House of Representatives
2 October 1908

3rd Parliament · 3rd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 719

QUESTION

ADMINISTRATION OF PAPUA

Mr BOWDEN:
NEPEAN, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has the Government yet decided upon the appointment ofan Administrator for Papua, and, if not, when is the appointment likely to be made?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– As soon as time permits. I believe that the necessary papers are now available.

page 719

QUESTION

CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES

Mr JOHNSON:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Treasurer in a position to say when we shall be called upon to deal with the Estimates?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Treasurer · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– It will be for honorable members to deal with them immediately after the Budget statement, if they choose. My desire was - though it may not be possible this month - to advance the consideration of the Estimates to such a stage that it would not be necessary to bring in a Supply Bill based on the expenditure of last year. I hope, with the concurrence of the Prime Minister, to make the financial statement not later than next Wednesday week.

Mr Henry Willis:

– That is a long time ahead.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– If the honorable member had had to prepare a Budget statement he would not say that. I do not think that I can make my statement earlier, though I shall do so if possible.

page 719

QUESTION

DEFENCE

Military Funerals - Rifle Ranges, Parramatta electoral division– preparation of Defence Scheme, Military Board’s Opinion.

Mr HUTCHISON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– As Indian Mutiny and Crimean veterans in Adelaide have expressed a strong desire to have military funerals, will the Minister of Defence permit members of the Forces, including the Military Band, to voluntarily attend them, and furnish a firing party, and also grant the use of a gun carriage, provided there is no cost to the Department?

Mr EWING:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– Action has already been taken in this matter, though not sufficient to satisfy the honorable member. My reply in terms of his question is in the affirmative, and I shall give instructions accordingly.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

-Has the honorable gentleman any information to give the House regarding the rifle ranges in my division, which have been promised for, I do not know how many, years?

Mr EWING:

– I asked for definite information yesterday, but have not yet received it. As the honorable member knows, there is a difficulty in connexion with land resumption.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why should the land be resumed? I think the matter could be settled by friendly negotiations.

Mr EWING:

– The amounts asked in connexion with the Parramatta sites were beyond our estimates; the Department of Home Affairs has not said exactly what the cost of resumption in the other case would be. I shall give the honorable member a fuller answer in a day or two.

Mr KELLY:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister of De fence, upon notice -

  1. Is the Military Board charged with the administration of the land Defence Forces?
  2. Was its opinion, as a Board, sought on the question of the cost and of the practicability of the administration of the Government’s latest land defence proposals?
  3. If not, why was it that the Government failed to take advantage of the experience of the body which was “ created purely for administrative purposes” (vide Minister’s Reply, 1. 10.08) ?
Mr EWING:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes, under control of Minister. 2 and 3. As previously stated the whole question was placed before all members of the Board fortheir opinion. The opinion of the Board, as a Board, was expressed at its last meeting by resolution which reads as follows : -

The Board is of opinion there should be no interference with the present system until it is clear that there is at least an equally effective and more numerous body of men available to perform the work carried out by the existing force.

Honorable members will recall the statement on this question made by the Prime Minister, and subsequently by me. The Board passed the following resolution with regard to “ Universal Training “-

The Board approves of the principle of universal training for the defence of Australia.

MANUFACTURE OF GRAIN SACKS.

Mr McDOUGALL:
WANNON, VICTORIA

asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Whether it is a fact that Argentina, in order to protect her grain growers from the rapacity of the Calcutta cornsack speculators, has commenced to manufacture grain bags. Is it true that recently she bought sufficient raw material to make 2,500,000 grain sacks?
  2. Is it also a fact that the United States, in order to make her farmers independent of the Indian jute bazaars, started to manufacture grain sacks for home use?
  3. Is the industry being carried on with satisfactory results in the countries named?
  4. If so, will he take steps to encourage the local manufacture of grain sacks so as to protect the Australian farmers from the wheat ring, many of the members of which are largely interested in the importation of grain sacks?
Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, 3. I am not in possession of any authoritative information on the subject.

  1. The matter will receive consideration.

LITHGOW POST OFFICE.

Mr BOWDEN:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Whether the Government has determined upon the site for the new post-office at Lithgow ?
  2. Whether the owner of the land has been informed of the decision of the Government?
  3. Has the purchase money been paid ?
  4. Have plans been prepared for the new building, end how does the matter stand?
Mr MAUGER:
Postmaster-General · MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– This is a matter within the province of the Department of Home Affairs, but I am advised - 1, 2, and 3. A site has been selected, and further action awaits Parliament providing the necessary funds which are being submittedupon the Estimates for the current financial year. Until the money has been voted, the owner of the property cannot well be advised of decision to purchase.

  1. Instructions to prepare sketch plans were issued some weeks ago.

PAPER.

Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following paper -

Copy of the invitation transmitted through the Secretary of State for the Colonies asking’ President Roosevelt to visit Australia.

FEDERAL CAPITAL SITE : BALLOT.

Selection of Sites.

Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · Protectionist

– I move -

  1. That this House do forthwith proceed to determine the opinion of members as to the site for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
  2. That the following be the method of selection of the site, and that so much of the Stand- ing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House from adopting such method : -

That the selection be made from sites’ nominated, without debate, by honorable members - provided that no nomination shall be received unless it is supported by at least five members, in addition to the member nominating, rising in their places.

That the House do forthwith proceed to the nomination of sites, and that the Speaker do declare the time lor nominations to be closed as soon as sufficient opportunity has, in his opinion, been given to receive nominations.

That an open exhaustive ballot be takenon Wednesday, October 7th, without debate, in the following manner : -

  1. Ballot-papers shall be distributed to honorable members containing the names of the sites nominated.
  2. Members shall place a cross opposite the name of the site for which they desire to vote, and shall sign the paper.
  3. The ballot-papers shall then he examined by the Clerk.
  4. The total number of votes given for each site shall be reported to the House after each ballot.
  5. If, on the first examination, any site proves to have received an absolute majority of votes, the Speaker shall report the name of such site to the House, and such site shall be deemed to be the one preferred by honorable members.
  6. If no site receives an absolute majority of votes, then the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes shall be reported to the House, and shall be struck out.
  7. If any two or more of the sites shall receive an equal number of votes, such number of votes being the smallest, then the House shall ascertain in the customary manner which of such sites should, in the opinion of honorable members, be further balloted for, and the name of the other, or others, shall be struck out.
  8. Further ballots shall then be taken on the names of the remaining sites, and the name of the site receiving the smallest number of votes in each successive ballot shall be reported to the House and struck out in the manner aforesaid, until one of the sites receives an absolute majority of votes.
  9. When one of the sites has received an absolute majority of votes, the name of such site shall be reported to the House by the Speaker, and such site shall be deemed to be the site preferred by honorable members.

It is hardly necessary to explain the motion, as last night I made a brief statement of the procedure which the House is being asked to adopt. Honorable members will be asked to make nominations of sites immediately the motion is agreed to. Any member may nominate a site, but to be valid the nomination must be supported by at least five honorable members, and the nomination is to be made without debate. The ballot is not to take place until next Wednesday, which should give ample opportunity for the investigation of the matter, and for honorable members to make up their minds. It is proposed to then take an exhaustive ballot without further debate, in accordance with the procedure adopted on the last occasion when we dealt with this matter.

Mr Kelly:

– Apparently members may vote early and often. There is nothing to prevent a member from voting for more than one site.

Mr GROOM:

– As the result of each vote in the ballot, one site will be eliminated and, therefore, honorable members must be free to move their support from one site to another as the ballot progresses.

Mr Kelly:

– Could not a member vote for more than one site?

Mr GROOM:

– Each member will have one ballot-paper, and will put a cross against one name - that is the only vote he has on that ballot.

Mr Kelly:

– But an honorable member could put a cross against as many names as he chose.

Mr GROOM:

– That is not so, as the honorable member will see if he looks at the motion.

Mr Kelly:

– The motion speaks of “ the “ site, and an honorable member may wish to vote for more than one.

Mr GROOM:

– There can be only one site voted for by a member on each ballot, and the House has already acted on that principle without any difficulty.

Mr Kelly:

– I do not think, of course, that there is any likelihood of the difficulty arising.

Mr GROOM:

– Then I am surprised at the honorable member suggesting it. The principle acted upon is one ballot at a time - one site one vote.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am glad to see the Government taking steps to bring this matter to a finality. But the method adopted on the last occasion was by no means satisfactory. The Minister proposes now, as then, to proceed by the process of elimination; and that, in my judgment, is not by any means an exhaustive ballot. I should like to see some alteration in the method on this occasion. I would point out the distinction between obtaining a majority of votes by the process of elimination, and obtaining a majority by actual votes cast for any site on its merits. On the last occasion many honorable members voted for Dalgety when they had no other choice, except one which was regarded as worse - in other words their vote for Dalgety was cast on the principle of choosing the less of two evils. I do not think that any vote thus cast can be said to represent the mature and deliberate opinion of the House. My idea is that before a vote can be regarded as decisive, the site which by this process of elimination is found to have a majority ought again to be pitted against every other site, and beat it singly by a deliberate vote - only so can we obtain the opinion of the House. I had at first thought of the preferential vote as applied to a proposal of this kind ; but further consideration has convinced me that the preferential vote can be readily manipulated so as to make it absolutely a plumping vote, and I take it that that is a method we desire to avoid. For instance, suppose we proceed by the preferential method - a member, who believes in Dalgety site, might vote for it as No.1, and for a number of other sites which may have no possible chance. In other words, the member could throw two, three, four, or five votes away, and thus give a plump vote for Dalgety. So that what is regarded as a preferential vote is very often a sham preferential vote, being, in reality, and in its essence and effect, a plump vote for the particular site favoured. I, therefore, think that if we desire to plump for a site, we had better finally have a single vote for or against a particular site.

Mr Page:

– Will the honorable member explain what will be the effect, when we come to the final vote in the way suggested ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– On the last occasion Lyndhurst secured the highest number of votes on the first ballot ; and if we may judge of a vote as indicating the preference of honorable members, that most nearly represented their preference. But, after the first ballot on that occasion, we found honorable members voting, not on the merits of a site - not because they believed it to be the best possible site, but because they hoped and believed it would beat some other site which they desired to see eliminated. I do not object to that method until we reach the stage we reached on the last occasion. To put a concrete case - if we proceed as before, and Dalgety is finally left in as receiving ostensibly a majority vote of the House, before Dalgety becomes the final choice, it ought to be pitted against Tumut, Lyndhurst, Canberra, and so on, in a single vote and beat each site in turn.

Mr Page:

– Then we shall have no finality.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I see no other way of getting finality.

Mr Bamford:

– No site can beat all the other sites in a straight out division.

Mr Frazer:

– We shall wind up with a blank.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I see the difficulty, and would like to suggest a way out of it. I. should be quite satisfied if the site finally agreed on by the ballot were put to a “ yes “ or “no “ vote.

Mr Page:

– That might create a blank at once.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– If the House deliberately creates a blank, the fact will furnish the best of all proofs that honorable members do not desire that site to be selected.

Mr Page:

– Would the honorable member be satisfied with the creation of a blank ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Oh no!

Mr Mathews:

– There is a danger of a blank being created under the method suggested.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

-I know there is a danger, but in trying to obtain a fair decision we ought, if need be, to face a danger of the kind. I believe that finally the good sense of the House will extricate us from any difficulty ; at any rate, it will be time to deal with the problem when we are face to face with it, but I think that the House will meet the position fairly and reasonably. That is the only criticism I have to make ‘on the otherwise admirable proposals of the Government.

Mr CHANTER:
Riverina

.-I have read the motion very carefully, and I see no objection to the method proposed. I observe, however, that Wednesday next is fixed as the day on which the vote shall be taken: and I point out that a number of honorable members are already away and have made such arrangements that they cannot be in their places on that day. I suggest, therefore, that Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock be substituted for Wednesday, so as to meet the convenience of those honorable members and others who have made arrangements which prevent their attending Parliament then.

Mr Poynton:

– Thursday is private members’ day.

Mr CHANTER:

– Surely in a matter of this kind private members might give way.

Mr Page:

– Why delay?

Mr CHANTER:

– I am content to take the vote to-day ; I am speaking, not only for myself, but for others who cannot possibly be present on Wednesday.

Mr Page:

– They ought to be here.

Mr CHANTER:

– Certainly. But we must be preparedto make arrangements to meet the convenience of honorable members and their constituents. I am sure that no objection could be taken to the amendment I suggest.

Mr Johnson:

– Would the honorable member be agreeable to the ballot being taken after dinner on Thursday night?

Mr CHANTER:

– Yes. I have given reasons why I think that the proposal to take the ballot on Wednesday is objectionable. When I suggested that it should be postponed until Thursday, I had forgotten for the moment that such a postponement would interfere with private members’ business; but the objection would be overcome by taking the ballot after-dinner.

Mr Groom:

– The matter is one for the House to determine. It was necessary to state a time in the motion itself, in order that the mind of the House might be directed to the point. The honorable member may move an amendment.

Mr CHANTER:

– I have no desire to do so; I suggest that the Attorney-General should amend his motion on the lines I have indicated. I wish now to refer to the proposal that nominations should be made without debate. Whilst I am as anxious as is any honorable member that the question shall be dealt with without any delay, I think it is absolutely unfair that those who nominate sites should be debarred from explaining their reason for doing so. I would suggest that the nominator of every site be allowed five minutes to explain what he considers to be its advantages. We are not likely to have more than six or seven nominations, so that the adoption of my proposal would not involve any appreciable delay. Some honorable members have not visited any of the sites, and they will have to vote in the dark so far as some are concerned, unless we concede this privilege to the nominators.

Mr Bamford:

– Does the honorable member think that the merits of any site could be explained in five minutes?

Mr CHANTER:

– I think that some explanation, at all events, is necessary.

Mr.Frazer. - The various siteshave been discussed for some days.

Mr CHANTER:

-No. The debate has been devoted chiefly to the rival claims of Dalgety and Canberra, and I hold that those who wish to nominate other sites should have an opportunity to explain their reasons for doing so. My proposal would not result in any serious delay, and I hope that the Attorney-General will agree to it.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
Robertson

– I agree in the main with the remarks made by the honorable member for Parramatta, although when he was speaking

I interjected that if his suggested amendment were adopted it might involve the creation of a blank in the Bill. The wishes of honorable members would be met if steps were taken to insure that the site chosen should have an absolute majority in favour of it. With that object in view I move -

That the following words be added to paragraph (h) : - “ which shall then be voted upon against each site nominated.”

After the procedure outlined in paragraph (h) had been followed, the site chosen would then be reported to the House, and, under my amendment, would then be pitted against all the others nominated. That would prevent a recurrence of what took place on a previous occasion, when some honorable members at a certain point voted against a site of which they were in favour in order to be able at a later stage to defeat a site which they did not wish to be selected.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

.- After listening to the remarks made by the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Robertson, I am satisfied that this is a case of “ Save me from my friends.”

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is, of course,our friend on the Capital site question?

Mr PAGE:

– In that respect I do not know whose friend I am. I should like to see the Capital at Moss Vale, but, as I cannot get that, I think” the next best site is Dalgety. The honorable member for Robertson’s amendment will do nothing: but create a blank. No one site suggested up to the present will command a majority; of votes in this House.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That cannot be prevented. When we are in Committee upon the Bill, any other site can be moved.

Mr PAGE:

– I do not care how it is done, but we do not want to create the anomalous position of causing a blank, and going back to where we were many years ago. If half the members will not vote, how will the honorable member for Robertson obtain a majority of the House for any site ? We must have finality. New South Wales has a right to theFederal Capital, and we should keep faith with its people; that is my chief anxiety. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the next time any honorable member transgresses the Standing Orders, you should make him read the whole of this debate. That would be sufficient punishment tor any transgression.

Now, the honorable member for Riverina - a New South Wales member - asks tor further delay, when the Government are anxious to bring about finality.

Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC

– A delay of one day.

Mr PAGE:

– Even that will be jumped at as a drowning man clutches. at a -straw. It has been done before, and will be done again. My advice to the Government is to go on and get the business finished. The honorable member for Riverina said that many honorable members would not be present, but that will not be the fault of the Government or of the House. Any honorable member who accepts the responsibility of representing a constituency should be faithful to his trust; but that is the business of himself and his constituents. It is not our business, or that of the Government.

Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC

– Is the honorable member going away on Wednesday?

Mr PAGE:

– I shall be going away on Friday, and shall be absent for perhaps a week “or longer ; but I do not want any public affairs put off because my business takes me away. The people of New South Wales have a right to ask for a speedy determination of the question.

Dr Maloney:

– The New South Wales men are blocking it.

Mr PAGE:

– I do not think so. When the vote is taken, I think they will be found as anxious as are any honorable members on this side to conclude the matter.

Mr GLYNN:
Angas

.- I hope the Government will stick to Wednesday, not that I am particularly anxious that we should decide on what is practically to be a perpetual Capital too quickly, but there is a greater chance of obtaining a full attendance on Wednesday than on Thursday or Friday. I am sorry the Government did not propose a system of preferential or alternative voting. That seems to be the only method that would give anything like certainty as to the choice of honorable members. The Government propose to follow the method of voting adopted in 1903, but it is a rather curious reflection upon the perfection of that system that the site which got no votes at first eventually was determined on for the Federal Capital. Dalgety got absolutely no votes on the first ballot in October, r903, and Tumut, which eventually got thirtysix, came out with only fourteen. That is an absolute condemnation of this system. It may happen - and the records prove it - that the site which is actually at the bottom of the list, and which is therefore under this resolution eliminated, may be the second choice of nearly all the members. One member may prefer a particular’ site which is not the choice of one-fifth of the members of the House, and under this system he gives his only vote to it; but if he had also to select another to indicate his general choice as against every other site except number one, he might select the very site which, being at the bottom of the list, would be cut out. That is not a proper system by which to test the feeling of the House. Not only is there that possibility as a matter of reasoning, but it has actually occurred in previous balloting. What objection can there be to allowing an honorable member to say, “ My first choice is Dalgety, my second Tumut ? By that means we could at once see what the second choice of all the members really was. It may be at once shown, as I believe would have been the case in the previous instance, that Dalgety comes out as the second choice.

Mr Fowler:

– Cannot that system be manipulated ?

Mr GLYNN:

– I do not think so. I speak with some knowledge of that subject, because I put forward a motion for six years in succession in the South Australian House of Assembly in favour of proportional representation. I looked carefully into them, but could not see much in the objections urged against it. It is said that the system has worked badly in the West, but any system may work badly if people do not vote. That is no reflection upon the perfection of the system itself. If, in the West, the electors do not exercise their second choice in some cases, it simply means that’ they decline to make use of a good instrument. I believe they have not the best system of proportional representation in that State. What I advocate in this case is the preferential vote, giving an alternative choice.

Sir John Forrest:

– Propose it and try it.

Mr GLYNN:

– If the honorable member for Robertson will temporarily withdraw his amendment, I am prepared to move in that direction.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Certainly.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -

That the word “ exhaustive,” line 21, be left out and the word “ preferential “ inserted in lieu thereof.

Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie

– I second the amendment. I had intended to submit it myself, but am pleased to have the opportunity of seconding it.

Mr Deakin:

– Perhaps the honorable member will explain what he means by “ preferential.”

Mr FRAZER:

– I shall endeavour to do so. It is doubtful that any of the sites will be supported by an absolute majority of members. The Government proposal is that successive votes shall be taken, and that, after each, the site for which the least number of votes has been cast shall be dropped. After the first vote, the members who supported the site getting the least number of votes will transfer their allegiance to another site, and that procedure will continue throughout the various stages of the ballot. Finally, only two sites will remain to be voted upon, one of which must secure a majority in the last vote. But that site may afterwards be rejected by a majority, who might say that, although they preferred it to some other, they still thought that it was not the site to select.

Mr Johnson:

– That is what has already happened.

Mr FRAZER:

– We should try to prevent it from happening again. It has been proposed to pit the site which ultimately secures a majority in the ballot against each of the rejected sites.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I shall be glad to be shown a better way.

Mr FRAZER:

– The result of that procedure would probably be similar to the result of the procedure proposed by the Government. It will probably be found that no site is supported by an absolute majority.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Can we get rid of that difficulty? Whatever site may be named in the Bill as the result of the ballot, it will be possible to move an amendment for the substitution of some other.

Mr FRAZER:

– We should, at all events, try to frame a method of voting which will insure the concurrence of the House in the adoption of one of the sites. Of course, if a majority refuses to accept the result of an exhaustive analysis of the preferences of honorable members, nothing can be done; but it appears to me that the result of the procedure proposed by the Government, and of that of the honorable member for Parramatta, may be to practically cause a blank.

Mr Harper:

– We shall never settle the matter.

Mr FRAZER:

– I do not think that it will be settled by either of the procedures which I have criticised, so long as no site possesses an absolute majority of supporters.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Of course, the House can stultify itself. If a man says that he will still remain stupid, he can do so if he chooses.

Mr FRAZER:

– It is suggested to me that it is not a matter of choice with the honorable member. In adopting the procedure of the honorable member for Angas, we are confronted with only one difficulty, namely, that the site obtaining the lowest number of first preferences will be permanently rejected.

Mr Reid:

– Under that procedure, Dalgety would have been rejected in the first instance.

Mr FRAZER:

– About that I am not sure. In connexion with the Government procedure, one site will be put out of the running immediately, unless, as a last resort, each site is pitted against every other in turn.

Colonel Foxton. - Could that method not be followed after a preferential ballot had been taken ?

Mr FRAZER:

– It would not be necessary after a preferential ballot. If honorable members favour that procedure, they had better accept the proposition of the honorable member for Parramatta. The preferential system is certainly the least objectionable. If six sites are nominated, each member will mark his ballot-paper according to the order of his preferences, and the site getting the lowest number of first preferences will be eliminated.

Mr Reid:

– A man may not mark his paper according to the true order of his preferences.

Mr FRAZER:

– If he does not do so, he will probably do harm to his own cause.

Mr Glynn:

– The objection applies to every system.

Mr FRAZER:

– Yes.

Mr Roberts:

– Does the honorable member suggest that the matter should be finally settled by a preferential ballot?

Mr FRAZER:

– Yes.

Mr Roberts:

– That will not bring about the finality desired.

Mr Henry Willis:

– It will not bring about finality, unless there is an absolute majority for one of the sites.

Mr FRAZER:

– The site getting the lowest number of first preferences would be eliminated, and the preferences given for it would be transferred to the sites to which those who voted for it had given their second preferences.

Mr Henry Willis:

– My system gives each site a fairer chance.

Mr FRAZER:

– The honorable member’s system would prevent the settlement of the matter until a date long after the time when he will have ceased to take an interest in this question. The Government procedure is condemned by the fact that, although it has already been followed on two occasions, we are now beginning all over again. Under the preferential system, one site ultimately secures an absolute majority of preferences, and the last vote can be accepted as showing the deliberate preference of the House. If we do not adopt that’ method, we may go on “settling” this matter without ever settling it at all. That is what has happened up to the present time, so that we now find ourselves faced with a new ballot when we ought to be making preparations to leave for the Federal city. The preferential ballot is not a perfect system, because the site to get the lowest number of preferences on the first vote is immediately dropped.

Mr Groom:

– That does not happen under all preferential systems/

Mr FRAZER:

– The preferential system’ is not perfect, because the site getting the lowest number of first preferences might be the second choice of every voter; but I know of no means, for remedying that defect. Still, with that serious de-, feet, it is the best known means for analyzing to the last the opinions of those who are voting. I hope that it will be adopted in this case, and that the decision arrived at will be loyally accepted as the deliberate selection of the House.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It is not the secondary votes, to which the honorable member alludes, that I so much distrust in the preferential vote; my objection is that the method provides for plumping pure and simple.

Mr Frazer:

– Make it compulsory to give an exhaustive vote.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We cannot compel a man not to throw away votes if he chooses to do so.

Mr Frazer:

– We cannot compel a man to come here to vote, but we can de*clare his vote informal.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member ought to know the objection to the selection of a Capital Site by the method of preferential voting, because he and his friends in the corner have taught us the danger in connexion with the Senate elections. Every one knows that instructions are issued at almost every election to vole for one or two Labour candidates, who happen to be selected, and to throw away the other votes on candidates who have n CH the slightest chance.

Mr Frazer:

– How can the votes be thrown away?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The votes are practically thrown away when the voterknows that they will be of no avail.

Mr Hutchison:

– What does your party do?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am merely giving an illustration, and showing what may, can, and probably will, occur; and I think that the honorable member will agree with me that we ought, as I believe we can, avoid any trouble’ of that kind.. If we could, by the process of elimination, reduce the sites to two or three, or, at the most, four, I should not have somuch objection to the preferential vote; but if we are going to multiply the sites - and the opportunity for nomination is unlimited - then I can only foresee the result I have indicated; those who believe Dalgety should; be the site will put it first, and give their second preference to the site which they believe has the least chance.

Dr Carty Salmon:

– It will be possible for the second best site to be at the bottom of the list.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is so;, and it is just possible for a site which we least desire to be placed in a good position. In a. word, the preferential vote means neither more nor less than plumping, if it be manipulated as it ordinarily is. We should, before resorting to the preferential vote, proceed by some process of elimination ; that is, if we reduce thenumber of sites to three or four, therewould be in plumping very considerable danger, which honorable members would desire to avoid. If the honorable member for Angas could suggest some modifi- cation in the direction I have indicated, 1 should not have so much objection; but I think that, under the circumstances, the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Robertson is, perhaps, better than any other vet put forward.

Dr. CARTY SALMON (Laanecoorie) £11.29]. - The preferential system should, in my opinion, be introduced at parliamentary elections, but I accept it only as a substitute for the more expensive second ballot. I believe that, in order to secure with absolute certainty the choice of the people, we should have a second ballot where a candidate does not obtain an absolute majority on the first vote. But such a method in parliamentary elections over a vast area like Australia would be terribly expensive ; and, therefore, I am prepared to accept the preferential system. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta as to the danger of the system, especially when we have such a small body of electors as represented by this House. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has pointed out that, under the preferential system, the site which secured the lowest number of votes on the first “ballot, would drop out ; and it is quite possible to conceive that the second best site might occupy the lowest position.

Mr Frazer:

– That would be so under the Government’s proposal.

Dr CARTY SALMON:

– No; the Government propose quite a different method, because honorable members will vote absolutely on their convictions, placing the names according to their real choice.

Mr Frazer:

– Why should honorable members vote on their convictions in one case and not in the other?

Dr CARTY SALMON:

– The honorable member will see that there is a great difference between a man voting for a place which he thinks should be selected, and placing another a number of votes lower down the list for other reasons than those of preference. It would be quite possible, in a desire to give site A the premier position, to put the second best site B right at the bottom of the list, in order that it might disappear.

Mr Frazer:

– But what would the supporters of site B be doing, if it were the second best site?

Dr CARTY SALMON:

– I am not talking about the merits of a site, as regarded by the House, but of its merits as regarded by the individual voter. It has been found over and over again that, where it is pos sible to secure combination and concerted action, the preferential system does not give us the best results; and, under these circumstances, I hope we shall adhere to the proposal of the Government to have the ordinary absolute majority method, which has been adopted by many organizations, and found to act remarkably well. Every year the Australian Natives’ Associations throughout Australia adopt the method after having tried all other systems ; and they find that in the election of directors and officers generally, it gives the most satisfaction ; it is, in my opinion, just such a system as we should adopt on the present occasion.

Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC

– There should be no difficulty in arriving at a decision ; and the Government plan is, I think, all right up to a certain point. After the method suggested by the Government has been exhausted, I think the “ winner “ ought to meet the “ runners up ‘ ‘ ; and though that might take us a little longer, the time would not be wasted. I do not think that we shall have more than four or five nominations, consisting probably of Lyndhurst, Tumut, Tooma, Canberra, and Dalgety ; and I do not think that much time would be occupied in voting on these. If Dalgety were the “ winner “ of the “ first event “ it might be able to hold its own against each of the other sites I have mentioned ; and so in regard to all of them. By the process I have suggested we should arrive at absolute finality whether we adopted the Government’s plan, or that suggested by the honorable member for Angas. Personally, I believe that the experience gained by adopting the preferential vote would be most valuable, because it would show by analysis how each man was disposed to vote, and it would help to an absolutely square vote on the plan I suggest. This is what I endeavoured to do the other night in connexion with the amendment I mentioned relating to Tooma. . I point out that sometimes honorable members have important and pressing engagements elsewhere, as we have been told is the case on Wednesday next - and, as a matter of fact, I myself have, unfortunately, such an engagement in the public . interest on that day- and I ask whether the Government could not substitute Thursday in order to meet the convenience of all. Further, I think that if an honorable member finds it impossible to attend here on that day, some means ought to be’ adopted by the Government of providing the privilege of voting by post, because there is no doubt that ai full vote of the Chamber ought to be taken.

Mr Bamford:

– I know one honorable member who must be absent on Thursday.

Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC

– I notice that the honorable member for Maranoa appeared to be very anxious to have the matter settled to-day. Even if the final settlement were postponed awhile, no harm could result. For something like eight years the question has been before us ; and yet it is now proposed to rush to a decision within forty-eight hours - a decision which may mean inconvenience and annoyance to the citizens of Australia for hundreds of years. Will the Government accept the suggestion to make the day Thursday ?

Mr Groom:

– That is a matter for the House; I have no objection.

Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC

– If the amendment of the honorable member for Robertson meets the case, there can .be no objection to it; but, at any rate, my proposal would mean absolute finality.

Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · Protectionist

– I do not desire to enter into a discussion of preferential voting, of which there are various methods; but it seems to me advisable to adhere to the motion submitted by the Government. If the amendment of the honorable member for Angas be accepted, it is not quite clear what particular method would be adopted.

Mr Glynn:

– I am drafting a method now.

Mr GROOM:

– It is impossible for us, of course, to discuss a method which has not been submitted, but I think that, in the case of a large number of sites, it will be possible, under preferential voting, to have combinations, the result of which would be not a fair, proper, and true choice of the House. The Government method has the advantage that it is practically a series of open ballots. We may take it for granted that on the first vote, honorable members will express their conviction as to what is in their opinion the best site, because if any site does not get a sufficient number of first votes, it drops out. Each honorable member has on each ballot a fair opportunity to express” his honest opinion on the other sites remaining; and so the voting goes on until we have the last two sites, on the relative merits of which the House is capable of expressing its absolute opinion. The Government method does not lend itself to any combinations.

Mr Bamford:

– The site that had the least first votes might have a majority of second votes.

Mr GROOM:

– That might happen with, preferential voting. We must adopt some practical method to reach finality. There are various systems of preferential voting and under some the voter indicates all his preferences on the one ballot paper. That course is adopted to get rid of the necessity for the successive ballots that we now propose. I think that that was the idea which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had in mind when he said that the site securing the least number of primary votes should be thrown out. Other systems differ. I have in mind the system proposed by the honorable member for Corinella when this questi’on was last voted1 upon.

Mr Fowler:

– We then had an exhaustive debate on the subject.

Mr GROOM:

– We had, and that is why I do not feel inclined to enter at this stage into a controversy upon the different systems. That which we suggest will enable us to secure a full and frank expression, of the opinion of the House. I certainly ann not in favour of the proposal made by the honorable member for Robertson. We desire to secure finality and when we arrive at a decision by means of a ballot we should stand by it. Under the honorable member’s proposal no one site might be able to command its position against combinations in opposition to it. A site might have to contend with a combination consisting of honorable members who had nobetter site to propose. We might have a combination of opponents of a -certain site and of others who simply desired to postpone the selection of any site for 20. years. With an attendance of 70 honorable members we might have 33 in favour of a particular site and 30 opposed to it. Then we might have joining forces withthe latter a certain number of honorable members who were opposed to the Housedealing with this question for some time tocome, and who would thus be able toblock the will of the majority.

Mr Henry Willis:

– The Government proposal would mean endless discussion.. In Committee any site might be proposed.

Mr GROOM:

– That may be so. My contention is that we ought to adopt a system that will enable us to secure finality and that when we have arrived at a decision we ought to stand by it and lose no time in sending on the Bill to another place. As to the day on which the ballot should be taken I have no objection personally to its taking place on Thursday next, provided that a time be fixed that would suit the convenience of honorable members generally.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Say 5 o’clock.

Mr GROOM:

– I think that it would be better to determine that the ballot shall be taken at 8 o’clock. Unless there is any strong feeling in opposition to that alteration 1 shall be prepared to agree to it ; but I ask the House in the main to stand by the Government proposal believing that it will lead to a clear expression of opinion and an entirely satisfactory conclusion.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The Attorney- General might well give further consideration to his proposal thatnominations shall be made without debate. So far the debate on this question has been of the broadest possible character, and with one or two exceptions no reference has been made to any particular site. For a considerable time we have been tied down by various amendments, and have not been able to address ourselves to the consideration of the merits of the various sites. I have gone to some trouble to prepare myself to speak on the general question, and have been endeavouring all the week to secure a suitable opportunity to do so. When an opportunity did arise, I found that, owing to a certain amendment having been moved, I was precluded from addressing myself to the matters to which I had desired to give my attention. Consequently, if the motion be agreed to in the form proposed by the Attorney-General, I shall have no opportunity to deal with the wider aspects of this question, or with the claims of any site in which I am interested. That also will be the position of several other honorable members. Why does the AttorneyGeneral propose to apply the closure in this irregular manner? Why should we not proceed on ordinary lines? If the debate on the nominations were unduly protracted it would be open to the Minister to apply the closure, but he ought not to adopt this unusual method of doing so.

Mr McDonald:

– It is a good thing in this case.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member may think so, but he is not a representative of New South Wales - a State to which this question is of vital importance.

Mr McDonald:

– But it has been debated for nearly a fortnight.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The point I am making is that the debate has not centred round the question of the suitability of sites. It is true that the Minister of Trade and Customs dealt with the claims of Dalgety, that the honorable member for New England advocated the selection of Armidale, and that the honorable member for Macquarie dwelt on the merits of Lyndhurst, but with those exceptions the speeches made during this debate have dealt rather with the general question than with any particular site.

Mr Batchelor:

– Has not everything been said that could be said?

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I think not.

Even the right honorable member for Swan, who has taken an active part in focussing the attention of the House on a particular site, has had to confess that the information before the House with respect to other sites is so imperfect that he is unable to determine their merits. He was disposed to blame the State Government for the lack of information, but I do not think that he could rightly do so. It is the duty of the House to obtain the information that it considers necessary. The experience of the right honorable member for Swan must be that of others who have not displayed so keen an interest in this question as he has.

Mr Batchelor:

– I do not think the right honorable member for Swan wanted more debate so much as more information.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– One of the principal ways of eliciting information is by means of debate. All I ask is that reasonable opportunity should be givento honorable members to impart to the House the information they possess, and that the closure should not be applied in the way the Attorney-General proposes. The unusual procedure of requiring a certain number of honorable members to rise to support an honorable member who moves for the consideration of a particular site is also suggested. It was never previously adopted. The sites were nominated and considered in their order, and honorable members Bad an opportunity of voting on them when the ballot was taken. Why should they now be restricted in the new fashion proposed? There will be only four or five sites nominated at the outside. We may rest assured that Dalgety, Tumut, Lyndhurst, Canberra, and Armidale will be put forward. That will be about all.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– And Tooma.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Tooma may be nominated, but I think Tumut will cover the whole of that area. Why should not a reasonable opportunity be given of considering those sites which have already been before previous Houses, without endeavouring to make nominations more difficult by requiring a certain apparent support for each t The honorable member for Angas proposes a new method of preferential voting. Although its advocates claim that it will simplify the procedure, and that we shall arrive more closely at the real mind of the House, I believe that if it is adopted it will make confusion worse confounded. It is objectionable in that it is a departure from the method which honorable members have been accustomed to follow; but that drawback could be overcome if the plan had superior features. My experience of it, however, is that one of its results is the remarkable surprise that it sometimes produces. It often happens that the least eligible site or candidate is selected.

Mr Batchelor:

– Then Lyndhurst might win.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Under the conditions of preferential voting Lyndhurst could not possibly hope to win, because in every vote that took place previously it stood at the head of the primary voting. It often happens, in a preferential ballot, when a strong site like Lyndhurst is put forward, that all those who fear it, but who are at sixes and sevens amongst themselves, consolidate their votes to knock it out. The result often is that in the end the most objectionable site secures the number of secondary votes necessary to put it in the first place, and becomes the choice. The same result has been attained on many other occasions by the preferential system, and I do not want to see it repeated here. That system, if adopted, will make confusion worse confounded, and cause greater dissatisfaction than exists at present. The only dissatisfaction arising from the mode previously adopted was that it happened in the previous House that no one site had an absolute majority. If any site had commanded an absolute majority .the matter would have been settled ; but the House has been divided into three battalions, which are numerically fairly equal. That hascaused a certain amount of dissatisfaction, as I say; but it has also had the effect of insuring that the three sites that had the greatest number of primary votes, and that, therefore, commanded the largest measure of support, have come up for final consideration at the hands of the House. The system adopted! by the Minister is that of the secondaryballot. He proposes, as was done before-,, that those sites which command the least number of primary votes, and, therefore, are regarded as least likely to meet the requirements of the Capital, should be eliminated in the earlier ballots, and thenhonorable members come fresh to consider the other sites, not theoretically, but practically, and on their actual merits. Thefinal result is that the two sites left in arepitted against one another. That has. takenplace on two previous occasions. On the first occasion the three sites that remained’ after a number of ballots were taken wereLyndhurst, Tumut, and Bombala, which is almost equivalent to Dalgety. The result of the secondary ballot was that Bombala was defeated. When Lyndhurst and Tumutcame to be pitted against one another, thesupporters of Bombala voted for Tumut as against Lyndhurst, and Tumut obtained’ a substantial majority. On the second occasion, a similar position was reached. On the final ballot Tumut was struck out, and the Treasurer informed the House that that came about by the unavoidable absence of two members who had previously supported it.

Mr Carr:

– What form of ballot doesthe honorable member suggest?

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The direct secondary ballot.

Mr Carr:

– The on lv way is to ballot orr every site until there is an absolute majority. No site should be eliminated until” an absolute majority is obtained.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I am now showing how a majority was brought about by the elimination of the site which waslast on the list. On the second occasion, when Tumut was struck out. Dalgety remained to be matched against Lyndhurst. The Tumut supporters joined with Dalgety against Lyndhurst, and that settled the matter so far as the balloting was concerned. Later on, however, when the Bill’ was in Committee, a proposal was made to create a blank by leaving out the word “Dalgety.” If that had been carried, it would have been open to the Committee to put in any other site that it desired. But those who supported Dalgety wanted to arrive at finality, and they, with others, decided to vote against creating a blank. In the division, the only Lyndhurst supporters who voted for creating a blank were the honorable member for Darling and myself. All the other supporters of Lyndhurst voted against creating a blank, and prior to that the leader of the Opposition stated that he was prepared to abide by the result of the ballot, and consequently to accept Dalgety us being the preference of the House. That is how Dalgety was retained in the Bill that was passed for the purpose of opening up negotiations with the State Government. There is no need to go into the history of that part of the business now, but what I have stated shows the different movements that have taken place with respect to the selection of a site. There is no possibility of avoiding a certain amount of dissatisfaction where the House is almost equally divided on the merits of three sites. That happened previously, and seems likely to happen again. The only way in which something like general satisfaction can be secured is by adopting the Minister’s proposal for a secondary ballot. The amendment of the honorable member for Angas, if adopted, will alter the procedure that we have been used to, create an entirely new position, and probably cause greater dissatisfaction than obtains at present, by bringing about the selection, on secondary votes, of a site that commands the least primary votes. I hope the amendment will be defeated.

Mr HEDGES:
Fremantle

.- At this stage any system of voting for a site is wrong, and I must protest against it. If a clause had been added by the Minister allowing only sites that have been already considered, and regarding which the House has good information from engineers and surveyors appointed to select suitable sites, to be nominated, the proposal would be all right. But, as it now stands, I take it that any honorable member can nominate a new site on which the House has no information whatever. We shall be the laughing-stock of Australia if, after all the consideration that has been given to the subject for eight years, we throw the door open for the introduction of sites which have never been previously considered, but which by a manipulation of votes may actually be selected. We have been told that the selection of Dalgety was an accident. Such an accident may happen again, and if it does, what we are proposing to do now will have to be done all over again, because of the dissatisfaction which will be created throughout the community. If new sites are to be nominated, the taking of the ballot should be deferred until sufficient information can be obtained regarding them. The mere selection of a site by the House will not. make it a suitable place for the capital; though I give honorable members credit for a desire to select the best site available. My suggestion is that no site which has not been reported on and recommended shall be nominated.

Mr Glynn:

– The honorable member would exclude sites which have not been seen?

Mr HEDGES:

– I suggest that only those sites which have been reported on and recommended be eligible for nomination. If the suggestion is adopted, the Government will have good reason for proposing that we proceed to the ballot without debate.

Mr Henry Willis:

– That is practically what must happen if the ballot is to be taken next Wednesday.

Mr HEDGES:

– If new sites are nominated, the work of years may be upset. Another objection to the present procedure which has occurred to me is that the Seat of Government Act declares that the Capital shall be established within 17 miles of Dalgety.

Mr Henry Willis:

– We can repeal that Act in ten minutes.

Mr HEDGES:

– Should we ballot for the selection of a new site before the Act has been repealed ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It may not be necessary to repeal it.

Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– We are now being asked to more definitely settle the question.

Mr HEDGES:

– It seems to me that the Seat of Government Act is sufficiently definite.

Mr Mathews:

– The honorable member’s suggestion would prevent Canberra from being nominated. It has not been reported on properly.

Mr HEDGES:

– It has been reported on. I fail to see why there should be too much hurry in this matter. We should not be asked to vote next week in regard to sites of which we know nothing. The reason which has been given for holding a fresh ballot is that new members should have an opportunity to declare their views in regard to the sites; but it will only complicate matters if we are asked to vote in regard to sites about which neither old nor new members know anything. Furthermore, unless my suggestion is adopted, telegrams may be sent from all parts of New South Wales asking honorable members to nominate sites, and those to whom the messages are addressed will feel compelled to nominate the sites named. That will create a long list of sites to be balloted on.

Mr Groom:

– It is proposed that the sites shall be nominated to-day.

Mr HEDGES:

– That still gives an opportunity for the nomination of sites of which nothing is known.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

.- I cannot understand why there has been all this discussion, lt seems to me that some honorable members will muddle the whole business. They are proposing methods which will not attain the end which they have in view. The honorable member for Parramatta has suggested that the site which is chosen by ballot should be subsequently opposed to every other site. If that procedure is adopted, we shall never arrive at finality, because the supporters of the defeated sites will combine against the successful site.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That may happen in any case when the Bill is being dealt with.

Mr STORRER:

– I take it that what is now desired is to reduce the number of sites. It would be open to any member to move in Committee the omission of Dalgety, with a view to the substitution of some other name. I objected to the AttorneyGeneral’s motion being brought on last night, because, had it been carried then, honorable members who wish to nominate sites would not have had a sufficient opportunity of arranging for support for them. Ii is certainly useless to vote upon sites for which six supporters cannot be found, but I have no objection to the nomination of new sites. Honorable members must exercise their intelligence, and I consider that the sooner we have a ballot the better. I hope that it will be taken next Wednesday.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I am sure that we all desire to adopt a course of procedure which will prevent a site being selected by means of a catch vote. I agree with the Government as to the procedure which should be adopted for ascertaining the preference of honorable members, but I think that subsequently a vote should be taken on the question whether the chosen site shall be adopted. That will prevent future adverse criticism, and make it impossible to substantiate the insinuation that our choice was the result of a catch vote. I do not agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that new sites should not be nominated; but, to prevent new members coming to a final determination before they were sufficiently informed, I would place an interval between the taking of the ballot and the final vote. If, for instance, Dalgety were reaffirmed by ballot, I would’ defer the final vote for a month or two, so that those honorable members might visit the site and make themselves well acquainted with it.

Colonel Foxton. - The honorable member suggests a sort of confirmatory vote?

Mr KNOX:

– Yes, after a site hasbeen chosen. I have never receded from the position that the whole question should1 be postponed. We cannot meet our responsibilities out of our present revenue, if the policy of my friends in the Labour corner is to be carried out, and if, in addition, effect is to be given to the variousprojects suggested by the Government. I am quite in sympathy with any efforts which may be directed to cause delay and” secure further consideration ; but if thefeeling of this House is that during thepresent session we must come to a decision, then the manner of arriving at that decision should be such as cannot be questioned or cavilled at in the futureIt is a very laudable object, of course, to> remove any friction or jealousy which there may be between Victoria and New South Wales ; but I believe that honorablemembers from the latter State will admit that there is no evidence of any feeling on the part of Victoria. The idea isa bogy to be found in New SouthWales and chiefly in Sydney; because I’ can assure honorable members that theMelbourne and Victorian people are in noway jealous of the position and progressof the neighbouring State.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Read theMelbourne Age!

Mr KNOX:

– I am not referring tohonorable members, who speak here as the representatives of the people.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– There is nojealousy on the part of New South Wales.

Mr KNOX:

– I am glad to hear it. For the reasons I have given I shall support any amendment which will afford an opportunity of a confirmative vote on the last site selected left by the eliminating process.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member for Kooyong must either be looking at this question from a rather humorous standpoint, or have forgotten the events of the past seven years. The honorable member desires that there shall be no undue haste, and hopes that further opportunities will be given for inspecting the various proposed sites. Well!, there has been no undue haste, and there has been a multiplicity of opportunities to visit the sites. And I ask the honorable member whether he availed himself of any of these opportunities.

Mr Knox:

– 1 preferred to have the sites reported on by capable expert men, because I attached greater importance to that than to a personal inspection.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– But the honorable member wishes for further opportunity for inspection.

Mr Knox:

– That i’s for any honorable members who so desire.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– And yet the honorable member himself prefers to rely on the reports of expert officers. There have been reports produced^ byCommissioners at much trouble and expense; and I point out to the honorable member, who says he attaches such importance to the opinions of experts, that those Commissioners placed Dalgety at the bottom of the list.

Mr Knox:

– But they placed Albury at the top, and that i’s the site I desire.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member supported Dalgety.

Mr Knox:

– As a final resort.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I think that every opportunity has been given both for inspection by honorable members and reports by Commissioners, and to suggest any further delay, when advantage does not seem to have been taken of opportunities afforded in the past, is, I think, quite unreasonable.

Mr Knox:

– New members have not had an opportunity.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Opportunities have been presented this Parliament if those new members had cared to avail themselves of them, because I am quite sure that the Government would have afforded every facility. We all desire to adopt an honest method of arriving at a conclusion. While some objections can be taken to either of the methods suggested, I think the one proposed by the Government has proved in the past one which will enable us to arrive at an honest and effective decision. There is the one difficulty, I admit, that, when there are only three or four sites left, a site may be selected which does not represent the opinion of the larger number of voters. Let us suppose, for instance, that there, are four sites, and that site A obtains twelve votes, B obtains twenty-two votes, C obtains twenty votes, and D obtains twenty votes. According to the method proposed, A drops out, and the twelve votes are divided, four being given, say, to B, three to C, and five to D, leaving B with twenty-six votes, C with twenty-three votes, and D with twenty-five votes; and, therefore, B wins. But it may be that those who gave the five votes allotted’ to D might have desired, had they known D would not be selected, to give their votes to C; and if that had been done C would have had twenty-eight against twenty-six votes for B. I dare say that, when the number of sites had been reduced to four, the proposal of the honorable member for Angas might operate beneficially ; but there is the other method suggested by the honorable member for Robertson of, with a knowledge of the facts, allowing the five votes, which were given to D, to be distributed; that is to say, B and C could be pitted against each other, and then the votes would arrange themselves according to the desire of the voters. To my mind, it would be sufficient to apply the preferential vote to the last four sites left in; and the honorable member for Robertson proposes nothing more than can be done at a later stage under the Bill. I do not object to any method, so long as it cannot be used dishonestly. The danger of the preferential vote is- that at the start second votes may be deliberately thrown away on sites which have no chance.

Mr Carr:

– There is the other alternative of taking a vote on every Site until an absolute majority is obtained for one.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That is practically the proposal .of the Government, two sites being left at the last.

Mr Groom:

– But the honorable member for Robertson suggests that the whole of the ten or fifteen sites should then be pitted against the one left in.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It may not be necessary to pit the whole of the ten or fifteen sites against that site; but there may be wrong selection, due to the fact I have already pointed out.

Mr Groom:

– It would be possible to create a blank, and never fill it again.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– There is that possibility, whatever we do.

Mr Groom:

– Not if- the House accepts its own method of ‘determining the sites.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Iri the Committee stage, a proposal may be made to excise site A proposed in the Bill. If, according to the Minister, there is no actual majority for any one site, there may be combination, with the result that a blank is created, and every site that has been proposed - and more, because there is no limit - may be moved in an endeavour to fill the blank. Where is the difference between the methods? The proposal of the honorable member for Robertson may assist to get over the difficulty . The trouble about preferential voting is that sites may be nominated which have no chance, and on which second votes may be thrown away. That cannot be done so easily in a big election throughout a State, although it is done to some extent ; but it is easy where, as in the present case, there is a limited number of sites, and a limited number of voters.

Mr Glynn:

– Would not a man be foolish to throw away his vote on his second choice, seeing that it could not operate until he had lost his first?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I admit that when the number of sites is reduced to three or four it becomes dangerous to throw away one’s second vote-

Mr Glynn:

– It is always dangerous to throw away one’s second vote.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– If by doing so some honorable members could throw out the strongest competitor against the site which they favoured, they would secure the selection of their first choice.

Mr Glynn:

– Not by means of second votes.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Certainly. If the second preferences of others were honestly given, they would obtain a lot of second votes for their site, and secure its selection. If they threw away their second votes on .a site that had no chance, they would not strengthen . the position of a dangerous competitor, whereas the second votes of the supporters of that site, if honestly cast, would assist theirs.

Mr Glynn:

– But one’s second vote never applies until one has lost .his first vote.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I am aware of that. I want to point out to the Minister that the proposal made by the honorable member for Robertson would get rid of the objection to which I have referred. If the contention of the Minister is that it might lead to a deadlock, I would reply that a deadlock might occur in the Committee stage of the Bill itself. I see no objection to the honorable member for Robertson’s amendment.

Mr J H CATTS:
Cook

.- Although the honorable member for Kooyong has declared that he desires a confirmative vote, I am inclined to think from his remarks that what he really wants is a “put-offitive’’ vote. We are beginning now to find out what is the milk in the cocoanut so far as some honorable members are concerned. The honorable member for Kooyong desires the settlement of this question to be deferred for two months, whilst the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Indi also plead for delay, the honorable member for Fremantle urging that further opportunity should be given for inspecting all the sites. It is worth noting that those- honorable members voted last night for the amendment on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I do not think that any of them would, visit the suggested sites, even if the furtherconsideration of this question were deferred. They have had ample opportunity to do so, and I am confident that the honorable member for Kooyong would not avail himself of any further opportunity. As to the method of voting, it appears to me that whatever system is selected the ingenuity of honorable members will enable them to devise a way to cast dishonest votes if they wish to do so. The exhaustive ballot, to my mind, is fairer than the preferential system. Preferential voting would enable honorable members to play off one site against another - to vote for a weak site in order to advantage or improve the position of another which they favoured. If honorable members could be relied upon to honestly give their first votes for the site that they desired to be chosen, and their secondary votes for that which they next favoured, the preferential system would work fairly. But my experience of preferential voting satisfies me that the in- genuity of honorable members would enable them to devise a means of bringing about a result that was not intended. The Government proposal is about as fair a one as we could have, and, consequently, I propose to support it. It was adopted after considerable inquiry and debate when this question was last voted upon.

Mr Groom:

– It was used on two occasions.

Mr J H CATTS:

– After a lengthy debate as to the fairest method of arriving at a decision. I am forced to draw the conclusion from the fact that such a keen debate has again taken place on the method of voting to be adopted that there must be a desire on the part of some honorable members to find a method by which some site other than that which has a majority behind it will come out on top. The views expressed by the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Fremantle, and some of the representatives of Victoria satisfy me that they have no real desire to have this question settled. Even if we postponed its further consideration for two or three months, what guarantee should we have that it would be finally dealt with within the next four years? We do not know what will happen within the next six months. The Government proposals have stood the test of debate in this House on two previous occasions, and I think they might fairly be accepted as the most reasonable system to adopt in order that the site which has a majority of honorable members behind it may come out as the choice of Parliament in the final selection.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

.- Listening to this debate I am reminded of the difficulty we have sometimes in settling a very simple matter. It is good that there should be some diversity of opinion on subjects coming before us, but sometimes we have rather too great a variety, and business would be expedited if we could secure a greater measure of uniformity. On. a previous occasion we had a very long debate on the subject, and experts were busily engaged in attempting to evolve an almost perfect system of voting. We then had honorable members, some of whom I regret to say are not now with us, expending a great deal of time and energy on an effort to discover the very best method of voting on this question. The debate on that occasion was to me both interesting and instructive, and I followed it very carefully. Honorable members like myself who listened to it will agree that the decision we arrived at, after a very exhaustive discussion, to adopt a method similar to that now proposed by the Government, was in accordance with the evidence then before us. It was found that some of these fancy systems of voting would not operate so well in practice as in theory - a trouble that very frequently afflicts the affairs of humanity. The system now proposed by the Government, while open to objection, seems to me to be the very best by which we can arrive at an honest decision. I admit that there are one or two difficulties, but the objection to the other suggested systems is that they lend themselves to methods that I should not like to designate as trickery, but which amount to a process of overreaching with the object of bringing about a selection contrary to the views of the majority. If honorable members would record their honest preferences, the preferential system would perhaps be the best; but I agree with other honorable members who have pointed out that the system lends itself very peculiarly to an effort to put the most dangerous competitors altogether out of their due relation as a matter of preference. Such a system is liable to misuse. In connexion with a question of this kind, on which honorable members have the strongest opinions - and honest opinions - they will use every legitimate means to achieve the object they have in view. That being so, and whilst I am perfectly willingto give honorable members an opportunity to record their preferences in a fair and aboveboard manner, I think that it would be wise to put beyond them the temptation to record a vote on the second and following choices that would not exactly indicate their true preferences, but would materially assist the cause of the site they have really at heart. I want the vote to be as honest and straightforward as possible, and I see no reason to forsake the Government proposal for anything that, so far as my judgment goes, would be worse. The Government proposal may not be perfect, but I think it is one by which we shall be best able to obtain something like a representative decision.

Mr MATHEWS:
Melbourne Ports

– - One of the candidates in the illustration given by the honorable member for North Sydney dropped out with’ twelve primary votes, which were then divided amongst the others. It is, however, quite possible, that that individual would have the whole of the secondary votes of the rest. Of course, in any new electoral system, one must expect defects, but I have always objected to the elimination of the last candidate on the list, because cases have been known where, if secondary votes could have been taken into account, he would have been elected. I am rather inclined to support the preferential system moved by the honorable member for Angas but for the. fact that if six sites were submitted it would be necessary to take twenty-five divisions before the matter was decided. That, with perhaps discussions in between the divisions, would take a very long time. (The honorable member for Parramatta put the case very forcibly and I am rather inclined to agree with him. Supposing Lyndhurst, Canberra, and Dalgety are submitted, while I support Dalgety I do not wish to see Lyndhurst selected in any circumstances. If it came to a vote between Lyndhurst and Dalgety, and Dalgety were beaten, I, failing Dalgety, would support Canberra, and if Canberra could be reintroduced into the ballot it might afterwards beat Lyndhurst. I believe that a system of preferential voting could be devised whereby in one division each honorable member’s preference for every site could be shown. At the least six sites - Lyndhurst, Dalgety, Armidale; Tumut, Canberra, and perhaps Tooma - will probably be nominated. If, in the final ballot under the system proposed by the Attorney -General, Lyndhurst beat Dalgety, then in fairness Lyndhurst ought to stand against Tooma, Armidale, Tumut, and Canberra in turn to see if it could beat them. If, when Lyndhurst was matched against Canberra, Canberra happened to win, then Canberra in its turn ought also to meet every other site.

Sitting suspended from I to 2.15p.m.

Mr MATHEWS:

– I wish to put forward a suggestion under which, by one vote alone, we could settle the preference of every site proposed. I assume that the six sites I have already named are nominated. I would put them on the voting paper, numbering them one to six, from top to bottom. I would place the same names at the top so as to make six columns. Each honorable member would indicate by his vote his preference for each site as against each of the others, and that preference could be seen at a glance.

For instance, as between Armidale and Lyndhurst, I should, when voting, express my preference for Armidale. Then if Armidale knocked Lyndhurst out and the questionof Armidale against Dalgety were raised, following down the ballot paper it would be seen that I preferred Dalgety to Armidale. Then if Dalgety were pitted against Tooma my ballot paper would also show that I preferred Dalgety, and similarly with Tumut and Canberra. If Dalgety were knocked out in the counting of the votes by Lyndhurst, I would have my chance again. Lyndhurst would be pitted against Canberra, and my voting paper would show that I preferred Canberra. Therefore, by marking this one preferential voting paper every honorable member could express his true opinion as regarded each site compared with each other. Consequently, if there were six candidates we should take only one vote instead of twentyfive. I do not care for the exhaustive ballot system, because under it a site that might be acceptable to honorable members could easily be knocked out. It is alleged now that the selection of Dalgety on a previous occasion was an accident. We are also told horrible tales about that site, but I think they are misstatements of facts. We are assured that Dalgety was only selected as the less of two evils, and that if, at the final stage, it could have been pitted against Tumut, Tumut might have won. If a preferential ballot paper on the lines of the diagram I have explained had been used, it could have been examined to show which site honorable members preferred as between Tumut and Dalgety. The more sites were submitted the greater would be the necessity for adopting the course which I now advocate. If, say, twelve sites were nominated, it would be necessary to take about 120 divisions under any other system, whereas one vote would suffice under my system. I object to the method proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, because while “D” in his illustration, which received twenty primary votes, was eliminated, it is quite possible that it might have been the secondary choice of many honorable members in preference to another site. That is not a good system. It means losing one site which meets with misfortune at the start. It is said that Dalgety did not command a vote at the beginning of the ballot on the last occasion, and yet it was eventually selected. Even if the method proposed by the Minister is followed the site which wins ought to beat every other site proposed before it becomes the choice of the House. If it fails to do that, the one that beats it ought also to be called upon to beat all the others in turn. How many divisions would have to be taken to get finality by that method? My proposal is a simple way of arriving at the true preferential choice of honorable members by one vote, no matter how many sites are nominated.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

.- The Attorney-General proposes that the House should receive nominations without debate. If that is agreed to, it is doubtful whether an amendment will be permissible. Whatever sites may be nominated, I wish to move as an addition thereto the provision contained in section 3 of the Seat of Government Act 1904,’ that “ the territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth should contain an area of not less than 900 square miles, and have access to the sea.” I know that those conditions can be put in the Bill, but I would like to have them attached by the House to its choice, so that the Government would have no option in negotiating with the Government of New South Wales but to insist on their observance.

Mr Groom:

– The Government could not negotiate with the Government of New South Wales on the choice of the House until the House incorporated it in an Act.

Mr MAHON:

– True; but the sooner we proclaim the essential conditions to the acceptance of any site the better.

Mr Groom:

– Those conditions are already in the Act.

Mr MAHON:

– But the decision of the House last night shows that the Act is not worth the paper it is printed on. If that Act were valid, why have not the Government proceeded to establish the Capital? Why is all the turmoil and wrangle of another ballot being repeated in this Chamber?

Mr Deakin:

– Because the boundaries of the particular site at Dalgety w’ere not defined.

Mr MAHON:

– The Prime Minister h quite correct, but he will see that the practical effect of last night’s vote was to eliminate Dalgety from the Bill now before us.

Mr Groom:

– No. The original Act stands. ‘and a Bill to further define the territory iis before the House.

Mr MAHON:

– Yes : but with the word Dalgety, in effect, struck out. ‘ Is not that the precise position, putting technicalities and legal equivocations aside? No other meaning can attach to the vote to have another ballot. I should like to know from you, Mr. Speaker, whether I can move as an amendment the insertion of a provision to the effect that the territory shall comprise not less than 900 square miles, and have access to the sea?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I cannot accept that amendment, the only* matter now before us being the determination of the site. If the motion is carried in anything like its present form, I shall have to invite nominations of sites wi’thout any qualifications, but only nominations supported by at least five members will be recorded.

Mr MAHON:

– I am obliged to you, sir, for a clear statement of the position. lt enables us to see our limitations now rather than later on, when the opportunity of action shall have passed. At the same time, I am not satisfied with the position. As to the difference between the procedure of the Government and that suggested by the honorable member for Angas, I have only to say that if the House thoroughly understood, as he does, the advantages of the preferential system, it would adopt it. That system has more good points than any other, is least liable to be affected by accident, and furnishes slight opportunity for the adoption of certain expedients bv those who wish to secure particular results. The Government ask us to proceed forthwith to ballot for a site. Last night, however, the plea put forward for a ballot was that there are a large number of new members who have not had an opportunity to express their views on this matter, and therefore it is necessary to review our former decision. If that argument has any validity, we should not proceed to a ballot until they have had an opportunity to inspect the various sites. At present they know of them only by reading, or from conversations with other members who have visited them. It seems to me that the ballot should be deferred for at least six months, to give new members an opportunity to visit, and make themselves acquainted with, the sites. I should like to move an amendment in that direction.

Dr Carty Salmon:

– That is the logical consequence of last night’s vote.

Mr MAHON:

– Yes. We ought not to risk the selection of a site which may be wholly unsuitable. Could members who had not visited the sites tell their constituents that they voted to secure the site best in the interests of all Australia? If it is objected that the adoption of my suggestion would cause delay, I reply that the responsibility for that rests with the representatives of Sydney, who last night voted almost to a man to re-open the question.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member wishes to move such an amendment as he has suggested, it will be necessary for the honorable and learned member for Angas to temporarily withdraw his amendment.

Amendment, bv leave, withdrawn.

Mr MAHON:

– To test the feeling of the House, I now move -

That the words “do forthwith,” line i, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ will this day six months.”

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

-.- 1 understand that if the motion is carried as it stands, we shall have to proceed to a ballot for the sites, this afternoon. The motion reads -

That this House do forthwith proceed to determine the opinion of members as to the site of the Seat of Government.

Mr SPEAKER:

– But it is provided in the second part of the motion -

That an open exhaustive ballot be taken on Wednesday, 7th October.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The two sentences seem contradictory. The opinion of members cannot be ascertained without a ballot or vote of some kind. By carrying the first part of the motion, we commit ourselves to the determination of the question forthwith.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the plain and expressed intention is that the House shall forthwith proceed to a determination by the nomination of sites, to be submitted to ballot next Wednesday. The first Stage towards determination will be entered upon immediately the motion is agreed to.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But the words which I have quoted in the resolution seem to imply finality forthwith. As long as that is not intended, we can vote on that portion; but I understand that it is” now in-, tended to take the ballot on Thursday.

Mr Groom:

– I have proposed Wednesday, but if the ballot can be taken early on’ Thursday, that will be equally satisfactory, The motion can be amended later on; but it is not competent for me to move an amendment, as I have already spoken.

Mr JOHNSON:

– In that case 1 shall, unless the Minister does so, later propose the substitution of “Thursday” for “ Wednesday.”

Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · Protectionist

– I ask the honorable member for Coolgardie not to press theamendment, which can only result in a further delay of six months, and practically means the shelving of the question. I think that the House, as a whole, desires to havethe matter finally determined ; and it would be better to proceed with the work of selection. Such an amendment is unjust to theState of New South Wales, and will practically result in the loss of all the time previously expended on the question.

Mr COON:
Batman

– I support the amendment because I think that the House would be wise to postpone this question. In the course of the last sitting, we heard many reasons advanced why weshould not proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, one being that the Commonwealth is not in a position to find the necessary money, and that before any further steps are taken, a financial statement should be laid before us. We are now asked by the same members who advance these arguments, to proceed at oncewith the establishment of a bush capital ; but I think the time has arrived when the people should have something to say on the matter. There is, lt appears,, dissatisfaction with the decision of a previous Parliament; and if the question were postponed for a further six months, we should, I think, be in a better position todeal with it. In my opinion there is nohurry, because there is much other important business which has a prior claim for consideration.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I did’ not anticipate hearing the jesuitical casuistry -

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is not in order.

Mr KELLY:

– Then I withdraw thewords, and say that I did not anticipatehearing a particular form of argument from the honorable member for Batman, although I expected it from the honorable member for Coolgardie, whose views onthis question are, it is well known, swayed very largely by his antipathy towards New South Wales. But the honorable member for Batman, if my memory serves me aright, showed by his vote yesterday, an anxiety not only to settle trie question, but to regard it as settled.’ He voted that a certain site should be regarded’ as the site for all time, and his main opposi- tion to holding a ballot in order that a fair expression of opinion might be obtained, was that Parliament had already signified its intention. It was for that reason I fell into the error of describing, in the words to which you, sir, object, the speech I regret having had to listen to. I hope that this House will not stultify itself, after declaring that it desired to proceed to the choice of a site, by now declaring that there should be a delay of six months. Therefore, in the interests of the reputation of the House, I urge honorable members to proceed at once, as we agreed last night, to select the best site for the Capital.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

– It is quite ominous that the honorable member for Batman should, for the first time in his political career, venture to suggest a course which is seemingly in opposition to the course mapped out by the Government. It is the first time, since the honorable member entered the House, that he has reflected the slightest shade of discord on a Ministerial proposition. I say that that is ominous, because, if the honorable member really believed that the Government were sincere in their professed desire to have this matter brought to a conclusion, it is simply inconceivable that he should take up his present position. I feel sure that this honorable and loyal supporter of the political conglomeration on the other side would shrink at the last moment from venturing to make such a speech, if he had not received assurance, either direct or telepathic, from the Administration that postponement is really what they desire to bring about.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– No. Our little “ coon “ has bolted up a tree !

Mr REID:

– The honorable member for Batman is not moved by eccentric impulses of that kind; he is a sort of Ministerial sundial, and I am at a loss to understand what the new development means. I do not at all complain of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Coolgardie, who has, in the most straightforward way, avowed his belief and desire that the question should be shelved for the present, and deserves every credit for so doing. The amendment which he has moved will enable all those who hold the same ideas as himself, either secretly or openly, to give a straightforward vote. I think that the honorable member has a right, and that every honorable member who happens to represent a part of Australia which is not altogether unknown - I meanNewSouth Wales - has a right, to call on honorable members to show their real opinion. Those who are in favour of delaying the matter ought to vote with the honorable member, who has given them a fair and open challenge ; and those, on the other hand, who are opposed to delay, are given an opportunity of showing that they are honestly in favour of progress. Therefore, instead of endeavouring for one moment to criticise the course the honorable member has taken, I hail his proposition as one upon which there ought to be a clear and straightforward division, representing the actual convictions of honorable members on this important question.

Mr McDonald:

– How would the honorable member for Parkes vote on this question ?

Mr REID:

– I do not think that the honorable member for Parkes is here, and I decline to enter into any conjecture of that kind. I do not think I may discuss the preferential voting proposal on this amendment.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is only one amendment before the Chair.

Mr REID:

– Then I shall content myself with the remark that my objection to preferential voting is that it may be abused. In theory, it is a perfect suggestion, but in practice I am afraid it might not prove the best possible course. I really feel that the Government have been a little lax in allowing these debates to be prolonged as they have been; and I am beginning to feel a little uneasy.

Mr Groom:

– The right honorable member knows that the business was brought on as quickly as possible.

Mr REID:

– But the Government do not seem to have any momentum behind their proposals.

Mr Groom:

– If the right honorable member were to keep silent we might get on a little faster.

Mr REID:

– I have not spoken for four days ; and yet this political object, which one can scarcely see through a microscope, endeavours to reproach me for making one or two observations, while, at the same time, he actually chides me for not attending the House. That only shows the extreme to which political malignity, concentrated in an insignificant intellectual space, can go.

Amendment (Mr. Mahon’s) negatived.

Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) negatived -

That the word “exhaustive” be left out, with a view to insert, in lieu thereof, the word “ preferential.”

Mr HUME COOK:
Honorary Minister · BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I move -

That the words “ Wednesday, October 7th,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Thursday,8th October, at 3 o’clock p.m.”

We are led to believe that Thursday is a day which would be more suitable to the great majority of members; and, as this is a very important matter, we desire that as many as possible shall have an opportunity to record their votes.

Mr McDonald:

– No one has expressed a desire to have Thursday substituted.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– More than halfadozen expressions of opinion to that effect have come to the Government.

Mr Reid:

– All supporters of the Dalgety site !

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– On the contrary, some of them are not supporters of the Dalgety site. As to the hour of the day, it was at first suggested to make it8 in the evening ; but, again, with the view to consulting honorable members’ convenience, it is thought preferable, Thursday being private members’ day, to take the more important business in the earlier part of the day, and give private members an equal amount of time later in the afternoon or evening. That cannot be considered unfair to private members, while it has the additional advantage that those who, for business or other reasons, desire to leave by the afternoon trains, will be able to do so after recording their votes.

Mr Johnson:

– Do the Government undertake to give private members time equal to that occupied in voting on the sites ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The Government propose to give private members an equal amount of time on the Thursday evening.

Mr Reid:

– That will mean the whole evening.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Practically ; but, of course, if the whole time is not occupied by private members, Government business will be again taken up.

Mr Reid:

– I suppose that Thursday is not “grievance day “ ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– It is not. Then, again, the hour of 3 o’clock in the afternoon will be a great convenience to the Minister of Trade and Customs, whose medical adviser will not permit him to be out after nightfall. Though the presence of the honorable gentleman may not be of very great moment, so far as the vote is concerned, the arrangement proposed would, I think, be a personal compliment to him. For all these reasons, I hope the House will agree to the amendment.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

.- I should like to know the attitude of the Government in reference to the proposals which have been placed before us. Which is the Government going to adopt ?

Sir William Lyne:

– It is a member of the Government who is proposing this amendment.

Mr REID:

– Then I understand that the other proposal is withdrawn.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

.- Is there ever going to be a time in the history of this Government when they will know their own minds for a few hours together?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– That is very unfair, we are trying to meet honorable members’ convenience.

Mr McDONALD:

– There was one day last week when seventy-three members were present ; and had the Government desired to suit the convenience of honorable members they should have availed themselves of that opportunity to invite the House to sit on and dispose of this business.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– But honorable members were not prepared to sit on.

Mr McDONALD:

– When this amendment was first suggested, I heard two or three honorable members, who were sitting close to me, say that they could not be present on Thursday. It would appear, therefore, that whilst the amendment would convenience some honorable members, it would inconvenience others. The Government ought to stick to their guns and go on with the business set down for discussion, whether honorable members are present or not.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I was informed this morning that the alteration was designed to meet the convenience of a large number of the Labour Party, who were leaving Melbourne, and would not return until Thursday.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is true that some of our party will be away, but they will be here on Tuesday next at 3 o’clock.

Sir William Lyne:

– I was told that two of them would not return until Thursday.

Mr McDONALD:

– One of the honorable members whom the Treasurer has evidently in mind will be away for a week, so that this amendment will not suit his convenience. I think that we are establishing a dangerous precedent in specially fixing a time for the taking of votes, and that sooner or later it will be abused.

Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · Protectionist

– I do not think that the honorable member’s criticism of the Government is reasonable. It has been understood from the first that the procedure on this question must be altogether different from that usually adopted. The very fact that a ballot is to be taken shows that the vote must be essentially a personal one, and honorable members should make it their business to be here.

Mr McDonald:

– The House does not recognise pairs.

Mr GROOM:

– But honorable members do; and to suit their convenience, pairing is allowed.

Mr Frazer:

– A pair-book is kept on the table, and pairs are recorded in Hansard.

Mr GROOM:

– That is so; although they are not recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.

Mr McDonald:

– Is it not the duty of honorable members to attend?

Mr GROOM:

– Certainly; but we know that honorable members often have public duties to attend to outside the House, and that we must from time to time endeavour to meet their convenience. We have laid down a definite course of procedure, and have asked honorable members to assist us in arriving at a determination. This morning it was suggested by quite a number of honorable members that the taking of the ballot on Thursday next would suit the convenience of the House. No exception was taken to that suggestion, and we now desire to fix a time on Thursday when the ballot shall be taken, so that honorable members may make arrangements to be present. We propose to make good later in the evening the time usually devoted to private members’ business, which is occupied in taking the ballot ; and, so far from treating this matter in the way that has been suggested by the leader of the. Opposition and others, the Government are endeavouring to press it to a decision.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am not quite sure what is the feeling of the House as to the proposal of the Government that nominations should be made without debate.

Mr SPEAKER:

– We have already dealt with an amendment relating to a paragraph subsequent to that in which the question of nominations is dealt with, so that it cannot now be re-opened.

Amendment (by Mr. Henry Willis) put -

That the following words be added to paragraph (A) : - “ which shall then be voted upon against each site nominated.”

The House divided.

AYES: 24

NOES: 27

Majority … … 3

In division:

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I move -

That all the words after the word “ Speaker,” in paragraph (») be left out.

All the purposes for which the ballot is to be taken will be served if those words are left out. There will be an opportunity in Committee on the Bill to test the successful site against every other site nominated, and we shall then be able to do precisely what we desired to do through the ballot. Our proposal would simply have saved the time of the House. I am anxious that before we get to the Committee stage on the Bill the House shall not have committed itself, as it would do by adopting those words, to an assertion that the ballot indicates fairly the final judgment of the House upon the question of the Capital Site.

Mr Glynn:

– This is a matter of procedure. I do not think it will affect our attitude on the Bill subsequently.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No, but it will have the same effect as it had before, that in Committee on the Bill some honorable members will say that, as the ballot has been taken, they will abide by it. The Attorney-General is one of those. The ballot that is about to “be taken will not reflect the deliberate opinion of the House.

Dr Carty Salmon:

– Then what is the use of taking it?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Not very much, in the way in which the House has decided to take it. What I wanted was to carry the matter to finality, ana get the deliberate judgment of the House recorded by means of the ballot. Honorable members have prevented that being done, and now I want to avoid a contingency which occurred on the last occasion, and will unquestionably occur again.

Mr Chanter:

– Is there not a general agreement that when the ballot is taken it shall be considered final ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– There may be such an agreement amongst those who believe in that method of taking the ballot, but there can be no understanding of the kind amongst those who believe that the ballot will not reflect the true opinion of the House. Our contention all through is that the ballot as. proposed to be taken will not select the site by a majority of the votes cast in the House on the merits of the sites themselves. Sites will be pitted one against the other, and the ballot will be ineffective for the purpose for which it is intended. I wish to delete these words so that honorable members who desire to see the final vote of the House taken in the proper way in Committee on the Bill may not consider themselves bound to vote for the Bill as it stands, because they regard the ballot as being final.

Mr Roberts:

– That means that the whole subject will be again opened up after we have balloted.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It will all be opened up in any case, whether we ballot or not. The Bill will be before us, we shall be asked to vote for the delimitation of the site in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and no power of Parliament can prevent honorable members from trying in Committee to insert some other word than “ Dalgety.” It therefore seems idle at this stage to leave those words in the motion. . They can mean nothing, except that the House is bound by the vote which it will have just given. Those who favour Dalgety will no doubt feel themselves bound.

Mr Roberts:

– If the words mean nothing, why object to them?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Practically they mean nothing, since we” have to face a further discussion of the site in the Bill, but they will mean, if adopted, that some honorable members may feel themselves bound later on to agree with the result of the ballot. My amendment will not interfere with the effectiveness of the ballot as now proposed. I would not object even to a direction being given to the Speaker to place the result of the ballot on the records of the House, but I do not want to commit the House to saying that the site selected is to be deemed the site preferred by honorable members, because if the same method is adopted as on a previous occasion I do not think that that site will be the final decisive and deliberate choice of the House.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

.- Whilst I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta, that the striking out cf the words will neither add to nor diminish the power of honorable members to deal with the question in Committee on the

Bill in whatever way they desire, I do not agree with the honorable” member’s arguments against their retention. The honorable member asserts that we must proceed to pit the selected site against every other site. To proceed in that way would be to beat the air. If there are five sites, each man will stick to his choice ; the one which has an absolute majority will be selected by exhaustive ballot; .and if we then begin again on the prejudicial system proposed, the supporters of the other four will combine against the successful fifth, and there, will undoubtedly be a majority against it. We are asked like little children to believe that that would be a true, manly, honorable, and straightforward way of selecting the Capita] site. It would be nothing of the kind. There will be no finality at all if the successful site has afterwards to be pitted against all the unsuccessful ones. The same thing would apply if five candidates were nominated, Mr. Speaker, for your distinguished and honorable office. If, after one obtained an absolute majority, we proceeded to put the question again before he was” allowed to take the chair, we should simply begin de novo, and there would be endless trouble. I hope we shall choose the method by which we previously selected the site that secured an absolute majority.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It was not satisfactory.

Mr FISHER:

– It is an axiom that we always choose the best of a had lot of systems. We cannot get an ideally accurate system of ascertaining the will of the majority, but we choose the best we can get. I do not wish to encourage the idea that after the ballot is taken and a site selected we are to go over the whole ground again.

Mr McDonald:

– If one site has an absolute majority, how can it be defeated bv any combination?

M.r. FISHER. - The result can be easily altered. If there ‘are five nominations, and the successful site is submitted again, there will be a combination of the supporters of the other four against it, whereas in an exhaustive ballot .whatever site is defeated drops out, and those who voted for it have no option but to vote for one of the others.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member says that an absolute majority of the House can be obtained, and can then be nullified.

Mr FISHER:

– That argument is mental food for political infants. By the method suggested by the honorable member there will be a combination of four against one, and that one must be defeated.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Those who vote against it will do so because they do not believe in it.

Mr FISHER:

– It would be all right if we could select as many sites as honorable members advocated, but the Constitution, provides that only one site shall be selected, and that in the State of New South Wales. Therefore we must get, if not the site that an absolute majority of members prefer against all other sites in the first instance, at least that site which is preferred by the largest number afterwards. By a combination of the second and third votes, the site which is most satisfactory to the greatest number will ultimately be chosen. To argue the point further would be a work of supererogation.

Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · Protectionist

– - I cannot accept the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should think not, after the speech, of the honorable member for Wide Bay.

Mr GROOM:

– The honorable member has a capacity for making insinuations which are not always supported by facts. There will be a large number of sites in competition, and the difficulty is to devise a system for eliminating all but that one which, in the opinion of honorable members, is, on the whole, the best. It is realized that it may be impossible to obtain a site commanding the support of a majority on a straight-out vote, and, therefore, the procedure set out in the motion is proposed. The honorable member for Parramatta wishes us to be free to set 011. one side the result of that procedure.

Mr Fowler:

– Will not honorable members be free to do so in Committee on the Bill?

Mr GROOM:

– They will be withintheir rights in doing so, but the’ procedure proposed is an attempt to obtain an expression of opinion as to the site most acceptable to honorable members as a whole. It may be that the site selected on the ballot may be defeated by a combination. It would be possible, in a House of seventy, if thirty-three favoured the selected site, and thirty were opposed’ to it, for the remaining seven, who weredesirous of preventing any selection being made, to create a blank under the procedure suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta. We must have some method of. getting at finality.

Mr GLYNN:
Angas

.- It seems to me not to matter much whether the amendment be carried or not. We cannot bind the House by the expression of our individual opinions, but, as the ballot method of ascertaining those opinions could not be followed in Committee, the Government have proposed the procedure set out in the motion. In any case, we shouldbe inconsistent if we agreed to any other site than Dalgety, because, in agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, we should have affirmed the desirability of establishing the Capital at that place.

Mr HUTCHISON:
Hindmarsh

– Itseems to me that if the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta were adopted, the object he has in view might be defeated. I do not agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that, although there might be an absolute majority for a site, that site might be lost if subsequently pitted against each of the other sites. But if the result of the ballot were to reaffirm Dalgety, and the matter had to go to a subsequent vote, honorable members, who, likethehonorablememberforCoolgardie, wish to cause delay, might bring about its rejection. If any site has an absolute majority, that will determine the question.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I wish to make it clear that a site has a real, and not a manipulated, majority.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– I think that the honorable member’s proposal would defeat his ends. Members who might vote in the ballot for the Dalgety site as being, in their opinion, the best to adopt some thirty years hence, might, in division, vote against it. I hope that the amendment will not be carried.

Amendment negatived.

Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I now, in pursuance of the requirements of the motion, direct that the bells be rung for five minutes, to summon honorable members who may desire to nominate sites, and I shall be prepared to receive nominations from now until the rising of the House, at any time when no other business is in hand. Before putting the motion for the adjournment, I shall intimate what sites have been nominated.

Mr Fisher:

– Are the nominations to be made to you, Mr. Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER:

– A nomination should be made by an honorable member rising in his place, and mentioning the name of the site which he desires to nominate. It will then be necessary, as in the case of formal motions for adjournment, for five honorable members to rise and support the nomination. When that takes place, the nomination will be recorded.

Mr Tudor:

– Is a member at liberty to support more than one nomination?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I shall not accept more than one nomination from any member; but there is no direction to me in the motion to refuse the support of any honorable member to any nomination.

The following nominations were then received, and, at a later stage, announced by Mr. Speaker -

Dalgety (Mr. Hume Cook, for Mr. Austin Chapman).

Canberra (Mr. Henry Willis).

Lyndhurst (Mr. Carr).

Albury (Mr. Chanter).

Yass-Canberra district (Mr. Johnson).

Armidale (Mr. Foster).

Tooma (Mr. Knox).

Tumut (Sir William Lyne).

Lake George (Mr. Fuller).

Bombala (Mr. McDonald).

Orange (Mr. J. H. Catts).

Mr J H Catts:

– I should like, if I may, to withdraw the nomination of Orange, because, after consultation with the honorable member for Macquarie, I find that all the Western Leagues are supporting Lyndhurst.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is no power given to me to allow the withdrawal of any nomination, but the matter is in the hands of honorable members, who need not vote for the Orange site.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

: - Nominations may be received until the last moment of the sitting of the House, but, assuming that they are now practically completed, I find that every site previously voted on is, with one exception, included in the list - the exception being Bathurst, Owing to the decision of the Western Leagues. I wish to intimate the order of business next week. The intention is to take to-day’s Orders of the Day on Tuesday, and to proceed with them as they stand on the notice-paper - Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Marine Insurance Bill, and so on - and on Wednesdaytoresumethedebateonthe second reading of the Defence Bill. I understand that this arrangement meets the convenience of the leader of the Opposition.

page 745

ADJOURNMENT

Federal Capital Site - Defence Bill - Manufactures Encouragement Bill - Union Trade Mark - Australian Industries Preservation Act - New Protection - New Zealand’s Naval Subsidy

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.

Mr CHANTER:
Riverina

.- In order that there may be no mistake, I should like the Prime Minister to make an announcement, which may be conveyed to honorable members who are not present, as to the particular hour on Thursday when the vote on the Capital sites will be taken.

Mr Deakin:

– The vote will be taken at 3 o’clock on Thursday.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

.- Is it proposed to proceed right on with the Defence Bill irrespective of any other business ?

Mr Deakin:

– Yes.

Mr FISHER:

– I understood that the Defence Bill was to be taken a little later in the day.

Mr Deakin:

– That was when it was thought the voting on the proposed Capital sites would take place on the Wednesday.

Mr FISHER:

– In regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, does the Prime Minister mean that the promised financial statement will be made, or simply that the Bill will be proceeded with in the ordinary way, up to a certain point ?

Mr Deakin:

– Yes.

Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie

– Is the Prime Minister yet in possession of a copy of the judgment of the High Court in connexion with the union trade mark, and does he intend to submit proposals in order that that mark may be protected throughout Australia?

Mr HUGHES:
West Sydney

– Has the Prime Minister completed his inquiries in reference to that section of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, to which I referred him the other day, in connexion with those manufacturers who would have been affected by Mr. Justice Higgins’ schedule of wages?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will the Prime Minister be good enough to say when we may expect the memorandum which he has promised to present on the new protection?

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.-Can the Prime Minister see his way to making honorable members cognisant of the details of the Naval Bill passed by the New Zealand Parliament yesterday, or the day before, increasing the subsidy to the Imperial Navy ?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

.- Taking the last question first, I shall have pleasure in laying a copy of the New Zealand Naval Subsidy Bill on the table as soon as it is received, although I understand it consists only of the proposal to raise the subsidy. As to the memorandum on the new protection, I informed the leader of the Opoosition yesterday that it would be laid on the table in a few days. The judgementin the union trade marks case has not yet been received, nor can the AttorneyGeneral finally inform me when it will, though it is being eagerly awaited by his Department The matter referred to by the honorable member for West Sydney is now in the hands of the Crown Law officers, who have been asked to advise on it without delay.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have to announce that the time for receiving nominations of Capital sites has closed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.52.p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1908, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081002_reps_3_47/>.