3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 4.32 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister be good enough to say when he intends to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill ? I need not remind him that the measure is a non-party one, and that it is understood to be urgent.
– The first opportunity will be taken. The Senate’s amendment, when it comes before us, should occupy but a few moments.
Public Telephones in Hotels - New Telephone Regulations - Accountants’ Investigation.
– On FridayI asked the Postmaster-General whether he had suspended a regulation of the Fisher Government prohibiting hotelkeepers from notifying outside their premises that a public telephone was available within. I wish to know if he is in favour of allowing hotelkeepers to place such notifications outside their premises ?
-Unless an hotelkeeper was legally entitled to have a public telephone on his premises, he would not be allowed to post such a notice outside.
-Is the honorable gentleman personally in favour of giving publicans legal authority to place the notification outside their premises that there are public telephones within? 1 know that such notice cannot be given by publicans unless they are allowed to have public telephones within their hotels.
– I shall be prepared to answer the question when the new telephone regulations have been prepared and are submitted to the Governor-General in Council.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral tell us about what date it is likely that he will be able to submit the new regulations ?
– I received a report from the Committee of Accountants a few days ago, informing me. that they hoped to complete the examination of the Victorian telephone accounts within a week or so, and that shortly afterwards they would be’ able to complete the New South Wales investigation, and that affecting the other States. I cannot name an exactdate.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs made inquiry regarding the progress of the compilation of the electoral rolls, and, if so, does he still think that they will be ready by the end of the year?
– A statement is sub-, mitted to me weekly, and the reports show that the rolls will be ready at the time I indicated when the question was first asked.
– In all the States?
Construction of Torpedo DestroyersManceuvre area at Liverpool - Naval Defence.
-The Minister of Defence promised, about ten days ago, that he would ascertain whether the statement that certain ironworkers who were sent to England to obtain knowledge regarding the construction of torpedo destroyers are being prevented from doing so is correct. Will the honorable gentleman say whether a cablegram has been sent, and, if so, what reply has been received?
– The reply received about a week ago was that Captain Collins was going to make a personal investigation of the matter. I have not heard of any subsequent cable. lt is time that one came. ‘
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister of Home Affairs a question’ in connexion with the resumption of a manoeuvre area at Liverpool for military purposes. In the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, a similar question has been asked, to which the Premier replied that he would . address the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, upon whom primarily rested the responsibilitv of further action in the matter. Has the Prime Minister received a communication from the Premier of New South Wales, and, if so, what is being done?
– The reference is to an area of ‘ sufficient size to permit of’ manoeuvres . under modern conditions, with long-range weapons. We are now negotiating with all the States. I am not able to inform the honorable member as to the particular stage which has been reached in New South Wales; but, so far as I am aware, no obstacle has presented itself.
– As the honorable member for Brisbane will return very shortly, I wish to know if it is the intention of the Government to introduce, this session, a measure dealing with naval defence?
– I trust so. It will partly depend on the information which the Honorary Minister brings as to the detail involved. So far as we can at present see, that should not mean a serious delay.
– Will a motion or a Bill be submitted?
– I cannot say.
Debate resumed from 29th October (vide page 5179), on motion by Mr. Fuller -
That this Bill be now read a second time
– I congratulate the Minister on his lucid exposition of this measure, but regret that honorable members generally have not had an opportunity to. peruse his speech and become familiar with the various points. There are one or two serious defects in this Bill - defects, perhaps, rather in the agreement on which, the Bill is based than in the measure itself. But before referring to these I should like to draw attention to the peculiar position in which this Parliament is made to stand by this Bill. Our action is, apparently, to be reviewed by the Parliament of New South Wales. Clause 2 provides -
This Act shall commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation, after the Parliament of the State has passed an Act ratifying and confirming the said agreement, and surrendering’ the Territory to the Commonwealth.
In the absence of any explanation of this procedure, the inference is that the real authority which fixes the site is not the National Parliament ‘ but rather the Legislature of the State. Although we may sanction this agreement now, by passing this Bill, there is left another authority which, later on, has to give its final approval. This is certainly a departure from the course set forth in our Constitution. It is there clearly laid down that this Parliament shall determine the Seat of Government, and the granting of the required Territory by the State was intended to be antecedent to our determination. This clause reverses that procedure. By the Act of 1908, introduced by the Fisher Government, we selected the Territory, and, apparently, it only remained for New South Wales to surrender to us the area we had chosen. The effect of this measure is that our decision is to pass under the review of art inferior Legislature, which is rather humiliating, to say the least of it. However, I presume that the Bill was not drawn without comprehension of the true position of the Federal Parliament, and the Attorney-General, or some other Minister, may be able to justify the course that has been adopted. Now, coming to the agreement itself, one of its defects is’ that the area for the port at Jervis Bay is too small. The other defect is the absence of a provision giving the Commonwealth sovereign rights over this area. The land which connects the Capital with the port, arid also the land at the port, ought to be Federal Territory in the same sense that the actual Capital Site is Federal Territory. Two square miles is the area which the Government of New South Wales proposes to grant to the Commonwealth ; and nobody would contend for a moment that that provides sufficient scope for the development of population, manufactures, and commerce, which is sure to come in the future. Seeing that there is ample Crown lands, having at present little value, the Government should have insisted on a larger area, and New South Wales should not have any hesitation in conceding it. Of course, it will be answered that the Federal Government can always buy land if it requires it for the purposes of expansion ; and that is so. But in tha’ case we should have to buy at a high price land that has increased in value owing to Commonwealth expenditure in the vicinity - we should be paying for enhancedvalues created by the expenditure of the national revenue. This is not a good business arrangement by any means, and better terms should come from further negotiation. I am strongly convinced that the interests of the nation will be best preserved . by our securing sovereign rights over this Territory. The taxation of Federal instrumentalities by the State may be a remote danger ; but trouble will at some time arise from two authorities having joint rights to the same Territory. No one can see very far into the future; but we should not neglect the ordinary precautions obvious to prudent men. Personally, I can see no objection whatever that the State Government can have in refusing us sovereign rights, not merely over the actual port, but also over the strip of land which is to connect the Federal Capital with the port. There is another objectionable limitation in the fact that we are to have only the land along the foreshore to high-water mark. Why should such a condition find a place in the agreement ? Why should not the Commonwealth have complete control over the territorial waters at Jervis Bay? Past experience shows that there is always risk of collision when two authorities have joint jurisdiction over one particular piece of property. As the Treasurer will remember there was a notable instance in “Western Australia, where a violent collision occurred through the State Government having given two persons a title to the same piece of mineral land. The Mines Department granted a lease to search for reef gold to a certain company, and then gave the alluvial miner certain rights over the same piece of ground. This very nearly led to a serious collision between the respective claimants. It caused a great number of lawsuits, in which all parties lost their money. We do not desire that there shall be any dispute between the Commonwealth and State Governments that may be settled by force or by an appeal to the High Court. It is a simple matter now to make such an agreement with the State as will prevent anything in the nature of a conflict in the future. It seems to me that an amendment is desirable in clause 2 of the agreement. By that clause the State binds itself to consent to the construction bv the Commonwealth of such works as are necessary to the protection of the watersheds of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers. But such consent may be deferred to the disadvantage of the Federal Territory. The amendment I suggest is that for the words “ shall consent “ we substitute the words “ hereby consents,” and this alteration, if adopted, will render further negotiation unnecessary. As the clause stands, it does not b;nd the State to give its consent at any specific time.. Tt is very much the same as the section in the Constitution regarding the Federal Capital. It was within the rower of this Parliament to hang un the Federal Capital question as long as it liked ; and similarly under this clause these works may be delayed as long as the State Parliament desires. I” should like to see another slight alteration made in clause 9 of the agreement. lt is provided there that, in the event of the Commonwealth constructing a railway within the Territory to its northern boundary, “ the State shall construct a railway from a point near Yass, on the Great Southern Railway, to join with the said railway.” It may happen that this provision would, like the o:her, be indefinitely unfulfilled, and words should be inserted in the clause to provide that the construction of the two lines should go on concurrently. I would therefore suggest that the words “ the State shall construct a railway . . . .” be amended to read “ the State shall concurrently construct a railway . . . .” That would insure the early completion of a communication which would shorten the journey from the south to the Federal Capital. Whenever the Parliament does meet at the Capital, that railway will be an immense convenience to visitors from the south, as well as to members of both Houses. It would be mere waste of money to build a Federal line to the northern boundary of the Territory and leave it there without the necessary extension to the Great Southern Railway. It is not to be apprehended, of course, that New South Wales would, for all time, refuse to establish the necessary connexion ; but its absence, or the refusal to build it, might be used to squeeze some other concession out of this Parliament.
– Under that clause, the State could not refuse to construct the line.
– It might not point blank refuse; but the State might hang up the work on the plea that it had not the money to spare. The Minister ‘ knows that it is not necessary for the State to absolutely refuse to do the work in order to defeat our purpose. The State might merely hold off for some reason, alleging that it could not go on with the work for the present. -Passing from matters of detail, I should like to My that any movement to reverse the repeated verdict of Parliament regarding the site of the Capital will obtain no assistance from me. In this’, as in other matters properly coming within the sphere of legislation, I recognise the right of the majority to rule. Recognition of that right has made the members of the Labour party the object of much vituperative language by a certain Sydney publication. I do not venture to trace back to its source the cause of these attacks ; though possibly, if one had leisure and inclination to do so, he would probably find that pure patriotism was not wholly the determining motive. However, I doubt whether such abuse is likely to sway any section of this House; it will certainly have no effect on my action. It has been suggested that a referendum should be taken upon this question. Now, a referendum is a democratic expedient which every Democrat favours to obtain a popular verdict on any question of which the people have full and accurate information. I would vote for a referendum to settle any great principle such as that involved in the fiscal policy of the country. But to imagine that the people of Australia - perhaps not1 per cent, of whom have seen either the Dalgety or the YassCanberra site - could give an intelligent verdict as to which is the better one, seems to me the wildest idea outside of Bedlam.
– Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs could arrange a public picnic up there?
– When an opportunity was afforded members of this Parliament to visit those sites, only about fourteen out of a total of in members availed themselves of it. Possibly the public - some of whom are not quite so busy as are honorable members - might be glad to visit the rival sites in larger numbers if they were offered similar facilities. But a referendum would give us no certainty of a right choice of site. It would probably enable certain newspapers to secure a large popular vote in favour of the particular site which they advocate ; but as to reaching a sound determination I think that the subject is about the last to which a referendum could be applied with advantage. As between the claims of Dalgety and YassCanberra - although we have seen both sites - honorable members must rely largely for guidance upon the advice of experts; or rather on the balance of advice, for even these authorities differ. One gentleman, for whom I entertain a very great respect - I refer to Mr. Scrivener - undoubtedly regards Dalgety as a far more suitable site for the Federal City than Yass-Canberra. That is his -deliberate opinion, and I do not suppose a man exists in New South Wales who knows’ that State better than he does. I believe he spent a winter at Dalgety, and that he denies that it is subject to extreme cold. The climatic differences of the two localities cannot be very great, certainly not so radical as some believe. However, as to this and other aspects, nearly everything which can be said for and against both sites has been said. With the disparagement of Canberra, as a place devoid of natural beauty, I entirely disagree. In panoramic attractions, it vies with any other part of Australia known to me. I think that those who write and speak in a disparaging strain either have not seen the place at all, or have seen it without allowing play to their imaginations. Canberra possesses a good soil and mountainous scenery, and the only point upon which I have any doubt has reference to its water supply. Upon that question the experts themselves differ, somealleging that the supply is sufficient to meet the requirements of only 50,000 inhabitants, after allowing a certain proportion for power purposes, and others affirming that it is adequate to meet the requirements of a city of 350,000 inhabitants.
Mr.Fuller. - That is from the Cotter River alone?
– Yes. In addition, there is the Molonglo River, and I understand that the waters of the Mumimbidgee will be available to the Commonwealth. It is curious that those who decry the scenic beauties of Canberra, insist on picturing Dalgety as a sublunary paradise. Yet it embraces many of the features of Yass-Canberra, and, as the crow flies, I do not think that the distance between the two places exceeds 100 miles. Both sites are located in the same class of country. So far as I can see, the only difference between them is that Dalgety possesses a very fine river in the Snowy, whereas the streams at Yass-Canberra run rather intermittently. In this and other details it seems to me that Parliament is in the hands of the engineering experts. It was because of this that some time ago I thought the fixing of the site might be delayed with advantage. Personally, I still think if it were deferred,, there would be little complaint heard inAustralia except such as might emanate from Sydney. But as Parliament considers it now possesses all the light that it is likely to get for many years, I shall not further oppose the settlement of the question here and now. Experience has also convinced me how advisable it is that this Parliament should get into its own territory without further delay. There it will be uninfluenced by the forceswhich we saw operating here when the Tariff’ and other matters were under consideration. I hope that the” Government will consider the- suggestions which I have made in connexion with the tentative agreement with New South Wales upon this question. These changes could be made in further negotiations. It ought to be possible to come to an understanding to remove all possible causes of future friction. At least, the House ought to insist that the Commonwealth shall possess sovereign rights over the whole of that portion of the port at Jervis Bay which is to be granted to it, and also over the strip of land which is to connect the Capital with that port. The possession of such rights by the Commonwealth can be no detriment to New South Wales. On the contrary, by removing a source of future trouble, they may prove a blessing alike to New South Wales and to the Commonwealth.
.– Like the honorable member for Coolgardie I think that this question has been sufficiently threshed out to enable the House to come to a speedy decision with regard to it. The Minister of .Home Affairs is to be congratulated upon the concise way in which, in moving the second reading of the Bill, he placed before the House the additional information available regarding the site. The importance of this question cannot be over estimated. We have cast upon us the responsibility of settling foi all time the site of the capital of the Australian Commonwealth. The Parliament, after due deliberation, accepted the YassCanberra site in preference to Dalgety. I for one resisted that decision, and regret that it was arrived at. I must confess that the further reports that have been submitted to the House this session place Yass-Canberra in a better light than it occupied when the selection was made. At that time there was considerable doubt as to the adequacy of the water supply within th’e area- I believe, however, that the reports of experts which have since been submitted show fairly conclusively that the sources of water supply for this site are sufficient for all domestic purposes. The Cotter River more particularly has been shown to offer a supply that will probably be sufficient for the needs of the new city until the Commonwealth reaches a population equal to that of the United States; but for water power the sources are defective. It is in that respect that this site, as compared with Dalgety, is most deficient. So far as physical features, picturesqueness and presence of building materials are concerned there is probably no great dif ference between the two sites, although 1 believe that in respect of a number of essentials Dalgety is superior. We need, however, to make in the agreement, definite provision for the water power that will be necessary for the generation of electricity for manufacturing and other purposes. The agreement, as I read it, gives the Commonwealth Parliament preferential rights over the water supply within the area which is reserved only for water supply purposes, and in clause 10 it is provided that -
The State shall grant to the Commonwealth without payment therefor the right to use the waters of the Snowy River, and such other rivers as may be agreed upon or in default of agreement may be determined by arbitration,, for the generation of electricity for the purposes of the Territory, and to construct the works necessary for that purpose, and to con. duct the electricity so generated to the Territory. »Just as the Commonwealth has been granted preferential rights over the water supply within the area reserved for water supply purposes, so we should be granted, under the agreement with the Government of New South Wales, preferential .rights with respect to the waters of the Snowy River for the generation of electrical power. There are within reasonable distance of the selected area only two sources from which the power necessary for the future requirements of the Federal Capital may be obtained-. I refer to the Snowy River and the Barren Jack Reservoir. The power obtainable from the Barren Jack Reservoir will probably be of a limited character, but the Snowy River, according to the experts, will supply all the power that is necessary, and before this agreement is passed I hope that it will be amended in the direction I have just mentioned. It is unnecessary to recapitulate the reports of experts that have been presented to the House in order to show the infinite superiority of Dalgety as compared with Yass-Canberra, so far as the question of water supply is concerned, and unless the agreement is amended so as to give the Commonwealth preferential rights over th’e waters of the Snowy River for water supply purposes we shall perpetrate a great blunder, the effects of which will certainly be felt very seriously in the future’. I look upon the question of water power as being more important than many of the other qualifications for a Federal city, which have been reported upon. by. experts,. Therefore, I consider that rights’ over the streams which might furnish electrical power should be secured. Under these circumstances, whilst I do not think it necessary to go through the whole history of the question again, I do venture to hope that when the Committee stage of the Bill is reached, steps will be taken to secure preferential rights over the waters of the Snowy River for the generation of electric power, just as preferential rights have been secured over the area which has been reserved for the water supply purposes of the Federal city, though it is not to be actual Federal territory
– It might perhaps be considered rather presumptious if, as a new member of this Parliament, I were to take up a decided stand on this question, seeing that it was fought out at such length in previous Parliaments. But, as the matter has come before us again, I have given to it serious consideration, with the full recognition of the fact that the determination of the site of the Capital of the Commonwealth will be either a great benefit or a great drawback to Australia as a’ whole. I have to congratulate the* Minister of Home Affairs upon the dispassionate manner in which he delivered his second reading speech on Friday. 1 also have to acknowledge the pleasant way in which he answered interjections. He did not allow himself to be drawn away from the main thread of his argument; but in his usual courteous manner he replied to all questions that were put to him. The honorable member who represents the district in which Canberra is situated has naturally displayed a considerable amount of energy, both in the House and outside in advocating the selection of the site. The conversations which I have had with him convinced me that he is thoroughly in earnest, and I have to admit also that he has presented the arguments for Canberra with much ability. I must compliment him upon the way he has conducted his case. The selection, if now confirmed, must, as generally expected, be a permanent one. It must be decisive. It, .therefore, behoves this Parliament to consider seriously whether we have made the best possible choice. We have to conform to the Constitution. I shall never lend my voice or vote to any endeavour to alter the provision regarding the choice of the site in New South Wales. I do not believe in departing from a compact. New South Wales - wrongly, to my mind - insisted on claiming that the Capital should be within her territory as the price of her entering into Federation. Many of the New South Wales representatives have defended the suitability of Canberra from a national stand-point, but others have been straightforward in telling us that they expect that material benefit will accrue to Sydney from the location of the Capital as now proposed. I think that they were quite fair in making that declaration. It is necessary in this respect to separate Sydney from the rest of New South Wales. The tendency of the legislators of that State seems always to have been in the direction of aggrandising their capital. The interests of other parts of the State have been sacrificed in favour of the material interests of Sydney. That may seem to be a strong thing to say, but my experience as a resident of New South Wales and as a student of her affairs has shown me that when any question had to be dealt with, the interests of Sydney were always considered first. I say without fear of contradiction that in the selection of this Capital site, the same has been the case. Many of the representatives of New South Wales seem to think that their State conceded a great deal when she joined the Federation, and that she was entitled to a quid fro quo of some magnitude. Hence, the big fight we have had over the selection of the Capital site. I am a layman in almost every sense of the word in reference to this matter. I am not a surveyor, and my knowledge of civil engineering is very limited. Consequently I can bring to bear only my ordinary common sense. I would not be so egotistical as to urge my personal opinion in opposition to the views of experts, but. 1 have endeavoured to analyze all that has been written and said, upon the question, and to arrive at an independent judgment. I trust that whatever I say will be regarded as emanating from a man who wishes to be fair and unbiased. Now, what do the people of Australia desire in reference to the Federal Capital? They certainly expect that it shall be somewhere near the centre of habitation. I admit that, to some extent, that may be said of Canberra. The reports presented by Mr. Scrivener and other experts agree that Canberra does not possess the qualification of accessibility from the sea which I think a good site for a Federal Capital ought to possess.
– It is far more accessible from the sea than is Dalgety.
– The reports of the experts do not bear out that statement. They appear to me to show that the selection of Canberra for the Federal Capital would be satisfactory to only one section of the people of Australia - that is, the residents of Sydney. That opinion is borne out by the great energy displaced recently in the New South Wales Parliament to bring about the selection of Canberra rather than that of Dalgety. In addition to accessibility from the sea, one would expect an ideal site for the Federal Capital to have within 20 miles of it at least some good agricultural land. That cannot be said of Canberra, but I must admit that the land surrounding Dalgety is no better than that surrounding Canberra. If it is contended that Canberra is accessible to people living in other parts of New South Wales, the fact that very few of the people of so progressive a State have so far been induced to settle in the district proves that the country is not suitable for agriculture. It is admitted by all the engineers who have sent in reports on the subject that there is no material suitable for building purposes within easy distance of the proposed site at Canberra, if we except some deposits that would be suitable for brickmaking. The nearest place at which material suitable for the construction of buildings could be secured is some 80 miles from the proposed site.
– What engineer says that?
- Mr. Scrivener says so distinctly. There are no supplies of timber suitable for building purposes within easy distance of the site, and, so far, no coal deposits have been discovered within 40 or 50 miles of it. Melbourne has to depend for coal on supplies brought from Newcastle, and I refer to this because I think we should try to avoid such a disability in selecting the Federal Capital site. But this is the age of electricity. We are hoping that in the near future we shall be able to obtain, by the use of electricity, all that we require for lighting and the generation of power. It is possible that, in the not distant future, electricity may be displaced by some other force, which may be harnessed to carry out the work now performed by the use of electric power. Though science mav discover such a force, it has not yet been discovered, and We have to deal with things as they are. If the people of the Federal Capital , are to enjoy all the advantages of civilization in these days, they must have a ready, means of making use of electric power. How is it to be obtained ? Is it to be obtained by the transport by any means of coal or other fuel to the projected Capital? It is not, unless all other means of secur-ing it have been tried and found impossible. We have to remember that almost every town is,’ to a. greater or less extent, a manufacturing centre, and that the smoke arising from factory chimneys is not only a great nuisance, and injurious to the public health in densely populated centres, but that it also hastens the decay of buildings. I find that Sir W. B. Richmond, R.A., stated at a meeting in London recently that Westminster Abbey had suffered more rapid decay in the last 100 years. than any that had occurred in the whole of its previous history. He said-
Westminster Abbey had suffered from more rapid decay in the last hundred years than any that had occurred in the whole of its previous history. Repairs executed only from twenty to thirty years ago were more or less, and those of the south transept and parapet badly decayed. Work executed only fourteen years ago was in a bad state, and that done in 1701 showed signs of being reduced to a friable mass to a considerable depth below the surface. That this decay was the result of acids deposited by smoke and otherwise there could be no doubt whatever. The chief cause of the destruction of the stone had been shown to be the presence in the air of sulphur acids; the stone was converted into sulphate of lime ; and in the process of its formation this disintegrated the stone by expansion. The connection between smoke and stone decay appeared to be invisible gases emitted from the smoke particles. Tt was now known that soot particles, although not in themselves injurious, acted as absorbents for the sulphurous acid produced from the sulphur in burning coal. The soot, therefore, was a vehicle for destruction, although not in itself a destroyer. Another connecting link between stone decay and smoke was fog, in which the solid matter of the smoke played an important part. The rapidity of the decay seemed to have increased very much during recent years, probably owing to the enormous growth in the consumption of coal. The abbey had decayed all over. Most of the outer .stone used in the old structure had had to be replaced. It was only by continual renewals that the structure was kept standing.
During the last twenty years I haw read similar articles pointing out that decay in certain buildings was caused by the action cf soot and air upon the material. Many persons may say that I have gone back 200 years for evidence to show that buildings decay, but the article I have just quoted shows that in a city where much coal is burnt and there is much soot in the air a building has decayed of late years. We know that whilst in Melbourne we have not the same fogs as obtain in London, still we > have fogs, and possibly, many persons may say that the building in which we are assembled, though, perhaps, from a structural or architectural stand-point, It is satisfactory, is not worth preserving. I am no judge of that. I like the building, but that may be a biased opinion. We look forward to the Federal’ Capital possessing public buildings which our descendants will regard with pride. We recognise that at the start of its history the buildings will be of a somewhat unfinished character ; and judging by past experience it may be half-a-century before ‘ the great public buildings which it will be necessary to erect will be finished. It will be a matter for regret if we should find that, just as they are finished a start will have to be made to rebuild them, owing to the action of the soot or the acid upon the material. We can all imagine what the British people would think if Westminster Abbey were to crumble away, as Sir W. B. Richmond says it is doing in part. It would be regarded as a national calamity. Even those who might pass a building without viewing it, except as a structure, would not like to think that it was decaying when that was preventable. It was the stream of trade which led the old countries of the world to build their cities where they did. They had to take the disadvantages of a site with its advantages. When we have the whole territory of New South Wales except a certain area in which to select a site for the Federal Capital, there is no reason why we should not select a site in which the public . buildings .would be free from the injurious effects to which I have referred. I am looking forward to electricity produced from water power-
– That can be carried over a distance of too miles.
– I admit that it can be carried at a great expense.
– The honorable member says that water power can be carried over a great distance. I know that, but he will agree with me that the cost of its carriage over a long distance should be taken into consideration when we are fixing upon a site. If Canberra had advantages superior to all other places in New South Wains, I for one would concede that ‘perhaps we should not consider the question “of water power. But it has not .been proved, in fact, it has been disproved that Canberra- has any advantage over Dalgety.
– It has been proved that it has water power.
– I do not think that the honorable member, or the honorable member for Werriwa, would contend that Dalgety has not water power suitable for the requirements of an up-to-date civilization.
– What we claim is that Canberra has water power.
– With regard to the claim that Canberra has water power, I should like at this stage to quote from a report by Mr. Scrivener.
– What qualifications has he?
– He is a. civil engineer who has been employed by the Government of New South Wales for many years, and who has been intrusted with duties which only a man skilled in his profession would have been called upon to perform.
– Is he a civil engineer?
– He is.
– Was he not rebuked for expressing the truth about this place?
– He must have been a very strong-minded man to take the stand which he did. I do not wish, however, to deal with that question, because he is strong enough to defend himself. He was employed by the Government in the southern portion of New South Wales for thirteen or fourteen years, and previously he was employed in another portion of the State. He must have been regarded as a gentleman who was fir for the position ; otherwise, T do not think that the State would have kept him there.
– Is he a surveyor or an engineer ?
– I cannot separate the two. I look upon all surveyors as civil engineers, though I may be wrong. I do not know what profession Mr. Scrivener belongs to. At any rate, he was sent to the district to undertake certain civil engineering duties.
– Only with regard to water supply.
– ‘Before quoting whit Mr. Scrivener reported .regarding the water supply I desire to state that the Cotter is not a river, but a beautiful little creek, tlie water being about up to my waist. I had a dip in the creek, and then we had Lt fmd a water hole, because there is no great depth of water, and stones abound everywhere. It is one of the prettiest spots which I have ever seen. I do not know whether the water was contaminated by the bathing, but previously it was beautifully clear and cool. I should think that, except immediately after a fall of rain, it will always be clear, as Mr. Scrivener says, because it flows through a rocky formation. It is unpolluted by civilization in its higher reaches, in fact, down to its junction with the Murrumbidgee. I believe that the stream is sufficient to supply the domestic requirements of a city larger than Melbourne. If a dam were necessary for domestic purposes - though I am assured that it is not - we must remember that the Cotter River is at the foot of two high hills, and that the cost would not be great. I am not condemning the Cotter River as a source for domestic supply, but merely pointing out that it would be useless as a source of electric power. To build a dam in order to obtain power it would be necessary to go 18 miles higher up, and then the power obtained would be comparatively small - somewhat similar to that obtained now at Launceston, though the Launceston supply, I understand, can be increased. As a matter of fact, the Cotter River, taken throughout the year, is not capable of generating sufficient electric power for any fair-sized town, much less for a capital city. We are told, however, that there are other rivers, such as the Gudgenby, the Molonglo, the Queanbeyan and the Goodradigbee. The Gudgenby, we are told in the reports, is of no use for damming, while the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan, though capable of affording a domestic supply, would not be of use for electric power,’ while the Goodradigbee is in the direction of Yass, away from Canberra, which is, it is agreed, the best site there for the city. I may say that in my journey from Yass to Canberra I saw innumerable suitable sites in as pretty a district as one could wish to travel ; but the Goodradigbee is too far away, and its use would necessitate an expensive pumping system. When we say that the Cotter River is insufficient, and we are told that there are all these other streams, are we to understand that a number of water simply systems are contemplated? The honorable member for South Sydney and the honorable member for Werriwa almost deluded me as to the water possibilities of this part of the country, showing how water could be supplied from here and there; but, in my opinion, there ought to be only one water supply system. Of course, I know that power could be brought from the Snowy River, a distance of 80 or 90 miles ; but such a scheme would be expensive, especially bearing in mind that there is loss of power in transit. As I said before, I cannot see that Canberra possesses any qualifications superior to those of Dalgety, and the present Treasurer was one of the first to convince me on this point. It cannot be said that the Treasurer has anypersonal bias on ihe question, and in his report he tells us that no place he visited possesses the same advantages, from the point of view of water supply, as does Dalgety. I do not know what attitude the. honorable gentleman takes now, or whether the Government are unanimous on the ques. tion, but I hope that it is not to be made a party matter. The selection of a Federal Capital was not a party question with the two last Ministries.
– It was a Ministerial question in the last Government.
– But it was riot made a party matter on the vote; and the late Government, having had a vote of the House, would have fallen short of their duty had they not adopted the most speed v manner of settling the question. Strong as we on this side are on party matters, this is not a party question with us. Mr. Scrivener, in his report, tells us that the Cotter River cannot, for reasons which he gives, he regarded as a satisfactory source of water supply -
In the earlier investigations by Mr. De Burgh, it was proposed to have the service reservoir near Canberra at an elevation of 2,050 feet, but this is too low an altitude, as lands suitable for building and desirable from a residential point of view have altitudes as great as 2,150 feet, or over 2,200 feet, the highest occupied building being at an elevation of’ 2,185 feet. The service reservoir should, therefore, be at a level of 2,250, in order to provide a reasonable head. To deliver water to such an elevation from the Cotter River by gravitation, the we on that river would need to be at a level of 2,400 feet, allowing 150 feet fall in pipe line from the weir to the service reservoir. This allowance is none too great, because to reach an elevation of 2,400 feet on the Cotter the pipe line and aqueduct must be longer than thirty miles.
That bears out my previous statement that while the site for the proposed dam was only 12 miles from the Capital site, it would be necessary in order to obtain gravitation to go 1 8 miles further away, making 30 miles of pipe line necessary.
If an aqueduct is used between the weir site and the junction of the Cotter and Murrumbidgee Rivers, that channel will be more than twenty miles long, and will pass over rough country, where, foi al least half the distance, the constructional cost will be heavy. If to avoid this expense a pumping scheme is decided upon, the weir would be placed near the junction of the Murrumbidgee and the Cotter Rivers and water would be available at a level of about 1,560 feet. From this weir to the service reservoir the distance would be about twelve miles, and allowing five feet per mile fail for pipe line, sixty feet of head would be lost; the water must, therefore, be raised from a level of 1,560 feet to that of 2,310 feet, or through a height of 750 feet; even this will probably be cheaper than a twenty-mile channel and pipe line with a more expensive impounding reservoir at the 2,400 feet level.
Mr. Scrivener therefore admits that it would perhaps be cheaper to have a pumping instead of a gravitation system. I have heard some honorable members say that there were no very grave objections to a pumping system, and that Sydney was for some time served by that means, but surely no honorable member will say that if a gravitation scheme is possible a pumping system ought not to be avoided. A gravitation scheme is preferable, not only from the stand-point of expense, but also from a common-sense point of view.
The supply, judging’ from the gauge readings extending over a year, is ample to meet probable future requirements, but these readings were taken just above the junction with Paddy’s River, and not far (about one mile) from the junction of the Cotter and Murrumbidgee.
When the Minister was moving the second reading of the Bill on Friday, I interjected rather disparagingly of Paddy’s Creek. Its water cannot be utilized unless a dam is constructed at the junction of the Murrumbidgee and the Cotter, but I do not see how a dam- can be constructed there, because that is not a suitable point. A suitable point for the lower dam on the Cotter is above its junction with Paddy’s Creek, and from that point of view Paddy’s Creek cannot be taken into consideration from the stand-point either of economy or efficiency. Although, as a layman, I cannot see the possibility of the water being taken from near the junction of the Murrumbidgee and the Cotter, the engineers’ reports say that it can be taken from there, and I am satisfied to accept their word, because they are trained for that sort of work. To my mind, however, the country is too level to allow of any dam below the junction of Paddy’s Creek with the Cotter. Mr. Scrivener further says -
Both the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan, and, in a less degree, the Cotter River, are subject to great variations in the daily flow; the former combined carry after heavy falls of rain immense quantities of water for a few days, while in dry summers they may and do cease to run.
I have been there twice, and the Molonglo was not running either time. It was simply a muddy ditch, and the less that is said of the Queanbeyan for practical purposes the better in the interests of those who advocate this site, because it is only a drain like the Reilly Street drain or the Merri Creek.
Hence, if power is to be derived from these rivers a series of storage reservoirs would be required to maintain a uniform flow throughout the year.
That means more expense. I do not say that by means of half-a-dozen systems we may not get sufficient power for the projected site, but that would mean the complete sacrifice of economy. We can, there-, fore, consider this site’ out qf the question for the present, if we wish to have an uptodate town or even an up-to-date village. Mr. Scrivener further says -
The Goodradigbee is the best river of the system within the Yass-Canberra district, because of the volume; when inspected at the latter end of January, the flow was not less than So cubic feet a second ; the water is rarely discoloured, and then for only very short periods, while the discharge is said to be fairly uniform, and no doubt power could be obtained by the erection of suitable weirs; but a detailed examination and survey of the river would be necessary before an estimate of the amount of power could be made; in any case, the power station would be, by road, about 50 miles from Yass, or in a direct line, about 40 miles.
The Goodradigbee River is 40 miles from Yass, and Yass itself is 40 miles from Canberra. The idea of using that river is, therefore, a worse suggestion than using the. Snowy, because it would be necessary to have an expensive weir on the Goodradigbee to obtain the necessary supply, which could be obtained on the Snowy without that great expense. Therefore, in drawing deductions as to the suitability ot the Canberra and Dalgety sites, any one with an unbiased mind will say that the Snowy River is the only one that we have been yet shown capable of producing power tor a town of the size which we hope to see the Federal Capital reach.
– We are getting full rights in that connexion under the agreement.
– Personally, I am not satisfied with its terms, because it leaves room in the absence of agreement upon quite a number of matters for resort to arbitration. We do not wish to enter into any arrangement with New South Wales or any other State, unless our powers are expressly defined so that- there need be no appeal to the High Court as to their real meaning. The provisions in regard to arbitration should be excised from the Bill. We ought not to allow any State Parliament, even if it were composed exclusively of Labour men, to determine what measure of justice shall be meted out to any portion of Australia other than that embraced within its own borders, or, indeed, to any portion of its own State over which it does not exercise complete control. I have no desire to labour this position. Speaking at this length upon any other subject, I might be open to a charge of “ stonewalling.” But I am merely anxious in the interests of the people of Australia that the best possible site for a Federal Capital shall be selected. Of course, I recognise that the representatives of certain constituencies have to be very careful as to how they vote upon this matter because of the very material benefits which will accrue from the establishment of (he Seat of Government in New South Wales. But I trust that when the final vote is taken upon this question, full consideration will be given to the requirements which the Capital ought to fulfil. In this connexion we ought to profit by the experience of other cities. “We ought to take into consideration the disadvantages under which they labour, with a view to securing for the people of Australia a Capital in which those disadvantages will be overcome. I hold that Canberra is not a suitable site for the Federal Capital on account of the absence of an economic water supply. It possesses no points of superiority over Dalgety from a climatic stand-point. If there be any difference between the two places from that stand-point, Dalgety possesses an advantage in the summer, and is very little colder in the winter. Of course, we have been told that Dalgety is a windswept plain. But what spoiled the chance of its selection was the brutal day upon which it was visited by a certain section of members of this Parliament. Upon our arrival at Queanbeyan we were driven out to inspect the YassCanberra site, and I was one of those who admired its beauties. Upon returning to Queanbeyan, we proceeded by rail to
Cooma, and thence by coach to Dalgety, where we arrived upon a most unpleasant day. If Dalgety experienced many such days, the condemnations which some persons shower upon it would be abundantly warranted. It was blowing a perfect gale, and when Mr. Merritt, the great district advocate of Dalgety, took honorable members out to inspect the site, he recognised that its chance of being selected had disappeared.
– It blows pretty strongly in Melbourne sometimes.
– That is so. When the Parliamentary party returned to Queanbeyan, its members found that that place had also experienced the worst gale that had been known for years. The fact that we visited Canberra upon an ideal day, and Dalgety upon a positively brutal day, did more to influence the votes of honorable members in favour of the former site than did anything else. To my mind Canberra is not the best site which could be selected, though I admit that it possesses a number of advantages. Those who declare that it does not are drawing the long bow. But it does not possess the advantages of Dalgety from a sightseeing stand-point. If ihe Federal Capital were located at Dalgety, I am satisfied that that place would become a tourists’ resort, because of the charms of the Snowy River, and of Kosciusko, and because of its easy access from the sea. Mr. Scrivener points out that there are great engineering difficulties to be surmounted in constructing a line from YassCanberra to Jervis Bay, and that sandstone prevails largely along a good part of the route.
– I do not think the honorable member will find that Mr. Scrivener urged that there were great engineering difficulties.
– He spoke of steep rises and falls, but did not say they were insurmountable. Some of the other experts disputed Mr. Scrivener’s statement in this regard, but after making a flying survey they had to admit that some of his contentions were correct.
– Mr. Kennedy, surveyor, of New South Wales, indorsed Mr. Scrivener’s first report, and pointed out the practicability of the route.
– In the first instance, some of the experts made light of the difficulties ‘mentioned by Mr. Scrivener.
The country to be opened up by this railway is not of the best. Mr. Scrivener, in his report of February last, wrote -
Nowhere in the Yass-Canberra district can timber suitable for building purposes be obtained ; supplies must therefore be drawn from the coast country.
As large areas of Silurian formation are met with near Canberra, good bricks will be made, but it is doubtful whether any large quantity of good building stone can be obtained locally ; this must be drawn principally from other districts.
Under the heading of “ Production “ Mr. Scrivener also wrote in the same report -
Yass-Canberra as a whole is not an agricultural district, and a very large proportion of the land embraced is only suitable for grazing.
I admit that Dalgety also is not an agricultural district, but this report as to YassCanberra is interesting in view of the fact that an honorable senator who, it was believed, would support the selection of Dalgety voted for this site because of its “ great agricultural possibilities.”
There are, however, considerable areas of gently undulating land well adapted for fruitgrowing, and with proper cultivation ordinary farm crops might be profitably grown; apparently holders have found it easy to make a living by grazing and have, therefore, avoided as far as possible the more strenuous, life that cultivation demands.
If a man can obtain a living with comparative ease, he has no desire, as a rule, to work hard. The life of a grazier is far less exacting than is that of an agriculturist ; agriculture demands constant care and exertion, and those who follow it are more exposed to the elements than are graziers.’ I recognise that although the land in the Yass-Canberra district may not be first-class, it may yet be capable of being profitably cultivated by the use of artificial manures and the employment of up-to-date machinery. The adoption of such methods has enabled country that was thought to be worthless to be turned to profitable account ; but up to the present nothing has been produced in Canberra that has not been produced in Dalgety. This site has many disadvantages. Practically every commodity required by the people of the new city will have to be conveyed there. The locality does not produce anything that will be required, and the water supply is not what we ought to have for such a city as I hope the Capital will be, perhaps forty or fifty years hence. We are called upon now to fix upon what is to be the site of the Federal Capital for all time, and if the advantages which Yass-Canberra possesses over other sites would outweigh its disad- vantages in the matter of water supply, honorable members might be excused for voting for it. Unfortunately many representatives of Victoria in this House voted for Yass-Canberra, not because they thought it was the best site, but in the hope that a final decision would be deferred, and that in the end they would win. They do not wish the Capital to be removed from Melbourne, and they believe that with its establishment in Federal Territory we shall take the first step towards proving the feasibility of land nationalization. I may be too sanguine, but I hope in the not far distant future to find the annual rents obtained from the Federal Territory sufficient to pay for the cost of the Federal Administration. I trust that honorable members in determining this question will set aside all feelings of provincialism, and will ,be actuated only bv a desire to secure the best possible site for the capital of Australia. If they do I am confident that some other site, not necessarily . Dalgety, will be chosen.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 -p.m.
.– I have no desire to discuss the question at great length, but it is one to which the House should give due consideration.
– It has done so.
– From the New South Wales stand-point.
– And from the Australian stand-point.
– But it is still unsettled.
– And, I hope, will remain unsettled for the present. Had it not been for the extraordinary speech of the honorable member for Coolgardie, I should probably not have addressed myself to the second reading of the Bill. He asserted that the selection of the Federal Capital is a question upon which the people cannot be trusted to vote.
– I did not say that. I said that it was not a fit subject for a referendum.
– That is to say, it is not a subject upon which the people can cast an intelligent vote.
– Not 1 per cent, of the population has seen either site.
– The late Ministry, with which the honorable member was associated, should have allowed the matter to be settled long ago. According to the honorable gentleman who was at the head of it, the present Leader of the Opposition, Parliament having decided on a certain course, the Government should give effect to the will of the majority.
– We say that now.
– A few weeks before that statement was made, the Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable members for Coolgardie, Boothby, Yarra, and Hindmarsh - all members of the Fisher Ministry - voted for Dalgety. According to the honorable member for Wide Bay, although Ministers differed as to which site should have been chosen, they felt that united action should be taken by the Government to give effect to the will of Parliament. If that is a statement of his political position, why did he not allow the majority to rule? His Government was the first to make this matter a party question. The honorable member for Coolgardie when sitting on the Ministerial cross benches supporting the last Government said that it did not matter if the Federal Capital was not chosen for a generation, and moved to postpone the matter for twenty-five years.
– I did not move in that, direction.
– The honorable member supported the suggestion; but six weeks later as Minister of Home Affairs he said that the settlement of the matter was most important.
– Parliament had.then dealt with it.
– As Minister of Home Affairs, the honorable member said that he had pleasure in introducing a Bill to determine the Seat of Government, although six weeks previously he had stated that the question was one which it was not desirable to settle for twenty-five years. Honorable members opposite charged those on this side with having sunk their principles, and broken their election pledges, but no one could have taken a more direct somersault than the honorable member did in this matter. In 1906, when honorable members appealed to their constituents for support, Dalgety was the chosen site. The members of the Labour party have asked why the electors should be disfranchised; I ask why should they be disfranchised in this matter. It is one with which they should be given an opportunity to deal. I have heard three Ministers of Home
Affairs introduce Bills dealing with the Seat of Government - the honorable members for Darling Downs, Coolgardie and Illawarra. I am not afraid to submit a question of this kind to the people.
– Would the honorable member submit the Tariff to the people?
– The submission of the Tariff to the people was a plank of the Labour party, but its members were so desirous to get rid of it that at the last Conference they decided to do so without even a division on the subject. The honorable member for Coolgardie stands here as a representative of the working classes. He purports to be their mouthpiece. The building of a Federal Capital means an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Yet the honorable member is not prepared to allow the people of this country to give a direct decision upon the question. Why will he not trust the people, seeing that he himself changed his mind more than once within six weeks ? I have before me a list of the votes given by the honorable member on the 8th October, 1908. I find that he did not, in one of the ballots, give a vote for Yass-Canberra. He voted for Dalgety every time.
– The honorable member will find that I voted for Tumut.
– The official record shows that in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth ballots the honorable member voted for Dalgety.
– There were several divisions before that.
– I am talking of the ballots in which the honorable member, voted for Dalgety nine times.
– There was no other choice at that time.
– He did not consider YassCanberra deserving of a single vote. Yet, at the beginning of November, 1909, we have him declaring that Yass-Canberra is the best site.
– The House carried YassCanberra against my opinion.
– The honorable member says now, “ Although I changed my opinion twice in a few weeks, I will not allow the electors to express their opinion on the question, because they have never seen the place.” I have never seen YassCanberra.
– Yet the honorable member is going to vote against it.
– I must, to be consistent, and because I believe Dalgety to be the best place.
– Has the honorable member ever seen Dalgety ?
– No, but I have read a little about it. Surely the honorable member is not prepared to denounce Dalgety after having voted so many times in favour of it ? I do not think that he will take up that attitude. If he told the truth, he would admit that he made a mistake, and that, when he and his party got on to the Ministerial side of the House, he supported Yass-Canberra in order to secure the favour of the Conservatives from New South Wales and the Tory press. I feel sure that the honorable member regrets his action. Had he and his party known that they would not be permitted to retain office for more than six months, they would never have made the Federal Capital question a Government issue.
– Does not the honorable member think he has got hold of a mare’s nest ?
– I do not. Every one of the prominent members of the Labour party, with the exception of the honorable member for West Sydney, voted for Dalgety. Why this change of front? I can attribute it only to one reason - that the Labour party thought that by making it a Government question they could secure sufficient support to enable them to retain the Treasury benches. I am not imputing motives, but I can think of no other reason. Why were the Labour Government the first Ministry to make this a party issue? They were not prepared to pay invalid pensions, but they were prepared to build a bush capital. Is this an important question to the working people of Australia ? What does the working man in the backblocks of Queensland or the miner in Coolgardie care about the Federal Capital? But the Labour Government were prepared to sink every other question, and took up this as a Government measure. Having assumed that attitude, we” now have the members of the late Government saying that the question must be settled. Where is the urgency?
– Does the honorable member want the question to be kept open for twenty years longer?
– I want the best site to be chosen.
– Yet the honorable member is too lazy to go and see any of the sites.
– I want a choice to be made in the interests of the people of Australia, and from a national, not from a New South Wales stand-point. The report of. the debates in the New South Wales Parliament on the Federal Capital question shows that the Leader of the Labour party in the Legislative Assemblystated that the question must be settled in the interests of the State, and he applauded the action of the Labour Administration in making this a party issue. We have honorable members opposite asserting that questions of great national importance should not be treated from a party point of view. They were, however, prepared to whip their members into line, and go back on votes which they had given a few weeks previously. I believe that Dalgety was the site for which the people of Australia voted at the last Federal election, because every candidate who stood for this Parliament in 1906 advocated the selection of that site if he advocated any at all.
– No, with the exception of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro no candidate in New South Wales advocated the selection of Dalgety.
– I venture to say that during the election to which I refer the only Federal Capital Site in the minds of the people was Dalgety, and that is the site which the great bulk of the members of this House were returned to support.
– The honorable member ventures to say it, but can he prove it?
– I can only go by the votes recorded ‘in 1904, when this question was dealt with, and there was a majority of eleven in favour of Dalgety. The honorable member for Coolgardie interjected something disparaging to Dalgety, and I wish to read for his information a short extract from a- publication entitled “ Picturesque Resorts Convenient to the Railways.”
– We had that quotation before.
– I propose to repeat the quotation for the benefit of the honorable member, as it may induce him to again change his opinion. I understand that this publication has the approval of the Government of New South Wales.
– Who is the author?
– Mr. W. Lorck. I am sure that the statement which I propose to quote is authoritative, because it has already been quoted by an honorable member .on the other side, and though I may not think so, honorable members opposite will claim that anything which they quote is reliable. The writer says -
The name of Dalgety has gone forth on the four winds of the world in consequence of its selection by the Federal Parliament as the Federal Capital Site. But whether or not the little town on the Snowy River at the conclusion of the controversy will have the distinction of possessing in its area the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is a matter which it would be unwise at the present stage to speak too positively upon.
The writer, in penning the last sentence, must have had in mind that there was likely to be a change in the Federal Administration, that the Labour Party were likely to come into power and to make the Federal Capital Site question a party question. I should like the honorable member for Coolgardie to pay particular attention to this statement -
This much, however, can be said - that the Federal electors in choosing Dalgety as a site for the Commonwealth Government, made an unimpeachable choice.
– In the opinion of a resident of Dalgety.
– That is an opinion quoted previously in the House by the honorable member for Herbert. I made two or three charges, and I am not in the habit of doing so without being able to submit some proof of them. I charged honorable members opposite that when they got into power they made this question a part) question in order to secure the support of the press opposed to them, and of the Conservatives. I propose now to read something from a newspaper published in Sydney which honorable members opposite have quoted on more than one occasion, and which has more than once supported the present Opposition. I quote from the Sydney Bulletin of Thursday, 17th December, 1908, under the heading, “ The Sudden and Remarkable Developments of the Fisher Ministry “ -
The Fisher Ministry - Australia’s new Labour Ministry - put up a record in the very early days of its existence. It backslid faster even than Thomas Bent at his worst. Within a week or ten days from the date when it met Parliament with its statement of its policy, it had earned the cordial approval of the Tory press for its “ moderation “ and “ reasonableness “ and such-like qualities. It did not bring about that result by compelling the Tory press to admit the justice and wisdom of its views, for that result can’t be arrived at in so short a time. . . ‘ . The Fisher Government, as re gards the most urgent matter of legislation it had in hand, took a short cut to the applause and backslapping of the Tory organs by doing what the Tory organs told it to do. … In the Federal Capital matter, however, Fisher and his colleagues got there with a rush. Already it is difficult to see what point of principle prevents a coalition between the Fisher party and the Deakin following unless the Deakin following would prefer not to be seen in such company ; and the gap between Fisher and Joseph Cook has diminished appreciably.
I have another quotation here bearing on. the same matter, but as it refers to the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, and I have no desire to single out one member of the party opposite, I shall not read it.
– I ask the honorable member to read it.
– No, I have too high an appreciation of the honorable member for Coolgardie to read it. I desire to say that it is my intention when we reach the Committee stage to ask that this Parliament should be given power to submit this question to a referendum of the people. I hope on such a proposal to have the solid support of the present Opposition. I do not look at this question from a New South Wales stand-point. I look at it from a national stand-point. So far as I have been able to judge, the question has been viewed from a New South Wales stand-point since I have been a member of the House.
– If, after he has made this speech, the Age tells the honorable member to vote for Canberra, he will do so.
– The honorable member who interjects is all-wise on all questions. He voted for the selection of Dalgety, and I wish to know if he is prepared to vote for Yass-Canberra now, because his party has made this a party question. The honorable member charges me with doing something at the dictation of a certain journal, and he is himself prepared to sink his views on this question in order merely to vote with his party.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I know it .because the exPrime Minister declared that this was a party question, and his Government made it so.
– Not for me.
– If I had said that, the honorable member would complain that I was charging’ him with disloyalty. I believe that he is a loyal and faithful member of the party to which he belongs, and as such will be prepared to vote with his party on this question.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay, as Prime Minister, said that this had become a Government measure, not that it was a party measure.
– The honorable member for Adelaide will not tell me that an honorable member who has moved the adoption of the Address-in-Reply on behalf of a certain Government will six weeks later turn round and admit ‘that he is no longer loyal to the Administration. The Fisher Administration made this a party question, and they set every other question aside to deal with it. They put the Federal Capital question on top, but not in the interests of the working classes who sent them Here. Will the honorable member for West Sydney tell me that the wharf labourers care a snap of the fingers where the Federal Capital is situated? There are many more important questions which we should consider.
– Then why does the honorable member not sit down and let us consider them?
– Because this is the only question about which the honorable gentleman is now concerned, and he wants it settled, I understand. Is he prepared to say that these other important questions should be considered, and that the selection of a site should be delayed? Is he prepared to allow the people . to decide where the Federal Capital shall be located ? Is. he prepared to trust the people?
– I am prepared, at any time, to allow the people to settle the honorable member.
– Is the honorable member prepared to trust the people?
– I am.
– So am I. The people will have the same opportunity to settle the honorable member as to settle me.
– Order ! I do not think that that is relevant to the question before the House.
– The honorable gentleman is much concerned about the people settling me; but he does not seem to be very much concerned about himself.
– Order !
– I hope I may be permitted to say that, if the honorable gentleman will come down to my constituency, he will assist me a little.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to address himself to the question before the Chair.
– I am trying to do that, sir, but, unfortunately, there are many interjections made. Seeing that this question has been taken up by three Administrations, and that we ourselves are unable to settle it, it is only fair to allow the people an opportunity to do so. It is my intention, in Committee, to move the insertion of a clause which will secure that opportunity.
– I intend to oppose the passing of the Bill, because I realize that Canberra is not the best site in Australia for the Federal Capital. Before I proceed, let me saythat if persons in the gallery wish to pass any remarks about what I am saying, they had better go outside and make them. I contend that this very important question should not be settled by a majority consisting of one or two votes, and arranged by party politics. Dalgety was agreed to by both Houses; but after the elections the question was raised again, and then Canberra was proposed as a sort of scoop to catch votes. As a matter of fact, Canberra received four votes which would not have been given if a particular site, and not a large area, had been proposed. After all, the Yass-Canberra site was decided upon by only one or two votes; and I stated at the time that the question was too important to be decided by such a small majority on a party vote, and after changes of Government. Although I know it is hopeless, I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill, because I know of no question which will be more important to Australia in fifty years’ time. My ground for opposing Yass-Canberra is the deficient water supply. I know that water could be conserved by damming the Cotter, but if we are to have a prosperous and healthy city there should be a constant supply, such as would be afforded by the Snowy’ River:
Question - That this Bill be now read asecond time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation, after the Parliament of the State has passed an Act ratifying and confirming the said agreement, and . surrendering the Territory to the Commonwealth.
– I move-
That after the word “ Proclamation,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “ but not till after a referendum of the people of the Commonwealth shall have been taken as to the most suitable site.”
I addressed myself for about three-quarters of an hour to the motion for the second reading; and I do not now propose to detain the Committee’ for any length of time. I submit the amendment with every confidence that a majority of honorable members are prepared to trust the people to finally settle a question which concerns every man, woman, and child in Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. The proposal of the honorable member for Batman is that the Proclamation be postponed until after there has been a referendum. My first point is that there is in the Constitution no provision for a referendum for the acceptance or rejection of a Bill that has passed both Houses of Parliament, except on the question of an alteration of the Constitution. That, I think, is provided for in section 129 of the Constitution. But there is no general power to take a referendum. As a matter of fact, a proposal to that effect was put forward by Mr. B. R. Wise in the Convention, and was rejected.
– If this amendment were carried, would it not be a suggestion to the Government to bring in the necessary Bill ?
– Yes, but we should not bring in a Bill that the Constitution does not contemplate. There is no provision in the Constitution that we shall take, or have power to take, a referendum on a matter of this kind.
-Is there anything to prevent it?
– There is the question of the expense, and the fact that the scope of our expenditure is determined by section 51 of the Constitution, and also the question of the exercise of the executive powers of the Constitution. Apart from that point altogether, another objection to the amendment is that I do not think we can postpone the coming into operation of a Bill which accepts the surrender of territory until something that may or may not hereafter be done by, Parliament is or is not done. Upon that point, I might refer the Committee to May, nth edition, page 486. An amendment was moved that a Bill relating- to England alone should not. come into force until a similar Bill should have been passed for Scotland. That was ruled to be irrelevant.
– That is a different position altogether.
– I do not say that the case is conclusive on the point, but it is somewhat analogous. I take the points that the amendment, as framed, is not strictly relevant to the Bill, that we have no power to pass a provision for a referendum on the matter that would settle the question, and that to postpone the question until an indefinite date is not a proper proceeding according to the practice of the House of Commons.
– I rule that the amendment of the honorable member for Batman is in order.
.- There is no other issue that I am familiar with for which a referendum is so unfit as this. How the people of Australia, not 1 per cent, of whom have ever been in either Dalgety or Canberra, can give an intelligent vote on this question passes my comprehension. The public have not even had the advantage of reading the expert reports .or studying the maps of the two localities. If this proposal be adopted, the very most that we shall get from the people is a registration of the opinions of certain newspapers. They would vote in most cases just as newspaper bias and newspaper information led them to do. The honorable member altogether mis-stated my position, and the position of others, when he said we were afraid to trust the people. We are quite prepared to trust the people, upon any matter regarding which they have accurate and detailed information which will enable them to give an intelligent vote. But I am not willing to go to the expense of taking a vote about a matter upon which they have no personal knowledge or .information.
– There would be no expense whatever.
– Considerable expense is involved in taking a referendum, although I admit that the expense would be minimized if it were taken at a general election. The point upon which I wished to elicit some information from the Minister was why the New South Wales Parliament have not had this agreement presented to them first, so that they could have adopted it, and it could have been presented to us for ratification. By being put first, we appear, to use a Hibernianism, to be playing second fiddle. We are asked to adopt the agreement, and then it is to go before the New South Wales Parliament to be varied, or adopted without alteration, as they think fit.
– It has already been introduced into the New South Wales Parliament.
– I know nothing about that. The clause distinctly provides that the Act is to come into force within a certain time after an Act of surrender has been passed by the New South Wales Parliament. In other words, we are put in the position of offering them something instead of their offering it to us, as required or suggested by the Constitution. The Minister might give us some information on the point.
– -With regard to the contention of the honorable member for Coolgardie, that this Parliament is being placed in a subsidiary position to the New South Wales Parliament, I would point out that the course of action which we are now proposing was adopted as the most expeditious way of dealing with the matter. We do not propose to take the Bill completely through Committee to-night. We purpose reserving a sufficient portion of it in order to await the passage of the Act of Surrender by the New South Wales Parliament.
– Is it the intention to stick it up until after the general election?
– We have not the slightest intention of doing so, and I am sure the honorable member is with us in our desire to get the matter settled before the Parliament rises.
– How many clauses do the Government propose to pass to-night?
– We propose to go almost, to the end of the Bill, if possible, keeping only sufficient in hand for the purpose I have mentioned.
– Does the honorable member propose to deal with the schedule also?
– Yes, with the. first schedule.
– Where would the honorable member stop?
– We should go up to that part of the schedule which has been omitted in the printing - the signatures of the parties to the agreement, and the witnesses.
– Then what have we in reserve ?
– While the schedule looks big, the greater portion of it is composed of descriptions of territory.
– The honorable member proposes that we should reserve nothing.
– I am prepared to agree to stop at whatever stage the Committee thinks we ought to stop at. But I ask the Committee to help us to pass as much as we can of the schedule, reserving what is Seemed to be necessary to await the passage of the Surrender Bill bv New South Wales.
.- In submitting his proposal for a referendum upon this question the honorable member for Batman gave utterance to a shibboleth. He exclaimed, “Trust the people.” But to take a referendum. upon the question of the Federal Capital Site would merely be to fool the people. For nine years the members of this Parliament have been afforded opportunities for inspecting eligible sites for the Seat of Government in New South Wales. The Yass-Canberra site has already been approved by both Houses of the Legislature, and it is now before us for the second time. I need scarcely point out that to trust the people by asking them to exercise an intelligent vote upon this matter would necessitate an inspection by them of all the eligible sites in New South Wales. .
– A good idea.
– The honorable member for Yarra by his interjection has openly said what the honorable member for Batman designedly omitted to say. In effect he has said, “Delay the measure.” When the honorable member for Batman pleads for a referendum- upon this question he is merely advocating delay in its settlement. The people are intelligent enough to recognise that the course which he proposes to adopt does not evidence trust in them.. The honorable member for Coolgardie has declared that a referendum might be taken at the next- general election. But what would be the result of such a course of procedure? Candidates would be compelled to advocate a particular site. Almost to a man candidates for the representation of constituencies in New South Wales would favour the selection of YassCanberra. On the other hand, the electors of Victoria would probably vote for the selection of Dalgety. Newspapers throughout the Commonwealth would advocate what they conceived to be the ideal site. I am satisfied that the electors of Australia merely desire the most suitable site to be selected. Those honorable members who voted for Yass-Canberra must accept responsibility for their action when they again face the electors. They cannot dissociate themselves from that responsibility. The process of referendum is not applicable to a question of this character. It would necessitate a visit to all the eligible sites by the electors of the Commonwealth - an absurd proposition. They would require to visit not merely Yass-Canberra but all other suitable sites. I cannot recollect that the honorable member for Batman inspected any of these sites.
– He has seen neither YassCanberra nor Dalgety.
– Yet he wishes to refer the question to the people.
– I think that the honor, able member for Batman would vote for himself.
– The honorable member for Adelaide would probably suggest that the honorable member for Batman wrote the leading article which appeared in the Age yesterday morning.
– He probably read if.
– If he did I am certain that he would understand it. I can quite appreciate any public journal which doesnot favour the removal of the Seat of Government from Melbourne advocating delay under the guise of a referendum. But do not let us translate that desire into a cry of “Trust the people.” By his amendment the honorable member for Batman does not propose to trust the people, but merely to fool them. He has a perfect right to vote against the selection of Yass-Canberra just as New South Wales representatives have a right to vote for it.
– Why the representatives of New South Wales?
– The honorable member fought’ strongly for the sugar bounty and the abolition of black labour in Queensland. That State, long ago, obtained its share of the advantages which induced it to enter the Federation. The electors of Australia agreed to federate upon the understanding that the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales. They do not care a dump where the Federal Capital is located so long as the site selected is a suitable one.
– Does not the honorable member think that New South Wales gained something by Federation? But for Federation the McSharry case would still be in progress.
– I know to what the honorable member is alluding, but I am not to be drawn off the track. The people of Australia desire that the Federal Capital should be established in New South Wales in accordance with the constitutional compact. All that they are concerned’ about is that it shall be located in a suitable spot, and that Parliament shall not indulge in extravagant expenditure in establishing it. The people of Victoria are not anxious to dishonour the compact which is embodied in the Constitution. They are just as anxious to respect the bond as are the people of New South Wales. I did expect to hear the Minister of Home Affairs attack the proposal of the honorable member for Batman very strongly.
– Are not the Government going to accept it?
– The honorable member for Corio is not so simple as he looks,’ otherwise he would be very simple indeed. He knows perfectly well that the Government composed as they are must refuse to accept it.
– “ Composed as they are,” is rather good.
– I am fairly accurate in my statements. In this Chamber there are a number of ex-Ministers who, when they were on the Ministerial benches were anxiOUS to establish the Seat of Government at Yass-Canberra. How can they go back upon their former attitude? The proposal of the honorable member for Batman may suit one or two persons in Collingwood, but it will not commend itself to many. I am certain that if I made an appeal to the higher impulses of the electors of that, suburb they would see the folly of submitting the question to a referendum, and would unhesitatingly affirm that the constitutional bond with New South Wales should be respected.
.- I am rather surprised at the action of the Minister of Home Affairs in ‘ proceeding with this Bill to-night. Hitherto the practice has been - after the second reading of a measure has been affirmed - to defer its consideration in Committee until a later date. Further, it was generally understood that in the absence of a number of honorable members, only unimportant business would be proceeded with. As a rule when a Bill is read a second time, its consideration in Committee is adjourned for a few days, and it seems to me that this Bill is being unduly hurried. There is no reason why the Government should not report progress, and ask the House to-night to deal with the Electoral Bill or the High Commissioner Bill. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Dalley has said, I favour the amendment proposed by .the honorable member for Batman. The honorable member declared that the people would not understand the question if it were submitted to them, yet in his closing remarks asserted that he would be able to convince the people of Collingwood that his view of the position was correct.
– I said I should be able to convince them that it would be foolish to take a referendum on this question.
– The people do not see us at work ; they have to judge us according to the information which they receive as to our political labours, and in the same way they should be able to determine the. relative merits of the several sites submitted to them without inspecting them. A great deal of literature has been circulated with regard to Yass-Canberra and Dalgety, and more information would no doubt be supplied if this question were submitted to a referendum. The honorable member for Dalley urged that every honorable member must be individually responsible for the selection made. I would remind him that there may be among my constituents some who favour YassCanberra, but who, in voting for me, would not secure a vote for the selection of that site. In the absence of a referendum, the people will be unable to discriminate. If there was a large majority of honorable members of this Parliament in favour of Yass-Canberra, I should not advocate the taking of a referendum, but the voting was so close that I think the people themselves should have an opportunity to decide where the Federal Capital shall be established.
– I am not. at all surprised to hear objections raised to the proposal that a referendum should be taken on this question, but I would remind honorable members opposite that the people of Australia would be able to deal just as intelligentlywith this question as with that which the Government propose to submit to them in regard to the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth. Judging by the votes which some honorable members cast, the people are just as capable as we are of determining what are the essentials of a good site for the Federal Capital. If this amendment were agreed to, they would be asked to determine whether Dalgety, Canberra, or perhaps some other site, should be selected. I could understand honorable members objecting to a referendum on this question if they objected also to a referendum with regard to embodying in the Constitution the agreement covered by the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill, but I fail to understand why those who support that Bill should oppose this amendment. I was in some doubt at the outset as to whether the adoption of this proposal would mean a breach of the compact entered into with New South Wales at the inception of Federation, but I have come to the conclusion that it would not, as long as we stood bv the constitutional provision that the Capital shall be not less than 100 miles from Sydney.
.- Only two objections have been raised to this amendment, and they have both been taken by the honorable member for Coolgardie and the honorable member for Dalley. In the first place, they declared that if this question were submitted to a referendum it would be determined really by the press, but no two honorable members have more to do with the press than they have, and no honorable member is more readily prepared to accept the support of the Age than is the honorable member for Dalley. Are those honorable members prepared to say that, because we have an influential press, no referendum should be taken on any question ? , To be logical, they must do so. I am surprised that a Democrat like the honorable member for Dalley should argue that this question ought not to be submitted to a referendum, because the press would dictate to the people the way in which they should vote. The honorable member for Coolgardie also made the astounding statement that this proposal would involve great expense. Has he thought for a moment what the expense would be? A referendum was taken on a certain question at the last general election, and the only expense incurred was that which the printing of the ballot-papers involved.
– Does the honorable member propose that the site selected shall be approved by a majority of the people of the Commonwealth, or a majority of the people ‘in a majority of the States ?
– I am in- favour of trusting the people.
– The honorable member has to trust the majority. We all have to do so.
– Why not trust the people in this matter?
– We are’ ready to do so ; but why confine the referendum to this question ?
– Because it affects, not one section of the community, but the whole Commonwealth.
– So does every other question.
– Is the honorable gentleman afraid to trust the people on any other question ?
– Why have a Parliament at all ? Let us settle everything in the open !
– I am not afraid to trust the people on this ..question, and honorable members have no right to cast a vote which will deprive them of the opportunity to deal with it. We. have heard of the expense of a referendum, but the only additional cost would be that incurred in the printing of extra ballot-papers. As the question has not been decided definitely, although it has been dealt with by more than one Ministry, it should, be submitted to the people. I trust that that will be done.
.- I am glad that the amendment has been submitted. The honorable member for West Sydney seems not to know whether the question, if submitted to the people, would be determined by the vote of the majority of the population, or of the majority of the States. I would point out to him that what is proposed is not a referendum affecting an amendment of the Constitution, but one to enable the people to say what site in New South Wales is most suitable for a Federal Capital and the centre of their national life. The honorable member for Dalley said that it would be necessary to take every member of the community to view each of the different sites.
– That would be necessary to enable them to decide the matter according to their honest opinions.
– All the people have to choose between is Canberra, where there is a very poor water supply, and Dalgety, where there is an ample water supply. They would simply be asked whether they desire a site possessing a good water supply and whether they prefer a site near the boundary of two States to one in the middle of a State, and wholly at its mercy. lt would not be necessary for the electors to visit the sites to determine those questions.
– The honorable member is advocating something which he knows to be utterly impracticable.
– I think that the people might well be asked - and would certainly be able - to answer the questions which I have just mentioned.
– Has the honorable member for Parkes visited any of the sites?
– No; because I prefer to take expert advice in regard to matters about which I have no knowledge.
– Then why has not the honorable member accepted the view of Mr. Oliver, the Commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government to deal impartially with this matter? He selected the Dalgety site before State passions and party tactics had been excited. The majority of honorable members are not in favour of the Canberra site, although a number of honorable members have been Ministers in Governments which have had to support it, because they vote solidly as a Cabinet.
– They should not have voted for it, if they did not Ibelieve it to be the best.
– Why did the honorable member appeal to Ministers and exMinisters to vote for Canberra ?
– I did not appeal to them ; I simply reminded them of what they had done in the past.
– When a decision was come to regarding the Canberra site, only one vote was given for it. The YassCanberra area was a drag-net proposition, and included a district so large that it embraced Dalgety, Yass, and other independent sites. Ministers and exMinisters, having voted for . it, are now being told that they must support the Canberra site, which formerly received only one vote. I have seen the place, and know how desolate it is. But, by a combination of circumstances and party changes, together with pressure by the Sydney newspapers, Canberra has been pushed forward.
– What effect has the Sydney press upon the honorable member or any other honorable member, except the representatives of New South Wales?
– To the extent that its arguments are reasonable, it influences me.
– Then its arguments regarding the Capital site must have been reasonable.
– With one exception, the Sydney press has run down Dalgety to the benefit of Canberra. The honorable member for Dalley says that those who support the referendum wish for delay. I wish for delay, and acknowledge it, though he says that we do not care to do so.
– The honorable member should try to defeat the measure in some other way..
– I wish to defeat the Bill. If a referendum cannot be taken, the people should at least have the opportunity to say at the next election where the Capital shall be. Were an independent vote taken again, Canberra would be a second time rejected by an immense majority.
– The question has been before the House for eight years.
– And what has the House done? After accepting, in turn, Tumut, Dalgety, and Bombala, it selected an enormous district called Yass-Canberra.
– The House chose the site upon which there was the greatest amount of unanimity.
– But Canberra was rejected by the deliberate vote of the House. It was only in consequence of a combination of parties, and through pressure brought to bear upon Ministers, that YassCanberra was finally selected.
– This is part of the Fusion policy.
– If it is part of the . Fusion policy, I never knew that such was the case. I absolutely reject such a proposition.
– Let the honorable member vote against the Bill, and he will find out.
– I have voted against this Bill, and. will do so again. There were certain pledges in connexion with the Fusion policy which I accepted. But I accepted nothing that would bind me to vote for a site which I believe to be utterly unworthy of a great people, and unsuitable to be a Capital for a nation. If I did not vote for the rejection of Yass-Canberra I fear that my constituents would have a right to complain. I would not mind leaving this question even to the people of New South Wales; for I venture to say that if it were left to them they would, notwithstanding the pressure exercised by the Sydney newspapers, favour some other site in New South Wales in preference to this. Why have the Sydney newspapers been devoting themselves to running down Dalgety ? They have spoken of its low rainfall, and of its unproductiveness, as if it were an inferior part of New South Wales.
– I ask the honorable member not to enter into a discussion of the relative merits of various sites.
– I do not doubt that if a referendum were taken, Canberra would, as a most unsuitable spot, be rejected even by the people of New South Wales. As for the people of the other States, they would utterly repudiate the site that is now attempted to be foisted on them. They do not desire the Federal Capital to be surrounded solely by the territory of one State. The people of Australia, if they could speak at a referendum, would declare that they wanted a site with a better rainfall than 19 inches - less than that enjoyed by some parts of Western Australia, which, in recent years, have been described as desert.
– The rainfall at Dalgety is only 17 inches, 2 inches less than that of Canberra.
– There must be some suitable site in New South Wales with an average rainfall of more than 19 inches per annum - less by 4 inches than the average rainfall in Victoria, less than that of the district between Perth and Albany, and less than that of the southern parts of South Australia, and most parts of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member is taking the lowest rainfall on record.
– I am taking the average rainfall for a period of ten years, as shown by the Hansard report of the Minister’s speech which came to hand to-day. Canberra was rejected, notwithstanding all the arguments which were brought forward in its favour, in the fullest House we have had to vote upon any question for some years. Yet this site, which Mr. Scrivener condemned until called to task, and which Mr. Oliver rejected, is now to be foisted upon the people, without their having an opportunity to declare their opinions.
– I do not think that the Committee will take the referendum proposal very seriously. On the face of it there are difficulties which the honorable member for Batman has not attempted to encounter. In the first place, to authorize a referendum would be a confession that this House was incompetent. We have had every opportunity of making up our minds. Those of us who chose to do so have visited all the sites suggested. We have had reports from the best experts, and we have been deliberating on the subject for eight or nine years. Yet we are now asked to refer the question to the people, who have not seen the reports, who have not visited the sites, and most of whom know nothing about them. The majority of the electors would hardly know where Dalgety or Canberra is. They might as well be in the South Sea Islands for all most people would know. I expected that the honorable member for Batman would supply us with details as to how the referendum should be taken. Does he propose that the maps shall be reproduced and supplied to each elector? Does the honorable member suggest that all the reports which have been presented in con nexion with this question from the beginning should be reprinted and copies sent to every elector, so that he might read and study them carefully, and debate them with his neighbours before he is called upon to make a selection of a Capital site ? This is the most ridiculous proposal that was ever brought before this House. When the honorable member speaks of “ trusting the .people,” what idea can he have of the intelligence of the electors when he proposes to submit such a question as this to them? Honorable members are aware that there have been wide, honest, and justifiable differences of opinion amongst themselves in connexion with this question as the result of the varying reports that have been presented. There have, for instance, been serious differences of opinion as to the water supply available at different sites. It would be outrageous to submit such a question to the electors without supplying them with the information which would enable them to give an intelligent vote. 1 do not know whether the honorable member thinks that the names of two sites should be submitted, or that the electors should be asked to suggest a site themselves. He should certainly explain what he thinks ought to be done. What value could he attached to an expression of the views of the electors on this question when not r per cent, of them know where these places are? If this is a question which should be submitted to the people, then every question should be submitted to them, and we might do away with Parliament altogether. We might establish some machinery of Government under which some one would be appointed to make suggestions, and then those suggestions would be submitted to a vote of the people. It is not worth while to argue the matter. I have been surprised that the honorable member for Batman should desire to put the Government in a difficult position. This Bill is introduced as a Government measure, and the Attorney-General has pointed out that the honorable member’s proposal would be unconstitutional, and that there’ is no provision for carrying out a referendum on such a question. The honorable member takes no notice of the Attorney-General’s opinion, and evidently wishes to put the Government into a hole. He must know that, if his amendment were carried, it would be impossible to’ give it effect. Though the honor, able member talks so glibly about trusting the people, 1 should like to say that if ever there was an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the people and fool them, this is one. The proposal means nothing if, as the Attorney-General says, the question cannot be submitted to the people, and I am prepared to accept the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral on the point. I am surprised that an alleged supporter of the Government should try to place them in a difficulty in this way. If the amendment were carried, one does not know what would happen, since it would be impossible to submit the question to a referendum, and there is the probability that this legislation would be declared ultra vires. We should deal with this matter straightforwardly. If honorable members are opposed to this Bill, let them vote against it. They should not confess that they are incompetent, after all the information with which they have ‘been supplied, to make a choice between two sites suggested for the Federal Capital. If the honorable member for Batman has not yet made up his mind on this question, then it is time the electors of Batman selected a representative who could make up his mind, in the course of a few years at any rate. This is only playing with the business. I voted for Dalgety, and I recognise that the delay in the settlement of the question has not been due entirely to this Parliament. Negotiations have been carried on with the New South Wales Government, and the honorable member for Batman has overlooked the fact that it it were proposed now to submit Dalgety for selection further negotiations would have to be carried on with the New South Wales Government, as we should require to know whether they were prepared in connexion with that site to grant the Commonwealth rights over a large watershed, which, in the case of Canberra, we have been able to secure only after years of effort. Whether Canberra i& the best possible site, time alone can tell. But, after wide divergencies of opinion, the question of selecting a site appears to have reached a stage when it looks as if it was practically settled. I understand, however, that amendments are to be submitted with a view to re-opening the choice of site. We have had every possible chance of obtaining full information as to various sites, and we ought now to face the situation boldly, and not try to shelter ourselves under the cry of a referendum, giving the people no information as to the location of various sites or the wisest way to vote.
– I arn not going to be hypocritical. I want the people to know more about the proposed site for the Federal Capital than they know at present. The Bill has been sprung upon us in a very haphazard manner. We have been long waiting for the introduction of a Bill, and I only wish that we were still in that position. I do not believe that Yass-Canberra is the best site to choose for the Federal Capital. In my opinion, Dalgety is the only possible site within the prescribed area in New South Wales. The honorable member for Parkes seems to be very much concerned about submitting this question to the people. He was not so deeply concerned about submitting to a referendum a question which was of much more moment than the selection of a Capital site - the acceptance of the Constitution. I venture to say that nine people out of every ten in Queensland, if asked, could not say what question they voted on then. I do not desire to act the part of a hypocrite, and therefore I want the people, to be afforded an opportunity to indicate their preference. I desire the selection of a site to be delayed as long as possible.
– I think that the honorable member must be struck on Melbourne.
– I have been living in the bush for twenty-eight years, and it is a great relief to me to be able to live in the premier city of Australia. Any man who wants anything better than he can get here is, I consider, very hungry indeed. He can get his appetite whetted here in every sense of the term. Why certain honorable members wish to plant us down in the bush on the road between Melbourne and Sydney, I cannot understand. The location-‘ of the Federal Capital is a matter of jealousy between Victoria and New South Wales, with the other States looking on.
– Does the honorable member think that Victoria is very anxious to keep the Capital here?
– I do not think that Victoria is anxious to let the Capital go to New South Wales. You, sir, know as well as I do that in your vast electorate of Kennedy there are not twenty persons who care a brass farthing where the Capital site is selected. I know that the electors of Maranoa, which comprises an area very nearly as large of the whole of New South Wales, are not particularly struck upon whether the Federal Capital is located in Melbourne or Yass-Canberra, or anywhere else. If the Government intend to accept the amendment, I do not think that there is anything more to be said. I notice that directly the honorable member for Batman or the honorable member for Maribyrnong moves an amendment, or makes a stir on the back Ministerial bench, the Government sing out at once, “ Do not shoot, Batman, we will come down.” If the honorable member for Maribyrnong moves an amendment and says, “ Do not say any more, else I shall bring the whole wowser brigade down upon you,” they cry put, “ Do not shoot, Maribyrnong, we will come down.”
– Does the honorable member think that they will come down for the honorable member for Batman this time?
– I think that it would be a godsend to Australia if they did give way to the honorable member for Batman or the honorable member for Maribyrnong on this occasion, and no one would applaud that action more than I should. It appears, however, that they have set up their back, and do not intend to accept an amendment for a referendum on this question.
– Now that they have a little Labour support, they can scorn the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– The Government are plucky when they have a majority at their back, but when the numbers are in doubt they are very humble indeed. We do not hear the same great talk about what they are going to do with this Bill as we heard a few weeks ago in connexion with the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill.
– They have not even moved the gag on this Bill yet.
-I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will never move the gag on any one here. I am sure that if it is left to him, he will not take that course.
– Order !
– I am trying, sir, to gag the settlement of the Capital site question if that is possible. I have the assistance of several honorable members on the Ministerial side to gag the Bill. I have no doubt that the Minister of Home Affairs is anxious to get it passed.
– I have been for a number of years’.
– I thought the honorable gentleman was only gammoning during most of the time. This question used to be the whole stock in trade of the late Opposition. I can quite understand the
Minister being serious at last. I can assure him that if he were proposing the selection of Dalgety, he would receive my ardent support. On this occasion, however, I am with the honorable member for Batman, not because I desire the question to be referred to the people, but because I want its settlement delayed.
.- I think that the honorable member for Maranoa has put forth the true reason which actuated the honorable member for Batman in submitting this amendment, and that is to delay the settlement of this question. He seeks, by a parade of democratic principles, to hide those manifold divagations which have obtruded themselves upon the public notice, but which cannot be hidden by this or any other device. He speaks about trusting the people, but he seeks to befool them, although only on one particular point. He will not trust them to say whether he should remain in politics or not - a question which I take it has become a burning one. When he asks, “ Are there not more important questions than the selection of the Capital site?” I reply, “ Infinitely,” and “he” is one of those questions which, I hope, will shortly either settle themselves ox be settled. If he wants to trust the people on this question, he should give them a chance to express their opinion. New South Wales is a. large territory-
– It would take him a good while to go round it.
-I have been going round New South Wales a good deal, one way or the other, but I do not know all its beauty spots. The Constitution precludes the people of the Commonwealth from giving a fair, unbiased vote on this question, because there is a ring drawn round Sydney, as if it were suffering from the plague, and no place within 100 miles of that city can be selected as a site, for the Federal Capital. The honorable member for Batman has asked the Committee to insert in the clause these words - but not until after a referendum of the people of the Commonwealth shall be taken as to the most suitable site.
I propose to ask him to insert in his amendment after the word “after” the following words - such an amendment of the Constitution shall have been presented to the people as is necessary to permit of any part of the State of New South Wales being selected as the most suitable site by the people of the Commonwealth at a referendum to be taken at the next general . election.
– Why not give the people a chance to choose a site in Australia, not in New South Wales merely ?
– Because the Constitution provides that the Federal Capital shall be established in New South Wales. For nearly nine years the Federal Capital has been in Melbourne, and I think that it would be a fair, cheap, and sensible thing if it were established in Sydney. My honorable friend has talked about Dalgety and Canberra. I prefer Yass-Canberra to Dalgety, but if I had a chance I should vote for the place which in my opinion is very much more suitable, and which, if chosen, would save the Commonwealth the expenditure of £250,000 during the next five years.
– What place?
– Sydney ! If the Commonwealth is going to erect any buildings in Yass-Canberra during the next five years it will spend that sum. Why should it be spent? It would be absolutely absurd to do so. The people of the Commonwealth, if asked to’indicate a preference, might not know Yass-Canberra from Dalgety. When we ourselves visited the latter place a few years ago, it was only just emerging from its time-honoured designation of Buckley’s Crossing. I believe it was not where Buckley crossed, but where he “ fell in,” and from this we have the phrase “ Buckley’s show,” though it was not a very good show at the best. My own experience has been such that I should not dream of voting for Dalgety. On the occasion of my visit, I noticed that the Chairman of Committees and other honorable members, most of whom voted for that site, were in the coach with the ‘blinds down, and never saw anything; and the gentleman on the box seat, who was showing the beauties of the place, owned the country, I believe, for as many miles round as one could see. I said to the sergeant of police, with whom I was riding, “ Good God, is it always as cold as this?” and, when he had got me to drop behind a little, he whispered, “ This is the warmest winter we have had for seventeen years.” There were only three men who went into the Snowy River - Mr. Miller, the member for Monaro in the State Parliament of New South Wales, the late honorable member for South Sydney, Mr. G. B. Edwards, and myself. As for Mr. Miller, nothing could kill him. He actually recovered from an attack of anthrax - a disease which no other human being has ever survived.
But its effects upon the average man may be judged by those produced upon Mr. Edwards, whose health suffered so severely that he has been out of Parliament for the last three years, and I myself have suffered very seriously. If I had to choose between Dalgety and Melbourne, I should never, dream of voting for the former. Statistics are no guide; doubtless there are men living at the North Pole or thereabouts - healthy men who can subsist on blubber, candles, and food of that sort - but I say that, a man who could survive a winter at Dalgety ought to be elected for life. Madrid is described as a place where the people alternately suffer from pneumonia and sunstroke, and. Dalgety is that, only worse.
– Some people are pretty healthy at Dalgety - the honorable member will remember Charlie Hedges.
– Yes, but he was a lunatic. On the occasion of a visit the place was thronged with men from Snowy River, and the place seems to produce men from Snowy River, who are quite insane, though, I . admit, harmless. I cheerfully agree that there are some gentlemen here who seem admirably adapted for such a climate, but it is not for me to particularize. I decline to ask the people to vote as between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, when they can never know what Dalgety really is. I say most emphatically that, if any one here really thought the Commonwealth Parliament was going to Dalgety, he would-, give up politics.
– I for ohe would not.
– The honorable member did not visit the place - he knew too much. I think the facts I have cited are sufficient to damn Dalgety a hundred times over, and I ask the honorable member for Batman if he will accept my suggested amendment.
– I shall.
– Then I propose-
That the amendment be amended by leaving out all the words after the word “after,” with a view to insert in -lieu thereof the following words : - “ such an amendment o”f the Constitution shall have been presented to the people as is necessary to permit of any part of the State of New South Wales being selected as the most suitable site by the people of the Commonwealth at a referendum to be taken at the next’ general election.”
.- I cannot help feeling that the efforts to bring about a referendum for the first time in connexion with this question are efforts, not to gain the opinion of the Australian people, but to postpone a settlement for still a further period. Those who support the amendment are not serving the Australian people, but some of the richest interests in Australia, namely, the Melbourne press, who are the most anxious that the settlement of this question shall be postponed. We do not find bitterness shown by the people of this State, but we find it every morning, when this question is before Parliament, in the leaders of the Melbourne daily papers. And why? Because the moment the Commonwealth Parliament goes to the new Capital, the great Melbourne dailies will have to pay a largely enhanced price for the collection of Federal news. Some time ago, I found out that the added cost to the Melbourne Age and Argus of having to report the Federal Parliament from some place outside Melbourne would be ^1,500 a year each.
– It would be much less than that if the telephone were used, as in the case of Lord Rosebery ‘s speech on the Budget at Glasgow.
– I was simply stating the figures, so far as I was able to get them, representing what these people themselves would anticipate would be the added cost.
– That is on the basis of the present absurd way of doing the work.
– The honorable member for Melbourne recognises that, with “ the present absurd method “ of collecting news items, and of being represented at Government Departments, the added cost to those papers would be what I have mentioned. The cost of transmitting telegrams is not the greatest part of the expense. Each of those papers would have to have at least a couple of representatives at a capital outside Melbourne, doing nothing else all the year round but looking after Federal affairs, watching the interests of their papers, and collecting news generally.
– Is that the case now with the Sydney press?
– I think each of the Sydney daily papers keeps two representatives in this House, and there may be others in the Senate.
– That is good for the fourth estate.
– Cannot the honorable member see that it is good for the fourth estate in this city that the Federal Parliament should sit here, where the reporters can fit in their gallery work in this build- ing with the general work of the newspapers? Those journals, which have clamoured all these years for Dalgety, did not start to clamour foi it until the Premier of New South Wales stated that his State would never grant Dalgety to the Commonwealth. From the moment that they discovered that Dalgety was a safe place to clamour for, we have heard from them nothing but the virtues and merits of that place.
– The honorable member is wrong. They were in favour of Dalgety long before the New South Wales Premier said that he would not let the Commonwealth have it.
– I do not think so; but of course our memories are always subject to error. The Melbourne press is the sole difficulty at the present time in regard to this question. Do honorable members think that the honorable member for Batman would have had the temerity to oppose his own Government if he had not thought there was a still stronger force behind him in his own electorate? What is that force? Is it the force of the suffrages of his own public - the will of his own section of the Democracy - or is it not purely the self-interest of one or two plutocrats ordering a number of gentlemen, who are willing to sell their intelligences to earn their daily bread, to write certain leaders, which they, on their part, will cause to be disseminated around the honorable member’s electorate, and so help that Democrat back to his seat in this Chamber?
– The honorable member for Batman has as much .right to his opinion on this question as the honorable member for Wentworth had to his on the question of a Military College.
– Of course he has. but he has also a marvellous facility for forecasting the leaders of the Age. Even if he is not quick enough to forecast them, he is very rapid in making a good second to them ! We are bound at this juncture to.consider, not the monetary exigencies of the two Melbourne morning “dailies, but our duty to the people who sent us here. Surely our first duty is to honour the Constitution under which we hold our places. That Constitution clearly lays it down that the Federal Capital shall be within the limits of New South Wales, and that until it is selected the Parliament shall meet in Melbourne. Any man interpreting the spirit of the Constitution can see that we are intended to select in New South
Wales a place which complies with all the demands of the Federal agencies, and is most likely to meet with the commendation of and give satisfaction to the people of New South Wales. That section was inserted in the Constitution in order to meet the objection which the people of New South Wales, rightly or wrongly, felt when asked to enter into Federation. They said, “ We have to make too great sacrifices. “ We are going to get too few benefits out of this Federation.” I do not ask honorable members to say that New South Wales was right in that attitude, but I would remind them that it was on account of the complaint that New South Wales was not getting sufficient out of Federation that she was allowed to have the Capital under the Constitution. If that means anything, it means that the Capital was intended to be of some benefit to that State. A large part of the complaint recently made against the choice of Canberra has been that New South Wales is pursuing a purely selfish course in advocating that site.
– Sydney, not New South Wales.
– I presume the honorable member is willing to trust the people of New South Wales as to the choice of a site for the Capital?
– Then will the honorable member so far trust the people of New South Wales as to provide for the referendum to be taken by them only ?
– What is the use of asking me that?
– I am asking the honorable member to bind himself only.
-i could not bind the people of Australia to accept that.
– I simply ask the honorable member what action he is prepared to take in this Chamber if a certain proposal is placed before him.
– I would not agree to that, because I know that the people of Sydney are in the majority.
– The honorable member first said he was prepared to trust the people of New South Wales, but now he says he is not.
– I said the interests of Sydney predominated.
– The honorable member has changed his ground. All these efforts for a referendum are put forth as a last resort to delay the settlement of the question. Some honorable members may vote to delay it out of an honest belief that the best site has not yet been chosen. On a question like the selection of a site for the Federal Capital, it is possible for honorable members to hold many different opinions, but I believe a large section of those who will support this amendment will be guided purely by the expediency of supporting the requests of those large capitalistic influences which govern the press of this city. I cannot help saying that, because I believe it, and I commend it to the attention of those who propose to vote for the amendment.
– Bad as they are, the Melbourne papers are not one whit worse than those of Sydney.
– I hold no brief for the press of any part of Australia. I think too much cant altogether is talked about the virtues of the press and the benefits which it confers, although that sort of thing may help honorable members at different periods of their careers. There is no question that the two daily papers of Melbourne alone have the greatest interest in this matter, and they are fighting most tenaciously for the selection of Dalgety - a choice which they believe will inevitably postpone the settlement of this question indefinitely. Another paper which advocates the same site is the Sydney Bulletin. What guides it Heaven only knows, but, as it has occasionally changed its opinions, even upon “so tremendous a question as the Tobacco Trust, I hope that even the Sydney Bulletin may acquire a farm or two at Canberra, and thus be induced to change its opinion upon this question.
– What about the starch industry ?
– Exactly. I recollect the triumph which the honorable member for Mernda scored over the Bulletin, and I quote it with a view to showing that the feverish . opposition of that journal to the selection of Canberra may possibly be founded upon none too secure a basis. I remember a very violent article which the Lone Hand published against the honorable member for Mernda - an article in which he was held up to public contempt and ridicule. The following week a fullpage advertisement in regard to a certain manufacture appeared in the Bulletin, and the next issue of the Lone Hand contained an apology to the honorable member for Mernda ! Recognising that the Bulletin is susceptible to such influences, I have no doubt it will yet discover that Canberra is a place in which this Parliament .may fitly transact its business.
– Does the honorable member suggest that a couple of full-page advertisements would suffice to alter the opinion of the Bulletin upon this question?
– I do not know what interest the Bulletin has in it from an opposition stand-point. But if it be merely actuated by the same high principles which actuated it when it attacked the Tobacco Trust, I dare say that no more inducement would be required to change its opinion upon this question than was required to change it upon that occasion. I was mistaken in saying that the full-page advertisement to which I have referred appeared only for one week. I think it appeared weekly for a considerable time.
– We have heard the honorable member upon the Bulletin. It would be interesting to hear the Bulletin upon the honorable member.
– The Bulletin upon me is always interesting. About a month ago it devoted four inches of space to me, and within, that brief compass there were no less than seventeen easily proven lies. I am proud of that circumstance. I thought of getting the paragraph framed.
– I must ask the honorable member to discuss the question that is before the Chair.
– Beyond the fact that the article to which I have alluded contained a number of lies, I admit that I cannot connect it with any statement which the Bulletin has made in regard to Canberra. I trust that no real friend of the Bill will support any amendment which may be submitted in favour of taking a referendum upon this question. All such proposals are submitted only for one purpose - that of delaying its settlement. I commend the authors of such amendments - those ardent advocates of Democracy - to the plutocrat’s who sit behind the editorial chairs of the two Melbourne morning newspapers. The latter will, doubtless, recognise their valuable services, and will do their best to make the simple-minded Democrats in their electorates realize their virtues at the coming elections.
.- I wish to direct attention to the change which has come over certain honorable members within the past two hours. When the hon:orable member for Batman submitted his amendment he was deeply concerned that the electors should be afforded an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon this question. He not only made one speech upon it, but subsequently he ingeniously endeavoured to twist the arguments which had been advanced by honorable members who are opposed to it. But in the meantime the honorable member for West Sydney had suggested that he would like to make an addition to that amendment. Thereupon the honorable member for Batman - realizing that the Committee did not favour his proposal - rose to the bait as quickly as a shark rises to a piece of pork. He is a very cunning gentleman. He is not concerned with whether or not the Constitution should be amended so as to permit ot the Federal Capital being established anywhere in New South Wales. All that he desires is delay. Consequently he asks himself : “ Why should I not accept the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney ? By doing so I may get Labour support, and I shall certainly succeed in placing some New South Wales representatives in a most embarrassing position.” But in so doing I am satisfied that he will defeat the end which he has in view. The honorable member for West Sydney merely desires that a referendum upon the desirableness or otherwise of amending the Constitution shall be taken at the coming election, so as to permit of Sydney being made the Federal Capital. But is the honorable member for Batman favorable to the establishment of the Seat of Government in Sydney? Certainly the honorable member for West Sydney is, because he made that statement in his opening remarks. He declared that Canberra was not the brightest spot in New South Wales. My complaint is that an embarrassment of riches is to be found there.
– Why not make Sydney the Federal Capital?
– I can imagine the honorable member for Corio bursting his boiler to get to Sydney. Would he vote for establishing the Seat of Government at Sydney ?
– I would vote for Sydney in preference to Canberra.
– The political lives of the honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Batman would not be worth a moment’s- purchase if they voted in favour of establishing the Federal Capital in Sydney. Nevertheless the people of Victoria merely desire that the .Seat of Government .shall be located in the best place in New South Wales. The love and trust of the people which was evidenced by the honorable member for Batman lasted for only three-quarters of an hour, because he now declares that he is willing to accept the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney. Is it reasonable to think that we should be able, in practically the dying hours of the session, to pass a Sill through this Parliament providing for an amendment .of the Constitution “with .regard to this question ? If honorable .members believe that Yass-Canberra is not a good site for the Capital, they should vote against it, and not resort to a subterfuge to .secure its defeat. It is degrading for an honorable member to cry, “Let us trust the people; let us have a referendum,” and within three-quarters of an hour to support .an amendment providing for an amendment of the Constitution. The honorable member for Batman is acting either as a shrewd second-hand dealer or with a true sense of his responsibility as a parliamentarian. He is seeking now to .use another weapon to achieve his object. Finding that the numbers are against his proposal, he now desires to make use of the proposition put forward by the honorable member for West Sydney, who, to my way of thinking, has been too open. His amendment would throw over New South Wales, although his idea is no doubt that Sydney should be the Capital of the Commonwealth. I .agree with him that it should. But how would such a proposition be received in the other States’? The press have a right to try to mould public opinion, just as public men endeavour to do so, and the editor of a Melbourne daily newspaper is no better and no worse than is the editor of a Sydney daily newspaper. Each is fighting for his own hand, and for what he thinks is popular in his own State. The press of Melbourne probably think that they are voicing the public thought of Victoria, and the Sydney daily newspapers probably believe that they are moulding, directing, or properly gauging the public opinion of New South Wales. I have no quarrel with them ; but if I had my choice, Sydney would certainly be the Federal Capital. I believe that the majority of the people >of Melbourne, when they found that the Capital, could root be established- in. their own State, would vote for the selection of Sydney. The Constitution, however, stands in the way of its selection, and, after a struggle .extending over hine years, we are endeavouring to secure a final settlement of this question. I cannot understand the Ministry -accepting such a proposal as his, and I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will strongly oppose it. The honorable member for West Sydney has raised the popular cry of “ Sydney. ‘r But Sydney is not now in the balance ; the question is whether or not w; are to reach finality. If Yass-Canberra is an undesirable site, then honorable members should vote against the ‘Bill. If the Ministry think that the selection of that site would be detrimental to the best interests of Australia, they ought not to hesitate to oppose it. If in their inner consciousness they felt that they could not support the selection of thissite, they should not have put this Bill before Parliament in pursuance of a mere political arrangement. .1 accept the decision of the Parliament, although I voted! for Armidale, -which is further from .Sydney than, any other site that has beer selected. My electorate is a suburb of Sydney, but I voted for Armidale, believing that the trend of population was northwards; and that fifty years hence Armidale would practically be the centre of population in Australia. I was, however, outvoted. This Bill has just come down from another place, and the honorable member for Batman, after proposing a referendumto determine the question, suddenly acceptsa further proposition for an amendment of the Constitution. He is “ playing the game.” Does he think we are such foolsas to be unable to recognise that fact? The honorable member for Batman has never visited any of the suggested sites, and I ask him to say whether he would accept Sydney as the Federal Capital? I pause for a reply ; but he dare not answer ; he dare not say that he would vote for Sydney as the Federal Capital. He now desires to make shuttlecocks of honorable members. Whilst he has a right to express his own views, he must not expect to be free from criticism.v The honorable member took me to task for urging that his proposed referendum would involve considerable expense. When I made that statement, I was referring to the cost, -not of printing the ballot-papers, but of conveying the electors to the several sites to- enable them to arrive at an honest decision. Unless they made an inspection of each, they could not do so. The’ honorable member for Batman’s proposal is one, not to trust, but to fool, the people. I regret that the honorable member for West Sydney has been made use of ; his amendment would’ simply mean delay. The honorable member for” Maranoa said that he would support any proposal that would delay the settlement of this question, but, as an Australian citizen, as it member for a New South Wales constituency, and as a representative of »the people in the National Parliament, I appeal to honorable members to say whether New South Wales has had fair play. If Yass-Canberra has nothing to recommend it, then New South Wales is not so small and. mean as to be unable to exist unless that site is selected. She does not appeal’ to this Parliament as a mendicant, saying, “If we do not have the Capital, we shall be: ruined.” Surely if Sydney, or Melbourne^ or both cities, are progressing by leaps and bounds, it should be a source of gratification to every Australian. I refuse to allow it to b« said that New South Wales will be injured by not getting the “Capital. I do not desire that any one shall vote for the settlement of this question as an act of grace to New South Wales. I ask only that honorable members shall act honestly and straightforwardly. The Constitution provides that the Parliament shall meet in Melbourne until the Seat of Government has been determined. Surely nine years is a sufficiently long, period to wait for a determination? The Canberra site is the only one which, has. commanded the support pf a majority. No doubt it would suit the honorable member for Batman were I to press the claims’ of Armidale, while other honorable members suggested1 other sites. He would be glad’ to see us fighting and wrangling. He- knows, too, that the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney will cause still’ further delay.
– It is not right to say that.
– If the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney be carried, an amendment of the- Constitution must precede the determination of- the Capital site question.
– Quite so-.
– That is an honest admission. The honorable- member claims that next Parliament should have an opportunity to deal with this matter. No doubt he would later suggest that the Parliament following it should have a like opportunity, and so on for ever. This game has been played already in three Parliaments, it being stated each time that, new members having been elected, they should be given an opportunity to visit the sites, and express their opinions upon them. I would rather honorable members say that they are opposed to settling the question, wishing to stay in Melbourne, than that they should put forward these diabolical subterfuges. If the honorable member for Batman, and other “Victorian representatives, would say that they are determined that Parliament shall not be removed from Melbourne, I should be prepared to meet them. I have always opposed the referring of complicated questions to the people. Honorable members who advocate the referendum and the press writers who support it know that it is impossible to get a clear expression of the people’s opinion on a subject like this. All newspaper writers use the weapons of cajolery and deception. I am not concerned with the view taken by the Bulletin, or with that taken by the Daily Telegraph,. Sydney Morning Herald, or Melbourne Argus. Surely a man can make up his own mind without coming under the cover of a newspaper.
– Who has done’ so?
– Several honorable members. As the honorable member for Maranoa has said, it is hypocritical for honorable members to declare in favour of a referendum by way of securing delay. Let us have a straight out vote. I trust that both amendments will be defeated. The honorable member for’ West Sydney knows that the Committee is not in favour of his. amendment, although Sydney is preeminently the site for a Federal Capital.
.- The honorable member for Batman desires that the measure shall not come into operation until a referendum has been taken as to the most suitable site for a capital, while the honorable member for West Sydney desires an amendment of the Constitution which will enable the people to choose any part of New South Wales as a suitable site, thus widening their scope of choice. Had the amendment of the honorable member for Batman been carried, the one hundred, mile limit would stilt apply’.
House adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091102_reps_3_53/>.