3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
payment of temporary officialsWest Maitland Telephone Instruments - Albany to Eucla Mail Service - Newcastle-West Maitland Telephone - Sorting of Mails on Trains.
– YesterdayI asked the Postmaster-General to make inquiries as to the truth of the statement that temporary officials employed by his Department in the city and suburbs of Sydney are sometimes not paid until’ ten or twelve days after the due date of payment. Has he ascertained that that is the case, and, if so, will he give instructions to prevent it?
– The Deputy. PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has furnished the following reply: -
Temporary employes in the head office, Sydney, are paid regularly on the day following that on which permanent employes are paid. In country and suburban offices they arc paid by vouchers submitted through the postmaster. If correctly rendered and otherwise in order claims are passed in the order of their receipt in the Accounts Branch. Vouchers for payment occupy from three to four days. Nearly 50 per cent of the claims are not in order when submitted and delays beyond about a week are almost invariably caused by irregularities in accounts rendered, which, in the majority of cases necessitates return of the voucher for correction or completion.
Steps arc being taken to instruct postmasters to carefully scrutinize vouchers before submitting them to the accountant so that delay in payment may be obviated.
– I know a case in which there was a delay of sixteen days.
– If the honorable member will bring it under my notice, I shall investigate it.
– Have tenders yet been received for the mail service from Albany to Eucla, and, if so, has any been accepted by the Department?
– Tenders have been received which, according to the size of the boat and passenger accommodation, vary as much as£3,000 per annum. The lowest tender, which is a little above that of the last contract, is one that I am prepared to accept at once, as it fulfils all the requirements of the Postal Department. The highest tender even does not give the Department any better facilities. However, Western Australian members, amongst whom was the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, have waited on me, urging that consideration in the new contract should be given to the passenger and the freight requirements of the district. In view of the present state of the finances, I cannot entertain the proposal that the Postal Department should pay the added subsidy. Even if we had the money, I would be against the principle involved, that is, I am opposed to the Postal Department paying for services other than those connected with its requirements. I have, however, communicated with the Western Australian Government, asking if they are prepared to pay the extra subsidy for the purpose of assisting the development of the South East Coast. If they are prepared to pay the difference in the amount of the tenders, we shall at once accept the higher tenders, providing the additional facilities. I have asked the Western Australian Government to deal with this as a matter .of urgency, as the existing contract expires- at the end of this month.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Seeing that members of the public, and telephone subscribers, are frequently compelled to wait at West Maitland from fifteen minutes to one hour before they can be connected with Newcastle, will he cause a sum of money to be placed on the Estimates to provide an additional trunk line between West Maitland and Newcastle ?
– In .reply to the honorable member’s question I have to state that -
A specially supervised check of the business over the line referred to, extending over one week, was made a short time back, and showed that 55 per cent, of .the calls from West Maitland were cleared in five minutes, 18 per cent, in ten minutes, 11 per cent, in fifteen minutes, 8 per cent, in twenty minutes, 6 per cent, in thirty minutes, and 2 per cent, in forty-five minutes.. The question of providing additional line accommodation between Newcastle and West Maitland, 0which, judging by reports so far to hand, appears to be warranted, is under consideration. The Estimates for* New Works of the Department for the current year have already been dealt with by Parliament, but should it be possible to make additional funds available under this heading, the erection of the line will receive consideration.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
– As there are not more than 160 subscribers to the West Maitland Telephone Exchange, will the PostmasterGeneral reconsider his determination not to obtain certain information for which I asked, and call for a return as to the instruments at present being used ?
– If only the West Maitland Exchange were affected, I should be glad to get the information ; but it would be impossible to do for that exchange what we are not in a position to do for every other. However, the whole matter is being considered from various points of view, and I hope to give the honorable member, in a day or two, a more definite answer.
– Among the statutory rules distributed to-day is an amendment of a regulation under the Bounties Act, dated 10th ‘November last, defining “ fish preserved” as “ fish put up in tins.” The intention of Parliament - which can be gathered from the official report of the debates - was that “ fish preserved “ should include smoked fish. Will the Minister have the regulation altered to give effect to that intention ? The matter is of great importance to fishermen.
– I shall look into the matter, and give it most careful consideration.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a report recently appearing in the daily press, tothe effect that two of the three keepers at the Althorps lighthouse were so seriously injured that they could do nothing for themselves, and that the third man had tolook after them and the light for some days, it being difficult to attract the at- tention of shipping? Seeing that the safety of our coastal trade depends on the proper maintenance of our lighthouses, and’ that a great deal of shipping passes this particular place, will the honorable gentleman suggest to the Government of South Australia that communication should beestablished between the Althorps and the mainland ?
– I read the distressing, report referred to. This Government does not control the management of lighthouses, but anything we can do to facilitate the establishment of communication with the mainland, where islands like the Althorps are concerned, will be done with the greatest heartiness.
– Does not the honorable gentleman think that, since the Commonwealth controls commerce, navigation, and” defence, it is absolutely necessary that the lighthouses on the Australian coast should be connected with the mainland, and pro- perly maintained?
– I intended to indicate that as soon as the Commonwealth takes over from the States the control of lighthouses, the Government will be glad to do what the honorable member suggests.
– There are connectedwith the Hansard Staff some half-dozen temporary typists, who receive £4 10s. a week while Parliament is in session. I suggested last night, when the Estimates for the Department were being considered in Committee of Supply, that these men should be employed permanently at a lower salary, their services being made available for other Departments during recess. I ask, Mr. Speaker, if you will consult with the President of the Senate, and call for a report from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter as to the practicability of that suggestion.
– The suggestion is not a new one, havingbeen before me and the President and his predecessoron several occasions; but at the honorable member’s desire I will see that the matter is reconsidered.
– Some time ago the honorable rnember for Boothby moved a motion relative to the rights of public servants, and, at my request, postponed its discussion. I then requested the Public Service Commissioner to liberalize the regulation about which the debate arose. I now ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he has yet received a draft regulation from that office, and, if so, what it is?
– I have not heard from the Public Service Commissioner that he had received any proposal from the honorable member for Bourke. The Public Service Commissioner has, at my request, revised a draft regulation which I submitted to him, and has made certain suggestions.
– Then it was the honorable member who prepared the draft regulation.
– The Ministry, and not the Public Service Commissioner, frame the regulations, and we propose to do so in this case. I have not yetreceived from the Commissioner any revision of a draft regulation prepared by the honorable member for Bourke.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs tell the House exactly what has been done in the direction of liberalizing the regulations governing the conduct of public officials in connexion with political matters?
– As soon as the regulation has been approved by the Government, the House will be informed.
Colonel FOXTON. -During the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill, the honorable member for Corio brought forward certain charges, his informant having alleged that maladministration had taken place in connexion with the Ordnance Stores Branch of the Department. The then Minister of Defence promised to inquire into the matter. I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if he is able to say whether such an inquiry has been made, and, if so, with what result.
-I have not heard anything of the inquiry, but shall ascertain the position and give the honorable member a reply to-morrow.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General a letter which I have received complaining that two officers in the Commonwealth service are engaged in coaching candidates for employment as instrument-fitters in the Post and Telegraph Department, and thus competing with private individuals who have not the advantage of a position in the service. Will the Minister make inquiries, and inform the House whether or not the complaint is well founded?
– This is the first I have heard of the complaint, but the matter having been brought under my notice, I shall make the necessary inquiries.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper -
Accidents to Machinery of Steamers - Return to an Order of the House dated 17th September, 1 908.
asked the Minister of External Affairs,upon notice -
Brisbane, Thursday. - In the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kidston, replying to Mr. Coyne, said there was some ground for the report that he had promised to import indentured labourers for service on the pastoral properties. The number was eighty, and the terms were that the employer should provide twelve months’ work, pay wages of 20s. a week, provide house accommodation, and, if necessary, rations on the customary scale, extras being at the rate of 2s. a month ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I may add that a further request for fifteen more on the old terms has been received from the Premier of Queensland -
The award of the Arbitration Court, as to wages, is limited to men employed during the shearing season only. The employers of the men introduced under this contract will, in view of that award, not be able to utilize their services in connexion with any of the branches of the pastoral industry dealt with in the award.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Mr. Fowler) agreed to -
That the correspondence between the Premier of Western Australia and the Federal Government relative to the utilization of the Perth Mint for a Commonwealth coinage be laid on the table of the House.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I would remind the House of several reasons why we should proceed with its consideration with the utmost expedition. In the first place the close of the session is imminent, and no time remains for any elaborate discussion. Another reason., is that this question has been discussed from absolutely every point of view. I think it scarcely possible to adduce a new fact, illustration, or argument in favour of or against this measure. “Another reason why the House should proceed with the Bill and make it a matter of urgency is that it will remove a source of irritation which has long existed between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth authorities. We need not stop to inquire what justification, if any, exists for this feeling; sufficient for us is that it exists. It will be a good thing for the Commonwealth as well as for the State of New South Wales that any subject calculated to engender friction, such as this has done, should be disposed of out of hand. I have said that I hope we shall get through the Bill quickly, and therefore I propose to set an example of brevity to honorable members, particularly because, as I have already mentioned, it is almost impossible to offer anything new in the shape of argument or facts in connexion with the Bill. This is the first occasion, I believe, when the Government of the day have been found voting in a body in connexion with the choice of the Federal Capital.
– It ought to have been done years ago, and then the question would have been settled.
– I shall allow others to speak for themselves, but it does not give me very much concern that it should be necessary to reverse my vote on this occasion. During the many occasions when this matter was before the House I never voted for Dalgety, the site which ultimately was chosen, until the last time, when it was displaced by Canberra. I never had very strong convictions about Dalgety being the best site available, but I respected the decision of Parliament, and thought that this Parliament should not yield to the dictation of any one State. I am prepared now to stand by the declaration which I then made as a private member - that the selection of the Federal Capital site was the exclusive function of the Federal Parliament. I said in the previous discussion -
The one paramount consideration in the settlement of this question is not the welfare of any particular State or capit.il city, but the welfare of the future Australian nation.
That I repeat now. I still adhere tothat position. So much having been said in the past, it is scarcely necessary to recite the history of this movement for the establishment of a Federal Capital, but I shall briefly review the facts which make this Bill necessary. Honorable members will recall that in 1904 Parliament passed theSeat of Government Act, declaring that the capital of the Commonwealth should be in the neighbourhood of Dalgety. The New South Wales Government and Parliament took exception to that measure, asserting that it was for the Parliament of New South Wales first to offer sites, and that they had never offered Dalgety. They urged, further, that the adoption of any site so remote from Sydney was not in keeping with the arrangement arrived at by the Premiers of the States prior toFederation. They contended that it was implied that, the site selected should be as near the 100-mile limit as possible. On behalf of the Commonwealth it was urged that the right of selection rested with this Parliament, and that in choosing Dalgety it was only exercising its undoubted prerogative. That is the position in which we still stand ; we have given away none of our rights. I have noticed in one of the leading metropolitan newspapers in thisState the statement that the Federation should not palter with its indefeasible right to be the supreme judge of everything appertaining to its own capital. Sofar as that is concerned, we are surrendering nothing in this Bill. The measure weakens in no respect our rights to enforce the will of this Parliament in regard tothe selection of the Capital. That is my answer to that suggestion.
– Nobody has ever disputed that the Federal Parliament had theright to select the Federal Capital.
– Then what is the meaning of all this dictation from Sydney ? What was behind the numerous dictatorial despatches which the honorable member for Ballarat,, when Prime Minister, exhausted his affability in replying to? Had a man of less amiable temperament beenin his position at that time, some of the despatches received from Sydney would assuredly have embroiled the Government of the Commonwealth with New South Wales, and ft was only through his great tact and forgiving spirit that peace was preserved.
– Those despatches had reference only to the territory, and not to the site within the territory.
– Why raise it all again?
– I do not want to review’ the course of events further than is requisite to explain the position. In view of what has already taken place - the exclusion from the Bill last brought down by the honorable member for Darling Downs of the wor’d !! Dalgety/’ and the insertion by both Houses of the words “ YassCanberra’ - it becomes necessary to introduce this Bill, and also to repeal the Seat of Government Act 1904. We include in the measure the conditions that the territory should.” contain 900 square miles, and that there should be access to the ocean. Both those conditions are preserved, and the only new condition introduced relates to the right of the Commonwealth to go upon the territory and make the necessary surveys.
– Has the New South Wales Government made any arrangement with the present Ministry in reference to those conditions?
– I am not aware that they have, or that it is necessary for them to do so. My contention is that if we put our conditions in the Bill, they stand there as* the law, and there can be no Federal Capital unless the New South Wales Government accept them.
– I do not think the New South Wales Government will be found unreasonable, if the question is considered in a fair spirit.
– I have every reason to believe that the New South Wales Government will treat US in a fair spirit. I have a. proof of it ‘in the fact that since the House decided to insert the words “YassCanberra” in the Bill the Premier of New South Wales has reserved all the Crown lands within the territory from sale and lease.
– Does that include the proposed catchment area also?
– Yes, it includes all the lands, I understand, within the YassCanberra district, as the honorable member will find from the map, a copy of which is hung in the corridor.
– That includes the catchment area ?
– I am informed that all the Crown lands within the catchment area are reserved from lease and sale. At the same time it must be stated that nearly all, or a great portion of the land within the territory is already alienated.
– Not the catchment area.
– A good deal of it, I fear. At any rate, the Government of New South Wales show a disposition to meet us; and I welcome the fact as indicating a relationship which it is very desirable to strengthen and maintain. I must say that, in my view, if the House decides to accept this site, Parliament will have made an admirable choice. Perhaps I am the only member who has lived for three years in the vicinity of the territory which we propose to select, and I can say that a more magnificent summer or winter climate there is not in the world, so far as my experience goes. Yass-Canberra may not possess all the panoramic beauties of Dalgety, but all the essentials for evolving a virile and strenuous people, I think, can be found in this territory. I may mention that one of the sites in this locality was selected by Mr. Oliver, whose knowledge of New South Wales is, perhaps, unexampled - that was the site nearest Yass, shown as No. 1 on the map in the corridor. But even if we selected the most remote site, we should still have one verycentral and very convenient to the centres of the two great States of Victoria and New South Wales. If any one of these sites were selected, members of Parliament from the south could proceed via Yass, and the only railway to be built would be ohe of 38 miles, while honorable members from the north would travel via Goulburn. If it is desired to have an outlet to Twofold Bay-
– Jervis Bay.
– I speak of Twofold Bay advisedly.
– That would be a long way.
– Quite so, but the New South Wales Government are pledged to carry a railway to Bombala. On the other hand, if, as I think more likely, the outlet should be to Jervis Bay, we shall, no doubt, have the approval and assistance of the New South Wales Government, and very little difficulty will be met in accomplishing our purpose. I understand from the reports that there has been a line surveyed from Tarago to Braidwood, a distance of 29 miles, and it would not be difficult to extend1 the railway from Braidwood to Jervis Bay ; or to build a Une from the Capital city, supposing it to be in the vicinity of Queanbeyan, direct to the sea. The question of water supply has, I suppose, been practically exhausted in the various reports submitted ; and1 honorable members are probably as familiar with the facts as I am myself. I shall, therefore, not detain the House longer, but merely move the second reading of the Bill, and urge its acceptance on the ground that, on the whole, the selection of this territory is a desirable and judicious compromise, that it complies with all the essential conditions for a healthy city, and is one which will be accepted by the people of New South Wales, and, I hope also by the people of the Commonwealth generally.
– I echo the concluding words of the Minister, and hope that this Bill may soon find its way to the statute-book, and thus give us finality in a matter which has disturbed this House, and disturbed the relations between my own State and the rest of the Commonwealth for many years. I express a sincere hope that the final settlement of this question may be the prelude to a better spirit and better understanding amongst all sections and all the States of the Commonwealth. I am glad to find the present Minister in charge of a measure of this kind, and to hear his eulogy of the site which has been chosen. I cannot help wishing, however, that we had had the advantage of that eulogy during the main discussion some time ago, because it might have given the supporters of this site even more votes.
– The Minister has given a very logical reason for his attitude.
– I am speaking in no spirit of complaint, but merelypointing out that the Minister speaks with a knowledge and experience which many of us do not possess, derived, as that knowledge is, from a lengthy stay in this particular locality.
– Does the honorable member for Parramatta desire to continue the fight over this matter?
– Let me assure the honorable member that I have not an ounce of fight in me !
– Then why dig up these things ?
– I am expressing my admiration of the Minister’s eulogy of the site and its climate; and I suggest the desirability of other honorable members acquainting themselves with the advantages of the locality, because they will, I am sure, become more than ever reconciled to it. The selection of this site has been reached by the ordinary process of compromise. Most of us in New South Wales preferred another site, which we thought even more desirable.
– Where did the honorable member desire the Federal territoryto be?
– The right honorable member knows very well : and it would be a waste of time to go over the question again.
– We do not desire these enigmas !
– It was that horrible site, Lyndhurst !
– I hope that this measure may have a smooth passage to another place and speedily become law. Reference has been made to possible dictation by the State of New South Wales to the rest of the Commonwealth in regard to the site; but we must not forget that, in the Constitution itself, that State and the rest of the Commonwealth are made joi nr. partners in this connexion. The terms and phraseology of the Bill are the clearest of all proofs of that fact. If New South Wales has been accused of attempting to go beyond the compact embodied in the Constitution, may I suggest that we are somewhat departing from the strict terms of the Constitution in the area which we propose to legalize in the Bill. The Constitution provides that the Federal territory shall be not less than 1 00 square miles, whereas the Bill proposes that it shall be not less than 900 square miles, and have access to the sea.
– Not less than 100 square miles means anything over 100 square miles.
– We are adopt- ing the phraseology of the Constitution Act, with the exception that we substitute 900 square miles for 100 square miles. However, I have no desire to labour the point. I think that the State of New South Wales will generously desire to grant an area adequate for all the purposes of the
Commonwealth. Whether 900 square miles should be asked for may be open to question, my own impression being that so large an area is not needed for the site of a city. It would, however, perhaps be advantageous to have at our disposal an area sufficiently large to enable us to locate the city in the best possible position. I am disposed to accept the provisions of the Bill, since I’ believe that the State from which I come will not deal ungenerously with the Commonwealth. The sooner the measure is placed on the statute-book, the better will it be for the future relations of the States, while it will be of advantage to all concerned for us to have a local habitation, and a name of our own.
– I have one or two’ words to add, now that we have reached the last act of the discussion on this important question. They are in explanation of my attitude in reference to one of the suggested sites at the time the ballot was taken. I then announced my intention to test the opinion of the House concerning the site, so that it might be dealt with absolutely on its merits, apart from the other sites. I had intended to take that action should a Bill be immediately introduced j but the ballot was not at once followed by the introduction of the Bill, and since this House chose the YassCanberra site, a majority of the Senate has also voted for that site. I feel now that, if I took the course I originally intended to take, I might bring about a result which I do not desire ; that, by moving for one site, I might bring about the choosing of another to which 1 am more opposed than I am to the Yass-Canberra site. Being a democrat, I abide by the decision of the majority. A man should be able to fight hard for the cause that he believes to be just; but, when defeated, should be ready to shake hands with his opponent. I have no doubt as to the need for securing a Federal area of 900 square miles. The object of the Labour Party in proposing the acquisition of so large an area was to secure a pure water supply, and to insure that the Commonwealth should obtain the increase in values resulting from its expenditure on the Seat of Government. The provision for the acquisition of this area is the brightest feature in the Bill, because it enables us to look forward to the time when the taxpayers will be relieved of liability in connexion with the expenses of Federation, the rents from the Federal territory, and the buildings, on it, going far to minimise, if they will not entirely obviate, the need for taxation. When this happens we shall have set an example to be followed with advantage, not only by the States, but also by other countries. I hope that the Bill will be passed without much discussion. As the Prime Minister stated, the subject has now been worn threadbare.
– I wish to refer to a few matters which, in my opinion, need amendment. It seems to me that the measure should be described as a Bill to determine the territory within which the Seat of Government is to be. The Constitution enacts that the Seat of Government is to be in” territory previously acquired. We are now proceeding upon the mistaken lines followed in 1904, when we passed an Act to determine the Seat of Government, before acquiring territory in which the Seat of Government could be placed. We are in such a tremendous hurry to finish with the matter now, that it seems likely that we shall adopt the clumsy, if not mistaken, precedent of that Act. In the first place, the title should be amended. As to the area of the proposed territory, I should be glad for the Commonwealth to acquire 900 square miles, to apply to it the principles of nationalization. It was advocated by some of us in the Convention that the territory acquired for the Seat of Government should be national in every sense, so that the increase in values following the concentration of population and the expenditure of Commonwealth money there should benefit the Commonwealth Government. But although the Commonwealth territory must not be less than 100 square males, if we were to seek to force the State of New South Wales to grant a larger area, I think it would be held that our power is limited by the purpose for which the area is acquired. We have power to acquire territory, not for agricultural or pastoral settlement, -but for a site for the Seat of Government, and if
Ave sought to acquire too large an area, the State of New South Wales might resist, and, pressing the matter before the High Court, that body might decide that the large area we ask for is not ancillary to the establishing of the Seat of Government. I shall welcome the application of such powers of nationalization as the High Court, on a fair construction of the Constitution, may declare. I do not know what is meant by the reference in the Bill to “ access to the sea.” Is it intended that the State shall construct a road or a railway to the sea? I do not think that we have the right to compel it to do so. Or is it meant that, as part of the 900 square miles for which we ask, we shall be ceded a strip running down to the sea? The language is not explicit. Again, is it meant that the State shall not prevent the citizens of the Commonwealth from having access to (and egress from the Federal Capital ?
– We have repeated the words of the present Act.
– I know. that. I do not Criticise the action of the Government in this matter. Ministers have, wisely perhaps, relied on what Parliament has already done, and have followed the precedent of 1904. These words are, however, indefinite. Every citizen of the Commonwealth has a constitutional right, of which no State can deprive him, to go to and from the Seat of Government. That was decided in America in the case of Crandall v. Nevada. No state can prevent the use of any of its instrumentalities, such as roads or railways, to obstruct access to or egress from the capital. I draw attention ko this matter, because, later on, the provision may cause a little difficulty. Clause 6 speaks of “ compensation,” and the word “ land “ is used. But what we are acquiring is, not land, but territory within the meaning of the Constitution, and land or property is acquired under sub -section xxxi. of section 51. It must be acquired on just terms, and the manner of acquisition is provided for in the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901. We are now seeking to acquire, not proprietary rights in land, but territorial rights over a given area.
– The honorable and learned member contends that territorial rights can be transferred by the State without the resumption of land?
– Yes, Existing titles will not be disturbed by the Commonwealth acquisition of territorial rights. If we wish afterwards to acquire proprietary rights, we shall have to put into force the provisions of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act. I make these suggestions now so that they may be considered. If I am wrong, no more need be said of them ; but if there is really a doubt, we may perhaps, before it is too late, so amend this Bill as to insure that its object will be carried out. Clause 6, which incor porates the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906, i.; based on the assumption that we are going to buy proprietary rights in land, whereas that is not what is intended. We must be cautious of what we are doing by this wholesale incorporation of the provisions of an Act which may or may not be germane to the Bill. The machinery of clause 6 applies to proprietary rights ; I hope that it applies also to territory, but I doubt it. It is based on the assumption that we are going to buy and pay for land, although as a matter of fact what we are going to do is to pay, so far as payment can be claimed for territory acquired where there are no Crown lands to be granted. It has been said that by the incorporation of the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906 in this Bill, we shall not have to pay for increased values after the date upon which the actual territory to be acquired has been determined. I would point out, however, that although sub-section 2 of section 29 of that Act provides that -
The value of the land shall be assessed without reference to any increase in value arising from the proposal to carry out the public purpose. section 5 of the Act shows that “public purpose ‘ ‘ does not include the acquisition of land for the purposes of the Federal Capital. It sets forth that - “ Public purpose “ means any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws, but shall not include the acquisition of territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth under the Constitution.
If that is so, sub-section 2 of section 29 of the Act does not apply in this case. There is, at all events, a doubt about the matter. It may possibly be said that clause 6 involves an incidental modification of all the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906 that conflict with the idea that we are not going to pay for increased values. I should be very sorry, however, to trust to a mere implication that does not appear on the face of the measure itself. When we wish to declare that certain sections of a;i Act shall not apply, we distinctly sayso, and specify what sections shall apply. That has not been done in this case, and the effect may be in the direction I have endeavoured to impress upon the House. We have no modification, either, of the definition of “ Crown land “ in the Act of 1906 - “ Crown land “ means any land the property of a State, whether reserved or dedicated for any public purpose or not, but does not include any estate or interest granted by the State to any person.
When we are acquiring a territory, I think that that ought also to be included; unless clause 6 is confined to the purchase from individuals of proprietary rights in the land after the territory is acquired. The Crown lands that are not to be paid for include the value of the reversion to the Crown in New South Wales, and we must be careful that we do not practically give to the State what the Constitution concedes to us. When the Bill of 1904 was before us, we had no statement from Ministers as to what New South Wales proposed to do in respect of lands which it has to give us free of charge. Is an Act to be passed by the State Parliament under section in of the Constitution surrendering the land tq us, and to be followed by an Act of this Parliament acquiring it? If so, unless this Bill is merely a direction to the Government to select a definite area for submission to Parliament, we are proceeding on wrong lines; we are accepting the land before it is granted by New South Wales. In Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth, a doubt is expressed as to what is meant by the granting of land of a State for a site, and the opinion seems to be expressed that it ought to be granted by Act of Parliament, and accepted by the Commonwealth. I am sorry that, in regard to these doubtful points, we have had no guidance either by Ministers who introduced the Seat of Government Bill in 1904, or from the Government responsible for the introduction of this measure. I do not wish to delay the passing of the Bill, but the sooner surmises as to the anticipated effect of some of the provisions of the measure are cleared up, the sooner will the advisers of the Government have an opportunity to bring its wording into line with what they think is its purpose.
.- I congratulate the Government on their determination to make this a Ministerial question. This is the first occasion on which it has been so treated. On a previous occasion I expressed my disapproval of the failure of the late Government to make up their minds in regard to it, feeling that in such circumstances they could not reasonably expect the House to arrive at a decision. I do not hesitate to say that the dis agreement amongst members of the late Administration with regard to the site that should be selected has been directly responsible for the present situation, and that it will lead to the Capital being established in the Yass-Canberra district instead of at Dalgety. The late Treasurer was always opposed to the selection of Dalgety, and most of his colleagues, as well as their supporters, and, I believe, a majority of the people of Australia, will derive little satisfaction from the fact that the indecision of the late Government has led to the selection of Yass-Canberra. It has certainly caused the settlement of this question to be delayed for years. I do not deny that the late Government found themselves in a difficult position, since they had to deal with a State Ministry which was hostile to the selection of Dalgety. It is noteworthy that the present Administration in New South Wales are now prepared to do their utmost to facilitate the establishment of the Capital in the Yass-Canberra district.
– The honorable member would take up the same attitude if he had his own way.
– Exactly. The Government of New South Wales, having secured the selection of a district of which they approve, it would certainly be remarkable if they were not prepared to do everything possible - to facilitate the final settlement of the question. I feel, however, that we are not yet in possession- of sufficient information to enable any one to say that the last word has been spoken by the Parliament on this subject. I am certainly anxious that it should be settled at the earliest possible moment, but I am not in favour of now choosing for all time an area which at present cannot be defined. A few weeks ago we had to vote, not upon the selection of one definite site as against another, but upon the question of whether” a big and practically undefined area should be chosen as against a site that was specifically indicated. The Yass-Canberra district includes many miles of country.
– The Dalgety selection covered thirty-four miles.
– But the boundaries of Bie area proposed1 to be acquired there were specifically stated. I am sure that the honorable member will agree that the area proposed to be acquired under the first
Seat of Government Bill was more definitely stated than is that with which this measure deals. It is impossible at present to inspect the site of the proposed Capital in the Yass-Canberra district, since it has not been defined ; but when the officers of the Commonwealth are able to state the exact area which in their opinion is the most suitable for the Capital the whole question will ,have to be reviewed. When the boundaries of the site to be acquired have been fixed, and its water supply and general suitability can be determined, it is only fair that it should be pitted against other sites that have been previously selected. Whilst I approve of most of the provisions of this Bill, I hope the Government will not consider the passing of it as an authority to purchase or acquire an area of land in the Yass-Canberra district until a site for the Capital has been actually fixed upon by its officers, and their decision submitted to this Parliament.
– Surely the grant to and acquisition by the Commonwealth would be a subsequent stage?
– That is the point I am trying to get at. If the Bill embodies only sufficient authority for the Commonwealth surveyors to seek information and locate sites within certain areas in order to make the position clear and give additional information to Parliament, I am satisfied.
– It does not give authority to accept any territory.
– It incorporates in clause 6 the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906. I am inclined to think that in that clause the Government are given power to accept or purchase the lands that have been agreed upon by their own surveyors.
– We passed a similar Bill regarding Dalgety, and then another Bill had to be introduced to give the further powers necessary.
– If the Minister would outline the intentions of the Government in regard to the measure he might shorten the debate considerably. Are powers being sought in this Bill to accept the territory which may ‘be agreed upon by the surveyors sent to the district by the Commonwealth authorities, or is its purpose only to get information which will help Parliament to decide whether to pass a further Bill to acquire the area?
– There will be another Bill afterwards.
– That being so, no reasonable exception can be taken to the objects of this Bill. I shall welcome the settlement of this question. With the Minister’s assurance that the acceptance of the area and the incurring of a liability by the Commonwealth will be a matter for subsequent negotiations, in the light of the additional information that will be available for honorable members, .so that the merits and demerits of the site may be pitted against those of any other s:te that may be suggested, I have nothing further to say, and will facilitate the passage of the Bill through this House.
.- There is a great deal in what the honorable member for Angas has said in reference to the form and drafting of this Bill. To me it is a matter of some surprise that the Bill has been drafted in its present form, especially in view of the fact that previous law advisers of the Crown in this House have had considerable experience of the technical difficulties of construing section 125 of the Constitution, and indicated, by the latest Bill brought in by the honorable member for Darling Downs, that they had obtained some grasp of the real constitutional construction. But this Bill reverts, apparently, to the old and original construction, which involves a serious mistake in procedure. In the first Bill brought down, which was practically merely a test BilK it was stated that the Seat of Government should be at a certain place known as Dalgety. I think it was the honorable member for Parkes who first prominently drew attention to the point that the true construction of the Constitution involves the necessity of proceeding to determine the Federal Territory as . a first step, and that then, having determined the Federal territory generally - not necessarily by exact metes and bounds - the Commonwealth could proceed to exercise the rights of survey within that territory, and to ascertain and determine later on by supplementary legislation the precise spot within it which should be the exact site of the Federal city or Seat of Government. That point was first stated most clearly and lucidly by the honorable member for Parkes, and ever since I have been absolutely convinced that that is the true and proper procedure. I, therefore, think that this Bill begins with a mistake by saying that the Seat of Government shall be in the district of Yass-Canberra. It would have been preferable to follow the Bill of the honorable member for Darling Downs, of the 22nd September last, the second clause of which begins -
The territory described in the schedule is hereby determined to be the territory within which the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be.
That is very clear. The draftsman of that Bill had grasped the constitutional point and advised the true method of procedure, first by determining the territory, and then indicating later on a point within the territory upon which the Seat of Government should be.
– But in this case, unless they have boundaries, how can they prepare a schedule?
– I do not say that at this point Ministers should indicate metes and bounds ; but the Bill might following the precedent of the last measure, have stated that -
The territory known as the Yass-Canberra territory is hereby determined to be the territory within which the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be.
– Nobody knows what that territory is.
– That is a matter for subsequent survey, a matter of geographical ascertainment.
– It would be a matter of local residents guesswork.
– The Government have used those very word’s in this Bill. “The district known as Yass-Canberra” is not determined in the Bill.
– We propose to find out the spot in that district where the Capital is to be.
– That is putting the cart before the horse. The words in the Constitution are as clear as noonday -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonmonwealth…..
That is in the future-perfect tense, and means that the Seat of Government shall be within territory which shall have been previously granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth. That evidently is the keynote, although I must confess with sorrow that the section is vaguely, inadequately and imperfectly worded.
– How could the Commonwealth acquire it unless this House decided what should be acquired?
– The House could follow the precedent of the last Bill introduced by. the honorable member for Darling Downs, saying that the territory within which the Seat of Government shall be situated shall be in a certain district, and then give authority to enter and survey that district, and ascertain its metes and bounds.. It is absurd to ask any Government to bring down a Bill to define metes and bounds as a preliminary step. We must have authority to enter upon the territory to ascertain metes and bounds, and decide which country is best and most desirable.
– We are following exactly the precedent of the honorable member for Darling Downs, as this Bill is a copy of his first one.
– The second Bill of the honorable member for Darling Downs followed the right procedure to determine the territory. If that were adopted now, it would be necessary to follow it up by a later Bill defining exactly by metes and bounds the spot within that territory where the city should be placed. Those will be two processes; both can be carried out only by independent surveys, and the results of both those surveys would have to be embodied in Acts of Parliament, to determine first for all time what the territory is, and secondly the exact spot within it where the city itself should be. It is a. technical point, but there is a great deal in the contention of the honorable member for Angas that the subject ought to have been approached in that way. With reference to the point as to the difference between territory and land, there can be hardly any doubt that the words in the Constitution “ territory which shall have been granted to” mean country or regions involving the exercise of rights of sovereignty, which are exercised at present by the State Government, and which it is proposed shall be vested in the Commonwealth. We can only obtain the Federal territory by some process of grant from the State Parliament. Whether there is any legislative power to coerce or compel them to grant, is one of the open questions which up to the present have been the subject of endless controversy. In reference to the word “acquired,” I agree with the honorable member for Angas that that means the acquisition of proprietary rights in freehold property. At the same time it is not necessary for the Commonwealth, having acquired territorial or sovereign rights over a region, to go on and buy up the freeholders within the territory, unless the freehold land be required for Federal use. If land at present .held in fee simple, or by any other title,- within the Federal territory, is required for Federal purposes, then the Commonwealth will have to exercise its power under the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, and buy those people out, but unless the Commonwealth determines upon the policy of the nationalization of land within the territory it may not be necessary to acquire that property. The Commonwealth would have to buy the freeholders out if it were determined to nationalize the whole of the Federal territory. The object of the clause in this Bill is, I understand, to settle that, once the territory is acquired, if we want to buy out the freeholders later on, they shall only be paid the value of the land at the date of the passing of this Act, and not any future increment. That is a safe and sound principle which I thoroughly approve of. The freeholders may not necesarily be bought out hereafter, but, if they are, they can be paid only the capital value of the land at the time when this Act is passed.
– It is doubtful whether we can pass that provision now, not owning the territory
– I am not .so doubtful as to that. This may be a clause which is intended to operate prospectively. I agree that it would be unthinkable to attempt to acquire the land from any of the freeholders within the Yass-Canberra district until the territory itself is vested in the Commonwealth. This clause would operate, not in prasenti, but in futuro.
– It has the effect of preventing speculation in land.
– It will have that effect, and operate in a. conservative and moderating direction. I shall be pleased to help to settle this matter in every way possible, to make the Bill as clear as it can be made, and to remove the Capital site question from the area of Federal controversy, where it has occupied a prominent position for so long a time. So far as the site itself is concerned, the principal clause in the Bill seems to be that repealing the Dalgety Act. It is a very important pro vision, and, in fact, is the gist of the whole measure. If it be not carried, the Bill must be dropped. With regard to this clause, I wish to define my position shortly. I have never voted for Dalgety, and I am not prepared to vote for it now ; I voted against that site always ; and1, 1 intend to vote against it again. During the three ballots I explained that I was against Dalgety, and in favour of either Tumut or Tooma; and I should be prepared to take the same attitude now ; but seeing that those two sites have been beaten, I shall, as a matter of policy, vote for the next best site available, and that is the site contemplated in this Bill.
– One of the honorable member’s conditions was that there must be independent access to the site.
– I argued in favour of access to the River Murray or the sea, or to a main line of railway. Now it appears that the present choice of the Government is accompanied with the absolute condition that there shall be access to the sea; and that meets with my approval. The site proposed is also on or near to a main line of railway. On all these grounds, therefore, I shall be prepared to support the Bill so far as I reasonably can.
.- I should like to see this question settled once and for all ; although when I consider the equal division of opinion in this Chamber, I feel inclined to move the postponement of the question until after the next elections. It has been proposed that a referendum should be taken, but I do not approve of that, because I believe the people, who send us here to represent them, have an opportunity of expressing their opinion when they elect us. During1 the last election this question was not before the people because it had been practically settled, so far as the House was concerned. We had passed two Acts deciding that Dalgety should be the site; and, therefore, the question was not then an open one; but if this Bill be postponed the whole question can be properly considered. I am not in favour of repealing the Act already passed until the people have another opportunity of expressing their opinion, especially in view of the equal division on the question in Parliament. We know that the YassCanberra site was carried bv six votes, which actually meant only three crossing over ; and I believe that it is common knowledge that some who voted for that site were opposed to it, but voted for it in order to keep Dalgety “ out of the running.” Of course, that was legitimate and honest enough politically, but it did not contribute to a true decision of the question by this House. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie said a little while ago that he was in favour of Dalgety, and that he did not think the majority of the people of Australia were in favour of the site now proposed. The honorable member further said that if this had been made a party measure previously we should have decided in favour of Dalgety.
– Does the honorable member not think that that is true?
– It may be true. We have now a Government measure before us, and it is possible that there may be a reversal of some votes previously given, but this only shows the evil of making a question of the kind a Government one, because we do not get the true individual opinion of honorable members. This only shows to me that it would be far better to have elective than party Ministries.
– We should get a Ministry picked from the majority of the House.
– We might have the honorable member picked, and no doubt he would be better satisfied than he is at pre-‘ sent.
– Do I look unhappy?
– On reference to the reports, I see that it is proposed we should have a dam 100 feet high to conserve the water. Personally, I would prefer to see the site nearer some stream, with a supply of water without a dam, because dams of the height suggested are not without their attendant dangers. As I told my electors, I have no wish to live below a dam of the kind, because, in case of a flood, they might lose their representative. Altogether the reports are not satisfactory ; but I shall not move a motion for the postponement of the question, contenting myself with voting against the Bill, and, in Committee, against the repeal of the Seat of Government Act. We should have regard not to what suits only New South Wales, ‘ Tasmania, or any individual State, but to what suits the whole of the people of Australia ; and we must not forget that the site once fixed can never be altered.
.- It is premature altogether to proceed with this measure, and I am surprised’ at the attitude of the Government. As the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has pointed out, the decision of the House on the ballot was simply in favour of a district undefined; in this area of 900 square miles there would be considerable difference of opinion as to whether Yass or Canberra should be made the centre. When the Yass-Canberra district had been selected I asked’ an han.orable member who had been one of the strongest supporters of that territory, “ What is the next procedure, having regard to the number of sites “ ? The reply was that he presumed the next move would be to appoint a Committee of experts to select a site; and, certainly, I thought that advantage would be taken of the recess to take such a step, and that, when a report had been received, the repeal of the Act of 1904 would take place. At present a district has been selected, but nothing definite has been decided on in regard to the water supply or the catchment area. Another question is, of course, that of access to the sea. It has always seemed to me proper that the Federal territory should be carried right down to the sea; and, unless there is such a provision, we shall make a great mistake in our selection. I am firmly of opinion that the proper course would be to postpone the question until a survey has been made, and proper reports presented in regard to water supply, and1 so forth. The reports presented in the last few days are” most indefinite and unsatisfactory. In one clause it is stated -
The junction of this stream with the Mumimbidgee, from which point the supply would be taken, is on the very border of the Canberra area, and the distance thence to the proposed City site is only 17 miles. To convey this water to any of the other sites within the YassCanberra area, and shown upon the heliograph, is simply a matter of additional cost, and that cost will be directly proportional to the distance of each site from the junction of the Cotter and the Murrumbidgee.
We have no idea what it is going to cost to bring the water to the Federal Capital. In the next paragraph these words occur -
The information at our disposal at present is not sufficient to enable me to submit any comparative estimates, and, indeed, with regard to the whole of these sites, such estimates can only be prepared when the exact location of the city is indicated. . . . Taking the three general’ positions - the vicinity of Canberra, the vicinity of Yass, and the vicinity of Lake George - the water supply to the former will be the cheapest, that to the latter the most expensive, and that to the vicinity of Yass possibly a mean between the other two. With regard to the latter site, it is, of course, possible to deliver any quantity of excellent water from the Barren Jack Storage Reservoir.
That opens up the question whether we are to have control of the reservoir, or are to be dependent on a State which may at some time become hostile to the Federation. On the question of electrical power, the gentleman who prepared the report speaks in an extraordinary manner -
Repeated reference has been made in connexion with Dalgety, to the great supply of water available from the Snowy River for electricalpower purposes. With regard to this, I mav say that that power can be readily transmitted to the Canberra site, if required, as the distance is only 87 miles, and presents no obstacle to the economic transmission of electricity by modern methods.
There again, he suggests that electrical power should be brought from a point 87 miles away in State territory ; and these are conditions to which we could never agree. In conclusion, this gentleman says -
I have not sufficient detailed information to make any comparison as to the relative cost of the water supply in each case.
There is another report from Mr. Corin -
The power should be electrically developed all in one place. I would construct a race from the dam, contouring it round the hill, crossing gullies in fluming or pipes and tunnelling through sharp spurs, terminating at a convenient position, probably near the junction with Paddy’s River, in a small subsidiary reservoir, whence the water would be led straight clown the hill in pipes to the turbines situated at the edge of the river.
Having stated that, he goes on to say -
The practicability of such a scheme would depend largely upon a suitable site being found for the pipe line and power station, and if it is to be further considered this should form an early subject of investigation.
The whole thing is as indefinite as it possibly can be. We have the remarkable fact to remember that of the three prominent sites of Yass, Lake George, and Canberra, the House rejected Canberra and Lake George. Further, we have the extraordinary position that nobody at Yass desires the Federal Capital to be there. When the right honorable member for East Sydney was on his way north, he had a grand reception there in connexion with the vote in favour of Yass-Canberra, and, in responding, he made the remarkable statement -
He had come across what appeared to be a strange feeling among the people of Yass. No one wanted his land to be in Federal territory. If their expectations were fulfilled in that regard the boundary of the Federal territory would be like a Chinese puzzle.
With these facts before us, is there any reason to suppose that any particular site in this district would ever be approved by this House? Access to a port is a condition precedent to the vote given by some members of this House and of the Senate. In the Senate, one vote would change the decision, and one of the senators insisted that the Bill should safeguard the Commonwealth by declaring that our choice would be made subject to the construction, by New South Wales of a railway from Sydney to the Federal Capital, and’ to thecession to the Commonwealth of a port with access from it to the Capital. In view of these circumstances, it seems premature to proceed with the measure now. The matter should be held over until after the recess, when all necessary information could be furnished to enable us to know whether it is worth while to go further. It is ridiculous to repeal the existing Act before we know definitely what site is toreplace that originally chosen. Therefore, in Committee, I shall move an amendment which will provide that the repeal shall’ take place only when Ave have had a grant qf, or have acquired, within the YassCanberra area, territory for the Seat of Government.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson> [4.12]. - I think that it would be better for the honorable member for Gippsland not to move the amendment which he has suggested. There is not the slightest doubt that the New South Wales Government will be ready to grant to the Commonwealth the territory asked for.
– No matter what area is desired ?
– The area to be granted will furnish the subject of negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State. Personally, I am of opinion that not less than 900 square miles should begranted, and I do not think that any one. would seriously object to give effect to theexpressed will of this Parliament in that” regard. It must be remembered that thegranting of this area by the State to theCommonwealth does not mean that it will be lost to Australia. The Commonwealth will expend on it immense sums of money for the benefit of the people of Australia,, and largely of those residing in New SouthWales, while persons living on adjacent land will be materially benefited. Moreover, the State will be free to make roads and railways for the conduct of traffic across the territory- Therefore, it is of. little importance whether 100 or 1,000 square miles is obtained by the Commonwealth. The course taken by the Government should commend itself to the House. Parliament has determined that the Seat of Government shall be located in the YassCanberra district, and the Government asks for authority to send surveyors there to drive in pegs, and to make an examination of the country, which will enable them to recommend the adoption of a particular site. This recommendation will, in all probability, be ultimately accepted by Parliament without much discussion. I, on a former occasion, suggested a similar procedure, and the Prime Minister of the day said that it was the proper course to take. I compliment the Minister of Home Affairs upon having this opportunity to bring forward a measure which will hand down his name to posterity.
– The exact site of the Seat of Government has not yet been determined.
– The selection of the site is to be left to experts. It is surveyors who, in the past, have chosen the sites of most of our cities, and, in many cases, monuments have been erected to their memories. Where there are no monuments, the sites have in many cases, been selected by the first resident. In Melbourne, the Australian Mutual Provident Society has erected a monumental building upon a site so selected. I hope that the Government will use its best endeavour to secure to the Commonwealth territory access to the sea. When the American Fleet recently paid a friendly visit to the Commonwealth, the arrangements for its reception were taken out of the hands of the Commonwealth Government by the States Governments, which controlled the ports visited. The Commonwealth should have a port of its own, where it could land munitions of war and other material, and where its vessels would find a harbor. No harm would be done to New South Wales by granting such a port. I give the measure my general support, though, should it be shown that any demand made on the State of New South Wales is too exacting, I reserve to myself the right to oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee -
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Seat of Government Act, 1904, is hereby repealed.
– I move -
That the words “ is hereby “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “after the grant or acquisition of territory for the Seat of Government within the YassCanberra district shall be.”
I do not think that the Seat of Government Act should be repealed until we have definitely chosen another site. The carrying of my amendment will not prevent the giving of effect to the purposes of the Bill.
– It is highly undesirable that this step should be ‘ taken. The amendment assumes that, if the site were not selected in the Yass-Canberra district, Parliament would favour the re-selection of the Dalgety site. We have just determined that that is not the best site. Many of those who, like myself, voted for it previously, did so, not because we approved of it, but because we had no choice but to vote for it or a site which we considered still less suitable. I hope that the matter will not be re-opened. It is improper to assume that, should no site be chosen in the Yass-Canberra district, Parliament would desire to again choose the Dalgety site. The amendment is an effort to reinstate a decision which we have reversed, and to create confusion. I hope, therefore, that that proposal will not be accepted.
– Whilst the suggested amendment would appear on its face to be an innocent one, I take it that its. effect would be to make available two territories, and that, I think, on general principles, would be undesirable. We must either select the one site or the other; that, it seems to me, is the obvious and straightforward course to take. It has been urged that if the two measures were to remain in force, and our negotiations in regard to the Yass-Canberra site failed, Parliament would be restricted in its choice to the site defined in the original Act, and would not be free to examine any other until that Act had been repealed. That, I think, would give rise to further embarrassment. The Minister of Home Affairs, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said that under it we claimed all the rights and powers which the Parliament possesses, and that the Government intended to exercise, if necessary, all the powers conferred upon them by the Constitution. It is certainly our desire to work amicably with the Government of New South Wales, consistently with the preservation of our powers. I think that the insertion of words that might give rise to the suspicion that we were not earnestly desirous of settling this question at the earliest possible moment would cause embarrassment, and defeat the object that we have in view.
– What official guarantee have we that we shall have access to this, port?
– The only guarantee that we can have is that supplied by legal enactment. We shall have power under this Bill to make a survey, and to accept and take possession of land that we think suitable as a site for the Capital. If the State is prepared to grant the land that we desire, we shall cheerfully accept it, and the Government of the day will undoubtedly proceed to acquire a site and take every step necessary for the establishment of the Capital upon it. Having regard to all the circumstances, I think that the Bill, without the proposed amendment, will better achieve all that we desire.
– I hope that the proposed amendment will not be carried. If we struck out clause 2, the effect would be to repeal by implication the earlier Act as being inconsistent with this measure. If the amendment is carried, we shall have upon the statute-book two inconsistent Acts. We shall be declaring under this Bill that the Act of 1904 is to remain in force until something else is done. We shall be practically neutralizing this measure so far as the selection of a site in the Yass-Canberra district is concerned. Surely it would be absurd to destroy this, latest proposal1 by an amendment which would keep in force the Act of 1904, which would otherwise be repealed, either expressly under clause 2, or bv implication, as being inconsistent with this measure.
.- I do not favour the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland. The original Act, providing that Dalgety should be the site of the Capital, was regarded by some as being merely in the nature of an expression of opinion, but I took it” to be something more. As the Minister charged with its administration, I held that it was mandatory, and that under it the Government was bound to negotiate with the State authorities to acquire the site which it defined. I also think that the procedure then adopted was the right one. Under the Constitution, the first step for us to take is to determine where the Seat of Government shall be, and having done so to obtain a grant of, or to acquire the required area. The third step is the determination of the exact site within the area so acquired, on which the Capital shall be established. The Act of 1904 was a direction to the Ministry of the day to negotiate with the State Government, with a view of acquiring territory for the site therein specified. Having determined definitely the situation of the territory that we desired, the next step was to secure it by grant or acquisition. The late Government attempted to do so, but the House came to the decision that we should not proceed further with the Bill, by which we proposed to discharge that duty. Honorable members desired to reconsider the position, and to give to the Government of the day a new mandate. We therefore determined that a ballot should be taken, and those who were in Opposition took the view that we could not prevent the House from reconsidering the question, even, though in the ballot the decision should be again in favour of Dalgety. My view was that there must be some logical and definite way of determining the question, and that, by means of a ballot, Parliament would be able to decide what instruction should be given the Government as to the site to be secured.
– Ministers at any rate should be bound by such a decision.
– I took that view, and, therefore, submitted resolutions to the House providing for a ballot. The House is now taking the next logical step ; it is substituting for the Act passed in 1904 a new measure giving effect to the decision recently arrived at. There is a good deal in the argument advanced by the honorable member for Gippsland. He has urged that, since the Parliament has seen fit to change its deliberate opinion with regard to the site that should be selected, it is quite possible that there may be another change of view, and that we may determine hereafter to review the whole question once more. He therefore urges that it is reasonable to keep the original Act in reserve, so that Dalgety may be the alternative site. I hold a different view, and hope that we are not going to have, session after session, a reversal of judgment. If Parliament had made a grossly wrong selection, I should think it only proper that it should reconsider its decision, but the only point that we have now to determine is whether it would be wise to have on the statute-book two distinct mandates in regard to this question. I do not think that it would. I feel a sense of responsibility for the present position, because it has arisen largely from the course which I, as a member of the late Government, followed in submitting the resolution. as to the taking of a ballot. The Bill is, I think, in proper form, and the method proposed to be adopted in regard to the determination of the site of the Capital is the right one. I therefore cannot support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland.
Mr WATSON (South Sydney) J4.37].- I trust that the amendment will be rejected. In view of the decision at which we arrived a few weeks ago, to carry it would be to stultify ourselves in the eyes of the outside public. I can sympathize with those who think that Parliament should retain within its own control some power in respect to the location of the Capital, until we know in what spirit the Commonwealth Governmen is going to be met by the Government of New South Wales.
– The honorable member has a fairly good idea of the spirit in which we shall be met.
– I fully believe that the Federal authorities will be well treated by the Government of New South Wales ; but I can sympathize with those who desire that Parliament shall retain control of this matter until the position has shaped itself. I do not think now that the suggested amendment would place the Parliament in a better position.
– We still have all cur powers unimpaired.
– That is so. The passing of this Bill to give effect to the decision arrived at a few weeks ago will not abrogate, or give away, any of our powers. Just as by the passing of this measure we shall repeal the Act of 1904, so if an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State in regard to the Yass-Canberra site cannot be arrived at, we shall be able later 011 to repeal this Bill. I do not say that that is desirable ; to my mind it would be highly undesirable.
– We shall be able to review the whole matter when we are asked to indorse the decision arrived at by the State and the Commonwealth Government.
– Quite so. I do not think that at this stage actual definitions are altogether necessary ; we have yet to reach the stage at which they will be. We have to learn what is the mind of the State Government, before we can have a tangible and final proposal put before us. The object of the Bill is to give effect to the resolution recently passed, and at the same time it will leave the Parliament in control of all necessary powers:
.-.! refrained from taking part in the debate upon the second reading, because the Bill appeared to me to be simply a necessary consequence of the ballot recently taken by both Houses. I was therefore loth to interpose in any way to retard its passage, in order that we might arrive without delay at the final stage in regard to the proposed site, and probably in regard to the whole question. At the same time I am free to admit that the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland has another motive than that interpreted bv some who have listened to him. He is perfectly justified in putting forward his claim that the stage which waa reached in a preceding Parliament by the selection of a site in the neighbourhood of Dalgety should be emphasized in this relation, and that it should be borne in mind, having regard to the circumstances under which both choices were made, that if the one were set aside the next place for consideration in any circumstances must be admitted to be Dalgety. Into the merits of the respective sites I do not desire now to enter, except to record an unwavering opinion that, looked at from the standpoint of the future of the Commonwealth the future interests of its population, and the natural advantages afforded for a Capital site for the whole of Australia, the supremacy of Dalgety is still unchallenged and unchallengeable. The advantages of the present site are those of the present time. Among them is the preference exhibited for it bv an influential part of the people of New South Wales, who as a part ‘of the people of the Commonwealth are entitled to full consideration. Another is that it is at present more accessible. The disadvantages which can be laid to its score it is not necessary to enter upon, more especially as I have not had the pleasure of looking at that site, except so far as it can be judged from a fleeting glimpse taken from the railway in the vicinity.
– If I had taken the honorable member over it I should have converted him.
– No doubt if I had undertaken that expedition it would not have been the site so much as the honorable member that would have converted me. In these circumstances, may I suggest to the honorable and learned member for Gippsland that, after all, nothing that is now done or undone can deprive Dalgety of the recognition which it has obtained from both Houses, nor of the prominence it has received in the public mind? If there should arise, after fuller inquiry into the circumstances of the Yass-Canberra site, any serious difficulty in regard to its water supply, its general situation, or its accessibility to the sea, another opportunity to bring forward the claims of Dalgety will be afforded him by the Bill which must be introduced in order to give effect to whatever course the Government of the day believe to be wisest after they have received the report of their experts, communicated with the Government of New South Wales, and, as far as possible, arrived at an agreement with them. It will not be too late at that stage for him to challenge the opinion of Parliament in regard to the particular and definite site chosen as compared with the site which he favours. In the circumstances, this Bill being the necessary consequence of a decision which both Houses recently arrived at, the settlement of the question having been so long and unfortunately postponed, and in view of the great advantages of our arriving, if we can, at a comparatively speedy solution of the question, having regard especially to the fact that, after the ballot, the least we owe to the Yass-Canberra site is to have a full and detailed examination of its merits which will enable the whole House to consider and reconsider its opinion, I would add my voice to those of the speakers who have preceded me, while justifying the honorable member in the course he has taken, in suggesting that he will do well even in the interests of his’ own site not to press the amendment further at this juncture.
.- We have had a series of speeches from gentlemen connected with the legal profession, but I wish to free my mind entirely of anything connected with the legal aspects of the case. I desire to look at the question simply from the point of view of the fact that it is the desire of the people of New South Wales that it should be settled as early as possible. Every consideration should be given by us to their opinion and wishes. The settlement of the question will domuch to popularize the Federal Parliament in the minds of the people of the Commonwealth. At present I regret to think that our legislation is not quite so popular as it might be. I must compliment the Prime Minister upon the stand he has taken. Although he is not so taken with this as with another site, he feels it his duty to bring forward this Bill and, if possible, to get it made law. I intend to give him my support in that endeavour.. We need not apprehend any trouble with the State of New South Wales. We have already an example, in connexion with the La Perouse question - the handing over by the Commonwealth to the State of a portion of ground there for public purposes - of the advantages of a give-and-take policy, and’ of treating one another in a generous way. I have no doubt that New South Wales, through its Premier, will deal fairly and squarely with the Federal Government, and; I should be very sorry if such an amendment as that moved by the honorable member for Gippsland were passed. It is our duty, now that this site has been selected by Parliament, to go straight ahead. It would be foolish to keep upon the statute-book two Acts, one liable at any time to upset the other. We should repeal the former Act, now that the opinion of this Parliament has been taken, and go straight ahead in order to settle the question. I intend to do all I can to support the Government in their desire to pass this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Governmentof the Commonwealth shall be in the district of Yass-Canberra in the State of New South Wales.
– Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Darling Downs has said, I still think that this and the next clause are not drafted in accord with the Constitution, section 125 of which provides -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth……
That means that before we fix the Seat of Government we must get the territory. By this clause we say we are going to determine the Seat of Government, and in the next clause we propose to get the territory. This clause should be left out altogether, and clause 4 amended to embrace both. The Bill would then be altogether in accord with the Constitution.
– It is not necessary to follow the literal wording of the Constitution,
– It seems to me that in this House opinions are given on one day which every one seems to concur in, and on a subsequent day opinions which seem to be altogether different are advanced. The very argument that was used against the Act of 1904 was that we put the Seat of Government first and the territory second. We are now doing the same thing again. Why not conform to the Constitution, so that there may be no doubt about it? Let us provide that there shall be territory “ granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.” and that the Seat of Government shall be in that territory. I would strike out this clause, and make clause 4 read as follows -
The territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, wherein the Seat of Government shall be situated, shall be in the district of Yass-Canberra in the State of New South Wales, and shall contain an area of not less than nine hundred square miles and have access to the sea.
The whole procedure is there in accord with the Constitution, which says that the territory “ shall have been granted “ to or acquired by the Commonwealth before the Seat of Government is fixed in it. The description of the district in this clause is not definite enough. The words, “ the district of Yass-Canberra “ convey no real meaning to me, except that it is bounded on the north by the town of Yass and its vicinity, and on the south by Canberra and its vicinity. I believe that the Canberra site includes the Cotter catchment, which is 20 miles or more to the south. This description is too inexact. Why not say a district within 40 miles radius- of Queanbeyan, or something like that? Let us mention some area whose situation is definite.
– This is only one mile more than the Dalgety area.
– I do not care how great the area is, but it should be defined. Does “ the district of YassCanberra “ include Lake George? I should say it did not.
– Judging from- the map, it does.
– There is no definition to show it. Why not state in the Bill that it shall be a district extending so many miles north, south, east, or west of a certain place, or within a radius of a certain place? If considered desirable, let it include Lake George, Yass, and the Cotter watershed. I think that, as the Bill stands, difficulties will result, because the question will be raised as to whether the site selected is really within “ the district of Yass-Canberra.” ‘
– This is only a preliminary Bill.
– But it is just as well to have the measure a little more definite,, and I am rather anxious that the surveyors should examine the Lake George district.
– The. phraseology of the Bill does not prevent that.
– Why not make the fact clear?
– The more indefinite the Bill, the greater range there will be.
– If ..it is understood that Lake George and its tributaries on both sides are included, I have no objection. But perhaps the honorable! member thinks that the power will be wider the more indefinite the Bill ?
– I do.
– If that be understood, I shall say no more on the point, though I fancy that some people would say that Lake George is too far to the eastward to be included in the description, “ Yass-Canberra.”
– It is. only about 17 miles off.
– What has to be done is to examine the country, and select an area of 900 square miles for the territory. I have always been of the opinion that it was never intended by the framers of the Constitution that such a large area should be selected. I took a prominent part myself in the framing of the Constitution on this point; and I remember it was discussed in relation to Washington, which, I think, occupies an area of some 60 odd square miles. There was no idea at that time of having anything like 1,000 square miles.
– We require a catchment area.
– No doubt a large area will be required for that purpose ; but that may be obtained outside the provision as to the area of ‘ ‘ the territory” in the Constitution.
– I think that this point would be better discussed on the next clause.
– However, there is much to be done before we can arrive at the final decision, because the information we have is not sufficient to enable us to arrive at a conclusion. There is nothing on the map to show which streams are, and which streams are not, perennial ; or the volume of flow of water in summer; and’ there is not very much information generally in regard to the topography of the country. What we require is a good survey of the most prominent parts of the area. Personally, I have seen, only Canberra ; and I hope the Federal Capital will not be there. I think, however, that Lake George, or some point between Yass and Lake George, might be found to be suitable, and >ve ought to have a good. survey with levels and contours. As I have said, it was never intended that anything like 900 square miles should be selected; but if that area is agreed to the territory ought to be defined in such a way as to enable us to see where it is in relation to the land-marks of the country. That, pf course, will be comparatively easy ; but the survey of the exact site of the city itself ought to be more minute and particular. Further, I suppose that members of Parliament will inspect the site ; and, in the present instance, the access will not be so difficult as it was in others. It will be seen that, altogether, there is a good deal to do. I do not think that the survey and selection of the Federal Capital is going to cost so much money as some people may suppose. Surveyors are not very extravagantly paid, and only three or four of them are necessary to examine and describe the country in order to get as much information as is necessary. I hope that the Government will not be too parsimonious in regard to surveys, because the more information is obtained, the easier it will be !.o pass the measure. I can only hope that a really good site will be found. I have expressed an opinion as to the best site visited by me, but that does not prevent my saying that the site now suggested is preferable, if, upon inquiry and inspection, I should think that to be the case.
.- I understand that certain honorable members have expressed some doubt as to whether it would be possible to connect Canberra with Jervis Bay. There is not the slightest doubt on that point, as is shown by the reported opinion of one cf the principal railway engineers in the State service of New South Wales, to the effect that, even if the slightly longer route be by Braidwood - which is selected, as, no doubt, incidentally embracing a profitable line - a railway of 93 miles is quite practicable. I have been over a good deal of the country between Jervis Bay and Canberra, and I think i can say that there are not so many difficulties as are presented between Bombala and Twofold Bay.
– The honorable member means Dalgety.
– No ; I mean Bombala, which, of course, is connected with Dalgety, and would be taken on the route to Eden. The difficulties occur between Bombala and Twofold Bay, and not between Bombala and Dalgety. There is a sudden drop of 2,000 feet, very similar to that between Canberra and Jervis Bay, but, in the latter case, the country is easier.
– The - distance is not as short.
– The distance is a little greater, and there are several leading ridges, of which advantage could be taken to ease the gradient. I admit it is not possible to construct a light line, and there must be some expense, considering the great drop in a short distance of about 40 miles. However, from all the information I have been able to gather, there is no doubt that it is just as easy to get from Canberra to Jervis Bay as to get from Dalgety to Twofold Bay.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The territory to be granted to or acquired by The Commonwealth for the Seat of Government shall contain an area not less than nine hundred square miles, and have access to the sea.
.- In the Bill introduced by the late AttorneyGeneral, the words “ shall have access to the sea ‘ ‘ were used, and these were commented on by the honorable member for Flinders, who questioned their meaning, as the honorable member for Angas has done in regard to the measure before us. It seems to me that what was understood and intended by the words was that the territory over which we should have access to the sea should be Federal territory. In the Bill introduced by the late AttorneyGeneral, it was proposed that access should be over a strip of country 30 miles wide ; and my desire is that any such strip of country shall belong to, and be under the control of, the Commonwealth, and not one over which we have merely the right of road. Of course, there will be nothing to prevent the State Government passing over or using this strip of land ; but there ought to be no question as to the rights of the Commonwealth to use it for what purposes it desired. In the course of the canvass on behalf of Yass-Canberra, a great deal was made of the statement that the New South Wales Government will be prepared to give, not only access to, but a portion of Jervis Bay to the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member who says “ hear, hear “ was one who made a statement to that effect ; and a condition of the kind was stipulated by a senator who changed his vote in another place. The question was raised as to whether Jervis Bay is within 100 miles of Sydney; and it was found to be so. But I think the honorable member for Lang asked whether it was not quite competent for the Federal Government to acquire territory in any part of New South Wales, and he was told that it was so. I move -
Th.it the words “have access to the sea” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ shall include a line of access to and a seaport at Jervis Bay.”
– I urge the honorable member for Gippsland not to persist with this amendment, because, on the broad question, it seems to me that it would be much better not to attempt to be too definite in a preliminary measure. This Parliament could refuse to go further if it considered the terms offered by New South Wales unsatisfactory. But the less definite we make our conditions now, the greater the probability of a satisfactory conclusion to the negotiations. The Premier of New South Wales has publicly stated, since we chose the Yass-Canberra area, that his Government will act readily in the matter, and has specifically pledged himself to the granting of access to Jervis Bay. I take it that he would give us a right of way to the bay. We do not wish to obtain exclusive possession of territory between the Yass-Canberra district and Jervis Bay, so as to prevent the State from controlling and extending the communication between its metropolis and districts lying to the south. Nor do we need the whole of Jervis Bay. I understand that the State Government is willing to give us a frontage sufficient to enable us to deal with all possible traffic. To ask for the whole of that immense and important seaport bay would be to ask for a great deal.
– That is not the intention.
– We should have enough for Commonwealth purposes.
– I think so, and, in my opinion, there will bc no difficulty in securing that.
– I do not know why we should not get the whole of Jervis Bay? How is it to be divided?
– The bay is large enough to accommodate the interests of both Commonwealth and State. To the north are timber and coal reserves, for whose development the State needs a frontage to Jervis Bay, and if we get enough for our own purposes we shall have all to which we are entitled. The more freedom in negotiating, the better will be the final result.
– Ought we not to declare that we require the right to make a railway to the sea?
– I take it that access means a strip of land of sufficient width to give communication by all practical means.
– It might be held that the granting of a pack-track would be sufficient compliance with the promise.
– I do not think that the State will deal with us in a huckstering and niggardly manner.
– What access to the sea has Washington?
– It has access by means of a river. The Bill is not the final expression of our will in this matter. If it is passed, the Government will negotiate with! that of New South Wales, and the resulting agreement will be submitted to the two Parliaments concerned, and, if ratified, no doubt an Act granting the specified territory will be passed by the Parliament of
New South .Wales, and another Act, accepting it, will be passed by this Parliament. The Bill is only a preliminary stage towards arriving at an agreement, and, therefore, accurate definitions are not now necessary.
– What objection, is there to making it clear that we need more than a road of access?
– I am convinced that the provision in the Bill is sufficient.
– Several lawyers have said that it is not.
– If we were now finally discussing conditions, there would be need for accurate definitions, but we have not reached that stage. The words used are sufficient to authorize the Government to negotiate on the subject.
.– It is a good thing that the honorable member for Gippsland has directed our attention to the clause. The Act of 1904 con.tains the words “ and shall have access to the sea.” The late Government, in drafting the Bill which it introduced last session, had to consider the meaning of those words, and Mr. Scrivener, the surveyor who accurately defined the Dalgety area, was- asked to prepare the information which is in the schedule of the Bill introduced this year by me, to provide for access from the territory to the sea. The route was fixed for a railway. He laid down a route, and allowed a margin of 15 miles on each side to provide for deviations. I should like to know if the promise of the Premier of New South Wales to give access to the sea has been officially communicated to the Government. It would not do for the Commonwealth to be dependent for access between its territory and the sea on a railway controlled by the State Government. One of the subjects for negotiation will be whether the Commonwealth or the State should construct and control such a railway. The Commonwealth territory will be that in which the Seat of Government will be situated, and, in addition, we shall need a grant of land to give us access to a port.
– And a frontage to the port.
– Yes. No part of the Seat of Government territory can be within 100 miles of Sydney.
– -But we could acquire land within 100 miles of Sydney.
– For public purposes, according to section 52 of the Constitution, the Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to “ all places acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes.”
– Does the honorable member say that our rights over land acquired for public purposes are the same as those over the Seat of Government territory ?
– No. But Ave could accept from the State a grant of land at the port. For instance, the Defence Department might say that it needed land there for its purposes, and Ave could then acquire such land, if necessary’, by compulsion.
– We cannot acquire by compulsion land for the Seat of Government
– We could take a grant.
– That could be repealed by the State Parliament.
– If we accepted a re- vocable agreement. If is not to be thought that the State of South Australia, if she gives permission for the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to the Western Australian border, will ever revoke it.
– If the grant is covered by an agreement, all will be right.
– These are matters to be discussed in the negotiations Avith the Government of New South Wales.
– The honorable member does not propose to insert definite conditions in the Bill.
– No. The more latitude allowed for negotiating, the better. A public utterance made by the Premier of New South Wales on behalf of his Government must in honour be made effective. The ultimate decision must rest with this Parliament. Not one inch of land can be acquired without its consent, and if any proposal made “by the State Government is considered unsatisfactory, Parliament will reject it.
– If New South Wales surrendered her sovereign rights in respect of a strip of land between the Capital and the sea, could Ave not accept it?
– Certainly, but the land so surrendered would not be part of the Seat of Government if it came within the area limited by the prohibition of the Constitution.
– It would, if it were an absolute surrender, as “long as the Capital itself was not less than 100 miles from Sydney. “
– The Seat of Government must be at a certain distance from Sydney, and the least we desire, so far as access to the sea is concerned, is that a strip of land shall be conveyed to us for the public purposes of the Commonwealth. I am sure that the Minister will endeavour to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth^ but I would remind him that it will be absolutely necessary for the Commonwealth to have complete and sufficient control of the port for all its public purposes. We must have, for instance, proper wharfage accommodation, and suitable provision for Defence purposes. We must have, further, moorings for our ships, and provision for the erection of docks. I hope that the Minister will keep these points in view.
.- I have noticed, Mr. Chairman, that since the honorable member for Gippsland submitted his amendment, you have held down your head as if you were abashed, and I have no doubt that you are surprised, to say the least, that such a proposal should have been made. No one will object to the first part of his amendment, but I would remind the honorable member for Gippsland that when Dalgety was the selected site he was quite satisfied that a line of access to Twofold Bay would be granted.
– I was not; I intended to move an amendment.
– At all events, the honorable member did not fight to have Twofold ‘Bay declared a Federal seaport. In submitting his amendment, the honorable member said in answer to an interjection that he thought the Commonwealth should own the whole of Jervis Bay. I would remind him that Port Jackson, which is a smaller harbor, .has a coast line of about 180 miles, so that he may realize what he is really asking for. I could well understand a request that we should have access to the sea from the Capital over a strip of land 15 miles in width, and that we should also control the water frontage to that area. But I think that the honorable member is going altogether too far. It is only natural that the Commonwealth should desire to have proper provision made for wharfage accommodation at Jervis Bay, and for Federal control of a water frontage for naval and defence purposes. If we had control of a frontage of 15 miles that would be sufficient for all purposes. Jervis Bay, to any mind, is almost a better harbor than is Port Jackson.
– The honorable member does not -know it as well as I do.
– It is, at all events, from the stand-point of area, a much better harbor. The honorable member for Gippsland supported the selection of Dalgety, and I do not blame him for putting up a bit of a fight in this case. I should be prepared to support a” proposal that our access from the Capital to the sea should be 30 miles, instead of 15 miles, wide.
– The honorable member is not asked to vote for such a proposal.
– I merely wish to assure the honorable member for Gippsland that I desire that the Commonwealth shall obtain control over something more than a cattle track from the Capital to the coast.
– We must have some control over the harbor.
– I suggest that we should Iia ve control over that portion which abuts on the line of access.
– Would the honorable member have that access without ownership ?
– If we controlled a line of access from the Capital to the water’s edge we should control the water frontage.
– But would that give us any right over the port or any portion of the port?
– It would give us a right to control that portion; of the port which abutted on the line of access. It would be unreasonable to- ask New South Wales to surrender the whole harbor to us.
– Jervis Bay to-day is used for big-gun practice by the Imperial Navy.
– That is so. The right of ingress to and egress from the bay will always be preserved. We are not dealing with a foreign country which might blockade the harbor ; Jervis Bay belongs to one of the States of the Commonwealth.
– And that State has no navy.
– That is so. The Commonwealth has control of defence, and no State could blockade the port without naval assistance. If we have access to the sea over a strip of territory 15 or 30 miles wide that should be sufficient for all requirements.
– I hope that the honorable member for Gippsland will not press his amendment. The language employed in this clause is identical with that used in the Act of 1904, and honorable members may rest assured that it was not adopted without careful consideration.
– I do not think there was any opposition to its use in the Bill of 1904.
– That may be; but honorable members may take it for granted that the wording of the clause was carefully considered by the Cabinet before the Bill was introduced. It would be unwise at this stage to make the alteration suggested, and there is really no reason why we should do so. The late Attorney- General said that when administering the Act of 1904 he found that there was a considerable difference of opinion as to the meaning of the words “ access to the sea.” He also pointed out that the State might build a railway from the Capital to the coast, and say, in effect, to the Commonwealth, “ There you are ! That is your access to the sea; and that is what you must take.” I would remind horoorable members, however, that before that stage was reached, it would be for the administrators of the Act to have a distinct understanding as to the meaning of the words referred to.
– Could that understanding be declared in the Statute?
– It would be for . the Commonwealth Ministry, and not for any other authority to interpret the words employed. I would also point out to the honorable member for Gippsland that it would be unwise to refer specifically in the Bill to Jervis Bay, since it might suit the Commonwealth better to have access to Twofold Bay.
– I fail to see why we should bind ourselves to Jervis Bay.
– Because, with the exception of Port Jackson, it is the best harbor in this part of the world.-
– That may be; but I prefer to stand by what I know. The suggestion that we should acquire access to the sea over a strip of territory 30 miles in width is, to my mind, absurd. Of what use would such an area be to us?
– Most of it is held today by private individuals.
– It would be very much in the nature of a white elephant to us. We could not acquire it as part of the Seat of Government The honorable member for Angas was right, to my mind, in indorsing the view that if New South Wales surrendered’ her sovereignty over any territory less than 100 miles from Sydney we could accept it, and that it would then become for all practical purposes Commonwealth territory.
– As long as Ave did not establish the Capital itself within 100 miles of Sydney.
– Quite so. The language employed in the clause has been carefully considered, and since it has stood the test of two Parliaments, I hope that the honorable member will withdraw his amendment. If he cannot see his way to do so, I trust that the Committee will reject it.
.- If access to the sea is to be gained by a surrender of territory, or a grant, as part of Federal territory, of a strip of land extending from the Capital to Jervis Bay, I think that that can be done without any violation of the Constitution. Although Jervis Bay may be within 100 miles of Sydney, there is nothing in the Constitution declaring that Federal territory may not be within that distance, provided that the Capital- itself is not. All that it provides is that the site in the Federal territory must be not’ less than 100 miles from Sydney. We can therefore get this land in the shape of a strip of territory, which may be a more efficacious way, but it opens up very difficult questions of sovereignty. If we get absolute sovereignty over that strip, the question will arise whether we can, under our power to pass laws exclusively for our territory, prevent citizens of the State passing to and fro over iti. That question (does not arise very largely in connexion with a particular area of territory such as Washington, or a particular area such as Yass-Canberra, which one can always get round. But it might arise in the case of a long strip extending from the Capital to the sea. The Federal Government’s exclusive power of dealing with that territory could not possibly, in my opinion, prevent citizens having proper access from’ one side to the other, because the Constitution must be read as a whole, and a fundamental provision embodied in section 02 is that there must be perfect freedom of intercourse when the Tariff has been passed. That section limits the power of the Commonwealth even in respect of its own territory. New South Wales, therefore, cannot suggest any difficulty in the way of granting us a strip of territory from Yass-Canberra to the sea. We may also acquire something that is not sovereign. We may, for instance, get the power to construct a railway. The power given us in the Constitution is to construct railways with the consent of the States concerned. In America, however, Congress can construct railways for the purposes of Inter-State commerce. In that case, the construction of a railway is a public purpose. But if, as in our case, it is merely a permission given by a State or States, we must be careful not to rely on that exclusively, because what the .State can grant to the Commonwealth, as a matter of right, it can afterwards repeal. If, however, a public purpose is involved, we can acquire the land in spite of a State. They can grant it, but we can acquire it compulsorily. If, however, a public purpose is not concerned, the act of the State ib giving us the right to construct a railway is not final, for the State can repeal what it can grant. I merely utter that as a word of caution. My opinion is that railway construction by consent is a public purpose, and that after construction the consent could not be withdrawn. I suggest to the Government that in regard to that strip of land, what rights, not sovereign., we do get ought to be the subject of an agreement, and that that agreement should! be ratified by both Parliaments, because then, while the State may repeal its act if it likes, we can sue them on the rights granted, whether acted on or not, and get an order from the High Court to enforce them. If, however, we have merely two Acts of Parliament, they would not be an agreement, and the repeal of one would frustrate the purpose of the other. On that point let me refer to the Northern Territory Act of South Australia. That is an Act surrendering the territory to the Commonwealth, and we have subsequently to pass an Act accepting the surrender. It will be found that that Act is the adoption of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia, and no repeal bv the Commonwealth or the State separately can possibly affect its terms.
There are provisions, in it for access, the right to construct railways, and, in fact, everything that is less than sovereignty, but that ought to be given to the Commonwealth.
– In. respect to the Federal Capital, the Constitutional provision as to a grant by the State seems to give finality to .any grant that it makes.
– -That is quite right, so long as the area is given over for the purposes of a Federal territory. That is final, but to express a case where the grant is not for that purpose, I use the term “ anything less than sovereignty.” The transfer of the territory is the transfer of the sovereign rights over it, and not of proprietary rights as against the people who have bought the land. I suggest, therefore, that if there is anything less than sovereign rights, ‘ it may be expedient to have an agreement, so that the Parliaments may be subsequently bound, and any repeal of its Act by New South Wales - which is practically unthinkable - could not affect the rights granted to us at the time.
.- I do not regard it as necessary that this Bill should contain all the technical details that the ultimate Bill must contain. It is more a direction to the Government as to the way in which an arrangement should be made with the State of New South Wales. The technical points will afterwards, no doubt, be settled in the final’ measure. This Bill deals with two or three broad principles. One is that there must be access to the sea. Whether that is to be by means of a strip of territory 15 miles wide, or in some other way, will be a question for the Government to negotiate with New South Wales, submitting the result to this Parliament. Another condition is that the territory must have a port. Whether it should be the whole of jervis Bay is an open question, because that is a very fine harbor, and much larger than the Commonwealth will require at present. We do not know what it may require in the future.
– It is, roughly, 8 miles by 4.
– It is about 6 miles by 4.
– We want enough for wharfs and docks.
– We must have a. frontage, and a right to sufficient water for Commonwealth purposes. We must have, also, a right of ingress and egress. The entrance is a fine one, about miles broad, with deep water from one head to the other. The Commonwealth must be placed in such a position that it cannot in any ppossible circumstances be coerced by any State.
– And vice versa, the State must not be put in such a position that it can be coerced by the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth should be absolute master over its own harbor.
– That is right; but still the principle of coercion applies both ways.
– When the territory is handed over to the Commonwealth, it becomes the property of the Commonwealth, and so part of the harbor, if not the whole of it. will belong to the Commonwealth. My impression is that New South Wales will not object to the whole of Jervis Bay being handed over to the Commonwealth.
– I think she will.
– I think New South Wales will require the right to send her ships there, or to use it as a commercial port. I think it is about to miles from the north-eastern portion of the harbor to Nowra, to which the .railway comes from Sydney. If that is Federal territory I have no doubt that New South Wales will extend her .railway to the northern part of Jervis Bay, and she should have a right to do so. But she should not have any right to interfere with our complete power over the southern or southwestern part of the harbor, which we should mainly want, and which we should tap by a railway of our own. I do not mean ‘ that New South Wales should’ be deprived of any of her rights. _ Surely some form of agreement is possible by which her rights may be preserved, even if the harbor becomes absolutely Federal territory. The Minister said he did not think it was wise to fix any particular place, and that access might be taken to relate to Twofold Bay, but Twofold Bay is not to be compared with Jervis Bay. It is a nice little harbor, but it is not what I should conceive to be a harbor fit for a Federal city. If any area near Yass or Canberra, is going to be the Federal Capital, Jervis Bay, and no other bay, must be the Federal port. I am sure that all parties will be well satisfied if the Commonwealth can obtain a large portion, if not the whole, of Jervis Bay, with certain rights reserved to New South Wales. I do not wish to follow the honorable member for Angas into technical constitutionaldetails, although I have no doubt that his ideas are good. They usually are cleancut and sound, but we can deal with them later on. We should say to the Government : “ Make an agreement something in this fashion. We want two or three main points adhered to, and we want New South Wales to grant what we ask.” Later, we can look into every minute phase of the question from beginning to end. I sincerely hope that our rights to the harbor and frontage to the harbor will be unimpaired.
.- The Committee is indebted to the honorable member for Gippsland for concentrating attention on this most important feature in connexion with the Capital site. Thereis evidently a consensus of opinion that we must have access, and not merely a roadway, to the sea. We must not be in the hands of any particular State Parliament. We must also have a frontage to the sea, so that we can carry out our own works in our own way, without asking the leave of the State. If we look back a few months, we can see the necessity for being, exceedingly careful in that regard. At that time certain gentlemen, in spite of the Federal Customs Act, used their ownpolice to take wire netting out of bond. History sometimes repeats itself. We should feel indebted to the honorable memher for Gippsland for concentrating the Minister’s attention on the necessity for having an agreement with the New South Wales Government, so that there may be no misunderstanding. Personally, I would prefer to see the provision introduced into this Bill, so that the State authorities cannot say afterwards, “ You made certain proposals, and now you come back and’ ask for something more.” We should’ have nothing short of full right of access to the sea, and a frontage to the sea sufficient for Commonwealth requirements. I do not say that we should take the whole of Jervis Bay, nor do I think that thehonorable member for Gippsland meant that. There is no reason to specify 15 miles as the width of the strip of ‘territory between the site and the sea. We should have sufficient room to get to the sea. independently of the State, and a right at the sea to do whatever is necessary in connexion with the future arrangements of the Commonwealth, without any fear of challenge by any Parliament, whether the present Parliament of New South Wales, or one elected within the next ten, twenty, or fifty years. Those things should be made clear in the first place. We should not proceed half-heartedly with the risk of misunderstandings on either side afterwards.
.- The argument that has been pro- ceeding in favour of the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland seems to presume that this clause in some mysterious way limits the powers of the Commonwealth, and restricts its privileges. The contrary is the case. The proposal is in the widest possible terms, and wisely so. It unmistakably indicates on its face what its intention is.
– Does the honorable member contend that the phrase, “ access to the sea.” would cover a port?
– I think it would meet the right of this Parliament to go to the sea, and do all things necessary at the sea for the fulfilment of its legitimate intention.
– Then where is the harm in saying so?
– I can conceive of no more difficult question than that of deciding the sovereign rights over the territory to be acquired. When wo proceed to sever private estates, we are dealing with very difficult and delicate matters; and I can imagine questions arising of the most profound significance to both States and Commonwealth. Is it not better to settle such questions by agreement, rather than to stand off in this way, each asserting its own rights over the particular territory to be acquired?
– Does the honorable member not think that at this stage it is just as well to say what we mean?
– The trouble is that we cannot say at this stage precisely what we mean; we only know that we desire to have uninterrupted communication with the sea for all the legitimate purposes of a Federal territory. More than that, it is impossible to say what may arise out of this plain and unmistakable intention of Parliament.
– We can lay down broad line.
– That is precisely what we thinkwe are doing by leaving the rest to arrangement and negotiation. The honorable member for Angas, with his usual clarity of vision, indicated unmistakably the right course to pursue. It would be better if we could proceed at the commencement by way of agreement, rather than raise the question of sovereignty. As the honorable member for Angas very properly points out, it would avoid an immensity of trouble, and, possibly, litigation if there were a mutual agreement readily enforcible in the High Court, leaving aside altogether the question of sovereignty. It seems to me that that is obviously the way to proceed ; it is following the line of least resistance, while securing all the rights and powers we desire.
– And the final say is with Parliament.
– Quite so. I think that the terms and conditions of the Bill are wisely left open for mutual arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth.
.- As is well known, I have always been a strong advocate of the Dalgety site, but, atthe present time, I am not going to offer any factious opposition to the course proposed. I am quite willing to abide by the decision of this Chamber on a recent occasion ; at the same time I wish it to be distinctly understood that I shall, if still a member when the question arises again, insist on the condition put forward by the honorable member for Gippsland in regard to access to the sea and ample accommodation when we get there. Of course, any one who would insist on the Commonwealth having the whole of Jervis Bay would go to extremes.
– When the time comes we shall, in all probability, have the advantage of scientific investigation of the whole question.
– I should think so. All these points will have to be submitted to experts. The Commonwealth Parliament, it must not be forgotten, will always have it in its power to reverse what has been done, not by repealing the Act, but by withholding supplies for the purpose of carrying out the Act. There was a strong element in favour of another site; and honorable members who favour it will always be in the position to control any contemplated expenditure, if what I call fair play is not observed. Access to the sea would not be sufficient in itself, because certain facilities must be afforded which honorable members will realize are indispensable. For instance, as one in favour of an Australian Navy, I can see that we must have a large area for docks and other works ; but, in the meantime, I am of opinion that it is not necessary to have more than, perhaps, a strip of land twenty chains wide from the Federal Capital to the sea. As I have already indicated, I am quite willing to abide by the decision of Parliament, but if, in the future the just rights of the Commonwealth are endangered, there is ample power retained in the hands of honorable members to refuse to vote amy money for the construction of any building, or for the preparation of the site for any purpose whatever.
– I hope that the honorable member for Gippsland will not persist with his amendment.
– I intend to.
– The amendment will only tie the hands of the present Government. Jervis Bay is within the 100 miles-limit of Sydney.
– That question has already been fully dealt with.
– The territory acquired at Jervis Bay would be leasehold, and an area over which we should have no sovereign rights.
– Sovereign rights can be granted with the consent of, or by, the State.
– We have a Constitution which says that we shall not have Federal territory within 100 miles of Sydney.
– That refers to the Seat of Government - not to territory.
– What we are speaking of is not the Seat of Government, but a road to the Seat of Government.
– No doubt the Commonwealth can acquire territory just in the same way as the British Government can acquire territory in Sydney Harbor; but the State, nevertheless, has control over that territory.
– The State can give the full rights to the Commonwealth.
– It all depends on the circumstances.
– I desire to give this Government full power to act with a view to conserving the rights and meeting the wishes of honorable members. Personally, I am in favour of the Commonwealth having sovereign rights over any territory it may have in Jervis Bay or elsewhere, even if the Constitution has to be altered, so that there may be no risk in the future of the Government being interfered with bv the State authorities. The Commonwealth must be paramount, and we should see that we have, if possible, sovereign rights. One honorable member has spoken of a strip of a quarter of a mile; but I should not limit the. Government, because we ought to have whatever is necessary for the maintenance of Commonwealth supremacy. I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn, so that there may be full opportunity to negotiate with the State Government. There is no doubt that we shall be very liberally treated, because, after all. Parliament has the last word. We shall presently have a definite proposal; and I hope that the matter will now be disposed of in a way that does not curtail or minimize the powers of the Government.
– There seems to be a general consensus of opinion that the drafting of the Bill is the best for the purpose we have in view. Every one would sympathize with the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland-
– We all desire the same thing.
– Yet the Government will not say so.
– Every one would sympathize with the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland, if they could believe that the wording would accomplish the object we have in view better than it would be accomplished by the wording of the Bill. I think that the, Minister of Home Affairs has demonstrated that the wording of the Bill is the best that the legal advisers of the Government could submit. _ In my opinion., the drafting of the previous^ Bill expresses completely the views and desires we have on this occasion. I admit that the lawyers are just about as clear as the laymen are on this subject. The lawyers are in the greatest difficulty as to what are respectively the powers of the State and the Commonwealth.
– But if a subject is to be one of agreement, a Bill had better be left in a broad general form, as on the present occasion. We can do more by agreement than by making any definite stipulation in a Bill of this kind. It has been suggested that we only want a strip of territory from the Federal Capital to the sea. It may be absolutely necessary to have, as a preliminary, about fifty miles of territory surveyed in order to ascertain the best route for the railway; and it is just as well that the State of New South Wales should know our views on this matter. I understand that this is a difficult country, and it may be necessary to have a considerable grant ofland in order to make the necessary surveys and ascertain the easiest way to get over the difficult country. And it may be necessary not to bind ourselves down to a particular route until it has been surveyed. We desire a general grant for a survey, in order to get the best line of railway at. the cheapest cost. The people of the State would not wish the Commonwealth to waste their money, and that of the other States, by following an unnecessarily expensive route.
– Surely, if they give us a line of access, it will be the best possible ?
– I think so. However, this is a matter to be settled by agreement. I think, too, that the State Government should favorably consider a proposal to give us frontage to Jervis Bay, within the 100-miles limit if necessary, the grant to be sanctioned by legislation by the Parliaments of both New South Wales and the Commonwealth, so that it may be binding for all future time.
.- Whilst we all agree that we should come to an amicable agreement with New South Wales for the transference of territory to be subsequently controlled by the Commonwealth, there are some of us who think that, as we need to obtain possession of Jervis Bay, or of a part of it, that desire should be expressed in the Bill.
– The Constitution gives us power only to acquire territory.
– The honorable member’s disinclination to make mention of out wish to acquire some portion of Jervis Bay might tend to create suspicion as to his genuineness in this matter. The Constitu tion is not concerned, since we are making arrangements now merely for negotiations. The prospect of acquiring Jervis Bay,or a portion of it, largely induced some honorable members to vote for the Yass-Canberra site. Why, then, should we not say in the Bill that we desire access to the sea at a place where accommodation can be made for shipping? Why should we not mention our desire for a port, as well as our desire for access to the sea, and for a certain area? If honorable members professed opposition to the desire for a port, their position could be more easily understood.
– We are in favour of the Commonwealth having a port.
– Is it desirable that the Commonwealth should have access to the sea at a place where there is no port?
– No. We are willing that the Commonwealth should obtain part of the frontage to Jervis Bay.
– Then why not say so in the Bill?
– There is no need to do so.
– We should take the opportunity to make a clear statement of the wishes of the majority in the matter, so that the parties to the negotiations may be thoroughly conversant with them.
– The honorable member desires to tie the hands of those who are to conduct the negotiations.
– I would be prepared to prevent negotiations for access to the sea where there is no port.
– A proposal to accept such access would not be listened to by Parliament.
– I do not think that it would. As we desire a particular port, why not say so in the Bill ? On an earlier clause, honorable members were anxious to prevent Dalgety from being further considered, and I accepted the reasoning of the honorable member for North Sydney.
– The wording of this Bill is similar to that of the Bill providing for the negotiations in respect of the Dalgety site.
– We would not negotiate for access to the sea at a place where there was no port.
– If we are unanimously of the opinion that Jervis Bay, or part of it, should become Commonwealth territory, why not say so in the Bill ?
– We did not have a similar provision in the other Bill.
– That is no reason why we should be unnecessarily indefinite now.
– Why this new found enthusiasm for a port?
– I have always held the opinion that the Commonwealth territory should have access to a port, and wish now to provide for negotiations having in view the securing of one.
– Does not my honorable friend trust the Ministers whom he supports ?
– Yes; though, if we are to accept that line of argument, the whole Bill is unnecessary. We have stated the area which we desire, and the fact that we desire access to the sea. Why cannot we say also that we wish to have part of Jervis Bay?
– A right-of-way is implied We are using the language of the Constitution.
– The Constitution does not say that the Commonwealth territory must have access to the sea.
– Such a right-of-way is implied.
– In my opinion, we should stipulate in the Bill for access to the sea at a certain place, and for frontage to a specified port.
.- As regards the words “have access to the sea” being carefully” considered in connexion with previous measures, as suggested by .the Prime Minister, it is true they are used in the Act of 1904, but I believe they were not part of the original draft, but were inserted, in Committee by way of amendment.
– That is so.
– The honorable and learned member for Flinders and the honorable and learned member for Angas have asked what these words mean. I hold that we should have sovereign rights over a strip of territory leading from the Seat of Government to the sea, so that we can construct a railway or exercise other authority in regard to it without question. The honorable and learned member for Angas pointed out that such territory could be acquired by surrender on the part of the State Government or by agreement. The better way would be to acquire it by surrender on the part of the State Government ; an agreement might become the subject for litigation in the High
Court. If we secure the ownership of that territory, no question can arise as to the use to which we may put it; but, at the same time, as the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, there will be nothing to prevent the people of New South Wales from passing over it. If the State is ready to give us access to the sea, it will be prepared to meet us by a survey of this territory without our going to the trouble of making an agreement. As to my contention in regard to Jervis Bay, I would remind the Committee that there is no reference to a port in the clause. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie was asked why he did not raise this question when the Bill providing for the selection of Dalgety as the Seat of Government was before us. I venture to say that he probably shared the view which I entertained at the time, that there was no question as to Twofold Bay being included with the Dalgety site. It was only in the course of a speech then made by the honorable member for Lang that any serious doubt in that regard occurred to me. The honorable member, on that occasion, referred to the advantages of Jervis Bay as a port, and when the honorable member for Kalgoorlie interjected, “ Will New South Wales give us Jervis Bay?” he replied, “ I am not talking about our giving anything at present.” Later on, when I reminded the honorable member of what he had said, he interjected, “ Does the honorable member think that the Commonwealth is going to get Twofold Bay with Dalgety?” I replied, “ Certainly.’” “Then,” said he, “ the honorable member is altogether wrong.” That was the first time that any doubt was raised in my mind as to our securing Twofold Bay if Dalgety were selected. I then determined that if the Bill which the honorable member for Darling Downs had then introduced were proceeded with, I would move an amendment that would secure to us the right/ of a seaport at Twofold Bay. If honorable members generally are in favour of our securing a seaport there, why should they object to the insertion of such a provision in the Bill? Is it not idle to say that the Minister knows what honorable members desire, and that it is consequently unnecessary to insert these words in the Bill? How is the honorable gentleman to know what our wishes are unless we express them in the Act of Parliament itself? We can do no harm by so amending the Bill as to provide that the Commonwealth shall have a line of access to, and a seaport ‘ at, Jervis Bay. That would still leave open the whole question as to the terms of control. I agree with the honorable member for Hume .that the Commonwealth should have supreme control over the bay, and that the right of New South Wales in that regard should be a subordinate one.
– The State must have an outlet for its own territory.
– Exactly, but the Commonwealth must have the paramount control, unless it can be arranged that the Commonwealth and the State shall have equal rights. We must have control over Jervis Bay without any reference to the State, and we must have control over a strip oi territory extending from the Capital to the sea. If honorable members share that view, I fail to see why we should not give effect to it in this Bill. The very fact that objection is raised to our doing so leads me to think that it is not intended to give us that control. 1 agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the assurance we received that access would be given to Jervis Bay, and that we should have a Federal seaport there, induced many honorable members to vote for the Yass-Canberra site who would otherwise have been opposed to it. I know, from what has been said to me by several honorable members, that that is so’.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. 45 p.m.
.- A charming feature of the debate on the amendment which is worthy of more than passing notice is the wonderful confidence displayed in the Government, so far as th;s particular question is concerned, by every honorable member of the Opposition who has spoken’.
– -Why should we not display our confidence in the Minister? He has shown his sincerity.
-Quite so; but it is so remarkable that I am sure the honorable member will forgive me for briefly calling attention to it. It ought to be placed on record that, in respect of a matter requiring the utmost delicacy in handling, the display of the greatest possible tact, and the exercise of much discretion, coupled with broad statesmanship, every honorable member of the Opposition - notwithstanding that on other and minor matters they express a want of confidence in the Government - has expressed a be lief in the Ministry that is truly commendable. I have no doubt that the Government will be duly thankful, and will endeavour to rise, so to speak, to the occasion, and earn by work the commendation that they have received1 from the Opposition, because of their present proposal, lt is small wonder that in such circumstances the Government can view with perfect equanimity an attack from a member of the centre support, and can almost put it aside with an indifference that would lead one to believe that the centre on this particular occasion, at any rate, is not further required. Small wonder, too, that four members of the Ministry, with great courage and in almost valiant manner, should have entered the lists against one of their immediate supporters. I refer to the way in which the Minister of Home Affairs, the AttorneyGeneral, and the Prime Minister himself entered the arena in opposition to the mild suggestion offered by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. As though that were not sufficient, the honorary Minister also entered the lists armed almost to the teeth with weapons in support of his colleague. Then’, too, we found an exPrime Minister occupying a central seat, and vociferously cheering the Ministry, seeming to be ever ready to hold up his thumbs if one of his proteges for the time being happened to secure a fluky win.
– Then the honorable member is very happy?
– I never have occasion to be otherwise than happy. I regard the amendment as quite unnecessary, unless indeed the Ministry are surrounded by an impenetrable misunderstanding of what the House really desires. There seems to be a consensus of opinion that we require an outlet at the seaboard. Consequently Ministers will be sadly misinterpreting the feeling of the House if, in their instructions to the survey party, they neglect to give pointed effect to the desire that has been so pronouncedly expressed. This is merely a Bill to instruct surveyors as to what they shall do in a particular area which is at present not too carefully defined, although it is perhaps sufficiently clear for surveyors, and’ it would be unwise if the Government misinterpreted the wish of the House. It seems to me that the phrase “ access to the sea “ means something more than a mere bridle track, or a path down which the members of the
Federal Parliament may surreptitiously, and in the dead of night, rush to the blue ocean, take a wetting, and return.
– In single file.
– Apparently the Ministry are not accustomed to single file, because four of them were arrayed just now in opposition to what was, after all, a mild suggestion from one of their supporters. I take it that these words mean something very different from the tracks by which the wreckers of old reached the sea.
– The honorable member does not suggest that the Ministry are going to be wreckers?
– I am inclined to think that the wreckers just now were behind the Ministry urging them to fire the ball which they themselves were not prepared to use. The debate on this amendment will not be altogether wasted, since it has given the Ministry a clear indication of the desire of a number of honorable members that the words “ access to the sea “ shall include a reasonable road thereto, with suitable provision on the seaboard. To my mind, it includes facilities for shipping, such as anchorage, reasonable navigation, wharfage, and access by railway - it includes, in short, the ordinary facilities of a port commensurate with the requirements of the Commonwealth.
– Sufficient for a naval depot.
– I am sure that the honorable member will not ask me to go into all the details, although provision for a naval depot is very important. Another fact which has been brought out by the debate is that the general meaning which was attached to the words of those who were in favour of the Yass-Canberra site when the question was recently discussed has to be considerably modified, and modified in a way that I personally regret. We have it now in unmistakable terms that, so far as they are concerned, there is no intention that the Federal Government shall have control of the whole of Jervis Bay. That appears to be clearly the view of honorable members of the Opposition who were specially prominent in their advocacy of the Yass-Canberra site. During the whole of the canvassing - I do not use the word in a harsh sense - for the selection of Yass-Canberra in preference to Dalgety, not a whisper was heard of any limitation of the right of the Commonwealth to control Jervis Bay.
On the contrary, its many qualifications were pointedly referred to, and every statement, and every move made, tended to lead honorable members who were uncertain as to how they would finally vote to the conclusion that it was intended that the whole of Jervis Bay should be under the control of the Federal Government.
– Where is there any statement to bear that out?
– I quite admit that there may not be on record any definite statement to that effect.
– I do not think anything to the contrary has been implied by us.
– Was the impression conveyed that the whole of Jervis Bay was to be handed over?
– That impression was indelibly left on my mind. I admit to the Attorney -General that there is nothing in the attitude of the Government to show that they have given up hope of securing the whole of the bay, but I am dealing at present with the pointed statements of members of the Opposition who were energetic and enthusiastic in their advocacy of the Yass-Canberra site.
– There were others quite as energetic.
– I will include the whole of those who spoke to me. There was no secrecy about the matter. It was very open work, and every honorable member should be commended for the enthusiasm he displayed on that occasion. But all over the building, in the various rooms to which we have access, conversations were going on in orderto induce honorable members who had previously voted for other sites to vote for Yass-Canberra. Those conversations were attended with success. During the whole of those negotiations, there was not one whisper to lead one to suppose that those working in that direction believed anything except that the Federal Government would control the whole of the bay.
– They may be able to get it now for all we know.
– I hope they will, but I am justified in drawing attention to the modification now suggested of what was previously put before honorable members.
– This is the first time that we have heard of any claim to the whole of the bay.
– It is the first time that we have heard of any modification of that claim. My knowledge of wharfage and shipping leads me to the conclusion that unless the Federal Government has the full charge of the bay, there will be endless trouble, which will not reflect credit upon honorable members who agree to accept a partial control.
– Does the honorable member mean the whole of the foreshores ?
– I mean the whole of the bay, with a reasonable distance back from the foreshore.
– That is a frontage of 200 miles.
– I do not know the actual extent of the bay, but the honorable member for Lang, who nominated YassCanberra, in his attempts to persuade honorable members to his way of thinking, exhibited charts of Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay, and called attention to the difference in size, in the depth of water, and in thepossibilities for anchorage and wharfage, and spoke of the unlimited scope that we should have, not merely for a naval depot, but for naval manoeuvring. It was also stated that the Australian Squadron go now to Jervis Bay for target practice. We were therefore led to believe, although not by specific words, that the whole of the bay, together with its foreshore, would be within the control of the Federal Government. While I intend to vote against the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland, I wish to express to him my gratitude for initiating a debate which has given me an opportunity to express an emphatic opinion on this point, and call attention to the altered state of affairs, and at the same time to voice the hope that the Government’s instructionsto the surveyors will be of a character to secure the whole of the bay for Federal control. It was suggested by one honorable member that the Federal Government should have the southern portion, leaving the northern under State control. Can any honorable member say which is the best part of the bay at the present time?
– The southern part.
– My knowledge leads me to believe the contrary. I am not quite clear as to the extent of the seaway into the harbor, but the strongest winds come from the south and west, and, knowing reasonably well where the mouth of the bay is situated, I know that if a southerly or westerly wind is blowing, the southern and western portion of the harbor may not necessarily be the best.
– It must bethe best, because then it is the sheltered side.
– It doesnot follow.
– That is where the ships anchor for shelter in the Sydney Harbor.
– The entrance to the Sydney Harbor is not nearly so wide as the entrance to Jervis Bay. Consequently, the effects of wind and sea inside the harbor may not be the same as those of wind and sea outside. The bay being so large, there is room for a considerable sea to get up, and it is quite possible that the southern portion may not be the safest. I hope that the Government will see that the whole of the harbor is included in the survey. After that will come the negotiations, and we, on one side and the State Parliament on the other, will be able to decide whether the whole of it should be handed over to the Commonwealth. My vote will be given if I am still in Parliament in the direction of securing the whole of the bay, apart altogether from the question of which is the safer side. If there is to be any kind of dual control, if there is to be a line where Federal control ends and State control begins, endless trouble will be caused, especially if the temper of the New South Wales Parliament in the future is anything like it has been during the past seven years. That trouble can be obviated if the Government are firm and decided in their conduct of the negotiations.
.- The contention of the honorable member for Adelaide that the southern portion of the bay is not protected from the heavy southerly winds, will not stand investigation. It must be apparent that when a southerly wind is blowing the southern portion of the Bay, which is immediately behind the land, is protected from the weather. The honorable member for Hume has had some experience in that regard, because on one famous occasion, he and a number of other members of Parliament struck a heavy southerly storm, and had to take shelter, not in the northern, but in the southern, portion of the bay. On different occasions, in the olden days, before there was railway communication to the south coast, I have been taken in heavy southerly weather, when we could not land at Kiama, to the southern portion of Jervis Bay for shelter. The honorable member for Adelaide has made a good deal of the confidence which honorable members on this side are placing in the present Minister of Home Affairs, but, seeing that the Minister was one of the strongest opponents of the Yass-Canberra site, and an advocate for Dalgety, it would come with a very bad grace from us not to show the fullest confidence in him after his intimation this afternoon of what he is prepared to do. Personally, I have the fullest confidence that, in the interests of Australia, the Minister will use every endeavour to have the matter settled at the earliest moment, on the best terms that he can make for the Commonwealth consistently with the interests of New South Wales. I cannot understand the contention that the Commonwealth might endeavour to obtain the whole of Jervis Bay. I do not know what the feelings or intention of the New South Wales Government are, but, as a member of this Parliament, I am in favour of a Commonwealth harbor being established at that point. I have every sympathy with the amendment, and was prepared myself to move the insertion of the words ‘”’ at Jervis Bay,” but for the fact that such a proposal would not meet with the wishes of the Minister at the present time. I feel that the Government ought to have the fullest scope in the inevitable negotiations; and, as the Minister of Home Affairs is in earnest, I am not inclined to limit him in any way. I hope that the honorable member for Gippsland will come to the same determination.
– I’ cannot see why the honorable member should not vote for my amendment.
– I do not vote for the amendment simply out of respect for the Minister, in whom we have every confidence, and who ought to have a free hand.
– In any case, the matter will again come under the review .of the House.
– If I consulted my own personal feeling, I might be tempted to restrict the Minister, seeing that Jervis Bay is in mv constituency ; but, when I am willing to give the Minister a free hand, I think I may reasonably ask the honorable member for Gippsland to take a similar course.
– Where is the free hand, if this is a condition of the selection of the site ?
– The Minister knows what the feeling of the House is.
– Then there is no free hand !
– Is there any reason why Ave should any further tie the hands of. the Minister? I hope that the honorable member for Gippsland will see his way to withdraw the amendment, because it is obvious that the unanimous wish of the House is that Jervis Bay should be the port of the Federal Capital.
.- I was one who advocated Jervis Bay as the Federal port, but I did not do so with the idea that the Commonwealth should have all the bay. Although I am a strong Federationist. I have to admit that the New South Wales Government will have large territory in that district, and must be considered in the way of access to the sea there. At the same time, all the requirements of the Federal Government must be met, and so long as we have sufficient area for docks, Customs House, and so forth, we can ask for nothing more. The State and the Commonwealth will be as two partners ; but I take it for granted that the Commonwealth will be the predominant partner. Although we have had the mild sensation of a New South Wales Premier practically rushing in and stealing wire netting–
– Order !
– At any rate, we have had some compensation in the fact that the Premier, on returning from England, has declared himself to be a strong Federalist. ‘In any case, we cannot accuse the present Government of being against Commonwealth interests, or inclined to be too ardent as defendants of State rights. If there is an Australian Party it is the Labour Party ; and so strong is their Australian sentiment that they have been accused of favouring unification. I ask honorable members to give an absolutely free hand to the present Minister in carrying on the negotiations on behalf of the Commonwealth, because I am sure the right honorable gentleman will safeguard Australian interests. We cannot forget that to-day we have rescinded the resolution selecting Dalgety as the Capital site; and, if fair play be not given nowt we may see the rescinding of the recent decision of Parliament.
– That would give Armidale a chance !
– I think I shall not be out of order in saying that I consider a great mistake was made in not fixing on Armidale. However, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.
– I cannot understand what objection there can be to the amendment, seeing that every honorable member has expressed himself in favour of it.
– In favour of the object, but not of the terms.
– There is nothing in the amendment about the Commonwealth taking the whole of Jervis Bay.
– But the amendment conveys an impression to that effect.
– There are 200 miles of coastline in Jervis Bay, and we could not possibly require all that for the purposes of the Commonwealth. If the Minister is to be guided by this discussion, he can come to only one conclusion ; and, therefore, I see no reason why the amendment should not be embodied in the Bill. Of course, I can understand honorable members in favour of the YassCanberra site agreeing to anything the Minister chooses to propose ; but I fancy that if the honorable gentleman were to bestow his favour on Dalgety, there would be a change of front.
– We did not insist on this condition in the Bill which fixed Dalgety.
– I intended to insist on it.
– The honorable member for North Sydney was altogether opposed to Dalgety.
– All the more reason for insisting on conditions that might jeopardize its selection.
– The question of a port was not discussed when, for instance Tumut, was decided on ; and now that the majority are all of one opinion, no harm can result from adopting the amendment.
– This site is getting treatment very different from that which the Dalgety site got.
– The Dalgety site was knocked out, whereas this site has not yet been knocked out.
– What happened to the Dalgety site may happen to the site now under discussion. The honorable member for Adelaide said that the Minister quite understood what the desire of the House is, and, therefore, I cannot see why we should not accept the amendment. The honorable member for Robertson stated that if we had access to the sea, the land there would not be our property, but we should be, as it were, tenants at will. I do not take that view of the question, because I think that, if we have access to the sea, the territory must be our own. I know of a case in which a State gave a company the right to construct a railway line, and when the State wished to run a line across, the company refused permission. We do not desire anything of that sort as between the Commonwealth and a State; and, therefore, there ought to he a clear understanding of the position. We have no proof before us that the Premier of New South Wales has made the statements attributed to him. I hope that the honorable member for Gippsland will persist with his amendment, and thus ascertain how many honorable members are in favour of access to the sea, and a port at Jervis Bay.
– On previous occasions I have opposed the idea that special provision should be made for access totne sea from the Commonwealth Capital. I consider the Commonwealth to be supreme, and to have right of access to any port in Australia. Without such a right, it could not discharge its functions, or adequately protect the interests of the people. But those who ask that we should claim specifically right of access to a certain port have some show of reason for doing so. New South Wales has not dealt so liberally with the Commonwealth as she might have done. Her public men and newspapers have criticised Federal institutions and this Parliament in such a manner as to make it appear necessary to safeguard Commonwealth rights in this matter. Those who do not know the true views of the people of the State fail to realize that the speeches and actions which they regard as hostile are part of a political purpose, directed against a party, and do not express the hostility of the State to the Commonwealth. The present Government of New South Wales is prepared to treat us generously. All that we are now being asked to do is to pass a Bill to sanction negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State. When they are concluded, Parliament will be asked to express its opinion in regard to terms and conditions submitted to it, relating to the location and area of the territory, its access to the sea, and the provision of harbor accommodation. The Government will take all steps necessary to preserve the interests of the Commonwealth without doing injustice to the State chiefly concerned, and nothing will be gained by requiring now that Jervis Bay shall be ceded.
– If the Committee refuses to insert a provision requiring the cession of Jervis Bay, or part of it, may not the New South Wales Government say that we do not desire that?
– That may happen if the honorable member for Gippsland is unwise enough to press his amendment to a division. I have stated the opinion that the Commonwealth has an inherent right of access to every port in Australia, but have intimated that I am prepared to meet the wishes of the honorable member for Gippsland in asking that negotiations shall be entered upon to secure access to Jervis Bay from the Federal territory, and a frontage on’that harbor. Still, I will not vote against the Ministry. My action in voting against the amendment might be regarded as evidence that I_ think that the Commonwealth does not nee3 what the honorable member asks for. Therefore, I take this opportunity to state publicly that I wish to see a frontage to Jervis Bay ceded to the Commonwealth, and shall do what I can to secure the cession, but that I wish to leave the Government free to negotiate in the matter with the Government of New South Wales. The honorable member will be ill-advised to push this proposal to a division, in view of the fact that the expression of opinion which he has obtained from honorable members has been generally favorable to his position, and that the defeat of his amendment is likely to create misinterpretation.
.- One might think, from some of the speeches which we have heard to-day, that we were proposing to deal, not with a State Government, but with a foreign Power. I am sure that the Government of New South Wales will welcome us, and will be willing to give access from the Commonwealth territory to the sea. Some honorable members, however, seem to think that we shall have to employ troops to cut a passage from the territory to the sea.
– The State Government took goods out of the custody of the Customs officials.
– Such an incident is not likely to recur. The debates on this question must have cost nearly as much as it would take to build the Federal Capital. As the Prime Minister has said, it is not possible for any one to say anything for or against any aspect of the question which has- not already been said hundreds of times. I hope that we shall speedily decide the matter, and get on with other business.
– It is to be regretted that so much time has been occupied in the discussion of a matter which is not of serious consequence. I again appeal to the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw the amendment. If it be pushed to a division, a false impression will be created as to the wishes of honorable members.
– Not necessarily.
– The rejection of the amendment may, without a specific declaration to the contrary, be regarded as the expression of the opinion that we do not consider access from the Commonwealth territory to Jervis Bay needful. We wish to have such access, but Ministers desire that their hands shall not be tied in the conduct of negotiations, and to do all we can to prevent further irritation.
– What we need is access by rail.
– We need access to the sea at Jervis Bay. I appeal to the Committee to come to a decision at once, because we have a: good deal of business to do, and not much time in which to do it.
.- The position we have reached is an extraordinary one. The House is unanimously in favour of our obtaining access to the sea, and almost entirely in favour of our having, on reaching it, the use of a. seaport which will permit of a proper development of Commonwealth naval interests there. We are now asked to agree to an amendment that, it is true, clearly expresses that desire, but which, as the Minister has pointed out, would impose upon him an obligation that might seriously interfere with his negotiations with the Government of New South Wales. Consequently, those who favour both propositions as to access and port are placed in this dilemma - that they must either vote for the amendment, believing that it might impair the success of the negotiations, or they must vote against it in form, although they indorse it in substance. My honorable friend, the member for Gippsland, is, of course, in this matter the sole judge of his own course of conduct. We all feel the embarrassment of the position. Having to choose between the two evils, after the Ministerial statement, I shall feel justified in voting against making an amendment in terms which I believe ought to be acted upon.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause (Mr. Wise’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 38
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The amount of the compensation to be paid by the Commonwealth for any land to be acquired by the Commonwealth within the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government shall not exceed the value of the land on the eighth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and eight, and in other respects the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906 shall apply to the acquisition of the land.
– I should like the Minister of Home Affairs to explain the necessity for this clause.
I understand from the statement made by him this afternoon that the Bill is designed to authorize a survey of land in New South Wales in order that we may ascertain the territory proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth. Under subclause 1 of clause5, power is taken to enter upon land for the purpose of any survey, with that object in view, and, under sub-clause 2, provision is made for the payment of compensation for damage done. That being so, if this Bill is designed merely to authorize certain surveys, and a further measure must be introduced and passed before the territory can be actually acquired, why it is necessary to take power under this clause to pay for lands?
– The clause is merely a warning against land speculation.
– It is only to fix values.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral tell me that the clause is not designed to do something more than fix the value at which the land shall be acquired? Does it not make it possible for the Government to take over all the land to be acquired for the purposes of the Capital without any further reference to Parliament ?
– The clause will bar persons who hold this land from obtaining anything more than was its value on the 8th October, 1908.
– I agree that it is reasonable that land speculators should not be encouraged to take advantage of the increased values that will accrue to land in the district as the result of the Commonwealth proposing to establish the Capital there; but this clause goes much further. It will empower the Commonwealth Government, under the Lands Acquisition Act, to acquire all the land that is required for the purposes of the Capital.
– It applies only to land to be acquired or to be granted - it refers to the future.
– Will the honorable member say that the meaning of the clause is that the territory cannot be acquired until a further measure dealing with the matter has been passed by this Parliament?
– The territory has, first of all, to be. defined.
– I have no doubt that the object of the Bill is most admirable, but some of its provisions are ambiguous and others exceed altogether the powers that are sought to be conferred. 1 do not want us to find ourselves at some future date in the position of having, without the authority of Parliament being secured,, incurred an obligation in connexion with the lands which it is proposed to acquire for Commonwealth purposes
– Reference is made in clause 4 to the extent of the territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth. Clause 5 makes provision for’ the necessary survey. Clause 6 determines the basis upon which compensation shall be paid in respect of land which after the survey and after the grant or acquisition, is required by the Commonwealth. Without that clause, the compensation to be paid in the future would have to be based on the value of the land at the date when it was taken, or there would have to be a retrospective provision, which would be declared to be unfair to the land-holders.
.- I recently visited this site, and the one question put to me by the fortunate or unfortunate land-holders in the vicinity was as to what valuation the Commonwealth would give them if it took their land. There has been a decided move in the direction of land speculation there. We ought to consider the people who will be interested in the matter by passing some such clause as this. I am pleased that it appears in the Bill as an indication of our intentions, for the information of people who may buy or sell land in the district, and as a safeguard to the Commonwealth against having to pay exorbitant prices.
Clause agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 1st December, vide page 2469) :
Department of External Affairs
Division 14 (Papua), ^20,000
– If the present occupants of the Treasury bench had still retained the position that they occupied a little over a fortnight ago they would have been amongst the most ardent advocates of the submission to the House of the recent Papuan appointments before they were actually made. That accession to office and Ministerial responsibility apparently makes a lot of difference is shown very markedly in the changed attitude of Ministers towards this question.
Several of the members of the Labour Party, if any other Government had attempted to make these appointments, would have been most clamorous in insisting upon Parliament being first consulted. Now they sit absolutely dumb. If the principle of the House having the right of indorsement of appointments was a good one when another Government was in office, it is no less right and proper with the present Government in office.
– Order ! I have repeatedly called honorable members to order for conversing in loud tones. It is difficult and trying for me to have to be continually reminding honorable members of what is due to the honorable member who is addressing the Chair. I would ask honorable members to try to. conduct their conversations in less audible tones.
– It would have been fair and proper for the present Government to honour the promise of the exPrime Minister, that no appointment of an Administrator or Lieutenant-Governor of Papua would be made without the names being first submitted to the House. That promise was made at the request of some of the members of the Labour Party in the first instance. It has been repeated on several occasions since - the last time quite recently. As shown on page 1140 of Hansard, vol. 31 of 1906, Mr. Wilkinson, who at that time sat in the Labour comer, asked -
Can the Prime Minister assure the House that he will defer the making of appointments to the Executive and Legislative Councils of Papua, and will not fill the LieutenantGovernorship until the House has had an opportunity to discuss the motion moved by me on Thursday last, and made an Order of the Day for 26th July? and the late Prime Minister replied -
Not knowing exactly why the honorable member prefers this request in regard to appointments to the Legislative Council of Papua, I shall be glad if he will submit his reasons to me in private. I have already undertaken that no appointments to the Public Service of the Territory shall be made until the House has had an opportunity to discuss the subject. That opportunity may be afforded by the introduction of the Estimates before the honorable member’s motion is disposed of, but, in any case, honorable members will be able to express their views on the matter before any appointments are made.
The last reference to this matter was made on 21st May of the present year, towards the close of last session, when the ex-Prime Minister, again in answer to a question put by another member of the Labour Party, reiterated his former statement, and added -
I hope that an Administrator will be appointed three or four months hence, and Parliament is not likely then to be in recess.
That was a confirmation of his previous promise that no appointments would be made until they had been first submitted to Parliament.
– The ex-Prime Minister did not make such a promise. He did not promise to submit the names to the House.
– How can the Minister of External Affairs make such a statement in face of the distinct words that I have quoted? He is trying by hair splitting to make white appear black, and vice versa. No other meaning can be read into the late Prime Minister’s words than that he intended to submit certain proposals to the House in reference to the appointments, and that he would not make them until the House had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on his proposals. No man can read any other meaning into them unless he deliberately wants to pervert their obvious and clear intention. The Minister of External Affairs, if he had been sitting in his accustomed corner, would have been one of the first to insist on the House being con,sulted before the appointments were made. Yet Ministers have hardly taken the oath of office, and been introduced to their Departments, before there has been an almost indecent haste to make them. Why is this? Had they anything to conceal? Were they afraid that the House would express an adverse opinion, or subject them to criticism?
– Judge Murray was originally appointed without reference to the House.
– That may have been, but the ex-Prime Minister distinctly promised that no appointments would be made to these positions until the House had been consulted. If the late Government had remained in office the members of the Labour. Party would have been amongst the loudest in insisting upon their being submitted to the House before they were made.
– The honorable member is quite wrong, so far as I am concerned - it would be ridiculous for the House to attempt to make a selection.
– That was not the position taken up by the Minister, when members of his party were making their requests to the ex-Prime Minister.
– Mr. Staniforth Smith was not appointed in that way
– That has nothing to do with the point. It was convenient for the Labour Party at the time to have Mr. Staniforth Smith, as a senator, out of their way. A distinct promise was made by the ex-Prime Minister, and isbeing ignored by the present Government. It is well known that there is a feeling, amongst a considerable section, if not s. majority, that neither of these gentlemenshould be appointed. In the light of the report of the Royal Commission, there seems to have been every reason for avoiding the appointment of any person prominently concerned in the sectarian and faction fights which have done so much to bring the administration of Papua into disrepute.
– I do not think that either of these men was in the faction fights.
– Judge Murray, if the reports which have reached us are true, was an acknowledged leader of one faction. I am not saying anything against that gentleman or his qualifications. I know nothing of either except from, hearsay, and my criticism is not directed against anY one personally,, but only from the point of view of the undesirability of appointing any person intimately associated with rival factions. It would have been much better to go outside and appoint an Administrator who had nothing to do with the contending parties or their interests. It appears that one of the objects of the action of the present Government was to get out of a difficulty in the easiest way possible for themselves.
– Does the hororable member think that to discuss candidates for such offices is likely to conduce to good government in Papua or elsewhere?
– I shall express no opinion on that point, unless the honorable gentleman desires me to give an exhaustive statement of my views. I know that Mr. Staniforth Smith was the candidate of the Labour Par-tv for the position some time before that Party took office. I am under the impression that one of’ the main reasons for his not offering himself for reelection as a senator was the understanding, expressed’ or implied, that he should have some such appointment. If there was no compact, there was something like a mutual understanding between himself and the Labour Party, and their allies in the Government, that a position of the kind was to be offered to him. Mr. Smith has been qualifying himself so far as he can for the position, but, apparently, he could not be appointed without raising the question of what had to become of Judge Murray, for whom a position of equal importance had to be found. I am only surmising that that was the train of reasoning of the Labour Party, and, apparently they thought the best way was to give positions to both as nearly as possible alike in social and official status. I can find no warrant in the Constitution for two such appointments at one time. It is true that the Act is somewhat vague as to what is intended, though that is usual in the case of the Acts we pass in this Parliament. Section 10 of the Act charges the Lieutenant-Governor with the duty of administering the government of Papua on behalf of the Commonwealth ; and yet the present Government appoint an Administrator. The Lieutenant-Governor is the Administrator according to the Act and his duties are specially set out in the Constitution. Section 13 of the Act, on which I suppose the Government have relied, provides that the Governor-General may, by commission, appoint an. Administrator, who, during any vacancy in the office of Lieutenant-Governor, or when the Lieutenant-Governor is absent from the Colony, or unable by illness to perform his duties, shall administer the government; and throughout the Act all ‘ administrative duties are coupled with the name of the Lieutenant-Governor, except under the circumstances indicated. There is nothing to indicate that there should be at one and the same time a Lieutenant-Governor and an Administrator to perform the same duties.
– Is not “LieutenantGovernor “ to be read in the section as we read “ Governor-General “ in our Acts, as meaning the Government?
– The positions axe not at all similar. In the case of Papua, the Lieutenant-Governor is an active factor in all the administrative affairs of the country, and is a responsible head, whereas in the Commonwealth the Prime Minister is responsible. In fact, I question very much the legality of the appointment of an Administrator as well as that of a Lieutenant-Governor except in the special circumstances provided by the Constitution Act when a vacancy occurs in the office of Lieutenant-Governor, or when that gentleman) is absent from the Territory. The Act seems to me to provide for the appointment of an Administrator only in the event of a vacancy caused by the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor. Had the Estimates been brought forward earlier in the session, I should have moved a reduction in the vote. Indeed, I intended to say a good deal more about . the administration of Papuan affairs generally. But when I receive courtesy at the hands of Ministers, I am willing to show like consideration, and, therefore, although in asking last night that progress be reported, I made no definite promise to curtail my remarks to-day ; I shall not now add anything further.
.- I am at a loss to understand the criticisms of honorable members. If they object, on the score of expense, to having both a LieutenantGovernor and an ‘Administrator, why do not they move to strike out one or other office? I am surprised that two capable men, as I know the officers filling these positions to be, are willing to locate themselves in Papua. I would not live there for all the tea in China. Judge Murray is a man of strong intellect, who belongs to a highly intelligent New South Wales family, he and his brother being men of considerable attainments.
– Physically, as well as intellectually.
– It has been alleged- although I have no proof - that, as Judge, he interfered with the religious practices of certain persons, and some months ago certain papers were laid before me in connexion with the matter. 1 thought, however, that the case made out was altogether too strong to be likely. As between Judge Murray and Mr. Staniforth Smith, I think the former the right man to be LieutenantGovernor. I am not enamoured of the Administrator. As a senator, he took an interest in tropical affairs, and obtained the appointment of Director of Tropical Agriculture in Papua. But I do not like a man who tries to undermine another. If the Committee knew as much as I do, it would not be too keen about his appointment. I have waited to see what action honorable members would take; but they have not taken any.
– What action can we take?
– I have waited to hear distinct charges against the LieutenantGovernor. If the charges which have been made against him privately can be proved, the Ministry should be castigated for appointing him, because, although they took over the unfinished work of the Deakin Administration, they were not bound to ratify its proposed appointments. To my mind, it is questionable whether the Territory is not over-officered, seeing that there are only about 700 white persons living there. What salaries are paid to the two officers in question?
– £1,250 and . £800 respectively.
-£1,250 is not too much to pay a man who is willing to bury himself in Papua.
– But there is no need to have two men doing the same work.
– I am ready to support an amendment to get rid of the Administrator if any honorable member will move it, and give good reasons for doing so. We have heard of so-called faction disputes, andit has been said) that Judge Murray took sides against one of the factions, and was interested in a religious order established in the Territory. Some honorable members may think that I can be used as an instrument against Judge Murray ; but I do not attack a man because of his religious beliefs. When I read part of a letter written by the other officer, I said, “ The man who will write in that way to undermine a superior is not suitable for the position.” I have waited anxiously to hear whether honorable members are in possession of facts to support opposition to this appointment.
– Why does not the honorable member tell the Committee what he knows?
– I have told the Committee in outline. My information is only hearsay, and proof is needed. If no charge can be proved against Judge Murray, he is the right man to make LieutenantGovernor. I know which I would select, had I to choose between these officers. Personally, I do not see the need for an Administrator.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.36].- In my opinion, the honorable member for Lang made good his contention as to the promise of the ex- Prime Minister that the House would be consulted before these appointments were made.
– I did not know of it, and it was not brought under my notice.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not consider the honorable gentleman bound by it. It was a personal promise, and, I thought at the time, an unwise one, because I did not see how a legislative body could be consulted in regard to an administrative act. I do not know either of the gentlemen to whom reference is being made, but take it for granted that they are qualified for the positions which they hold. At any rate, Ministers are responsible for the appointments. I can understand that the peculiar conditions of Papua necessitate the appointment of an Administrator to take up the work of the Lieutenant-Governor when the latter is absent from head-quarters. As the Lieutenant-Governor is also Chief Justice, public business would be indefinitely suspended during his tours of inspection in districts remote from Port Moresby were not such provision made, because the Territory is practically without postal and telegraphic communication as understood here. As to the legality of the appointments, I express no opinion. In my view, the salaries paid to Papuan officers generally are altogether too small, compared with those paid to officers in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and the advantages which the latter enjoy. The best men can hardly be expected to bury themselves in an out-of-the-way country like Papua, in an extremely unhealthy tropical climate, for the amounts which are given. I understand that public servants are not required to stay in the Northern Territory for more than two or three years.
– There is no such arrangement, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, but there may be a State regulation on the subject.
Colonel FOXTON. - I was assured by a gentleman at Port Darwin that there was.
– Officers of the State Railways Department are stationed there for only a limited period, but the service of the officers of the Police and the Customs there has been practically interminable.
Colonel FOXTON.- The fact that such a regulation exists shows that the State recognises the tremendous disabilities attaching to life in such a climate, and more particularly to the families of officers stationed there.
– A substantial allowance, in addition to their ordinary salaries is made to men stationed in such parts of the Commonwealth.
Colonel FOXTON.- The same system is in force in Queensland. There is no specific rule bearing on the subject but when a man has served a few years in the far-distant north he is entitled to be transferred to a district with a moderate climate. It rarely happens that an officer is kept in the far north against his will for a very long period. Now that the revenues of Papua are increasing, this matter might fairly be taken into consideration when next year’s Estimates are being prepared, and substantial increases in salaries granted.
– I propose to’ look into the matter, and to compare the salaries received by the officers there with those paid to men discharging corresponding duties on the mainland, with a view of seeing whether something cannot be done.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am glad to have that assurance.
– We have already found that good men are leaving the service because of the salaries being insufficient.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is most unfortunate, and it clearly indicates that the emoluments are not sufficient to enable the Commonwealth to command the services of the best men. With regard to permits for recruiting, I may say that I was misled by certain remarks made by the honorable member for Nepean, as well as by some interjections made during his speech. I was under the impression that under the amending Act it was possible for a man to receive a permit to recruit natives without taking them before a magistrate. Having investigated the matter, however, I find that it is perfectly clear that, as was stated by the honorable member for Ballarat, under no circumstances can a binding agreement be made without the sanction of a magistrate, who is charged with the duty of satisfying himself that the recruit thoroughly understands the engagement into which he is entering.
– Is the recruit in a position to differentiate between what is, and what is not, a binding agreement ?
Colonel FOXTON.- There are severe penalties for employing Papuans in certain industries without a permit, and unless that additional provision is most rigidly adhered to. there is great danger of the system becoming what an honorable member has described as a kind of veiled slavery. It is necessary not only that there should be no employment of natives without a proper official engagement, but that there should be a constant inspection of all indentured labour throughout the Possession, in order that the Government, which is, after all, responsible for the natives, shall be satis,fied that they are being properly treated in their employment. In Queensland, in every district where Islanders were employed, there was an inspector, whose duty it was to see that the men received proper treatment in regard, not only to the supply of rations, but to their housing and general sanitary conditions. Notwithstanding what was said by an honorable member as to his dislike to indentured labour, I do not hesitate to say that it means labour officially sanctioned. It is the only system under which we can allow these men to be employed. If we have no official sanction of engagements, we shall have abuses. That has been our experience in Queensland. There no one is allowed to employ an aboriginal coming within certain categories, without a permit. That practice has been followed with enormous advantage to both employers and employed. It should also obtain in Papua. I presume that no native labour is employed there without proper sanction, and there should be constant inspection by Government officials, in order that no native may be imposed upon by an unscrupulous employer.
– I quite agree with the. honorable member. That system is being followed as far as possible, and will be continued.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am delighted to have the assurance of the honorable member that there is a recently-constituted Native Labour Department, which certainly ought to undertake all these duties, and see that they axe properly carried out, more especially as we know that at certain times there has been serious mortality among the natives. I have been in New Guinea, although I have not travelled there very extensively. I have also had a great deal of experience in connexion with the native population of. the islands in the Torres Straits, as well as on the mainland. There it is estimated that we have something like 25,000 aborigines, whose conditions are very different from what they were a few years ago, in consequence, if I may say so, of legislation for which I was largely responsible. I have only one more remark to make, and that is in regard to some observations by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who appeared to be somewhat shocked at the suggestion that spheres of influence should be allotted to the various missions. That was found to be necessary in Queensland and the system has worked with admirable effect. It is most undesirable, in the interests of “Christianity itself, that the natives, whether of Papua or of the mainland of Australia, should be brought face to face with the unfortunate contentions that constantly arise between various sections of the Christian “Community. Such disputes are calculated to lower Christianity in the eyes .of those whom it is desired to benefit, and it is by no means edifying to have complaints of proselytising, as we have them made, . by one section against another. By the allotment of spheres of influence, such complaints are reduced to a minimum. So far from the system “being undesirable, I have had assurances from the heads of the various churches that have mission stations in Queensland that my action in allotting these spheres of influence throughout the Gulf of Carpentaria district and the Cape York Peninsula lias been most beneficial. The most northerly part of Cape York is occupied by the Presbyterian Church, the missionaries of which are Moravians. They at first had a station ob the Batavia River, which is not very far south from Cape York, om the Gulf of Carpentaria, but it came to my knowledge, as Minister administering the aborigines Department of Queensland, that they desired to extend their missions to the south. 1 also learned that the Church of England desired to establish a. mission station on the Archer River, which is somewhat lower down the coast. I refused permission in the latter case, believing that, as the Archer River was close to the Batavia, it should be occupied by the same church mission. The Church of England mission then went to the Mitchell River, and with the very best results. I think that there are now two Presbyterian stations immediately south of the Batavia River, one* on the Embley River, and one on the Archer River, and that all are working harmoniously together. South of that again come the missions of the Church of England on the Mitchell River, and the best possible relations exist between all these mission stations. It is admitted by those in charge that these happy relations could scarcely have existed had the missions been interlocked, so to speak, with one another. It was pointed out to me by the Rev. Mr. Hay, the principal missionary in connexion with the Pres byterian Church up there, that some little difficulties were constantly cropping up between mission stations of the same denomination. How much worse would be the situation if the closely adjacent missions belonged to different denominations? I do not know - what steps have been taken in regard to the missions in Papua in this respect, but I can assure the Committee that the system I have outlined has worked admirably in Queensland, and that, if it is not too late to introduce it in Papua, its adoption there will have the effect of preventing a great deal of that sectional and religious controversy, which it is veryundesirable to have brought immediately under the notice of the natives themselves.
– I did not propose to take part in this discussion until what I may almost term a challenge was put to honorable members who held that some arrangement other than that which has been arrived at by the present Government should have been made with regard to the governorship of Papua. I have never canvassed this question, I hope, in any personal spirit, and I do not propose to do so now. The appointments have been made in direct contradiction of an understanding that was made with the House. I do not blame the present Minister for that, since he cannot be expected to keep a tally of all the undertakings given by his predecessor j but it is rather unfortunate that this occurrence has taken place. I wish to reiterate that my objection to the appointment of either Judge Murray or Mr. Staniforth Smith to the governorship of Papua rests upon a very serious basis. It rests upon the evidence of very important persons in the island that, however those gentlemen themselves might be acting, they were regarded in the Possession as the leaders of two rival factions, and that, if either were appointed to the supreme position, unrest would supervene in the Public Service there. I pointed out that in that Dependency we could not expect to get public officers working together with enthusiasm and co-operating properly, if there were appointed to the headship of the administration an officer who was the object of dislike and suspicion by a large section of the service. In the early part of this year the Bishop of New Guinea was seen by a representative of the Age newspaper, and in the Age of 7th April appears the following account of the interview -
The Bishop, in the course of conversation yesterday, remarked that it was unfortunately the fact that the white population there is practically divided into two camp’s, and the aspirants for the important position shortly to be filled are the acknowledged heads of these camps. Should either succeed in getting the appointment the cleavage of parties would most probably become still more marked, and however unjust it might be there would always be the suspicion of partisanship in the decision of matters in which the two camps were deeply interested. What is wanted, therefore, is a strong man who would have no local prejudices, and who would not from the start of his administration have to overcome the feeling that he was a partisan, but who might by tact and firmness be able to reconcile the differences which now exist, and which, if not removed, might easily operate to the detriment of the Commonwealth possession.
– What is the good of flogging the subject now ?
– I should not have done so, but for the express invitation extended to us to explain our position.
– By what honorable members ?
– I heard cheered by several honorable members the remark of the honorable member for Dalley that persons who have objected to the appointments ought to have come forward and substantiated their objections. The reasons I have given actuated me in the belief that the only proper course for the Government to adopt was to appoint some altogether new man to the position. I do not hold the present Government entirely responsible for the appointments, although they are responsible in a way. They have chosen to adopt the recommendation of their predecessors, who, with a commendable desire to be on both sides of the fence at once, have appointed two Governors for Papua. It is most unfortunate for the Territory that it should have two Governors, who are regarded by its inhabitants, on the evidence of no less a person than the Bishop, as the leaders of rival factions.
– Did the Bishop refer to those two? Perhaps he referred to Captain Barton.
– Captain Barton had resigned some time previously, and there were only those two gentlemen. in the field*.
– Were they quarrelling, too?
– So it was stated. I do not place the utmost reliance on all com munications from the Possession, but all the information I have received is in the same direction.
– Do Ministers know that there is any friction between the two?
– There has been a certain amount of difference between them. I can remember a report by Judge Murray on .Mr. Staniforth Smith, absolving him from blame in connexion with a certain land transaction, but only on the ground that his entire inexperience of public administration mitigated his conduct. That was a somewhat ridiculous reflection” to pass on a gentleman who had honorably served his_ country in the High Court of Parliament for a number of years.
– It was a most insulting remark.
– It was most insulting and unjustifiable, as was subsequently shown. Here was a gentleman who had some experience, and who was appointed to a very high position in Papua, reflected upon in this insulting way by another gentleman with whom he is now asked to act as a colleague. The thing is preposterous. Mr. Staniforth Smith has had a larger experience in a way than Judge Murray has had ; certainly larger than Judge Murray had before he went to Papua. The time is past for canvassing the personal qualifications of the gentlemen who are filling these positions, but if the Government had wished to strike a blow at the efficiency of the Public Service of the Territory, they could not have done it” more effectively than by appointing the heads of rival factions to pretend to act together in co-operation and amity at the head of the Service. I deplore the. action taken. It is of no use now te do more, but the time will come when the House will see that a mistake has been made, and will take, I hope not too late, the good advice tendered by the Bishop on Papua.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta> [10.2]. - I also feel that some protest should be made against the action of the Government in making these appointments. I can well understand their hesitancy tocancel any arrangements which they found” already matured on their advent to office, and there is perhaps some excuse for their action on that ground. But that is really the only excuse I can find for it. Themore one looks into it, and thinks over it,, the more one must regret the deplorable results that must follow. The question cannot rest satisfactorily where it is. We can- not divide responsibility for an important -administration of that kind, and it may safely be predicted that sooner or later trouble will arise from the appointments which have been made. Every one knows that these two gentlemen have not been working harmoniously together. So far as I am able to judge from reports which have come to hand from time to time, you might as well try to tie a cat and dog together asexpect these gentlemen to work in harmonious relationship under existing Circumstances. It is well known that one has been trying to elbow the other out in order to make way for himself, and advance his own prospects. The Government have tried to please all parties by giving them an advance in status, salary, and general emoluments. That is an easy way to settle difficulties if you shut your eyes to the ordinary working of human nature.
– Why does not the honorable member do so ?
– The Opposition at least has a duty to keep its eyes open, and not to shut them. I venture the prediction that the arrangements which have been made will not prove satisfactory or in the interests of the Commonwealth and Papua. The Government, however, take the responsibility for them, and I can but hope that they will work out as they should. But it will seem strange to any ordinary unbiased person to suppose that they either canor will. Both of these gentlemen have been in frequent conflict with each other over serious matters of administration, and every one knows that those difficulties have been so acute as to have been felt in this House.
– When, and where? I have information directly in conflict with the honorable member’s statement.
– Since when?
-Within the last three months.
– There is time for changes to have occurred during the last three months. I suppose that within that period these offers of promotion have been made to both, and the matter may have been satisfactorily, even if only temporarily, arranged upon those lines. I hope all may prove to be well for the sake of Papua, but I venture to say that the Government are taking immense risks in giving to the Territory practically two coequal administrators.
– The Administrator acts only when the Lieutenant-Governor is away.
– Then he is paid £800 a year to be on the spot in case the other should be absent?
– Is £800 a year too much in the honorable member’s opinion for the second man there, who is also director of agriculture, doing the work he is doing?
– The question of salary does not enter into the matter so much as does the question of status. There cannot be two responsible Administrators of Papua. One must be supreme; the other must be entirely subordinate.
– The status is laid down in the Act. The Administrator acts only when the other man is away.
– What other duties have been allocated to Mr. Staniforth Smith for this increased salary?
– Nothing else.
– Is he supposed to do nothing during the whole time that the Lieutenant-Governor is at home? Is he really being paid £800 a year to lie about the door-mat waiting for his chief to go away to some distant part of the Kingdom? If the chief Administrator stays at home during the whole year doing his duty, Mr. Staniforth Smith is to get £800 a year for doing absolutely nothing ! That is the Minister’s statement.
– It is nothing of the kind. It is a ridiculous statement. I said he had nothing else to do as Administrator. He does not come in until the Lieutenant-Governor is absent, but he still has his other duties as director of agriculture to perform.
– The sooner the positions of these two gentlemen are made perfectly clear to the House the better for all concerned. In the meantime it seems to be an easy way out of the difficulty, but it may prove to be only a temporary settlement. I hope my prophecy will be wrong. I can conceive of no greater injustice, no worse calamity befalling the Territory, than the appointment of two Administrators with equal status, and with a generally equal position. The more strictly we define the responsibility for the government of the Possession the more likely are we to have efficient control. I raise no question at all as to the salary, because, in my opinion, that should not stand in the way of efficient administration. I should say that £1,250 a year in Papua is equivalent to not much more than half that amount on the mainland of Australia; and it is simply playing with language to say that such a salary is more than adequate for a man who is called upon to administer territory containing half-a-million of a native population. If we paid , £3,000 or £4,000 a year for the efficient governmentof the Possession, we would not be paying too much. Everything depends on the man and his qualifications. I am not traversing the qualifications of either of the gentlemen, though I regret exceedingly the way in which the appointments have been made. I should be glad to hear that there are some redeeming features in this compromise. The Government seem to have effected it by promoting officers all round, and thus settling a difficulty which has, no doubt, done some injury to Papua. I hope that, in the future, the duties of the two gentlemen named may be definitely allocated, and that the Government will furnish Parliament with a statement on the subject, so that we may know exactly what is proceeding.
.- Last year we voted an additional , £5,000 towards the future development of Papua, and I understood that that vote was to continue for two or three years. This money was spent principally in opening up roads and in survey work; and I should like to know why the vote has been dropped in the Estimates before us. Has the increase in the revenue made the vote unnecessary?
– This was a special vote last year for roads. The money was sufficient to do the work essential then, and I think it may be necessary next year to have a similar vote.
– I wish to point out the extraordinary fact that the exact sum appropriated has been spent. That, I venture to say, has not occurred in the case of any other public works in the Commonwealth.
– It shows magnificent administration!
– It does, and something more, I think. It shows either that there is need for further expenditure, or that the money has been used anyhow for some other purposes.
– There may have been work in hand, which it was necessary to execute after the end of the financial year.
– Are all the developmental works in Papua complete?
– Not by a long way.
– Then why is there no vote this year? May I suggest that it looks as if this were one of the votes which could be conveniently dropped so as to square the ledger in the way it was squared by the late Treasurer?
– There may have been an increase of revenue, and the money may have been used in general works.
– Surely not so, unless the money has been specially appropriated by the House. The Prime Minister does not suggest that money can be used in Papua without its being taken account of in the Estimates?
– As a matter of fact, the money is not all spent yet.
– Are we to understand that no more money is required j ust now ?
– There has been no immediate request for any more. This was a. special vote,as explained to the House, and the expenditure runs over more than one year.
– Then there is a sort of trust account in Papua?
– Well, that is a satisfactory answer, but I think a great deal more is required for development, in view of the large quantity of land which, according to the late Prime Minister, has been acquired for agricultural purposes. When agriculture is undertaken, there must be development in the way of roads, bridges, and other appurtenances of a civilized community.
– There must be considerably more expenditure as the development proceeds.
– We are told that last year’s vote is not all actually expended ; and if it suffices to carry on the work this year, that is a satisfactory- explanation. I should like to see a course of steady development pursued; and, as I have always done, I hope it will have reference to the well-being of the natives firstly and chiefly, and next to the interests of such white people as can undertake developmental work with advantage to the natives and to themselves.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 15 (Mail Service to Pacific Islands), £13,917
– I notice that there is an increase of £417 in this vote, and, while not objecting to that, because we require a good deal more expenditure, not only on the island services, but on the inland services, I should like to know the reason for this increase and what additional advantages we get for the extra expenditure.
– The additional amount is required in consequence of the contract which began last November. The new services include the stoppage of the mail-boats at places which were not formerly visited, and there is also a larger steamer, which is fitted up with refrigerating machinery and insulated space.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 16 (Miscellaneous), £27,275.
.- I notice that there is a sum of £20,000 under the head of “Advertising Resources of Commonwealth.”
– I propose to ask the Committee to reduce thatamount.
-I do not wish to see the amount reduced, if the Minister can show that there is some definite system of expenditure in a business-like way. In the past, this vote has been a source of considerable anxiety to members of the Opposition, ana of slight irregularity on the part of the Government. One of the results is that newspaper articles on Papua are paid for out of the fund provided for advertising Australia. I do not, of course, expect the present Minister to be conversant with all the facts, but I understand that during the last financial year an article on New Guinea was bought from a political pressman in Australia, and I hardly think that that can be regarded as advertising our resources.
– Was it Miss Grimshaw?
– No; it was a well-known political writer.
– Frank Renard?
– No; but there was an article in the Lone Hand, by Frank Renard, for which the Commonwealth paid the Bulletin Company some money.
– That is not included in the fund. I have all the items for this year, and it is not included.
– My memory may be wrong, but I fancy the late Prime Minister said that the money was paid out of this fund.
– It may have been paid last year.
– However, such has been the practice ; and I merely ask the Minister to insist on some system in the expenditure of this money. It is undesirable that political writers should be given little amounts for advertising Australia. If any prizes are to be held out to the journalistic profession, they ought to be by tender; gentlemen who have the advantage of making their talents known to members of the Ministry ought not to receive this sort of commission, and I hope the practice will cease. I remember that very shortly after the article by Frank Renard appeared in the Zone Hand, there appeared in the same publication an appreciation of the leader of the Government.
– Do you blame Renard?
– No ; I think it was only common gratitude to come to the rescue of the political reputation of the man who had given him the commission; but it is not right that the funds of the country should be put to this use. I believe that the present Minister would be the last to carry on a practice of the kind ; and I would like the honorable gentleman to let us know what is proposed to be done.
– Last year the appropriation for advertising was £20,000, and the expenditure £3,946 ; this year the difference between the appropriation and the expenditure will not be so large, although a considerable amount will not be expended. So far £4,429 14s. 5d. has been spent - £317 in connexion with the Shipping Index, which circulates largely in Great Britain; £1,248 for advertisements in the Standard of Empire; £1,000 for Under the Southern Cross, published by the Government Printer, Sydney, in connexion with the visit of the American Fleet, additional copies being struck off for circulation in Great Britain; and £1,000 as half the cost of printing the Commonwealth Year-Book. Those are the main items. It is not likely that the expenditure during the remaining months of the financial year will be larger than the expenditure to date. Of course, any one can waste money, especially in advertising ; but I think it will be impossible for the Department to prepare, before the end of the financial year, a scheme for the judicious advertising of our resources and potentialities which will absorb £15,000 during the next six months.
Colonel Foxton. - Then why not reduce the vote by £10,000?
– Nothing would be gained by doing so.
– Apparently the expenditure to which I referred was incurred last /ear.
– Yes. Honorable members will agree that we should not launch out too largely until we have decided upon a definite scheme of advertising. Once we have done that, we should continue our efforts systematically. I have not yet had an opportunity to go carefully into the matter, but shall do so during the recess. We must have the co-operation of the States.
– What nonsense. I am sorry to hear the honorable member’s remarks.
– If the honorable member thinks that more money should be spent before any definite scheme is prepared, it is a pity that the Government of which he was a Minister spent only £3,000 last year, although £20,000 was voted.
– If this Government does not act more quickly than its predecessor, H will be a long time in spending the vote.
– As soon as I have decided on what I regard as the proper policy, I shall go fast enough ; but I am not willing to spend money until I have carefully considered the probable result.
– I regret that the Minister has spoken in this fashion. In my opinion, the vote should not be reduced. If the money is not needed, no doubt it will not be spent. Had I been intrusted with the matter, I should have tried to do more, because when in Great Britain I was astonished to find how little is known of Australia there. I suggested to the late Prime Minister that the sum of £20,000 should be placed on the Estimates to advertise Australia abroad. Canada spends something like £500,000 a year in advertising in the London, newspapers, and therefore is much better known.
– It is the Canadian Shipping Co’mpanies and the CanadianPacific Railway Company which spend so much on advertising.
– The CanadianPacific Railway Company spends a great deal, and so does the Government. I do* not wish the Minister to be extravagant;, but to become better known in Great Britain, we must advertise there more.
– And we must not confine our advertisements to the Standard’ newspaper.
– I have had* nothing to do with that. The honorablemember for Wentworth has covertly attacked the ex-Prime Minister; but I know that his late leader paid a considerable sum to a writer who did a great deal of harm.
– Then why not mention, the matter? My attack was made on thesystem, and I should have said what I did even had the honorable member been< concerned.
– Were I intrusted with the spending of this money, I should use the electric cables more for thepurpose of advertising, and get news published regularly in the chief London newspapers.
– And in the provincial1 papers, too.
– Yes. Our money cannot be more wisely spent than in> making us better known in the Old Country. I do not know why, hitherto, the expenditure has been so small. The matterwas one which did not come within the control of the Department which I administered. I feel sure that the present Minister will very shortly be convinced that we should advertise more in GreatBritain, arid that the best thing to do isto take advantage of the electric cables. When in London I searched the newspapers daily for Australian news, and! found only one small telegram a week. Readers lose interest in news such as that.. I would employ a reliable person to supply them steadily with information. Thiswould keep the interest of the public alive, and inform it of our possibilities. I donot agree with the honorable member forWentworth that tenders should be called for doing the work of writing about Australia’s resources. We might get the worstman for the work by adopting a systemof that sort. We must trust the Minister.
– So far, the newswhich has filtered through to London hasbeen of a party character.
– That will not happenwhile I am here.
– The Government should not allow the vote to be curtailed, because it does not know what possibilities for advertising may occur. Of course, no party complexion should be given to any form of advertising. There should be published simply a true statement of facts and events relating to Australia. I do not wish to delay the Committee, but, having learned for myself how little the people in the Old Land know of 11s, I feel very strongly upon this question. I am not in favour of any systems under which immigration would be forced, but I should certainly favour letting the people of the Old World know what we are and what our country is like, believing that if we do so many of them will voluntarily come to Australia.
– Does the honorable member think that they would come out here readily if they knew what we were?
– I do. I consider that Australia is the finest country in the world, offering scope for men of enterprise and grit, and that many people in the Old Country will readily come here when they axe made acquainted with its possibilities. As it is, it seems to me that at present people are sometimes induced or persuaded to come here almost against their will. They are told that they will find employment as soon as they land, and they often come here only to be disappointed. We should advertise the Commonwealth in a way that will allow people in the Old World to judge for themselves of the scope which it offers for their enterprise, and to come here’ voluntarily, instead of being practically forced to emigrate.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) £10.42]. - I am pleased to hear that the late Treasurer is in favour of spending some money in an effort to advertise Australia in the Old World, because it has come to my knowledge that the present Government intend to expend very little of the proposed vote.
– We guarantee to spend more than the late Government have done in this direction.
– They do not appear to have spent much. Judging by remarks that have been made, it would seem that their neglect in this respect meets with the approval of a good many honorable members, and that the present Government will have the support of many in this Committee if they spend even less on advertising Australia than their predecessors have done. I am satisfied, however, that it is the wish of the people that Australia should be advertised largely in the Old World. We are told that the publication of news cablegrams from Australia in the English newspapers would do much to advertise the ‘ Commonwealth, but that the Minister does not hope to be able to spend, during the present financial year, the whole of the £20,000 proposed to be devoted to this purpose, since he will require time to formulate a scheme. An expenditure of even £50,000 in this direction would, in my opinion, be inadequate. We cannot hope to stimulate immigration to Australia by intimating that only people with money are welcome to our snores. Those who come here with money, as a rule, do not want work ; they desire billets where the work is put out. That is the class of men now being brought to Australia. I have had interviews with many of them, and so can speak with some confidence. In the old days, men who were willing and anxious to work were brought out here. They had little money, but gained a lot of experience, and to-day some of them are governing Australia,. Honorable members now on the Treasury bench are men of enterprise, originality, and grit, who came out here poor but industrious, and have risen to the highest positions in the Commonwealth. Could we have a better class of men coming to Australia? The exTreasurer appears to be far more in earnest with regard to this question than he has ever been. I have recently heard him pointing out that when in England a year or two ago he found that Australia was little known there, and I hope that he will take this matter in hand. I trust that some one who is anxious to advance Australia, and is not merely, looking for men with money to come to our shores, will be at the head of the Government of the Commonwealth. What we need is the introduction of men who will work when they come here - men who, like our forefathers have done, will seek to continue to create wealth. It is idle to talk about’ putting immigrants on the land if they have no money with which to work it. We need immigrants of the type of the Scotchman, who, although he had some funds, would not invest them in Australia until he had gained some experience -of the country by working for a living here. If the Government will push forward a policy such as I have outlined, I shall be loath to vote against them. We need to encourage immigrants who are prepared to do something for the country. If the Government put forward a progressive immigration policy - a policy of spending money to adequately advertise Australia - they will sweep the polls.
– That is what we want to do.
– No; the honorable member’s party favour a shortsighted policy. They think that the workers are afraid of competition. I have never met a working man who was afraid to meet another in his own line of business. It is only the dullard, the man who will not work, who objects to any more labour coming here. If the Government bring forward such a policy as I have indicated, they cannot be put out of office. How could we oppose the Government if they brought forward our policy? But what they tell us now is that they will do their best to formulate a scheme, and in the meantime will not spend any money. We must oppose them if they indulge in that kind of talk. The Government should set to work to spend judiciously the sum devoted to the advertisement of Australia, and if they are not willing to do that should allow the ex-Treasurer to come into office again, and do the work. The honorable member for Parramatta would show them how to attract immigrants. He is in sympathy with labour, and would encourage working men from Great Britain to build homes for themselves in Australia. He would perpetuate the traditions of the race, and make the colonization of Australia a reality. He -would look upon the working men of Great Britain as brothers, whom it was desirable to attract to this garden of Eden. If the present Government will not adopt some such policy we must tum them out ; but if they will reconsider the subject, and spend the money wisely, we will allow them to remain where they are for the present.
.- It may be well to spend money on the advertising of Australia if we are to get some profit out of it. but provision should’ certainly be made for immigrants when they -land in this country. It is all very well for the honorable member for Robertson to compare the working men of the present day with those of a former generation, but I have known working men who were quite willing to work, but who, on coming toAustralia, were unfortunately forced toreturn to the Old Country, or to go to Canada. I have had to assist men of that kind.
– The honorable member is not stating the case properly.
– I do not think that that is a proper remark for the honorable member to make. I object to his casting a reflection upon me. I have not stated anything that is not true, and I ask that the honorable member shall withdraw the remark that I did not state the case properly.
– I am sure that the honorable member will withdraw the remark if it was offensive.
– When I said that the honorable member was not stating the case properly, I meant that he was not stating the case for labour in the broad sense. There may be individual cases of men who have been unable to get a living’ on landing in Australia. I do not doubt the honorable member’s statement that hehas assisted such people. I make no reflection upon him.
– I have known several) cases of immigrants who could not get a. living in this country. They were honest, hardworking people. I know of a case’ in Victoria where a man and his wife cameout, and could not get work. The manwent to Canada, whilst his wife remained1 here, and earned her own living, keeping the family until the husband1 could send forher. She repaid the money they had to. borrow before she went to her husband, and did this out of her earnings. I am: sorry that such things should occur in Australia, but we must state the facts straightforwardly, so that we may meet them. We should be doing wrong to encourageworking men to leave situations in the Old’ Country unless we could be sure of their earning a living in Australia.
– Does the honorable member say that there is a smaller opportunity of earning a living in Australia than in.the Old Country?
– There are all the elements for building up a prosperous country here, but the States have been badly governed’ in the past, and there are thousands of people in Australia to-day whoare crying out for small selections, and cannot get them. The evil requires to be- remedied in some way or other. Many charitable people have had to assist immigrants who were unable to find work.
– That sort of thing happens in all countries.
– I have not heard of any one returning from New Zealand because he could not find employment.
ColonelF’oxton. - Plenty of men have gone from Queensland to New Zealand, and have returned.
– Plenty have gone to New Zealand from Tasmania, and have come back.
– I have not known of any man who went from Tasmania to New Zealand and returned because he could not find employment. I resent the suggestion of the honorable member for Robertson, that the working people are an inferior class now to what they were some years ago. The majority of working men in Australia are willing to work if they can get employment. There are in all classes - amongst mechanics, members of Parliament, and labouring men - some who are not too fond of work. But the majority are willing to do their best. I see that there is an increase of £10,000 on these External Affairs Estimates as compared with last year’s expenditure.
– The proposed expenditure is £8,000 less than that appropriated last year. The largest sum is £20,000 for advertising purposes.
– On the other hand, there is to be less spent on sending kanakas back to the islands, and there is no grant for sending people to look for the South Pole. Why are we spending two sums of money on the investigation of tropical diseases? I should have thought that one vote would be sufficient.
– One vote is on account of an Australian institution at Townsville.
– If we have an institution of our own, which is doing good work in the tropics, there is no necessity to contribute to an Imperial fund.
– The arrangement as to the Imperial fund was made before the Australian institution was established.
– There is also an item of £525 for the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Last year £500 was voted for that purpose, but nothing was spent. I see no necessity for voting the money if we are not to spend anything.
– The Committee expects to spend £468 this year.
– There is an increase of £250 in the vote for the New Hebrides. We have had no explanation of that increase. A sum, of £500 is asked for the “ investigation as to the shearing of wet sheep.” What have we to do with that subject ?
– If a Commission can settle that, it will be important for both pastora lists and shearers.
– I have no doubt these questions are all important for different people, but I would like to know how we come to deal with them. In a matter of that kind we might be interfering with State rights. Perhaps the Minister can give the Committee information on the various items to which I have referred?
.- The item of , £20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth is more important than even the figures show. The Minister of External Affairs, whilst admitting that only a small sum was expended last year, pleaded for time during the recess to think out a better scheme in order to spend our money in a more effective manner. That opens up a very large question, and is an intimation from the Minister of the policy of the Labour Administration on the question of immigration. The resources of the Commonwealth must be advertised for some specific purpose, and that purpose is an invitation to the overflow of the population of the Old World to come to Australia. The object of the vote is progressive immigration. It is either that or nothing, as the honorable member for Parramatta suggests. The Minister has stated to the world that we must spend more money, and spend it more effectively, in order to attract more people to Australia, and that is evidence that he, as the mouthpiece of the Labour Administration is in favour of an active and progressive immigration scheme. I am pleased to hear it. But the Minister is putting himself in a dangerous position, because his announcement is at variance with the utterances of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, the Trades Hall party in Victoria, and others. If the Minister intends to effectively advertise the resources of the Commonwealth, and if his idea is to bring the right class of immigrants to Australia, he will have to ask for a larger sum than even that shown in this schedule. I shall not vote for spending a large amount in that direction, unless it is backed up by drastic legislation, that will have the effect of absorbing the people who come here. It is. of no use to employ the best channels, or novel channels, of advertising for the purpose of attracting people unless the various Governments of Australia are able to absorb them when they arrive here.
– We are absorbing thousands in our own State.
– We are not absorbing them. The only two classes of labour that New South Wales can absorb to-day are the farmer with capital and the farm labourer. There are not thousands, but only hundreds, coming, and the limit of absorption has almost been reached, until there is a radical reform in Australian land legislation. Until the States Parliaments pass legislation to unlock the lands of the country, or the Commonwealth Parliament, failing action by the States, takes intoconsideration proposals to break up large estates, it is cruel to invite these people to Australia.
– What about Queensland?
– Queensland is not absorbing them to any great extent. Surely New South Wales and Victoria are not so thickly populated that they do not want suitable immigrants?
– They are taking all the immigrants that are being sent out.
– Victoria, at any rate, is not holding them. The big struggle of the near future will be on the question of whether the States or the Commonwealth are going to effect a reform in the land laws. I do not believe in flooding the cities with mechanics when those already here cannot find employment under present conditions, but I am broad-minded enough to believe that an island continent like ours cannot be held with safety by only 5,000,000 of people. I want to see millions of immigrants come here, mainly from Great Britain and the north of Europe.
– Would the honorable member like to see them all of one colour ?
– What colour does the honorable member prefer? I do not pretend to run with the two colours, as some honorable members do. A vote of £20,000 is only playing with this business, while an expenditure of £4,000 per annum is simply a sop to certain journalists. That is not the way to spend the public money in the interests of Australia. If we intend to try to attract population, we shall need to spend nearer £200,000 per annum, but that must be backed up by proper legislation to absorb the people when they come here. I am pleased that the Minister of External Affairs has intimated that the Labour Administration are in favour of encouraging immigration.
Colonel Foxton. - It will be necessary to amend the immigration laws.
– I am quite satisfied with them as they stand. The people who can evade the Immigration Restriction Act are not wanted here.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - The honorable member for Brisbane simply meant that the present law is a deterrent.
– It is no deterrent to the class of people that we require if it is rationally administered. The Minister of External Affairs stated that the Standard of Empire, the Shipping Index, and the Year -Book were being used as advertising mediums. What a splendid advertising medium the Shipping Index is ! What smart paragraphs we can expect to see in its columns !
– It is the Shipping. Annual.
– It does not matter much which. Does the Minister think that that paper will reach the people in the provinces or the large cities of Great Britain to show them the resources of Australia ? The honorable member for Wentworth referred to smart journals, but I do not think a smart paragraph writer is required on the Shipping Annual. I do not suppose that much humour or novelty is at any time to be found in it. In the same way, the Y ear-Book, which is our own production, is only useful for reference by men in public affairs in Great Britain, or by trading institutions. If we intend to advertise Australia in the Old Country we must adopt a more novel method. I saw a copy of the Standard of Empire a few weeks ago, and one item it contained related to the condition of a tramway at Essendon in Victoria. Does the Minister mean to tell me that it was not a waste of money to pay for an item of that kind?
– It was not paid for.
– It was forwarded by the representative of the newspaper as an item of Australian news, and certainly he would not have been here if it had not been subsidized with public funds.
– The news is not paid for directly.
– It is paid for indirectly. No matter what party may be in power there is bound to be a party complexion given to their articles by journalists. The Fisher Administration will be coloured just as highly as was the Deakin Administration, and so it would be if the honorable member for Parramatta, were Prime Minister. I do not want to see. a party complexion given to items of Australian news. But I do want to see a large sum voted on the Estimates with a view to the advertising being effectual. We are told of the large sum which is voted by Canada for the purpose. If we want to compete with that country we cannot do so with a vote of £20,000, of which only £4,000 is spent.
– We do not want to adopt her methods either.
– Exactly. Surely we must have enough ingenuity in our midst to devise a more novel system of advertising than Canada has done. I should like to see the money devoted to sending out persons to lecture.
– What is wrong with sending the Opposition Home and paying their expenses?
– If we make as much out of it as the honorable member did we shall do very well. It is time that the Opposition, as well as the honorable member, had a trip to the Old Country. He is a very capable writer, and is contributing to the press some articles on the people he met. I think that I could contribute similar articles, but they would relate to persons in humbler walks of life. It will appear from this vote that we are seeking to attract immigrants from Great Britain. If it were backed up by a proper scheme or by progressive legislation in regard to land, I should vote £200,000 for the purpose. I ami pleased to think that the Labour Ministry are not taking a narrow view of the question. We certainly do require immigrants, and I trust that during the recess Ministers will be able to evolve a complete scheme.
.- It would seem from the speech of at least one honorable member to-night that our chief responsibility is to get rid of money. If the Minister has acquired any information that it will not be possible within the financial vear to judiciously expend a vote of £20,000 on this purpose, he is justified in asking the Committee to vote an amount which he believes will meet the necessities of the case. I shall not subscribe for one moment to any proposal to expend money on advertising without regard to whether it is spent judiciously or not. I think that the Minister ought to be the best judge as to whether in the limited time at his disposal he could judiciously expend a sum of £20,000. When he comes here, and deliberately proposes a reduction, I am prepared to concur in his view. In the main I agree with the position taken up by the honorable member for Dalley. I believe that it is indorsed by all labour adherents, whether inside or outside Parliament. We have no objection to desirable immigrants being brought here in any number, provided that consideration is first given within the country to the question of meeting their necessities on arrival. But we have a most emphatic objection to State Governments inviting persons, in some cases of a questionable character, to come to the country, and leaving them stranded immediately after arrival. Nothing is more calculated to seriously prejudice Australia in the eyes of old countries than for working men to come here, and find themselves without the means of getting a livelihood.
– What proportion of the people who have been so brought have been stranded?
– I cannot enter into the matter of proportion, nor could the honorable member do so, with any degree of accuracy. Undoubtedly, we have evidence that several enthusiastic, but injudicious exponents of a policy of immigration have done considerable damage by overstating their case in the reports they have distributed to the people in other countries. Misled by advertisements into coming here, persons become discontented almost as soon as they arrive, and depart only to give a> very bad account of the country. That is not what we desire. I quite -agree that if facilities are made available for the utilization of our resources, and information is circulated! amongst the people of the Old World, in all probability a stream of desirable immigrants will, in no far distant time, turn towards Australia. But until that time arrives, what is the use of voting money which cannot be judiciously expended ? Surely our finances are not in such a state that we can afford to be throwing about £10,000 without getting some appreciable result from the expenditure? I feel disposed to support the proposal of the Minister. This “ Miscellaneous “ division of the Estimates is well named, because it includes a variety of items. One matter has been referred to by the honorable member for Bass, and that is the amount proposed to be expended in conducting investigations. I suppose that the vote of £200 for the investigation of tropical diseases is reasonable.
– It is a five years’ obligation, nearly run out.
– And I take it that it is in addition to the sum we are contributing to a similar object in Queensland. Then there is the question of an annual payment of £200 to an agricultural institute at Rome, and I should like to know what result is anticipated. There is also the new item of £500 for the Imperial Institute.
– The character of that institute has changed very much lately. It is an investigation institute now.
– Then perhaps we may be told what is to be investigated, because to me it seems to be a sort of political combination, possibly with a party complexion. I shall be glad if the Minister can give some information, but at present I feel inclined to move that the item he struck out.
Order of Business. - Close of the Session.
– I” move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to intimate that it is suggested that the House meet on Monday, say at 4.30 p.m., and’ I appeal to honorable members to reasonably restrict the length of their speeches on the Estimates with a view to an early prorogation.
– It .would help us
Aery much if the Prime Minister would intimate exactly what business he proposes to take.
– I shall probably do so to-morrow.
– Of course, we are all anxious to get into that haven of rest we have so .well earned, but very much will depend on what business the Government desire to have done. I presume the choice is between closing the session on Saturday week or the following Saturday, but that can scarcely be done if fresh proposals are submitted.
– We dealt with a big question very expeditiously to-day.
– I think we have done an excellent day’s work; but the Government ought to state exactly what business it desires to dispose of in order that the Opposition may help to wind up the session. I suggest that perhaps some of the new proposals might be dropped.
– There have been no proposals beyond those mentioned in my statement.
– For instance, there is the proposal about immigration restriction.
– That was mentioned.
– I know, but it is new business.
– It is only an endeavour to keep out the Chinamen.
– But even a Chinaman is entitled to fair consideration.
– But he has no right to evade the law.
– That is perfectly right, and there is all the more reason why our legislation should be carefully considered. Then there is the matter of patent medicines, in which the PostmasterGeneral is so keenly interested. That measure, I think, has no chance of getting through this session, and I am not sure that at this stage the Government should attempt to pass it. If the Prime Minister will say frankly that the Government will not persist with some of the new legislation which has been proposed, we shall meet them in the fairest possible way, and dispose of the remainder of the business on the paper at the earliest possible moment.
– No business has been submitted by the Government which was not referred to in the statement which I made in indicating their policy. It was, of course, anticipated that the Estimates would have to be passed, and regarding the other matters referred to it is not, I think, too much to ask the Opposition to give them such consideration as time will allow. Then if we fail to pass them, the fact cannot be helped.
– Will the honorable gentleman indicate when he desires to close the session?
– If it is convenient for honorable members we hope to be able to close the session at the end of next week, and we invite honorable members “in Opposition as far as possible to assist us to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1133 P m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081202_reps_3_48/>.