of that Parliament, giving priority, of course, to that which is most necessary. Some rather severe remarks have been made about insurance companies. I am neither a director nor a shareholder in any. My only relationship to them is as a policy-holder. So far, the insurance business of Australia has, generally speaking, been conducted on very creditable lines. I will not say that there may not prove to be exceptions to that, or that in connexion with industrial insurance, which is necessarily a most extensive form of it, some objectionable practices may not have arisen, although I do not know that they have. It is perfectly right that those matters should be looked into; but, speaking generally, the insurance business of Australia has been conducted most creditably, and we have some institutions which cannot be bettered, and are an example to the world. Therefore, I do not think ‘we should, as some speakers have done, without sufficient support, or giving sufficient instances, cast reflections, on insurance management generally in Australia. What I fear is that, in appointing this Committee, as very often happens in any Parliament, the mover will endeavour to have as colleagues men of similar opinions on the subject; and there may be an indisposition to be influenced bv adverse evidence. It may be said that Parliament has the chance of reviewing the evidence ; but if that evidence be voluminous, how many members take the trouble to peruse it?’
– How many honorable members read even the reports of Committees ?
– Many do not read even their reports. Personally, I should ‘like to see an effective law brought into force. I do not object to any inquiry, by a proper tribunal ; but, before that inquiry is made, or coincident with it, legislation should be passed. If the inquiry should subsequently show the necessity for further amendment of the law, that amendment could be made. This is the third Parliament of the Federation ; and if there be any delay now, I can see no chance of legislation during its existence.
– If the Select Committee, or Royal Commission, were appointed now, the report ought to be ready by next session.
– Did the Minister ever know of a Commission of the kind, involving inquiries throughout the Commonwealth, present a report under eighteen months? In this connexion, the Commonwealth Government has a clear and plain duty laid upon it, which presents no greater difficulty than that involved in passing any uniform law. For instance, the Marine Insurance Bill introduced by the Government, is practically a transcript of the British Act; and there should have been no difficulty in submitting that legislation some time ago. The measure is none the worse for being a transcript, seeing that England is the centre of the Imperial insurance world, and the British Act may be accepted as the last word on the subject. And so with the Acts relating to fire and life insurance.
– The last English Life Insurance Act is, I think, that of 187 1.
– But there are American and Continental Acts - at any rate, we know the latest effective legislation. Why should we wait until there has been an inquiry by a Select Committee or a Commission, which cannot be as good an authority on the law, apart from the practice, as that presented by the legislation and experience of other countries? If there is one matter on which there ought to be uniformity, it is that of insurance, and I hope that there will be no further delay.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Storrer) adjourned.
– - I move -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing the number and subjects of communications between the Imperial Government and the Commonwealth and vice versâ, in the years 1901 to 1907, separately.
I shall not weary the House with any speech on this motion, but merely ask that it be carefully read and regarded as a request, not for the publication of the communications themselves, but for a harmless list showing their number and nature.
– Why should the subject of the communications be given in every case ?
– When we have the list we may be able to judge what use may be made of it ; and I have not heard, in any other Parliament, a refusal to grant a request of the kind. Were I asking for a copy of the documents, I could quite understand the Government replying that there were questions of policy involved. During the whole of last year the Government opposed a motion of this kind; and, apparently, they intend to oppose it again. What is there in the information asked for that should not be granted? Is there anything behind that Ministers wish to conceal? I do not think there is; but, on the other hand, it is most extraordinary that Ministers should refuse information of so harmless a character.
– Much more important information has been withheld by the Government from other honorable members.
– Then I hope honorable members will persevere until they are satisfied. Ministers deliberately - indeed, I might almost say spitefully - refuse to grant my request, without giving any reason whatever. I have no personal object in view - the information I require is for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
– I do not think it would be wise to publish all the subjects of the communications.
– Then let the Government say that there are some subjects which it would not be wise to name. All I ask is that the Government shall give me a list of all the communications except those which they think, as a matter of public policy, ought not to be published.
.- I can quite understand that the Government may feel it necessary to oppose the motion in its present form. The honorable mem ber for Denison knows that there are despatches which pass between the Governments, which, being marked “Secret” and “Confidential,” cannot be disclosed to either the Imperial Parliament or this Parliament without express authority. But if the motion were amended so as to give the Government proper discretion, it is not likely that it would be opposed. There can be no objection to producing a list of the despatches which are not of the secret and confidential class ; and such a list would be most interesting and useful. A vast nuniber of communications pass between the Governments on a variety of questions of great importance; and, as I have indicated, a list of the sort desired would be very useful.
– There would be no objection to such a list.
– Does the honorable member for East Sydney not think that there are some despatches which, though not marked as secret and confidential, it would not be wise to make public?
– From the considerable experience I have had, I can assure the honorable member that all despatchesare marked secret and confidential if there is the slightest delicacy about them; and the rule is very strict. A despatch, which is not marked as secret and confidential, is one that there need not be the slightest hesitation in publishing.
– The rule is that such despatches may be published.
– It is quite understood that such despatches are to be published.
– If the honorable member for Denison will agree to withdraw his proposal I undertake, without any motion, tolay on the table a complete list of all the despatches, except those which, for some public reason, it may be undesirable to publish.
– I am quite satisfied and I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– May I ask the Prime Minister a question?
– The honorable member has already spoken.
– With the leave of the House I should like to ask a question of the Prime Minister.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to ask a question?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I desire to beg the Prime Minister, in selecting the despatches, to be quite sure that he does not reveal any of those mysterious despatches on, the awful crisis that arose last session.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Roberts for Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the proceedings on the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902,” which were interrupted by the Prorogation last Session, be resumed at the stage which they had then reached, and that the second reading of the Bill be made an Order of the Day for Thursday,1st October.
– The Government has no objection to the motion, but that does not imply that they will not oppose the Bill when its consideration is resumed. We desire to hear what the honorable member has to say with respect to it, and do not wish to deny him the opportunity to put forward his views on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Frazer) agreed to -
That the proceedings on the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act relating to Fire Insurance,” which were interrupted by the Prorogation last Session, be resumed at the stage which they had then reached, and that the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Bill be made an Order of the Day for Thursday,15th October.
Motion (by Mr. Reid for Sir Philip Fysh) proposed -
That a Return be laid upon the table of the House showing, for each of the two financial years ending 30th June,1906, and 30th June, 1907 -
The amount of excise collected on spirits.
The number of gallons on which excise was collected.
The amount which would have been realized had the said gallons paid the duty on import.
The value and character of articles used in the distillation, the growth and produce of the Commonwealth.
The capital invested in producing distilleries within the Commonwealth, excluding the value of land and buildings.
member not to press this motion. I am advised that we can furnish the information sought in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, but that it would be very exceedingly difficult and involve a large outlay to secure that asked for in paragraphs 4 and 5. We should obtain it only on sufferance, and the chances are that our request to be supplied with it would be refused. At the best it would be only approximate, and I would therefore ask the right honorable member to at least amend his motion by withdrawing paragraphs 4 and 5.
.- In view of the statement of the Minister I shall not press paragraphs 4 and . 5 of the motion, and beg leave to amend it accordingly. If desired, a further motion on the subject may be submitted.
Question amended accordingly and resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 23rd September (vide page 316), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I said last night that it was my duty to introduce to honorable members what I might appropriately term the Cinderella of the sites. Unfortunately, that which I favour has not had among its advocates a Minister of the Crown, and it would seem that those that have not come under the immediate patronage of Ministerial office have been allowed to remain out in the cold. Sites which have received Ministerial support have loomed so largely in the public eye as to completely overshadow others that are equally deserving of attention; but I hope that the data which 1 propose to give, and which have been culled from official records supported by sworn evidence, will do something to affect the decision of the House. Although my only desire is that the? best site shall be chosen, the fact that that which I favour is in my electorate prevents me from posing as a purely disinterested advocate of its selection. I am prepared, however, to trust to the actual information to hand in regard to it to support my case. The main objection to Lyndhurst - the site which I favour - is that the water supply of the western division of New South Wales, wherein it lies, is inadequate. That contention I propose to dispel. Whilst I admit that a good water supply is a most important conside- ration, I deny that it is the only one. I would remind; those who run away with the idea that it is the sole point that we should have in view in making a selection, that there are many other considerations - considerations in regard to which Lyndhurst outweighs all other sites - and that this preponderance overcomes any little deficiency that may appear to exist by comparison, and by comparison only, in respect of it. Lyndhurst has recommendations which apply equally to the adjacent towns of Bathurst, Orange, Millthorpe, and Carcoar - but as it is the site in the district concerning which inquiry has been made, I must pin my allegiance to it. It boasts of no less than five sources of water supply- In the first place it has the Coombing rivulet to draw upon. I am led to mention a rivulet in this connexion because Canberra, as we all know, depends upon such a stream for its water supply. I believe that it was in flood when a number of honorable members inspected the site some time ago, and that consequently it has risen in their estimation to the distinction of a river j but in its normal condition it is only a rivulet. The Coombing is only 9 miles from the site. Then we have Flyer’s Creek, 15^ miles away, Cadiangullong, j8 miles distant, Brown’s Creek, 12 miles distant, and the Lachlan, 22 miles away. From the hitter an inexhaustible * supply may be obtained by means of a pumping scheme, but from the other four sources, water could be supplied by gravitation to the site selected by the Commission. The fact that that site is 2,280 feet above sea level, should be a guarantee of the purity of these streams at this point. In such high country, they must be tapped practically at their source, and a large expenditure would not be necessary to enable Lyndhurst to draw its water supply from them. From one of these sources alone could be obtained a supply sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Capital for the first few decades of its existence. If the Lachlan were drawn upon, the scheme would involve 1,400 feet of pumping. That, however, should not put it beyond the pale, because I understand that other sites which are favored by some honorable members, would depend upon similar schemes to place their water resources in an indisputable position. I would also remind honorable members that at the present time, a very large scheme to construct a dam at Wyangala - a very little distance from Lyndhurst - is under consideration. A surveyor is now at work there, and the project is likely to reach maturity. Its magnitude is such that it would bear comparison with the great Barren Jack scheme, the largest undertaking of the kind in Australia. The Barren Jack reservoir is capable of damming back as much water as is contained in Sydney harbor, and, although the Wyangala scheme would entail pumping, it would place the Federal Capital at Lyndhurst beyond the possibility of an inadequate water supply. The point at which the Wyangala supply would be tapped is 20 miles from the suggested site, but pumping would be entailed. The official reports show that the minimum supply that would be obtained from all four gravitation schemes, would be sufficient for a population of 89,000, and that; with the Lachlan pumping scheme there could be obtained a supply sufficient to meet the needs of a city with a population of 292,000. This estimate does not allow for the Wyangala darn, since that scheme was conceived after Mr. Oliver took evidence on the subject. Mr. Wade, the Engineer-in-Chief of Water Supply in New South Wales, in discussing the water possibilities of Lyndhurst, makes _ this comparison -
The daily consumption of water by Sydney, with its population of about half-a-million souls, is about 20,000,000 gallons. Mr. Wade estimates the storage capacity for Lyndhurst at equal to 135,000,000 gallons per day, which, as shown by the quantity consumed in Sydney, would be equal to the requirements of a- city containing a population of several millions. As the requirements, with the Federal Capital at Lyndhurst, would only be 9,000,000 gallons per day, there would be close on 130,000,000 gallons per day available for irrigation and other purposes. In this connexion of water supply notice the contrast between Dalgety and Lyndhurst in regard to the rainfall. The” mean annual rainfall at the Lyndhurst site for the 21 years ending 1902 was 29.54 in., distributed over 87 mean annual rainy days, whilst the mean annual rainfall at the Dalgety site for the 15 years ending 1902 was only “26.37 in-i distributed over 80 mean annual rainy days.
These facts should satisfy honorable members that Lyndhurst is capable of meeting all the exactions in the matter of a water supply that are likely to be placed upon it. Even if it involved the expenditure of a few thousand pounds more or less upon a water supply, that should not deter us. . from selecting Lyndhurst as the site of the Capital, having regard to the many otherconsiderations in its favour. CommissionerOliver - and I quote the separate authorities on the question of water supply, because they express somewhat divergent views, but of the two we must favour the expert evidence of Mr. Wade - says that, allowing for run off and evaporation, the four gravitation schemes would provide 12,500,000 gallons daily. Sydney with its population of half-a-million persons consumes 20,000,000 gallons daily, and therefore we can fairly allow that Lyndhurst could sustain a quarter of a million people with its water. supply from gravitation schemes only ; because this estimate, which is a moderate one, and lower than that which Mr. Wade’s would pan out at, allows for a supply of 12,500,000 gallons daily. Of course, one cannot question the Dalgety water supply ; it stands supreme, and therefore I do not propose to say more in that regard, than that the water is very cold; but that I presume is a detail. In their report of 1903, the Commissioners state that a scheme for 50,000 persons at Dalgety would cost .£328,000 approximately/ whilst at Lyndhurst it would cost ^427,460 approximately to supply the same number of persons with water. Now, considering all the wonderful facilities there are at Dalgety for a water supply, and that we could get an adequate supply for the same number of persons at Lyndhurst by an additional expenditure of a little more than £100,000, that is, in my opinion, a very good argument indeed in support of the latter site. Under such circumstances, and seeing that when such :i large issue is at stake we cannot be narrowed down to one consideration, the argument which, it is said, should place Lyndhurst beyond the pale goes to pieces. The deficiency at Lyndhurst in regard to water supply is more than set off by the many minor deficiencies at Dalgety, which in the total sum amount to a very great deficiency. The Lyndhurst site is well equipped in every other regard, while in most other considerations the Dalgety site is deficient. I. contend that the former is far superior to the latter, as I shall endeavour to prove from the data I have at hand. We are told that the Snowy River has electrical possibilities. Whilst I do not despise electrical possibilities, still I have reliable authority for stating that coal is more economical than water for the production of electrical power, even when the latter is present in abundance.
– That is not correct, any way.
– The honorable member may be an expert authority on such matters –Pam not - but Mr. J. Haydon Cardew,
M.I.C.E., quoted Mr. Thomas Rooke to that effect in his paper read last year before the engineering section of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
– That would not apply to a place like Dalgety, to which the coal would have to be carried.
– I take that authoritative statement to mean that if we have water in abundance at one place, and coal in abundance at another place, it is cheaper to produce electricity at the latter than at the former. That is a fair way of reading the statement , and, coming as it does from a very reliable source, I consider that it is preferable to the ipse dixit of the honorable member for Bass. In addition to that, the water power, which, of course, does exist at Dalgety, is regarded by the New South Wales authorities as a State asset. I make bold to say that, even if this House should select Dalgety, we shall again be faced with the difficulty of getting the selection indorsed by the New South Wales Government.
– I can see a greater difficulty than that, and that is the difficulty with the members of this House.
– I hope that the difficulty with the members of this House will be the first stumbling-block. At Lyndhurst we have a coal supply only 95 miles away. That distance, of course, is a detail compared with the fact that the nearest coalfield to Cooma is 170 miles away’. I contend that the coal supply is sufficiently adjacent to Lyndhurst to justify the contention that electrical power could be developed there by the coal which is accessible at a cheaper rate than, or at an equally cheap rate as, it could be generated by water at Dalgety. The cost of coal delivered at Lyndhurst is 15s. per ton.
– As much as that?
– Trie price is variable. The chances are that, with the greater demand, the price of coal would be reduced, because the fields on the Blue Mountains are hardly tapped yet.
– I think that the honorable member has overstated the price.
– Those are the official figures. I do not pin my faith entirely to official figures, but we have to be guided by them, and I quote them for the other place. As they were taken at about the same time, I expect that any excess will bear the same proportion in each case.
– I am perfectly certain that Lithgow coal could be got there for 12s. a ton.
– To Cooma, the nearest railway point to Dalgety, which is 29 miles away, the cost of coal carriage alone is from 20s. to 25s. a ton.
– There is no timber in that district.
– No, and hence the necessity for getting coal. At Dalgety there is no alternative, and we know that the rigour of its climate demands that we must have warmth. So that, apart from the generation of electricity for any manufacturing industries which may be developed, there is the fact that for ordinary everyday purposes coal will have to be taken to Dalgety. In a cold country that is a vital point, and one which I desire to emphasize. Honorable members will have to view this question from a very matter-of-fact stand-point when they are cooling their heels at the foot of the Snowy Mountains, possibly waiting for the delivery of coal, and having no means bv which they could facilitate its delivery. In addition to the authority I have quoted in regard to water supply, Mr. Blomfield, Resident Engineer of the Department of Public Works of New South Wales, reported in 1900 that, as regards the Carcoar- -Garland site - that is, the Lyndhurst site - there was no difficulty about supplying water foi a large population. I just add that, because in New South Wales his opinion is regarded as eminently reliable. I suppose that we must take the Canberra site very seriously. It appears to command a sort of semi-Ministerial support, and, therefore, it has been made to loom very large in the public eye, and the rivulets that we have heard so much about call for a little investigation. Tn his report, the honorable member for Swan said he believed that there need be no anxiety as to the sufficiency, although there was not a splendid supply of water at Canberra, referring, presumably, to the Cotter and the Gudgenby, two small streams. Mr. Weedon , another authority, says that the Cotter scheme would involve 24 miles of pipe line, and the Gudgenby scheme 25 miles of pipe line, before any reticulation could take place, and further, that 225 square miles of catchment area would be wanted for those two streams. That is a very large consideration. There we have two little streams, and naturally they want n wider area in order to insure the purity of the supply. As the possibility of our acquiring control over 225 square miles of country is rather remote, the possibilities of the Canberra water supply are much inferior to those of any other site, so far as I can gather. If any site should be placed outside the pale on account of deficiency in that regard, it is Canberra, and certainly not Lyndhurst, where we have not only the water supply, but the rainfall, which permits the water supply being- supplemented in many ways. Mr. Wade - the Premier of New South Wales, I believe - says that the Gudgenby scheme presents none of the advantages shown bv the Cotter scheme, and he suggests recourse to the Barren Jack, which is 36 miles off, as a source of electrical power. That is a far-away cry.
– At Barren Jack, they are having very great trouble now, and knocking off the men.
– I do not know anything about that. I am not quoting Barren Jack in support of Canberra, but merely to show how far away are the possibilities of a water supply for Canberra. Thirty-six miles off, Mr. Wade says, there are possibilities of getting sufficient water power for electrical purposes. The Lyndhurst site has a scheme only 20 miles away, which is equal to Barren Jack, and that is the Wyangala scheme. It is not quite so far advanced as is the Barren Jack scheme, but is more than in the air, and therefore I feel quite justified in quoting it as a possible source of supply in the future. The soil of the Canberra district is inferior, whilst the rainfall is only 15 inches as against 30 inches at Lyndhurst, and 36 inches at Orange, with an average of 23 or 24 inches. I therefore contend that Canberra is not in it in regard to either water supply or rainfall. We cannot ignore the importance of the climatic conditions of the site selected, and on that account I could wish that the members of the Federal Parliament had been given an opportunity to visit the most southerly site at midwinter, or during the winter, because we can have no guarantee that the Parliament will not be sitting at some time during winter months. We cannot presume that the Federal Parliament will be sitting only in the summer months, when the district around Dalgety becomes a tourists’ resort.
– It should be remembered that it is proposed to make a number of people live there all the vear round.
– That is so.
– Let the honorable member give the details of temperature.
– I shall refer to them presently, and it is possible that those which I quote will not agree with those quoted by the Minister. I must leave honorable members to decide between them. The records of winter temperature at Dalgety are such as to make it very questionable whether, as a matter of life and death, we should take the risk of moving to such a place to transact the legislative business of the Commonwealth. It should not be forgotten that Australia for the most part is a semitropical country, and we have some honorable members in this Parliament who come from districts which may be regarded as being in the tropics. It is,, in my opinion, unreasonable to ask them to go to a place with a climate resembling that of the South Pole to legislate. It is not calculated to give the best results in Federal legislation, or to attract desirable men to Federal politics, that members returned to this Parliament should be penalized by being asked to go to a place like Dalgety. I contend that we shall take our lives in our hands in undertaking to settle in such a place. I know something of a cold climate, but, when it comes to living in a place where it is 10 or 20 degrees colder than the place in which I have been accustomed to live, I think it is time to object. Australians are a warm-blooded people, and it cannot be expected of them that they will do their best work in Arctic regions. ‘ According to official reports, Dalgety is situated 2,650 feet above the sea level, whilst the height of Lyndhurst above the sea level is 2,280 feet, which could not be objected to by men coming from any part of Australia.
– That is about the height of Toowoomba above the sea level.
– That is so, and I should greatly prefer Toowoomba to Dalgety. Toowoomba would be almost an ideal site, and would compare very favorably with the site which I am recommending. It is stated that -
Dalgety is almost entirely destitute of timber, and does not suggest the idea that parks and gardens would flourish.
– That is about the worst that can be said of it. There is not soil enough there to grow a sapling.
– I make the quotation from an official report, for which the Commonwealth paid dearly. I do not expect that the Minister of Trade and Customs will quote these extracts from the report, and; I have therefore taken the trouble to cull them so that honorable members may not. be misled by a one-sided representation of the case. The report from which I quotefurther states-
The site is somewhat exposed.
The Commissioner who wrote this report was a genial man and a gentleman, and heput it very nicely. When he says that the site is somewhat exposed, we shall be justified in assuming that it is so very much exposed as to be bleak. We havebeen informed that the site is really somuch exposed that, at any time, one isliable to be blown over there. Mr. Campbell, Director of Agriculture in New South Wales, found that -
The Bathurst, Orange, and Lyndhurst sitesoverlapped, making it difficult- to outline theadvantages of one of these sites over the others, but he said that probably it ‘was the most genial and reliable climate for vegetation and stock - the best climate and soil for the varied products for the requirements of a large population.
With respect to rainfall, I find that the annual rainfall in Dalgety is 26.37 inches, over eighty mean annual rainy days> I take this from an unofficial report. W”e have been told that the data supplied with regard to climatic conditions are unofficial, and we are justified in assuming that they are, therefore, largely- tinged with local bias. If a district has the reputation of being somewhat cold, the tendency of local bias in the compilation of records of temperature is to add a few degrees to the records. In the same way, where the rainfall is somewhat scanty, the local man. would think nothing of adding an inch or two to the annual record of rainfall, or of regarding a year in which there has been a heavy rainfall as an average year. I allow for this kind of thing, and honorable members will take unofficial records with a grain of salt. I have said that the mean annual rainfall at Dalgety is said to be 26.37 inches for a mean of eighty rainy days annually. This is the record over fifteen years’. The official record for Lyndhurst is a rainfall of 29.54 inches, with a mean of eighty-seven rainy days annually, over a period of twenty-one years. That will be admitted to be an excellent rainfall for Australia.
– They have . 200 inches annually at Cooktown.
– It is possible to have teo much, even of a good thing. It is because Lyndhurst preserves so satisfactory a mean in all these respects that I have every confidence that honorable members will give it its proper place when selecting the Capital site. An annual rainfall of 29.54 inches may be regarded as ideal, and, when we consider the altitude of the site, and the fact that there is no swampy land there, it will be seen that we have no miasma to fear. At Canberra we are told that the mean annual rainfall is 23 inches. That, I suppose, may be said to be sufficient for all practical purposes, but it is a lower rainfall than that recorded at Lyndhurst, and, as the site is very much less elevated, the climate cannot be compared with that of Lyndhurst. The temperature at Dalgety is given as unofficial. It is stated that during the summer months it ranges from 70 to 80 degrees, and there is a tardy admission that on rare occasions it reaches 104 degrees. The winter readings are as low as 26 and 30 degrees, and one reading of n degrees is admitted. Nothing more is said on the subject. As unofficial records, these may be assumed to be affected by local bias, that tuc best face may be put upon the facts when submitted to the public. While on this subject, I may quote from the report of the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau with respect to the climate at Dalgety. In discussing the question of snowfall in Australia, I find the statement made that -
During the winter snow covers the ground to a great extent on the Australian Alps. For several months there, also, the temperature falls “below zero Fahrenheit during the night, and in the ravines around Koscuisko and similar localities, the snow never entirely disappears.
– We have no record of a temperature below zero at Dalgety.
– My quotation is from a publication issued by Mr. H. A. Hunt, with all the dignity’ and authority of an official document.
– But the reference is to Kosciusko.
– The reference is to the Australian Alps.
– Why not quote the official figures for Lyndhurst and Dalgety, which the honorable member will find in the same document?
– If we knew the local man who took the readings we should know more about it. He may have nearly everyone of them in the district “ squared.”
– I can ‘find no official records extending over a term of years.
– They are to be found in the document from which the honorable member has quoted.
– No official figures are given for a term of years with regard either to climate or rainfall at Dalgety. The official figures given for Lyndhurst are from readings taken at Carcoar. I admit that Lyndhurst is somewhat similar to Dalgety, in being a township in which there are no officials equipped with the necessaryscientific instruments, but the records taken at Carcoar, which is only 7 miles from Lyndhurst, may be regarded as authoritative. That place is only 7 miles distant, and is 83 feet higher than is the proposed site at Lyndhurst. There the highest reading within 16 years was 98.4, and the lowest r.5.4. The highest reading at Dalgety was 104 degrees, and the lowest 11 degrees.
– Eleven degrees?
– Yes. That is a fact which has not been stated by the Minister of Trade and Customs. It is admitted that at Dalgety the thermometer has recorded 104 degrees during summer, whereas the highest reading at Lyndhurst during sixteen years is only 98.4. Bearing .’n mind the extreme cold of the winter at Dalgety, and the intense heat of the summer, I ask, “ In what sort of a climate is it now proposed to establish the Federal Capital? “ I consider that it is my duty to protest against the parliamentary representatives of Australia being compelled to live in such a place. The mean temperature at Lyndhurst during the four hottest months of the sixteen years to which I have alluded was 78 degrees, whilst for the four coldest months it was’35.2 degrees. That is a very modest record. We cannot find any other place in Australia which boasts such an equable temperature, and, therefore, one which is so suited to the varied experiences of those who will have to reside there during the greater part of the year. In fixing the Federal Capital at Dalgety, where the temperature ranges from 11 degrees in winter to 104 degrees in summer, we should be practically inviting legislators to their doom. At Canberra the highest reading recorded is 109 degrees and the lowest 16 degrees. Its mean summer temperature is 69.7 degrees and its mean winter temperature 45 degrees. These readings are rather high, I think, although they are not such as to irrevocably damn the site. But they are not official readings. Indeed my complaint is that very little seems to be known about
Canberra other than that it is a low lying country, and that it possesses no water supply.
– Has the honorable member been there? The idea is that it is rather a beautiful place - that the country is nicely undulating.
– It may be beautifully undulating, but there is too little known about it to enable me to pronounce a definite opinion upon it. Very little significance can be attached to a casual visit to any site. For instance, one might strike the Cotter River when it was in flood and come away under the impression that he had seen a noble river, or he might visit Dalgety when the glass registered 90 degrees and consequently be induced to believe that it possessed a lovely climate. On the other hand, he might visit the latter place when a blizzard was blowing, and leave it under the impression that a blizzard was always blowing there. Any casual inspection to be of value must be supplemented by considerable data. From the standpoint of productiveness, Lyndhurst can safely challenge all other sites. Here I might pause to inquire whether productiveness is not one of the first essentials of a Federal territory? We have heard a lot of sceptical talk about the means of transit being sufficient to render unnecessary special attention being given to productiveness. But in selecting the Federal Capital we must prepare for all contingencies which we know have beset similar cities in the past. It is more than likely that OU] permanent Seat of Government may have to withstand a siege. In any case no harm can result from locating it close to our food supplies. That desideratum can be secured by the selection of Lyndhurst. I hold in my hand a comparative statement of the production for the year ended 31st March, 1904, within a radius of seven miles of four suggested sites, namely, Lyndhurst, Dalgety, Tumut, and Yass. From this table I learn that during the year in question Dalgety produced 5,943 bushels of wheat, 427 bushels of barley, 1,905 bushels of oats, 2,695 tons of hay, and 377 tons of potatoes. Lyndhurst during the same period produced 1,239,903 bushels of wheat, 71,275 bushels of maize, 2,786 bushels of barley, 190,683 bushels of oats, 26,410 tons of hay, and 12,318 tons of potatoes. Similarly, Tumut produced 195,393 bushels of wheat, 232,362 bushels of maize, 659 bushels of barley, 14,268 bushels of oafs, 5,528 tons of hay, and 503 tons of potatoes. As I am given to understand that Yass is not in the running, I shall not quote the statistics relating to it. Lyndhurst is a leading producing centre of these staple products. This claim is amply demonstrated by the fact that little railway stations, such as Millthorpe and Carcoar, show far larger returns than do other larger places. In other words, when one is at Lyndhurst, he is at the very source of our food supplies. The country there is closely settled, and its products always command the highest price in the Sydney market. Its volume of trade is simply enormous. No valid argument can be urged against a site which can boast of such possibilities. From the stand-point of fruit culture, its potentialities are simply limitless. The land is specially adapted to the cultivation of fruit. Around Bathurst and Orange, fruit culture is being actively carried on, and experimental farms have justified the farmers there in considerably extending their operations. The fruit commands the highest prices, not only in the Sydney, but in the London market. From the stand-point of food supplies, therefore, this locality stands pre-eminent. These areas are practically regarded as the granary of New South Wales, and certainly as the source of its fruit supplies, Sydney waiting every year for the early fruits from the high lands around Orange and Bathurst. As an example of what may be done there, I may mention that the average return for 1,000 acres within a radius of 30 miles of Lyndhurst, is estimated at £5 2s. per acre. That circumstance indicates that the residents of this locality are in an affluent position. But it has still deeper significance. It proves that if the country isutilized for a Federal Capital, the Commonwealth will get a splendid bargain. Although the cost of resumption might begreater than it would be elsewhere, that fact should not weigh with honorable members if they are satisfied that the Federation would be obtaining a better bargain. It would be preferable to pay ^10,000,000 for the purchase of land upon which wecould .obtain an adequate interest immediately than to spend ,£2,000,000 upon the resumption of land at a place like Dalgety, where we could not secure any interest whatever upon the outlay. At Dalgety, it is too cold to grow maize, and it is ad’mitted that dairying cannot be carried on there in the winter. The local witnesses would not admit that within a radius of 50 miles of Dalgety, sufficient food could” be grown for the requirements of 50,000 people. I am prepared to say that within a radius of 10 miles of Lyndhurst, sufficient food can easily be produced for a population of that number. In view of the fact that we are about to select a Federal Capital for all time, and of the contingencies which must sooner or later beset it, I ask whether it is not wise for us to see that our food supplies are light at hand? For this reason, I contend that we ought to select a capital away from the coast. There is nothing to hinder the Commonwealth from owning a port, but that matter ought to be considered quite apart from the question of the establishment of the permanent Seat of Government. A highway from the Capital to a port for . us will also mean a highway from a port to the Capital for an enemy. That is an undesirable state of affairs. All principles of strategy and military precedent point to the necessity of entrenching the Capital in such a way as to make it as inaccessible as possible to an enemy. On those grounds there is every justification for selecting the Capital on the other side of the Blue Mountains. There are other sites which would do as well from that_ point of view, but Lyndhurst is one that has been reported upon as being admirably situated in regard to its strategical position, as well as in regard to food supplies. If due weight is given to these considerations there can be no valid argument against the selection of that site. In regard to building material, the official reports do not disclose very much difference between the sites in question. But, of course, we do not live upon stone, and the food supply question is much more important than that affecting building material. Still, it is as well to point out that there is ample building material available to meet all requirements in and about the suggested area. Not very far away we have the Molong and Borenore marble quarries, which have supplied marble for some of our best works, including the hall of the new Sydney railway station. This marble could be ‘ used for the Federal Capital buildings. Ordinary building stone is available in limitless quantities. In that respect there can be no gainsaying the possibilities of Lyndhurst. As to fuel, the same arguments as are used in regard to coal for electrical purposes will apply. A good supply of wood is available at Lyndhurst, but is not available at Dalgety - though that, I suppose, need not enter largely into the question, seeing that coal is now regarded as the main essential. As to timber for building purposes, Lyndhurst is very favorably situated. It is not far away from an abundant supply of cypress pine. It is generally known, I think, that that is the only class of timber that will withstand the ravages of white ants. No matter how hard may be the wood from other parts of Australia, white ants will attack it j but cypress pine is absolutely immune from them. There are also available black butt, tallow wood, peppermint, and turpentine, forests of which are found within 20 miles of Bathurst, a.nd that means that they are not very far from Lyndhurst. Any amount of hard wood of the nature of cypress pine can be obtained at Lyndhurst from 7s. 6d. per 100 feet. To obtain cypress pine at Dalgety would, I suppose, involve a much larger cost - probably up to £1 per 100 feet. In regard to accessibility - another of the main considerations, so far as Australia is concerned - I said just now that we want a site that could be made as inaccessible as possible when necessary. But that is only so when there is danger of invasion. It would be inadvisable, however, to have a site that could be cut off. So far as internal accessibility is concerned, we. want a site that will be easily reached from other parts of Australia. I contend that Lyndhurst in that respect is the best site that has been suggested. Assuming that access by railway is provided ere long, and that such lines as that from Dalgety to Bairnsdale and that from Wellington to Werris Creek are built, according to whichever site is selected, the following figures show pretty clearly the respective distances of Lyndhurst, Dalgety, and Canberra from the capitals of the States of Australia. Assuming the construction of the lines of railway I have mentioned, the distance from Lyndhurst to Sydney would be 191 miles ; from Dalgety to Sydney, 296 miles ; Canberra to Sydney, 204 miles. The distance from Lyndhurst to- Melbourne would be 443 miles ; Dalgety to Melbourne, 355 miles; Canberra to Melbourne, 431 miles. The distance from Lyndhurst to Brisbane would be 654 miles; Dalgety to Brisbane, 950 miles ; Canberra to Brisbane, 929 miles. The ‘distance from Lyndhurst to Adelaide would be 749 miles ; Dalgety to Adelaide, 835 miles ; Canberra to Adelaide, 914 miles. The distance from Lyndhurst to Perth would be 2,317 miles; Dalgety to
Perth, 2,492 miles; Canberra to Perth, 2,449 miles. The distance from Lyndhurst to Hobart would be 902 miles ; Dalgety to Hobart, 1,064 miles; Canberra to Hobart, 912 miles. The average mileage to all the capitals would be, from Lyndhurst 876 miles, Dalgety 998 miles, and from Canberra 981 miles. Those figures show a considerable advantage in favour of Lyndhurst in respect of the mean average distance. The advantage amounts to about 100 miles in the case of each capital, and that I maintain is a large saving, which should be considered by the representatives of the respective States. I also have some figures before me which show that’ Lyndhurst as compared with Dalgety is nearer to Sydney by 105 miles, to Brisbane by 296 miles, to Adelaide by 86 miles, to Perth by 17,2 miles, and to Hobart by 162 miles. Lyndhurst is further from Melbourne, but I consider that, in view of the advantageous position which Melbourne has been occupying for so long, no rational objection can be taken on that ground. The striking feature of these figures is ‘the aggregate distances between Lyndhurst and Dalgety and the six State capitals, Dalgety being 734 miles further away than Lyndhurst. Leaving Hobart out of the calculation, because of the sea journey, the figures show that if Dalgety were finally selected as the Capital, 572 more miles of railway would have to be kept up to express traffic standard than if Lyndhurst were chosen. That is an important consideration. In addition to the immense cost of connecting the site with existing lines, estimated at upwards of ,£2,000,000 in the case of Dalgety, the expenditure in the case of Lyndhurst would be ,£70,000, that place being already on a railway line. The fact that an expenditure of ^£2,000,000 would be involved immediately in bringing Dalgety into touch with our existing railway systems, whereas only £70,000 would be required to bring Lyndhurst at least in reach of all’ the capitals, has to be considered in conjunction with the facts that in Lyndhurst we have a site that is thoroughly equipped in every respect in regard to climate, arability and other requirements, whereas Dalgety has nothing to recommend it apart from its beauty and its altitude. I urge that it would be most unbusinesslike to choose a site involving an expenditure by the Commonwealth of £2,000,000 on railway connection, in return for which we should obtain a site possessed of nothing beyond altitude and picturesqueness. In the case of Lyndhurst we should obtain an adequate return for our money immediately. Further than that, the trend of population is undoubtedly northward. That has been shown by several honorable members who have preceded me. Seeing that it is impossible to go as far north as Armidale - so far as I can gauge the opinion of the House - the next best thing that we can do is to obtain a site that is reasonably near the part of Australia to which population is trending, and which will be more and more the centre of gravity in regard to population. So much can be said of Lyndhurst, whilst it cannot be said of either Canberra or Dalgety.
– To-day Lyndhurst is practically the centre of population.
– It is not quite the centre yet, but it will be the centre in a few years t<J come. The fact that there is not a railway to Dalgety shows that the district is not a productive one, and this was emphasized by Sir Hector Carruthers when he wrote -
The most ardent advocate of Dalgety would not claim that it can be regarded as a district that will be capable of the production of food supplies to any serious extent.
According to a writer in the Sydney press -
Dalgety is, however, cut off by mountain ranges on the west and south from the possibility of any but a most restricted system of railway communication - by the Cooma line with Sydney, and by a line from Dalgety to Bairnsdale,, en route to Melbourne, at an immense cost. The only advantage would be to Victoria. The disadvantage would rest with the four other States - three of them the most progressive in the Federation.
Seeing that the trend of population is northwards it would be ridiculous to place the Federal Capital in the south-eastern corner of the continent. The fact that Dalgety will in the future be remote from the centre of population should, apart from all other considerations debar it, and the objection that it would be a coastal Capital puts it entirely beyond the pale. The weakness of the contention that its nearness to Twofold Bay is an advantage has been made plain by previous speakers; but I would again lay stress on the fact that to make that port equal to the demands of shipping generally it would be necessary to construct a very expensive breakwater, and, as that portion of the coast is most exposed, the taxpayers would have to provide for frequent and costly repairs. There is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should not control a port ; but there is no need for the Capital to be close to it, and a better port than Twofold Bay can be found. As to the relative accessibility by railway of Dalgety and Lyndhurst, let me read again from a letter which appeared some time ago in the Sydney press -
Let the reader take a railway or an ordinary school map, and mark these lines of connexion, and he will be struck with the premier position they give to Lyndhurst as the Federal Capital site in comparison with any other. Connecting lines from Wellington to Werris Creek (New South Wales), and from Warwick to Brisbane (Queensland), give a nearly straight line between Lyndhurst and Brisbane. From Lyndhurst to Perth (Western Australia), includes the extension from Cobar to Broken Hill, vid Wilcannia, then to Port Augusta and vid the trans-Australian line, an almost direct route to Perth; but this distance could be shortened by upwards of 30 miles at least, by a line from Condobolin to Broken Hill, vid Menindie. It must be remembered that the transAustralian line is one that must be built for defence purposes, if for no other. That was a weighty argument at the time in favour of Federation. The distance from Lyndhurst to Adelaide appears to be fairly direct with the connecting line from Hay to Morgan, vid Wentworth. The present estimated distance, however, will certainly be decreased, as, for instance, by the proposed line from Temora to Barellan, and carried thence to the Hay line, all through fine country ; and possibly a branch from the Temora line to a point on the BlayneyHarden railway. The ramifications of the railways on the line commanded by such a position as Lyndhurst are capable of immensely wide expansion, with the probability of access from- the “north-eastern .districts of Victoria, and the south-eastern parts of South Australia.
Lyndhurst is now. the centre of a very comprehensive railway system, and will inevitably have its communications with distant parts of the Commonwealth greatly increased in the near future. Lines intended to open up the far inferior will of necessity be connected with that now in touch with Lyndhurst. In short, every facility will be available for getting to what must be the Mecca of Australia, if the Capital is placed there. Dalgety, on the other hand, is out of the way, and will not have the advantage of the network of communication which will join Lyndhurst with the capitals of the States and other parts of the Commonwealth. The ordinary development of the country will cause a vast improvement in the already extensive railway communication of Lyndhurst, and the selection of that site for the Capital site will be more and more justified as the years, go on, whereas, if Dalgety is chosen, there will be but an accumulation of regrets.
To connect Dalgety with other places by rail, it will be necessary to continue the present railway from Cooma, at a cost of £142,000, whereas Lyndhurst is already on a main line. According to official figures, railways to link up Dalgety with other parts of the Commonwealth, would cost £8,341,683, and similar railways in respect of Lyndhurst £8,433,597 ; but, whereas the improved railway communication of Lyndhurst will be of material benefit to the State, because the trade of Australia must pass its doors, the railways built to Dalgety will be useful for no other purpose than to enable persons to travel to and from the Capital.
– The railway communication given to Lyndhurst will be due to State expenditure.
– The State will have no object in making railways from Dalgety, because there will be no traffic to gain thereby.
– Yes. A good deal of the work of connecting Lyndhurst would, inthe natural course of things, be done inany case, whereas the expenditure that would be entailed in linking up Dalgety to make it reasonably accessible would amount to nearly as much, and there would be no other object in spending that money than to bring there those who would have to go there. There would be no return from it as the years went on. It would be a burden to us - a capital expenditure the interest upon which would stare us in theface year after year. In the case of Lyndhurst, however, the expenditure must be incurred anyhow, will be amply justified, and will engender no vain regrets. If’ there is one thing that we need to avoid in selecting a Capital it is the vain regret for which there is no redress. The cost of resumption for a city site and catchment, area for 50,000 people at Dalgety is estimated at £50,000. At Lyndhurst it is estimated at £180,000. That is just thedifference between buying a good thing and buying a bad thing.’ It does not matter how little the bacl thing costs, if it is not going to give any return, you are betterwithout it, but if you can see returns immediately ahead, it will pay better to giveeven £10,000,000 for a good thing than £50,000 for something that will not only give no return, but on which you will haveto spend money perpetually’ to make it worth having at all. That is the differencebetween the sites so far as I can assess it.
Another factor which has not been touched upon is the question of liability to earthquake shocks. The Rev. W. B. Clarke, who has made a special study of seismic disturbances, has compiled a record of from soo to 300 shocks experienced in NewSouth Wales. Most of them have been felt between Goulburn on the one hand and Albury on the other. Lyndhurst- is without any record against it. Bathurst has had two shocks, one in 1872 and another in 1886. Goulburn has had ten since 187 1; Yass, three since 1871; Lake George, three since 1886; Queanbeyan, seven since 1871 ; and Braidwood, five since 1871. At Dalgety there have been five within comparatively recent years. An earthquake shock may not result in the death of anybody, but in view of the great expenditure that is bound to be entailed in ornamental buildings at the’ Federal Capital, of which, of course, we expect to be very proud, and which will be the cynosure of all tourists’ eyes, an earthquake shock there might do a million pounds’ worth of damage in a single night. That is a thing to be guarded against, or at least taken into consideration in selecting a site. At places within the area determined on by the Commonwealth Parliament in selecting Dalgety there have been earthquake shocks as follow : - At Boloco, one on 27th May, 1.894, and another on 25th February, 1897 ; at Bobundara, one on 25th February, 1897 ; two on 27 th March, 1901 - if there had been expensive buildings there then, irreparable damage would probably have been done to them - and another on 22nd April, 190 1. That makes a total of five shocks in the Dalgety area within comparatively recent years. ‘ We cannot say how many more there will be, but the fact that there have already been more ‘there than anywhere else in New South Wales in the time, is a distinct mark against the selection of Dalgety as the Federal Capital. I leave the matter in the hands of the House with every confidence, that, if a. dispassionate view is taken of the data available, Lyndhurst or some similarly situated site will be found to best meet all requirements. I admit that it is not pre-eminent in the matter of water supply, but that is not everything. Its abundant sources of food supply and security are quite as valuable as is a. surplus water supply, which seems to lie the objective of those who seek to fix the Federal Capital at Dalgety.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.- I should have offered an apology, at this stage of the debate, for attempting to occupy the time of the House, if it were not for the very important nature of the proposal’ we have to consider. We have been told that we are to look at this question from’ a national point of view; and I fear very much that there are other than national interests creeping in which mayresult in our selecting a spot to the detriment of Australia for all time. I feel that I should be recreant to the trust placed in me if now, or at some time during the debate, I did not raise my voice in protest against the action of some honorable members in favoring a site which I believe cannot be to the best interests of the Commonwealth. The honorable gentleman who leads the Government is held up to us as one of our great Australians; and there are some measures on the statute-book, not only of the Commonwealth but of Victoria, in which he takes pride; but I fear that if the Bill we have now before us becomes law, and the site proposed is made the Capital, he will have done much that will militate against the good he has accomplished in the past. I am afraid that if that site be selected the name of the future capital city of Australia will be known as “ Deakin’s Folly.”
– Why not “ Oliver’s Folly”?
– Because Mr. Deakin is the nominal head of the Commonwealth, and has to bear the responsibility of this Bill, although we know that the Cabinet is not at one on the question. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in spite of his pleading that we should treat this as a national question, is continually dragging in parochial interests, and lowering the debate to the level of a mere squabble between electorates. I desire to take exception to the manner in which the attitude of Mr. Wade, the Premier of New South Wales, has been regarded by honorable members of this House. Apart from the correspondence between himself and the Prime Minister - in which Mr. Wade represents, and is bound to represent, the State view - the action of that gentleman has been in all things careful, and has shown an earnest desire not to dictate to this Parliament. Only yesterday he answered a question asked in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales as follows : -
In the Legislative Assembly to-night Mr. Morton asked the Premier whether he was aware in regard to the Federal capital question that if Canberra were selected the Federal Government would necessarily require a seaport, and i£ with a view to inducing the Government to accept Canberra lie would bring before it the claims of Jervis Bay as a seaport, and would offer a strip of land from Jervis Bay to Canberra to provide communication.
Mr. Wade, in reply, said there was no doubt whatever regarding the admirable facilities offered by Jervis Bay as a port. As for the suggestion that the Government should offer access to the sea for the purpose of inducing the Commonwealth to select Canberra, such a course would be unwise and impolitic. The Commonwealth was in this sense master of its own business, and if it had any request to make to the State it would be received in a reasonable spirit, with a keen desire to arrive at finality and compromise.
That is the attitude which Mr. Wade has assumed all through ; and the expressions used by the honorable member for Hindmarsh are not at all warranted by the facts. The honorable member for Wimmera specially urged the New South Wales members not to be governed by parochial views, but his view is that the Capital site should be selected somewhere on the border-land of that State and Victoria. The honorable member endeavoured to show that the selection of such a site would be to the best interests of the Commonwealth ; but when . he was directly asked whether,’ in the event of Dalgety being accepted, he would be willing to proceed at once with the erection of a bush capital, he could only say that after a reasonable period - whatever that may mean - he would be willing to commence building operations. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in a very able address, discussed the legal and constitutional view ; but I do not think that the legal view is disputed. Every one admits that if we take merely the letter of the Constitution, the arrangement with the Premiers cannot be relied upon. It is admitted that any document which led to the passing of the Constitution - any document other than the Constitution Act itself - would be blocked as evidence in a law Court. I think, however, that New South Wales is entitled to ask that something more than a mere legal view should be taken of the question. Continually Parliament is applied to in private interests, as an ultimate court of appeal against legal decisions which work injury and hardship. It is the right of any member of the community to petition the House if he thinks he has a grievance ; and such petitions are dealt with in a spirit of justice and equity, without regard to strict legal technicalities. If that be so in the case of individuals, why should it not hold good in the case of a State ? When a State is applying for justice to this Parliament, are we to take into consideration only such matters as might be regarded as evidence in a Court of law? Are we not to have regard to any facts that will enable us to arrive at an equitable decision? It is true that the Constitution says the Federal Parliament is to be situated in New South Wales, beyond the limit of 100 miles from Sydney; but it is equally true, as the memorandum of the Premiers shows, that that decision was arrived at with a view to placing the Capital within a reasonable distance of that city. The Premiers were the agents of their respective States, and that memorandum, which was published throughout the length and breadth of Australia, ought to be taken into consideration as showing their intentions. ‘ The honorable member for Gippsland the other day interjected that this memorandum was not known to the different States; but even if that were so, it would not alter the fact that the arrangement was known in New South Wales ; and the agreement ought to be adhered to. I contend, however, that that memorandum was made known to all the States, though I was challenged by the honorable member for Gippsland when I previously made a statement to that effect. The memorandum was published in the newspapers of all the States of the Commonwealth; and, as showing the attitude of the States at the time, I quote the following from a leading article in the Melbourne Argus of 31st January, 1899 -
There is not the slightest hope of Queensland entering into the Federation without New South Wales, and it is admitted it would be useless the other Colonies uniting without them. This feeling, which is being displayed in the deliberations of the Premiers, must have a marked effect upon the decisions of the Conference.
It was because the States recognised the necessity of having New South Wales and Queensland in the Federation that it was deemed advisable to make concessions to New South Wales after the Constitution Bill had not been carried by a sufficient majority in that State.
– The Constitution Bill was carried by the majority originally agreed upon.
– I sa.y that, in the first instance, the Bill was not carried by a sufficient majority to make it law.
– The compact was broken in spirit bv New South Wales.
– I do not know that I am called upon to defend the attitude of New South Wales on that occasion. There was a feeling amongst some that it would have been fairer to put the question to a straight-out vote; and there has been no reason to alter that opinion since. However, the Constitution Bill was not carried by a. sufficient majority to make it law in New South Wales; and, under the circumstances - in order to make concessions to the anti-federalists-
– Not anti-federalists, but anti-Billites.
– Well, in order to make concessions to that large majority of the people, the Premiers met, and made the arrangement to which I have referred. In the Melbourne Age of 3rd February, 1899, and also in the newspapers of New South Wales and South Australia, the terms of the memorandum were published, and on the following day the Age, in its leading article, used these words -
For one o[ the improvements in the Bill the Age is entitled to take some credit; for if Mr. Reid had insisted upon Sydney being nominated bv the Federal Parliament for the Federal Capital, as his New South Wales friends urged him to do, Victoria would never have consented to federate on such terms. The suggestion that we threw out on Monday last, namely, that it should be expressly provided that in whatever Colony the Federal Capital should be situated it should not be the capital of the State itself, has been happily adopted by the Premiers; and in doing so they have not only removed a fatal source of friction, but they have been able to advance the cause of Federation by. conciliating the antifederationists in New South Wales.
The Argus of 3rd February, 1899, published the memorandum before mentioned, containing the clause about which we have had so much discussion -
In a leading article of the same date, it stated -
The settlement of the Capital is a question which will attract most popular interest. New South Wales obtains the Capital, but it must not be within a hundred miles of Sydney. We do not think it would be at all fair to ask Victorians to vote for Sydney as the Capital, because the arrangement would be so manifestly unfair, but any proposal which excludes Sydney as well as Melbourne would be acceptable here.
On the following day an Argus reporter had an interview with Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton, with reference to the Federal Capital, and Mr. Barton was reported to have said -
We must give all credit to Victoria in the person of Sir George Turner for having behaved so patriotically in relation to the question of the Capital. In return for the entire exclusion of Victoria from the privilege, that Colony has only asked that the Capital may not be nearer to Sydney than a distance of 100 miles.
On the 6th of February, 1899, there appeared a report of an interview at Albury with Mr. Reid, who was then Premier of New South Wales, as to the possibility of Albury being selected as the site of the. Capital -
In the course of the interview Mr. Reid said he fancied that the Federal Capital would be fixed somewhere about Goulburn.
In the Argus of 8th February, the following paragraph appeared -
The Sydney Daily Telegraph says Mr. Reid will try to please Sydney by inferring in his campaign speeches that the limit of 100 miles from Sydney will be exceeded as little as possible when the Capital is located.
Mr.E. W. Knox, of Sydney, denounced the Convention Bill, and he is still dissatisfied. In a letter to the Sydney papers he seems to anticipate that the Federal Parliament will meet for all time in Melbourne, and his wrath is very great.
It is evident that the alleged trick of the Conference in respect to the Federal Capital will be worked for all that can be gotout of it by the Sydney anti-Federalists. So unfederal a suspicion betrays itself.
I am led to make these quotations, because some question has been raised as to whether the people of Australia, and more particularly the people of New South Wales, had this matter in mind when they voted on the Bill at the second referendum. The Sydney Morning Herald, of 3rd February,1899 - the date on which the memorandum was published - contained an article in which it stated that -
Victoria gave way upon the question of the Capital. … It was evident, after discussion, that Melbourne was jealous of Sydney, so certain provisions were inserted with a view of preventing Sydney ever being made the Capital. Sir George Turner said he could not tolerate Sydney being made the Capital on any conditions whatever. . . . The site must be fixed at least 100 miles from the city of Sydney. Mr. Reid congratulated New South Wales upon its bargain. As a matter of fact, the New South Wales Premier was never favorable to Sydney being the Capital. Personally, he favours a spot, say, between Moss Vale and Goulburn, in a cool climate and mountain breezes.
On the following day, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Mr. Reid as- having said -
The other Colonies granted you the Capital. I think that the solution of the difficulty regarding the Capital is one which will be viewed with the liveliest satisfaction by the people of New South Wales. It fixes the Capital now and for all time in the very heart of our territory.
On the 7 th February there appeared in the same newspaper a statement that Mr. Reid did not care to enter into a controversy on the subject, that the Federal Capital would never be fixed, that Parliament would meet in Melbourne, and continue to meet there for all time. That was one of the arguments that the anti.Billites used- during the campaign. The report reads -
Mr. Reid says he does not care to enter into a controversy on the subject. As a matter of fact, there is no need. Sir George Turner and the Premiers of the other Colonies are honorable men, and are not likely to endeavour to draw out of the agreement which they entered into.
– All these statements have been repeated in the House on several occasions’.
– -The honorable member may have heard them, but I wish to place on record these quotations as showing the feeling that existed in Sydney at the time of the second referendum, and the understanding arrived at by the Premiers of the several States, in order to induce New South Wales to accept the Bill. On the 8th February, 1899, the following appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald -
Replying to an interview to-day, Sir George Turner said he was perfectly certain the representatives of Victoria would not attempt in any way to block the Federal Parliament from selecting a site for the Federal Capital in New South Wales, and having the necessary buildings erected thereon at an early period of the Federation. Furthermore, he has not the slightest doubt that the question of the site will be submitted to the Federal Parliament during its first session. . . . He was confident none of the Colonies would attempt to do anything unfair. A compact had been made that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales, and whatever his feeling might be concerning that concession to the Mother Colony he would not lend himself to any movement to back out of it or to nullify it in any way.
– Why does not the honorable member sling this at the head of his constituents? We have not done him any harm.
– But t the honorable member will do an injustice, not only to New South Wales, but to the whole of Australia, if he votes for Dalgety as the Seat of Government.
– All the honorable member’s talk will not alter my view.
– I am sorry that the honorable member is not open .to convic-tion ; it may be that by continually worrying, he may be wearied into consenting to vote against Dalgety.
– Will the honorable member say that he is open to conviction ?
– I am. On 9th February, 1899, there was a meeting of the Cabinet of New South Wales, and Mr. Reid is reported to have said -
The demands of New South Wales for the Capital were reasonable and fair, and that he was immensely gratified that he had succeeded in gaining the concession for all time for our own Colony. Having had this point conceded to him, if he had not agreed that the first session of the Federal Parliament should . be held in Melbourne, he would have been mean indeed.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, of 14th February, 1899, the present Minister of Defence published a letter, in which he contended that, according to the ordinary practice of measuring distances, neither Bathurst nor Goulburn should be considered as outside of the 100-mile limit. Evidently, at that time, the honorable gentleman considered that the Capital was going to be somewhere near the 100-mile limit, and was arguing that by ordinary methods of measurement, Bathurst and Goulburn, which by radial measurement were excluded, ought to be included and be open to selection. In an interview with a press representative, Mr. Peacock, now Sir Alexander Peacock, is reported to have said -
Sir George Turner has conceded the Capital to New South Wales, and has asked that the first Parliament should meet in Melbourne.
There are only two other quotations that I wish to make. On the 21st February, 1899, the Parliament of New_ South Wales met, and in the course of the debate on the Address-in-Reply in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Reid said -
It was only a reasonable request that Sir George Turner made that the first session of the Federal Parliament should be held in Melbourne -
That first session has extended into sessions ranging over eight years -
That was a concession that he could not resist in fairness. The Capital would be as near to the 100 mile limit as possible. It must be on one of the great trunk lines of the Colony.
– That is why the honorable member proposes that it shall be on a branch line.
– I do not propose anything of the kind.
– Canberra is on a branch line.
– I have not advocated the selection of Canberra. In the course of a debate which took place in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, on the 14th December, 1904, Dr. Nash quoted - from some of the speeches made on the Address-in-Reply, to which I have referred - extracts which I think are pertinent to the question, and may well be put before this House. He said -
A debate took place in the Legislative Assembly of this State on the 21st February, 1899. It was a debate on the address in reply to the Governor’s speech, and it was spoken to by the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, who was at the time Colonial Treasurer, and by Mr. Edmund Barton, gentlemen who took a very leading part in the bringing about of federation. Mr. Reid had come fresh from making a compact with the representatives of Australia in Melbourne to the effect that the federal capital should be in New South Wales, and that it should not be less than 100 miles from Sydney. Mr. Barton was accepted as the greatest authority in Australia upon the Federal Constitution and upon federation. I take it that there is no stronger proof to be found of what was intended by the Premiers when they met in Melbourne than the opinions of those two gentlemen ; and for the information of the House I will quote what they said at the time.
In regard to the 100-miles limit, Mr. Barton, now Sir Edmund Barton, said : - “ If the Capital is a little more than 100 miles from Sydney it will still be within n three-hours rail journey, and I take it that it will be the endeavour, however federal and however patriotic-minded they may be, of a large number of the representatives of New South Wales, and most of them, so long as considerations of position and climate are faithfully observed, to see that that Capital is not placed too remotely from either Sydney or Melbourne.”
That was the expressed opinion of Mr. Barton on that occasion. Mr. Reid, in the same debate, expressed himself in the following manner : - “In my opinion, if I may give it for anything it is worth, the Federal Capital, although in a country district, will be as near as possible to the 100-miles limit.”
– “ In my opinion.”
– In that statement he did not say that there was a compact, and it was made just after the alleged compact.
-It shows what effect the agreement had upon his mind. Dr. Nash continues -
That expresses fairly well what I remember was the opinion of the general body of electors in the State of New South Wales at that time. And I might repeat that coming fresh as it did from those gentlemen, when the matter had been under consideration, it proves to me that the intention was, that if a suitable site could be found, complying with the other conditions necessary, on the margin of the100-miles limit from Sydney, that site was the one intended to be chosen.
I think that those extracts show that at the referendum the people of New South Wales thought, when the 100-mile limit was mentioned, it represented as nearly as possible the distance of the site of the Federal Capital from Sydney.
– What about remoteness from Melbourne ?
– That question was not considered at all.
– Mr. Barton said so.
– Read the quotation again.
– If I may remind honorable members again, the Premiers’ Conference met with a request from the Legislative Council of New South Wales that the Federal Capital should be situated in Sydney. Sir George Turner would not consent to that request ; but in order to meet the people or, if you like, the Legislative Council of New South Wales - in order to meet the opponents of the Bill - he did consent to the Capital being put at a point about100 miles from Sydney. The argument used last night by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that because we could not get the Capifal on the 100-mile limit, therefore we could go anywhere, is, I think, not a proper one to employ. Surely in order to observe the spirit of that compact we should, other things being equal, get as near to the limit as possible. If we have two sites of which one is near the limit and the other altogether outside it, then, in order to give effect to the compact which was made between the States, the one nearer to the limit ought to be selected.
– There was no compact made between the States, but between the Premiers.
– If the honorable member cannot follow me, I am sorry. I said just now that the Premiers must be considered to have been the agents of the
Colonies they represented. They signed that memorandum1 and put it forth in every one of the Colonies. It must be remembered also t that, although at the referendum the Constitution Bill was carried by an overwhelming majority in the other Colonies, there was a very strong objection to it, even in its amended form, in New South Wales.
– Can the honorable mem-“ ber quote one instance outside Sydney where any such statement was made?
– I quoted one statement made at Albury by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Reid. When he was returning from the Conference at Melbourne he told the people of” Albury on that occasion that he thought that the Federal Capital would be situate somewhere between Moss Vale and Goulburn, and that Albury would not be in it.
– Why did he say in this House that he would stand by Dalgety?
– When the right honorable gentleman is speaking later on my honorable friend can ask that question. At the first referendum in New South Wales there was a very strong opposition offered to the Constitution Bill. Although we got 100,000 votes for the Bill, there were 83,000 votes cast against it, so that nearly 45 per cent, of the people who exercised the suffrage voted against the Bill. It was only by reason of the amendments made in the Bill that it was carried at the second referendum. There is no doubt that if those amendments had not been made, if, for example, the New South Wales people had known at that time that the Federal Parliament would meet for eight years in Melbourne, and that Dalgety would be selected as the Federal Capital, they would not have gone into the Union; the Bill would not have been accepted.
– The majority of the voters were agreeable to the Colony going into Federation without any condition, as the honorable member knows as well as I do.
– That is quite true. At the first referendum a majority of the votes were cast for the Bill, but the majority required by the local law was not obtained. In New South Wales there was a very strong minority against the Bill, the minority in the other States being comparatively insignificant.
– In Sydney only.
– The honorable member is in error, because there was a strong minority vote cast against Federation all over the country. I admit that the vote against the Bill was stronger in Sydney than in the country.
– Not outside the county of Cumberland.
– I think that the honorable member is wrong.
– If the -honorable member can find the figures, he will find that I am right.
– Any way, if people are so benighted as to live in Sydney, if people are so offensive to the honorable member and to Melbourne people as to live in Sydney-
– That is the honorable member’s own creation.
– Nobody has made that suggestion. ‘
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has been throwing Sydney at me time after time.
– On this question.
– The people of Sydney have a right to be considered, and if this bargain was made to conciliate them, that is all the more reason why honorable members should adhere to it. The honorable member for Wimmera invited us to take a view which would be consistent with the interests of all the States. But his idea of being consistent with those interests was to put the Federal Capital close to the Victorian border, and on the coast line. He thought that the wishes of all the States would be met by adopting that suggestion. I think that if we were untrammelled by that agreement, a number of the arguments of the honorable member for New England would carry considerable weight. To any man who looks at the trend of the times, there can be no doubt that the drift of population is to the north-east of the Commonwealth, and that at the end of twentyfive or thirty years, the centre of the density of population will be’ considerably, north of its present location.
– What t about Western Australia?
– Even in Western Australia, there is a great drift of population northward. The northern portion, of New South Wales is being developed, and that will alter the centre of the density of population. If I thought that it was within the bounds of the compact, I should consider very carefully the arguments of the honorable member for New England in regard to the Armidale site. There is very much to be said in- favour of .it, and except for the position I take up, that we can get a nearer site which will fall in with the compact, and answer all purposes, i should be very much tempted to support the honorable member in his advocacy of the Armidale site. Considering the great development which is taking place, even on the northern rivers of New South Wales, I venture to predict that at the end of twenty-five or thirty years, we shall probably have as many people settled on those rivers as are in the whole of the State at the present time. These considerations suggest that the Capital should be put in a northerly direction rather than towards the south. The increase of population, too, is in favour of the larger States. Between the 31st December, 1900, and the 31st December, 1907, the population of New South Wales has increased from 1,360,000 to 1,568,000, being an increase of about 15J per cent. In Western Australia also, there has been a very marked increase. I shall content myself with giving the percentage of increase in each State. During the period I mentioned, it has been 44^ per cent, in Western Australia, 15J per cent, in New South Wales, 9I per cent, in Queensland, 8 1-5 per cent, in South Australia, 6 per cent, in Tasmania, and only 4^ per cent, in Victoria, where the population has increased by only 51,000 persons. The tendency of population is to increase in the larger States and not in the smaller ones. But Armidale, I repeat, does not fit in with the compact which was made, and, to my mind, the only site which approaches most nearly to the compact is Lyndhurst, of which the honorable member for Macquarie spoke at such length this afternoon. I do not want to repeat the arguments which he used. I think that he put his case fairly and straightforwardly, and I hope that the House will give every consideration to the figures and ‘ the facts which he used in support of that site. Lyndhurst meets these requirements more nearly than any’ other site proposed, because it is the’ centre of the density of population at the present time. As the honorable member for Macquarie showed, when railways already projected are constructed it will give the shortest distance from all the States capitals. The honorable member proved that statement by quoting the mileage from the various States capitals to Lyndhurst, and if, as the honorable member for Wimmera has said, we should consider the other States, it should be borne in mind that from the point of view of distance from the States capitals,, as well as from the point of view of the centre of population in the Commonwealth, Lyndhurst meets the requirements better than any other site. The only argument urged against the selection of Lyndhurst so far is that it has not as good a water supply as Dalgety. But it has been shown that the water supply available at Lyndhurst is quite sufficient for any capital we can build there, and for the population we are likely to have there. By. a gravitation scheme sufficient water may be obtained in the immediate vicinity of Lyndhurst to supply a population of 50,000, which is a larger population than we are likely to have at a Federal Capital for perhaps the next fifty years.
– Are we, in a matter of this kind, to legislate for only fifty years ahead ?
– If the honorable member had permitted me to conclude my remarks I should have said that a water supply might be obtained at Lyndhurst that would meet any requirements of the future. The right honorable member for Swan has made a fetish of a water supply. Really ‘ all that can be said for Dalgety is that it has a water supply, and a good one. We may drink water, but we cannot eat it or sleep in it, or live in t, and Dalgety has nothing else to recommend it but the fact that good water can be got there, and mighty cold water at that. I suppose that there is no bleaker or colder place in the Commonwealth than Dalgety. I certainly know of none. There are two localities which inNew South Wales we regard as preeminently suitable for the establishment of sanatoria. One is the western mountain slopes and the tableland around Orange and Bathurst, and the other the northern tableand around Armidale and the New England district. But Dalgety is a very bleak place. I doubt sometimes whether honorable members, especially from Queensland, realize what it would mean to be compelled to live at Dalgety all the year round.
– - Has the honorable member been there?
– I know the district well. It has been said that Parliament will not be sitting there all the year round, and ‘we could dodge the winter. But even if that be true, and from our par- liamentary experience so far I very much doubt it, are we going to condemn those who must reside at Dalgety if Parliament meets there, to live there all the year round, when we acknowledge that the place is not lit for us to live in ? Only last winter, when the Minister of Trade and Customs wanted a holiday, he did not go to Dalgety, but to Cairns, in Queensland, in order that he might get a little warm.
– Is there no one living at Dalgety now?
– I might reply to the honorable member, by saying that we have reports showing that there is very little settlement on the site at the present time, and that practically all the land is Crown land. The right honorable member for Swan, with his experiences, and some of them very bitter experiences, in the West, has no doubt got water on the brain. He seems to think and dream of nothing else but water. So long as a site possesses a good water supply, the right honorable gentleman is quite satisfied. As a result of his bitter experiences in the Western deserts, I have no doubt that when he sees a decent stream of water anywhere it appeals to his heart. But I remind honorable members that the right honorable member for Swan has shown us what can be done by engineering skill, even when, by force of circumstances, a city is established, as Coolgardie was, in the middle of a desert. How many hundred miles was it that he was able to take water to that city, and make the scheme a financial success? We should need nothing of that kind at Lyndhurst, because within so or 30 miles, around the Canoblas, we could get all the water we should require for ordinary purposes, whilst, for the generation of power, we should have the Murrumbidgee not very far away. But there are other factors besides that of a good water supply which must be taken into account in estimating the suitability of a site for the Federal Capital. I repeat that Dalgety has nothing to recommend it but a good water supply, and it is, and always will be, absolutely unsuitable as a site for the Federal Capital, except in that one respect. The Minister of Trade and Customs has exhibited a picture of a very pretty fall somewhere on the Snowy River, near Kosciusko. We all admit that Kosciusko is a very nice place as a tourists’ resort, and I admit that a visit to the district might be very enjoyable. But it is 40 miles from Dalgety, and, if ease of access is taken into account, it will be found that it is almost as close to Canberra.
– I do not think that the Government have made any arrangements for the heating of Parliament House at Dalgety.
– I doubt very much whether it would be possible for the Government to make arrangements to heat Parliament House at Dalgety sufficiently to keep the honorable member’s teeth from chattering in the winter. I give way to no one in my admiration for mountain sites. I love mountain scenery as much as any member of this House can possibly do. I am as able to live on the mountains as any other member. I have been living on the mountains for a considerable time, and, in spite of a certain rotundity of waist, I might undertake to measure even with the honorable member for Maranoa. We must remember that the Monaro tableland is a very different place from the western mountain district of Katoomba and other mountain sites in New South Wales that are tourists’ resorts. There is a difference of only some 300 feet in altitude between Lyndhurst and Dalgety, but the fact that Dalgety is on the eastern side of the Dividing Range makes the difference most appreciable. The mean temperature of Dalgety in the winter is something to make one shudder. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has asked what is a difference of3 degrees in temperature?
– The honorable member is dreaming.
– The honorable member may forget what he says, but only last night, in comparing Dalgety with Canberra, he said that, in the matter of temperature, there was a difference of only 3 degrees.
– I never mentioned the matter.
– I leave it to Hansard to show what the honorable member said.
– Hansard will not show that I said anything of the kind.
– Let me put it in this way, to meet the susceptibilities of the honorable and touchy gentleman. I understood him to say that a difference of 3 degrees in temperature between Dalgety and Canberra was not a very great difference.
– It was the honorable member for New England who made the comparison which the honorable member is attributing to me.
– I should like to inform honorable members that there is a difference of only 3 degrees between the mean winter temperature of the city of London and that of Dalgety. The mean winter temperature of London is 39.3 degrees, whilst the mean winter temperature of Dalgety is 42.2. Comparing Dalgety with the capitals of the States in this respect, the mean winter temperature of Melbourne is 49.2, or 7 degrees higher than that of Dalgety; Adelaide, 52 degrees, or 10 degrees higher; Hobart, the most southerly capital of all, which is open to the Southern Ocean, has a mean winter temperature of 47 degrees, or 5 degrees higher than Dalgety. Those honorable members who have visited Hobart in the winter, and have learnt how the wind can blow from Mount Wellington when it is covered with snow, can imagine what it would be to have the wind blowing from Kosciusko down upon Dalgety in the middle of winter.
– Where did the honorable memberget those figures ?
– From Knibbs’ latest statistics. If the honorable member wishes to verify them he can do so by reference to two volumes, which can be obtained in the Parliamentary Library. Sydney has a mean winter temperature of 53 degrees, or 11 degrees higher than that of Dalgety. Brisbane boasts a mean winter temperature of 60 degrees, which is 18 degrees higher than that of Dalgety, and Perth has a mean winter temperature of 55 degrees, or 13 degrees higher than the winter temperature of the site in which we are asked to shiver. Dalgety, besides being unsuitable on account of its climate, is also unsuitable by reason of its inaccessibility. I would remind honorable members that the New Zealand Parliament was removed from Auckland to Wellington because, although the former city is the capital of the island, it was not sufficiently accessible to members of the New Zealand Parliament. In view of that circumstance, I ask honorable members to imagine what will happen if we establish the permanent Seat of Government at Dalgety after wasting , £500,000 in constructing a railway that will never pay? Some reference has been made to the possibility of connecting a railway from Bairnsdale with Dalgety.
– Mr. Tait declares that that is impracticable.
– The Chief Railway Commissioner of Victoria is opposed to that scheme, and unless almost insuperable difficulties are overcome, most of that line would have to be built with a very narrow gauge and with very steep gradients.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong.
– It must be so from the very nature of the country that the line would traverse. The journey would be a very slow and tedious one. Even if that line were constructed, I venture to say that the representatives of Victoria would travel to the Federal Capital viâ the longer route.
– Has the honorable member ever seen the country of which he is speaking?
– No. But the honorable member will have an opportunity of refuting my statements. Personally I am in favour of the selection of Lyndhurst but I am prepared to accept Canberra as a compromise if I cannot obtain a better site. It is true that the temperature of Canberra is higher than that of Dalgety by only 3 degrees but we have to remember that while the Dalgety site is according to Mr. Oliver situated in an exposed position, the Canberra site is sheltered, and under such circumstances the climate is not half so trying. Thatis a matter of common knowledge to every person who has lived in the mountains. It has been urged that Dalgety possesses a port in Twofold Bay. But if Twofold Bay is the port of Dalgety, I claim that Jervis Bay is the port of Canberra.
– But it is a different kind of port.
– From all stand-points Jervis Bay is superior to Twofold Bay.
– How can one get there ? Over what sort of country ?
– Over excellent country.
– In going from Dalgety to Twofold Bay there is a sheer drop of almost 2,500 feet, whereas the drop from Tarrago, on the Cooma line, to Jervis Bay is very much less. Upon the first occasion that I made that trip I was about twelve years of age, and as I have made it many times since, I know the district very well. From my own personal knowledge I say that Jervis Bay can be approached very much more easily from Canberra than Twofold Bay can be approached from “Dalgety. I would further point out that if a line were -constructed from Tar.rago to Jervis Bay it would traverse a much bigger strip of dairying country than would a line from Dalgety to Twofold Bay. The reason that Twofold Bay has not progressed more than it has done is that the mountains approach the shore too closely and that there is very little good grazing land in the neighbourhood.
– There must be expended upon Twofold Bay £4,000,000.
– The ‘ experience of New South Wales in building breakwaters in the northern portion of that State do not encourage the belief that any breakwater at Twofold Bay could be erected that would effect much improvement. Another reason why I prefer Canberra to Dalgety is that the land around the former is very much superior to that around the latter. Of course there is very good grazing country at Dalgety. As a matter of fact, any rotting : gram [ic country is good grazing country. The honorable member for Hindmarsh described the Canberra site as an admirable cricket pitch.- I would remind him that it is -impossible to get a cricket pitch at Dalgety. Something has been said about the difference “of opinion amongst the New South Wales representatives. We have been told that if they would only agree amongst themselves something might be done to meet their wishes. But with the exception of two of the New South Wales representatives in the Ministry, every honorable member from that State is opposed to the selection of Dalgety. Consequently, although we may not be unanimously in favour of any particular site, we are unanimous upon the question of the unsuitability of Dalgety as the site for the future Seat of Government. 1 thank’ honorable members for the patience with which they have listened to a rather long speech, but T felt that it was due to myself and my constituents that I should place upon record my opinion in reference to this measure. Should Dalgety be chosen in spite of all that I have said, 1 shall, at any rate, have the satisfaction of having discharged my duty, and future generations in Australia will hold the representative for Nepean guiltless of having committed the egregious “bl under of voting for the selection of the most” unsuitable of all the sites that have “been proposed.
.- “The honorable member for Nepean dis- » covered one argument to support his case which may be used with greater force against him. He urged that we should not select Dalgety as the Federal Site because the trend of population is northward. But that is a reason for not selecting any site , . at all just now. If the centre of population is likely to shift, and it is desirable for the Federal Capital to be near the centre, then we ought to delay the selection, since we do not yet know where the centre is to be. It would certainly be rash to assume that settlement in the honorable member’s State is to be confined to present limits. It may happen that one, if not both, of the leading’ States will lose their predominant position, and that a capital situated near the southern coast will be too remote from the population centre. Personally, I have recently come to the view that the selection might advantageously be postponed for at least a generation, and until development more clearly reveals the necessities and potentialities of Australia. But the question having been forced to the front by the clamour of influential coteries in Sydney, in common with other honorable members, I am obliged to make a choice. I do not propose to speak at any great length, because this question has been absolutely threshed threadbare. Not one fact, reason, or argument can be adduced that has not been already advanced ad nauseam, both in this House and in the press. As, however, I .have made only brief reference to it during previous discussions, I may be pardoned for saying a few words now in justification of the vote which I propose to give. It seems regrettable that this issue is not being decided squarely on the floor of the House, but that its settlement is being affected by such influences as were the subject of complaint during the Tariff debates.
– Will the honorable member give us an example?
– The less said about the matter the better. I merely desire to express my regret that such influences have been operative. The one paramount consideration in the settlement of this question is not the welfare of any particular State or capital city, but the welfare of the future Australian nation. No other influence ought to be admitted for a moment to the minds of honorable members. And if this ideal be .kept before us the complexity of the question disappears. It is solely because extraneous purposes and parochial interests have been interposed, that the House is split up into irreconcilable sections, and unfit to make a choice which can be defended before posterity. Now, the Constitution leaves this Parliament absolutely free in regard to the selection of the site, with two conditions ; namely, that it shall be within the State of New South Wales, and not less than 100 miles from Sydney.
– Within a reasonable distance as well.
– The honorable member overlooks the understanding.
– I take no notice whatever of the alleged understanding that occurred in the Premiers’ Conference about the Capital being fixed as close to the 100- miles limit as possible.
– The honorable member should not say “ alleged agreement.”
– If a ‘signed agreement exists I have never seen it. Let those who rely on such a document produce it. At any rate, it is not embodied in the Constitution. I hold that we should be littleshort of traitors to Australia, if we allowed any other consideration than the future welfare of the nation to determine outvotes upon this question. Subject to the fulfilment of these conditions - and I arn for their literal fulfilment - our right to do what we think best for all Australia, cannot be circumscribed. I take my stand on the Constitution, and say that my vote will be given in strict obedience to its mandate. There is no other consideration in the bond.
– That is what Shylock proposed - to carry out the bond.
– Probably the honorable member for Wentworth knows more about the characteristics of Shylock than I do. I stand by the bond contained in the Constitution for another reason, namely, that I object to the dictation - the offensive dictation - to this Parliament which has been attempted bv certain politicians in Sydney. Such conduct was altogether unjustifiable, and for that additional reason I am the more inclined to stand strictly bv the terms of the Constitution than otherwise I might be.
–I thought that the Honorable member intended to strip the consideration of the question of all irrelevances ?
– That was my desire ; but the honorable member and his friends, through their interjections, apparently will not allow me to do so. Let me remind him that there is no time limit in the Constitution as to when the Federal Capital is to be established. There was a time limit in regard to the Tariff ; but in respect to the Federal Capital, the framers of the Constitution evidently intended that this Parliament should be its own master, and, do what it thought fit at the proper time.
– The honorable member ought to apply that argument to. the transcontinental railway.
– I am quite willing to allow the argument to apply to the transcontinental railway, .or to any other project in which I happen to be interested.
– The honorable member wanted the sliding scale right down.
– That sliding scale was of no advantage to Western Australia. It is a totally irrelevant matter ; but, to make a passing reference to it, I may observe that the duties under the sliding scale were paid by the people of Western Australia, and not by the people of any otherState. That remark disposes of the honorable member’s interjection at once. I was rather astonished at a speech made inthis House on the last occasion when thesubject was before us. by the honorable member for Sotith Sydney. It surprised me that he should put forward the viewthat the feelings of a small minority inSydney, as he admitted they were - an insignificant minority, as I believe they really are - should be considered before the judgment and the views of the rest of Australia. I believe that the agitators whohave created all the noise on this subject are an insignificant majority even in .Sydney itself. The people outside Sydney do not wish to exercise any unfair influenceupon this Parliament. I do not believethat the people of New South Wales generally desire the Sydney influence todominate our choice of a site for the national Capital.
– We all agree to that.
– Therefore, all the clamour comes from a very small coteriein the city of Sydney.
– What advantage isit to them?
– I presume that the matter must be of some advantage to them, or they would not make so much noise about the choice of the Capital at Dalgety, which I believe we are going to confirm.” It isalso a remarkable thing that when the hon– orable member forSouth Sydney represented a country constituency, he never proposed to allow the view of a minority in Sydney to override the wishes of the majority of the people.
– He opposed Dalgety.
– That may be so; but that does not affect the contention which he recently put forward. Now, however, he desires us to put our better judgment aside so as to remove certain factitious grievances of a Sydney minority. According to this logic, if a clique possessing control of the daily press choose to invent “wrongs,” and will shout them loud enough, this Parliament is to surrender its prerogatives and forget its duty in order to pacify the agitators and remove their imaginary complaints. The honorable member appears to have overlooked the real injustice, the permanent wrong, that would ensue to the rest of the Commonwealth. He would
Heal the inveterate canker of one wound
By making many.
Does he forget the quarter from which this agitation comes? Can he be oblivious of the fact that every slander against Australia, every attempt to belittle the national Parliament, every ‘conspiracy designed to annihilate the party which he recently led, has been fathered and fostered by the coteries who expect their interests to override those of the Australian nation ?
– The honorable member has no evidence of that.
– I have the evidence of my own senses, and so has every member of this Parliament. If I desired further proof, I might refer to the country representatives in New South Wales - the honorable member for Riverina, and others - who do not wish, and who have never put forward the view, that this Parliament should accede to clamour aroused in Sydney.
– What others?
– I may instance the honorable members for the Barrier, for New England, and for Gwydir. I have never heard anyof them say that because Sydney wants the Federal Capital to be close to the 100-miles limit, therefore this Parliament should concede the demand.
– Who has said that in this House ?
– The whole argument which we have had time after time is to that effect.
– The honorable member is going to vote against Sydney, and nothing more.
– Not so. I have very pleasant recollections of Sydney, and perhaps as many friends there as in any other part of Australia.
-I have never heard the honorable member lately but he has been trouncing Sydney.
– I have never said anything derogatory to Sydney.
– I have heard the honorable member denouncing Sydney and Sydney politicians time after time.
– The honorable member persists in making a general charge; I defy him to give particulars. Now, this Parliament deliberately passed an Act some time ago fixing the site of the Federal Capital17 miles from Dalgety. Why did we pass that measure ?
– Because we were mad.
– That is not a very handsome compliment to pay to the majority of this House who have kept the honorable gentleman in office so long ! I remind him again that the majority voted for Dalgety. Apparently the same majority was mad when it kept the Treasurer in office.
– A large majority voted for Tumut in the first instance.
– If I may getback to the real question, it is simply this : A few years ago we passed an Act of Parliament solemnly, and after the most exhaustive examination and inquiry, fixing the Federal Capital. Whathas happened since to induce us to modify our opinion ?
– Last winter!
– I was not aware that the honorable gentlemanwas in Dalgety last winter.
– I should not be here now if I had been.
– Wherever the Treasurer was, he looks remarkably well and healthy now. I say, Mr. Speaker, with all due deference, that if this House now reverses the decision at which it deliberately arrived in passing the Act to. which I have referred, it will be paying a poor compliment to its own stability of purpose, to its own judgment, and to the. materials and evidence on which that judgment was founded.
– It was only decided by an accident.
– I do not know what the honorable gentleman means by an accident-.
– It was decided by an accident - absolutely.
– Anyhow, the decision is contained in an Act of Parliament.
– It was something a little cleverer than an accident, if honorable members knew everything about it.
– Now, why should this House yield to factional clamour? It emanates in a quarter from which, ever since Federation was established, has come consistent and relentless hostility to the ideals of Australian democracy. How honorable members , who perused the correspondence with the Sydney Government can vote to re-open this question passes my comprehension. Just consider one, though not the most audacious, of their many impudent pretensions. I had wished to avoid reference to it, but the attitude of honorable members opposite shows” that they sympathize with and indorse the actions of the Sydney Government. This Parliament wisely decided that the Federal Capital should have access to the sea. I think, in view of our experience of the provincialism of Sydney politicians that that was a very wise decision. It would be sheer madness to permit our Capital to be hemmed in so that there would be no outlet except through territory controlled by a provincial authority. But now let honorable members listen to the reason why the Sydney Government proposes to refuse to allow us to have access to the sea. Here is a statement which was made by Sir Hector Carruthers when he was Premier of New South Wales, not in a speech, but as part of a despatch which he transmitted to the Federal Government. He said -
A means of access to the sea also suggests an added penalty upon the Mother State in the shape of lost revenue from Customs, as all imports to Federal Territory would presumably arrive through the contemplated Federal port, and the duty payable (which would not be covered by the provisions of section 87 of the Constitution Act), would thus be lost to New South Wales.
I ask the House to consider that proposition. Reflect for a moment upon the results of such a claim, if admitted.
– The honorable member would appear to be, not for Dalgety, but against Sir Hector Carruthers.
– Surely this is a side issue?
– I donot think so. It means this, that, although the contributions of all Australia would be spent to create the Capital City and develop the Federal territory, the Customs taxation paid by the people would pass into the New South Wales Treasury, to be spent possibly upon the aggrandizement of Sydnev. Surely that is no side issue. We are to be refused access to the sea because of the desire of Sydney to obtain for all time the Customs revenue payable by residents within the Federal territory.
Colonel Foxton. -Surely that would be possible only during the continuance of the Braddon section.
– Goods could be passed through in bond without paying a penny in duty.
– But not goods required for use in the Federal territory. The position of the Sydney Government appeared to be this : “ The territory we are asked to hand over is now part of the State of New South Wales, which benefits by the Customs revenue contributed by it. You must continue to allow us to enjoy that revenue after the territory becomes Federal property, and though the revenue is paid by people who, but for Federation, would never have been residents of the Federal territory.”, They virtually claimed that for all time the Customs revenue collected in the Federal territory should pass into the New South Wales Treasury, to be spent in that State.
– That contention, if made, was unsound, because goods for the Federal territory could be passed through New South VVales in bond.
– And it would apply to the Federal territory wherever situated.
– Undoubtedly. The argument was put forward as a justification of the refusal of the State Government to give the Commonwealth access to its territory by sea. After our experience of this Sydney Government, we should be the veriest fools if we placed the Federal Capital in territory which had no outlet to the sea.
– Wherever we placed it.
– Yes. If we permit our Federal territory to be landlocked we shall betray the vital interests of the people of Australia.
– That is a nice thing to say about New South Wales.
– I am saying what I believe from experience to be true.
– Then the honorable member is most unfortunate in his belief.
– That may be, but it is also unfortunate that there should be good reason for it. If the expression of my belief displeases the honorable member, I cannot help it.
– The honorable member will vote out of sheer vindictiveness. ‘
– That remark carries its own refutation. But let me ask - Why stop to palter with people who prefer such impossible demands? We do not stop to argue with children or highwaymen.
– Who are the highwaymen? That is a brumal statement to make.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– -If what I have said has wounded the honorable gentleman’s susceptibilities, I am sorry. I was not referring to any member of this Parliament.
– The honorable member is referring to the people of New South Wales. Governments pass, but the people remain.
– I have taken ample’ care to exonerate the majority of the people of New South Wales from sympathy or identification with this Sydney claim. The following extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph confirms the interpretation which I have put upon Sir Hector Carruthers’ statement -
If Bombala were lo be Ihe chosen site, the probability is that tile Customs duties collected at Twofold Bay would from the outset exceed £100,000 a year, and in a few years they would approach a quarter of a million. If the port were to remain New South Wales property that would be a very material perquisite, while if it were constituted a part of the Federal territory the revenue would be surrendered with it.
I hope the honorable member for Brisbane is now .satisfied that I have not misunderstood the claim of the Sydney Government to the Federal Customs revenue. If I have unduly disturbed the’ equanimity of the Sydney representatives, I regret it; it was not my intention to do so. I merelywished to put briefly on record my position in the matter, and the vote which I intend to give.
– Will the honorable member vote for the expenditure of money in establishing the Seat of Government, if the selection of Dalgety be re-‘ affirmed?
– In the words of the right honorable member for Swan, I shall take that fence when I come to it.
– Then the honorable member is merely fencing with the question.
– There seems to be a good deal of the confidence trick about this proposition..
– Let no one question the honorable member’s pre-eminence in feats of that sort. Finally, I repeat, that I take my stand by the Constitution,- fulfilling its behest in the spirit as well as in the letter ; desiring, as I am convinced the majority of this House desires, to make such a choice of the national Capital as ‘ will confer the maximum benefit and prestige upon future generations of Australians.
.- I should have been glad had the spirit of the remarks of the honorable member for Coolgardie been more in accord with the pious wish with which he concluded. I utterly resent the attempts made on these occasions to belittle the people of New South Wales. To each State in turn have certain Federal matters been of peculiar interest. For instance, there was no written agreement about a transcontinental railway. In 1899, the then Premier of Western Australia asked us to give him a written agreement for the construction of such a line, but we declined to do so.
– T. do not remember that.
– I remember it.
– And so do I.
– When was that, and where?
– At the Premiers’ Conference, at which the matter of the Federal Capital was settled.
– Are we to repeat all that happened there?
– Although there was no written agreement, and we refused to embody a pledge in our report, I, for my part, felt that we had encouraged the right honorable gentleman to believe that we should be favorably disposed towards the construction of a transcontinental railway should Western Australia join the Union, and every member of the Conference, when a member of this House, loyally and staunchly supported the project. Never did the right honorable member appear to greater advantage; never did I feel a stronger appreciation of his manly character, and the sturdy way in which he has always stood by the legitimate interests of the great State which he represents, than upon that occasion when he indulged in flights of oratory which are not usual with him, butwhich proceeded from a laudable and sincere feeling. The heroic explorer, who had faced the burning blizzards of the central deserts of Australia without turning a hair, was utterly broken up; manly tears rolled from his noble cheeks, as he implored us to honour that somewhat shadowy obligation. The right honorable gentleman and the other Premiers in these six States deliberately signed a written understanding that, although the Capital should be not less than 100 miles from Sydney, it should nevertheless be “at a reasonable distance “ from it. If such an undertaking had occurred with reference to Perth, what would my right honorable friend have said if there was a project to put the Capital up at Geraldton? Supposing there had been a similar compact with reference to Melbourne, what would have been said to a proposal to put the capital at Mildura or Echuca? We should have heard torrents, volumes, of righteous indignation at the breach of this distinct understanding - an understanding which enabled Australia to federate. Now, when this great achievement has” been won, the way in which that bargain is, being observed does not reflect great credit upon those who were immediately concerned in making it. The peculiar interest of Victoria in this Federation was to get a high protective Tariff. Did we not notice the determined zeal and united enthusiasm with which the Victorian members struggled night after night and month after month to put up that protective fence to the highest possible pitch ?
– They voted for freetrade at every opportunity they got.
– The honorable member is like a gentleman who is accustomed to take too much to drink - a mere taste of cold water affects him. Then there was the question of the sugar industry in Queensland - a very important question affecting that State. Did any one reproach the members from Queensland for showing a proper desire to safeguard the interests of their State?
– Why does not the right honorable member use the same terms in speaking of Queenslanders as he did about the Victorian members?
– I ask my Queensland friends to understand that I am saying to them all that I said about the Victorians. There are some honorable members who have a genius for repetition. 1 should like honorable members torecollect that Australians may be pardoned for taking an interest in matters affecting their own State as well as the Federation. The fact that we come from New South Wales does not, I hope, make us any the less Australians. The fact that the people of New South Wales represent much more than one-third of the population of Australia does not, 1 hope, make them less worthy of consideration and respect. I wish to admit at once - becauseI do not want to pitch this claim of New SouthWales too high - that there is no word in the agreement that binds this Parliament to choose an unsuitable site anywhere. Unless we have a site within a reasonable distance of Sydney, suitable for the Capital, New South Wales has no right to ask this Parliament to choose an unsuitable site simply because it is within a reasonable distance of Sydney. It is only fair to honorable members who differ from us on this subject to say that if they are of opinion that we have no suitable site within a reasonable distance from Sydney, they are perfectly justified in voting for some other site. I put the Canberra site forward as an eminently suitable one, but I shall not repeat all the arguments which have been advanced in respect of the different sites. I shall only refer briefly to the three or four leading points by which such a matter should be tested. Convenience of access to the people of Australia is an important matter in an Australian sense, quite apart from any interests of New South Wales. Surely, comparing Canberra with Dalgety, there is no doubt as to which is the more convenient point for Australia.
– Does the right honorable member mean present convenience ?
– We ought to look to the future, I admit, but, whether present or future, Canberra is the more convenient site. As to climate, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the climate of Canberra is superior to that of Dalgety.
– A difference of about 5 or 6 degrees.
– I think the honorable member would find a bitterness and bleakness about the climate of Dalgety in winter from which Canberra is absolutely free. From the point of view of beauty, the wildest advocate of Dalgety cannot say that it is the preferable site. There are beautiful spots 50, 60 or 80 .miles- away, but the place itself is one of the bleakest in all Australia.
– That is too strong.
– I do not want to overstate the matter. I say that it is one of the bleakest.
– The bleakest.
– 1 am sure the Treasurer would do the Minister of Customs a good turn if he could, but Dalgety is too much of a demand upon his brotherly feeling. It is a sacrifice which Damon cannot make to Pythias. Do the Government really mean to go on with this Capita.!, because there are a number of questions lying under the surface? Are we to take the action of the Government, in bringing forward this Bill in a short session, when there are a number of important matters to be considered, as a declaration on their part that they are honestly desirous of settling this question? Settling it does not mean passing a Bill, it means building a Capital. The mere passage of a Bill is simply an affront to the legitimate demands of the people of Australia.. May I suggest, as a matter far above a question affecting the people of New South Wales, that it does not befit the dignity of the Australian people to be without a Capital ? lt does not befit, their dignity. to remain the guests of a generous community, such as that of Victoria has been. We must thank the people of this State for the generous way in which they have acted towards the Commonweath ; but we desire to have a home of our own - a Capital in which the power of the Commonwealth may be exercised free from any strong local influences. The question whether the Capital should be in the country or in a large city, was fought out and settled at the Federal Convention ; and hence the provision as to the area of the territory in which the Capital was to be. On the question of expense, I wish to say at once that, if we desire to study economy, we shall not have the Capital in a big city, but in the country. Do honorable members think that, if we took’ some part of Melbourne or Sydney for the purposes of a Capital site, we should not have to pay for it? Do we expect any large city to present the Commonwealth with buildings which have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds? And, even if that were so,1 should we be mean enough to take the territory and buildings?
Honorable members will see that if we were to attempt to found the Capital in a large city, the money problem would be infinitelymore serious than if we were to fix on a site in the country. However, that matter was settled in the Convention. I now desire to show how rapidly the Government are advancing in legislation on this subject. By Act No. 7 of 1904 this Parliament solemnly resolved -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be within 17 miles of Dalgety, in the State of New South Wales.
And now, four years later, we have before us a Bill for an Act “ to determine more definitely “ the Seat of Government. Four year’s ago we determined that the Capital should be within 17 miles of Dalgety; and now we are asked to I! determine more definitely “ the site, and our way of doing that is to provide that i,t shall be anywhere within an area of 900 square miles. This is one of the incidents of comic opera legislation with which we have become familiar. Indeed, it is one of the silliest things in the world, as is shown in the fact that those of us who are altogether opposed to Dalgety are absolutely compelled to vote for the second reading of- a Bill to “ determine more definitely ;! the Seat of the Federal Capital at Dalgety. Is this not rather too clumsy a way of settling this question? What is the simple issue before us?
– This is an Australian, and not a Sydney question.
– I know the question has nothing to do with steamers to Tasmania or anything of that sort. The question is whether or not we are going to stand by Dalgety. That is the simple issue, as I am sure the Minister for Trade and Customs will agree.
– I know that the right honorable member declared emphatically for Dalgety when he was a member of the Government !
– I agreed with the Minister of Trade and Customs in supporting Dalgety, as against some other sites ; that is, I preferred his cemetery to another graveyard. But my original choice, as the honorable gentlemans knows, was Lyndhurst ; and when Lyndhurst was rejected, I voted in favour of Dalgety as against Tumut and Bombala.
– Just to beat, me.
– The Treasurer is haunted with an idea, which is quite fallacious, that I have some personal animosity to him.
I say again what I said before. I am for Dalgety as againstBombala and Tumut. I am with the Minister of Trade and Customs now, as I was then ; but I have always had a desire to get a better site if possible. It is quite true that when a member of the Government, I announced my intention of supporting Dalgety ; indeed, as a member of the Government, I had to do so, in order to carry out the mandate of Parliament, or take some method of annulling that mandate.
– Certainly ; and this Government should have acted in the same way - adhered to the mandate of Parliament.
– Surely it is not for Ministers to say much about my action inthe matter.
– Can the right honorable member sincerely say that Dalgety is preferable to Tooma?
– I admit that Dalgety is open to many grave objections - many “grave” objections. As for Tooma, I have not yet had an opportunity of inspecting the site; but I do say that, in my opinion, the selection of Tooma would represent even a graver infraction of the spirit of the arrangement entered into than would the selection of Dalgety. It is rather remarkable that the Treasurer should have occupied a seat in the Government for four years since the Seat of Government Bill was passed, although he has been moving heaven and earth to undo what Parliament directed the Government to do. I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs had better address his colleague on these inconsistencies.
– I shall address him just as I shall also address the right honorable member.
– I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will not be led by his praiseworthy devotion to this part of his electorate to seriously imperil his returning health. Perhaps I may now be allowed to point to one or two extraordinary provisions in the Bill. The Constitution provides, of course, that the Federal Parliament shall determine the Capital, which must be “ within territory which shall have been granted or acquired.” The logical process is to determine the locality in which we are going to have the Federal Capital, and then take the territory, but notto tie ourselves to one particular part of the territory. In other words, we should first fix on the territory and leave ourselves open to afterwards select the site of the Capital. But the other process was adopted of fixing the Capital at the centre of an area of 900 square miles, the provision being that it should be “ within17 miles of Dalgety.” I think that clause 3 of the Bill is one of the most original provisions I have ever seen in any Bill. It reads -
The Minister is empoweredto obtain, and the Governor-General is empowered to accept,on behalf of the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Seat of Government, a grant by the State of New South Wales to the Commonwealth of the territory described in Schedule A. to this Act -
That is a definite proposition ; and if we turn to schedule A we find the territory defined in a most correct and accurate manner as to its outward boundaries. However, I will read the rest of the clause - to the full extent to which the territory can be granted by the State within the meaning of section one hundred and twenty-five of the Constitution.
There is an extraordinary anti-climax. In one part of the clause provision is made for 900 square miles, while in another part we are told of a grant “ to the full extent to which the territory can be granted by the State within the meaning of section125 of the Constitution.”
– The matter may have to be decided by the High Court.
– May I suggest that as a rule our legislation is not contingent on what the High Court maysay.
Mr.Frazer. - Do not the words quoted refer to unalienated land?
– No, the words mean the whole area - both Crown and private lands.
– It means the portion of the territory to be granted by the State to the Commonwealth.
– The expression used in the Constitution is “ not less than 100 square miles.”
– That is to say of Crown lands.
– No. The expression applies to the whole territory - Crown lands and private lands. We could not have a territory bounded in the way the honorable member suggests. The expression used in the Constitution means that the whole territory, whatever the holdings within it are, shall be not less than 100 square miles.
– It may be more.
– Of course. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the State from granting us an area of 900 square miles.
– I think that what the Bill means is that so much of itas is Crown lands shall be granted.
-No. We should have no boundaries if we depended on different holdings. There must be one set of boundaries, whether the area within them consists of Crown lands or private properties. We must have points for a boundary, irrespective of the holdings within the territory.
– The Act empowers the Minister to obtain, either from private persons or the Crown, an area of 900 square miles. The Crown may grant as much as it has.
– The clause will not bear that interpretation, because we have the words “ can be granted by the State within the meaning of section 125.” The Parliament of New South Wales could make us a grant, even if that section did not exist. It could pass an Act to give us 500,000 square miles of its territory if it chose to do so.
– It could not grant private property.
– That is not the question. My honorable and learned friend will see that the effect of the establishment of this territory will be to transfer the territorial rights to the Commonwealth, whatever the private rights of landlords within the territory may be.
-I do notsay that it is very clear.
– It seems to me to be scarcely clear, and to point to a serious difficulty. The expression used is “ not less than 100 square miles, “ and it has to be construed according to legal principles. We could not take 1,000,000 square miles, because the Act refers to “ not less than 100 square miles.” That must mean some area within a reasonable proportion of the area mentioned. In many cases a question has arisen as to the meaning of an agreement to deliver so many sheep, more or less.
– Could the right honorable member, who was a member of the Convention, enlighten us as to what the Convention meant when it embodied the provision in the Constitution as to the 100 square miles of territory ?
– What the Convention meant is not a canon of interpretation, because a hundred different members might give a hundred different interpretations of what was intended by such a provision.
We must have regard to. the legal interpretation to be put upon the words used. Those who think we have a legal right to claim an area of 900 square miles merely because we have in the Constitution the words, “ not less than100 square miles,” make a grievous mistake as they will find. There should be some sort of friendly disposition to deal with the Government of New South Wales in this matter. If the one party stands upon its strict rights in a harsh spirit, the other can do the same. There is not a word in the Constitution about New South Wales granting a means of access to the sea. That is a request for a concession which New South Wales is not bound to give.
– Made by those who say that they want to stick to the bond.
– Yes; it is a most extraordinary way of treating the Mother State.First of all, she is to grant an area of not less than 100 square miles, and’ that provision in the Constitution is tortured into one to require 900 square miles. Then there is to be a means of access along a line 125 miles in length and within an area fifteen miles broad on either side. In other words, there is to be, from the site to the sea, a road 125 miles across New South Wales, by a breadth of thirty miles. I, do not say that the whole area of thirty miles wide is to be taken; but the right to a means of access within that marked area is desired. That is a pretty considerable liberty to take with the territory of a friendly State, and to embody in an Act of the Federal Parliament. When honorable members approach the Mother State with a desire to arrive at some friendly settlement of these difficulties, a generous disposition on the part of the Federal Parliament should be shown.. Would it not be a generous action on the part of New South Wales to grant us an area of 900 square miles under a Constitution which speaks of an area of “ not less than100 square miles” being granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth ? Would it not be generous if New South Wales gave us a right of access for125 miles across its territory from the Capital to a port? The concession asked for is a serious one. What I should like very much to see is a generous disposition on both sides: that there should be no harsh, unfriendly spirit displayed by the Government of New South Wales nor by theCommonwealth. This Parliament has rights which it must safeguard. I quite admit that it is not called upon to choose an unsuitable site for the future capital of Australia. No man in New South Wales makes such a demand. All I say is that Canberra seems to be a suitable site, and that its selection would be agreeable to the people of New South Wales, who would regard it as a more loyal performance of the spirit of the agreement under which New South Wales Joined the Federation. I believe that if New South Wales is approached in this friendly spirit the Federal Parliament will meet with a reasonable response to all its legitimate requests. What does the term “means of access” mean. It cannot mean taking territorial rights; it can mean only acquiring a right of access, or in other words, a right to use a thoroughfare in common with other persons in New South Wales.
Colonel Foxton. - A right of way.
– The honorable member has put in a nutshell the meaning of the term. “Means of access” does not mean that the Commonwealth is to take the land, and block some people in New South Wales from using it. If the Commonwealth will make a beautiful public thoroughfare from the Capital to the sea at its own expense, I do not know that New South Wales will grumble much at so judicious an expenditure. But the idea beneath this proposal, that the Federal Parliament in selecting a site in New South Wales should take the precaution that one would take in. the country of an enemy is, to my mind, repulsive. This stipulation represents a belief that the people of New South Wales would use their power to block the legitimate intercourse of the Commonwealth with not only the seaport named, but any other seaport in that State. The idea at the. root of the provision is contemptible. What would this blocking of the Commonwealth mean ? It would be impracticable. There is not a road in New South Wales that is not as open to a Frenchman, a German, or a Chinaman if he is there, as it is to every inhabitant of the State. What power has ever been known, especially in Australia, which would allow the people of New South Wales to go along a track, and say to some Commonwealth officer, “You cannot use this road”?
Why, sir, the situation is an impossible, a preposterous one, and I can understand the Government of the State resenting bitterly, as an insult, the suspicion which lurks within this proposal. Surely the Commonwealth will be safe in any part of Australia !
– No, the Commonwealth property was not safe when the State seized the wire netting.
– May I suggest to the honorable gentleman that that act is scarcely one to set against the people of New South Wales?
– I am not setting it against them, but talking about the Government of the State.
– If the honorable gentleman will go back in the annals of his own State, to the infamies of Black Wednesday, he will know what vile crimes were committed under the signature of the representative of the Queen.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– I do not want to go into that old history, but to point out what a mean thing it would be to charge the people of Victoria with any hardship or wrong that was inflicted on that occasion. Why should we confound the acts of an individual with the public sentiment of a whole community?. That is an ungenerous and unfair thing to do, and one which the honorable member would not do against his own State.
– Besides, the whole matter was fairly in dispute at the time.
– It was a matter on which there was a wrong opinion held, judging from the decision of the High Court.
– The honorable member was saying that the Government of New South Wales would not do a certain thing, and I merely pointed to what they did in one instance.
– May I remind the honorable member of the circumstances under which that happened? In the Constitution, as he knows, there is a provision that the Commonwealth shall not tax the property of any State. This wire netting was imported by the State, and was its property, and it was a question of legal determination whether the term “ property,” in the Constitution, included the right to import it free of Customs duty. May I suggest to the honorable member that whether that was right or wrong depended upon the decision of a Court of law ?
– Yes, but it did not give any one the right to go and break the law.
– I quite, agree with the honorable member in the main ; but even if there had been no duty the State Government should not have touched the wire netting.
– The honorable member will find regrettable acts committed by the Government of every civilized community, but they are not characteristic of that community as a whole. Let me now get back to the real question. Here is a public road in New South Wales, which connects the Federal territory with the sea. Can_ any one conceive of any Government say-“ ing to a Commonwealth officer. “ You shall not walk along this road,” whilst the people of New South Wales may. Such :>, situation is impossible*. The theory of a public highway will not allow of such things being done. Every human- being within a State, white, yellow, red, or black - Commonwealth or State - has the right to use the public highways.
– The Commonwealth would have to get permission to build a railway.
– That is another matter. Honorable members must recollect that the building of a railway involves the resumption and severance of private lands, and the erection of fences, but a public highway injures no one. I wish to see all these questions settled in a thoroughly amicable spirit. If the Federal . Parliament thinks that it is worth while to have a means of access, I raise no objection, though I. do. not see the slightest necessity for it. But if it is to take the form of a public road constructed bv the Commonwealth, I think that the State might well welcome it.
– A railway, not a road. Roads are out of date.
– Surely, honorable members do not think, that the grant of a means of access involves the right to construct a railway ! Surely some more power should be taken !
– That is what is meant, I should think.
– Why does not the Bill say so? Can the Commonwealth build a railway under cover of the expression “ means of access” when the . power to construct railways within States is specially provided for in the Constitution? Under paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 this Parliament has power to legislate with respect to -
Railway construction and extension in any State, with the consent of that State.
It is therefore absurd in this Bill to use the words “ means of access “ as meaning something contrary to that. We cannot amend the Constitution by using such vague words in an Act of Parliament. If, however, that is meant, this is a very dangerous way of trying to get it ; it is not a straightforward way.
– I should think that u what is meant.
– I do not think that that is what the Government mean. 1 I am sure that if they had meant that they would have used more distinct terms.
– I do not think that clause 7 means anything.
– That is, I think, a very charitable, friendly way of describing the clause, because if it does mean something, it means several ridiculous things together.
– It may mean not only a railway, but a harbor thrown in.
– There is nothing to .prevent the Commonwealth, if it wants a harbor, from’ selecting a Federal territory with a harbor. But may I’ suggest to honorable members who are talking so strictly about the terms of the Constitution that if they read it in that rigid way, this demand of 1 means of access is absolutely unconstitutional and wrong, lt is craving a concession. Speeches such as the honorable member for Coolgardie made are an insulting way of approaching .any one from whom honorable members wish to get a- concession. There is an air of lordly superiority about it, an unfriendly suspicion that the body to be “done “ is the Commonwealth, not the State. But - the terms of this Bill mean that it is the State which is to be “ done “ by means of a Commonwealth^ demand. If honorable members will have access to a port, and still select the Federal territory 125 miles from the sea, I ask them as- men of common sense to try to meet the State to some extent in the way in which they exercise their choice. If they want favours they had better act liberally. If they want to get a harbor, let them take a Federal territory with a harbor. They can do that, but they cannot select a Federal territory 125 miles away from a harbor, and then demand that territory and a. road to the harbor, and the harbor too. That is altogether beyond the bond. It is a most extravagant request to make if it means anything at all, which, I admit, is doubtful.
– It is only the expression of a devout wish that New South Wales will do something or other.
– We do not generally express these wishes in Acts of Parliament, but in the previous Bill the word “ should “ was used.
– The word “should” is also used in this Bill.
– I do not wish to criticise that expression in the former Bill, because it had a good motive behind it. I believe that I was mainly responsible for securing its insertion. I pointed out that we could not legislate beyond the terms of the Constitution, and suggested the insertion of the word “ should “ to make the measure us little offensive as possible, substituting a request for a demand.
– It deprives the section of any effect.
– The honqrable member will see that, august as this Parliament is, it cannot carve a line of 125 miles out of a State without (he authority of the Constitution. I got the provision in the former Bill toned down. I said to the Government, “ Do not make in an Act any claims which you are not entitled to make. Make them the subject of friendly negotiation in connexion with that which you have a right to do.” I suggested that they should be made the subject of negotiation, as it was a request which the Commonwealth wished to make, not having the right to enforce it. To sum this matter up, I wish again to point out the absurd position we are in. According to parliamentary law, no amendment can be made in this Bill which would reverse the nature of the Bill. If,for instance, a majority of honorable members desire to omit the reference to Dalgety, any attempt to put some other locality into the Bill in its place must be ruled out of order on parliamentary law, because this is a Bill - to determine more definitely the Seat of Government in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and no amendment can be accepted which would be contrary to its scope, or would nullify its effect. That is laid down by May. The point arose in the House of Commons a good many years ago - I think in 1880. Honorable members must remember that we cannot deal with the schedule of a Bill before we get to it, and any amendment which would have the effect of interfering with the schedule, if moved in
Anticipation, would be ruled out of order.
– But has not the AttorneyGeneral said that in the event of the word “ Dalgety “ being omitted he will take that as a direction to bring in a new Bill?
– A direction to immediately report the Bill, and arrange for a vote on the subject at once.
– I am glad that my honorable and learned friend has said that, because we are now reduced only to this simple absurdity : We carry the second reading of a Bill to determine more definitely the Seat of Government in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and afterwards we omit a word, the effect being to declare that what we said five minutes before is exactly the opposite of what we meant.
– It strikes me that that would be the shortest way of putting Dalgety out of it.
– I am not so sure of that.
– The Bill is introduced in this way to expedite the settlement of the question, because should it be decided to pass it as it stands, we could proceed, and it would be immediately sent on to the Senate.
– It would have been much simpler to have made the identical proposition which was made before, submitting the question to the House again by way of motion.
– But we should have had to repeal the Seat of Government Act.
– As the Seat of Government Act is law, we must administer it accordingly.
– A motion would not affect that in any way. Might I suggest that a motion to obtain the opinion of the members of this House in 1908 would be quite permissible, in spite of the existence of. the Act passed in 1904. Any motion inviting the opinion of the House on any subject can be submitted, in spite of any Act of Parliament.
– The Act of 1904 did not amount to anything more than an expression of opinion, because we did nothing under it.
– That is so; but evenif it were an enacting measure, there would be nothing to prevent the House from expressing by resolution any opinion it pleased. That would be a simple and direct course to follow in, this case. If the motion were negatived, there would be an end of the matter, as it would mean that the House did not propose to go behind what was done four years ago. But if the motion was passed it would mean that it was the intention of the House to reconsider the matter. I am very sorry that the Bill has been brought in in this way, as it has the effect of submitting the question in a most awkward fashion. What I do particularly desire is that if the Government are in earnest in this matter, they will proceed without any further delay, and that it will not in the year 1912 be our duty to determine that the Capital Site shall be, say, within 18 miles of Dalgety.
– We are asking the House to deal with the question at once.
– But that is what happened in 1.902 and in 1903. The House was then asked to deal with it at once, but nothing was done.
– The course we are now following is the course which was agreed upon between the Attorney-General of New South Wales and the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth as being the proper course to pursue.
– My honorable friend will see that I am not questioning the course pursued. I am questioning the intention to carry this thing out.
– It was agreed between the Attorney-General of New South Wales and the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth that the next step to bo taken was to pass the Bill in the form in which it is’ now submitted.
– But it was not agreed that we should wait four years after passing one Bill before introducing. another.
– The right honorable gentleman must be aware that he is himself partly to blame for the delay, because, in 1906, he suggested that we should not proceed with the matter.
– I did not suggest that it should be two years more before the matter was submitted again. The honorable gentleman refers me to 1906. This is 1908, and the Attorney-General reproaches me as if I had caused the delay of two years.
– But the right honorable gentleman is aware that the Bill was submitted last session also.
– I wish to know, whether, if the House confirms the selection of Dalgety, “the Treasurer will be a party to the Government proceeding with this job, and putting the Federal Capital there? We have a right to know that.
– The honorable gentleman should ask me something easy..
– I think I have asked a fair question. Is this game of bluff to go on to all eternity? The Treasurer is telling his friends in his large electorate, in which he has three or four Capital sites, “ Austin has got the whip hand of me so far, but I shall be too much for him. I am lying dark on the weather bow. We have arranged that he shall get Dalgety twice, at intervals of four years. I am going to get my choice twice ‘at intervals of four years, and then I am going to have Tooma, for a finish in the year 1950.” This sort of conduct must come to an end. If a majority in this House decides now, on reconsideration, that this desolate outofthe way spot, with a glorious river - we all admit that - and one or two dejected inhabitants, is to be the site of the Federal Capital, will the Government go on earnestly in order to give effect to that decision? I am not one of those who say that this Federal Capital should involve an expenditure of millions. I should be the first man to say that we should have no Federal Capital if it involved an expenditure of millions. That would be a monstrous proposal.
– Will it not involve such an expenditure?
– It will not, if we act like sensible business men. There is no reason why the magnificence of the future should be entered upon at” present. Surely, if in the majestic days of the United States fifty or a hundred years ago, ‘ when they had an infinitely larger population than we have today, they were content with humble and simple surroundings, an Australian Parliament is capable of beginning the establishment of the Capital in this country spot with becoming economy and becoming modesty? I believe that in the end there will be infinitely less money spent on this country Capital than there would be if the Capital were fixed in either Melbourne or Sydney. All I can say is that I am in favour of Canberra in preference to Dalgety ; but if it becomes a question between Dalgety or Bombala, or Tumut, or Tooma, I shall vote as I did on a previous occasion.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro - Minister of Trade and Customs1 [10.14]. - The right ‘honorable gentleman’s speech might impress those who know nothing of his previous political utterances en this question. It might impress those who have taken no interest in the Federal Capital proposals, but I doubt whether it will have much effect upon those who know what his attitude has been regarding the Capital, and how he has wobbled from one side to another on this question, as he has frequently done on all questions. It will not be likely to impress those who know that when he was Prime Minister of the Commonwealth he said that this question was settled, and, backed up by his Minister of Home Affairs, told the people of this country and the Parliament of New South Wales, that the decisionarrived at was final and mandatory.
– So it was.
– The honorable member for North Sydney, who poses as being always so very fair, wishes to interject so that I may not have an opportunity to say what I desire and intend to say. Let me tell him that I shall say what I have to say in spite of interjections.
-I shall not interject if the Minister does not wish it.
– I am prepared to base the claims of Dalgety on the statement placed before the Parliament of New South Wales by the honorable member for North Sydney when he was Minister of Home Affairs. I do not wish to offer my own opinions in the matter at all. Surely we can accept the opinions expressed by the honorable gentleman as being reasonable and fair, especially when they were made with the responsibility of a Minister controlling a Commonwealth Department? I propose to quote, in a moment or two, the statements he made, but before doing so I wish to deal with one or two of the statements which have just been made by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– This is the same speech as the honorable gentleman made before.
– The honorable member for Parramatta will not put me off the track. The right honorable member for East Sydney has asked whether the Government are really in earnest in this matter. He asks, “Do the Government intend to give effect to the decision of the House?” “Are they honest?” Well may he ask these questions, when he knows full well the reason why we were unable to give effect to the decision of Parliament during the past two sessions? Has he not publicly stated that he blocked action in that direction ? And why did he block it? Because he thought that he would be able to secure a site which would be more acceptable to him. Yet he has endeavoured to fool honorable members this evening by conveying the impression that the Government are responsible for the delay which has occurred. I ask whether it is better to make bald statements or to base one’s remarks upon hard facts? Upon previous occasions the Victorian representatives have been taunted with having blocked a settlement of this question. But when it came to voting, some of those representatives supported Lyndhurst, others voted for Tumut, and still others favoured Dalgety. There was no concerted action on their part. As a matter of fact, they have always exhibited a desire to arrive at a settlement of this question as early as possible.
– That is a bit of “ smoodging “ on the part of the Minister.
– The honorablemember is probably a good judge of “smoodging.” Why is it that we are confronted with such a solid phalanx, composed of members of the same old brigade who are in favour of half-a-dozen different sites, but who all pull together in opposition to Dalgety? Only last week it was stated in the Sydney Morning Herald that if this Parliament dared to select Dalgety, it would merely mean indefinitely postponing a settlement of this question. That is the policy of these gentlemen - “ win, tie, or wrangle.” I now propose to read an extract from the New South Wales Hansard. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, during the time that the right honorable member forEast Sydney was Prime Minister of the country, the Premier of that State, Mr. Carruthers, said -
Interviews took place between Mr. Reid, Mr. Thomson, and myself - the result was that Mr. Reid and Mr. Dugald Thomson stated that the Seat of Government Act 1904, passed by the Federal Parliament, was, in regard to the selection of Dalgety as a site, mandatory and final-
– So it was, at that time.
- Mr. Carruthers continued - and binding on the State of New South Wales.
He further added -
That the terms of that Act fixing the area of900 square miles with access to the sea were open to discussion, but that the location of the territory at Dalgety was mandatory, final, and binding on New South Wales as well as on the Commonwealth.
– So it was, until it was altered. ‘
– What did the honorable member say about its alteration? And in this connexion, I would remind honorable members that we expect any man filling the office of Prime Minister, and speaking on behalf of the people of Australia, to honestly say what he means. What did the right honorable member say during the period that he was Prime Minister. He said -
It is my earnest wish th:tt the provisions of the Constitution shall be carried out loyally on both sides. If they are, the Federal Capital will be established in New South Wales at .no distant date. But just as it is possible for the Federal Parliament in its treatment of the subject to so act that there will be no Capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, it is possible for the Government and Parliament of New South Wales to so act that there will be no Federal Capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, unless we have an inherent right to select the Capital by our own will. 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 Test satisfied ;that the Government will loyally regard the decision of this Parliament -
– But we are not the Government now.
– The quotation continues - unless it is rescinded, and so far as I am concerned any attempt to rescind it will meet with my strongest opposition.
– I was resisting the selection of Tooma then.
– These are the utterances of the right honorable member who to-night denounced the Government for not having given effect to the decision of the Parliament. Yet, within the past twelve months, he has openly stated that the reason why action was blocked was that he desired to obtain the selection of another site.
– These are the very same words that the Minister used upon the last occasion that this Bill was under consideration.
– They are very true. The honorable member for Parramatta and others have asked why the Government delayed taking action. But at the same time they have declared that if Parliament again selects Dalgety no settlement of the question will result.
– That statement is not correct.
– It is contained in the Sydney Morning Herald of last week, and the honorable member does not often question the veracity of that journal.
– It is one of the Minister’s own statements.
– Within the past three weeks the honorable member for Lang has stated that the question will probably be left to the next Parliament for decision, because he feared that this Parliament would again select Dalgety. If its settlement is left to the next Parliament, judging by the disaster which overtook the Ne>v South Wales “supporters of the right honorable member for East Sydney at the last general election, I should be justified in hoping that a still more favorable reply will be forthcoming when the electors are again appealed to. What did New South Wales do at the last general election? What site was Mr. Sydney Smith in favour of? What site was Mr. Conroy in favour of? What site was Mr. Lee in favour of ? What site was Mr, Lonsdale in favour of ? Four of the bitterest opponents of Monaro received from New South Wales constituencies, notwithstanding their strong personal influence, a decisive expression of opinion as to their services. They were “ wiped out “ at the last election.
– Was that on account of Dalgety ?
– I do not say that it was on account of Dalgety, - but if the right honorable member is relying on another general election, he must, in view of the result of the last one, be a very sanguine man. Some time ago the right honorable member called a meeting of the New South Wales members-
– I did not.
– He was there.
– So was the honorable gentleman.c
– They sent me an invitation, and, though I was not very well, I attended ; but it seemed to” me that they were rather sorry when I turned up. What happened? The righthonorable member has told us to-night that we were invited to try to come to an unanimous decision as New South Wales members. I put a fair question. I said to the right honorable member, “ What will you do supposing the House decides on Tooma? “.
– Is this in order?
– I think it bears on the matter.
– Oh, yes. The meeting was public.
– The right honorable gentleman said to-night that he would vote against Tooma for years. My colleague, the Treasurer, says the same thing with regard to Dalgety, only for ever, so he is even stronger. I suggest that my colleague and the right honorable member for East Sydney might join together, and sing,
It may be for years,
And it may be for ever.
When my colleague interjected to-night that the decision in favour of Dalgety was the result of an accident, the right honorable member for East Sydney said that it was no accident-
– Hear, hear !
– That it was the choice of a majority, fairly won.
– I did not say that. I said that the decision was no accident, and the honorable gentleman knows what I meant. He explained it all to me himself.
– Order. I must ask honorable members not to fire interjections across the chamber. Interjections addressed to the honorable member who is speaking are bad enough, but interjections thrown across the chamber from one member to another create such a running fire that it is impossible to hear the speech.
– Here is the right honorable member’s own declaration -
I am prepared so far as I am concerned, as a member of this House, to accept the decision of this House, honestly arrived at,’ without any manipulation of votes.
Is that sufficient?
– The honorable gentleman told me about the ballot afterwards, and explained how it was worked.
– Let me say this - that the right honorable member for East Sydney has often taunted me with having made some arrangement with him or come to some understanding. I give the statement a most emphatic denial. Never on any occasion did I make any. arrangement, or enter into any undertaking with him, or with any one representing him, in any shape or form, against the Watson Government.
– Hear, hear ; but does the honorable gentleman mean to say that he was not working to put the Watson Government out?
– That has nothing to do with the question.
– I want to clear the matter up, because the right honorable member has tried to trade on that statement. Let me say, also, that I will take good care in future that he shall not be able, by any inference of any kind, to say that he ever had me near his net. No attempt has been made by any member of this Housewhile I have been listening to the debate to point to any one site that is better than Dalgety. The only argument against it has been abuse. Nothing is too bad for it. The wildest statements are made. They amuse me.
– The honorable memberdoes not look amused.
– The honorable member for Parramatta never does.
– I should not care to look like the honorable member just now.
– Well, I may not always be so well in health as the honorable member for Parramatta, but I am generally more cheerful ; and if he were a bit more cheerful, probably his abilities would conduct him to a higher place. Now let us see what was stated by the honorable member for North Sydney with regard to Dalgety. He stands deservedly very high in the esteem of this House. His word is known to be his bond. That being so, and knowing that he is to-day so averse to the site, let me quote from an official document, written while he was Minister of Home Affairs, and ask whether it is not a fair and honest description of the site in question. We know that he was not very friendly to it, but this is what was stated in an official communication to the Premier of New South Wales -
The Dalgety site was offered by the Government of New South Wales, and ‘the offer was supplemented by Gasette notice withdrawing the neighbouring land from alienation with the object of making the acquisition easier if that site were selected for the Capital. After some years of inspecting, reporting, and discussing, both Houses have, with much difficulty, reached a common decision.
Were the Parliament of the Commonwealth willing to reverse that decision, there would probably be still greater difficulty in obtaining unanimity as to another site.
The reasons given by you for excluding Dalgety seem to need some remark and correction.
“When first submitted to the Federal Parliament it failed to command a single vote.”
It must be remembered that the Monaro sites - among them Dalgety - were all included with Kombala. Those of Cadara and Batlow were included with Tumut. The title meant the district, not the town, and the first choice of the district did not preclude any part of it being taken for the site.
“The Federal Parliament had not sufficient evidence before it to make a selection based on all the material facts.”
The Parliament went to much trouble and expense in expert Commissions and visits to the sites in search of information. In the information now given by you, I see nothing that is not in one of the Commission’s reports, or the Commonwealth Parliamentary debates - except that the return of crops in the districts are taken up to a later date than the publication of the reports. In fact, the descriptions seem copies of one or other reports.
“That the soil is not of great productive value, nor suitable for irrigation.”
This shows that the Commonwealth has not, by its choice, proposed to take some of the most productive land of the State. It may also be pointed out that the large area asked for, in excess of100 square miles, embraces mostly poor, rough, mountainous land, useful mainly to secure water supply.
Yet the right honorable member for East Sydney screams out against the proposal to take in more than 100 square miles of territory, and thus resume this poor mountainous country. He forgets the wild secession speech of the ex-Premier of New South Wales, who, with his approval, proposed to take a referendum, but had not the courage to do so.
– I have no recollection of that.
– I have a document which proves it. The right honorable member skips from one point to another so rapidly that it is not safe, without documentary proof, to charge him with any statement. He spoke of Dalgety as a. bleak desolate spot, and yet was prepared to allow the Federal Capital to be placed there rather than in a fertile district which would be a little closer to Melbourne.
– And, therefore, further away from the honest understanding ?
– What is this honest understanding? Prior to Federation it was thought that New South Wales was trying to induce the other States to join, but after it had been agreed by the representatives of Australia that the draft Constitution should be accepted by a ma jority, consisting of at least 50,000 voters, an act of treachery to the other States took place while the right honorable gentleman was lending the New South Wales Parliament, the maximum being increased to 80,000.
– The honorable member knows that I opposed that alteration.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs, who was a member of the New South Wales Parliament at the time, did not oppose it.
– We were able to secure a substantial majority in New South Wales for the Constitution, and every one knows that had it not been for the Yes-no attitude of the right honorable member - which he has adopted on this and on all sorts of questions - it would have been much greater. The raising of the minimurn in New South Wales was a breach of faith with the other States. After the lapse of many years, the right honorable gentleman began to harp on an understanding, of which none of us had heard before. The right honorable member for Swan, whose reputation is equal to that of the right honorable member for East Sydney - which is one to be proud of, although he has played so many parts that, when he referred to the comic opera attitude of the Government, I thought that he must be speaking of himself - has no recollection of any understanding.
– It is in black and white.
– The members of the Premiers’ Conference were the late Mr. Dickson, who represented Queensland, the late Sir Edward Braddon, representing Tasmania, the late Mr. Kingston, representing South Australia, the right honorable member for Swan, representing Western Australia, Sir George Turner, representing Victoria, and the right honorable member for East Sydney, representing New South Wales. Three of those gentlemen voted for the Monaro site, and, when last this matter was before the House, and I telegraphed to the late Mr. Kingston, whose memorywas pretty good, asking if I should pair him for that site, the reply was “ Yes.”
– Is there any record whatever of an understanding?
– I cannot find any.
– The Minister knows that the report of the Conference of the Premiers, signed by the Chairman, Sir George Turner, is printed among the records of this House, and that it contains the ‘stipulation that the Capital shall be “ at a reasonable distance “ from Sydney.
– “ At a reasonable distance from,” not “ within a reasonable distance of.”
– So the Minister knows all about it !
– This is what the right honorable member said -
In my opinion, if I may give it for anything it is worth, the Federal Capital, although in a country district, will be as near as possible to the I 00-miles limit.
Mr. Justice, then Mr., Barton, said that it would be necessary -
So long as considerations of position and climate are faithfully observed, to see that that Capital is not placed too remotely from either Sydney or Melbourne.
Although the right honorable member says that he is an Australian, and wants to do the fair thing by this country - which is what the House wishes to do, for the question is a national one, and does not affect. New South Wales and Victoria only - he states that, rather than go to a fertile valley like Tooma, where there is a good climate and a magnificent water supply, he would go to what he called a bleak desolate spot, and this because Tooma is a little nearer to Melbourne. He would damn the future Capital of Australia by placing it in what he regards as the worst position, rather than give Melbourne fair play.
– I wish to see the compact honorably carried out.
– Did the three Premiers who voted for the Monaro site act dishonorably?
– They must have forgotten the understanding. Sir George Turner has admitted that he forgot it.
– It was of such little consequence that the right honorable member himself forgot it for years, and raked it up as a last dying hope. Who is to decide this question? ‘ The State Parliament of ‘New South Wales? Their attitude does not represent the views of the people. The people spoke at the last election, and will speak again if they get an opportunity in a way the right honorable member would not like. Is the New South Wales Parliament or the Australian Parliament to decide? What does it matter whether the Capital is near Melbourne or near Sydney? After all, even at Dalgety it would be nearer to Sydney than to Melbourne. Is that the attitude to take? It is like the attitude taken last night by the honorable member for Brisbane, who chided the Attorney-General for being an Australian, and for not taking a Queensland view. What does it matter whether the Capital is 200 miles nearer or further away from Brisbane? I venture to say that the people of Brisbane would not support a view of that kind. It would be on all-fours with the attitude of those Queenslanders who supported the sugar industry in this country by a strong protective duty, and yet refused to give an atom of protection wherever they could to the artisans who buy the sugar. If all the Queensland representatives took up that position I am afraid there would grow up in this House a desire to pay them back in their own coin, which would bring disaster to that great industry, which I hope will never occur. The honorable member for Brisbane wants to go for Queensland interests, as he terms it, just as the right: honorable member for East Sydney wantsto go for Sydney interests. As long as it suits Sydney it will do, in the opinion of the right honorable member, and as long as it is nearer to Brisbane the honorable member for Brisbane is satisfiedHe asked the Chairman of Committees catch questions, forgetting that he should? not spread his net in the sight of thebird. He attributed inconsistency to theAttorneyGeneral, who gave a good votefor Lyndhurst, and fought for what he considered to be the best site when hethought it was possible to get it, but whodeclines to use it as a stalking horse so that Sydney may be benefited. I do not propose to go into the relative merits of the sites. I have given expression to my views before. I notice that the Treasurerhas now entered the chamber. I know, his opinions, his vast experience, his practical knowledge of Australia, and the hatred’ he has for Dalgety, and I may fairly beallowed to base, my claim on what he has said regarding the Dalgety district. Thelate Sir Henry Parkes, a great federalist,, whose name ought to be mentioned in a debate of this kind, said of it -
It does not follow that because this very fine port - Eden - has, from one cause or another, been neglected, it will continue to be neglected.
– It is only 125 miles away from Dalgety !
– A whileago honorable members opposite said that the port could not be entered.1 The hon- orable member for Lang has painted a picture to show that it is very shallow. If I produced a statement from the steam-ship company’s office, stating that two or three weeks ago their ship of 5,000 tons, which draws nearly 20 feet of water, was alongside the wharf in that port, the honorable member for Lang would probably contend that the ship must be a dream. I prefer to rest my case on facts. Now it is urged that- Dalgety is 125 miles away from the port. It is a good thing that it is some distance away. We want to be able to defend our Capital. But it would be a good thing to have an outlet to the sea and a good thing also to have an outlet to another State. Sir Henry Parkes went on to say -
When that district is opened by railway communication, to which, in my judgment, it is richly entitled, Eden, which has a very fine harbor, will become the site of a very important maritime city. … I have that faith in the progress of this country that I have long foreseen that although retarded by unfavorable circumstances, this result is certain by the very force of growth from without…..
Twofold Bay has been the victim, if I may so term it, of singular neglect. I do not say whose fault it is. It is very difficult to distinguish. But, certainly, before many years Twofold Bay, where the town of Eden is situated . . . will become one of the most important places in New South Wales. I have no doubt whatever of that.
– Has it become so?
– And why not? Was it not blocked by the right honorable member, who always stood by Sydney ? What is the divine right of Sydney ?
– What had I to do with- it?
– The right honorable member was in power for years in New South Wales. Why did he not do something? Why did he not give railways to the district?
– That is too thin.
– This port is opposite to the honorable member’s own State, and I am surprised that he should say that any commendation of it is too thin. I .hope he will be able to explain that to the people of Tasmania.
– Why did not the present Treasurer give it access?
– How long was the Treasurer in power there? But compare his record with that of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was in power for many years and promised to do a great deal. ‘ Look at the great democratic measures that are on the statute- book of New South Wales owing to the Treasurer’s efforts ! Sir Henry Parkes added -
As far back as 1S73 I advocated the construction of a railway to the port to bring the traffic of Monaro to the bay.
I will now show what the Treasurer thought of the site. He cannot be accused of being biased in its favour, but I will say for him that he does not disguise his opinions. He has always been against it. He never declared, as the right honorable member did, that he would stand by it to his last dying gasp, and that it would be unfair to attempt to alter the decision in any way. The Treasurer tells us a nice little story about it now, but he has never been at Dalgety in his life. He went once to Bombala, but, unfortunately, fell ill and had to hire a special coach to get away. He brought the honorable member for Perth with him, but, notwithstanding all the dismal stories that the Treasurer told .him on the way, that honorable member has always stood, and proposes now, I believe, to stand, solidly by Dalgety. What did the present Treasurer, Sir William Lyne, say when he expressed an honest opinion of this part of the country? He said -
I think if there is a district in which a railway should be constructed it is from the tableland to the port of Eden. There is no finer port in the Colony, and there is no finer country at the back of it. It is certainly to be regretted that the construction of the line has been left so long in abeyance. There is no possible doubt that the port must become a great shipping port, and it will become a great centre of population.
That is from the New South Wales Hansard, but the local newspaper stated that my colleague said that there were to be found there the loveliest women and the finest men, and that the district was bound to become the home of a great race. Time does not permit of my comparing the relative value of the sites, but I desire to make one more statement before I conclude. The honorable member for North Sydney, who was the late Minister of Home Affairs, proposed during last session to get round the Constitution, and he made the most elaborate inquiries as to whether the Seat of Government could not be placed at Moss Vale.
– I deny that,
– Does the honorable member deny that he made a request for particulars in regard to Moss Vale?
– No ; but it was not with any intention of ‘ ‘ getting round” the Constitution.
– I accept the honorable member’s statement, but why was it asked for?
– That is my business.
– How does the Minister of Trade and Customs get all this information ?
– The information seems to come floating in to me. These rapid changes on the part of honorable members remind me of the office boy who kept a diary, in which appeared the following terse entries : - “ Monday hired out ; Tuesday tired out ; Wednesday tiredout.”
– Does the Minister of Trade and Customs remember that he voted for Bombala first?
– Yes; and I also remember the honorable member for East Sydney suggesting that if I gave up Bombala he would support Dalgety as the fairer site.
– As against Bombala, all the time, and always !
– We have now the statement made that the water supply at Dalgety is polluted; but the officer, Mr. Pridham, who was sent by the New South Wales Government to report on this point, says - »
There is no doubt that the minimum flow of the Snowy River would, with proper storage, suffice for a prospective population of at least 3,500,000 people.
At the present time there are only about six houses altogether on the river, so that it is absurd to talk about pollution.
– A bandicoot could not be fed upon the land.
– If so, then there is so much less likelihood of the water supply being polluted. Questions have been asked in the New South Wales Parliament, and statements made elsewhere, as to the photographs of Snowy River which have been exhibited to honorable members. The charge has been made that the photographs represent a portion of the stream 40 miles above the proposed site, but, even if that were so, we could only conclude that the river must be a most wonderful stream by the time it reaches the exact locality of the Capital. I cannot conceive that the photographs have been in any way “ faked “ when the four or five houses which comprise the township are all shown. However, in consequence of the statements made, I applied to the Premier of New South Wales for further pictures, and I am informed by the honorable member for - Maranoa that photographs of this locality are distributed throughout Queensland and the other States as an inducement to tourists. It is strange that if this is the bleak and deserted country represented, the Government of New South Wales should, during the past three or four years, have spent £40,000 or ,£45,000 in making it attractive to tourists.
– This country is absolutely closed up in the winter.
– That is an absolute misstatement, as is shown by the fact that Tommy Bums, the champion pugilist, has been staying there for some weeks past, and he would not exercise on snow. Sir J. H. Carruthers frequently spends his winters at Dalgety, and the honorable member for East Sydney, who knows a good place when he sees one, rather likes to pass his Christmas at Eden.
– I have been there once.
– The ‘Minister of Trade and Customs went to Queensland when he wanted to recruit his health.
– That is one of the paltry arguments which has been raised against Dalgety. I had an appointment with the leader of the Labour Party at Maryborough, and, in order to keep it, I travelled there as a sick man ; and yet that fact is used, as I say, as an argument against the Dalgety site. The great daily newspapers of Sydney desired to know why I ran away from my own district, and I present them with the argument for all it is worth.
– The honorable member required a warmer place than Dalgety.
– Honorable members opposite will some day be in a warm place from which they will not beable to escape. On one occasion the honorable member for East Sydney was asked what would happen when the fateful day for him arrived, and he replied, with characteristic humour, “ I suppose the fat will be in the fire.” To return to the question of photographs, I want to givethe facts to the House, and to leave honorable members to draw from them their own conclusions. I have given expression to-night not to what are merely my own opinions, but to indisputable facts. I asked Mr. Miller-, the representative of Monaro in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, to obtain from the State
Government photographs of the district, and, in reply,I received from him the following letter from the Premier’s office, New South Wales -
Dear Mr. Miller, - In connexion with your letter to me of the 23rd inst., and in reply to the contents of a communication addressed to. you by Mr. Austin Chapman of the same date, which you have enclosed to me -
That was a request for the pictures which the Government of New South Wales are displaying in windows in Martin-place to induce tourists to visit Monaro -
I desire to say that I derived my information from a newspaper which is popularly supposed to represent accurately Federal Ministerial statements, that is, the Melbourne Age.
This is why he will not forward the pictures -
The following extract appears in the issue of that paper of the 10th instant, and as it has not been qualified I take it to be true, namely : - “… the advocates of Dalgety, led by the Minister of Customs, have made their plans for a campaign which should produce some interesting results. Photographs of Dalgety are to be placed alongside the pictures of Canberra, and the sympathy of new members is being appealedto through the plea that to disturb the choice of the last Parliament would simply delay the settlement of the question without permanently achieving any step in that direction.”
Under the circumstances, I did not consider further the question of photographs of Dalgety, as there was the obvious danger of clashing with the ‘Minister of Customs, who is also member for the particular district concerned.
That was the paltry reason given by the Premier of New South Wales for refusing to forward these photographs to me. Last night he was asked a catch question as to whether he would grant the Commonwealth access to Jervis Bay in the event of the Canberra site being selected, and he fenced with it. He insulted honorable members of this House by imagining that they would be such noodles as to believe that statement. Honorable members are being cajoled and pressed to turn turtle on the votes they have previously given on this question - to desert what is a truly Australian site, and to vote for another merely to please certain people.
– That is audacity.
– It has been asserted by more than one honorable member that they would never go to Dal gety if it were selected as the Seat of Government. They have said that they would rather resign than go there.
– I should.
– The honorable member’s remark gives much pleasure to the Opposition. . They know that it is only in that way that they are likely to get him out of office. The point that we have to decide is a very simple one : Who is to determine this question ?
– The Bulletin.
– The honorable gentleman’s interjection reminds me of the statement that the Bulletin has some direct interest in the selection of Dalgety.
– It is obviously interested, judging by the fact that it is paying for all these photographs.
– The honorable member is an authority on the subject, because on one memorable occasion when some one had the courtesy to send him a certain telegram, he at once attributed to it interested motives. He has asked certain questions in this House, and statements have been made that I am directly interested in the selection of Dalgety.
– I have never said so.
– Then why did the honorable member move for a certain return?
– To ascertain who owned the land in the vicinity of the site.
– Because of the inspired statement in one of the newspapers published in this city that if a certain politician - meaning myself - were not interested in the selection of Dalgety, some of his relativeswere.
– I have never seen that statement.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance.
– I know what the honorable member’s interest is - it is the desire to obtain the votes of his constituents.
– The honorable member has moved for the return that I have mentioned, and I want to clear myself. Whilst I do not mind fair political comment, I certainly object strongly to reflections upon my character. I never cast reflections on any one.
– In what paperwas the statement published that the honorable member was interested in the selection of Dalgety ?
– Table Talk. I have no interest, directly or indirectly, within 100 miles of the Dalgety site.
– It would be a good thing to have the return for which the honorable member has moved.
– I think that it would be. I am assured by the proprietor of the Bulletin that he has no interest in Dalgety, and I believe his statement. The reputation of the Bulletin as a newspaper that is prepared tofight for a cause that it regards as a good one is well known.
– That is why it fought for the Tobacco Trust.
– At all events, I wish, as far as I am personally concerned, to absolutely deny the statement that I am interested in the selection of Dalgety. As a matter of fact, all my interests are centred round Canberra. The selection of that site would put money into my own pocket, and thousands of pounds into the pockets of my relatives. That being so, honorable members may imagine how deeply I feel the insinuation that I am directly interested in the Dalgety site. And what is my position from a political stand-point? As a matter of fact, there are more voters in my electorate in favour of Canberra than there are in favour of Dalgety. But I intend to fight for what I believe to be the best site. I know both Dalgety and Canberra well. I have not a word to say against the latter, but, in my opinion, there is no comparison between the two. Canberra is close to my home, and its selection, as I have said, would increase the value of our property ; but those who know anything about the two sites, must agree with me that to compare Dalgety with Canberra is like comparing this House with a 6 x 8 tent. There can be but one selfish reason advanced in favour of the selection of Canberra, and that is that it is closer to Sydney than is Dalgety ; that if it were chosen Sydney would be, for all time, the centre of its trade ; and that Sydney merchants would be benefited, since the Capital would have no other port. If the Capital be established there, it can never have a big population, and we cannot hope for that class of Federal legislation that we require. That is my answer to those who say that Canberra should be selected. I have nothing to say against the district itself. It comprises splendid country ; but, in my opinion, is unsuitable for the site of the Federal Capital. We should try to view the question from a purely Australian stand-point; we certainly ought not to attempt to deal with it from the pettyfogging view advanced to-night by an honorable member. We ought not to consider it merely from the point of view of Sydney or Brisbane. What divine right have those big centres of population to all trade? Centralization has been the curse of this country, and we are seeking a change. Yet, when the opportunity offers to open up an area that is a State in itself, to open up immense tracts of country where there is no railway communication; where there is no cultivation simply because there is no market; where there are hundreds of thousands of acres ready for the plough; and where homes for the people can be made, we are told that we ought not to embrace it. Are we to sacrifice this great opportunity to petty provincialfeeling - to a desire to help Sydney? I would not insult the intelligence of honorable members by urging provincial considerations. I have not pressed any one to vote for Dalgety. I have put the facts before the House, and I leave them to the good sense of honorable members. I believe that this is an Australian Parliament. Probably not many of us will see this Capital completed.
– I hope not.
– Honorable members laugh, but the Capital cannot be dumped down in a day like a tent. First there will be the necessary surveys to be made. Then will follow the laying out of a great city ; a city not for to-morrow or for next year, but for all time. A city unique in its beauty and utility, with broad avenues intersecting its regular squares, with frequent reservations of grass, flowers, and fountains, with its trees and parks, substantial business houses and sightly dwellings, its schools, universities, galleries, and museums, its monuments and pubiic buildings, its noble rivers and picturesque landscape, its rugged mountains and fertile plains, with Kosciusko in the distance, piercing the sky and lifting itself like a heavenly dome. These, and many other natural advantages, will offer a noble panorama and a more inspiring contemplation than can possibly be afforded by any other city in the world. Our Federation will live and grow, and with that growth we shall have a Capital expanding with every turn of the prodigious wheel of which it will be the axle. Plans for its improvement will abound. One can contemplate here the erection of halls like those of the ancients, where the eye may behold revived the architectural creations of bygone nations. Many schemes are worthy of consideration, but die essential must come first. We must have new railways, the means of communication with other great cities, necessary public buildings, and suitable accommodation for Parliament, press, and people. There will be no renting of rooms in which our public servants are to carry on the business of the nation, no placing them in dingy lodgings like transient visitors or postponed claimants. This will be a city that will live for all time, and it consequently demands provision for health and comfort, and all that is becoming to its importance. Whatever we do in building should be the best of its kind in plan, material, and execution. All our public buildings should be of good design, and as to the Capital itself, it, should be such as will express to the beholder the stability, the dignity, and the grace of the Australian nation. In it science will find a fitting home; in it that inventive genius which in the past has added to the comfort of the poor man’s cottage will be sheltered, and, while discharging other useful functions, will assist to give precedence to our products in the markets of the world. It is our desire, I take it, that the inventor shall have every scope in a city that will one day loom large among the great cities of the world. We also require a city that will be a fitting place in which to receive the official representatives of every civilized nation, and men of high standing in the political and social life of the people they represent. In it those who make and interpret our laws will assemble. There also will be the great Departments in which the nation’s affairs are transacted, -where public policy, internal and external, is determined, and from which the national progress is directed. Where, if not in this city of the future, can the stranger expect to find adequate representations of our people, of our institutions, and of all things that go to fill the measure of a nation’s wealth and civilization? I look at the matter from the Australian stand-point. And I say that on this occasion we should cast our votes according to our honest convictions, independently of whether a site is closer to a particular town or not. I feel satisfied that honorable members will do that, and that the verdict will be in favour of die territory which has already been selected - Southern Monaro.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wilks) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Ewing) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Naval and Military Defence.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is the desire of the Government that the’ debate on the Seat of Government Bill shall be concluded to-morrow as early as possible. I hope that honorable members will help the Government in that regard, so that we can take other business next week.
.- Through you, sir, I desire to put a question to the Minister who is also Chairman of the Postal Commission. On the 10th instant I received a circular - I take it in common with other honorable members - with reference to the sittings of the Commission. It drew attention to the fact that it had entered upon its investigation of the post, telegraph, and telephone services, explained that it was specially charged to inquire into certain matters which were enumerated, and proceeded to’ say that if there were any associations or public bodies in an electorate it would be glad to hear their views. . I have communicated the contents of the circular to the municipalities in my electorate, and ascertained that some of them are desirous of placing certain matters before the Commission. I desire to know the earliest date on which it is likely to take evidence in Sydney?
– I think that I had better deny as soon as possible a statement which was made just now by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. He stated, and after my denial reiterated his statement, that I had tried to get round the Constitution, and secure Moss Vale as the Capital site. His only reason for making the state-, ment was that he had a copy of some particulars regarding Moss Vale which were given to me by a Public Department in
New South Wales. After my denial he said that the document gave him good ground for forming that opinion. I now beg to say that my denial was actually correct. I obtained the information for a member of the House, who Supports the Ministry.
– I will take the honorable member’s assurance.
– The honorable member did not take my denial just now. The honorable member to whom I refer can tell the Minister that I stated to him that, in my opinion, Moss Vale had not a sufficient water supply for the Federal Capital ; that if it had the Constitution would have to be altered, and that I was against any attempted alteration. When he said that he wanted this information, I said “ I cannot give it to you now, but think I have it, and, if not, shall write to the Public Works Department of New South Wales, and provide you with the information which they give to me.” I am referring to the honorable member for Maranoa.
– How did the Minister of Trade and Customs get the information?
– I do not know why the document should have gone to the Minister. It is not one which concerns him at all. It mentions me as having applied for the information. I do not know what steps the Minister took to get the document. His statement was absolutely incorrect, and as he did not accept my denial at the time, I felt bound to give the earliest contradiction to it.
– Certainly I will accept any denial that the honorable member may give. What I said was tha’t I had in my hand a document which I was informed-
– Where did the Minister get it?
– I think that it was made a public document. I was informed that the honorable member for North Sydney had applied for the information, and it seemed to me that it was a way of getting behind the Constitution, or trying to get round it, because Moss Vale is well known’ to be within the 100- mile limit. But immediately he told me that it was not so, I said that I accepted his disclaimer.
– I accept the honorable member’s disclaimer now, and I believe that Hansard will bear me out that I accepted it in the first instance. Of course, any one here would accept his disclaimer. I could not be expected to know that he had applied for it on behalf of another honorable member.
– How did the honorable member get hold of it? It was not addressed to him.
– It was printed and distributed. I think that I got it out of a Moss Vale newspaper. I had it typed, and I shall be glad to tell any honorable member how I got it. What appeared to me as strange, until the honorable member made his denial, was that the honorable member for Maranoa did not apply for the information. I accept my honorable friend’s statement, but it does not affect the position one way or trie other. I quoted it as a document which had come into my hands. I wish to explain to the honorable member that if I did not accept his disclaimer at the time, I intended to do so. Perhaps, in the heat of argument, I may not have made myself clear to him. Whatever he may do in regard to the selection of a site, I am sure that any one in the House will accept his disclaimer at any time.
– I hope that the honorable member who stated just now, perhaps in the heat of debate, that he would never .consent to go to any Parliament in Dalgety, will not carry out his threat. I hope that he will not suggest to the Opposition such a terrible temptation to vote for Dalgety - because we have sufficient trouble amongst ourselves without having an awful temptation of that sort held out to us. I also trust that the Treasurer, if the House should select Dalgety, will not apply any of his infernal tactics, and accuse us of blocking the movement for a Capital. I hope the honorable gentleman will not carry his opposition to the choice of this House so far as to deny New South Wales any chance of getting the Federal Capital until he is suited.
.- ^-1 know the right honorable member for East Sydney, and, of course, I know that he means all he says. If my opposition will prevent the selection of. Dalgety, it will be prevented.
– Not in the Cabinet, surely?
– I will oppose it in or out of the Cabinet. I do not suppose that I shall live to see the Federal
Capital established, but if it were fixed at Dalgety I should not go there. I should retire from Parliament first.
– The honorable gentleman should not do that.
– I could not live there, and the right honorable member for Swan would die there very soon. In reference to the return to Sydney of the Postal Commission, I understand that, as soon as the business here will allow, the Commission will return to take evidence in Sydney. The Chairman of the Commission has gone home, and I cannot say exactly when that will be. The Commission takes evidence very rapidly.
– Is the honorable gentleman giving a little more money now to carry on the Postal Department?
– Perhaps they have too much already.
– They are groaning about it.
– In the absence of the Chairman of the Postal Commission, I can only say that there will be no undue delay before the Commission resumes the taking of evidence in New South Wales.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080924_reps_3_47/>.