3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. FISHER presented a petition from W. H. Romanis, S. H. Romanis, and A. H. Romanis, natural born British subjects, born in Australia of Cingalese parents and resident near Maryborough, Queensland, protesting against the Immi gration Restriction Acts applying to them in greater degree than to other British subjects, and praying for an amendment of the Sugar Bounty Acts, as they find the greatest difficulty, because of their colour, in getting employment in the cane-fields.
Petition received and read.
– The following paragraph appeared in last Friday’s Melbourne Herald -
Last summer the sites for the new searchlight stations at Queenscliff and Point Nepean were decided upon, and the exact positions were surveyed and pegged out. It was anticipated at the time that the work of constructing the engine rooms and emplacements would be proceeded with almost immediately. It now transpires, however, that through some extraordinary oversight the ordering of the machinery was entirely overlooked, each of the officers concerned being apparently under the impression that this formality had already been complied with. It is now anticipated that it will be fully two years before the work is completed and the new searchlights are in action.
Can the Minister of Defence inform the House who is responsible for this alleged extraordinary blunder, or will he take steps to see that some one is made responsible for it?
– I shall cause inquiries to be made into the matter, and, within a day or two, inform the honorable member as to the result.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if the Government concurs in this doctrine, laid down in the Admiralty despatch of the 10th February, transmitted by Lord Elgin on the 14th February last -
In time of war . as under international’ law there is only one executive authority in the British Empire capable of being recognised by foreign States, Colonial ships of war cannot operate independently of the Royal Navy except to the limited extent referred to above.
The Executive power of the Crown, as the central authority of the British Empire, must be applied as regards foreigners in the same manner and under the same conditions wherever a military or naval force is in existence, and the same responsibility for any action taken by Colonial or Home ships of war will rest upon this central authority. It is essential, ‘ therefore, that officers commissioned ‘by His Majesty should have full power and responsibility in accordance with their rank, wherever they may happen to be serving. Accordingly, it follows that not only must the local force when associated with the Royal Navy recognise orders given by the
Admiralty or Naval Commander in Chief, but also that their officers must submit to the command of any senior naval officer during the time they are in company with him.
– That is a statement of the general Admiralty doctrine made at the date named, which, in its application to the future Australian flotilla, must be supplemented by the further statements on the same points set out in the last despatch received this month.
– Seeing that the Prime Minister invited the Admiralty to send’ a precis of the despatch from which the honorable member for Coolgardie has quoted, so that its contents might be made known to the House, which was to meet in March, why did he suppress that despatch when at the beginning of March it arrived inextenso, instead of letting Parliament know its contents ?
– Such a question ought not to be asked without notice, but, speaking from memory, I can say at once that the honorable member’s suggestion is incorrect. I informed the House that I had received the despatch, but that it was not sufficiently complete to enable us to deal with our proposals, and therefore would be kept back until complete.
– It seems pretty complete.
– If the honorable member will read the latest despatch, he will see that the first was very far from complete.
Mr,. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following paper -
Papua - Ordinance of 1908 - Arms Restriction.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
Second Proviso of Clause 279 of Bill of 1907, now omitted.
Carriage of ‘passengers from Western Australia. - Provided further that until the Railways of the State of Western Australia areconnected with the Railways of the State of South Australia, the carrying of passengers between a port in Western Australia and any other port in Australia By any British ship ordinarily carrying mails to or from the Commonwealth shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
Clause 280 of Bill of 1907, now omitted. 280. Exemption of certain ships. - If the Governor-General is satisfied that any British ship not registered in Australia trades or intends to trade between places on the west, north-west, and north coast of Australia, between Fremantle and Cape York, and that it is desirable in the interests of those places, or any one of them, for the ship so to trade, he may, by order, exempt the ship from all or any of the provisionsof this Part of this Act, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose, for any period not exceeding three years?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
What amounts have been paid to the Railways Commissioners of the several States for the conveyance of mails by rail, giving the amount paid’ to each State in each year since Federation?
– The Deputy PostmastersGeneral in the several States have furnished information as follows: -
Statement showing amounts’ paid to the Railways Commissioners in the several States by the Postmaster-General’s Department for conveyance of mails by rail for each year since Federation : -
These figures represent the full amount paid by the Melbourne office to the Railway Department without deducting any credits received from other States, which amount to about £3,000 per annum.
Years 1901 to 1907 inclusive, at the rate of £50,000 per annum.
Year 1908 up to 31st August, £38,780, at rate of £58,171 per annum. (Payments of £50,000 included concessions to Postal Departments, value of £4,000 per annum for carriage of stores, fares of officers, &c.)
Remarks : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Military Complaints : Horses for Military Service - Lieut. -Colonel, R.A.A. Corps
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
This does not debar a soldier from stating his complaint in writing, but to prevent any misunderstanding instructions are being issued that they are to be so permitted.
General Hutton evidently intended it to have the effect stated.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The existing arrangements throughout the Commonwealth for the supply of draught and riding horses are not satisfactory.
The whole question is being gone into with a view of obtaining a more efficient and economical service.
I agree with the honorable member that the present state of things is most unsatisfactory.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the decision of the High Court of Australia that the Excise Act (No. 16, 1906) is unconstitutional, and in consequence the schedule of wages laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins is inoperative, he will take proceedings under the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act (No. 9, 1906) against those persons who would have been bound to pay the wage in that schedule and who now pay a lower wage ?
– Inquiries will be instituted to see whether the facts are such as would call for the action indicated by the honorable and learned member.
– On Thursday last the honorable member for Nepean asked these questions -
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, has now furnished the following information -
Steps are being taken to make these permanent appointments.
Motion (by Mr. Crouch) agreed to-
That a Return be laid on the Table of the House showing the payment for Postal and all other services made by the Commonwealth, and (as far as same are ascertainable) by the States, to all non-British steam-ship lines for the years 1905, 1906, and 1907.
Bill presented by Mr. Ewing and read a first time.
.-I move by leave -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members, if they will allow their minds to revert to a period a few short years ago, will remember that, when the question of Federation was before the people of the Australian Colonies, there was never a doubt as to where the responsibility for the defence of Australia should rest - that it could not remain with the States, but must be intrusted to the Federal Parliament. Since that time there have been many discussions with regard to the sovereign rights of the States, and the joint and several responsibilities of the States and the Commonwealth; but no individual, and no State, has at any time hazarded the opinion that the protection of any part of Australia was a State right. Defence is the responsibility of the Parliament of Australia, and the Government today asks Parliament to deal with it in a reasonable and proper manner. This responsibility is not a small one for any Parliament to undertake. It is not a simple matter to protect any country ; and the protection of any vast, half-developed territory, sparsely populated and enormously rich in proportion to the population is indeed difficult. It is more difficult here, beset as the Commonwealth is with greater dangers and difficulties in regard to the future life and preservation of white occupation, than exist in any part of the British Dominions. But Parliament has accepted the responsibility, and we have to face the problem. The Government do not undertake this work in any lighthearted way. It would be very much easier for any Ministry not to raise these problems, nor to ask Parliament to debate these questions, but to proceed comfortably, telling the country that everything is right and satisfactory. Would I were able to tell honorable members that to-day ; but we feel there is a responsibility cast on any Government or man in office not tohold office for the sake of power and place, but to do what they think is right : and therefore we accept the great responsibility of dealing with this question. In moving the second reading of this Bill, it is not necessary to go categorically through all the clauses which are placed definitely therein, and I do not propose to enumerate them. There is one salient point - one important question - to be decided, and that is the responsibility of every growing youth in Australia to prepare for the proper defence of his country. Those who believe that that is not necessary - those who contend that the pre- bent system is satisfactory - will vote against the second reading; while hose who believe that the present system is not satisfactory, and that it is part of the responsibility of every growing youth to undertake this duty of defence, will vote for the motion. Although the various clauses are plainly stated, I shall, in the course of the remarks I propose to make, deal with what might be called the minor principles which are the justification for those clauses. The Government have thought out the matter so seriously, that there is very little justification for suggesting even minor alterations in the scheme outlined in the able and eloquent speech of the Prime Minister at the close of last year. The main principle remains the same, and almost every detail remains the same. Any difference the Government may have made is so small as to be hardly worth consideration. and there is practically no difference between the proposals then and now. That should make it clear to the House how completely the Government had considered the question before moving in the matter ; and that it is only a sense of duty and responsibility that impels Ministers to proceed. 1 shall, first of all, endeavour to make clear to the House that the present system is unsatisfactory, and to then show that the proposals offered by the Government are the only alternative. In order to shorten my remarks as much as possible, I shall hand to Hansard any returns, statements, estimates of cost, or matters that can properly be tabulated, and not ask honorable members to weary themselves in following details which they will apprehend more readily and understand more thoroughly when they have them before them in print. The main principle underlying the Government proposals is to be found in the question : Is it the duty of every growing youth in Australia to prepare for the defence of the country ? Before dealing with that question, however, I wish to turn aside for a moment or two to clear the ground by referring to one or two special considerations, and thus practically dismiss them. We have heard already that this is a Conscription Bill. I take it for granted that in dealing with an improtant measure of this kind every honorable member will forget that he has any responsibility of party ; that we shall all endeavour to rid ourselves of any personal antagonism or party responsibility”, and approach the question from a national stand-point, with the determination to arrive jointly at the best possible conclusions. This is a matter not only for the Government, but for the whole House.
– And for the most fearless criticism.
– Unquestionably; we do not object to criticism. Criticism is valuable as long as it is honest. But let us take the position in regard to conscription. No man who fairly approaches the consideration of this Bill will say that it provides for conscription in the European sense of the word. The Government proposal is that for a few weeks in each year every growing lad shall, under camp conditions, engage in open-air work that should be pleasant to himself, as it will be satisfactory to the country. How is it possible for any man desirous of approaching the Bill fairly to confound that proposal with the European idea of conscription, which, takes a man for a considerable period away from his social responsibilities, and his vocation, and, placing him under military discipline.drills him into what might be called a fighting machine?
– It is only a matter of degree.
– Everything is a matter of degree or of comparison. I shall not devote to this aspect of the case the time that might pardonably be allotted to it, since this is the first occasion that is has been presented in an English-speaking community, but will allow the question of conscription to be dealt with by others, knowing that there are many prepared and ready to deal with it if it should arise. The next point to ‘be considered before we approach the main principle of the Bill itself is that in any civilized country the Government accept certain responsibilities with regard to the people. When any procedure becomes a national duty, it must be legislated upon, and we have to ask ourselves in this connexion whether the defence of the country is a national duty. Speaking the other night, the Prime Minister - and I have seen it elsewhere referred to - pointed to one salient case, namely, education. The State says that no man can fittingly discharge his duty as a citizen without being educated, and it therefore insists that every man shall be educated. It says further that since every man by reason of his manhood is entitled to vote - and participates to that extent in the government of the country - it is necessary that he shall be in a position to cast his vote intelligently, and that he cannot do so unless he be educated. We ask still further that every man shall obey the laws of his country ; but no uneducated man can have that appreciation of law and responsibility that enables him to know what his duties are. On that ground, again, the Government insists that every man shall be educated. I am giving only the most obvious examples - many might be quoted - of Government interference, in a civilized country, with the lives of the people and the obligations that are laid upon the people, . where a national responsibility is involved. Therefore, to reiterate the point, if the defence of a country is a national responsibility, it is the duty of every man to accept his portion of that responsibility, and it is the duty of the Government to insist that he shall do so.
– The honorable member has merely to show the necessity for the proposal.
– I shall later on. I dismiss the question of conscription with the remark that if honorable members choose so to describe it, we already have the principle in existence in Australia. It is to be found in the present Defence Act which was introduced by the right honorable member for Swan. The right honorable member very properly, and with the full approval of Parliament, provided in that Act for conscription. It will be found that under the present Defence Act,if national exigencies demand it, the Government can take a man’s horses or his cattle; that it can billet its soldiers or men for defence almost wherever it sees fit, and that every individual in the country is called upon to defend it, if the exigencies of the situation demand it. Thus it will be seen that the system of conscription is already in existence. If the Government demand, in time of emergency, that every man shall aid in the defence of his country, it follows as a corollary that the Government shall see that every man is fitted to discharge that duty. If the Government - and there is no reply to that aspect of the case - think that it is a man’s responsibility
– Is there not a reply ?
– If the Government or this Parliament permitted the manhood of Australia to engage unprepared in the defence of the country, they would simply send them to the shambles, to be destroyed by men who had made use of their period of preparation. I do not say that under some conceivable circumstances our men, although unprepared, might not still win ; but we should send them to war, or rather to the defence of their country - I like that term better than the word “war” - with the dice heavily loaded against them.
– Will the honorable member say what kind of invasion the force he is proposing is intended to meet?
– Everything comesto those who wait. There are a few truisms which need only to be mentioned to secure the concurrence of the House. One of these is that war is a science. . One of the greatest mistakes made, and made frequently by enthusiastic and patriotic people, is that war can be successfully carried on by a man with a musket. There is as much room for brains, ability and training in war as there is in anything else. Training is necessary to enable a man to make boots, to engage in the work of a cabinet-maker, and in almost every vocation. The only work for which training is unnecessary - and this was said a long while ago - is that of the critic. Critics are ready made, but on general principles, even a critic would agree that war is a science, and that it will take many years to build up an army. It is as much a trade and a vocation as is anything else in the world, and requires brains and training. I have been much struck with statements made by some of my honorable friends opposite - not by all - with reference to this measure. They ask “Why do anything? Why not sit down and be quite comfortable, seeing that we have the British Navy to depend upon?” When one asks them why they depend on the British Navy, the reply is, “ See the magnificent Leviathans the ships are; their guns; the speed of the vessels.” Then they go a step further and say, “ We are not depending only on those things. We depend also on the men behind the guns ; upon the magnificent training that makes the navy of England the greatest fighting power in the world.” They say thatthey depend finally upon the training of the men, but. when it comes to a question of training the men of Australia, the building up of an army in the Commonwealth capable of carrying out its work with a training commensurate with its responsibilities, they say, “ You require no training in Australia. Australians can fight without training.” I can understand what a difficult problem honorable members who oppose this Bill are faced with.
It is incumbent upon those who value the British Navy because of the training and competence of the men who compose it to show that an army fit to do its work can possibly be obtained in Australia without preliminary training. Those honorable members say first that no training is required, and then assert that more is requisite. We can take it either way.
– Does any man seriously say that our Military Forces should have no training? Is it not very unfair to make such a. statement?
– I have seen it continually stated that there is no need whatever for training the great mass of the Australian people.
– Can the honorable member name one authority for that?
– I do not regard those who make that statement as authorities.
Several honorable members interjecting
– I think honorable members will recognise that the Minister of Defence is performing an important task in moving the second reading of this Bill and that he should be perfectly free to make his speech in his own way. I hope they will remember that the proper time to answer any statements which the Minister may make is when he has. sat down, and not in such a way as to interrupt his speech. I ask honorable members in pursuance of that spirit of fair play which always actuates them to refrain from interjecting to such an extent as to interfere with the Minister’s speech.
– I shall endeavour as far asI can to avoid making any statement that would Bring anything approaching acrimony into this debate.
– Then be fair.
– I shall endeavour to be fair, but of course no one in politics is ever regarded by opponents as fair. There is always a party bias in existence. The essence - the salient point - of the argument is this - “ Has the voluntary system succeeded, or can it succeed, in Australia” ? The difference between the Government view in making defence a national responsibility, and the view of those who say that such a step is not necessary, simply resolves itself into the question - “Will the voluntary system succeed?” I presume that every honorable member will grant that that is a fair statement of the case.
– That isa perfectly fair way of putting it.
– I accept with gratitude the remark of the leader of the Opposition. There are two ways of testing that question - first by numbers, and secondly by results. Our whole system in Australia to-day may be regarded as practically a voluntary system. There are in the Commonwealth at a conservative’ estimate 800,000 men capable of bearing arms. The whole of our effective forces undergoing training at present in preparation for the defence of the country amount in numbers to much under 20,000. If, then, there are in Australia 800,000 men capable of bearing arms and liable in the last resort to be called upon to defend the country, is it a successful system which leaves one man in every forty to do the work ?
– What are the ages of those 800,000 men ?
– I am taking those of the fighting ages. If the honorable member desires a verification of the estimate, the population of Switzerland is about 3,500,000, and it is estimated that of those there are 800,000 men capable of bearing arms. Consequently, as the populations of the two countries approximate, I thought, after reviewing the Statist’s figures, and when searching for a justification for the statement, that that analogy would be satisfactory to honorable members. If there are 800,000 men upon whom rests the defence of Australia, and at a liberal estimate only 20.000 men are being drilled and trained, it will readily be granted that that is not a fair condition of things. That, therefore, disposes of the question of numbers, with, however, this proviso-
– And how have those 20,000 been doing the work? Only a percentage of them have been doing it properly.
– I will deal later on with’ the question of results. The test of numbers is being taken first. I wish to be perfectly fair, and therefore point out that it is true that the numbers might be increased in some branches of the forces under the present militia system. There have been several requests to increase the number of the light horse. But a light horseman costs about £17 a year, without making any estimate for administrative work and so on in connexion with him. That branch is consequently one of the most expensive of the forces, and to increase it to any great extent would mean a considerable financial problem. Even if the Government accepted all the men offering at present trie comparison- between the 20,000 and the 800,000 would not be materially altered. I should like honorable members to listen attentively while I deal with the question of results. It is no pleasure to me to say a number of the things that it is my duty to tell the representatives of the people to-day as to the results of the present system.
– Do not make it worse than it is.
– It is absolutely necessary to know the truth. It is no part of my or the Government’s business to say that everything is satisfactory until the last dreadful day comes-
– The honorable member need not exaggerate on the other side. “Mr. EWING- There will be no exaggeration. I shall give figures for every statement that I make.
– It should have been done years ago.
– Probably it should, But, if it had been, the honorable member would not have had the honour of helping us. We ha.ve in Australia 5,000 volunteers. The idea of an ordinary citizen who do;s not possess special knowledge of the subject is that our volunteers are a band of men who are gradually trained year after year until they approach in efficiency a regular force.
Colonel Foxton. - Is the Minister speaking only of volunteers, or does he include the militia?
– I am speaking of the volunteers. I shall also deal with the militia specially. If we possessed a, force of 5,000 men, who were being drilled 37ear after year, and who were gradually approaching perfection from the stand-point of a knowledge of warfare, they would form a very important and valuable body of troops. But of these 5,000 volunteers 2,500 are virtually recruits- men with less than one year’s service. Let me deal with another aspect of the case. Whatever may be urged against our annual encampments, it must be admitted that they are the only places where our Defence Forces receive any training in keeping with the duties which they would be called upon to discharge in time of war.
– Half of our volunteers do not attend the encampments.
– Notwithstanding all the defects that attach to these camps, I repeat that they are the only places where a practical training in the evolutions of war can be imparted. The number of days set apart for that training varies in the different States. In New South Wales, the term prescribed is eight days, whilst in Victoria it is limited to four days. It will be conceded that four days a. year is an altogether inadequate period to set apart for the military training of our troops. At the last Victorian encampment an effort was made to extend that period, but failed. I desire honorable members to test the value of our Volunteer Forces from the stand-point of the service which they render at our annual encampments. Of the volunteers in Australia only one out of every two or three enter these camps at all.
– They do not receive very much encouragement to do so.
– I will deal later on with that aspect of the question. Under these circumstances; do honorable members wonder that every Commandant in the different States has reported that the volunteer movement is absolutely hopeless, and that there are in the Defence Department statements from volunteer officers to the effect that the system .has collapsed and cannot continue? Yet, despite these facts, we are continually being told that the volunteer system of defence is adequate to all our requirements. Every Commandant, I repeat, has reported that that system is a failure, and the volunteer officers themselves declare that it cannot continue. One of every two, or., in some cases, one out of three volunteers in our Defence Forces enters the annual camps. It is true that amongst our volunteers there axe a large number of indefatigable, earnest, and able officers, and good men, but the fact remains that the position is utterly hopeless. These officers, when they reproach the small number of men under their command for shortcomings, know that the balance of our male adult population is doing absolutely nothing to equip itself in the matter of defending our shores. How is it possible to secure discipline in a force when only one out of every two or three of its members take the trouble to attend camp at all? When officers feel called upon to chide them for their failings, when they desire to be serious, .and definite, and harsh - and harshness is sometimes required - how can they possibly take up the attitude that they ought? Similarly must not the Minister recognise that these men are a? least endeavouring to do something for the defence of the country, whereas the vast majority of our people are doing nothing beyond idly looking on ? Let me put a concrete case. Let us imagine the case of an officer who is dejected by reason of the small attendance. How can he effectively urge his men to attend more regularly when those men know perfectly well that only a week or two ago more of their fellow citizens assembled in Sydney to witness a prize fight - for which privilege they paid prices ranging from £5 to 10s. each - than are comprised in the whole of the efficients in the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth ? Let me put another example. Whilst an officer is endeavouring to induce his men to “ brighten up “ and prepare themselves for the serious work that may eventually fall to them, his voice is perhaps drowned by a roar from 50,000 throats consequent upon the Pet of St. Kilda or the Pride of Footscray winning a “goal.” Only on Saturday last 50,000 men, or more than three times as many “ effectives “ as there are undergoing training in the Defence Force of Australia, assembled to witness a football match. The Government’s view is that sport, in its place, is a good thing, and that no nation which cannot play some sport well can do anything else well. An individual who has not been prominent in some form of athletics in his boyhood rarely grows up to do anything worthy of note. In any nation sport should be taken up with avidity. But any honorable member who thinks that a football match should attract three or four times as many adult males as are comprised in the whole of the efficients in the Defence Force of this island continent, must ,ha.ve lost his sense of proportion.
– Does the Minister include the members of rifle clubs in his comparison ?
– No. I am dealing only with the training of our militia and volunteers. The members of the latter force each cost the State £7 per annum for their maintenance exclusive of administrative expenses, &c. One of the reasons emphasized to me why the volunteer system does not succeed is that the militia men are paid, whereas our volunteers are not.
– The two forces cannot work together satisfactorily.
– A defence system under which some men are paid whilst others are not must certainly create dissatisfaction. The maintenance of each member of themilitia amounts to between ^13 or ^14 a. year, not including administrative and other costs, the difference between, their cost and that of volunteer units - being made up’ by 16 days’ “pay at 8s. per day, or £6 8s. a year.. Honorable members doubtless imagine that the militia are a band of men who are continually perfecting themselves in a knowledge of warfare, one year’s training being:, added to another until they eventually become an effective force. I wish that such were the case. But nearly 5,000 of our militia, or about one-third, are virtually recruits. It would be more pleasing: to me if I could tell the House that the position from a defence stand-point was satisfactory. But I conceive it to be my duty to put the facts of the case before honorable members. Included inour militia force are many splendid men. The service which a large number of officersand men have rendered to the Commonwealth is worthy of the thanks of everybody who believes in the progress of the country. We owe them much. But it is necessary “to explain to honorable membersexactly how the militia system works. We have about, it is said, 1:5,000 men included in that force. So we have upon paper. Let us assume that 8or 90, or even 100 per cent, of that force attended the annual encampment. We should think that result was a splendid one. It looks so upon paper. But, as a matter of fact, after the encampment is over, the number of those enlisted gradually diminishes. In August of last year they had decreased . to such an extent that the militia force was short by 260 officers and 2,000 men. As we approach Christmas and the camp again’ draws near - the camp, of course, meanscertain payment to the men and a free trip to Sydney or Melbourne, or some other capital - the ranks again fill up. Perhaps more effort to secure the enlistment of men is made at that period. Last year 2,600 new recruits went into camp. Thus we have the spectacle of a paper force of presumably, efficient men - a number which in part is made up of” thousands of recruits. It is not the cohesive fighting force that we desire. I repeat that it is beyond our power to adequately thank officers and men for the work which they have done. But we have not enough of them. We have men who year after year work under very trying and difficult circumstances, but I regret to say that one-third of those enrolled are continuously drifting in and out of the ranks.
– Will the Minister say whether he includes members of rifle clubs amongst volunteers?
– No. The members of rifle clubs do not undergo any training. I am dealing with those who undergo training. The members of rifle clubs and the cadets are not ‘military forces undergoing training in the military sense. The rifle clubs have practice in shooting, but my remarks are confined to those who undergo some military training.
– Might I ask whether we have not as many men undergoing training as we provide for on the Estimates?
– If we have not the money to pay for more, how can we expect to have more?
– If the right honorable member will refer to the portion of my speech when numbers were under consideration, he will find that point has been dealt with. I propose now to test the present system from another stand-point - the stand-point of efficiency. I need not read to honorable members a statement of what is required to enable a member of the militia to become “efficient,” but will place it upon the table of the House. It is as follows -
An equivalent of twelve days made up as under : -
Continuous training and exercise for not less than four or more than eight days in camp or bivouac, at such time and place as may be ordered.
Whole-day, half-day, and night parades, as ordered, to make up twelve days, but not more than sixteen night parades to be allowed to count. District Commandants will determine the allotment of parades under this subsection.
Prescribed Course of Gunnery or Musketry.
Annual Inspection by Commandant, or his representative, which will be carried out at any parades mentioned in (a) or (b).
Eight out of twelve or more half-day parades ordered for training, exer cise and instruction, at such times and places in any part of the district to which the corps or regiment belongs.
Ten out of sixteen or more night parades ordered as in (a).
Prescribed annual course of Musketry.
Attendances up to and not exceeding six at musketry may be counted as halfday parades..
It will be seen that to become “ efficient “ in the case of the militia does not involve any very heavy task, while to become “efficient” in the volunteer force is easier still. One would imagine that the task might be very easily performed, but the last record I have shows that we have in the force 3,424 “ non-efficients.” I have spoken so far in order to make it clear to honorable members that the present system is not succeeding. If the statements I have placed before the House are accurate, and I vouch for every statement I have made, any honorable member who believes that satisfactory work is being done to prepare for the defence of this continent must be very easily pleased.
– The honorable gentleman is telling a fine tale of Ministerial ineptitude.
– It is always the member of Parliament who is to blame. I shall refer to that kind of statement a little later on. I must say, however, that the position of affairs at the present time is very much better than it was when the forces were under State control. If we take arms, equipment, and everything else into account, the position prior to Federation was an absolute parody on the position we occupy to-day, though we continue to hear the kind of statement to which I have just referred.
– Hear, hear; and, prior to Federation, a great deal of the expense was met out of loan money.
– With regard to the attendance at camp, as Mr. Haldane pointed out in the House of Commons, the matter trenches very closely on the great question of the relations between employer and employe, and between labour and capital. What he partly meant by that was, that not only must the man be willing to go to camp, but his employer must be prepared to permit him to go. It is not merely a question of the man who is employed desiring to be trained for the defence of the country, it is also a question of whether his employer will be sufficiently patriotic to allow him to go into training. I do not wish to dis- close names in referring to this matter, but on one occasion when a particular man was specially required to be in camp, a letter was written to his employer asking him to allow the man to go.
– By whom was the letter written?
– It was a departmental letter.
– I have written several similar letters.
– This was the reply-
Yours to hand requesting- to be allowed to leave our employment from 17th August to the 1st proximo inclusive.
We point out to you that any such absence is totally impossible in our business. We have customers to supply who will not consider any such position, and if these men request to leave our employment for such a length o£ time, they must do so with the distinct understanding that their places be filled.
– Why not give the name of the writer?
– It is quite unnecessary to give the name of the writer.
– The Government say practically the same thing to the civil servants.
– I remember that the question cropped up in connexion with officers of the Postal Department, and I believe that instructions were given that the men should be allowed to go to camp.
– Hear, hear; and instructions were given to permit the men to go.
– It was felt that it was not possible for the State to ask members of the public to do what the administrators of the Government were not prepared to do themselves. I think I am not disclosing any confidence when I say that that is the view the Prime Minister took of the matter. While it is necessary to bring this matter under the attention of the House, let me say that I know that there is a large number of employers who are just as patriotic as any one else. Since the Government policy was decided upon, I have discussed this question with employers of labour, and with the managers of large institutions such as banks, and, in a majority of cases, they expressed their willingness to do what was required. They said: “Let the Government be considerate, and we shall meet them in every way we can.” In fairness, I am informing honorable members of the other side of the question. The view these men took was that it is very much better that they should suffer a little inconveni ence, and exercise, perhaps, a little selfabnegation than that they should lose their money, their business, and everything that they have. That is the view which practical men would take of the matter. Still, the fact remains that what we have to consider is not’ only the volition of the individual, but also the volition of the man who employs the individual. Such a state of things cannot ‘be regarded as satisfactory, and the Government proposal to deal with the matter is to punish by fine any one who obstructs any man in the discharge of service duty.
– I think the difficulty will be to prove that the employer has obstructed his employe.
– In considering what the punishment should be upon those evading service, the Government discussed the imposition of a fine. That did not appear to be an equitable form of punishment, as it would not bear equally upon all classes of the community. We desired as far as possible to avoid the adoption of the practice in force in various European countries, of providing for imprisonment in such a. case. We do not think it necessary at this stage to take any such action. What the Government propose is that if a man will not discharge his duties as a citizen, he shall suffer certain disabilities as a citizen. That is to say, the Commonwealth Government will not employ a man unless he does his duty by the Commonwealth. If lie is not prepared to help to defend the country, the country will not employ him. Again, every man in the country is given a vote, but, if he be not prepared to defend the country, we propose that he shall not be allowed to legislate for. it, and we go a step further, and say that such a man shall not be entitled to an old-age pension.
– What does the “ boodelier “ care about his vote?
– He cares probably as much about his vote as about anything else. In carrying out what the Government propose, we shall have no trouble whatever in dealing with the young men of Australia. What we call upon them to do will’ be regarded by them as a pleasant duty. They will so regard the demand that they shall undergo some training. It will be for them much the kind of thing that the wealthy man is willing to pay for in order that he may get out into the country for a few weeks, and escape from tha- cares of his business. There will be no trouble at all with our lads, and especially when it is known that every one will be called upon to perform the same duty. At present Jones says, “ Why should I go, when Brown does not go “ ? and so far as the employer is concerned, it must be admitted that the writer of the letter which I have quoted is so far justified that he may well ask why he should let his men go to camp when Smith down the street does not allow his to go. But when it is the law of the country, and the Government administer that law reasonably, we shall find that there will be no need for anything approaching compulsion. It will become in Australia a disgrace to a man that he should not have fulfilled his period of training, just as in Switzerland a man is ashamed to say that he has not done his military service.
– The rich man hires a substitute to do his fighting.
– Under the system proposed by the Government there will be no substitutes.
– Who will require a substitute for what will be regarded as a holiday at some one else’s expense?
– I have shown that under the existing system, the numbers provided are inadequate, and also that the result of the present system is not satisfactory. An honorable member has asked, “Why do we not give men under the present system more encouragement “ ? The question of encouragement involves the expenditure of more money. The problem resolves itself into that concrete form eventually.
– The Prime Minister says that the Government are going to carry out their scheme for the same amount of money.
– If honorable members will look at the Estimates for pastyears, they will find, eliminating from them the cost of rifle clubs, cadets, fixed defences, &c, and dividing the residue by the number of effectives, that the cost is between £25 and £30 per head per annum.
– The money is largely spent in contingencies.
– I do not say how it is spent, but there is the result of the present system. Does any honorable member think that that is satisfactory? Take, for instance, the case of Switzerland, where each man receives sixty-five days’ training in the year. (There, the system costs half as much per head per annum as in Australia.
– But the Swiss Government only pay their men 7½d. per day.
– Quite so.
– The Minister should not forget the value of money in Switzerland.
– But as the cost per head in Switzerland is only half as much as in Australia, and so much more is required in the first named country, it will be seen that there is a gap to be filled in somewhere. Therefore, I think it will be apparent that Parliament has not acted meanly towards the militia and the volunteers. The militia man who goes into camp gets his pay for Sundays as well as week days. He gets his 8s. per day every day he is in attendance.
– And the Presbyterian Assembly will not approve of the troops doing any work on Sundays.
– People say that our forces are starved. It is not the fault of Parliament if they are starved. With this expenditure, there ought to be no starvation; and some method must be formulated, by means of which we can get better results for the money.
– We ought to be patriotic enough to find the necessary money.
– I have pointed out the results from what is called the voluntary system. A man conies when he likes, goes away when he likes, and practically does what he likes under such a system. The Inspector-General for New Zealand, in his last report, points out that only 25 per cent. were present at camp under the voluntary system in that Dominion. I make no comment upon the affairs of another Dominion, but simply state the fact. I turn to the state of things in Great Britain. The present Minister for War, Mr. Haldane, is an able, astute man. His proposals up to a certain point were, perhaps, the best that were ever made - certainly, they were the best ever laid before the Imperial Parliament. But there was one defect in them, which at once became apparent. That defect was that the Imperial Government had not faced the question of making preparation for war a national duty. I have shown our own condition under the voluntary system, and desire to show how an effort in Great Britain under the voluntary system has succeeded. Honorable members may, suggest that preparation for war is most effectively made when people are in a state of excitement. But it is too late then. Every one is willing to fight when his country is in danger, but those who are untrained do not know how. That Great Britain is in a state of serious apprehension, that she is very much alert, is evident from the fact that ^60,000,000 per annum is paid by the British taxpayer for defence purposes. The nation that pays so large ai sum of money must be somewhat apprehensive. When Mr. Haldane brought forward his scheme he was warned by a large number of men that his scheme would fail, as any scheme must fail when work under, it is every one’s business and no one’s business. It was, however, launched with all the prestige of a new scheme, and with all the enthusiasm pertaining to a Government with a huge majority behind it. But what has happened with Mr. Haldane’s territorial army? In Great Britain, taking the same proportion of able-bodied men as I have taken in Australia and in Switzerland, there should be 5,000,000 capable of bearing arms. If honorable members consider that that figure is too large, -they can halve it for the purpose of argument, and take the number at 4,000,000.
– Between what ages are men considered capable of bearing arms?
– Mr. Haldane’s minimum age is seventeen. We will assume - a very conservative estimate - that there are in Great Britain 4,000,000 men capable of bearing arms. Mr. Haldane required 330,000 men for the purpose of his territorial army under the voluntary system. He obtained 220,000.
– His estimate was 600,000 men.
– The number actually asked for was 330,000, of whom there were enrolled only 220,000. But then, when in camp the second week was reached, there were but 405000 men present. I do not feel called upon to say that the voluntary territorial army has been a failure, but the result must be considered profoundly disappointing. There were only one in eight of the required men in camp in the second week. Out of 8,000,000 men capable of bearing arms - or 4,000,000, if honorable members prefer the lower number; but the figures are so stupendous that the choice of either is immaterial - there were only 40,000 men undergoing the training of the territorial army on the eighth day. Mr. Haldane was warned in advance that the scheme would fail, for certain good reasons, as a voluntary system must always fail. It has been sadly disappointing nl England, has failed here, and will fail everywhere.
– Is the Minister’s scheme one for the whole world and not for the Commonwealth ?
– I was taking only one example and illustrating the results from the voluntary system in a country like Great Britain, where 330,000 men were required, and where only 220,000 were enrolled ; and I have shown that the result has been profoundly disappointing.
– I do not think that that is the opinion entertained in England.
– If the honorable member will read the English newspapers he will find that that is the view that they express.
– I have read them, and they do not say that the scheme has failed.
– In the case of one brigade, which should have had a strength of 3,840 men they enrolled 1,287. Only 1,043 attended camp, and in the second week of the camp there were only 707 men undergoing training.
– How long were they in camp?
– When they got to the eighth day the numbers were reduced to 707.
– The men had to get back to work.
– Some of the men said that they could not remain away longer; that their employers would ‘not let them stay; but I have already referred to this matter. Therefore we arrive at this position - that the efforts in Great Britain to obtain a voluntary system have not been satisfactory. They have, on the contrary, been profoundly disappointing. Colonel Gadke, the German military expert, says that there is no doubt that the territorial army will be, apart from its numerical weakness, of small military value. Perhaps some honorable members will not be inclined to attach much weight to the opinion of a German expert.
– But he is a very highclass authority.
– He is, indeed. Le Temps, the great French newspaper, said that the territorial army was worthless as a fighting force. There is the result of the voluntary system under an able Minister in a strong Government. It has been stated that this was the last opportunity that Great Britain would have of trying’ the voluntary system; that if this attempt failed the country would have to face the only alternative. I come now to what some experts have said in regard to the matter. When a Minister quotes to Parliament what his experts say we are usually told that experts sometimes say the right and sometimes the wrong thing; but I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without saying a word as to experts, because we shall have the opinions of experts more or less obscure quoted in opposition to the scheme of the Government. I ask honorable members to bear with me for a few moments to hear what the ablest experts in Great Britain have had to say in regard to the matter. It is not necessary to quote extensively from Lord Roberts, because every one knows what his views are. Everywhere, by means of pen or voice, he has insisted upon the necessity for what is sometimes called the compulsory system, or what we call the system of universal training. Standing next to him is Sir Evelyn Wood, Field Marshal, who says -
The time has come for instituting throughout the Empire a military system of universal service for Home (National) defence, and the Mother Country should set the example.
I desire to know what names my honorable friends on the other side will quote against Lord Roberts and Sir Evelyn Wood ?
– Will not the honorable member let us know the views of Lord Roberts ?
– The honorable member can consult his book in the Library if he wishes. If any member of the Opposition expresses a desire, I shall get him a copy of it. I did not quote Lord Roberts, believing that even the members of the Opposition knew his views on the subject. Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley says -
From the national point of view, I should like to see every man in England compelled to undergo a course of military training, even if I thought that no invasion of England was possible.
– How long is it since that statement was made - thirty years ago?
– No; I have not gone back more than a few years, and can produce all these opinions. If honorable members knew the mass of congratulatory material from the press, and from literary and military men all over the Englishspeaking world, which has come to the Department, and also to the Prime Minister, they would be astounded.
– Will the Minister publish it for our benefit?
– As much as is good for my honorable friends. Let me now give the views of some men who have recently been engaged in active operations. Lt.General Kelly-Kenny says -
I should put them all in one army - militia, volunteers, and yeomanry, and have obligatory service for the whole, making it one homogeneous army. I should like to see every single man in the country go through a good military training.
Sir John French and honorable members are aware of the position which he holds at the present time - says -
I am greatlyin favour of compulsory service in England - universal service. I do not think that the requirements of a possible military situation can be satisfied short of general) service, i.e., the liability of every one for service.
I will hear with interest the names my honorable friends will place against filenames I have quoted. Turning to the Navy, Admiral Sir E. Fremantle says -
I am impressed with the necessity for universal military training and service, in time of war.
Admiral Sir N. Bowden Smith supports Lord Roberts’ proposal for national training, and states that thirty Admirals are members of the National Service League. Turning to laymen, there is a layman whose views will be held in respect, and that is Lord Milner, who says -
What is causing the failure of the present system, and will always cause failure, is the error of supposing that the volunteer principle can ever provide a basis, broad and strong enough, to sustain the immense superstructure of a really effective modern army.
I turn next to the press. We have received hundreds of press acknowledgments and’ appreciations, but I shall simply quote the eminent military correspondent of The Times. Writing of the scheme, he says - “ The plan is broad and comprehensive.”
– Did he receive a copy of the Bill before we did ?
– No ; he received a copy of the scheme afterwards, but he understood it when he got it.
– We have only just seen the Bill.
– After the Prime Minister made his speech in December last, the scheme was circulated all over the world. To Lord Roberts and various authorities a copy was sent. It was a reasonable thing to do. Each of them could have got a copy otherwise, but it was a courteous thing to send a copy to eminent authorities. No material alteration has been made since December.
– There is a large alteration.
– The Bill is based upon the .Prime Minister’s speech. The military correspondent of The Times says -
The plan is broad and comprehensive,, sufficiently modern to meet the principal requirements of scientific organization in the present day.
He goes on to say that he is convinced that the Prime Minister’s solution is the right one. From those classes, I turn to literature, and take the view of the Hon. John Fortescue, an able writer, and the author of the History of the British Army.. He says -
It has never been denied that it is the duty of every able-bodied citizen to defend his country when it is in danger ; and if it be his duty to defend it, it is his duty to learn how to defend it….. If there be one lesson to be gleaned from British military history, it is the hopeless and irremediable inefficiency of the voluntary system.
I have cited these names - which could be extended almost indefinitely - to honorable members, in order to discover what names they will place against them, not that, as a rule, a critic is much more capable of expressing an opinion on what is good for the country, and what the. people ought to do for its defence, than are honorable members. I leave that aspect of the case, having pointed out our own system, and its obvious and manifest failure, notwithstanding the many excellent men identified with it. I have shown that in England a similar system has been grievously disappointing, and that in New Zealand one man in four- attended camp. I have pointed out that the ablest men - those whom we are accustomed to regard as authorities in connexion with the Army in Great Britain - are in favour of the scheme. I have also shown that it is favoured by many admirals, and have dealt with the question of cost. What conclusion do we come to? Some men say, “ Patch up, and go on.” It would be philandering with the question to do anything of the kind. It will be, in my opinion, a hopeless effort to endeavour, to create any army capable of defending Australia, unless we have legislative authority behind us.
– The Minister’s remarks have applied apparently to the voluntary, not the militia, system.
– I spent a quarter of an hour in explaining the state of the militia. -
– The honorable member did not give the figures relating to the militia encampments - over 80 per cent.
– I explained to the House that, on paper - and I remember the words - one would see 80, 90, and 100 per cent, as being in camp, and one might think we had that number of men trained year after year, whereas 5,000 were recruits, 2,600 coming in during the last few months. That was the point I was endeavouring to make. There are amongst the militia a number of splendid men who are deserving of all the help they can, be given.
– Does the Minister mind stating whether it is intended to reduce the expenditure on the present system?
– I shall put in a statement of the cost per head under the present system -
After hearing all that could be said in regard to the scheme - and there was a considerable amount of criticism - the figures were again considered, and I am glad to be able to tell the House that we can stand by the figures given in December. They show that in the course of a few years, with 80,000 men, there will be an increase of only about ^100,000 in the expenditure.
– Does the Minister adopt the Prime Minister’s estimate of the cost?
– Yes, I have had the figures further investigated, and the Prime Minister’s estimate, if we cany out our proposal as stated,, will be found to be sufficiently accurate.
– There will be practically no increase in the cost.
– An increase of ^100,000.
– The Minister proposes to give us 80,000 efficients at the cost for which we now get 10,000 efficients.
– It is not estimated that we now have more than 15,000 efficients. One of the objections raised to our proposal is that Ave contemplate the creation of an army of boys. The age at which a boy can enter the territorial army under Mr. Haldane’s scheme is seventeen years, but the age at which a boy can enter the National Guard of Australia is eighteen - and it must be remembered . that the Australian boy is- more matured at seventeen than is the English boy at that age. There seems to be an impression that the British army is like Xenophon’s famous 10,000, that it is composed of seasoned veterans. According to the most recent figures I can obtain, 753 out of every 1,000 in the British regular army are of, or under, twenty-five years of age, and since the short service has been in vogue, the average age is less than it was. Mr. Haldane proposed, a total of forty-five days’ training for his territorial army in the first three years ; we propose forty-eight days in the total for these years for the National Guard. If it be objected that our proposal is inadequate, what is to be said of that of Mr. Haldane?
– The Minister is making a comparison with the scheme which he said was a failure.
– I limited my remarks to numbers. It must be remembered, too, that in Australia, after a few years, boys will come into camp who have had previous training, are partly disciplined, and know how to use their rifles. The period of training for the artillery of the Territorial Army is to be fifty-seven days ; we propose eighty-four days for the National Guard.
– In three years?
– Yes. I give the comparison, to show that the Government have not made their proposals without consideration, though T grant that the periods allowed are all too short for thorough training. Coming to the question of payment, our view is that the defence of the country is not to be paid for as ordinary commercial services. There are those who say that we should pay others to defend us, or who think that there should be a large standing army ; we propose that our people shall defend themselves ; we do not contemplate paying wages in the ordinary sense of the term for military service. There must be exceptions where special duties are required, or special individual responsibilities are in existence; but, generally speaking, service in defence of the country will not be looked upon as something to be paid for in the ordinary way.
– There should be equality of sacrifice.
– - Is the employe” to bear the whole brunt of the sacrifice?
– Employers as well as employes must serve.
– Employes are in the majority.
– As to the action to be taken with regard to the existing forces, the Prime Minister has promised that no one now serving shall suffer any disability byreason of the change. There will be no dismissals. All will be treated fairly, and rights and privileges will not be interfered -with. In the first place, it would be unreasonable to do awa.y with the present force until we have another to put in its place, and the task which confronts us is so great that it will probably be two or three years before the enlistment and the preparation of regulations and the first year’s training is completed. No change whatever will be made until a statement of the Government’s intentions has been placed before Parliament. Nothing will be done hurriedly. The Government feel under a great obligation to the present forces. It is almost certain that the militia regiments will be called upon for more strenuous and definite work than I have already outlined.
– Are paid and unpaid men to serve together?
– I am speaking of the transition stage. We cannot do away with the existing force until we have another with which to replace it. No doubt a number of the junior officers will offer their Services to the new regiments, and there may be a number of privates - perhaps not St great a number as some would think - who will qualify by examination as officers, and their services will be accepted. This will necessitate alterations which must be met. I cannot say definitely what form they will take, or the number involved, because to do so would require the gift of prophetic vision. It must be understood, however, that there cannot be a paid and an unpaid force, with two kinds of training, two sorts of administration, and two systems of camping. Such an arrangement would be like a harlequin’s coat, whereas the intention is to fuse the various branches of the military service into one. It has been suggested that a militia regiment of 513 might be divided into three bodies, each containing 171 men, to be used as the leading companies of other regiments; but it has been asked by the militia men, “ Why cannot you keep us together? Why break us up unnecessarily?” Having looked into the matter, I am able to say that I think that that can be done in nearly every case. The militia men are sane and patriotic enough to comply with the right thing when it is proposed, and I should like to place this aspect of the case before them. Everything must be looked at from the war stand-point. Preparations which do not bring about effectiveness for war are so much circus display. If, ten years hence, a war broke out and we had only 15,000 or 20,000 men to put in the field, the militia officers would regret that the Government had not taken action to increase the forces ; whereas if we could send out 200,000 men, they would be thankful that Parliament had been suffi ciently far-seeing to prepare. The Government are taking power to make cadet service compulsory, though, while the cadets increase at the rate of about 10,000 each year, it is not likely to be exercised.
– What is to happen to boys between the time when they leave school and their attainment of the age of eighteen ?
– During that period they will belong to the senior cadets. We take power to drill every child between the ages of twelve and eighteen, but under present conditions it probably will be unnecessary to exercise it.
– Is it intended to leave untrained those who do not voluntarily join the cadets, and to train only those who do?
– We have 40,000 cadets now, and the year after next we hope to have 60,000. There are 270,000 boys of cadet age in Australia, and while they continue to join the cadets in such numbers, we feel that the work is going on fairly well. Then we have to consider the financial aspect of the question. Each junior cadet costs £1 ros. per year, and each senior about j£i 16s., while the rifles cost about £2. The latter is a high figure ; but we have hopes of reducing that expense presently. Honorable members will see that with 270,000 boys in training, there is involved a very large financial question ; and the Government will not proceed more rapidly than our financial position justifies. Therefore, the Government propose to be content with an annual increase of 10,000; and,- although power is taken to exercise arbitrary action, I do not anticipate such action will be necessary.
– Is it proposed to reorganize the whole system of training cadets ?
– There will be much reorganization.
– Is it proposed to have medical inspection of the cadets?
– Unquestionably, there ought to be medical inspection.
– But who will make the inspection ?
– I do not desire to go into details now; but the present proposal is to allow no boy to enter the cadets unless he is reasonably fit to do the work.
– Who is to be the judge of reasonable fitness?
– The boys are presumed to be fit when passed.
– The officers cannot make the inspection.
– If honorable members desire that there should be absolute medical inspection, I will make no objection.
– Hear, hear; that is my point !
– There should be medical inspection in all schools.
– Before leaving this branch of the subject, I desire honorable members not to be carried away with the idea that cadets are an army. That is one of the most popular and misleading views to take of national safety or defence. Any competent critic will tell us that a nation which substitutes cadets for trained men, is going hopelessly astray.
– Does the Minister say that men can be trained in the time proposer! in the Bill?
– At any rate, the time proposed in the Bill is much preferable to no training at all.
– The training proposed is. not nearly enough.
– I know that the men, at the end of the period, will not be so highly trained as, for instance, were the Federal’ and Confederate troops at the end. of the American Civil War; but they will have been got pretty well into order, and will form the basis of a readily prepared force.
– In Switzerland, a man gets more training in a year than is proposed under the Bill in four years.
– That is no reason for suggesting that there should be no training at all.
– I do not know that I made such a suggestion.
– I have heard it frequently said, “ Let us stick to the cadets.”
– Is any provision made for compulsory training of cadets, to the extent of providing any penalty or punishment for failing to attend ?
– Power is taken to make the whole system compulsory.
– But what is proposed in this connexion under the Bill ?
– No doubt, with regard to many matters, difficulties will have to be overcome ; and we shall take power, under regulation, to meet many contingencies we are not able to foresee to-day. If the Government come tothe conclusion that it is essential to exercise compulsion, I presume that Parliament will readily find a way to extend the power. I have frequently heard the opinion expressed that we oughtto keep to the cadets, who, no doubt, receive a very fine training, and are an important item in our defence scheme. When the child is young the brain is receptive, and the training the cadet receives makes him a better citizen and a man. But we cannot defend the country with cadets.
– No one has said that we can.
– I have heard it said, over and over again, “ Stick to the cadets ! “
– It is absolutely incorrect.
– I shall find examples for the honorable member. It is one of the most dangerous fallacies we have to combat that a nation is doing all that is necessary when it trains cadets. An army must be a living, moving machine, and officers cannot be trained by dealing with children, nor by merely consulting books. Where are we to obtain officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers to do the work of training and leading? If all the manhood of the country could shoot, and all had a knowledge of drill, they would be useless without officers to lead them. In war, no one would know what to do, or how to do it; and any one who suggests that we should be content with cadets had better abandon any idea of a defence system.
– No one has suggested that we should be content with cadets.
– I am glad that the honorable member agrees with me. But I can show him statements in leading newspapers, and refer him to the utterances of a large number of men who have expressed the opinion I have indicated. I now wish to refer to the question of the clothing of the forces, and to make it clear why this is most important. In the middle of last century, there was, in India, as honor able members will remember, with Lawrence and others whom I need not mention, a very able body of men which did great work in holding up the prestige of the Empire under circumstances that were well nigh appalling. In Younghusband’s book, The Story of the Guides, he points out one of the great troubles which the British forces had to combat there -
At a time when soldiers fought and marched, and lived in tight scarlet tunics, high stocks, trousers tightly strapped over Wellington boots, and shakos, which would now be looked on as certain death, Sir Henry evolved the startling heresy’ that to get the best work out of troops, and to enable them to undertake great exertions, it was necessary that the soldier should be loosely, comfortably, and suitably clad, that something more substantial than a pill box with a pocket handkerchief wrapped round it was requires as a protection from a tropical sun, and that footgear must be made for marching, and not for parading round a band stand.
Representations in regardto the clothing were made on behalf of the men ; and immediately the experts and a large number of people in Great Britain declared that, if a feather or a stripe were removed, the Army would be ruined - thatit was disloyal to propose such a thing. These experts and people asked how discipline could be preserved if those trappings were done away with, and declared that it would be a treacherous act to interfere with the then conditions. But those in favour of the reform persevered; and the result is that to-day khaki is the fighting costume for armies all over the world. It is obvious that the clothing of our forces must be of the simplest and cheapest character ; and I desire now to refer more particularly to the question of officers’ uniforms.
– Is it proposed to make a change? Every change means expense.
– I do not wish to say anything disagreeable; but honorable members who had an opportunity of seeing the gorgeous spectacles on the occasion of the visit of the American Fleet, must have been struck by the view of decent, respectable, inoffensive gentlemen, appearing arrayed like escapees from the Mahdi’s harem. It is astounding to me that men should desire to get into such uniforms. I can understand men in China, in times gone by, assuming great masks in order to frighten the enemy, or gorgeous costumes being resorted to by savages, or the rain-makers of Africa ; but
I cannot conceive that any respectable, middle-aged man, who has “lost his waist, can desire any such costume. I am quite sure these men do not desire to wear such uniforms, but only do so because it is customary - they are just as sensible as any of us, and would not appear in costumes of the kind if it could be avoided.
– To which uniform is the Minister referring?
– We saw gorgeous uniforms everywhere; if they were not on the top of the binnacle they were on the top of the funnel; if they were not there they were on the main truck - it was appalling. It is accepted as a fundamental principle by every one, whatever be his position - whether he has money or not - that a country, to do good defence work, must have it done by men, irrespective of class - that wherever brains may be found they should be utilized. All the brains are not in Footscray, any more than they are all in Toorak, but are diffused throughout the community; and wherever ability is found it should be used in the defence of the country. But it- is of no use calling upon men of intelligence and industry, whatever their position, to act as officers, if we permit a procedure which practically excludes the poorer portion of the community. That is why I was somewhat harsh when speaking on the question of clothing, because I regard this as representing one of the greatest dangers in connexion with our forces. If we inform men of limited means that, providing they have ability, they mav become officers, and then inform them that they will have to spend .£40 or ^50 on uniform, we might as well extend no invitation to them.
– That is what poorer men are told now.
– I am now laying before honorable members the proposals of the Government. I have here, a statement made by the Inspector-General, who shows that, not in the case of a general in the Coldstream Guards, but in that of a lieutenant of infantry in our forces, who, I believe, is not a very high magnate, the approximate cost of the uniform is £44 8s. 6d.
– More than that.
– I can give the honorable member a statement by the InspectorGeneral on this subject -
We may take the figure stated by the InspectorGeneral ; and it must be a matter of some moment to a large number of men who occupy minor positions amongst our officers.
– Why permit expensive uniforms now ?
– The honorable member knows that only a conjurer can make a mango tree grow “while you wait”; and I am no conjurer. I can do only one thing at a time.
– But the honorable member could abolish the system if he chose to do so.
– When it was determined that the ordinary working uniform of the Australian forces should consist of khaki, permission was given to a large number of officers to continue to wear these uniforms, and they were entitled, having purchased them, to wear them out. But, as a matter of fact, they never wore out, or, if they did, they were replaced by new ones.
– Scarlet tunics have been reintroduced during the honorable member’s term of office.
– That is a mistake. The intention of the Government is that not only shall the wearing of these expensive uniforms not be permissive, but that it shall be made clear by the regulations that they shall not be worn, and that such uniforms as there are shall be worn only at ceremonials and special functions.
– Is the use of khaki going to be provided for in the Act itself?
– No; it will be dealt with in the regulations.
– Regulations are continually being made, and I would rather see the Government left as free as possible in regard to such matters. Too comprehensive a measure is often almost as useless as no measure at all.
– Then what about the mango-tree argument? The honorable member says that one needs to be a conjurer to amend the regulations. Does he. intend to become a conjurer after this Bill is passed?
– We shall then have a new system.
– But the Minister has had three years within which to make this change.
– Under the old system.
– Under the old system officers are allowed to use these uniforms. I have explained to the House the general principles underlying the Bill itself, and have referred specially to the question of clothing, because it appeared to me to cut right across the question of the employment of ability.” I now leave that phase of the subject to the consideration of honorable members.
Air. Kelly. - The Minister promised to let us know what kind of invading force the new system was intended -to repel
– I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. It is impossible for any one to foretell Australia’s future danger. I have read a statement by competent men that there would never be a warship south of the line, and yet within the last few weeks we have seen sixteen of them in our harbors. The Imperial Defence Committee postulated a force of some thousand men with a few unarmoured cruisers.
– For how long does that prophecy hold good?
– I was about to put that question to the House. If that were all we had to fear we might almost hope to cope with it by means of the police; but the Imperial Defence Committee has pointed out also there is such a thing as national existence, and I believe that, in the future, national existence in Australia, and the lives of our children, will be seriously im perilled. The great work for us to do is to preserve Australia as a white man’s country for our children and their descendants. If honorable members read Professor Pearson’s great work, which has been referred to by recent critics as being more in the nature of a prophecy than an alarmist statement, they will see that he points out that Europe and America will certainly remain white, and that Asia and Africa will remain black, but that there are very serious doubts with regard. to Australia. If honorable members take into consideration our environment, they will recognise that civilization in Australia stands in more danger of absolute destruction than it does in any other part of the British Empire. And yet I am asked what we intend to provide against. The Government proposal is to make the position of Australia such that no country will thoughtlessly interfere with her. If we wish to have immunity from pin pricks or actual war, we must show ourselves able to fight. The country that would laugh at our present force of 15,000 men, would not dare to laugh if Australia were properly prepared. This is a preparation which means peace, not war ; it is a. preparation designed to keep Australia intact and white. We shall meet with opposition ; I have scented it ; like the scent of the rose it still hangs round our opponents, this evening. We shall have opposition from men who cannot undergo the begetting of an idea; we shall have opposition from people who find it impossible to believe that any system save that to which they have been accustomed could be right. We shall have, also, to contend! with political bias. Political bias, entertained unknowingly, will cause some doubtless to be critics; let us hope that they will be fair. .One of the most reputable members of the Opposition is the honorable member for North Sydney, yet, in speaking the other day, he asked, “Why don’t we do- as the British Navy has done?Conscription has never been necessary in connexion with the British Navy. Such legislation has never been necessary in Great Britain. Why don’t we follow the example of the British Admiralty?” The honorable member forgot that when, in the years to which he referred, there was any. shortage in connexion with the manning of the British Navy, men were hocussed in drinking shops or overpowered in the streets, and sold at the ship’s side by the carcass. I. am not aware whether honorable members believe that that is a right position to take up ; but our contention is that to take Parliament into our confidence, and to legislate in regard to these matters, is far more in keeping with the spirit of the times. I mention this as an illustration of the effect of political bias, and when we find so reasonable a man as the honorable member for North Sydney usually is, taking the tail-board off his intelligence and pouring that sort of stuff over an unsuspecting and unsophisticated people, what can we expect from - I leave to some one else the task of filling the blank?
– Can the honorable member tell us what is proposed with reference to Naval Defence?
– It has always appeared to me to be unwise to deal with the two different forces in the one Bill, and this measure deals primarily with the land forces. At all periods in the history of the world - we read of them in Holy Writ - there have been men who were thankful that they were not as other people. The feeling is reciprocal. When we first made this proposal, the charge against us was tha.t it was disloyal ; that it was tantamount to finding fault with the British Navy, and the Government have had to meet such questions as, “ You have the British Navy, why do you not sit down and do nothing?” I have as strong a belief in the British Navy, and in Empire responsibility, as has any honorable member, and have shown it whenever called upon to do so ; but, as we all know, man’s members either become atrophied or expand, and since my intellect has not become atrophied, I am forced to look at things as they are. I have already said that the British -Navy is the greatest fighting force in the world, and I want now to present in the briefest manner possible a summary of its history. In the middle of the last century the position of the British Navy was such that if the whole of the fighting forces afloat of other nations had gathered in the English Channel in opposition to it, it could have blown them out of the water. A few decades passed, and we had British statesmen saying, not that it could beat the whole world, but that it could Hold its own against any possible combination. A little later onand we can trace these changes through history - it was said, “ The British Navy is able to meet the navies of any two Powers.”
– That it was up to the two-Power standard.
– -Quite so. Now we find some of the ablest statesmen in Great Britain declaring that in 1913 the British Navy will be put to the pin of her collar to hold her own against one.
– It is not disloyalty to make that statement.
– We have to face the facts as they present themselves to us, and it is idle to orate about Britain being mistress of the sea and to indulge in mere talk. Facts control the situation, and when we find that within fifty years the British Navy has passed from the stage of absolute, control of the oceans of the world to one which ‘impels some British statesmen to declare that it is doubtful whether it will be able in a little time hence to hold its own successfully-
– All the more reason why we should be loyal.
– Exactly. And how does a man display true loyalty ? By using his intelligence for the good of his country and seeing, as time goes on, what is the most practical step to take for its wellbeing. There is no disloyalty in a mere statement of facts. We must remember that the British Navy has something more to do than to look after our shipping and our foreshores. The British Navy - and I say this is ‘ an Australian - has as its main responsibility the protection of the heart of the Empire. If the heart goes, everything goes. We might be scorched and hurt a little ; still the Empire would recover and the white man win. But destroy the heart of the Empire, and the whole is destroyed. The main work of the British Navy is to protect the heart of the Empire - the “ powerhouse of the line” - to hold it intact against invasion and to so arrange that the food supplies of Great Britain shall continue without stint. If for a few weeks her food supplies were delayed or obstructed Britain would be placed in a serious position. Remembering that the British Navy has enormous responsibilities, cannot honorable members recognise that we are not disloyal to Britain by trying to prepare to help her in time of trouble, so that when she is engaged in a leviathan struggle, fighting for her life and for the existence of the Empire, we shall not have to throw ourselves upon her shoulders, saying, “Come and help us.” ? Take the two positions. In the one case some say, “ We will do nothing, we will blither about the flag until we sicken every one who hears us. We will talk about loyalty, but we will do nothing, and when we’ are in trouble
Ave will cry to England, ‘ We are powerless, we are helpless, come and help us.’ “ Britain ought at such a time to be left free to do her greatest work wherever it may be. The attitude of the Government, and of a vast majority of the members of this House, is rather to say to her in her time of crisis, “ We have used our time by preparing for the evil days to come. We have 200,000 men of the National Guard partly trained, and with, at least, a knowledge of the rudiments of their work. We are prepared to maintain inviolate our island continent, while you do your greater work. Come as soon as you can. We may be sorely pressed, but, in the meantime, go on with your work, for you may depend that, having prepared, we will do our duty.” Is there any man in this House, any Britisher, so obtuse as not to see the difference between the palsied oratory, .the wretched lip-loyalty, . of one attitude, and the manly reasonableness of the other? Australians should be prepared, if for no other reason than that it is their duty to the Empire. One position degrades a community into the position of servile sycophants - lazy, thoughtless, inconsiderate. The other elevates a nation to a position of manhood. Having done their duty, having prepared themselves, they are able to stand upright, as sons in their father’s house.
.- It would be a matter of convenience for the House to have some opportunity of considering the Bill and the very able speech of the Minister in introducing it. I therefore move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Ewing) proposed -
That the resumption of the debate be an Order of the Day for this day week.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [5.8].- Might I suggest to the Minister that, as the Bill is in the nature of an amending measure, and refers largely to the existing Act, it would be a great convenience if copies of the Act were circulated among honorable members?
– That can be done.
Colonel FOXTON.- It would also be advisable, and tend to shorten the debate, if copies of the regulations were made available.
– I have sent for a copy of the Act, but find that, contrary to an Act initiated, I think, by the Attorney-General, the Bill does not mention the amending sections of the Act of 1904. Copies of the alterations to regulations were distributed to honorable members about a week ago. Might I ask, further, that the Minister should allow his speech to be distributed largely throughout the community ?
Motion agreed to.
Debate resumed from 25 th September (vide page 432), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– A considerable amount of heat has been shown by some honorable members over the question of the Capital site, and the delay in settling it. Personally, I cannot imagine why honorable members should get so heated in discussing any question, especially one of such great importance as this, or make so many accusations against one another, as has happened in this case. The Capital site question was decided some years ago by the last Parliament, and the delay has been caused through the opposition, not of the people of New South Wales, but of the Government of that State. Yet members of the Opposition in this Chamber are chiding the Government for the delay, stating that they have been four years in office and have done nothing. The leader of the Opposition was himself in power for some months after that Act was passed, yet, with all the knowledge which he and his Minister of Home Affairs brought to bear on the question, they could not make any advance owing to the opposition of the New South Wales Government. I do not blame the Reid Government, the Watson Government, or the Deakin Government in any way for the delay that has taken place. I put the whole of the blame on the Government of New South Wales, and not upon the people of that State, with whom I have no fault to find. We on this side have been accused of not allowing the representatives of New South Wales to speak without saying something derogatory about them. Personally, I do not blame any honorable member for speaking for his State, but I do not like unfair charges to be made against any Minister or member of this House. I resent some of the speeches made from the other side, in which the Government have been accused of doing nothing for the last four years. An arrangement was entered into, as the result of a conference between representatives of this Government and the Government of New South Wales, under which the present Bill has been brought forward. The Government have brought it in to give effect to that arrangement, and yet they are chided for delay extending over many years. I hope that, in dealing with this important matter, we shall get away from all .this party feeling, and not accuse any party of unfairness. I supported Dalgety on a previous occasion, and as a majority of the Parliament indorsed that view, it is only right that every honorable member should now be loyal to that decision. We have at present a system bv which we vote money for certain works, and any that is not spent at the end of the financial year lapses, and has to be re-voted. We are told that under the present system each Parliament can decide upon any position for a site for the Federal Capital, but what would be thought if this Parliament voted a sum pf money for a large building, such as the Melbourne General Post Office, and if then a new Parliament refused to vote money to complete the work? The responsibility rests upon one Parliament to carry out the decisions of a previous Parliament, especially on an important issue of this kind. We acted wisely in fixing the site at Dalgety. After considering the whole of the reports, I found that Dalgety was the only site that had what 1 considered a good water supply. One honorable member recently made the peculiar statement that the supply of water was only a minor matter; but water is the main requirement for man and beast, and is certainly, essential for a city of any size. An amendment has been circulated by the honorable member for Parkes, the effect of which will be to postpone the settlement of the matter for a number of years, and allow Parliament to meet at Sydney in the meantime. That idea, was indorsed by the honorable member for Batman. But where would we meet in Sydney if it were decided that we should go there in one or two years’ time? There is no building suitable for us there. Where should we find accommodation for our officers? Ten years, although a long time in the life of an individual, is but a small space in the history of a nation. Who would prepare offices and move whole departments from here to Sydney for only ten years ? No individual likes a temporary habitation of that description, and there are much greater objections to it in the case of large departments like ours, which must necessarily be permanently located somewhereThe sooner that is done the better. When 1 voted for Dalgety I hoped that we should go there immediately, or, at any rate, as quickly as possible, so that we might settle down. We have been accused by some honorable members on the other side of not being in earnest in the matter. I am very much in earnest in believing that we should be in our own Capital as soon as possible, and so carry out the will of the people, as expressed b them when they voted for the Constitution. We require in the Federal Capital a good supply of water for the people, and also a good force of water for electric light and power purposes. It was argued the other day that water power would be required only for trams and lighting purposes, and that the Capital would never become a manufacturing centre. But in a district like Dalgety, hundreds of miles from any large city, there is a fine opening for a woollen industry, for example, which would have the advantage of cheaper carriage than is the case now, when the wool has to be sent long distances.
– Does the honorable member think that the presence of a Parliament would start a commercial centre?
– No, but the presence of power will help to establish factories. In Launceston we have over 2,000 horsepower coming through the tunnel continually, and it costs us nothing, except, of course, the interest on the money spent on the works. Yet one honorable member stated in the House recently that coal was cheaper than water as a source of power, and quoted an engineer in support of the assertion. The experience of Launceston is a proof to the contrary. At Dalgety we could get water power in the same way, and that could be used for woollen or other mills, as well as in the work of stone crushing for road-making, and other necessary undertakings for a city. I hope, therefore, that this Parliament will not go back on the vote of the last Parliament, but will adhere to Dalgety, and that then we shall have no further delay in taking up our position there. [ see that another amendment has been foreshadowed, to the effect that the Government should bring up a report every year, showing how the work is progressing, if Dalgety should be adopted as the site. But, as every honorable member knows, we can get a report from the Government whenever we wish, by asking a Minister for it, and so I see no necessity for that amendment. I hope to see the day when we shall assemble at Dalgety. Whether I am there or not, I hope that it will become a strong and flourishing city. I repeat that one of the main sources of the success of any city will always be found in an abundant water supply.
.- I do not intend to occupy the time of the House at any length. The selection of the permanent Seat of Government is, however, a matter of considerable importance to the people of this country, and from the information in my possession I do not think that either Canberra or Dalgety should be chosen. I sympathize deeply with the representatives of New South Wales and with the people of that State in their desire to have this question definitely determined. Certainly we ought to be in a better position to decide it now than we were eight years ago. We are all aware that at the Premiers’ Conference, which took place in 1899, certain proposals regarding the permanent Seat of Government were put forward. To-day, it is urged that those proposals should’ be binding upon us, and should commit us to something which, in the light of experience, we know would be to the detriment of Australia. I listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Nepean, the honorable member for Coolgardie, the leader of the Opposition, and the Minister of Trade and Customs. When this measure was before Parliament last session, I took the precaution of consulting Mr. Speaker in regard to an amendment which I desired to move, and I was therefore surprised when I heard the leader of the Opposition say that no amendment to the Bill could be submitted. Surely common sense indicates that any honorable member is entitled to submit an amendment ?
– I said that no amendment could he moved which would have the effect of nullifying the object of the Bill.
– I know exactly where I stand, and it is my intention to submit an amendment. But I first propose to deal with the position as it presents itself to-day. When we were discussing the question of Federation in 1899, infinitely more important questions were raised than the mere settlement of the site of the Federal Capital. Upon page 219 of the report of the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference in 1899, is to be found the following -
It is considered that the fixing of the site of the Capital is a question which might well be left to the Parliament to decide, but in view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers nave modified the clause so that while the Capital cannot be fixed at Sydney or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales, at a reasonable distance from that city.
I do not think that there is any reasonable man in this Chamber who desires for a moment to interfere with the absolute right of New South Wales under the Constitution to the possession of the Federal Capital. The report continues -
Accordingly, the request of New South Wales that the Capital should be in that Colony was granted, but with two conditions which Victoria insisted on.
Victoria surrendered whatever right she may possibly have had in connexion with this matter to the sister and parent colony.
– So did every other State.
– I have not said that they did not.
– But the honorable member is” quacking “ about Victoria.
– I have heard the honorable member refer to what he believes is going to be the greatest State in the Commonwealth, namely, Queensland, without interruption from any honorable member. The document proceeds -
That is the constitutional compact, and no honorable member desires to break it. But the provision that the Seat of Government should not be within 100 miles of Sydney does not necessarily imply that it should not be distant 200 miles or 300 miles from that city.
– Or 500 miles.
– Or 500 miles, if that were possible. I have not been able to visit either Canberra or Dalgety, but I have used the intelligence with which Pro- vidence has endowed me to investigate the relative merits of these two sites, and I am satisfied that neither of them fulfils the requisite conditions for a Federal Capital. I understand that Dalgety is the one great tourist resort of New South Wales.
– Dalgety ? Nobody ever goes there.
– That is another matter. I thank the leader of the Opposition for his interjection. If nobody visits Dalgety for the purpose of viewing its beauties, I do not think that this Parliament will be so foolish as to go there. The country surrounding the Canberra site is, I am informed, second-class “ squatting “ .country. I do not think that either the Canberra or ‘Dalgety site is an eligible one. I recognise that both have been put forward because it is desired to conform as closely as possible to the constitutional provision relating to the 100-miles limit. But I venture to think that the people of New South Wales are sufficiently broad-minded to recognise that our desire is to establish the permanent Seat of Government in a place where advantages will accrue to” the people of New South Wales, and, if possible, to the people of Victoria. It has been my privilege to inform myself of the merits of a third site, and, while I feel that it is a little too near Victoria, I cannot fail to recognise that its selection would confer immense advantages upon New South Wales, and also upon this State.
– ls there good land there ?
– I have personally visited this site. I have also been to Sydney, and I must say that when I have looked out upon its magnificent harbor, I have been led to wonder how some New South Wales representatives could ever leave it. The scenic effects of Sydney Harbor are reproduced with striking fidelity at Tooma. I have no doubt that if the Sydney people themselves could be transported to that site they would not insist upon the observance of the provision relating to the 100-miles limit. I do not know whether the representatives of the other States recognise how earnestly and determinedly the Victorian Parliament has from time to time endeavoured to formulate some system by which natural disabilities might be overcome. I have no desire to enter into an academic discussion upon principles which are not cognate to this question. But it must be patent’ to every one who is interested in. production, that we are not getting the best possible results from our climate and our lands in that connexion. A magnificent fall of rain to-day may be succeeded tomorrow by one of those blizzards which I am told are common at Dalgety, the effect of which is to dissipate all the good that the rain has done. The Victorian Parliament has evidenced a determination to counteract the injury worked by these natural forces. What better work could this Parliament perform than that of establishing the permanent ‘Seat of Government upon one of the upper reaches of the River Murray? What would such action mean? It would mean that hundreds of billions of cubic feet of water which to-day run idly to the sea, would be distributed through Riverina and Victoria for irrigation purposes. It would thus confer incalculable benefit upon both New South Wales and this State, and assist to create wealth with which to pay the taxes that must inevitably be levied by the States and Commonwealth Governments. The character of the climate must also be considered. Only the other night the Treasurer interjected that if Dalgety were chosen he would resign his seat.
– No ; he said he would not go there.
– The honorable member said he would retire from Parliament, and great as the loss no doubt would be, I think there are some thousands of people who would be prepared to congratulate themselves upon it.
– They would not be patriots.
– We must consider the advantages and disadvantages of any site proposed for the Federal Capital, and the consensus of opinion appears to me to suggest that Dalgety would not be a wise choice. There are people who say that if we persist in choosing Dalgety from time to time, we shall never have a Federal Capital established. That would not distress me very much. I am, of course, friendly with the members of the Government, though 1 do not defend their policy, and am utterly opposed to them on many points. They included in the Governor-General’s speech measures which involve the expenditure of millions of money. If the honorable member for Brisbane is to be believed, and I think he is, the acquisition of the Northern Territory will involve an expenditure little short of ,£15,000,000. If the Government are in earnest about the establishment of the Federal Capital, I should like, in view of the approach, of the year 1 9 10, to ask where the money is to come from with which to build it. I interjected the other night that the establishment of the Federal Capital would involve the expenditure of millions of money, and I was told that it would not. I am reminded of a proposal which, I think, was an improper one, to acquire a site for Commonwealth offices in London, in the Strand. In connexion with that proposal, we were invited, at very short notice, to consider the possibility of expending a sum of £500,000 upon the construction of offices, with an additional annual expenditure. If it would require the expenditure of ,£500,000 to build offices in the Strand, it is of no use to tell me that it will not involve the expenditure of millions to build a Federal Capital. I think it would be far better to accept the suggestion that, as the Seat of Government has been in Melbourne for ten years, we should now let Sydney have it for ten years. I am aware that under the Constitution, the Seat of Government is to remain in Melbourne until the Federal Capital is established; but if, in the light of experience, it is deemed unwise for some time to spend money upon its establishment, we have common sense enough to say that, as we have had the Seat of Government for ten years in Victoria, it should now be transferred to New South Wales for another ten years. I should be willing te assist a movement in that direction ; but I am not prepared to agree to expenditure in the establishment of a Federal Capital at the present time, without fuller investigation of the whole subject”. No matter where the Capital is located, railway construction will be necessary. In all the circumstances, I ask whether it would not be better to make a selection which would create another province for both Victoria and New South Wales. That might be done by the selection of the Tooma site. It has great natural advantages. I have referred to the advantages which its selection would confer as an inducement to the conservation of the waters of the Murray. The district surrounding it is comprised of exceedingly good land. The necessities of Victoria, as well as of New South Wales in times of drought, are met by the fat cattle brought from that country. Only the other day, when our people were calling out for meat, some 1,400 head came from the Tooma district, and they had to travel 60 or 70 miles by road. In the olden days, it used to be said that the settlement of Gippsland would add another province to Victoria, and surely there is sufficient intelligence in this national Parliament to select a Capital site which will add a new province to both Victoria and New South Wales. The site selected must possess a good supply of water. What do we find in this respect at Tooma? No less than 900,000 cubic feet of water pass in front of the site reported upon at Tooma every minute. If the site must possess beauty spots, and must be capable of agricultural and pastoral development, these features are possessed by the Tooma district, whilst from all the evidence 1 have seen it is impossible to grow even a potato within five and twenty miles of Dalgety. If Canberra is second-class squatting country, as we have been told, the same statement would apply to it. Surely there can be no intention on the part of a great Parliament such as this in the selection of a Capital site to do an injustice, not only to ourselves, but to the teeming millions of Australians yet unborn. We are selecting a Capital site for a Commonwealth which we expect to grow into a nation. I have no doubt that it will become a nation, though perhaps not in my time. I intend to make my voice heard not only here, but elsewhere if necessary.
– In the honorable member’s electorate.
– Not only in my own electorate. I have told some of the honorable members who sit in the corner opposite that I shall take good care to keep them employed in their electorates when the next elections come on. .If they do not know the first principle of etiquette in parliamentary life I am old enough to teach them. But that is “ parenthesis business,” as Sir Thomas Bent would -say if he were here. I have here a full report upon the Tooma site, but I shall not quote from it, because honorable members as well as myself can read it. But I urge its claims to consideration as superior to Dalgety and Canberra, because of the impetus which the selection of Tooma would give to settlement and to water conservation. I do not know whether honorable members who live in cities quite appreciate the disabilities of the man on the land. He gets up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, works on till dark, and goes to bed because he is tired, having none of the opportunities of enjoyment which are open to persons residing in centres of population. I hold that everything that is possible should be done to improve the condition of the people on the land. Let me say that in the establishment of the Federal Capital we must consider first the necessity of a pure and wholesome supply of water, and that cannot be provided at Canberra or Dalgety.
– Yes it can.
– So far as I understand the matter, at those places it would be necessary to establish a pumping plant to provide the people with a water supply.
– The engineers who repoet on the matter do not say so.
– At any rate, I believe that selfish interests dominate those who recommend Dalgety and Canberra. I may be charged with having some consideration for my own electorate in suggesting the selection of Tooma. If so, [ cannot help it. Tooma is not in my electorate, but in the electorate of the Treasurer, and I have not had even a consultation with that honorable gentleman on this question. So that I cannot be charged with being in collusion with him. I commend the reports upon the Tooma site to the consideration of honorable members. I claim that the selection of that site would give another province to Victoria and to New South Wales.
– Not to New South Wales, only to Victoria.
– To New South Wales also. I am sorry that the honorable member does not see the matter as I do, but no doubt he will when it comes to a vote.
– The honorable member is a,ware that the Tooma site was before the House on another occasion?
– I am aware that the Treasurer took a number of people in motor cars to see it, and that some of them did not see it. I have intimated that I would close by moving an amendment. The motion before the Chamber is -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I intend to move as an amendment that all the words after the word “ That “ be left out with a view to inserting in lieu ‘thereof the words ‘ ‘ this ‘ Bill be withdrawn and another introduced forthwith providing for a Capital site at Tooma.” I am aware that as expenditure is involved a message is necessary, but I believe that the amendment I suggest will be considered in order.
– No message is required.
– I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will hold that my amendment is in order; and I am quite certain that if the House takes the claims of Tooma into consideration, and is - as I am sure it is - honestly determined to do its best in fixing the Capital site, the position which I advocate will be recognised as furnishing advantages even greater than those which I havementioned.
– The honorable member for Indi has rightly said that the motion before the House -is - “That this Bill be now read a second time.” The honorable member will see that his amendment if carried would mean negativing the motion. The amendment directs that the Bill shall be’ withdrawn. As the result desired by the honorable member can be achieved simply by negativing the motion, I cannot accept his amendment, because the first result of it would be fo resolve that the Bill shall not now be read a second time.
– But, Mr. Speaker, we cannot get a straight vote, otherwise than by this process.
– If the honorable member wishes to know how he can get a straight vote, as he terms it, I may inform him that he can, in Committee, propose to omit Dalgety.
– I have not, so far, taken any part in the debate upon this much-vexed question ; and my reason for hesitating to do so is simply that I regard any attempt to change the votes of the members of this House upon it, either collectively or individually, as absolutely futile. Although I have no intention of touching the issue that has been dealt with by honorable members during the last two or three days, I am going to propose, in effect, that the further discussion of the matter be postponed. I propose to move an amendment, the effect of which would be to secure a postponement of the choice of the Capital site atthe present time. I have on previous occasions commented, as forcibly as I could, upon the great inconvenience, not only to honorable members, but to the legislation of the country, of having the Parliament situated at one of its great centres ; and I have pointed out more than once that other States have suffered considerably by reason of the great advantage which has been afforded to the State of Victoria, and would be afforded to any other State in which the Parliament is situated, because of the facility with which it could be reached by its representatives in Parliament, and by which they could be afforded facilities for voting upon different questions as compared with the difficulties which the representatives of the more distant States experience. But notwithstanding that consideration, I propose, for even stronger reasons, to submit an amendment which will have the effect of postponing the choice of the Federal Capital for some years to come.
– Does not the honorable member think that by moving such an amendment he is denying to New South Wales her rights under the Constitution?
– No; I may be postponing the securing of those rights, but I do not think that I am denying them. The choice of the Capital site is unmistakably one of the most important steps that can be taken, or has ever been suggested, in Federal history. To fix a site for the Parliament of Australia, for all time, is really to take a step of the most far-reaching character ; and although the Constitution provides for the choice of the Capital in the State which I represent, I think that I am taking a sufficiently unbiased view of the matter in desiring to postpone the choice in view of the vote which I think this House is inclined to give. At the present time the choice of a Capital site will be too much influenced by local feeling. I am sure that no man in this House who is aware of the different stages through which this question has passed since 1901 can doubt that a great many of the votes that would be given if the choice were made at the termination of this debate would scarcely be given if the Capital were intended to be built and occupied at once; because I believe that votes are intended to be recorded in the approaching division which are not being given upon the principle of choosing the best site for the whole Commonwealth. I am satisfied that many votes are about to be given for Dalgety in the hope that the selection of that site will mean the permanent postponement of the final choice of the Capital site. We cannot speculate upon a possibility of that kind without referring to the effect of press criticism on this particular question. I am not going to do this in order to stir up any illfeeling with regard to any particular State, but merely to illustrate the fact, which is thoroughly impressed upon my own mind, that the press in the different States, and’ especially in the State in which we are now situated, has done more to stir up InterState ill-feeling than has been done by this Parliament at this time. I refer first to the Age newspaper.
– The best newspaper in Australia
– That may be; and I am trying to show what it has done in the exercise of its alleged supreme qualities. Four years or more ago, when this question was prominently before the public, that newspaper deliberately and clearly enunciated a principle which I had no hesitation at the time in characterizing as an immoral one. It put forward this argument in one of its leading articles : That it was true that the Constitution did provide that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales, but, inasmuch as the Constitution did not say when the site should be chosen, Victoria, which had been done out of its right to have a vote upon the question of locating the Capital in this State, was justified - and I am now using the Age’s words - in applying the principle of the Merchant of Venice to the compact, and giving New South Wales her absolute right, but at some indefinite future time. The Argus selected four candidates for the Senate at the last election. Those four candidates made it a plank in their platform that they would advocate and approve of the indefinite postponement of the selection of the Capital site; and the Argus newspaper, in its leading article, not only advocated the election of those four men, but made it a point in its advocacy of their cause that they were in favour of postponing the choice of a Capital for an unlimited period
– I think the honorable member is making a mistake. There were only three vacancies for the Senate at the last election.
– Then the lead ing article to which I refer must have been written on the occasion of the previous; election, as it related to the choice of four candidates. The Age. only within the last week or two, again advocated the indefinite ^postponement of the question. I am not now complaining of this. I think that we have become reconciled in this country to some extraordinary local and parochial attitudes on the part of the press for its own purposes - whether for ‘the sake of circulation or with a view to procuring advertisements, or for its own commercial ends in other directions. We have become inured to this kind of thing, and we as politicians have, I think, almost ceased to feel surprise at such practices on the part of the press. ‘ I give these instances to show that at the present time this question is not being looked at in a calm, quiet, un;im passioned way; that the question as to what site within New South Wales is most in the interests of the Commonwealth is not at the present time being considered in a calm, impartial manner, apart from local considerations. It may be that many honorable members are actuated by the fact that the change will involve their travelling from week to week, as I and others have had to do for the past seven years, over :great distances. But that is a reason that should hot affect the mind of any honorable member in effecting a choice of this kind. I have come to the conclusion, therefore - from a conviction that at the present time public opinion is not ripe, is not cool, is not impartial, for the purposes of a choice - that the whole question of a selection should be postponed. And, inasmuch as the State of Victoria has had the benefit - and it has been a very great benefit in the discussing of and voting upon the Tariff - of having the Seat of Government within its borders, I suggest that it is a fair and reasonable thing that, in the event of any postponement that is made with a view of a cooler choice in the future, that advantage should be shared by the senior State with Victoria.
– The honorable member does not suggest that Our legislation has been for the benefit of Melbourne, or of Victoria ?
– I say this without any hesitation, and I have submitted a statement to the House more than once to prove it, that although New South Wales is entitled to a seventh more representation than Victoria by reason of the fact that her population is so much larger, yet, as a matter of fact, Victoria has enjoyed more voting power.than New South Wales. Honorable members will see for themselves that the mere fact of legislation being enacted’ in the city of a State from which the representatives come has enabled that State to be more frequently and more conveniently represented.
– We saw that in connexion with the Tariff.
– We saw, in connexion with the Tariff, that while the representatives of the other States were necessarily following their own occupations, it was impossible for them to attend with the same regularity and with the same convenience to themselves as was the case with the representatives of the State in which the Seat of Government was situated.
– Is not that a very good reason for having the Capital established?
– A very good reason. I have contended before that it is a great disadvantage to have the Seat of Government fixed in any one city which is the capital of a particular State; and I admit that whatever has been done in Victoria in relation to the press there is a liability of the same thing occurring in any other State. If this disadvantage is to be continued, however, it is not an unfair thing to propose that the most populous city in Australia, the capital of the State which is entitled under the Constitution to provide the territory for the Capital city for the Commonwealth, should have an equal share of the advantage which Victoria has hitherto enjoyed.
– The honorable member appeals to the Constitution in one breath and wants to alter it in another.
– I do not desire to alter the Constitution in any particular direction without giving other honorable members the opportunity, if they like, to seek to alter it in another. It is not for me to claim that the Constitution should be altered in one direction, and to deny to other honorable members the opportunity of proposing its alteration in another. But I must add that I am convinced that this House would never countenance an alteration of the Constitution which had the effect of shifting the Capital from the State in which it is placed under the Constitution. “
– If the honorable member tries for Sydney I shall try for Melbourne.
– The honorable member is at liberty to try for Melbourne, and his threat will not interfere with my moving my amendment. Unquestionably, this country and this House are not in a thoroughly unbiased and impartial condition to make a choice of the Federal Capital - a choice which will have such far-reaching effects upon Australia; and therefore I have conceived the idea - which I believe the Minister of Trade and Customs thought of years ago, although many of us might not have seen an opportunity to put it into practice then - of postponing the choice for a number of years, until Parliament and the people generally are better qualified to determine where the political needs of Australia require the Capital City to be placed. No harm can be done by taking the course that I recommend. But if we make a mistake to-day in the choice of a Capital, it will be irreparable; because I regard it as inevitable that if Dalgety is chosen - and I believe that it will be chosen, apart from my amendment - it will become for all time the Capital of Australia. No ‘honorable member can look at the map of Australia, and’ see the position of Dalgety, situated away down in the south-east corner of the con- *tinent, without feeling that, as time goes on, it must be a very undesirable site from an Australian point of view.
– Not from the Tasmanian point of view.
– From the Victorian or the Tasmanian, or the South Australian, or even the Western Australian point of view, it is equally undesirable. I am ready to confess that if- there were a railway from Melbourne to Sydney, via the Snowy River and the Snowy Mountains, it might prove to be a very , desirable alternative route between those two great cities. But all engineering experience and advice go to show that not only would it take years to construct, but that it would involve the expenditure of an immense sum, which I am quite certain the State is not prepared to spend. There has been no attempt on the part of the Premier of Victoria, or of its Ministers, to come forward and say : ‘ ‘ You are now discussing the advisability of choosing this Captial site. We are prepared to construct a railway if you do so.” Twenty years ago I, as Minister of Public Works for New South Wales, in opening the railway to Cooma, made the offer, that if the Government of Victoria would undertake to submit to Parliament a Bill for the construction of a railway from Melbourne to the border in that neighbourhood, I” would undertake to submit to New South Wales Parliament a Bill to continue the railway from Cooma to the border in order to meet that line. I recognised then, and I recognise now, that some day it may become an alternative route between the two cities which will involve no greater distance, but will pass through some very beautiful country, and no doubt will be a. commercial improvement. But at present there is no indication that that is going to be done. It may be that twelve years hence the prospects of such a consummation may appear nearer thanthey do at the present time. But if that is the case, and if Victoria chooses to construct her railway, it may be that even in the event of the selection of the site being postponed as I have suggested, the House would come back to that conclusion, and so, after all, in view of the construction of that railway and the facilities for reaching it, we might still choose Dalgety as the best site. I think that Victorian members know that at the present time, and for years to come, in order to reach Dalgety, they would have to travel as far as Goulburn and then go south-east for eight hours from that city, which would be equivalent to travelling from Melbourne to Newcastle’.
– And to Canberra ?
– That .would involve many hours’ less travelling, as the honorable member knows.
– Not many
– It is an eleven hours’, or at the very most twelve hours” journey, from Melbourne. To reach Dalgety at the present time it would require twenty hours’ travelling. It would require two or three hours more than the journey to Sydney. I am speaking not about imaginary things, but about the railway system of New South Wales. It means that every Victorian, every South Australlian and every Tasmanian, would have to travel a distance which is equivalent to travelling from Melbourne to Newcastle inNew South Wales. Therefore my proposal only involves this - that if the railway system of Victoria is going to be continued through Gippsland to a point at which it could be reached by the New South Wales railway system, then the twelve years during which I propose to postpone the settlement of this question would give Victorians an opportunity of demonstrating, the feasibility of this choice and the practicability of reaching Dalgety in a very short number of hours.
– Does the honorable member think that Dalgety is not a suitable place?
– I think that it is unsuitable at the present time because of the want of that railway.
– That is why the honorable member is proposing his amendment?
– No. I do not think that the members of this House are, at the present time, in a sufficiently unbiased and impartial frame of mind to choose a Capital site irrespective of local influences. I think that the selection should be delayed ; for at the present time there is a very strong ‘ feeling of local jealousy between Victoria and New South Wales. I am not saying justly or unjustly, but, at the present time there is in the senior State of Australia a feeling that Victoria has enjoyed an undue number of advantages over New South Wales, quite apart from the presence of the Parliament. One might almost say that the bearings of the Commonwealth are “ heated,” and 1 think it is our duty to take a step, which will have the effect of allowing things to cool down and so of giving us a proper perspective with regard to this question. I think that the postponement of a selection for some years to come will secure that. It may be that at the end of twelve years we shall remain of the same opinion, especially if, as has been suggested, Victoria is ready to construct this railway to the border. I confess that in many respects Dalgety has many advantages; and if the Parliament, as I apprehended at the beginning of Federation, were going to sit for about three months in the summer, I should say that it is a climate which would be most enviable for the purpose. But we have drifted into sessions of six, seven, and sometimes eight months; and while the two Tariffs were under consideration we sat for ten or eleven months in the year. The whole outlook is altered in . that respect, and there is no indication, as I anticipate there may be at some time or other, that the Victorian Government will make a railway to the border from Melbourne, so as to make the site accessible. Without, therefore, giving up my right to even vote for Dalgety at some future time, in the light of the developments of our railway system, I hold that at the present time we are not in a calm and impartial frame of mind to make a choice. That is my reason for moving this amendment. Vic torian politicians would not suffer in any way by the postponement, because the journey to Sydney would, as 1 have shown, take three hours less than the journey to Dalgety. That argument also applies to Tasmania and South Australia. It would give New South Wales members for ten years the advantage of not having to travel, which the Victorian representatives have already enjoyed. It would give to Queenslanders the advantage of not having to travel so far. But it would be less disadvantageous to every State in Australia to put the Capital in Sydney for that limited time. I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ in view of the wide difference of opinion in regard to the most suitable site for an Australian Federal Capital, the final choice be. postponed until the year 1921, and that the Government shall forthwith prepare and introduce into Parliament a Bill providing for an alteration of the Constitution by which the city of Melbourne shall remain as the Seat of Government until the end of the year 1910, and that from the beginning of 1911 until the end of 1920 the Seat of Government shall be fixed in the city of Sidney, pending the final and permanent selection of a site for the Commonwealth Capital and Seat of Government, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution.”
I want to assure the House that I am moving this amendment with the utmost impartiality. It is not done with the desire to benefit Sydney or New South Wales; because, just as I have stood nearly eight years of travelling between Sydney and Melbourne, without any serious inconvenience to myself mentally or bodily, I am prepared to go on. I want honorable members to believe that -I am not asking the representatives of either State to embark on any increased inconvenience in taking this course. As I have pointed out, the Victorian members would save time as compared with travelling to Dalgety. Instead of going to a place which, apart from the public buildings in which we shall do our work, would be by no means comfortable or interesting, they could go to one of the largest cities in the Commonwealth, and have an opportunity of learning, not only by experience, but in many other ways, the inconveniences which representatives from the other States have had to undergo in travelling to the Seat of Government. So far, the Victorians have not had the experience, because, as honorable members know, a Victorian can follow his avocation, whether it be commerce or a profession, until 4 o’clock, when he can walk up to the House and take part in the business of Parliament.
– Only those residing in Melbourne.
– I admit that some representatives of Victoria are as much inconvenienced as even those who come from the nearer States. But it has been a very great advantage, and the honorable member knows that representatives of Melbourne proper form a very substantial portion of the representatives of Victoria. I am, as I have said, submitting this amendment without any desire to give an advantage to either Sydney or New South Wales. I am acting in the interests of the Commonwealth ; because I believe that Parliament is about to make a mistake, in the light of present knowledge with regard to the advantages of Dalgety.
– Does the honorable member think that a majority of the people of the other States would vote for such an alteration of the Constitution ?
– Of course, one can never tell what the people will do, but I should be very hopeful that they would, especially after having had the advantage of hearing the eloquence of those members of the House who had voted for the amendment. I do not want to dwell upon the matter, because there are advantages to all the States - the advantage of less travelling and the advantage of postponing a decision on the most far-reaching and most important question which has ever been submitted to this Parliament - a decision that we could not alter afterwards. I do not want in any way to speak in a depreciatory sense of Dalgety, because I know that it has many natural advantages, and I believe that byandby, if a railway to the border were constructed by Victoria, and a connexion with the coast made, it might become one of the most interesting and suitable places in the Commonwealth. But at the present time we have no indication or suggestion from the powers that be that they are prepared to do what I invited them to do twenty,years ago; we are no nearer. It is general information that the cost of such a railway would be from , £1,500,000 to £2,000,000.
– Where from ?
– From Bairnsdale to the border. I am speaking of the estimates which were made when Mr. Oliver entered upon his examination of the scheme, and I believe that estimates obtained since go to show that the line would? cost at least £1,500,000.
– The Victorian Railways Committee has had referred to it a proposal to carry the line a good distance further.
– The honorable member knows that the consideration of such proposals may mean nothing. If the people or the Government of Victoria had agreed that it would be an advantage to that State that the Capital site should beat Dalgety, it would be the easiest thing in the world to intimate that if that site were chosen they were ready to submit a proposal to Parliament for the construction of the line referred to. Such an announcement would tend - and I have no doubt that the honorable member for Gippsland is aware of this - to make the site popular.
– The line has been submitted to Parliament, and the proposal to carry the line 200 miles further than Bairnsdale has been referred to the Railways Committee.
– That would not take the line to the border.
Mr.Crouch. - It would take it so much nearer to the border.
– I recognise that a line cannot be carried 200 miles further than Bairnsdale without carrying it so much nearer to the border ; but the question is whether there is any real intention to construct such a railway. The postponement of the question for ten years would not prevent the choice of Dalgety as a site.
– We understand that the New South Wales people desire the question to be settled.
– But not in that way. Would the honorable member for Bass, if he were a resident of New South Wales, consider Dalgety a fair choice?
– Does the honorable member say that in face of the arrangement entered into by the Premiers, representing the people? The honorable member must not adopt the idea that an agreement, signed by the Premiers, was merely binding on the Premiers ; they were the representatives of the different States.
– For the time being.
– If the honorable member entered into a contract, as the representative of other people, would he be at liberty a week thence to say that he was their representative only for the time being ?
– The people were not told anything about the arrangement.
– That may be. But I would point out that the Premiers dealt with much more important matters, they having authority to agree on proposed alterations of the Constitution.
– But the people were to vote on the Constitution afterwards, though noton this agreement.
– Of course, the agreement was not put into the Constitution ; but the honorable member will not deny that there was a moral undertaking on the part of the people through their representatives.
– I do not see that.
– I do not hold the honorable member to the agreement, but only point out that we have been asked to pay regard to much less binding agreements. Over and over again, we have heard it urged on behalf of Western Australia that the people of the eastern States are bound by an “ understanding “ entered into in regard to the transcontinental railway.
– I should not recognise that understanding.
– Then I can only say that my standard of political morality and that of the honorable member do not agree.
– There is no morality in question.
– I do not desire to say anything unpleasant; but the right honorable member for Swan has said, over and over again, that, when the Constitution was proposed, there was an. understanding that the eastern States should, as soon as possible, connect the west with the east, in order to completely realize the Federal idea; and that has been cited as a reason why the people of the east should bind themselves to the construction of a line. If I were satisfied that there was such a clear understanding in the minds of the people of Western Australia, it would be an argument, though I do not say a binding or conclusive argument with me, with regard to the construction of a railway ; and, if that be so a fortion, the agreement in black and white entered into by the
Premiers as the representatives of the people, as to the Federal Capital, is an argument.
– That agreement was never seen by the people.
– I admit that. I do not say that the agreement is conclusive; but it is a potent factor. In any case, I point out that the postponement of the question does not mean the abandonment or even jeopardize the chance of Dalgety. If that site comes into greater prominence by reason of the possibility or practicability of the construction of a railway through Gippsland, than its choice will be all the more easy in the future. Ifwe find by-and-by that the sessions become shorter, that will be another reason for choosing Dalgety, on the ground that we shall be there only during the summer, and assured of a cool climate.
– Then, the honorable member will ignore the decision of Parliament four years ago?
– I do not regard that as a final decision. I have no desire to raise any very recondite constitutional points with the honorable member; but he may remember that, as far back as 1902, I took exception to the Seat of Government Bill then before us, on the ground that this Parliament is incompetent to make a choice until the territory has first either been acquired by the Federal Government, or ceded by the New South Wales Government.
– Is that the honorable member’s definite position on the subject ?
– I contend that until the Commonwealth has either acquired the land or the land has been ceded to us by New South Wales, the High Court will hold that we are incompetent to actually select a site. Of course, the Commonwealth is quite competent to acquire land for the purpose, because it is not necessary, under the Constitution, that New South Wales shall consent to any particular site. If the Federal Parliament chooses to pass an Act, and resume any particular land, it is quite at liberty to do so - it is quite as much at liberty to fix the site on acquired territory as on territory placed at its disposal by New South Wales. But neither step has been taken ; and I desire honorable members to notice that the Bill before us takes us no further than the previous Bill ; it merely seeks to make the choice “more certain.” We cannot make an Act “more certain “ by merely passing a second Act of the same effect; and, in. any case, the land must be acquired or granted before effect is given to the Bill.
– Why have the people changed their minds in regard to the 100 miles radius from Sydney?
– I do not know ; but Parliament does change its mind, and very frequently repeals laws which it has previously passed. As many as 600 Acts of Parliament in the reign of Queen Victoria were repealed before she had been twenty-five years on the Throne.
– The Federal Convention rejected the idea that the site should be near Sydney.
– Parliament is constantly contradicting itself by repealing Acts passed in previous sessions. Why is this Bill submitted? Is it not in order to induce the House to say again what it said some years ago? Why is it considered necessary to ask honorable members whether they still hold the same opinion?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the House adjourned for dinner, I had practically completed my speech, with the exception of one or two observations in the nature of a summary. The personnel of the House changes from time to time, and one is sometimes involved in repetitions in which, with a continuous audience, one would not indulge. Iri the course of my speech, some observations were made in the character of an inquiry as to what would be done by the people of Sydney to accommodate this Parliament, in the event of the Seat of Government being removed for a period to that city. I can only say. in answer, that the House might very well depend upon Bie people of Sydney to do justice to the occasion and the requirements. I am sure that in’ the event of the Seat of Government being removed to Sydney, the people of New South Wales would feel sufficiently honoured to make a great effort to equal, if not to surpass, the very great liberality which has characterized the Parliament of Victoria in accommodating the Federal Legislature here. I wish to assure the House, in conclusion - and I hope my past in this Parliament will entitle me to do so - that in taking this step, which is a diversion from ‘the subject of debate that has occupied the House for some days, my object is not in any way to frustrate the choice by the Federal Par liament of a Capital site which is not favorable to New South Wales. I think, as I have said, that the time is not ripe for the taking of so far-reaching a step. I have no feeling against Dalgety. I consider that under altered conditions, it would be in many respects an admirable site. But those conditions have not arisen. They may arise within the next ten or twelve years, and my desire is not to advocate any other site as preferable to it, but merely in the first place to lead to the postponement of a final choice under present conditions, and, in some way, to remove from the minds of the New South Wales people the idea that the representatives of Victoria have endeavoured to dominate the Commonwealth power. 5* wish further to give an opportunity in the future, under altered conditions, for a riper decision. I have pointed out, and point out again, that if Dalgety continues to enjoy the advantages that it is supposed to enjoy to-day, or if it increases them, there will still be an opportunity to select it for the purpose for which many honorable members desire to choose it now. I trust that the House will accept this assurance from me, and believe that my only desire is to induce the Parliament to hesitate to take a step which, to my mind, is premature, and may be taken possibly with greater justice and effect some twelve years hence. . I therefore beg to move the amendment of which I have given notice -
That all the words after the word “That” -be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : - “In view of the wide difference of opinion in regard to the most suitable site for an Australian Federal Capital, the final choice be postponed until the year 1921, and that the Government shall forthwith prepare and introduce into Parliament a Bill providing for an alteration of the Constitution by which the city of Melbourne shall remain as the Seat of Government until the end of the year 1910, and that from the beginning of 1911 until the end of IQ20 the Seat of Government shall be fixed in the city of Sydney pending the final and permanent selection of a site for the Commonwealth Capital and Seat of Government, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution.”
– At first sight it would seem that the objection which I took just now to the amendment indicated by the honorable member for Indi might be taken to this. It appears to me, how-, ever, that whereas the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Indi dealt simply with an alternative site, and did not go to the root of the purpose of the Bill, the amendment now proposed by the honorable member for Parkes deals not with rival sites, but with a rival scheme for the whole settlement of the question.
– So did mine, sir.
– The honorable member’s proposal dealt with a purely alternative site. In the case of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parkes, however, there is no question of alternative sites. What is proposed is a radical change of the whole method of dealing with the Seat of Government, and I therefore feel bound to accept the amendment, provided that it be seconded.
– I second the amendment.
.- It appears to me that much of the discussion to which we have listened has been quite beside the question. This is a Bill, not to select a site, but to more definitely define the site already selected by this House. This question was discussed, in the first place, in 1902, when the House of Representatives selected Tumut, and another place, Bombala. It was again discussed in 1904, when both Houses agreed to the selection of Dalgety, and the Bill passed. We are now asked merely to more definitely define that site. When the selection was made there was a fair fight to a finish, and the right honorable member for East Sydney then said -
I accept that decision as not brought about, as some other position might have been, by any unfair means, but as a fair and honest expression of the views of the majority. The decision is much against my own views, but I have at least the satisfaction of feeling that the selection which has been’ made does represent the honest conviction of the majority of the members of this House.
As the Minister of Trade and Customs has pointed out, the right honorable member, at a later stage, said that, so far as he’ was concerned, any proposal to rescind that decision would meet with his strongest opposition. We are asked now to re-open the question of sites. There seems to be only two reasons for that request : The one is to allow us to consider for the first time the claims of Canberra, and the other to enable representatives of New South Wales to level a charge against the representatives of other States, and particularly those of Victoria, of wanting to commit a breach of faith in not carrying out the spirit as well as the letter of the bond con tained in the Constitution. That charge is new made practically for the first time. In 1904, the question of “ reasonable distance ‘ ‘ was merely mentioned bv the honorable member for North Sydney, and it was not till last year that ‘the charge of breach of faith which arises out of it, and which has been repeated again this session, was made. The argument in support of that charge is based on the agreement alleged to have been entered into by the Premiers at the Conference at- the beginning of 1899. That agreement appears in the memorandum which the Premiers drew up. I know that these matters have been mentioned before, but since the charge has been repeated, it is just as well that we should consider the actual facts. The Premiers said -
It is considered that the fixing of the Site of Capital is a question which might be left to the Parliament to decide ; but, in view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers have modified the clause, so that, while the Capital cannot be fixed at Sydney or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales at a reasonable distance from that city, and the Premiers have therefore agreed that in lieu of the original clause the following clause shall be substituted.
The first point that one notices in regard to this agreement is that it is in the nature of a prohibition. The words used are not within a reasonable distance “ of “ Sydney, but at a reasonable distance “ from “ Sydney. The Premiers then proceeded to state what that meant. That statement was followed by the words which were embodied in the Constitution, and were their own drafting, and not that of some one who might be said- to have misunderstood or wrongly carried out what they intended -
The Seat of Government shall be determined by the Parliament and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and if New South Wales be an original State shall be in that State, and be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney.
If it was intended by the use of the words “at a reasonable distance from Sydney,” that a site should be selected as near Sydney as the 100-miles limit would allow, it seems to me that the Premiers would have fixed not only a minimum but a maximum. They would have said, “ Not less than 100 miles, but as near that limit as possible,” or “ Not less than 100 miles or more than 150 miles from Sydney.”
Instead of doing so, however, they simply made the prohibition that we should not select a site within 100 miles of Sydney. That is the interpretation they placed upon what they said the agreement was. We must remember that the Constitution, as first framed, gave to the Federal Parliament an absolutely free choice in respect of all Australia. That was accepted - unpopular as it was supposed to be- by a majority of those who voted at the New South Wales referendum. Why that referendum was ineffective it is unnecessary to repeat. We all know the reason, and it is not a matter that can be dealt with without making a charge of breach of faith. Then we had a meeting of the Premiers and the Constitution was amended. The original Constitution, we must not forget, was drawn up by delegates elected by the people to prepare such a document, whereas the amendment was prepared by Premiers who, as Premiers, might be said to represent the States for which they spoke, but who had no mandate from the people to prepare any amendment of the Constitution. Their agreement, therefore, was valueless until accepted by the people, and what the people of Australia accepted - what they voted on - was not the paragraph in the Premiers’ memorandum as to a reasonable distance, but a clause which provided that the Capital should be “not less than 100 miles from Sydney.” That is the whole point. It is interesting to note what was the meaning placed on that provision by the public men at the time. The honorable member for Nepean the other night quoted from a speech by Dr. Nash, in which he referred to the words of Mr. - now Mr. Justice - Barton and the right honorable member for East Sydney, immediately after the Premiers’ Conference. In neither case was anything said that would justify the charge that there was any bond or any spirit in the bond that the Capital should be close to the loo-miles limit. Mr. Barton said it would be their duty to see that the Capital was not placed too remotely from either Sydney or Melbourne. He certainly would not have said that, if it had been intended that the Capital should be as close as possible to the loo-miles limit. Then the right honorable member for East Sydney 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.
On the day following that on which the Premiers’ ‘ memorandum was first published in the press, there appeared in the Age a telegram from its Albury correspondent to this effect -
The determination that the site of the Federal Capital shall be in New South Wales with a reservation that it must be situated not less than 100 miles from Sydney, is regarded as largely increasing the prospects of the selection of Albury.
They did not think that Albury would be debarred by the new clause. The people of Albury thought, as did every one in Victoria, that any place in New South Wales that was not less than 100 miles from Sydney was open to selection without any charge of breach of faith. It is still more interesting to note that a meeting of the Albury Federal Capital League was immediately called, and that the right honorable member for East Sydney, when returning to Sydney from the Premiers’ Conference, was waylaid at Albury and interviewed on the result of the Conference. In the Age of the 4th of February appeared the following from its Albury correspondent -
Before Mr. Reid was permitted to resume his midnight journey he was pressed to unbosom himself about the question which to the good townsfolk of Albury for the moment dwarfs all other questions, viz. : - Where is the Federal Capital to be located? “What of the Federal Capital”? Mr. Reid was asked. “Didn’t I get it settled in New South Wales? What more could I do? I suppose you Albury people wanted me to fix it right off for Albury ?” “ I do not know that there would be any strong local objections to that. But what do you think of Albury’s prospects now?” “ Don’t ask me that. I should say we’ll have it as near Sydney as we can get it. You may depend upon that. Don’t ask a Sydney man to give you the Capital at Albury. It isn’t human nature.” “ Don’t you think Victoria and South Australia will support Albury?” “ Oh, you can ask them to support you - they’ll probably do it - but don’t ask any Sydney man. It is too much to ask ordinary mortals. They can’t have it in Sydney or less than IOC miles from there, but you may depend upon it they’ll have it as near Sydney as they can get it. That means that it will be probably somewhere about Goulburn.”
If he had thought that the agreement was that the Federal, Capital should be located as nearly as possible to the I00-miles limit, the right honorable member would not have answered the Albury people in that way. He would have said, “ Albury cannot be chosen as the Capital site, because the Capital must be as near to the 100-miles limit as possible.” Just previous to the holding of the second referendum in Victoria, the Age and Argus published papers explanatory of the proposed amendments of the Constitution, for the guidance of the electors. The explanations published by the Argus were prepared by the honorable member for Bendigo, who said nothing about an agreement to have the Capital within a reasonable distance of Sydney. What he said was -
The amendment first in interest if not in importance is that relating to the site of the future Capital of the Commonwealth. Under the ]3ill as framed by the Convention it is provided that the Seat of Government should be determined by the Federal Parliament, and that it should be within Federal territory. The amendment now proposed is that the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales, and be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney. In all probability, if the matter had been left in the hands of the Federal Parliament, the Capital would have been fixed somewhere in New South Wales; her strong claim, founded on seniority and the vast and suitable territory available for such a purpose would have told in her favour.
The memorandum published by the Age was prepared by Mr., now Mr. Justice, Isaacs and Mr. Mackey, now Minister of Lands in Victoria, and contained this statement on the subject -
With regard to the site of the Capital the Federal Parliament was previously unrestricted in its choice, provided the place selected was within territory vested in the Commonwealth. By the amendment the Parliament is limited to a selection within New South Wales, at a distance of at least too miles from Sydney. . . . The compact made must and will be honorably adhered to, and there will, it is hoped and believed, be not a moment’s unnecessary delay in the fulfilment of the intention of the parties in arriving at the agreement. But in making the concession sentiment has already had full weight given to it, and it will be the manifest duty of the Parliament within the limit assigned to it, to select, as the Seat of Government, whatever site it considers most in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
It was upon those explanations, which were supported by the public speeches made at the time, that the people of Victoria voted. Later on, the See Government of New South Wales authorized a Commissioner to report on eligible sites, and he recommended, first, a Southern Monaro site, and, secondly, a site near Yass or one near Lyndhurst.
– If there were anything in the contention, it should have been raised then.
– Yes, and it would have been raised. The Commissioner would have been told to confine his report to places as near to the 100-miles limit as possible. As a matter of fact, he had a free run of the whole State outside the 100-miles limit. Furthermore, the State Government offered the three recommended sites to the Federal Government, reserving the Crown lands round about them from further alienation. The matter was first dealt with in this chamber in 1902, when five of the six gentlemen who had formed the Premiers’ Conference were members. Of them, the right honorable member for Swan and the late Mr. C. C. Kingston voted for Bombala, while Sir George Turner voted for Tumut, all three ignoring the alleged compact, while the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was present, said nothing about a breach of faith. That circumstance shows that they did not consider themselves bound to select a site as near to the 100-miles limit as they could get one. It is impossible to think that any one of them would have broken a compact to which he was a party, or that the right honorable member for East Sydney would have allowed him to do so without challenge.
– Why was the 200-miles limit, which was proposed bySir George Turner, not agreed to by the Premiers?
– Because they thought the 100-miles limit sufficient. If it had been intended that the Capital should be as close to Sydney as possible, the agreement would have said that it should be not less than 100 miles, nor more, say, than 200 miles, from Sydney. The matter was discussed again in this chamber in 1904, and then the idea that the Capital should be near to the 100-miles limit was suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney. But the right honorable member for Swan and Sir George Turner voted for Dalgety, and, according to the Minister of Trade and Customs, the late Mr. C. C. Kingston paired by telegram for that site. Again there was no protest from the right honorable member for East Sydney. If further evidence that there never was the agreement which has been mentioned be necessary, I would add that the Lyndhurst site is 191 miles, and the Canberra site 204 miles from Sydney, and yet those who support the contention against which I am arguing are in favour of one of those sites being chosen. Furthermore, neither the Lyndhurst, Yass, nor
Tumut site, which have been offered to us by the present New South Wales Government, is within a reasonable distance of Sydney. Last week a Sydney newspaper was circulated amongst honorable members, in which there is an article referring to the- offer of these sites. The writer of that article says -
Of these Tumut foils more than Dalgety to comply with the limitation of section 125 as to distance from Sydney, as well as in other rei pec Ls.
Referring to Canberra, of whose beauties and advantages we have lately heard so much, the writer says - ‘
An effort is being made behind the back of the Slate Parliament to secure the selection of a ,llc on the Canberra area. The most meagre information has been published about it, nothing indeed to justify the choice. Like Dalgety^ this place is in an isolated corner of the Commonwealth, not by any means central or equidistant from the Capitals of the respective States, and there is an effort to justify the election as a “ Compromise between Sydney mil Melbourne.” But where does compromise come in ? Are these two cities the only great centres of population in the Commonwealth that ill others should be discarded for their convenience, or are Victoria and New South Wales the only States in the Federal Union that are *o be considered ?
We are told that we should vote for Canberra as a compromise. I cannot understand the offer of a compromise where a breach of faith is alleged. Were I a New South Wales representative who thought that a breach of faith was being committed, I should not allow a compromise, and should stand out for the fulfilment of the spirit of the bond. It is unnecessary, after the able speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs, to go into the merits of the sites. It was refreshing to hear a member of the direct Opposition this evening admit that Dalgety had merits, and that it might, in :leven or twelve years, become a suitable site. Some peculiar figures have been given as to its distance from Sydney and Melbourne. According to the Commissioners appointed by the Federal Government, Dalgety is, as the crow flies, 228 miles from Sydney and 240 from Melbourne. Dalgety is therefore as nearly as possible equi-distant from the capitals of New South Wales and Victoria. We have been told that its selection :.s supported by .Victorians because it is near the border of this State, yet those who say that tell us at the same time that :+C position is isolated, and that it will not be accessible by rail direct from Melbourne for many years to come. The honorable member for Nepean, although he had to admit that he had never seen the country, spoke of it as terrible country to get through. Honorable members seem not to be aware that the Premier of this State has promised to ask the Victorian Parliament to authorize the construction of a railway from Bairnsdale to the border during the present session of that Parliament. Several surveys have recently been undertaken by the Victorian Railway Department, and three routes from Orbost have been suggested. No. i runs up towards Bonang, through country over which it would be expensive to take a railway, and where it is said that none but a narrow-gauge line could be made, except at great cost. Number 2 route which has found favour with many of the settlers is projected by way of Murrungowar and Mount Ellery. It is said to be rather an expensive route, and only a narrow-gauge line is practicable. There are two other routes, both of which go up the Cann Valley, coming out in New South Wales near Bondi, about seventeen miles lower down than Bombala. Number 3 route represents an attempt to get into the Cann Valley by a direct line. It strikes’ past Club Terrace, and from an engineering point of view is preferable to the other routes described. It would permit of a broad-gauge line with fairly sharp curves and fairly steep grades. The highest elevation crossed is 1,600 feet, the total length from Bairnsdale to the border 141^ miles, and the estimated cost of construction £7,000 per mile. The line finally decided on from Orbost goes by way of Marlo and Sydenham Inlet. Thence it follows the Little River, crossing over the watershed into the Cann, and reaching the border near Bondi in about 142 miles. It is estimated to cost £5,750 per mile.
– What is the estimated cost to the border?
– The total cost of 142 miles at £5,750 per mile would be about £816,000. The facts which I have just given are taken from the reports made by engineers for the Victorian Railways Standing Committee.
– Is any estimate given of the time which the line would take to build?
– It would not take very long. The distance from Bairnsdale to Orbost is 60 or 70 miles, and neither that part nor the part from there to the beginning of the Cann Valley would present much difficulty. It is only when one gets into the valley that the ground begins to rise, and even the gradient up the valley is not very steep. The only difference between route No. 3 and route No. 4 is that instead of going from Orbost direct through Murrungowar into the Cann Valley, the line would run round by the coast, and then turn up to miss the hills. Consequently the argument about the impossibility of constructing a railway through Victoria to the Dalgety site has no weight. In addition, a surveyor, resident in the district, waited last vear upon the Minister of Customs and myself, and showed us a plan of the country with a route marked on it which he said was practicable for a broad gauge line at no great expense, running from Bruthen through Buchan on to Bonang, and thence into New South Wales at Delegate. He stated that that line would be from 30 to 35 miles shorter than a line by Orbost.
– Could not those railway engineers upon whom the honorable member relies have discovered that?
– They could if they had gone by that route, but their investigation was confined to a route through Orbost, the big town in that part of the district, and that took them away towards the coast. The idea was that the line was to be made first to Orbost, where the largest settlement was, and then an outlet to New South Wales could be sought. They were not looking for the most direct route to Dalgety. That gentleman attended to give ev idence with regard to the direct route to Dalgety before the ‘Railways Standing Committee, and pointed out its advantages in giving a shorter journey to the Federal Capital, but the Committee said that they had nothing to do with the Federal Capital in the matter, and had only to consider the question of a railway through Eastern Gippsland. There is no railway difficulty in the matter at all, and if the Capital is’ finally located at Dalgety, it will not be long before Victoria puts a railway through to it. Apart altogether from the Capital site question, the people at Buchan and in the surrounding district have for years been agitating for railway extension, and as the whole of Eastern Gippsland is about the most neglected part of Victoria in that respect, I do not think that railway extensions c’an be denied fo the people there much longer.
– The same as southern New South Wales.
-Yes, the Monaro district has been denied a railway for years, and yet, as the Minister of Customs stated last week, almost all the recent Governments in New South Wales have pledged themselves to extend the railway from Cooma. A Bill actually passed the Legislative Assembly in the last Parliament, but was lost in the Council, providing for an extension of the Cooma railway to Bombala. Nearly every independent visitor to the locality, and every expert, from Mr. Oliver, the New South Wales Commissioner, downwards, has spoken highly as to the suitability of Dalgety for the Federal Capital, and now its advantages and attractions have been admitted by the honorable member for Parkes. With Twofold Bay, it seems to comply with every reasonable requirement of a ‘Capital. It also complies with one of the conditions which the honorable member for North Sydney regarded as indispensable in connexion with a Capital site - that it should be on a line that would form a main line between Melbourne and Sydney. That is what would happen if Dalgety were made the Capital. As to its being a bleak place, the honorable member for North Sydney, who spoke the other night about its want of attractiveness, made the following statements in a speech in this House in 1904 -
We must, however, remember that Australia is a new country, and that the beauties which we admire in other lands are not always - indeed, are not often- due to purely natural features. Many Of the most famous beauty spots have been the creation o f centuries ; and many parts of New South Wales, which look very unpicturesque at the present time, will, in the course of a generation or two, become very different in character, and will possess some of those_ scenic beauties which are to be met with in older lands. For instance, take England itself. I suppose that it would be possible to find thousands of splendid places for a Capital City in England. But the natural features of that country - that is, the formation of the ground - are not grand, are not imposing, speaking generally. I think I am correct in saying that there is not a mountain in the British Isles over 5,000 feet in height. There are very few mountains approaching that altitude. There are no great natural features in the shape of large rivers such as there are in the United States. But cultivation, the growth of trees and hedges, the construction of buildings, and improvements made by one , generation here, and by another generation there, have created many of those beauty spots in England which most attract the visitor to that country. We in Australia can, by the same means, turn many situations which are now not at all picturesque into sites which years hence will display many of the beauties which prove an attraction in older countries. Therefore, scenic beauties, and the presence of grand natural features, have not so much influence upon my mind as they seem to have upon the minds of many honorable members. -And after all, we have to remember that we are a Federal Parliament, and that our public Departments are created for business purposes - to perform important services for the community.
Consequently, any fault that Dalgety may have on the ground of bleakness or absence of trees, can easily be cured. The question of the Federal Capital will be with us, as it was in the United States and in Canada, a vexatious and irritating one until it is settled, but once we determine to adhere to a site, the irritation will cease. I am satisfied that if this House shows that it is not variable, and that it is not likely to change its mind from its two previous decisions in favour of the southern Monaro site, it will be found that the present friction in New South Wales will die away, that the New South, Wales Government and Parliament will accept our decision, and will probably meet us in the same fair spirit as was shown by the late Sir John See after the Federation was inaugurated. If, on the other hand, we change our minds now, or defer the settlement of the question, the irritation will continue, and we shall be open to the charge of wanting to keep the Seat of Government in Melbourne longer than it should be. I have always said that one of the terms upon which Federation was entered into was that the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales, and it is our duty to select a site, and establish the Government there as soon as possible. That this has not been done before cannot be laid to the blame of the Federal Parliament. It is due to the action of the New South Wales Government in refusing to give us a site, or to treat with us in any way for the one that this Parliament selected. If we again select Dalgety, I am satisfied that we shall be carrying out in every way, not only the letter, but also the spirit of the bond.
.- I am not like the honorable member for Gippsland, because when before my con.stitutents I said I was dead against any bush Capital, and I am still of the same opinion. I cannot see why the people of Australia should not be allowed to choose their own Capital. It is argued that it would be necessary to amend the Constitution to bring that about. But we have altered it to change the time of the general elections, and it could be amended in this way just as easily. ‘ It is argued that we need to make the Capital the front door to Australia, but where could there befound a finer front door to Australia than Sydney Harbor - ohe of the finest in theworld, and with some of the finest country on which to build a Capital not far from Sydney, if that is ever wanted, and I donot think it will be. If we chose Melbourne, we should have here a city already built, and Houses pf Parliament fit to legislate in for the next hundred years.
– Where should we get theFederal territory?
– What do we want a Federal territory for? One would think that we were going to make millions of pounds out of it. If by building a Capital we could bring in a lot of money for thepeople of Australia, I could understand it, but if we spent several millions of pounds on it, we should not get a shilling’s worth of return from it. It would be better tospend the money in developing the Northern Territory, from which we should get a big income in the next ten years ; and, having done that, we could tell the people of Australia that we had money to build the Capital with. But, at present, we have not a shilling to spend on a Federal Capital. We are not going to build it with galvanized iron. If it is built at all, it should be built properly, to last for centuries.
– What would it cost to build it in Sydney ?
– We should not want to build it in Sydney. When Federation was inaugurated, it was stated that the cost of government would be lessened, but practically nothing has been done in that direction. We .have too many Parliamentsand too many Governments, and are doing, nothing to lessen the cost of them, although a little has been done in South Australia to that end. It is time we turned our attention to developing Australia, instead of going on with a Capital .site scheme. No country in the world will pay for developing as much as Australia will. We cannot get the people away from the seaboard until we push our railways out. I do not want to say anything about Dalgety. Somuch’ has been said for and against it that I shall be sorry if it gets into the newspapers on the other side of the world, for it will make people think that Australia is abad country. to go to. One South Australiansaid that Dalgety was a splendid country to live out of. The only advantage he- could see about it was that it had plenty of granite with which to build tombstones for legislators. That is not the sort of country to put the Capital in. The honorable member for Parkes has put forward a scheme that would be acceptable to many people, and I am sure that if a vote were taken to-morrow, judging from my own constituency, very few would vote for having a Federal Capital at all. The public are dead against it, and I think rightly so. For four States, at least, it would be much better not to have a “ bush “ Capital. It has been urged that if we establish a “bush” Capital, we shall get away from the influence of the big daily newspapers. Do honorable members imagine that those newspapers will not follow us to the permanent Seat of Government? It would be a very bad thing for Australia if they did not, and if they could not speak freely, irrespective of whether this Parliament were located in a “ bush “ Capital, or any other Capital. We shall always be safe whilst the press is in a position to criticise our actions freely. I shall be no party to endeavouring to escape from press influence. The freedom of the press is synonymous with the freedom of the people. Whatever we may do, I trust that we shall not select the permanent Seat of Government until the will of the people upon this question has been ascertained by means of a referendum. I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes will be carried.
– I cannot see my way to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes. What is its object? Its object, avowedly, is to continue the Seat of Government in Melbourne until the end of 1910, and, thereafter for a period of ten years to establish it in Sydney, also to permit the people of the Commonwealth, during that interval, to make up their minds where in New South Wales the permanent Seat of Government shall be” located.
– It also proposes an amendment of the Constitution.
– But the object of amending the Constitution is merely to allow effect to be given to these proposals. I presume that the idea of the honorable member for Parkes is that the provision which prevents the establishment of the Capital within 100 miles of Sydney shall be retained. My own opinion is that the sooner we face, and definitely determine, this question the better it will be for Australia as a whole. For almost ten years repeated attempts have been made to deal with it. It is not correct to say that we have trifled with the matter. The Parliament, and the present Government, have attempted to deal with it seriously, and in endeavouring to do justice, its settlement has been delayed out of respect to the feelings and opinions of New South Wales.
– I like that.
– It is a fact.
– Nonsense !
– It is a fact, which I can prove. During the past eight years, a good deal of time has been expended in investigating the relative claims of various sites. Even before Federation was accomplished, a Royal Commission was appointed by the New South Wales Government to inquire into and report upon the eligible sites, and from 1901 to 1904 members of this Parliament, Royal Commissions, expert engineers and surveyors have visited different centres in order that they might be-‘ come seized of the fullest possible information regarding them. From 1904 onwards, new sites have been continually submitted, and the delay which has occurred has been entirely due to the fact that honorable members opposite, and the Government of New South Wales, desired us to consider the claims of further rival sites. The delay which took place in 1905 was caused by the action of the leader of the Opposition, who specially asked us to postpone action in reference to the matter, because he alleged that a new and better site had come into view.
– Ten years hence the same claim would be made.
– When I introduced the Seat of Government Bill in 1906, its consideration was postponed because it was claimed on behalf of New South Wales that a new and better site, called Mahkoolma, had been discovered. In deference to the expressions of opinion upon that occasion, further visits were paid to different sites. Honorable members, however, found that Mahkoolma was quite unsuitable for the purposes of a Federal Capital, and it was in connexion with an inspection of that site upon a bright sunny day that they saw Canberra. An appeal was at once made to us to delay the settlement of this question until the merits of the latter place were examined. The right honorable member for Swan, at the instance of honorable members, paid a visit of inspection to Canberra and reported upon that site. The delay was wholly, due to a desire upon our part to consider the claims of New South Wales, or of persons speaking upon her behalf. Now that we are familiar with the merits of the different sites we ask the House to determine this question for all time. But again we are met with a request to defer its settlement for another ten years. Why? Is it because of the fear that Dalgety will be chosen that its opponents desire further delay? Why is it that we seek to establish the permanent Seat of Government outside of Melbourne? It is because we feel that upon no account should it be permanently - or even temporarily, if we can avoid it - located in a centre where Parliament is likely to be subject to the dominating influence of any State. The honorable member for Parkes himself admits that.
– Then the AttorneyGeneral admits that we are dominated by Melbourne influences ?
– No. The honorable member himself corroborates the statement of the honorable member for Parkes. Honorable members urge that inasmuch as State influences dominate this Parliament at the present time, we should remove the Seat of Government to neutral territory, where the only dominating influence will be that of national considerations. Should we get rid of State influences by removing the Seat of Government to Sydney? Certainly not. We should merely transfer this Parliament from the alleged dominating influence of Melbourne to the dominating influence of Sydney. Therefore, I fail to see any advantage that would flow from the adoption of the amendment. Indeed - while I do not for a moment impugn the motives of the honorable member for Parkes - I hold that the carrying of his amendment would only intensify the existing friction. For, almost ten years New South Wales has been continually asking, “ Why does not the Federal Parliament settle this question? It is depriving us of our rights under the Constitution.”
– Is that all that New South Wales has been saying?
– I am merely repeating one of the arguments that has been advanced. New South Wales has said a good many other things through some of her representatives. She has been pressing - and she is justified in pressing - for a settle ment of this question. Yet we are now met with a proposal that its determination shall be postponed for at least ten years.
– Whom does the honorable member think will vote for that proposal ?
– One or two honorable members have expressed themselves in favour of it, and, as the Minister in charge of the Bill, it is my duty to define my attitude towards it. Seeing that New South Wales has so persistently pressed for a settlement of this question, I am not going to do anything to block that settlement. The proper course for us to adopt is to finally determine where the permanent Seat of Government shall be established, to define the Federal territory, to obtain the necessary grant, and to proceed with the laying out of the city as quickly as possible. Even if we acquired the requisite Federal territory to-morrow, a considerable time must elapse before this Parliament could get into its own home. But the sooner we start operations, -the sooner will they be concluded. If honorable members will take the trouble to read the history of the establishment of Washington, they will see that a variety of steps will have to be taken before we can begin the erection of buildings. We shall require to consider an adequate water supply, make contour surveys, determine the exact i locality where the city shall be established, and deal with important engineering questions which must be solved, before a city can be built. In laying out the permanent Seat of Government, all these things should be done wisely and well. If, instead of starting operations as soon as possible, we delay action till 192 1, when shall we reach finality? The amendment, iff adopted, practically means blocking the selection of the Capital for all time.
– At the end of 1921 Brisbane would desire to be the Seat of Government for ten years.
– Exactly ; and justly so. This is not a question of the interests of Sydney or Melbourne, or of New South Wales or Victoria, but of the interests of Australia. There is not the slightest doubt that so long as we legislate in a State Capital there will be a feeling of unrest and suspicion in the distant States against the legislation that we enact. That is my experience, and I hold that that suspicion already exists, and will continue to exist until this question is decided. I do hope that the amendment will be rejected, and that we shall proceed with all speed to establish, the Seat of Government for the Commonwealth .
– I seconded the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes, and, in reply to the criticism of the Attorney-General, I wish to say that I did not do so because of any feeling of antipathy towards Dalgety as the site of the permanent Seat of Government. .Indeed, if it comes to a vote upon the question of a site, I intend to support Dalgety. I am not satisfied that that site is by any means the best’ which might be obtained, but if the matter be pressed to a division, I shall vote for it in the light of the knowledge which I possess. I scarcely think that the Attorney-General stated the exact purport of the amendment. Its object is not to prevent the selection of a site. I think that we should determine that as early as possible, but I am distinctly averse - and I venture ‘to think that a very large percentage of the people of the Commonwealth share my feelings - to a large expenditure being incurred upon the buildi’ng of a Federal Capital at the present juncture. I seconded the amendment because I feel that, having entered into a compact to grant the Seat of Government to New South Wales, we ought - seeing that we are not in a financial position to at once enter upon the building of the future city - to adopt the next best alternative, and “as the Parliament has sat for a considerable time in Melbourne, to be prepared to pay New South Wales the compliment of meeting for, a certain number of years in Sydney.
– But surely the interests of Australia are entitled to be considered. It is not a question of whether we ought to pay a compliment to New South Wales.
– It is not a question of the interchange ‘of compliments between the two principal States, but of the welfare of the whole of Australia. We know that the selection of the- national Capital in the United States of America and in Canada excited a great deal of hostile feeling and ill-will. It is for that reason and because in many of the speeches which we have heard, the provincial note seems to be the key-note of the discussion of this question, that I take the course I do.
– Had we not better settle the question of the site now?
– With all due respect to the Attorney-General I am inclined to think that when feeling runs as high as it does now the settlement might be influenced by narrow views, and it is better that we should postpone the selection of the site until people have returned to their right minds. I venture to say that in this matter ‘even the Attorney-General is not. altogether in his right mind or he would not urge the settlement of the question at a time when provincial feeling runs so high.
– It is the tired feeling that we are beginning to suffer from now.
– It should not be overlooked that a very large number of important proposals which must occupy our attention in the immediate future involve the expenditure of very large sums of money. In a new country such as this all national expenditure should be for the purpose of development, and how can it be said that the establishment of a costly set of buildings in some remote place in the interior of the country would be a work of development ?
– Has the honorable member considered the cost of the transfer of Parliament and the various Government Departments to Sydney, the cost of providing new Houses of Parliament there and new public offices?
– I am aware that that would involve considerable expenditure, but it would be a mere fleabite compared with the expenditure which would have to be incurred in setting up the Federal’ Capital at Canberra or Dalgety. Of two evils we ought to choose the lesser, and from every point of view it would be more advantageous at present to have the Seat of Government located in one of the capitalcities of the Commonwealth than to have it fixed in some remote place. There would be more danger of the passing of unwise legislation in an out-of-the-way place than in any city where legislatorsmight attend to other business than that of Parliament.
– That ma.y be all very well for Victorians, but what about members from the other States?
– In the case of members from the other States nearly all their timeis occupied in attending to their parliamentary business.
– No one is justified ininferring that I am taking a narrow Victorian view of this question. I am endeavouring to take a broad view of it, and- I say that in the interests of States other than Victoria and New South Wales, we- should defer the settlement of this question until we are able to decide it on sounder lines than are likely to be followed when provincial feeling is as high as it appears to be at. the present time. I seconded the amendment for these reasons, and in fulfilment of my election pledges. The great mass of the people in ‘the constituency I represent are opposed to the expenditure of large sums of money on the establishment of a Federal Capital. I am satisfied that if the people of Australia as a whole were polled on this question their decision would be entirely against any such expenditure until we have carried out such schemes of development as will enable us in due time to establish the Federal Capital on broad and sound lines.
– I have to apologize for wasting the time of the House. I do so because I believe that we should apologize for saying anything on this question, since it deals with a matter which has been definitely settled, or which the people of Australia thought had been settled. Now we are asked to again begin the consideration of the question, and to argue it from the provincial stand-point. We are told that it would be advisable to postpone the selection of the site until the existing feeling has passed, and everything becomes nice and quiet. I do not believe that there is any feeling on the part of the people of Australia with respect to the location of the Federal Capital. I know that my constituents do not care where it is established so long as it is where a majority of the members of the Federal Parliament think it ought to be located. I believe that the people of New South Wales view the question in the same way. No doubt a number of electors in Sydney are influenced by a particular feeling in the matter, but not nearly so many as might appear from the arguments which some honorable members have submitted in this House.
– If Dalgety were chosen, would the honorable member do what he could to give the choice immediate effect?
– Yes, I am not one to waste time once the selection is made. Prior to Federation, I was a resident of Sydney for five years, and when it became apparent that Federation was likely to be brought about, many people there began to be apprehensive that some great injury would be done to the commerce of Sydney. It was said that Sydney would lose this and that trade if the Federal Capital were ‘not established there. That was the opinion of some of the people of Sydney, not of the people of New South Wales. What has been the result? I left Sydney in 1897 or 1898, and was there again in 1900, when I found that the city had not progressed very much. But/ since Federation, statistics show that the population of the city has been increased by 100,000, and one has only to visit Sydney now to see that the business done there is greater than ever before, and the place has become so congested that some improved means of getting people backwards and forwards between the suburbs and the city must shortly be adopted. I am surprised that the people of Sydney should be influenced by any such feeling as is attributed to them. It is quite impossible for the representatives of Victoria or of any other State to injure Sydney in the slightest degree. New South Wales and Sydney must progress in spite of any interference from this or from any other place. The representatives of some New South Wales constituencies remind me of a man trying to sell fish, and, instead of crying “ Fish alive, oh,” telling his customers that his fish are not only dead, but stinking. That is what some New South Wales representatives are doing in dealing with this question. The people of Victoria have no thought of interfering in any way with New South Wales, and 1 have said that, if they have, they could not succeed. Why should -we not approach the consideration of this question from the point of view, not merely of the people of Victoria or of New South Wales, but of the whole Commonwealth?
– It is only fair to say that up to date there has scarcely been a Victorian who has spoken who has not trounced Sydney and its statesmen.
– I attach no weight to that. If honorable members went to a football match in Victoria, such, for instance, as that of last Saturday, between Carlton and Essendon, they would hear supporters of either team howling at the other, but do honorable members think that on that account the people of Carlton distrust or dislike the people of Essendon ? Decidedly not. In the same way, honorable members who say hard things of each other here have no ill-feeling one towards the other when they leave this chamber. There is a natural commercial rivalry between all large cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and even between the parts of
Melbourne on opposite sides of the river Yarra. I have lived in both Sydney and Melbourne, and I do not believe that the feeling which is spoken of really exists.
– If the honorable member means outside this House, I agree with him.
– I read a letter the other day in one of the newspapers, I forget . which, which made me marvel greatly. The writer suggested that if a man went from Melbourne to Sydney to look for work, and it was known that he came from Melbourne he would not get work. That is sheer nonsense, and the most foolish statement I ever read. I had exactly the opposite experience. When I went to Sydney it was because I came from Melbourne that I got work. We knew that the compact which was made had to be carried out. But let me say that I believe that the people of Sydney are trying to assert themselves in the settlement of the site for the Federal Capital.
– There the honorable member is, after all the nice things he has said.
– I also believe that the newspapers encourage the same kind of feeling in Melbourne. Why do I say that the people of Sydney are trying to assert themselves in this matter? It is because during the last eighteen months for political purposes the State Government, with a view to defeating a certain political party, have made this great question one of Federation or anti-Federation. I am not saying that the great newspapers published in Sydney are any more onesided than are those published in Melbourne. No one need throw the Age at me, because the Agehas never supported me.
– That is very much in the honorable member’s favour; but the Age is the most provincial newspaper published in Australia.
– It may be, butI cannot help that. I say that at the last State election held in New South Wales an endeavour was made to arouse in the people of Sydney a certain amount of antagonism to Melbourne. I do not say that any such feeling exists to-day, and certainly there should be no attempt to engender it in this House. In anteFederation days there was a feeling that Federation would be harmful to New South Wales, and especially to Sydney, un less the Federal Capital was established nearer to Sydney than to Melbourne. I am one of those who think that no harm will follow to New South Wales, no matter where it is established, nor do I think that it would benefit Victoria if it were established on the border between the two States. I should like to refer to a matter mentioned by the honorable member for Coolgardie. The honorable member made no bare assertion, because he quoted from the utterances of Sir J. H. Carruthers and from the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The Daily Telegraph published the statement that New South Wales would lose revenue which she would otherwise receive, if the Capital were not established in that State. What a selfish way to look at the matter. I was surprised that the newspaper should have printed such a statement. However, it was made upon consideration, because it was calculated that in course of time the loss would amount to £250,000 a year, if by any possibility the Federal Capital had! access to the sea through Federal territory. That is one of those selfish ways of looking at the matter with which I do not charge the people of New South Wales. I believe that, in common with most of us, they want to have the question settled. The Constitution enacts that the Capital shall be in New South Wales, and there it shall be as far as my vote is concerned. As soon as the matter is settled by this Parliament, I do not intend to play with it any further. Notwithstanding that we have been told that we have no money to undertake the necessary works, I believe that Australia is not so poverty-stricken that she cannot carry out all that is necessary. My vote shall be cast in favour of Dalgety, not because it is nearer to Melbourne than is Canberra, but because I believe it to be the best place. The possibilities of water supply in and around Southern Monaro are so great as to place that site far above any other site that has been under consideration. I have not had so many opportunities of visiting the principal suggested Capital sites as have other honorable members. I only went to two of the picnics, at one of which I was kept without any food for twenty-six hours. I am an individual who likes his breakfast just as well as does his next door neighbour, and I trust that if Iam again taken around looking for a Capital site, or for any other purpose, the commissariat will be managed somewhat better. On one of the visits which I made, a little parcel was placed on board, and we were told that it contained champagne. We became so hungry that we were inclined to broach it, but when we reached the end of the journey we found the parcel consisted of baby’s underclothing. I have had opportunities of visiting only Canberra, Dalgety, and Tooma. Of the three, 1 should prefer Tooma, but I must admit that we might as well place the Capital in Victoria as there. I fear that it would be breaking the Constitution in spirit to adopt Tooma, and, therefore, shall not vote in that direction.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that it is not breaking the spirit of the Constitution to vote for Dalgety?
– No. If I thought so, I should not vote for Dalgety. It is far enough away from Melbourne, and as near to Sydney as is any other suggested site from the point of view of doing good to the chief town of New South Wales. If it were a couple of hundred miles nearer, it would not do the Sydney people any more good. There are many reasons why the question should be settled at once, and why Southern Monaro should be chosen. Therefore, I shall vote for Dalgety with the promise to those who think otherwise that the moment the matter is settled, I shall be quite willing, to cast my vote with the object of having the work proceeded with immediately.
.- Like the honorable member who has preceded me, I am entirely of the belief that the feeling which has been engendered between New South Wales and Victoria is largely due to matters not intimately connected with the people at all. Amongst these influences, in my opinion, is the attitude of one of the great daily newspapers - centred in Melbourne - to wit, the Age - which has conducted a campaign of constant mendacity and abuse against Victoria’s northern neighbour. Such a line of conduct should not avail against any State’s progress. I am quite with the honorable member in that. But I will go a stage further, and say that, in my opinion, the strongest influence in Australia to-day towards settling the Federal Capital in such an entirely unsuitable place as Dalgety lies within the editorial chambers of the “Melbourne daily press. I say so for this reason. Every honorable member knows that the press nowadays is a commercial undertaking run from business motives ; and the Melbourne newspapers, when the Federal Parliament lea,ves Melbourne, and they have to report proceedings from the Federal Capital, will have their expenses of reporting, &c, very largely increased. Indeed, my inquiries lead me to believe that the increased cost of reporting the proceedings of Parliament in any place outside Melbourne would, for a newspaper like the Age, amount to a sum of £1,500 a year.
– Does the honorable member think that that consideration would affect the Age?
– I think that the Age has such a “ lofty “ purpose in view that even the expenditure of sixpence of its own money would affect it ; and when we have it that £1,500 a year would be involved, we have an opportunity of judging how far that newspaper is capable of being influenced by so large a sum. Let honorable members consider what this means.
– The honorable member must not forget that invention costs money.
– It does not cost much to the Age; not even the saving grace of shame.
– What has this to do with the matter?
– To honorable members who have taken a close interest in this subject, and have endeavoured to ascertain the views of their fellow members, it is well known that there is a considerable number of honorable members who will vote for Dalgety at the initial stage - not “because that selection is in conformity with their own predilections and views, but because of the fear that self-interested Melbourne newspapers have succeeded in engendering that if we succeed in striking Dalgety from this Bill it will result in putting in a site which tRey like no better than Dalgety, even though they like Dalgety less than their own real choice, for the purposes of a Federal Capital. How many honorable members are there not who. if they had a free hand to-morrow, would vote for Tooma in preference to Dalgety? How many honorable members are there, even on this side of the House, who will vote for Dalgety at this initial stage, and for preventing a reopening of the question of the best site, because the press of this city has constantly made it appear that the selection of Dal- gety would never be acceptable to New South Wales, and the site never be granted by that State? In this way it is hoped that the selection of Dalgety will insure Melbourne remaining indefinitely the Seat of Government of Australia. But for this influence, we should not have so many honorable members voting for putting the Capital in such a hopelessly miserable situation as Dalgety. It is on account of that attitude that many of us approached the consideration of the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes with considerable caution. I say with the utmost humiliation that I am so bigoted, so abased, so blind a provincialist as to imagine that if we had a free choice to select, Sydney would be the best place for the Capital of Australia. I confess that with all the shame of which I am capable. . But, Mr. Speaker, I will add that I know well that if the honorable member for Parkes could carry his amendment, and the Government, in view of the mandate which the amend-, ment carried with it, were to bring down a Bill for the alteration of the Constitution to enable the Capital to be established in Sydney for ten years, until the matter was definitely decided, there are other honorable members in this House who would say, “ If this contract, for which the New South Wales members are trustees for their people, fellow trustees with the other members of this House for Australia is to be varied, let us wipe it out altogether.” I would venture to appeal to the honorable member for Bendigo, and ask him whether he himself would not move to have such action taken?
– Hear, hear; certainly.
– Now we are faced with this position. If the honorable member for Parkes carries his amendment in this House, some one else will move an amendment which cannot fail to make Melbourne for all time the Capital of Australia. I ask any sane observer of the proceedings of this House for the last five or six years whether such a proposal on Melbourne’s behalf would not be likely to becarried. If the Constitution be once tinkered with in this respect, it is all over. For my part, I prefer to follow the only course which I think is now open to the New South Wales representatives, and that is : - having warned this House and the people of Australia of the entire unsuitability of
Dalgety as a site for the Federal Capital, and having also protested as to the failure of that site to comply with the spirit of the Federal bond - having urged all those considerations until we can do no more - I, as a representative of New South Wales, am prepared now to turn round and say : “ Let these people now show their bona fides, and, having made their choice “of a site, place sums of money on the Estimates for the purpose of building forthwith the Capital.” Let us have no more of these miserable subterfuges. We have had the AttorneyGeneral saying that there are so many matters to be considered, and so many steps to be taken, that even if Dalgety be chosen, and meet with the acceptance of New South Wales, it must be many years before we can have the city established there. Let us show the hypocrisy of these people.
– The Attorney-General said it would take considerable time to complete the surveys and make preliminary arrangements.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs last week held out a pronounced bait of the nature that I have described, and the Attorney-General said today that if we confirmed the choice of Dalgety and received the assent of New South Wales, it would be a matter of years and years before we could have the Seat of Government established at the Federal Capital.
– He meant in relation to the erection of the permanent buildings.
– I listened -to the speech carefully, and understood it to mean that it would be years before we could settle the preliminaries. We can put up permanent buildings in a year or two.
– How would it do to make Parliament perambulatory, spending a certain number of years in one State and then moving on to another?
– Personally, as a federalist, I am not anxious to show the outlying States exactly the nature of this Parliament. We were told that we were to live in the higher and rarer atmosphere of national politics. It may, be my fault, but I have not yet become cognisant of that higher and . rarer atmosphere.
– I never heard any one say that we were going to live in such an atmosphere, but that we had hope that we should.
– I am afraid that my honorable friend must have given up all hope in that direction, because I have seen more provincial feeling during the last tew years in this House than one can find exhibited in any of the States Parliaments of Australia. However, I do not wish to enter into a by-path. I have not risen to debate the demerits of Dalgety. That has been done ad nauseam. I am firmly convinced that it is about as unsuitable a site as could be chosen for the purposes of the Capital. I believe that it is being chosen by a majority of this House, not because they think it is the best site, but because it is believed that the choice of Dalgety means hanging up the settlement of the Federal Capital question. I, therefore, say that it is the duty of the New South Wales members now to take all steps possible - even if they go to extreme lengths - to insure, as far as they can, that the Government shall forthwith build the Federal Capital wherever this Parliament locates it. I have no doubt in my own mind that the State Government will adopt the only wise course in these circumstances, and will say to the Commonwealth Parliament, “ Here you have 100 square miles ; so much we give to you. We will take a friendly action before the High Court to decide how much more you are entitled to take.” I believe that the State Government will adopt that wise course, and then I think that we should demand from the Federal Government
– Who is “we”?
– I admit that the only person who has a right to speak in any positive sense as to what Ministers will do is the leader of the Labour Party. I do not profess to be able to share with him the terrible compulsion which he exercises over the present Government, but I am quite convinced that if New South Wales and its representatives adopt the attitude which I think is thecorrect one to take, and which I have forecasted, we shall see taken from the Government the last shreds of pretence of anxiety to settle the question of the Capital site.
.- I cannot quite agree with the honorable member for Wentworth in the opinion which he has expressed regarding Victorian members. My faith in human nature is such that I cannot believe that they are as black as he has painted them. I see nothing strange in this intolerable delay, in this bickering which is going on in connexion with the selection of a site. We know that history repeats itself. Exactly the same thing occurred in relation to the selection of a site for the Capital of the United States. In its early days, Congress traversed the country on wheels, most laboriously. It went from town to town in carrying out its legislative duties, until at last it became evident to its members that they should have somewhere a permanent home, and then it was that the contest between the various States began. There was this little difference though, that every State in the Union was only too glad to offer to the Congress land on which to build the city. The various States offered different sites; New York offered Kingston; Rhode Island, Newport ; Maryland, Annapolis ; and Virginia, Williamsburg. It was thought that the question was about to be finally settled. Three commissioners were appointed, and instructed to select a site and map out a city, but Bill after Bill was passed making alterations and reservations, and still the fight went on. The States of the north were pulling against the States of the south. In those days the same arguments were used as have been used here to-day. The question as to the advisableness of having a Capital in the wilderness was fully argued in Congress. So, too, was the question as to whether it was wise to establish Congress in a city where commercial interests were paramount. The fight went on, until finally the matter was settled, as many legislative questions are settled ‘to-day, over a bottle of wine and a well-laid table. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton, two Secretaries of State, met in a street. They recognised that some compromise should be effected. They dined together, compromises were agreed to, and the Capital at last became a fact.
– Is that what Gertrude Atherton said about it?
– No. I have been quoting from a book written by Mary Clemmer Ames, and entitled Ten years in Washington, or Life and Scenes in the National Capital as a woman sees them. I can strongly recommend to honorable members the volume, which contains a quantity of very useful information, and may be seen in the Library. The fact remains that it took years to build the city. After the Declaration of Independence, ten years passed before it was decided where the city was to be established. After the site of the city was definitely settled on the banks of the Potomac, another period of ten years passed before a single stone was laid. Then, at last, the building of the Capital was started, and even after the city was occupied, a considerable time elapsed before it became one which could be looked upon with any pride. It was not until 1 88 1 that the Capital of the United States became anything like the city which it is to-day- I followed very carefully the speech made by the Attorney-General when he moved the second reading of this Bill. Although it was a magnificent example of special pleading, still it did not convince me in the slightest degree. He divided his speech into four heads, namely, the constitutional question, the compact, the delay in acquiring the site, and the suitability of site. I do not intend to go very fully into the matter. I am not accustomed, as many of our leading members are, to dealing properly with nice points of law ; but, speaking as a layman, I can see no doubt on the question. Let me refer you, sir, to a report which was made at the request of the late Attorney-General for New South Wales, Mr. B. R. Wise, by Mr. Alexander Oliver, who was then President of its Land Appeal Court. The correspondence was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, on the 29th November, 1900. Mr. Wise asked Mr. Oliver to express his opinion -
As to the relation of the State which has to part with territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, which is empowered to acquire such territory, and particularly whether the Commonwealth can, constitutionally, acquire such territory without the concurrence of the State in which it is situated, and independently of the Parliament of that State.
I think that it is rather interesting, at this juncture, to quote Mr. Oliver, who offered his opinion “ without political bias or predilection of any kind.” - a perfectly unprejudiced lawyer, if such a thing is possible. He says -
It has been broadly contended by some who presumably have studied the subject that not only is the determination of the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth vested exclusively in the Federal Parliament, but that the Commonwealth is the authority constituted’ and empowered by statute to acquire, of its own motion, and without consulting or awaiting any offers by the Parliament of New South Wales, so much of the territory of that State as may be required for the establishment of the Seat of Government.
That is the argument which was advanced in this debate by the Attorney-General. Mr.
Oliver refers us to section 125 of the Constitution, which deals with the granting or acquiring of the territory. He points out that the framers of our Constitution were evidently guided by the Constitution of the United States, which contains this provision -
The Congress /shall have power -
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district (not exceeding 10 miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of Government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be,’ for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and1 other buildings ; and
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution, the foregoing powers.
That article distinctly shows, I think, that it is necessary for New South Wales to make an offer of the lands to the Commonwealth Parliament before the latter can take them over.
– Does not that quotation prove that in the absence of a similar “provision from our Constitution, there is nosuch rule?
– No; it goes to prove that if the framers of the Constitution had intended that we should have the right toannex this territory from New South Wales, without its consent, they would have placed such a provision clearly and distinctly in the Constitution. But nothing is said about the matter, and therefore I think that we must take it for granted that as the Constitution was framed on the lines of the American Constitution, we should be guided to a great extent by the latter.
– The honorable member will see that in our Constitution it was left an open question.
– Of course we have the right ultimately to acquire the land by purchase, but that is a step which I think we, as a Parliament, would be extremely loath to take.
– The Constitution saysthat we may acquire it.
– I think that in this relation the word “ acquire “ in section 125 relates to the private properties which we have to take over, and the word! “ grant “ to those portions of Crown lands which are to be granted to us.
– Does it not impose upon New South Wales a constitutional obligation to grant the land which we fix upon as the site?
– That is a question which I think the High Court alone can settle.
– Iwanted to hear the honorable member’s opinion.
– My opinion perhaps is not so valuable as the honorable member’s, and therefore I hesitate to advance it. Summing up his argument, Mr. Oliver says -
The constititional position may be thus stated : -
The Parliament of New South Wales is the accredited constitutional authority to offer to surrender one or more suitable sites within New South Wales to the Commonwealth for the establishment of the Seat of Government.
If any such offer be rejected by the Commonwealth, the Parliament of New South Wales is entitled to make a fresh offer or offers.
If no agreement can be arrived at between the State and the Federal Parliament, or if the State Parliament declines to make any offer of territory, a reserve power is vested in the Federal Parliament in the last resource of legislating for the purpose of compulsorily appropriating on just terms a suitable site for the Seat of Government.
That was the opinion of Mr. Alexander Oliver, who, in 1900, was the President of the Land Appeal Court of New South Wales, and who, I think, may be looked upon as an authority on this subject.
– He was a lawyer of eminence, and had been parliamentary draftsman for many years.
- Mr. Oliver concludes in these terms -
Those who propose to thrust aside the Parliament of New South Wales in the determination of the site for the Seat of Government on the ground that the Federal Parliament has the exclusive and unconditional power of deciding, will certainly fail to discover in the Constitution any express grant of such an extraordinary power, and the contention based on “ necessary implication “ rests, as has been shown, on the frailest and most unsubstantial of foundations.
I should now like to quote the opinion of one who, I think honorable members will agree with me, is a still more eminent lawyer, and one before whom this matter may have ultimately to go.’ I allude to Mr. Justice Barton. When he spoke the words I am about to read, he had not become influenced by his Victorian surroundings, as, I regret to say, he did later.
As reported in Hansard, he said here on the 19th July, 1901 -
Honorable members will see from the way I have dealt with this matter that there is no prejudgment as to sites on the part of the Government. This territory is no doubt to be ultimately selected by the Federal Parliament from such land as shall be offered to it by New South Wales.
– Was not the Dalgety site offered?
– The only sites which have been offered to us by the New South Wales Parliament are the Tumut,Yass, and Lyndhurst sites. I admit that the Dalgety site was included in the Bombala area offered by the See Government.
– Have not the Crown lands round it and the other sites named been reserved from alienation?
– That may be so; but the only offer of which we can take notice is that of the Parliament of the State. Mr. Justice Barton continued -
I think the Constitution itself contemplates that the offer shall be made under any circumstances by New South Wales, and any action, beyond the acceptance of one of the offers made is not intended to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, except as a last resource. That I feel secure about. But I do not think we need fear great difficulties on that point, when we consider how ready that State has been, so they can see that the Government of New South Wales is willing to offer further areas beyond those mentioned in the Commissioner’s report. It has asked our opinion upon that subject, and we have replied that we think it is for New South Wales to make the offers in the first instance, and that we shall be ready to receive any such offers.
Is New South Wales being treated by us in the fair spirit in which the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth thought she would be treated? Far from it. On the 29th April, 1899, speaking in Sydney, at a meeting at which the right honorable member for East Sydney was also present, he said -
I am perfectly satisfied that the Federal Capital will be fixed in such a place that Sydney will be the trading port. They should not lose any of their trade. If the Capital were an insignificant place, or if it were a growing place, attracting money and men from all parts of Australia, then Sydney as its port would get the benefit of that.
The leader of the Oppositionwas then fresh from the Premiers’ Conference, and what had transpired there was fixed firmly, in his mind. He 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 100-miles limit.
Then, speaking in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, on the AddressinReply to the Governor’s speech, on the 21st February, 1899, when the right honorable member for East Sydney was Colonial Treasurer of the State, Mr. Justice, then Mr. Barton, said -
If the Capital is a little more than 100 miles from Sydney it will still be within a 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 last phrase covers everything.
– Any place near the 100-miles limit would be within reasonable distance from Melbourne. I shall not support the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes, because I believe the compact respecting the Capital to be part and parcel of the Constitution. It is that provision which brought about Federation, and we ‘have no right to submit to a referendum any proposed amendment of the fundamental conditions to which the people assented. I shall oppose any alteration of the provision which embodies the compact which induced the people of New South Wales to enter the Union. It was never supposed that the Capital would be located so far from Sydney as Dalgety is.
– Does not the honorable member think that Sydney would be a better site?
– I hold certain views as to the undesirability of the Capital being in one of the large cities. Besides, the compact having been made, we should give effect to it, whatever that may cost us, and I shall do my utmost to have it carried out. The Attorney-General spoke about the delays which have occurred. I am satisfied that if the present leader of the Opposition had remained Prime Minister, this question would have been settled. The right honorable gentleman showed that he had an open mind, and that, although he was not in favour of Dalgety, he, as Prime Minister, was prepared to abide by the decision of t.Parliament, and do his best to carry it into effect. And, because of that attitude, the Minister of Trade and Customs made a most unfair attack on him the other night. I ask the leader of the Labour
Party whether ha considers it fair on the part of the Minister of Trade and Customs to so attack the leader of the Opposition ?
– I did not hear any attack.
– The action of the Minister of Trade and Customs was most uncalled for, and most unjust ; and the only excuse I can find for him is that he was not in his usual health at the time. As to the suitability of the site, I may say that, when I visited Dalgety, it was summer, and the climate at the time was very pleasant. But I used my eyes, noting the nature and quality of the soil, and making inquiries as to the number of sheep the country carried; and I came to the conclusion that it was hardly a land flowing with milk and honey; but on the contrary, a somewhat barren territory. I noticed that a number ot the houses! were propped up, and that the trees sloped in one direction, indicating strong winds at certain seasons. A squatter of the district, who drove me round, informed me that his homestead was in a gully, where it could not be seen from the road ; and, as in New South Wales I had been accustomed to see homesteads on the slopes, and even on the tops of the -hills. I asked him the reason, The reply was, “It is very cold, and the winds are very strong, and we have to build in a sheltered position.” For various reasons, I came to the conclusion that Dalgety is not a place in which I should like to spend a winter, and, if that is so in the case of New South Wales members, like myself, how much more would Queensland members feel the severity of the climate? A good deal has been said about the healthiness of the district; but it may be that only healthy people can live there; it does not follow that because a man lives to a great age his place of residence is particularly healthy. It may simply show that he is a very strong man ; and the probability is that in Dalgety it is a case of the survival of the fittest. I should like to draw attention to the way in which the case for Dalgety has been bolstered up or “barracked” for - if I may be permitted to use the term - by the Sydney Bulletin. Some time ago, when the question was under discussion, I was favoured with a postcard, on which appeared the following
The Bulletin asks Mr. Liddell, M.P., to hesitate before giving a provincial vote against Dalgety, the only possible Australian Capital.
This bore the signature of Mr. J. Edmonds, the editor ; and I should like to call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the methods adopted by the conductors of this print. The postcard bears several photographs. The first is a photograph of Cotter Creek, and underneath appear the words -
The water supply of Premier Wade’s proposed Capital at Canberra. Taken in the middle of the stream quarter of a mile above the junction with the Murrumbidgee Compare this with any of the following views of the Snowy River at the source, the Snowy River above Dalgety.
The first picture is evidently taken by an unknown amateur with a cheap camera, it is unsigned, very indistinct and altogether a poor specimen of the art ; and yet we are asked to compare that photograph with the other views, which bear the signature of Mr. Kerry, of Sydney, one of the first photographers in the Commonwealth. Comparisons, under any circumstances, are odious; and the comparison we are asked to make is both unfair and unjust. On the postcard are a series of comments - one to the effect that Dalgety is amongst the sites reserved by the State Government of New South Wales as the possible location of the Capital.
– The honorable member contradicted that a moment ago.
– What I said was that it was not the State Legislature, but the State Government, which had offered the site; the only sites offered by the Legislature being Yass, Tumut, and Lyndhurst. The postcard also informs us that this is a splendidly healthy climate if the deathrate be any criterion. On this point I may say that I believe that hydatids, a most painful and horrible complaint, is prevalent in the Dalgety district. According to the evidence of a medical officer of health given before the Royal Commission, there is a good number of cases.
– There are many in Melbourne, too.
– It was in Victoria, unfortunately, the disease started. This evidence of the medical officer proves that the water supply is contaminated, because it is by means of the drinking supply that hydatids are spread.
– But only by stagnant water, not running water.
– By drinking water generally, though more probably from pools than from running water. The next statement on the postcard is that there is plenty of water there to produce electricity, and so on, and that, with this cheap power available, the future Capital site is capable of becoming a great manufacturing centre. But we do not desire a huge manufacturing centre; what we are seeking is a legislative centre. One of the great advantages of life in the Federal Capital should be freedom from the constant hum of wheels and the whirr of machinery. If it were a manufacturing city, we should have there a number of people interested in trade, with the result that the Tariff question would be a neverending one. It is much better that we should have an entirely administrative city wholly free from factories. The Bulletin post-card then proceeds to set out a. number of arguments in favour of Dalgety, to all of which we are asked to give our attention. A further point made is that the creation of a city in the Monaro district would be a strong incentive to the completion of the Gippsland railway. This argument enables me to understand why so many representatives of Victoria, and more particularly the honorable member for Gippsland, favour the selection of Dalgety. What they desire is to see an extension of the present line to Bairnsdale,’ with the result that the trade of the Federal Capital would go almost entirely to Melbourne, instead of to Sydney,
– Melbourne is welcome to the lot of it. What there will be will not keep a small family.
– I come now to the question of the advantages of Eden as a port. Comparing them with those of Sydney Harbor and Jervis Bay, I find that Eden is very much in the background. Its port is open to all the winds that blow, and to provide a safe anchorage it would be necessary to dredge it, and to erect breakwaters, involving great expense. There is one site that has not yet been brought before this Parliament, although I think it should have been. I refer to a site situated anywhere within the neighbourhood of the Hunter River. The cheers of honorable members may be ironical, , but I am not alone in my opinion. I have at least one supporter of my proposal, and I hope, before I resume my seat, to capture many more. What is the aim of the Labour Party? Have they not in view a grand’ scheme of nationalization? And where would they find a better opportunity to give effect to their scheme than they would secure if the Commonwealth acquired the whole of the magnificent coal-fields that lie in the Hunter district? . We should see something like a scheme of nationalization if the millions of tons of coal lying there were entirely under the control of” the Commonwealth.
– That might mean chimney stacks, and I understand that the honorable member objects to chimney stacks at Dalgety.
– The honorable member must have a very small mind if he imagines that I propose to set the Federal city on top of a coal mine. My proposal is that it should be established on one of the most beautiful sites in Australia - on the hills at some distance from the coal mines ; and I am pointing out that there is >no reason why those mines should not be “brought within the Federal area. The Hunter River district, viewed from the stand-point of health, is a magnificent locality. A man recently travelled all the way from Dalgety to tell the Minister of Trade and Customs that he had come to Australia as a consumptive; that he had lived at Dalgety far twelve years; that during that time he had never worn an overcoat ; and that he was still hale and hearty. As a matter of fact, I went through an English winter with its snow,and did not wear an overcoat. If honorable members need an illustration of the healthiness of the Hunter district, I need only refer them to the town clerk of Maitland, who is eighty-five years of age, and is still doing his work. ‘ He was born in the district, and has never worn a top coat. As to the question of accessibility, there can be no doubt. The northern line passes through the district, and there is now being constructed the north-coast railway, which will cut right through it. Then, again, if honorable members desired a port, they would have no difficulty in securing one. Newcastle, I believe, is within the roo-miles limit as it appears on the map, but I am doubtful whether that limit has been properly laid down. It has been drawn as the crow flies, although in New South Wales we are accustomed to measure distances according to means of communication. Under such a system, the port of Newcastle is more than 100 miles from Sydney.
– Then the people of New South Wales measure as the boomerang flies ?
– It is a roundabout method ; but it is the law of the State. If honorable members were not satisfied with
Newcastle, Port Stephens would be open to them, and it is certainly one of the finest harbors on the coast. There the navy to be constructed for the Commonwealth might lie in safety, and be well protected from foreign cruisers. If this question be not definitely settled now, I shall ask that a report be obtained as to the possibility of establishing the Capital somewhere near the banks of the Hunter, to the north of Newcastle.
– It is a terrible place for mosquitoes.
– There may be mosquitoes on the river, but the high lands can boast of a nice equable climate that should satisfy any one. I think that this question ought to be speedily settled. The people of New South Wales wish it to be dealt with finally at the earliest moment, and I am prepared to give my vote and to do all that I can to have it settled at the first opportunity.
.- Although during the last seven years we have annually had a discussion on a Bill relating to the Federal Capital, I have possessed my soul in patience and have refrained from speaking on this question. But for the extraordinary development brought about bv the honorable member for Parkes I should not have spoken to-night. The honorable member desires to amend the terms of the bargain drawn up by the Premiers, and which did not suit the people of any State other than New South Wales. He is not satisfied that New South Wales should have all the ultimate advan.tages of the Federal Capital ; he desires that that very small part for which Victoria asked at the Conference - the fixing of the Seat of Government at Melbourne pending the establishment of the Federal Capital - shall be taken from her, and that the Constitution shall be so amended as to make Sydney the Seat of Government for the next ten years. If the honorable member desires to throw the whole Constitution into the melting pot I do not mind. But for the parochial feeling displayed, not by the people of New South Wales - a majority of those who voted at the first referendum having already accepted the Bill - but by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was then Premier of that State, the Capital might have been established in any part of Australia, and in that event I should have been quite willing to agree to a proposal that the final decision should be left, as in the first Constitution Bill, to the GovernorGeneral. We have been told that hydatids are .prevalent at Dalgety, and that t the Hunter River site is afflicted with mosquitoes, whilst we know that Sydney is almost permanently infected with plague. That seems unfortunate for those three show places of New South Wales. I have no doubt that there are better places in Australia, which would be selected if it were open to the Australian people to decide, free from the restrictions imposed in the Constitution. If the honorable member for Parkes wants to go back on his bargain, and to take away from Victoria such small rights as she now has, so that instead of Melbourne being the Seat of Government until the Federal Capital is instituted, it shall only remain so for another two years, and Sydney be the Seat of Government for ten years after that, he may rest assured that the rest of the Australian people would be quite ready to go back to the original terms of the Constitution Bill, which all the States, including New South Wales itself, accepted, but which was unfortunately amended as the result of a secret Conference. That amendment the people in their desire for Federation had to accept, and so the site of the Capital was limited entirely to one State. The only justification which the honorable ‘ member for Parkes could have for his amendment would be if he had a clear indication that the people had changed their minds, because it must be remembered that Sydney was deliberately “decided against by a majority in every State.
– For permanent purposes.
– One part of the Constitution provides that for temporary purposes and for ever Sydney should not be the Seat of Government. That was agreed to by enormous majorities in the referenda in every State. Not only is that so; but when it was proposed in the Convention that Sydney should be selected, only three delegates voted for it, and twenty-nine against it. Amongst the twenty-nine were representatives even of New South Wales, who knew Sydney best. Consequently, not only did the people of Australia decide by referenda in every State that Sydney and the country for IOC miles around it should be debarred, but the representatives of Australia in the Federal
Convention also decided against that city. When I asked the honorable member for Parkes if he was ready to submit the question to the people to allow them to decide, and why, if he proposed Sydney, I should not propose Melbourne, he said he saw no objection.
– I said that the honorable member was at liberty to propose what he liked.
– I think I should have that liberty, even if the honorable member did not allow it- to me. Melbourne should have equal rights with Sydney in this matter, and, consequently, when the amendment is seriously before the House, I shall propose to leave out all the words after the words “ Seat of Government,” so as to make it read-1-
In view of the wide difference of opinion in regard to the most suitable site for an Australian Federal Capital, the final choice be postponed until the year 1921, and that the Government shall forthwith prepare and introduce into Parliament a .Bill providing for an alteration of the Constitution by which the city of Melbourne shall remain as” the Seat of Government.
The honorable member for Wide Bay, who is always a keen advocate and defender of the rights of Queensland, very properly suggests that if Sydney and Melbourne are to have their turn, Brisbane should have ito turn, and similarly, in time, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart would have a right to put in a claim, if we make any amendment of the Constitution in the way suggested. I believe that the honorable member for Parkes has made this proposal in good faith in the” interests of his State and against Victoria, and am not surprised at his action. But I am surprised at the honorable member for Echuca, who is a Victorian representative, seconding it, and subsequently speaking in favour of it. Victoria has given up her right to ever possess the Federal Capital, although she has done more to develop the Commonwealth than has any other State, she is the most centrally situated, the Federal idea received its most enthusiastic support within her borders, and she sent out’ missionaries to the other States to try to bring about Federation. Although Victoria, voluntarily gave up her chance of having the Federal Capital and agreed that all but New South Wales should betabooed, yet a Victorian member is so adverse to her interests and rights under the Constitution that he seconds and supports a proposal by which she will enjoy only for two years more the right which was secured to her in return for her great sacrifice. I am surprised at any Victorian being so anti- Victorian. If the amendment does not succeed, possibly another one will be submitted to provide that the Parliament shall remain in Melbourne until the year 5000. After that the honorable member for Parkes can move any amendment he likes. It has been said time after time that the arrangement which the Premiers of the States made in February, 1899, was that the Capital should be as near to Sydney as the 100-miles limit would permit. The then Premier of New South Wales - the, right honorable member for East Sydney - must have known the proposal that he made and the impression that it left on his mind. Yet in an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 15th June, 1899 - within four months of the making of the agreement - he made a statement to the following effect : -
On the question of the Capital he pointed out what an advantage New South Wales had gained in securing it. It would be somewhere between Albury and Sydney, and therefore he did not see why Junee should not have a run for it.
Junee is 292 miles from Sydney, and Dalgety is 291 miles.
– I do not address people without any sense of humour.’
– The sense of humour of the right honorable member is overwhelm.iing If he showed a little more seriousness in the discussion of public questions, he would not get the reputation for jocularity - to put it mildly - which characterises all his public utterances. That interview shows either that the alleged agreement did not impress the right honorable member as being a serious arrangement between the Premiers, or that when he was away from Sydney he was attempting to lead the people of Junee to look forward to a state of things which he knew in his own mind could not exist. One of those two conclusions must be true, and I leave the right honorable gentleman to explain his statement as he likes. But it is clear that the idea that the Capital should be as near to the 100-miles limit as possible could not honestly have been in the mind of the Premier of New South Wales, who proposed the arrangement at the Premiers’ Conference.
.- After listening to the views of honorable members, I am convinced that the framers of the Constitution were quite right in deciding that the Capital should be in neither Melbourne nor Sydney. After eight years the differences between those two cities still, exist, and have been poured forth during this debate. The framers of the Constitution had a very good precedent for their action in what happened in the United States of America, where they fixed the Federal Capital away from any town or city. The wisdom of their action has since been amply demonstrated. Although it has taken a number of years to achieve, they now have one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The chief essentials of an ideal capital site are a high, healthy location, a good climate, and a water supply sufficient for domestic purposes, and for generating power for electric tramways, electric lighting, &c. Good drainage is also an essential. The necessity of a water supply to generate power for industrial purposes we should not look for.
– Why ?
– I should like to prevent any manufacturing industry from being established within the permanent Seat of Government, or in its immediate neighbourhood. If there is one city in Australia which ought to be kept clear of such industries, it is that of the future Seat of Government. There is plenty of room in the Commonwealth to establish manufactories nearer to ports and in places where they would pay those interested in them better than they would at the Seat of Government. I fail to see why it is necessary to establish the Capital on a site where good agricultural land exists. I mention this point because it has been urged that some sites do not possess good land. In this connexion, I wish to say that rich agricultural land is not usually a good foundation upon which to build.
– Get upon the rock.
– Rock is not a goodfoundation for building purposes. It has been said that a wise man builds his house on a rock, but it is well known that rock is the very worst possible foundation. Sand is the best foundation. Certainly we ought not to require the Capital site to contain good land for agriculture. An abundance of this class of country can be obtained elsewhere. In connexion with the permanent Seat of Government, we should endeavour to avoid the mistakes which were made in America. For instance, Washington is built upon very low-lying ground. Although an area of 100 square miles was set apart for it, the Capital was built on about 6 square miles. It was erected upon a flat, the highest portion of which is less than 100 feet above water level. The water supply is good, but the sewerage system is not, and was not planned in advance of the city. That is a mistake that we ought to avoid. We should see that the sewerage arrangements are well planned before we commence building operations. In Washington the sewerage system was allowed to grow up, and it is consequently imperfect. Further, Washington to-day has’ an enormous debt, which was incurred in building a beautiful city upon a swampy -waste. We ought to avoid establishing the Capital upon such a site. The Minister of Trade and Customs was perfectly right when he said that it would be many years before this Parliament could be established at the Seat of Government, even if the site were chosen immediately. His statement caused me to think a little ; and I took the trouble to look up the records, with a view to ascertaining the progress which was made in this connexion by the United States. I find that the site was selected in 1790, but that it was 1800 before Parliament entered into possession of it. Thirty-nine years’ afterwards it was described as “ A straggling village in a drained swamp.” As late as 1871 the streets were deep with mud or clouded in dust, and the re-built portions were morasses.
– But we move quicker in these days.
– So it seems. We have been eight years thinking about selecting a site. To-day, Washington is a beautiful city, and is the home of the representatives of all nations. The mistakes made in the United States are worth noting with a view to avoiding them here. We should certainly choose a site which is more than 100 feet above water-level. It ought to have an altitude of at least 2,000 feet. Many of us have lived in Australia quite long enough to know that it would be a great shame to fix the permanent Seat of Government in anything but a temperate climate. I shall certainly vote for the selection of Dalgety.
– Does the honorable member call that a temperate climate?
– I do, because it is well protected from the east and north winds.
A south wind will never hurt anybody. It is a healthy wind, even if it be cold. At Dalgety, we have the source of an adequate water supply in the snow-capped mountains. The snow-capped mountains of the world are the only certain source of water supply. Although the top of Kosciusko is about 500 feet below the supposed level of permanent snow, only once in seven or eight years has snow not lain there all the year round, showing that probably the height of permanent snow in Australia is lower than it is in some other countries. In view of the fact that a man with the reputation of the right honorable member for Swan, who is a surveyor by profession, and has travelled over as large a” part of Australia as has anybody, has declared that Dalgety is a suitable site for the Federal Capital, I intend to vote for it. Every argument, used by those who intend to vote against Dalgety has proved the right honorable gentleman’s judgment to be correct. Not one reasonable argument has been adduced to show that Dalgety is not a suitable site for the Federal Capital. Dalgety has been very much abused, and whilst the vigorous speech we heard from the honorable member for Hunter might persuade some not to vote for that site, I believe the honorable member convinced most honorable members that the site he advocated was not one that should even be considered. I feel certain that Dalgety will be selected, because it is elevated, healthy, and possesses a good water supply, and also because it is not near any industrial centre. I have listened carefully to all the arguments in favour of other sites, and I still consider that Dalgety is the best. I think we should be definite, and say distinctly that Dalgety is to be the site of the Federal Capital of Australia. I am aware that the Federal Parliament has done that once already. I am not aware that the Act fixing the Seat of Government at Dalgety has ever been repealed, and if we now pass a similar measure again, that ought to finally settle the matter. As regards the cost of establishing the Capital, that is a matter for the Government of the day and they must arrange to finance it.
– Dees the honorable member seriously think that they mean business?
– I have not been taken into their confidence. They appear to be serious on some matters in respect of which I do not agree with them, but I am prepared to support them in this matter. I think they will be justified in pushing it forward to a conclusion. I hope that when we have given our decision on this occasion, all that we shall hear of the matter in future will be reports of progress made in the establishment of the Capital which will be satisfactory to the whole of the people of Australia.’ I believe that they desire to see the matter settled. In my opinion honorable members representing Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania are in a position to express a more unbiased opinion on this question than are representatives of either Victoria or New South Wales. I have every confidence that when this debate is concluded, the vote will be in- favour of Dalgety.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fuller) adjourned.
– I have to inform the House that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral will to-morrow, in this building, at a quarter to three o’clock, receive the Address-in-Reply agreed to by this House. (louse adjourned at 10.25 P-m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080929_reps_3_47/>.