3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the refusal of the Newcastle Coal Combine to meet the miners in open conference, and the fact that the existing strike is prejudicial to Inter-State trade and commerce, causing disastrous unemployment, depreciating the value of property and increasing the cost of living, will the Govemment during the present session introduce the legislation necessary to bring all industrial disputes under Commonwealth jurisdiction, thus enabling them to operate industries during the continuance of strikes?
– It is rather late in the session to propose an amendment of the Constitution in the direction suggested. I do not think there would be time to deal with the present strike, even if such an amendment were made. The Government is following very carefully what occurs at Newcastle, with a view to ascertaining if the Federal sphere is touched at any point.
– The Treasurer has given notice of his intention to move for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the definition of the word “income” in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. Does he intend, or will he agree, to propose also an alteration of the law respecting property ?
– The only purpose of the Bill is to define “ income,” so as to exempt payments from the Miners Accident Fund of New South Wales. The measure is being introduced to fulfil the promise made some time ago that these payments should be put on the same footing as those of friendly and provident societies. We have not time to consider any further amendment of the law this session. It is only by arrangement with honorable members that it has been possible to have this Bill brought forward.
– With further reference to the press reports, to which I have previously called the attentionof the AttorneyGeneral, as to the alleged refusal of the Newcastle Coal Vend to supply certain ships with coal cargoes, is the honorable gentleman in a position to say what steps have been taken to ascertain whether the Vend is a combination in restraint of trade within the meaning of Part II. of the Australian Industries Preservation Act ?
– Such answers as have been received to the questions put by the Comptroller-General of Customs to twentyseven of the firms and persons alleged to be connected, either directly or indirectly, with the Combine, have been sent to me, so that I may advise whether a prosecution should be instituted. I began an examina-. tion of the answers yesterday, and intend to apply any leisureI may have to the continuation and completion of the task.
– Will the honorable gentleman be able to give an opinion before Parliament is prorogued?
– I hope so.
– There is a sort of angelic whisper in circulation to the effect that the session will end on the 3rd December. I should like to know whether these glad tidings are true.
– I hope so.
Defective Cartridges- Officers : Australian Navy
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that statements continue to be made in theWestem Australian press to the effect that the inquest concerning the death of the cadet who was killed at Karrakatta by the explosion of a cartridge in hisrifle was not satisfactory,so far as the question of defective cartridges is concerned. Has he seen the following statements : -
I Lieutenant James Woods, a teacher at the Claremont Central School deposed that he had known cases in which cartridges had jammed in the cadet rifles, so that they could not be forced in, and had himself used a ramrod to get a full cartridge out.
Lieutenant Jennings also stated that cartridges varied in size, and it sometimes happened that a boy was unable to get them into the gun.
Another old rifle shot of forty years standing is also in a position to tell how, not once, but dozens of times, he has been asked by cadets to ram out jammed and unexploded cartridges from their guns, and is able to state how on one occasion when he was performing this ticklish operation the cartridge exploded and sent the ramrod and bullet flying through his hand. And there is a gunsmith, long established in his business in Perth, who can testify to the number of times that rifles with jammed cartridges have been brought to him by cadets, and what he has done with them.
In view of these and similar statements, does the honorable gentleman intend to institute a searching inquiry, to ascertain why the cartridges are served out, and where they come from?
– A searching departmental inquiry concerning the ammunition used, and all the circumstances of the case, is now in progress.
– Will the Minister see that all possible witnesses are examined? Departmental officers have burked investigations of this kind before now.
– I do not see that any officercan have a motive for burking this investigation. Should the ammunition be defective, that would not necessarily reflect on the Western Australian Commandant, or any other officer in the State, because there may have been an unusual defect. We are now endeavouring to ascertain whether that is so. .
– Would it be the first of the kind ?
– Not by a good many. But whenwe have done our best, there still remains the element of human error.
– And much more than that.
– The fullest and strictest inquiry will be made concerning the ammunition supplied, and the control of the cadets v ho were firing when the accident occurred. Apparently, the poor boy who was killed, when he foundthat his cartridge had stuck, handed his rifle, as he should have done, to his sergeant, who should have passed it on to the officer in charge. Instead of doing so, he returned it to the cadet.
– I wish to elicit information regarding a matter of some consequence to a considerable number of persons. I ask the Minister of Defence whether preference will be given, in making appointments to the Australian Navy, to officers of the Imperial Navy who have married Australian women, and whose children, where there are any, are Australians. I have, been asked to obtain this information, and
I hope that the Minister of Defence, if he has not yet come to a decision in the matter, will give it careful consideration.
– I shall be glad to consult my honorable friend on all matters relating to the ladies, though I am afraid that I shall have to be hard-hearted enough to rule out of court such considerations as he has suggested. Of course, where officers who have married Australian women are the best available, I shall be delighted to give them appointments.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General whether he is aware that, during the last five years, fortyone children under the age of fourteen years have been killed by the careless use of pea rifles, and if this Parliament can prevent children from using these dangerous weapons?
– I do not think that it would be within the power of Parliament to do what the honorable member suggests, or that we can legislate regarding the use of rifles, except for military purposes. The matter is one which requires consideration.
Telephone Services- Working Hours of Postmasters
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The matter is one which comes under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, who has furnished the following replies : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I am able to say that that is a fact.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amendthe definition of the word “ income “ in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908.
The only object of the Bill is to explain the definition of “income.” Under the principal Act that word does not include “ any payment by way of benefit from any friendly society registered under any Act or State Act,” nor does it include any payment made “ during illness, infirmity, or old age by any trade union, provident society, or other society or association.” It was thought by many persons that the words “other society or association “ would cover other associations, especially the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund in New South Wales, which is maintained by contributions from the men, the Government, and the proprietors. But a ruling of the Attorney-General has been given to the effect that the words do not admit of an exemption to payments from that association, and a hardship is said to have arisen, especially in Newcastle. Some time ago a promise was made by me to the honorable member for Newcastle that I would see whether something could not be done, and, as the result of my inquiries, I now ask leave to indroduce a Bill for the one purpose only, and that is to place the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund of New South Wales in exactly the same position as trade unions, provident societies, or other societies or associations of that kind : and to place payments from the fund in the same position as payments from a registered benefit or friendly society. From the Treasury point of view this is not a very important matter, but, of course, that does not make it any- the less important to those whose pensions have been reduced in consequence of the payments from the relief fund having been reckoned as income.I believe that at present only three persons are involved, and that their pensions are affected to the extent of ,£13 each. If the Bill is passed, those persons, and, of course, others later on, will not be subjected to a deduction of .£13 a year. I have already explained that it would have been impossible for me to introduce the Bill, except by an arrangement with honorable members generally that no unreasonable time would be taken up in discussing what every one agrees is equitable, so long as the law remains as it is.
– Does the honorable gentleman propose to deal with the question of deductions in respect to property ?
– No. I do not intend to do more than ask the House to provide that payments to old-age pensioners from the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund in New South Wales shall not be considered as income in reckoning the amounts of oldage pensions.
– The honorable gentleman does not confine the provision to the New South Wales fund?
– Yes, I do. I am informed that there is no other fund of the Rind in existence in the Commonwealth.
– What about the Miners’ Sustentation Fund in Victoria ?
– That is all that I have undertaken to do, and all that I can do at present. Honorable members are aware that I have had a good deal of trouble in getting time to deal with this question.
– I shall offer no objection to the motion. I have been fortunate enough to see a draft of the Bill, which, I may mention, bears out the statement of the Treasurer, that the Government only purpose to amend the Act by inserting after paragraph b of section 4 the words - “ By way of allowance to the Miners Relief Act 1900 of the State of New South Wales.” This is a mere technical alteration, the object of which is to enable persons who are receiving assistance under the State Act referred to to obtain the full pension if otherwise they are entitled thereto. I am sorry that the Treasurer has not seen fit to remove a number of other anomalies, which are obvious to any one.
– There will be other opportunities.
– There may be other opportunities. If the Government have made up their minds not to deal with those anomalies at present, of course, it would be of no use for us to press the point. In the meantime, however, if the Treasurer desires it, we are bound to grant relief to this particular body, and await an opportunity when either this or another Government may be willing to remove the anomalies. Of late, the administration of the Act has been very faulty in some respects, as I think the Treasurer knows. In Maryborough, in my electorate, claims are accumulating Indeed, hardly a claim has been dealt with by the Commonwealth. I am sorry to say that that is the position, and I hope that the right honorable gentleman will call for inquiry. So far as I can assist him to get the Bill through all its stages without debate, I shall do so.
.- I feel perfectly certain that no honorable member will offer the slightest objection to the motion.
– The order of leave will limit the Bill to entirely one purpose.
– I know that. I regret that the Treasurer has not included an elastic provision in regard to the definition of property. A few days ago, I brought under his notice a claim which had been made for an old-age pension in Queensland, where property to the value °f £3° had been assessed. I do not think that when the Act was under consideration here it was intended that so narrow a limitation should be adopted. The right honorable gentleman says that he cannot, and will not, extend the limitation.
– I cannot.
– As I cannot find any provision in the principal Act to justify the interpretation which Has been adopted by his officers, I ask the right honorable gentleman if he cannot, by means of a regulation, make the limit higher than £30, which is very small indeed? If it were increased to £$°, that would make matters much easier.
– Sympathetic administration is what is wanted.
– I claim that a more elastic interpretation of “ property” should be given, because I feel quite certain that no one ever contemplated that such a narrow limit as £30 would be adopted. Since the Minister declines to deal with the matter in the proposed Bill, can he not give the necessary relief by means of a regulation ?
– I do not know, but I shall be very glad to look into the matter.
– I hope that the right honorable gentleman will do whatever can be done to make things easier for the old people.
– Seeing that the Minister has found it necessary to secure an amendment of the Act, I regret to find that he has not thought fit to ask for greater powers, so as to allow hospitals and other public institutions to receive the amount payable to a pensioner while he is an inmate seeking nursing and other personal relief. I hope the right honorable gentleman can see his way to make that concession to benevolent institutions, which are all supported by public subscription. It would really be an assistance to the invalids if they were permitted to pass on their pensions to the institutions. The payment of ah old-age pension is stopped when the pensioner becomes ill, but I do not think that that was contemplated by the Parliament. Again I ask the Minister whether in this Bill he will not take power to grant to hospitals and other benevolent institutions the opportunity of collecting the pensions payable to pensioners when they get too ill to remain outside.
– I cannot do that now. It has been considered, but it is a big question.
– Has the right honorable gentleman the power, through the Governor-General in Council, to make a direction, so that in such cases the pensions shall be payable to the institutions?
– Not unless the patients are committed by a magistrate to the places.
– If a pensioner is committed by a magistrate to an institution of this kind, the pension is reduced possibly from10s. to 5s. a week.
– No, we give 7s. and 8s.
– The other day I saw a circular letter from the Department, in which it was stated that 5s. a week would be paid. If a person, who is deemed to be entitled to a pension of10s. a week, becomes ill, and has to go into a charitable institution for attention, his pension ceases, and the institution is not paid more than 5s. per week on his account.
– I know that we are paying 7s. for ordinary cases, and 8s. for hospital cases.
– I regret that power has not been taken to remedy the defect to which I have called attention. At present, there is a tax on benevolent institutions, and the pensioners feel that they are the recipients of charity, although the whole idea in passing the Old-age Pensions Act was to prevent anything in the nature of pauperism.
.- I understand that this Bill applies only to New South Wales; but I point out that there are other similar associations throughout Australia.
– They are provided for in the Act.
– Do I understand that a voluntary association, which does not receive any special subsidy from the Government, is exempt, and that its members are entitled to the full pension? If that be so, I have nothing further to say.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey) [11.33).- The Act, as it stands, penalizes the thrifty, and those who have received the most benefit under it are persons who have never done any good for themselves. Poor old people,’ who, after the struggle of a lifetime, have managed to secure a roof, have the value of their dwelling deducted from the pension. The valuations are based on the local valuations for rating purposes; and we have to remember that there is often a high valuation with a low rate, so that the injustice is intensified. Only yesterday, I had a case before me in which a dwelling was valued at £400, though I venture to say that, if the property were put into the market tomorrow, it would not fetch £200. Then, again, the value of the little bit of furniture which an old person may have gathered together is also considered in the fixing of the pension ; and I regret that time will not permit of a review of the whole of the provisions of the Act, with a view to removing a large number of anomalies.
– I congratulate the Treasurer on the introduction of this measure, which will relieve a growing, if not a large, section of very deserving people of disabilities they at present suffer. The Miners’ Accident Fund is largely in the nature of a friendly societies arrangement, and, to some extent, is an insurance fund. The difficulty arose owing to the fact that the fund is subsidized to some extent by the State Government; and the object of the Bill is to place this fund amongst the exemptions under the Act. The members of the fund will then enjoy the benefits extended to members of other similar funds which are’ not subsidized by the Government. For my part, I’ think it would be a good idea to encourage the State Governments to subsidize friendly societies and accident funds of this nature, because that would encourage the thrifty and industrious to help themselves. The Bill ought not to be limited in its operation to New South Wales, but should apply throughout the Commonwealth, so as to meet cases which may arise in other States. I am prepared to do all I can to assist in passing this Bill ; and I regret that the time at the disposal of Parliament is .so limited as to make it impossible to deal more extensively with the principal Act.
– We have had one Bill before us already.
– And I was then hoping that more liberal provisions would be introduced. There are great anomalies under the present Act which give rise to injustice in connexion with the assessment of properties, and- they call for speedy treatment.
.- I hope the Treasurer will agree to eliminate the words which limit the operation of the Bill to New South Wales. I do not think that, as the Federal Parliament, we should legislate for particular States. Similar societies may be founded in other States; and, unless the Bill is made generally applicable, the members of such societies will be excluded from the full benefits of the old-age pensions system. . I think the Department has administered the Act in a very liberal way so far; and we have to remember that the machinery is new, and may, as yet, not work altogether smoothly.
.- I, too, congratulate the Treasurer on the introduction of this Bill, which I am pleased to see goes so far as it does.
– I am sure the Minister must be pleased to receive the congratulations of the honorable member !
– The honorable member will not be here after the elections to receive any congratulations. The fact of such measure being necessary emphasizes what I have already said on several occasions, namely, that no old-age pensions scheme will be satisfactory until it is made universal. Whatever Ministry may be in power after the elections, I hope to see some scheme presented for pensions which shall include every member of the community. From some interjections made by the Minister of Defence when he was Leader of the Opposition, I take it that he is in favour of this idea. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman has abandoned every principle that he entertained when in Opposition ; but, when I . was speaking and pointing out that such a scheme would involve considerable expenditure, he interjected that the money would still be in the country. This, and some other interjections, led us to suppose that he was in favour of universal pensions. Then, the honorable member for Robertson has said, and I think quite rightly, that the genteel poor, who silently suffer, now pay towards a system, while their independent spirit will not permit them to accept a pension as a public charity. I think that that statement by the honorable member for Robertson was quite correct. I trust that the next Parliament will be able to carry a measure providing that oldage pensions shall apply universally.
.- I also am glad that an opportunity is afforded to the House to remedy some difficulties which have been experienced in the working of the Old-age Pensions Act. I notice that the order of leave permits the House to alter the definition of the word “ income.” But I think that we ought to go further than the Government propose. I should like to bring two cases under the Treasurer’s notice. One is that of an old woman who was making a living by letting rooms. She is qualified by age and residence to receive a pension. But she grew too feeble to continue to attend to the rooms she was letting. Consequently, she became destitute. She applied for an oldage pension. The Department calculated the amount she had been able to earn in previous months, and based their decision on that amount ; although at the time of her application she was absolutely without means. Another case is that of an old man who had been earning his living, and who .was qualified for the pension in every way. He broke his leg. He was then unable to provide for himself. He was destitute. But because he had been able to earn his living for the previous year, the Department wanted to prevent him from getting the pension. I admit that these are matters of administration, but if the law is to be administered so unsympathetically, I can see no alternative but to insert a clause in this Bill which will prevent the Department acting in such a way.
– Then the honorable member will lose the Bill. He can mention all these things on the adjournment.
– Will the Treasurer contend that it is a fair thing that such cases as I have mentioned should be treated in such a way?
– We cannot deal with them in this Bill.
– Will the Treasurer say that although a man is destitute at the time of applying for a pension, he should be deprived of it because he was able to earn a certain amount in the previous twelve months?
– He can make representations, and then there will be an inquiry.
– These cases have been represented to the Department. Surely something should be done to bring about the administration of the Act in a more humane fashion. The responsibility rests upon us to insert a clause which will prevent such administration.
– The Minister has the whip hand.
– I shall have to adjourn the debate if the matter is delayed.
– If the Minister would make a statement it would be satisfactory.
– The matter has nothing to do with this Bill.
– The Bill proposes to amend the definition of “ income,” and the injustices of which I am complaining have arisen under the definition of the word “ income” in the existing Act.
– This Bill will not affect such cases.
– I think it will. We can define the word “ income” so as to remedy the injustices that have occurred.
– The honorable member can bring the matter up in Committee, and destroy the Bill if he likes.
– I do not think that the Treasurer should say a thing like that. I do not wish to cause him any annoyance. I recognise that he has gone out of his way to help the honorable member for Newcastle in this matter.
– I had difficulty in securing time to bring on this Bill, and now the honorable member is blocking it.
– We all individually owe responsibility to the electors.
– The honorable member and his party should help me to get the Bill through.
– I recognise that the Minister has the whip hand, but I think he ought to make a statement regarding the cases I have mentioned. If he did, he would probably be able to satisfy us for the time being.
– Such cases are arising every day.
– It is because they are arising every day that we are compelled to take advantage of any opportunity of seeking to prevent their recurrence. I hope that the Treasurer will agree to such an extension of the definition of the word “ income” as will meet such cases, or else will make a statement enabling us to understand that in the administration of the law such instances of hardship shall not recur.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest), by leave. proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- This seems to be a favorable opportunity for the Government to disclose their intentions in regard to invalid pensions. It was understood that the section of the Act enabling payments to be made to invalids would be proclaimed and brought into force at the earliest possible moment. The assumption at present is, however, that there are not sufficient funds to meet the payment of invalid pensions., The Treasurer is well aware that there is a great necessity for the part of the Act referred to being brought into operation.
– That question might as well be asked in Committee.
– I want to impress on the Government that an invalid pension is often more necessarythan an old-age pension. The old people seldom have parental responsibility, the family having grown up; but an invalid may have little children dependent on him. A man in the prime of life contracts miner’s complaint, and his family loses the breadwinner. The plight of such a man is even sadder than that of an old-age pensioner. I understand that the Government propose to borrow a certain sum of money for defence purposes. If that be the case, the Treasurer will be able to make more generous provision for old-age and invalid pensions. I really think that we ought to hear something from the right honorable gentleman as to the time when the Government propose to bring into force the invalid pensions section of the Act.
– The honorable member is taking up a lot of time. I was promised by his party that this Bill would not take five minutes. Surely he might ask his questions at some other time.
– This is the proper time and place.
– I have not authority to devote much time to this Bill.
– If that be so, I shall do nothing to delay the passage of this Bill, but the Treasurer should afford the information for which I ask as soon as possible.
.- This Bill has my most hearty support. But I am somewhat surprised that honorable members opposite, representing the views that they profess, should endeavour to delay the measure.
– What a piece of impertinence on the honorable member’s part !
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must not address another honorable member in that fashion.
– The honorable member ought to select his language.
– Did not the honorable member for Melbourne Ports hear the insult hurled at the honorable member for Hunter by one of his own party lately?
– Order !
– I am absolutely surprised that honorable members sitting on the Opposition side of the House, who professedly represent those in the community who are particularly interested in the passage of this Bill, should see fit to delay it in the way they have done. That is all I have to say.
– I had not intended to speak, but, after the manner in which the honorable member for Hunter has been playing to the gallery, I am going to say a few words.
– I must request you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark that I have been “playing to the gallery.”
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw it; but. in justice to honorable members who have addressed themselves to this subject, I think it right to say that the honorable member for Hunter had no. ground for charging us with anything unfair.
– The honorable member for Hunter never gets up to speak but he is insulted from the Opposition side.
– Did he not interject on me first?
– No ; he did not.
– A man who will tell an untruth like that will say anything.
– Order ! I have called “ Order “ several times while interjections were being made. It is usually when interjections are being hurled across the chamber that the most disorderly expressions are used. I again ask honorable members to refrain from interjecting; and I also ask the honorable member for Barrier to withdraw the statement that a remark made by the Minister of Defence was “ untrue.”
– I will withdraw it, sir; but I ask the Minister to tell the truth.
– Order !
– I say, again, that the honorable member for Hunter did interject on me. I ask him whether he did not?’ The Minister of Defence says that he did not. I say that he did. I appeal to the honorable member for Hunter himself.
– It is an oldestablished practice that when the Speaker rises the honorable member who is on his feet shall resume his seat. The honorable member for Barrier should observe that rule. If anything has been said by the Minister of Defence that the honorable member regards as offensive to him, I am sure that the Minister will withdraw it But I should like to know what it is.
– It was not offensive, and I do not care whether he withdraws it or not. What he said was not true. That is all.
– I did not sayanything offensive to the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Barrier must withdraw the statement that something said by the Minister of Defence was “ not true.”
– Well, it was not true. What am I to say? I ask the honorable member for Hunter, himself, whether my statement is not correct ?
– The only thing that concerns me is the statement of the honorable member for Barrier, that the Minister of Defence said something that was “ not true “ - an expression not permitted in this House.
– Well, then, the Minister’s remark was not “ untrue,” but it was a mendacious statement.
– I ask, sir, that that statement shall be withdrawn.
– It is not unparliamentary.
-I trust that the honorable member for Barrier will observe the usual course, and leave the Chair to decide what is or is not unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw the statement which he has just made that something said by the Minister of Defence was a “ mendacious “ statement.
– I say that that remark is not unparliamentary, because Sir William Harcourt used it in the House of Commons, and he was not asked to withdraw it.
– I ask the honorable member, who has made a statement which I consider to be unparliamentary, if he will be good enough to withdraw it.
– The Speaker of the House of Commons did not think it unparliamentary. I do not see why you should.
– Do I understand that the honorable member declines to follow the direction of the Chair ?
– I will withdraw anything that you want me to withdraw.
– I should like to make a personal explanation. I believe this little trouble has arisen through an interjection of mine, for which I am sorry. I understand that when the honorable member was congratulating the Minister in charge of the Bill, the honorable member for Hunter did say very pleasantly that he thought the Minister should be glad to receive those congratulations.
– The Minister is now proceeding to explain something said by the honorable member for Hunter. He is entitled to make a personal explanation only about anything which he himself has said.
– Therefore, when the honorable member for Barrier said just now that the honorable member for Hunter had interrupted him during his speech, I said that was not so. I did not regard a pleasant interjection of the kind as an interruption.
– Pleasant interjection ! Tell the truth if you can.
– It was pleasant, and, in my opinion, sincere.
– If the honorable member believes that, he will believe anything that suits him.
– The honorable member for Hunter really said that anybody who spoke on this Bill was opposing something that was beneficial. He hadno right to make such a remark. All I wish to say is that similar funds to the New South Wales fund mentioned in paragraph b of clause 2 may be instituted in other States, and, in fairness, the Bill should be made wide enough to cover them. Cannot the Minister meet me on that point?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The definition of the word “ Income “ in section four of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908 is amended -
by adding to paragraph (b) thereof at the end of that paragraph the word “or,” and
by inserting after paragraph (4) the following paragraph : - ” (c) By way of allowance under the Miners Accident Relief Act 1900 of the State of New South Wales.”
– I do not like this limited legislation. I admit that it applies to a peculiar state of affairs in New South Wales, which does not obtain, so far as I know, in any other State, but it is a good and sound principle to encourage other State Governments to subsidize funds of this character. Cannot the Treasurer agree to add to new para-, graph c the words “ or any similar Act that may hereafter 6e enacted in any State of the Commonwealth “ ? That will obviate the necessity of introducing similar amending Bills in subsequent sessions.
– The honorable member should not overload the Bill, or he will lose what he wants to get.
– I do not want to do so, but I wish to be fair and just to the other States, so that, if they subsidize similar funds in the future, those funds will come automatically under the operation of our legislation. If the Minister cannot see his way to accept the amendment, I shall not press it.
– I cannot accept it.
– Then that ends the matter, but the Government ought to give it consideration.
. -The Miners Accident Relief Act 1900 of the State of New South Wales was amended in 1901 and 1904. Some persons are now getting assistance under the Act of 1901. Would it not, therefore, be wise to add the words “ and Acts amending the same “ ?
– I do not think that what the honorable member suggests is necessary, because all the Acts in New South Wales that amend the principal Act are automatically incorporated with it. I remember reading both Acts, and believe the second amended the first only on the one point of varying the allowance, and also £Re proportion in which the State contributed to the fund. With regard to what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the. honorable member for Calare have said, as a matter of fact, there are no similar bodies in other States which it is necessary to bring under this provision. If we included more in the Bill than was actually promised, I do not know where we should stop.
– The Treasurer knows that the anomaly to be remedied by this Bill is 1 ot the only one. Another amendment could easily be incorporated regarding deductions for furniture. It seems paltry to make a deduction from the pension because an applicant has furniture worth £5 or £10, or even up to £50. I know that under the present Act it is regarded as necessary, but it was never the intention of Parliament.
.– The Treasurer was good enough to invite me to submit a small amendment in Committee.
– I am very much against the honorable member doing so.
– I move-
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ a. By adding after the word ‘ Commonwealth,’ in line 21, the words ‘ within one month of the date of application.’ “
That would mean that “income” should be that of which the applicant was in re ceipt at the time of applying for a pension. It would make the definition of income read - “ Income “ means any moneys, valuable consideration, or profits earned, derived, or received by any person . . . from any source whatever, whether in or out of the Commonwealth, within one month of the date of application.
– How could i hat be found out?
– In the same way as the income is found out now. It is merely altering it.
– This Bill is for a special purpose, and, if honorable members do not want it, I cannot help it. I cannot agree to any amendment.
– These points were not foreseen when the Act was passed, but, of course, if the amendment is negatived, I shall have to accept the decision of the Committee with a good grace. The Department takes into consideration the income which a claimant earned during the previous twelve months. . That is not fair, because at the time the claim is made, the claimant may be utterly destitute.
– Could not the matter be dealt with by administration?
– These cases occur, and it is our duty, in the interests of our constituents to seek a remedy for them. I ask the Committee to agree to my amendment, which merely means that if a person is destitute within one month of the date on which he makes his application for an old-age pension, that shall be considered in applying to his case the definition of the word “ income.”
– I am sorry the honorable member for Cook should try to amend this Bill, because he knows very well that it. was introduced, in accordance with a promise, to meet only a special case.
– I did not know that.
– There may be some honorable members who might not care to vote against his amendment, and they are placed in a difficulty by his action. The honorable member is not treating honorable members quite fairly. Many instances have occurred in which the incomes of applicants for old-age pen-, sions, at the time they made their applications, have been afterwards lost by them, and in many such cases the magistrates have been asked to re-investigate them, and make a fresh recommendation. The acceptance of this amendment would not do any more than is already being done in the administration of the existing Act. I am unable to accept the amendment because I do not wish to include in this Bill any more than I promised. It was introduced as I have said, to meet the special case of persons affected by a New South Wales Act. If I had not been able to assure the Prime Minister that it would not take five minutes to deal with it, he could not have given me the opportunity to bring it forward this morning. There are other provisions of the existing law which it might be well to amend, and other opportunities will no doubt occur which will afford the honorable member for Cook to do what he desires. I ask honorable members opposite to accept the Bill as introduced, and so enable me to carry out my promise, and at the same time not place me in a position of difficulty.
.- What the Treasurer has said is quite correct, but the honorable gentleman might have suggested that the consideration of the measure would occupy more than five minutes. We might very well devote an hour to its consideration.
– It deals with a very simple matter.
– I quite agree that it does. The Government, through the Treasurer, have said that they cannot agree to any extension of the provisions of this Bill, and I agree that it was understood that when this matter was brought forward, there should be no attempt to debate the main question. The anomaly referred to by the honorable member tor Cook is one which can be met by administration. A person seventy years of age may be earning his living, and may suddenly break down. Under the strict reading of the Act, he would not be entitled to a pension until nearly twelve months afterwards. That would be grossly unfair, but I understand from the Treasurer that such cases can be dealt with by administration, and we have the right honorable gentleman’s word that they will be dealt with in that way. In the circumstances, I ask the honorable member for Cook not to press his amendment.
.- In view of the request made by the Leader of the Opposition, and because I am informed that the Government would be likely to drop the Bill, and we should not secure the small instalment of reform for which it provides, if I pressed my amendment, I ask leave now to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I do not intend to oppose the Bill, but I should like to say that I think the clause would be improved by the omission of the last line, and by making the second last line read, “ by way of allowance from any Miners’ Accident Relief Fund subsidized by the State Parliaments.” That would meet the difficulty in New South Wales, and would be free from the objection whichI have to the clause as it stands, that it refers to a particular State. I am opposed to the enactment by this Parliament of special legislation affecting any one State, and to references to the legislation of a particular State.
– The honorable member is quite right in what he says, but the Act referred to in the clause is the only one in existence in Australia that affects this matter. .
– I shall not press my suggestion. The Government have the numbers behind them to carry the Bill as it stands, and, for my part, they can have it.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
– By leave, I desire to move -
That Sir William MacGregor, G.C.M.G., C.B., Governor-designate of Queensland, be invited to take a seat on the floor of the House.
.- I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. May I add, from previous knowledge of His Excellency in the administration of New Guinea, that we are glad to welcome our most distinguished visitor on his return to Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for the reconsideration of clause 17, paragraph109A(a), clause 19, paragraph 138 (1), and clause 33, paragraph 4.
In the first place, it is proposed to submit an amendment in accordance with the promise in another place that certain authorized witnesses would be included in the list, in order to meet the convenience of seamen who are away from their electorates at election time. It is proposed to reconsider clause 19 because of the amendment carried by the honorable member for Gippsland. I have seen the honorable member, and he quite realizes that a. mistake was made in inserting his amendment. The honorable member is quite willing that it should be altered. Clause 33 is to be reconsidered merely in order to correct a drafting error ; the word “ alteration “ appearing in the Bill instead of the word “ attestation.”
– I should like to direct the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to the clause providing that a person who disturbs a political meeting, in certain circumstances, may be sent to some place of detention seven miles away from the polling place at which he would ordinarily record his vote, in order that he might be able to take advantage of the postal voting provisions. I suggest that it might be necessary to make some amendment of the clause, because I understand that under the Constitution a prisoner is not allowed to vote.
– Under the Franchise Act of 1902 a person who is sent to gaol for twelve months cannot vote.
– But a person committed to prison for a shorter term could vote?
– Yes. assuming that facilities for his doing so were afforded by his gaolers.
– I shall be satisfied if the honorable gentleman will say that there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent a person sent to gaol for less than twelve months recording his vote.
– That is so.
.- I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and clause 27A.”
My object is to invite the Committee to omit the new clause inserted last Thursday, so amending section 170 of the principal Act as to permit of conveyances being used by a candidate to carry electors to and from the poll.
– If these amendments are to be accepted, I hope it will be on the understanding that we are to come to an issue- at once.
– Yes, the Minister has agreed to this.
– Yesterday a new clause was inserted in the Bill, providing that any person ordered to be imprisoned for creating a disturbance at a political meeting should be imprisoned in a gaol not less than seven miles from the polling booth in respect to which he was enrolled, the object being not to deprive him of his right to exercise the franchise. I would remind the Minister that, although the Bill-‘ILs originally introduced provided that persons having reason to believe that they would not be within seven miles of a polling booth on election day should be entitled to vote ‘by post, that limitation was reduced to five miles. In the circumstances, I think that we ought also to amend in the same way the new clause to which I have alluded. Mr. Fuller. - I intend to have the matter dealt with in another place
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 17 - 109A. The following persons are authorized witnesses within the meaning of this Act : -
– In accordance with the promise given by the representative of the Government in another place to an honorable senator, who takes great interest in the seamen of Australia, I ask the Committee to agree to an amendment of this clause. I move -
That after the word “ States,” line 5, the following words be inserted : - “ all superintendents of mercantile marine and their deputies while permanently employed in the public service of the Commonwealth or of a State.”
This amendment is designed to give seamen full facilities to exercise the franchise.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 19 - 138. (1) In the case of an election for the House of Representatives, an elector shall only be admitted to vote for the election of a member for the division in which he lives and for which he is enrolled. . . .
– I accepted an amendment moved by the honorable member for Gippsland, providing- for the insertion of the words “ in which he lives and” after the word “division.” I have since consulted with the honorable member, who realizes the difficulties that are likely to arise under that amendment. An elector moving from one division to another, under the clause as amended, would have to reside in that division for at least a month, in order to be entitled to vote for the House of Representatives, whereas there would be no such condition imposed upon his recording a vote for the Senate. I therefore move, with the consent of the honorable member for Gippsland -
That the words “ in which he lives and “ be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 33 -
Amendment (by Mr. Fuller) agreed to-
That the word “ alteration “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ attestation.”
Clause 27A -
Section 170 of the Principal. Act is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - “ (vii.) Horse or carriage hire for any voter whilst going to or returning from the poll.”
.- I desire to move the omission of this clause, which was inserted to permit of the use of conveyances by a candidate to convey electors to and from the poll. I do not think that such a provision is desirable, and my object is to restore section 17c of the principal Act to its original form. As the whole matter has been discussed at length on a previous occasion, I shall not debate it at this stage.
– Before the honorable member submits his amendment, I desire to move -
That the word “ sub-section “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu therof the word “ paragraph.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Frazer) proposed -
That clause 27A be left out.
– I accepted the proposal submitted by the honorable number for Barrier the other evening, and cutlined my reasons for so doing. That amendment does not afford Parliamentary candidates an opportunity of adding to the £100 to which their expenditure is limited by law. It simply allows them liberty to spend any portion of that amount which they may deem fit in the hire of vehicles to convey electors to the polling booths.
But, from inquiries since made amongst honorable members, I gather that there is a very strong feeling in favour of the amendment which has been submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and, in a matter of this sort, while I adhere to my position, I think it is hopeless to run counter to what is, apparently, the general wish. I am unable to offer any further argument in opposition to the amendment.
.- I very much regret that the Minister has seen fit to back down so suddenly upon the amendment which he accepted the other evening.
– I do not think that the matter is one of importance.
– Then why does not the honorable gentleman stick to his guns?
– He simply defers to the wish of the majority.
– Apparently, every owner of a motor car who is a candidate for election will be at liberty to employ his chauffeur upon polling day; but the poor cabman will be denied a look in. I did not speak on the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier, because I realized that when the Minister accepted it, its adoption was certain. He accepted it, he said, after very careful consideration.
– But it is of no use fighting against the numbers.
– The Minister won, the other night, by a majority of eight or ten votes, and yet he is now prepared to back down. I trust that those honorable members who supported the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier will refuse to reverse the votes which they cast upon that occasion.
– I do not think that it is fair to the Committee that the Minister should accept a proposal at one moment, and oppose it the next. In the present instance, he approved of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Barrier, but now, mereby because a member of the Opposition has objected to it, he declares that he is quite willing to strike it out. I think that the cabmen are just as much entitled to consideration as are any other persons in the community. In many districts it would be very difficult for electors to get to the polling booths if they were not provided with vehicles. Consequently, it would be better to say, without any qualification, that candidates shall be at liberty to employ them.
.- I am sorry that the Minister of Home Affairs is prepared to change his mind upon this question simply because the numbers are up. But I wonder how he knows that they are up. Has a private canvass been made amongst Ministerialists, who have conveyed to him the information that they intend to vote against the amendment which he accepted the other evening ?
– No Ministerial supporter has spoken to the Minister in reference to it.
– I have not consulted the Minister in regard to my amendment.
– I am only sorry that the honorable member for Wimmera should talk such nonsense. Does Re imagine that no Ministerial supporter has spoken to the Minister of Home Affairs in view of the statement of the latter, that it would be idle to resist the amendment which is now under consideration, because the numbers are up. Obviously, somebody must have conveyed to him the result of a canvass.
– Probably he knew the position from the way in which the proposal the other evening .was received.
– We are not children. Nobody can seriously urge the contention put forward1 by the honorable member. It was unfair of the honorable member for Balaclava to say that the Minister was playing into the hands of the Opposition. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie acted upon his own initiative in this matter. He did not consult the Minister. Of course, we all know that votes are decided in this Chamber by the position which is taken up by the Minister who happens to be in charge of the particular measure occupying our attention. When a division occurs, the bells are rung, and honorable members troop into the chamber, not knowing what is talcing place, and caring less. Last night we witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of a number of honorable members entering the House and taking their seats on the side occupied by the Minister. Then, when he moved to the opposite side of the chamber, they immediately followed him. The Minister of Home Affairs accepted the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier, because he said that it did not interfere with any vital principle of our Electoral Act. It is a. pity that he does not take up the same position now. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava that a candidate should be permitted to spend any portion of the .£100 to which his electoral expenses are limited upon the hire of cabs or other vehicles to convey electors to the polling booths.
.- I regret that the Minister has agreed to the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. A long debate took place upon the amendment which I submitted the other evening, and the honorable gentleman knew a week before that that amendment was to be moved. It was printed and circulated, and the Minister declared his willingness to support it. Now, however, he suddenly comes forward with the strange political doctrine that he does not regard that amendment from the stand-point of whether it is good or bad, but simply from that of whether the numbers are for or against it. I think that if he regards it as right he should support it; and that he should oppose it if he deems it to be wrong.- But he has openly told us that that is not the way in which our Parliamentary business is to be conducted.
– I have not yet said that I will accept the amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– The Minister stated that he accepted it.
– I do not think so.
– The Minister stated that he saw no particular harm in accepting it, especially as the numbers were against him.
– That is a different statement from that which the honorable member made previously.
– If the Minister is prepared to resist the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, it seems to me that there need be no long discussion upon it.
– -Let us divide the Committee now.
– But we have a right to know upon which side the Minister intends to vote.
– I intend to adhere to the proposal to which I agreed the other night.
– Then I was under a misapprehension. I think, too, that the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were under the impression that the Minister intended to accept this amendment.
– I have given up attempting to find out where the Minister is.
– I can only apologize to the Minister for having so utterly misunderstood him. I certainly thought that he had accepted the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, because the numbers were against him. Of course, it is a good thing to be on the side of the big battalions, but I scarcely anticipated that the Minister would have made such an open declaration in that connexion. I now understand that he intends to support the retention of the clause’ in its present form.
– The remarks which I am about to make are prompted by the observations of the honorable member for Gippsland. Those observations are fairly indicative of the nature of the criticism which emanates from the Opposition.
– Such criticism is simply disgraceful.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know whether the remark of the honorable member for Maribyrnong is in order?
– The remark of the honorable member is not in order, and I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it j but, at the same time, I say that it is disgraceful.
– I would point out that the honorable member for Maribrynong has withdrawn the remark, but has repeated that the criticism of the Opposition is disgraceful.
– If the term used by me is offensive, I withdraw it.
– The inaccuracy of the criticism of members of the Opposition can best be gauged by a reference to the actual facts. The honorable member for Gippsland stated that the Minister of Home Affairs had accepted the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier, and that when he accepted it honorable members upon this side of the chamber were bound to support him.
– He did not say that they were bound to support him.
– He stated that they did support him. He also added that, now that the Minister had allowed the recommittal, doubtless honorable members upon this side of the chamber would oppose it. I need only point the honorable member to the list of the original division upon that proposal. From it he will find that twenty honorable members voted against the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, fifteen of whom were Ministerial followers.
– I voted for this proposal before, and shall vote for it again, because my opinions remain unchanged. I am glad that the Minister intends to stand by his original position, but I should like to know why so many other honorable members have changed their views. They must have made some discovery, though we have not been told what it is. Cabs are used at elections, and will continue to be used, but if the provision in the Bill is allowed to stand, the cost of hiring them will have to be accounted for in the return of electoral expenses, and the wealthy members of the party opposite feel that they will spend £100 on the hire of halls, advertising, scrutineers, and in other directions, and therefore wish the cost of vehicles to be excluded. In my opinion, when vehicles are used, they should be paid for out of the £,100 which each candidate is permitted to expend. The Labour candidates in South Australia will be able to get all the cabs that they need without increasing their election expenditure beyond the limit allowed by the Act. This proposal has not been made in the interest of the purity of elections, but to promote corruption, by allowing something to be done which the law does not contemplate. I shall not be a party to that. I do not wish to make the hypocritical pretence that cabs are not used. Every political party uses them.
– I have never used them.
– On the last occasion, the honorable member had not to contest his seat. I did not use a vehicle of any description at the last election, and only on one occasion have cabs been used in connexion with contests at which I was a candidate. But in South Australia, cabs have been used illegally at every Commonwealth and State election. There has not been a breaking of the Act, but it has been evaded. Friends lend their vehicles, or pay for the hire of .vehicles, no one knowing what vehicles are so paid for. For every paid vehicle that has been used to assist a Labour candidate, there have been a dozen unpaid vehicles used. But, on the other side, I have known all the cabs in Adelaide to be engaged on behalf of a person who was prepared to pay any fine that might be imposed for an evasion of the law. That was done to prevent Labour candidates from obtaining vehicles. The late Mr. Cresswell could have said how it was arranged. The cabs were paid for by the National Defence League.
– I heard of a member of the League providing cabs for Labour candidates at the last election.
– I am prepared to prevent that being done, and to require that all cabs shall be paid for, and the cost accounted for in the candidate’s return of expenses.
– Personally, I do not need cabs.
– If persons interjecting at a political meeting are rightly liable to the imposition of a fine of ^5 or imprisonment for a month, those who bring electors to the poll in vehicles which they do not own, should be liable to a fine of £50, or imprisonment for six months.
– Why does not the honorable member propose that ?
– Because I do not object to the use of vehicles so long as the cost is included in the candidate’s return of expenses. But if the proposal now before the Committee be carried, I shall, at the first opportunity, move, in the interest of the purity of elections, that the use of vehicles be not permitted. Honorable members opposite intend to reverse their votes in order to give the wealthy an unfair advantage over the poor. At any rate, no o’:her reason has been stated. I do not object to the use of free vehicles. In my own electorate, some electors have to travel a mile and a half to get to a polling booth, and that is too far to expect aged persons to walk. But it is not necessary to engage all the cabs in the city to assist in the return of a candidate, as was done in Adelaide on one occasion.
.- It would seem, from the speeches we have heard, to be almost as hard to get to the electoral poll as it is to reach the North Pole. We have heard a great deal about purity of elections. As I do not wish to introduce personalities, I think that the less said about the methods employed the better for all parties concerned.
– We have done nothing that we cannot speak about.
– The honorable member has just mentioned a case in which the law was evaded. I hope that he will not in future lend himself to anything of the kind. The hiring of cabs at election time may be a source of abuse. It is, as I know, a great relief to poor candidates to have elec tion expenditure limited to ^£100. I am a poor man compared with many who sit opposite. It is marvellous how they accumulate money. But such is the generosity of my nature that I should be glad to employ every cabman in my electorate at double fares would my pocket stand it. Of course, no cabman would come to a candidate and say, “ If you do not engage my cab, the seven votes in my family will be cast against you.” But some one else might do it.
– Would the honorable member buy his way into Parliament?
– I am showing how pressure might be brought to bear on a candidate. Of course, there would be no guarantee that the votes would be cast for him if he engaged the cab, and possibly the cab would be used to convey to the poll electors who intended to vote against its hirer. If my friends choose to carry electors to the poll, that is their concern. I do not propose to encourage it, but I cannot prevent it. Some honorable members seem to think that there are none but metropolitan constituencies, whereas in the country electors have often to travel many miles to get to the poll. I have a great respect for the Minister, but I cannot understand his present position. I hope that we shall have a majority against the proposal, so that the hiring of cabs may be included in election expenses.
.- The enthusiastic cheers from the Ministerial party should have warned the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the action he was taking was popular on the other side of the chamber.
– It was unpopular there before.
– These changes of opinion in the Ministerial party are remarkable and significant. I have never had a cab in my service at election time. I have been afraid to employ vehicles. There are those who may do things with impunity, while others are prosecuted. Undoubtedly, there is one law for one class and another law for another class. While a prosecution for the evasion of the Act might not be successful, the proceedings might be very expensive for the candidate concerned. The honorable member for North Sydney, who says that he has never used cabs at election time, has had no need to do so, because he has not had to fight seriously for his seat. Even had there been a fiercely contested election, he would probably not have needed cabs, because there would have been any number of private vehicles placed at his service, as is always the case with a candidate supporting the Fusion Government or the Conservative interest. At the last election, no fewer than 100 vehicles were at the disposal of my opponent, whereas I had not half-a-dozen. In certain parts of the Commonwealth, the weather, at the time of the elections, is not only likely to be extremely hot, but very wet; and it is absolutely necessary that candidates should be in a position to hire vehicles without infringing the “law. As a matter of fact, the present law simply leads to evasion ; and people should be permitted to do openly what they are certain to do surreptitiously.
– The law will still be evaded, because, with the hire of cabs, the expenses will not be kept within the £100.
– If a candidate desires to spend some of the £100 on vehicles he ought to be at liberty to do so ; and if there is any evasion of the law, such as suggested, he is liable to a penalty. It is said that “the numbers are up,” but I hope that the Minister will stick to his guns, as he did a few days ago under similar circumstances ; or, if he does not, that he will give the Committee his reasons for abandoning his position.
.- On the previous occasion I voted for permitting the hire of cabs; but I did so in the belief that honorable members would also consider the position of those who desired relief in connexion with the hire of halls. We have heard a good deal about corruption, but, while I’ cannot see any possibility of this in the case of the halls, I can quite conceive how much could arise in the hiring of cabs. Halls are an absolute necessity in large electorates, in order that the candidates may make their views known.
– The National League could hire all the halls !
– The Labour party have just the same opportunity to hire halls as has the League. The honorable member who submitted the amendment seemed anxious to provide for his own particular requirements, while .ignoring the views of others whose circumstances we all desire to meet. We have had a great deal of experience now, and we should so amend the law as to afford the best means of obtaining the sense of the people at an election. I shall support the exclusion of the provision in regard to cabs, although I voted for it the other day, under the belief that honorable members opposite were desirous of being fair and reasonable in regard to the hire of halls.
Air. SPENCE (Darling) [2.35].- I shall support a reversion to the old practice; and I understand that the Minister has declared that he will not oppose the amendment, or, in other words, that it is quite open to the Committee to support it if we so choose. I have no great patience with electors who live in town, within a mile or a mile and a half of a polling booth, and yet demand motor cars and cabs. I have always been a country resident, and know of the immense distances that electors have to travel independently of vehicles. The reason for stopping the hire of cabs was that, otherwise, the wealthy candidates -would occupy a privileged position. We have heard of cases where all the vehicles might be “cornered,” and either not used at all, or for one side exclusively. To allow unlimited expenditure is to favour wealthy candidates ; but we know that, in the country districts, very many people own vehicles of their own, while in town there are trams and trains at the disposal .of all. It is admitted that there is a great deal of apathy on the part of the electors,’ and we remember the evidence given by officials of organizations, to the effect that people would not trouble to vote unless their fares were paid, and they were enabled to ride, not by omnibus, but by cab. What is the use of such electors until they are educated up to an intelligent interest in public affairs? I do not think any great evil arose under the old method, and, if any fraud does arise, it is the duty of the Department to put a stop’ to it. Every amendment in a Bill of this character ought to be treated by the Minister as this has been - that is, left to the good sense of the Committee, and not made a party matter.
.- Like most honorable members, I find it quite difficult enough to keep my expenses within the .£100, without taking a step which would add very considerably to the trouble. But I do not believe in excluding cabmen from an opportunity of deriving what benefit they can at election time. There may be honorable members who do not require to engage halls, as we have to do in the metropolitan areas, and who may desire to devote a portion of their expense to vehicles; and I certainly should not support any proposal which would deprive the cabmen of any advantage they can so derive.
.- We now find the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Barrier in company, and declaring themselves in favour of the use of motor cars and cabs at elections. Twenty-six years ago, in England, the hire of cabs at elections was declared a corrupt and illegal practice. Section 7 of the English Act of 1883 is as follows : -
No payment or contract for payment shall, for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at any election, be made -
On account of the conveyance of electors to or from the poll, whether for the hiring of horses or carriages, or for railway fares, or otherwise;
– Since then I have seen hundreds of cabs used at elections in the Old Country.
– Section 14 of the English Act is -
A person shall not let, lend, or employ for the purpose of the conveyance of electors to or from the poll, any public stage or hackney carriage, or any horse or other animal kept or used for drawing the same, or any carriage, horse, or other animal which he keeps or uses for the purpose of letting out for hire, and if he lets, lends, or employs such carnage, horse, or, other animal, knowing that it is intended to be used for ‘the purposes of (he conveyance of electorsto or from the poll he shall be guilty of an illegal hiring.
The proposition of the honorable member for Barrier permits what in theOld Country is designated a corrupt and illegal practice. Let me quote another authority for the benefit of the honorable member, and to confirm my statement that his proposal would be the means of giving the wealthy man an advantage over the poor man. If a man has , £100 he may spend it, but if he has only£20, he cannot spend£100. A man with £100 will be able to employ cabs and motor cars, if he wishes, but a man who has only£20 cannot employ them. Mr. H. H. Fowler, speaking in t he House of Commons in 1883, as reported at column 1,675of Hansard, said : -
We not only wish to prevent illegal expenditure, but also to remove all unfair pressure that prevents a man of limited means taking his seat in the House ; but, as it now stands, so far as the conveyance of voters is concerned, it gives a direct advantage, a direct premium, to the rich man, and places the man of moderate means at a disadvantage.
What does the honorable member for Barrier think of that? One of the reasons urged for putting down this practice was the fact that it gave to the “man of means an advantage over the man who had no means.
– A man of means has plenty of friends to send their private traps for him.
– Then how does the man with no means get along, for he cannot afford to hire vehicles for himself?
– Why should not his friends combine to send a cab or two along? Why should the cabby be boycotted ?
– If honorable members are so concerned about the cabbies being boycotted, why limit the expense at all ?
– Let it be outside the
– Will the honorable member for Barrier accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Wilmot? If we let the honorable member for Barrier’s new clause stand, this Parliament will be the only Parliament to make it legal to employ motor cars and cabs for election purposes. In a work called Electoral Reform, written by Mr. Joseph King, and published in 1908, with a preface by the Right Honorable L. Harcourt, M.P. - and this book is the authority on which I stated that the Act of 1883 is still in force in Great Britain - the following passage appears on page 140 : -
The use made of motor cars and other vehicles on election days has now reached such a point that the practice is resented on several grounds ; it has become a great cause of annoyance andexpense to motor owners to be asked and expected to send cars great distances to elections where they are likely to be roughly used ; it has become an unworthy practice to bribe voters by offering them a motor drive to and from the poll ; it has even been used as an argument against increasing polling facilities that free rides in vehicles are now provided to all and any.
In reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I may state that the writer suggests an amendment of the Electoral Act in the direction referred to by him a few moments ago, namely - to make it an offence for any one to hire 01 lend a cab or motor car for the express purpose of bringing voters to or from the poll. I am pleased to learn that the Ministry have in this matter seen the error of their ways.
– That does not apply to me.
– Perhaps not, but a number of honorable members who voted last week with the honorable member for Barrier now see that it is not desirable to continue the practice.
Question- That Clause 27A be left output. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
.- So far from following the practice of honorable members opposite, I am always ready to facilitate business, and therefore I shall not oppose this motion.
– I am also pleased to see the Government making an attempt to expedite business, and am desirous of helping them in that effort.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Fuller) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I desire to ask the Minister, before the Bill is finally passed, to give the House his in terpretation of the law, in view of the amendment that has just been carried with regard to the use of conveyances to carry electors to and from the poll. If the friend of a candidate, on polling day, provides vehicles for the use of his supporters, will the expenditure so incurred on behalf of the candidate be regarded as an illegal outlay ? So much of this is done, that it would be well to have a clear interpretation of the law before we finally dispose of this Bill.
– I am sure that the honorable member, upon reflection, will recognise that it is not for me, as a Minister, to attempt to interpret the law before this Bill is actually passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 2nd November, vide page 5215) :
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.
Upon which Mr. Coon had moved, by way of amendment -
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.”
Upon which amendment Mr. Hughes had moved -
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 of the Constitution shall have been presented to the people as is necessary to permit of any part ofthe 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.”
.- With the permission of the honorable member for West Sydney, I ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw his amendment of the amendment.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the amendment of the amendment be withdrawn?
– I object.
– I trust that the Committee will not accept the amendment of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney, more especially as at his request leave has been sought to withdraw it, but has been refused. I am sure that those who were present when the honorable member submitted it must have felt that he was hardly treating the question seriously, and such an impression is supported by the request which has just been made.
– He desired to safeguard the interests of New South Wales in view of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman.
– It is perfectly true that the honorable member, as a representative of New South Wales, in submitting the amendment of the amendment was endeavouring to safeguard the interests of that State. The amendment moved ‘by the honorable member for Batman does not commend itself to me, and I trust that it will be rejected by the Committee. The honorable member stated that he was led to submit it merely because of a desire that the whole question should remain unsettled. If ever there was a question that ought to be settled by this Parliament, it is that of the site of the Federal Capital. In view of the reports that have been submitted to us, it is ripe for settlement, and in the interests of the people, as well as in the interests of the proper conduct of business in this House, it should now be finally dealt with. Does the honorable member for Batman think that the people of Australia, to whom he desires to refer this question, are, or ever could be, in a better position to determine it than are honorable members of this Committee?
– The people are just as well able to deal with it as they will be to deal with the question to be submitted to them by way of referendum in regard to the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill.
– That is not the question before the Chair. Many honorable members have visited the various suggested sites-
– And Canberra is the worst of the lot.
– The honorable member is entitled to his opinion, but I am sure that a large number of honorable members differ from him. The various sites have been ex- .amined by experts, whose reports have been presented to Parliament, and the Committee is now in possession of the fullest information with regard to them. The various physical features of the proposed site, dealt with in this Bill, have formed the subject of elaborate reports by experts, and the Parliament of New South Wales has given every facility to the Commonwealth Legislature to bring this matter to a final issue. We have gone far beyond the provisions of the Constitution, as to the area to be set apart for the purposes of the capital. The Government of New South Wales have given us, not 100 square miles, as they might have done under the Constitution, but 900 square miles, and, in addition, 580 square miles, covering full water rights over the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers. They have also given us access to the sea, and the right to construct a railway from the Capital Site to Jervis Bay. In addition to that, at Jervis Bay an area of 2 square miles has been handed over to the Federation, a grant which was never contemplated by the Constitution.
– Only 2 square miles?
– Yes; does the honorable member desire us to obtain another large Federal territory there? All that we asked in that respect was that we should be given access to the sea, arid that request ha:, been granted, under the agreement entered into between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales. In addition, New South Wales has given us an area of 2 square miles at Jervis Bay to provide for our requirements at the port. When it was suggested that it would be necessary for the Commonwealth to obtain from the Snowy River water power required for electrical purposes, the Government of New South Wales responded by giving us authority to construct whatever works are necessary to carry from the Snowy River to the site of the Federal Capital the necessary power. In all these matters New South Wales has done all that could be reasonably asked or expected of her. And now, although this question has been discussed again and again during the last nine years, it is proposed, in order to prevent a final settlement, that the whole matter shall be submitted to a referendum of the people. The people of Australia could never be in a position - even if it were possible to submit this question to a referendum - to deal with this matter as this Parliament can deal with it. The honorable member for Batman has admitted that his sole object in submitting this amendment is to keep the question still unsettled, and I hope that the Committee will not support him. I feel that the majority of honorable members are determined that the provisions of the
Constitution in this regard shall be carried out, and I appeal to the Committee to reject both the amendment and the amendment of the amendment.
– - In view of the fact that the Government, and most of their supporters, a few weeks ago, implored us to trust the people, and to refer to them the very intricate question of an alteration of the Constitution, in regard to the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, I am exceedinglysurprised to hear the Minister of Home Affairs declare that the people cannot be in anything like so good a position as we are to decide this question of the site of the Federal Capital. The decision of this question would be child’s play compared with the decision of the intricate constitutional question. Honorable members blow hot and cold about the referendum, just as it suits them. I regret that advantage was taken of the absence of opponents of the measure on the Oodnadatta trip to get it past the secondreading stage: The creation of the Fusion party has caused a reversal of opinion amongst many of the members who are now supporting the measure. During the last ballot the honorable members for Bourke, Ballarat, Richmond, Fawkner, Swan, Darling Downs, Fremantle, Kooyong, Coolgardie, Maribyrnong, and Wimmera cast their votes against the Yass-Canberra site, but on the division on the second reading of the Bill voted for it. So far as I know, they had no reason for changing their views, except a desire to please the powers that be. When, after the selection of Dalgety by the Parliament^ a measure was introduced to define the metes and bounds of the proposed Federal territory, those who are now supporting the Bill were not in any hurry to have the matter settled. What they wished for then was an amendment which would secure the choice of another site. The Bill had been introduced to honestly give effect to the decision of the Parliament that the Capital should be located within 17 miles of Dalgety. When another ballot was arranged for, only one vote was cast for Canberra, and none for Lake George.
– Not one vote was cast for Dalgety in the Senate.
– Nor in the first ballot.
– I am not now dealing with the Senate. The House determined that whatever site might be chosen in the YassCanberra district, it should not be Can berra. Does this Bill give effect to that decision? Certainly not. It seems to me that we should be allowed to take another ballot. When the matter was last before the House the Prime Minister stated distinctly that there would be that opportunity. He said, as reported in Hansard, Vol. xlviii., page 2540, referring to myself
If there should arise, after fuller inquiry into the circumstances of the Yass-Canberra site, any serious difficulty in regard to its water supply, its general situation, or its accessibility to the sea, another opportunity to bring forward the claims of Dalgety will be afforded him b’y the Bill which must be introduced in order to give effect to whatever course the Government of the day believe to be wisest after they have received the report of their experts, communicated with the Government of New South Wales, and, as far as possible, arrived at an agreement with them. It will not be too late at that stage for him to challenge the opinion of Parliament in regard to the particular and definite site chosen as compared with the site which he favours.
I do .not know what opportunity I shall have to do that. The site which has been chosen was described in the Argus of the 3rd November last, after a reference to Washington, in these terms -
In the Australian case compromise and bargaining have fixed upon a position, not merely below the ideal, but far below the best offered. Except for a small area, the soil is barren, the scenic setting is “merely that of a poor type of Australian bush, the rainfall is deficient, and the water supply for a large city is inadequate. The railway for which an easement has been granted to Jervis Bay will run through uninhabited, because uninhabitable, country, and will, therefore, be always a source of expense.
Mr. Scrivener speaks of the site as by no means ideal, but the best obtainable in the Yass-Canberra district. He says that drainage will present some difficulties, and that nowhere in the district can timber suitable for building purposes be obtained, while it is doubtful whether good building stone can be obtained locally in any large quantity. He tells us, too, that as a whole the district is not an agricultural one. Via Queanbeyan, it is only 196 miles from Sydney, and yet the 800 or 900 square miles which are to be transferred to the Commonwealth contain a population of only 840 persons. As Mr. Wade has said, the State is not giving up much, so far as the value of the country is concerned. Were it a good district, there would be more people living there.
– There is plenty of good country in Victoria where the population is very sparse.
– That is where the land is held on freehold. This is not.
– A great part of it is.
– To get to it we shall have to construct a railway 38 miles in length from Yass, and another line 130 miles in length to Jervis Bay.
– The State has undertaken to make the line from Yass.
– We shall have to make a connexion with it at the edge of our territory, and to reach the sea we must construct a line 130 miles in length. The climate of the district is not pleasant, and the site is exposed to very strong winds. The undertaking given to us regarding Jervis Bay has not been complied with. I proposed an amendment requiring access to the sea to be given, together with a port at Jervis Bay, and I was assured it was not necessary because all the House wished that; but all we have acquired is a piece of land at Jervis Bay not extending below high-water mark. The Minister of Home Affairs said at the time that a seaport was necessary. Speaking on my amendment, he said -
I do not know what the feelings or intentions of the New South Wales Government are, but, as a member of this Parliament, I am in favour of a Commonwealth harbor being established at that port.
– We have got one.
– We have a piece of land extending to high-water mark ; but we have no control of the waters of the harbor. The honorable member said, further, in asking me to withdraw my amendment -
It is obvious that the unanimous wish of the House is that JervisBay should be the port of the Federal Capital.
– Does the honorable member contend that the State retains the foreshore ?
– It will have absolute control of the waters of Jervis Bay up to high-water mark, and could impose on shipping what hindrances it liked, short of absolute prohibi- . tion. This is not a fulfilment of the promise given in the private canvass which induced many honorable members, including the honorable member for New England, and’ the honorable member for Adelaide, to vote for Yass-Canberra. The Commonwealth could not even run out a jetty in Jervis Bay.
– Does the honorable member think that the State could prevent the Commonwealth from taking what is needed?
– I do. The New South Wales Government, after the wire-netting incident, might be expected to do anything.
– In this matter, they have met every request.
– They did not do so when Dalgety was the chosen site of the Parliament. We were told that 900 square miles was out of proportion to the intended area; but the present selection plays right into their hands, and they are therefore prepared to do anything. They will rot, however, give us a port at Jervis Bay.
– A port has already been given.
– I venture to say that neither the Attorney-General nor any other lawyer would hold that we shall have the right to a port at Jervis Bay. We shall have the right to land down to high-water mark, and that is all.
– Would the honorable member accept the Attorney-General’s opinion on the question?
– Not necessarily. But there is another matter in regard to which the promise has not been carried out. It was regarded by every honorable member who spoke as necessary that we should have the ownership of a strip of land giving access to the sea; but, as a matter of fact, we have nothing but a mere easement - a mere right to construct a railway.
– The honorable member is not right in saying that every honorable member who spoke on a former occasion took that view.
– In view of the honorable member’s statement, I shall not speak so positively ; but my recollection is that nearly every honorable member was in favour of the amendment proposed - so much in favour of it that it was deemed quite unnecessary for the House to carry it, seeing that the Minister knew what the wishes of honorable members were. The grant of land at Jervis Bay gives us no proper control over a port there. Moreover, from a Government point of view, the ballot decided that the site should be in the YassCanberra district, but not at Canberra.
– That was not so.
– I can only say that only one honorable member out of seventy-five voted for Canberra.
– It was stated that the area included Canberra, and that that site would be selected if it were thought best.
– If honorable members desired that Canberra should be the site, why did they not vote for it, and not for YassCanberra ?
– The greater includes the lesser.
– The House negatived the lesser. Canberra got only one vote on the first ballot, and in the other two ballots also ; the honorable member for Robertson voted faithfully for that site. Having selected a district called Yass-Canberra, we are presented to Canberra, which we are told, represents the wish of the House, and we are asked not to delay the matter. Every honorable member was in favour of our being granted a strip of land giving access to the coast ; but all we are getting is an easement in addition to what seems to me an absolutely barren spot - one of the most extraordinary looking areas that anybody ever saw on a map. I suppose it will be some years before we are able to shift to the Federal Capital ; and I do not envy the lot of honorable members, and still less do I envy the lot of the public servants, who will have to live in that God-forsaken spot !
– My principal reason for support ing the amendment is that I would rather see the capital established in dust-ridden Sydney, than on the site selected at Canberra.
– Dust-ridden Sydney ! Was the honorable member in Melbourne last Sunday?
– Yes, and I have experienced similar weather in Sydney for twelve days at a stretch. I am quite willing, therefore, to agree to the removal of the 100-mile limit; and, to that end, I rely on the support of honorable members who have advocated such a step times without number.
– Where does the honorable member suggest the capital should be?
– At this stage I make no suggestion. The honorable member for Newcastle, who, I think, was borne out by the right honorable member for East Sydney, told us that the Sassafras site near Jervis Bay was everything that could be desired.
– That is within the 100-miles limit.
– Quite so; and that is why I desire an opportunity given to the people to remove the limit. Mr. Scrivener cannot be accused of having entertained any provincial feelings; and he was the man selected by the New South Wales Government to report on this site.
– Mr. De Burgh is the water expert, and not Mr. Scrivener.
– When a report does not altogether suit certain honorable mem- bers, they soon find excuses for rejecting it. The honorable member for West Sydney, in reply to the honorable member for Batman, said that he would agree to a referendum on the question of the removal of the limit ; and the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney is submitted, as that honorable member frankly says, so that Sydney may have the material benefits of the proximity of the Capital.
– Why should the material benefits not go to Sydney?
– Here is another admission from a Sydney member ! The honorable member for Lang supported a proposal for a referendum on the question of taking over the Northern Territory with a direct line, and also on the financial question ; but, in regard to the Capital site, he is altogether averse to such a proceeding. As a matter of fact, the Constitution should have provided either that the Capital should be anywhere in Australia, or anywhere in New South Wales; and the amendment would afford the people an opportunity of deciding where it should be.
– Not 1 per cent of the people know anything about the sites.
– I am surprised that Sydney representatives should oppose the idea I am presenting, seeing the chance it affords of that metropolis becoming the Federal Capital. Are they afraid that the people of New South Wales may think Dalgety the better site, or do they think their only chance is in this Parliament?
– The New South Wales people have been trusting the Federal Parliament for ten years, with no result.
– The fact that the Capital site was not selected long ago is the fault of the people of Sydney and their representatives in this and the State Parliaments. The great proportion of honorable members were always willing to settle the question. But the members representing Sydney and its surroundings, and those immediately influenced by the interests of Sydney, have always voted against the settlement of the question in the way in which this House would be inclined to settle it. Because they could not get the Capital where they wanted it, they would not have it where the people of Australia wanted it. There has been the greatest amount of lobbying and underground engineering, as many of them have candidly admitted, in order to fix the site in such a way that the trade of the Capital will flow to Sydney, and Sydney only.
– Why impute all these motives ?
– Because they have been so apparent. I do not like the idea of the seat of Government being in Melbourne, and am willing to vote to get it away from Melbourne at any time ; but surely the best place in Australia ought to be selected, and we know that Canberra is not that.
– It is the best place in New South Wales.
– It is far from being even the best place in New South Wales. We now offer the people of Sydney an opportunity to still further test the generosity of the people of Australia. Every benefit that could accrue from Federation has been gained by Sydney. The first question considered by some honorable members in this House is whether a proposal will benefit Sydney. Anything that will not have that effect is fought tooth and nail by every Sydney representative. We had evidence of that the other day when the question of the Northern Territory was considered. The representatives of Sydney came together shoulder to shoulder to fight against the almost ratified agreement for taking over the Territory from South Australia. Everything proposed in this House that does not suit Sydney and its environs is laughed at and thrown out if the opportunity occurs, but a great fight is put up by the men who represent that city, and I admit represent it ably, for everything that will materially benefit it, or add anything to its glamour. In this case we are offering them an opportunity to wipe out the hundred mile limit. I admit that I have hopes that if the hundred mile limit is wiped out the Capital will still not be in Sydney or nearer Sydney than is Canberra; but I am giving away that point so that we may take a referendum of the people of Australia as to where the Capital is to be. The representatives, the press, and the people of Sydney say that no one else has a right to be considered in the question of selecting the Capital Site. Have we come down to this, that after getting everything that is to be got from Federation, they are to claim that nobody but themselves has a right to a say in the matter? I arn fast coming to the conclusion that there is only one State in the Commonwealth - New South Wales - and that the sooner all the barriers are wiped out and Australia unified, with Sydney as its capital, the better it will be for the welfare of the Commonwealth, because apparently until that is accomplished, until Sydney rises paramount above every other city and has within its grasp the trade of all the other centres, it will never be satisfied. Like the daughters of the horse leech, it is always crying out for more. Although New South Wales is the only State that has gained anything from Federation, its representatives still refuse to give the people of Australia an opportunity to put a stop to one of the greatest wrongs to Australia ever perpetrated from a national stand-point. The- New South Wales members know well that not one phase of the whole question points to the fact that Canberra ought to be selected as the site of the capital, but they are strenuously fighting to get it, because they know that a Federal city placed there will never rise above the status of an ordinary village.
– A very pretty village.
– I have said nothing against the beauty of the site, but there is nothing there that will lend itself to the creation of a city, or even of a town, of ordinary size.
– Has the honorable member been there?
– Yes ; on three occasions, and I can state, whether I am believed or not, that I have always endeavoured to deal with the question from an unbiased stand-point. I do not care how near the Capital is to Sydney, so long as the site is suitable. In view of the attitude of the Fusion, and the help which they will get on the question from members on this side, I recognise that it is hopeless to fight against the Bill. Those who are supporting Canberra have thrown over all the national spirit which they were supposed 10 possess. Just as the members of the Fusion party on the financial question have handed over to the States, and primarily to New South Wales, functions which ought to be retained by the National Parliament, so, on the question of the Federal Capital, which is expected to endure for ever, they, are pandering to the same feeling. How many members now on the Fusion side who voted for Dalgety, as against Canberra, and could not see one good point in the Canberra site, will be manly enough now to vote against this agreement, although they know that Canberra is unsuitable? I know that in this matter mine is like a voice crying in the wilderness. If I thought it would do any good, I should be prepared to go on until the closure was applied, but it is useless to do so in a House composed as this one is at present. The matter will not be made a party question on this side, because the honorable members who represent New South Wales will fight for their own State. I do not blame them for .that; but the House has become, I will not say so corrupt, but so peculiar, that everything which the New South Wales section want for New South Wales they get by hook or by crook. I propose to make one last appeal to honorable members. Here is an opportunity offered by the honorable member for West Sydney to abolish the hundred mile limit. The honorable member for Batman and myself are willing to accept that proposal. We want to trust the people. Members on the Fusion side talked with their tongues in their cheeks about trusting the people on the financial question, but I am sincere in desiring to trust the people as to whether the Commonwealth is to be saddled for all time with a capital in a place which is not easy of access, either from the sea or the land, that never will be anything but a little village, and will never grow to such a size that it would finance itself in time to come, when the Federal Territory is nationalized in the true sense. There are men on the Fusion side who do not want that democratic ideal to be tested in Australia. They would not give us an opportunity to prove that the nationalization of land will be beneficial to the people, and they are, therefore, helping by their votes to commit this great crime on Australia. Will the representatives of Sydney for once give Australia a show, and not always confine themselves to interests within the narrow limits of their own capital? If they will not, the people of Australia ought to be allowed to take a hand in the question, and the representatives from other States who are blind to national considerations, - or whose vested interests incline them towards the Sydney view of the matta, ought to be dealt with by the electors in the manner in which they would speedily be dealt with if their constituents recognised the fact that they are dealing with the people’s money, and not with their own.
– We have listened to one of those characteristic speeches which we are accustomed to hear delivered from the Victorian standpoint, expounded on this occasion by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. He has appealed to us to deal with the question in a truly Federal spirit. It is a strange thing that whenever we are asked by a certain newspaper, in fact, by all the newspapers published in. this city, to deal with matters in a truly national spirit, we find upon examination that their idea of a truly national spirit is a spirit which is thoroughly antagonistic to New South Wales in particular, and to the other States in general. Their idea of the Federal spirit is bounded on the west by Spencer-street railway station, on the east by the Federal Parliament House, and on the . north and south by the two sides of Collins-street. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports extends the boundaries of that narrow area somewhat, in order to include South Melbourne. If there is one State in the Commonwealth which more than another has displayed a truly Federal spirit, it is New South Wales, and in that she has been ably seconded and supported by Queensland and Tasmania, and to some extent by South Australia.
– Why not Victoria?
– There are some broad national minds in Victoria, but they are the exception to the general rule. That spirit is displayed only by those Victorian members who do not come under the baneful influence of Melbourne press dictation. Certain aspersions have been cast, not only upon New South Wales, but on the site for the Federal territory, which has already been approved by this House and approved for a second time by another place. We have been asked why Sydney should get the benefit of having the Federal Capital in New South Wales. In the first place, I do not know that Sydney will get any benefit from it; but if it does, why should it not? What reasonable ground can be put forward for saying that Sydney should not get any benefit from having the Federal Capital in New South Wales? Is that the truly national spirit of which those honorable members boast, and which they chide us for not showing? If that is the kind of national spirit that burns within their bosoms, it is about the narrowest form of it that could possibly be conceived. I do not know that any special benefit will accrue to Sydney from the location of the Federal Capital at Canberra. The representatives of other States have got everything that they asked for, and more. They have got more than they are entitled to under the Federal Constitution. Their views have been met in the most generous spirit by the Government and Parliament of New South Wales, who have in their generosity exceeded in the area made available what the Commonwealth was entitled under the Constitution to receive. Instead of confining the Federal territory to an area of 100 square miles, an area upwards of 800 square miles has been conceded. There was nothing in the Constitution about providing a Federal port, yet provision has been made to give the Commonwealth land sufficient for a railway down to the sea coast, and a Federal port from which the needs of the Capital could be supplied altogether independently of Sydney. A most unreasonable attitude has been displayed by some honorable members. As to the proposal that the question should be submitted to a referendum of the people, I would remind honorable members that that has already been done. And it is as the result of such a referendum that the provision as to the Federal Capital was put into the Constitution. The original proposal was that Sydney should be the Federal Capital, and it was only as a final concession to the representatives of other States that it was excluded from the area of selection.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– I repeat that that was the original proposal as submitted by Sir George Reid to the Premiers of the other States at the Convention.
– The 100-miles limit was inserted at the instance of Sir George Turner.
– At the Conference of Premiers Sir George Turner desired that there should be inserted in the Constitution Bill a provision that the Federal Capital should be not less than 200 miles from Sydney. The proposed 200-miles limit was rejected as being too great, whilst it was thought that Moss Vale, which was then being talked about as a desirable location for a Federal city, being only 75 miles from Sydnev. was too close, and ultimately as a compromise it was decided to insert in the Constitution Bill the provision that the site of the Capital should not be less than 100 miles from Sydney. That compromise was submitted to the people, and approved by them. All that is now asked is that the compact made with New South Wales shall be honoured. lt has been held in abeyance for nearly ten years. Every device has been resorted to by the Melbourne press and provincialminded politicians of other States to keep the Parliament sitting in Melbourne, . and prevent New South Wales from getting its rights under the Constitution. It was thought originally that the matter would be settled within five years of the establishment of Federation, yet we are still meeting in Melbourne, and, if some honorable members could have their way, we should be now as far as ever from a settlement of this question. As to the oftrepeated misstatements with regard to the water supply available at Canberra - a matter to which reference has again been made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - I desire to ask him and those who share his views, erroneous and jaundiced, why they have refrained from reading later reports upon the question by the most competent experts? Why do they take the report of a land surveyor who does not profess to be a water expert - a report which he was not asked to furnish - in preference to one submitted by an expert specially employed, and which gives a totally different result from actual scientific tests and calculations up to date?
– Does the honorable member say that the water supply at Canberra is better than that available at Dalgety?
– No part of Australia, of like size, is so well watered as is the Yass-Canberra area. That is admitted by experts. I would remind the honorable member for Melbourne that it was not proposed that the water supply for the Dalgety site should be drawn from the Snowy River. It was to be obtained from the Mowamba.
– Is Canberra, from the point of view of water supply, as good a site as Dalgety is?
– Dalgety ‘s water supply, apart from that obtainable from the Snowy River, is evidently no better than that available to Canberra, and probably not as good - since the Canberra has several rivers to draw, upon, as I will presently show. Honorable members persist in ignoring the fact that it was not proposed to supply Dalgety with water from the Snowy River, and water supply is not the only thing to consider in connexion with selecting a site for a city. I would also remind them that if it is thought that the water power for electrical purposes within the catchment area of the site now before us, is insufficient, in spite of the assurances of expert engineers, it will be open to us, by means of 75 miles of wire, to draw on the Snowy River for that purpose just as easily for Canberra as for Dalgety. However, it will be unnecessary to do so. I wish now to read a statement by an eminent authority to counteract any wrong impression that may have been created by the statement of the illinformed honorable member for Melbourne Ports as to the alleged inadequacy of the Canberra water supply. The following paragraph appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 4th instant : -
A reference to the water supply of YassCanberra was made last night by Mr. C. A. Sussmilch in a paper entitled “ Notes on the physiography of the southern tableland of N.S.W.,” which he read before the Royal Society. Mr. Sussmilch admitted a low rainfall on the actual site of the Federal Capital, but maintained that it was not correct to carry the argument” further and expect a low rainfall along the Cotter, Naas, and Gudgenby Rivers, which would be the catchment for the Capital water supply.
He explained that the three localities which had been taken as averages for estimating the rainfall were to the east of the KiandraMurrumbidgee tableland, and by the time rainproducing clouds had crossed the tableland from the west much of the moisture was lost. The actual catchment area was in this tableland and would consequently catch the clouds before the moisture was lost.
That information comes from an independent source. I propose now to quote from a report by the Chief Engineer for Harbors and Water Supply of New South Wales respecting the water supply available to Canberra from the Gudgenby, Naas, and Paddy Rivers. The report, which was presented in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, contains the following -
Water Supply available from the Gudgenby, Naas, and Paddy Rivers.
These rivers are tributaries on the left bank of the Murrumbidgee, their catchment lying between the Cotter catchment and the Murrumbidgee. Of the three, the Gudgenby is the more important. Its utility as a source of water supply for the Federal Capital, if situated in the vicinity of Queanbeyan, was the subject of a preliminary investigation by Mr. Assistant Engineer Pridham of this Department,in1901, and by Mr. Assistant Engineer Weedon, also of this Department, in 1906, both officers reporting most favorably upon it as a source of water supply.
A further and more careful examination has been made this month by Mr. Pridham, not only of the Gudgenby, but of theNaas and Paddy Rivers, and I have the honour to summarize the result of these investigations, and to report as follows : -
The area of the catchment for water supply purposes is estimated at 184 square miles (the exact area cannot be given without detailed survey). The catchment is nearly all of a rough and steep character, covered with forest, with
Rome swampy land, and bounded by mountain ranges with peaks varying from 5,700 to 5,200 feet in height. Owing to the elevation of the upper part of the catchment, the river is partially snow-fed, and the swamps form valuable water storages tending to maintain a steady flow in the river.
The number of persons residing on this large tract of land is very small, estimated, for the area above the dam site to be referred to hereafter, at about fifty, chiefly engaged in sheepfarming. The character of the catchment is such that the water of the Gudgenby is of high quality for domestic purposes and the river runs clear, even after heavy rain.
What a different picture from that painted a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– What is the extent of the water supply available?
– I am coming to that point, and the figures, I think, will astonish the honorable member, and completely refute the misstatements of other Melbourne representatives -
Supply of Water to Canberra by Gravitation. - Mr. Pridham reports the existence of a good site for a storage dam on the Gudgenby, at a point about a mile below the junction of the Orroral, where a large body of water could be impounded by a dam of reasonable height (about 100 feet).
– A 100-feet dam!
– Although the height seems great, the building of such a dam is not a formidable task in hilly country. There are many higher dams.
– If it is carried away there will be difficulty enough.
The area of the catchment above this dam would be approximately 114 square miles, and the elevation’ of the take-off 2,750 feet, or high enough to command the heights of the city of Canberra. If water be taken from the remaining 70 miles of the catchment it would have to be pumped.
Quantity of Water available from the Gudgenby. - I have estimated the flow of the Gudgenby from the rainfall records extending over a period of fourteen years, and I estimate the mean flow of the river at the dam site at 14,874 million gallons per annum, capable of supplying 407,500 persons with 100 gallons per head per day.
I estimate the mean flow from the portion of the catchment below the dam site at 5,546 million gallons per annum, capable of supply- ing 151,940 persons with 100 gallons per head per day, but this last figure includes water from the lower portion of the catchment of the Naas River, which joins the Gudgenby.
The distance from the dam site to Canberra is about 24 miles.
The Naas River is a tributary of the Gudgenby. An investigation has been made of the catchment, and Mr. Assistant-Engineer Pridham reports that, in his - opinion, a good site for a storage dam exists at an elevation of 2,450 feet, sufficiently high to command Canberra. The catchment is of a similar character to that of the Gudgenby River, though not so high or steep. That portion above the dam is very sparsely inhabited, it being estimated that only twelve persons are resident there. The water of the river is of first-class quality and usually clear.
Quantity of Water available. - I estimate the mean run-off at the dam site from rainfallrecords extending over a period of seven years, at 5,989 millions Qf gallons per annum, sufficient to supply 164,080 persons with roo gallons per head per day.
From these three sources alone we shall be able to obtain sufficient good pure water for domestic purposes to supply a population of 723,000 people with 100 gallons per day. It will be many a long day before there will be three-quarters of a million persons living at the Federal Capital ; but even if the water supply which I have mentioned were not sufficient, there would remain the Cotter, the Molonglo, the Murrumbidgee, the Yass, the Queanbeyan, the Goodradigbee and other sources to draw upon, all of them within the area of the Federal Territory. How then is it possible to believe that those who describe the Territory as a waterless desert, or insufficiently supplied with water, are in earnest? Nor are these all the figures. I think, however, I have quoted sufficient. As the one responsible for nominating this area, I am prepared to justify its selection from known and ascertained facts as to the sufficiency of its water supply. I have no more to say now, but I could not allow a libel on the site, and a libel on New South “Wales, to pass unchallenged.
– I should not have risen to speak on the subject had it not been for the outrageous statements of the honorable member for Lang, who said that in the draft Constitution, as originally submitted to the people, it was provided that the Capital should be in Sydney.
– No. I said that that was the proposal submitted to the Premiers.
– In the draft Constitution there was no. qualification of the kind. According to Quick and Garran, page 204-
The suggestion of the Legislative Council of New South Wales that the Federal Capital should be at Sydney, was met with a countersuggestion by Sir Edward Bi addon in favour 01 “ some suitable place in Tasmania,” whilst Sir George Turner and Mr. Symon kept uri the joke by suggesting “St. Kilda” and “ Mr Gambier “ respectively. It was felt that the site of the Capital ought to be left for ths Australian Parliament to choose. The amendment was negatived without division, and an amendment by Mr. Lyne, to provide that the seat of Government should be in New South Wales was withdrawn at the suggestion of his colleagues.
That was at the last sitting of the Convention in Melbourne, prior to the submission of the Bill to the people. On the first recommittal of the Bill, the honorable member for Hume - pressed his amendment to a division, in which he was defeated by 33 votes to 5, whereupon Mr. Peacock - to show that the vote was not an expression of opinion that the Capital ought to be in Victoria - divided the Convention on the question that the Capital should be in Victoria - which was defeated by 36 votes to 3. A proposition by Sir George Turner, that the Capital should be “within Federal territory,” was then carried by 32 votes to 12.
The members of the Convention were opposed to limiting the choice of the people. When the draft Constitution was submitted to the people of New South Wales, it was accepted by a majority of 5,367, those voting for it numbering 71,595, and those against it 66,228.
– Nevertheless, the Bill was rejected.
– Because of a trick for which a New South Wales legislator, who is now a member of this Parliament, was responsible. Although it had been’ arranged that the Constitution should be accepted1 in New South Wales, on an affirmative majority vote of 50,000, providing that the other States also accepted it, a Bill was passed through the State Legislature raising the minimum to 80,000. After the alteration to which I have referred, the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was at the time Premier of New South Wales, met the other Premiers in Conference, and they agreed to an alteration providing that the Capital should be in that State. The people of the State, or their representatives, were afraid to leave the matter open, because they thought that the people of Australia might, if they had a free choice, select
Federal Territory outside that State. Indeed, the New South Wales newspapers objected to the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, on the ground that it might lead to the reopening of the whole question. Similar objection was taken by New South Wales members to a proposal by the late Mr. V. L. Solomon to submit to the people a proposed alteration of the Constitution which would allow the Federal Capital to be placed anywhere in Australia.
– If New South Wales had the chance to vote again to-day, Federation would be rejected.
– I thought so. That is the secret of the financial agreement.
– New South Wales has gained by Federation.
– She has gained by the protective policy of the Commonwealth. New factories have been erected everywhere in Sydney, as the honorable member must know. The one State whose manufactures have grown most under Federation is New South Wales, which is now nearly up to the Victorian level.
– Federation has increased the cost of living, and reduced the value of £1 to 14s.
– Every State, including New South Wales, accepted the first draft Constitution, which allowed the Federal Capital to be located anywhere in Australia. I admit that I did not vote for the Bill. I regret that Parliament has its hands tied in this matter. To my mind, with the exception of Lyndhurst, YassCanberra is the worst site which we could choose, and I have seen all except the Upper Murray site, which some honorable members say was the best, though it had no chance, because of its nearness to Victoria. Such a consideration should not have been allowed to weigh with honorable members. The Constitution, unfortunately, provides that the Federal Capital must be within New South Wales, but, with that limitation, we should choose the best site available, even though it should be near the Queensland or near the Victorian border. I shall vote for the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney, to give the people a chance to say whether they will accept the proposed site. Honorable members opposite urge that the people would be led away by the press, but those same honorable members were very anxious that another question should be submitted to the referendum - a question on which, not only the press, but State politicians, will have a large influence. Such a question as that cannot be settled on its merits by the people, whereas the selection of a capital site can.
.- I intend to oppose the amendment for a referendum. Under the Constitution the duty of selecting the site is placed on the Federal Parliament, and we cannot abrogate our constitutional rights and responsibilities.
– That is exactly the position in regard to the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill.
– That is a Bill which requires an amendment of the Constitution.
– Not necessarily.
– The agreement necessitates a referendum.
– And we abrogate our rights in sending that question to the people.
– The two questions are quite different. The question of the capital site has ‘already been voted on by the people, and it is our place to bring’ the matter to a conclusion, without an amendment of the Constitution being necessary. The honorable member for Gippsland has recently taken to looking up the speeches of honorable members - has become a sort of scavenger for his party - and, while he doubtless provides very good “ copy,” and may serve certain party purposes, I do not think such a course leads to the perfecting of the measures which come before us.
– I know it is very unpleasant for those who change their opinion !
– When the honorable member for Coolgardie, as Minister of Home Affairs in the Fisher Government, moved the second reading of the Seat of Government Bill, the motion was carried on the voices. The honorable member for Gippsland was no doubt in his place.
– I was not in my place.
– Then the honorable member should have been, seeing that he is constantly talking about others being absent.
– I was not absent from the House, but I was on the Treasury benches.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Gippsland, despite his constant castigation of honorable members, was so far recreant to his duty as a member, as to allow the second reading of the Seat of Government Bill, introduced by the last Government, to pass without any demand for a division. If he regarded it as a serious question, why did he not call for a division, when the Bill was introduced by a Government, with which, as he has since shown by his votes, he was very much in sympathy ? After the second reading was passed, the honorable member moved an amendment on clause 2, which would have had the effect of altering the decision previously arrived at on the ballot. He was appealed to by the Prime Minister not to press the amendment, and he allowed it to be negatived on the voices. If the honorable member was particularly anxious, why did he not take an opportunity of testing the feeling of honorable members by calling for divisions on those two occasions? I admit that, on a second amendment, which he moved, he divided the Committee, and was defeated by fortynine votes to eleven. I do not say that the honorable member was wrong in not dividing the House or the Committee, if he thought the question had been decided, and there is no doubt that the rejection of the second amendment he moved was an indorsement of the decision on the ballot. The question had been properly discussed and fought out. Those in favour of Dalgety advocated that site until they saw that the question had been finally settled ; and I take it that, on the previous occasion, as on this, those who voted for the second reading did not give up their right to endeavour to improve the measure as far as possible in Committee. The position last session is parallel with the position this session ; the question has been properlyfought out and a decision arrived at to select Canberra.
– That decision was afterwards indorsed at the instance of the Labour Government. How is it that the Bill introduced by the last Government was not fought on the second reading?
– The Government had to carry out the behest of the Chamber.
– That is so, and the Chamber had fixed the site in this particular place j so that the position then was on all fours with the position now. Under all the circumstances, the honorable mem ber for Gippsland, while he has a perfect right to criticise honorable members, would do well to put his own house in order.
– The honorable member for Wimmera, even after an explanation I gave him, has not had the manliness or courage to state what that explanation was. When the second reading of a former Bill was proposed by the Labour Government, in order to carry out the decision of the House that the Capital should be in Yass-Canberra, I wrote out an amendment which afterwards was put to the vote, but while the debate was proceeding, I went to the table to confer with the then Minister of Home Affairs as to whether he would accept my amendment, and he referred me to the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Wide Bay came in at that time, and we were standing on the floor, when he asked me to sit down on the Treasury bench. As the honorable member for Wimmera knows”, a private member cannot interject or be taken notice of if he is on the Treasury bench; and it was while I was sitting there that the question was put. I had arranged with the honorable member for Bass to insist on. a division if I were not there, but his was the only voice raised, and mine was silenced. I took the trouble just now, during the call for a quorum, to acquaint him with these facts, but, as I say, he has not had the manliness to place them before honorable members.
– How long would it have taken the honorable member to get from the Treasury bench to his place?
– I could not have got there in time. The debate collapsed unexpectedly.
– If that is the honorable member’s only excuse, it is a poor one !
– I gave the honorable member credit for being as manly and fair a man as there is in the House, and I am sorry that I am mistaken in his character. The first amendment 1 moved was to strike out the words “ hereby declared,” with a view to inserting “ after the grant or acquisition of territory for the Seat of Government within the Yass-Canberra; district shall be.” There was a great divergence of legal opinions as to whether we could determine this site. The idea was that until the New South Wales Government had decided to grant us the site in a proper way, the declaration in favour of Yass-Canberra could not take effect. That was purely a matter of legal opinion ; and I allowed the amendment to be negatived on the voices, there being no necessity to force it to a division. But when the other amendment came on, providing for access to the sea and a port at Jervis Bay, I insisted on a division, notwithstanding that I was appealed to, not merely by the members of the Fisher Government, the present Minister of Home Affairs, and others, but also by my then leader, the honorable member for Ballarat. However, I had sufficient determination to insist on a division, and it comes with very ill-grace from the honorable member to suggest that I shirked a division on the second reading. The honorable member has already changed his opinion on the subject, and does not like to be told of the fact. As the right honorable member for East Sydney said the other day, honorable members opposite are doing a lot of thinking ; and, consequently, are becoming inconsistent; and they do not like their inconsistency brought before the public. At any rate, an honorable member, when he refers to’ others, ought to be fair. I have never willingly .misquoted an honorable member, and certainly will never do so. It was the essence of unfairness for the honorable member to repeat his statement after I had taken* the trouble to explain how it was that I could not insist on a division.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation. If the honorable member for Gippsland considers that the reason he has given for not calling for a division on the second reading is satisfactory, I shall leave the matter to himself. But if he had been watching, as he should have been, it seems to me that to get from the Treasury bench to a spot sufficiently out of their radius in time to call for a division, would not have been a difficult matter.
– The honorable member cannot be fair even now !
.- The honorable member for Lang, from the Ministerial corner, limned a picture of the Yass-Canberra district as it never yet existed, and which was certainly not borne out by the official documents afterwards quoted by the honorable member for Yarra. Any honorable member who says that New South Wales has not benefited by the Commonwealth Tariff must know absolutely nothing about the extension of her manufactories and the additional employment which has been given in Sydney alone to thousands of men and women. To say that the purchasing power of a sovereign in Sydney has decreased to 14s. is absolute fudge and nonsense.
– The Wages Boards have made that an argument for raising wages.
– Can the honorable member tell me a single hotel in Sydney that has increased its tariff, or a single club that has increased its subscription? Can he point to a solitary tailor who has raised his charge for making a suit of clothes ?
– They have reduced the quality of the goods.
– What firm has done so?
– My tailor; the best man in Sydney.
– I am afraid the honorable member is attempting a joke in an effort to help the honorable member for Lang. The picture which the honorable member for Lang drew of Yass-Canberra is about the biggest fake I have ever heard. The Federal spirit has been spoken of, but I yield to no one in my admiration for the beauty of Sydney, and its surroundings. I never go to Sydney without the greatest expectations of pleasure, and I never leave it without regret. At the same time, I must say that the Sydney men want to dominate Australia. They dare not let the Australian people have a chance tot settle this question by means of the referendum. The agreement arrived at by the right honorable member for East Sydney with Sir George Turner and the other Premiers in this matter, after a conference in which the vilest huckstering and bartering took place, was never put before the people. The proceedings at that Conference were only equalled in vileness by the recent Premiers’ Conference which met in Melbourne, and was ashamed to let the press in to hear what took place. Could anything be more contemptible than that bargaining on the part of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who said, “You must give me the capital in New “ South Wales, or I won’t join the Federation?” When the history of these times comes to be written, what will be said of the man who huckstered and bargained in that way to get the Capital for his own State ? I cannot recall any Federation where such a vile system was followed. In all my twenty years’ experience of political life I never before saw such Tammany tactics as have been pursued in regard to the selection of the YassCanberra district so far as ear-wigging members is concerned. I was never so insulted in my life as I have been by continual solicitations and the using of means that were unfair and unjust between member and member, to influence my vote on this subject. However I may differ from the Treasurer on many points, I took his opinion, with that of the late Mr. Oliver, with reference to Dalgety, and I cling to it still. This Parliament has no right in its dying hours to attempt to fix the YassCanberra site permanently on the people of Australia. So far as my vote can insure it, the incoming Parliament will be given the right to change what this Parliament does. The present Ministry, which is under the sway of New South Wales, is afraid to place it in the power of the people of Australia, by means of a referendum, to settle the question ; but I hold that no Ministry and no Parliament has the right to fix for all time upon a people either a Federal Capital or a law. When we have the referendum and the initiative, that will give the people the power to make laws independently of any Government, who shall say that the Australian people will not rise in their might and change the site of the Capital if they so desire? I do not wish any honorable member who is going to vote differently from me to think that I wish to retain the Capital in Melbourne. I do not. With the Federal Parliament meeting in my constituency, I rarely have leisure, and my vote would be willingly given to remove it; but I want to see a site selected that will be a place of beauty, where a Capital can be built as no other capital has yet been built. Washington, the capital of the United States of America, is the only Federal city that’ approximates in any way to the city that we could build if we had the power; but in the case of Washington the land has, unfortunately, been sold. We, I hope, will never permit a single acre of the Federal territory to be alienated. The enhanced value which a Federal Capital will give to the land will belong to the people, and with the motive power for electricity that the Snowy River could supply for a Capital upon the Dalgety site, who can say what its powers and potentialities would be? Where in any other part of Australia can we find the equal of the electric force that could be obtained at Dalgety to supply light, heat, and motive power? When the honorable member for Lang was painting that faked picture of Yass-Canberra, I asked him if he asserted that the water capabilities of the Yass-Canberra district were equal to those of Dalgety. He was clever enough to try to dodge the question, but when he was forced to face it he had to own that they were not. When the history of this period comes to be written what will be said of the treatment meted out to Mr. Oliver, an officer of the New South Wales Government, who advocated Dalgety in no uncertain tones, and, I believe, in terms as complimentary as those used by the right honorable member for Swan? After all, I would rather take the opinion of that right honorable member about a Capital Site than that of any one else who has spoken inside or outside this House. If the right honorable member has changed his mind on the matter, I cannot help it, but while I remain a member of the Federal Parliament, I shall do my best to see that the people have a right to alter the provisions of the Constitution in this regard, for no Constitution should be, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. I am afraid it will be said in later days that Mr. Oliver was not treated fairly by the New South Wales Government, and certainly if Mr. Wade had anything to do with it, I cannot imagine anything fair and just to which he would give his consent if it suited him to do otherwise. The opinion of the people of Australia can be taken, as proposed in the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, without any expense other than the printing of the necessary ballot-papers, and when taken it might remove the 100-mile limit which even the huckstering between the Premiers failed’ to remove. We do not want to alter the present Constitutional provision that the Capital shall be in New South Wales, but if New South Wales members continue to carry on in the next Parliament the same tactics as certain of them have followed on this question in this Parliament, all I have to say is that Australia will rise one of these fine days in its strength and shake off the old man of’ the sea which is now clinging round its neck. We shall not allow our Australia to be continually degraded and dishonoured by these tactics, or perpetually subjected to the terrible infamy, upon the secret history of which the light of day has never yet flashed, perpetrated by a collection of Premiers, and emanating from New South Wales. Such a vile conspiracy ‘ as that was has never emanated from any other State in the Commonwealth. It will take time, but Australia will one day shake off this old man of the sea, arid say, “ Let us start B fresh.” I have no desire to wrong New South Wales. On the contrary, I have every desire to give her the full advantage of what she has garnered by the means of which I have spoken so severely. Knowing what has taken place in the past, it ill becomes New South Wales to try to take advantage of an opportunity to force this question through at the end of the last session of a dying Parliament. I say this without any ill-will, for I have been frequently called a defender of New South Wales and of Sydney, and people have afterwards been astonished to learn that I came from Melbourne. But we want a wider view than the Sydney view of this question. We should take not a city or a State view, but a continental view. We ought to make the word “Australia” ring through the world as the epitome of a continent. I know nothing more likely to imprint the brand of parochialism upon us than the action that has been taken on this question, and I regret deeply that the eloquent words of the honorable member who was Postmaster-General in the late Deakin Government were not heeded. He made a brilliant speech in this Chamber, but afterwards ill health overtook him. I hope to see him come back in the next Parliament, refreshed and restored to health, and able to help us, for he, New South Wales man as he was, was not tinged with the parochialism which characterizes certain other honorable members. I do not know one Victorian member who has spoken to-day, except possibly the honorable member for Wimmera - and he has changed his opinions in a way that no man can possibly understand - who wants Melbourne to be made the Federal Capital. The agreement was made, and we desire to honorably observe it. At the same time, we do not wish to plant the Federal Capital on an unsuitable site. The water supply of Canberra is not what the honorable member for Lang so eloquently declared it to be. I hold with him, however, that, taking advantage of the advances of science, it is possible to make water reeking with filth suitable for drinking purposes. But we know that even in connexion with the most scientific arrangements a mistake may occur, and that drinking water so obtained would not be equal to the splendid supply available to Dalgety from the Snowy River. Mr. E. W. Cole, of Melbourne, whose Book Arcade, so far as my experience will permit me to say, is unequalled in any other part of the world, has prepared a map of Australia on the palm of the hand with the fingers down and the middle finger pointing towards Victoria and Tasmania. I should prefer to see the Capital established in little Tasmania, with her magnificent water supply, rather than at Yass-Canberra. The question of water supply is all important. No one can tell what may be the outcome of the selection of a site at which unlimited water power is available. If it were possible to sway a vote I should appeal to honorable members to remember what is possible with such a great force of water for electrical purposes as can be obtained at Dalgety. Even if that site consisted only of barren rocks, I should say that with a little further advance in chemistry we might be able to change those rocks into arable and fertile soils. I resent strongly the setting aside of Dalgety as the site of the Federal Capital, and the Tammany ring sort of tactics which brought about that decision. I shall vote for this amendment as a means of entering my protest against the passing of the Bill.
– I think it well to preface my remarks with a quotation from the report of a speech made by the late Sir Henry Parkes, at Melbourne, on the 9th February, 1890 -
We desire to enter upon this work of Federation without making any condition to the advantage of ourselves, without any stipulation whatever; with a perfect preparedness to leave the proposed Convention free to devise its own scheme, and, if a central Parliament comes into existence, with a perfect reliance upon its justice, upon its wisdom, and upon its honour. … I think … an overwhelming majority of my countrymen . . approve of the grand step … of uniting all the Colonies under one form of beneficent Government and under one national flag.
I commend -those sentiments to certain representatives of New South Wales.;
– What has the honorable member to say as to the attitude of some representatives of Victoria?
– I have not heard a representative of Victoria declare during this debate that this State has suffered as the result of Federation, and I have yet to learn that Victoria insisted upon any bargain being made before she would consent t» join the Union. On the other hand, New South Wales declared that before entering
Federation she desired to make two bargains, one with respect to the site of the Federal Capital and the other in regard to an amendment of the Braddon blot iri the Constitution Bill as it left the Convention. The Minister of Home Affairs stated this afternoon that I had declared that I submitted my amendment for the express purpose of delaying the settlement of this question. 1 made no such statement. Victorians are charged with being narrowminded, yet the Mother State would not enter the Federation without a bargain as to the Federal Capital; South Australia declared that the Commonwealth must take over the Northern Territory; and Western Australia desired a compact to be made as to the construction of the Western Australian transcontinental railway. We are told by the honorable member for Lang that if the opportunity offered to-morrow, New South Wales would vote against Federation.
– I do not think that she would.
– Nor do I. Federation has made New South Wales.
– New South Wales made the Federation.
– I shall prove that Federation has made New South Wales what it is to-day.
– New South Wales, of course, did not really appear on the map of Australia before Federation !
– I agree with the honorable member, and I hope that he will not vote to give that State an advantage over all the other States of the Union by the establishment of the Federal Capital on the precise area desired by it.
– This is the best of all sites.
– The Treasurer does not think that Canberra is the best site, and with all due respect to the honorable member for Cowper, I prefer, on this question, to take the opinion of the right honorable member for Swan. Wc have also had the extraordinary statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, that the people could net cast an intelligent vote on this question. Quite recently he and other honorable members on this side of the House supported a proposal to submit to a referendum of the people a far more complex and important question, than is that now before us. The honorable member for Wimmera has declared his opposition to the proposed referendum, and says that he thinks it his duty in this case to exercise his right as a member of this Parliament. A few days ago he, too, voted to submit to a referendum of the people the question to which I have just referred. He is prepared to trust the people to deal with the greatest question that could be submitted to them, but he would not trust .them to determine the site of the Federal Capital. The Minister of Home Affairs said that this question had been discussed for nine years.
– So it has.
– No harm will be done in discussing it for a further term of nine years. Is not the Minister aware that its settlement has been delayed by the action of New South Wales herself?
– -I am not.
– I shall be able to prove my contention, and I shall also endeavour to show that even the present Premier of New South Wales thinks that there has been no undue delay. Having regard to the time occupied in determining the site of the Capitals of the United States and Canada he does not think that the time that has been devoted to this question is excessive. At the very, outset of the steps taken to bring about Federation, the late Sir George Dibbs made a claim for the establishment of the Federal Capital in Sydney. At the National Australasian Convention, held in Sydney in 1891, he said, as reported at page 899 of the Debates -
I am perfectly satisfied that this Convention lias no right to close its proceedings without giving an expression of opinion as to where the capital of the future Commonwealth shall be. I should fail in my duty as a representative of New South Wales if I did not ask the Convention to unanimously record their vote in favour of the amendment. Honorable members made very light of the matter when they heard this notice it motion being given, and the honorable member, Mr. Munro, made the remark, ‘’ We want it in Melbourne,” and another honorable member said, “ We want it in South Australia,” and to on. There is one place alone which the people of New South Wales will accept as the capital.. If they are to give up all their privileges and a large portion of their liberties which this Bill will take from them, they must, at least, have some regard to their antiquity, and their natural advantages, to the fact of their being centrally situated, and, above all, to the fact that New South Wales is practically the mother of all the other Colonies. I will divide the Convention on the matter. Those members who represent New South Wales will be traitors to their Colony, and the representatives of the other Colonies who vote against me will be ungrateful , to the Colony from which they sprang, and will be neglecting the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth, if they do not give me the full measure of their support on this motion.
That was the commencement of the agitation for the selection of Sydney as the Federal Capital. At the Melbourne sittings of the Federal Convention, in 1898, Mr. - now Sir Joseph- Carruthers, said, as reported at page 181 1 of the Debates -
We can imagine, then, the establishment of the Federal High Court there, because it will have to hold its chief sittings in the federal capital. You will require a bar to attend there, and I undertake to say that almost for a century to come the leading members of the bar will be found practising their profession in the capital cities of the various Colonies, and for litigants to engage a bar to attend to their cases in some distant so-called federal capital will mean lo penalize litigants to an enormous extent before the Federal High Court.
Again, take the class of men who will be eligible for election to the Federal Parliament which must sit in that Federal territory. Men must go far away from their homes, far away from the society they are accustomed to.
The right honorable member for Swan agreed with him. Sir Joseph Carruthers was then advocating the selection of Sydney for the Federal Capital. I wish now to deal with the statement of the Minister of Home Affairs that, as this matter has been discussed for nine years, it is time it was settled. I agree with him.
– That the matter should be settled?
– Yes; by the selection of the best site. Let me show who is responsible for it not being settled. In 1904, Parliament determined that Dalgety should be the site of the Federal Capital. On the 9th August of that year - Hansard, Vol. xxi., page 3939 - the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was at the time Prime Minister, speaking just after a vote had been taken, said -
I have the consolation, after the division which has taken place, of recognising that that division is an honest expression of opinion by the House. I accept that decision as not brought about, as some other position might have been, by any unfair means, but as a fair and honest expression of the views of the majority. The decision is much against my own views, but I have at least the satisfaction of feeling that the selection which has been made does represent the honest conviction of the majority of the members of this House.
He went on to say -
I am prepared, so far as I am concerned, as a member of this House, to accept the decision which has been honestly arrived at, without any manipulation of votes, which expresses a preference as between Lyndhurst and Dalgety.
The delay is, therefore, not chargeable against Victorians ; it has been due to the action of. New South Wales representatives in opposing the retention of Dalgety. Let me now make a reply to some remarks of the honorable member for Lang. On the 14th November last, after Mr. Farleigh, M.L.C., had proposed the toast of the Federal Parliament, congratulating Mr. Wade on the influence which he had exerted to obtain the financial agreement, and secure the settlement of the Capital site question, the Minister of Defence said -
That Federation had been a great boon was shown by the following figures illustrating the development of industries in the Commonwealth. At the beginning of Federation the number of factories in existence was 10,559, while in 1908 the number had increased to 12,821. During the same period the number of hands employed were respectively 188,544 and 257,102.
– The honorable member is now going beyond the scope of the amendment, and virtually making a second-reading speech.
– The honorable member for Lang stated, a few moments ago, that New South Wales had lost by Federation; that the adoption of Protection had reduced the value of £1 to 14s. Surely I am in order in showing what progress the State has made under Federation?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member will be in order in making a passing reference to the subject ; but he may hot deal with it at length.
– Then, I shall make a passing reference to it by summing up the figures.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member will not be in order in doing that.
– Shall I be in order in quoting a statement made by the honorable member for Hume?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The ‘ question before the Chair is a proposal by the honorable member for West Sydney for amending an amendment which the honorable member had moved, with a view to providing for the amendment of the Constitution.
– It has been stated that New South Wales has lost .£1,500,000 under Federation.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may not discuss the effects of Federation now. He must confine himself to the question before the Committee. The remarks that he wishes to make will be permissible on the third reading.
– Shall I be in order in showing that there are so many factories now in Sydney that it would not be advisable to establish the Federal Capital there, which I understand to be the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney?
– Yes; but the honorable member will not be in order in dealing at large with the effects of Federation on industrial development, manufactures, population, or trade and commerce”, as he was proceeding to do.
– I merely wish to point out that, whereas in1901 the revenue of the State was–
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable member is not in order in going into that matter, which is entirely foreign to the amendment before the Chair.
– I wish to show that the statement that the State of New South Wales has made great sacrifices under Federation is not warranted by the facts.
– The State is so big and rich that she would progress under any fiscal policy.
– Ishould like to read part of a speech made by the Premier of the State, in moving in the Legislative Assembly a motion affecting the Federal Capital site. I’ am glad that this is not a party question. This was his reply to the statement that the settlement of the matter has been delayed -
All I need say is, that when we come to compare the time occupied, and the delays occasioned, in determining the settlement of the capital city of the United States of America, and even of the Dominion of Canada, we cannot complain that the delay, after all, has been very unwarranted or extravagant.
The members of the New South Wales Parliament are opposed to the establishment of the Federal Capital at Dalgety. Let me quote what Mr. Holman, one of the recognised leaders of the great Australian Labour party, said on the subject.
– He is deputy Leader of the New South Wales Labour party.
– And one of the State Righters.
– He said -
I do not say no man in his senses, but no man really grown up, imagines for one moment that the action taken over Dalgety some years ago was taken with any other purpose than that of delaying the final settlement. It was purely abogus selection inthe interests of another State,intended to promote delay.
-That does not agree with what the right honorable member for East Sydney said.
– No. Mr. Holman continued -
We did not want the Capital site at Dalgety. No one wanted it there. Nobody ever seriously proposed that there should be a Capital site at Dalgety. The men who voted for Dalgety were voting for Melbourne, and nothing else, and everybody knew it.
I come now to a startling statement by Mr. O’ Sullivan, a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, made on the 16th September last -
I recognise the importance of having it settled before the next Federal Parliament is elected. We are safe now. We have a majority on our side, and we ought not to lose the opportunity to have this great question settled.
That is the side the honorable member for Werriwa is on.
– Hear, hear !
- Mr. O’Sullivan went on to say -
For that reason, I think, the Premier would do well to accept this amendment, which I shall vote for, not out of antagonism to the Government, but because I think it is a friendly action on the part of the leader of the Opposition to make the suggestion. If the amendment is not carried, then I shall be prepared to support the Government. From what I know from Federal quarters this is an important occasion. As I say, we are safe now. We have been assured of that by the Hon. W. M. Hughes, who is a clever and far-seeing man; and in view of that assurance, why not settle the matter once and for all?
Later on there was a statement made by Mr. Price, a member of the Legislative Assembly in New South Wales.
– We have come 600 miles to get away from him !
– Mr. Price happens to be on the same side as the honorable member ; and I propose to quote his remarks. Mr. Price said -
But the danger lies in this : that the life of the present Federal Government may be short, and for that reason we should be well advised in taking every step to bring about a settlement of this matter.
Is the honorable member for Werriwa going to keep this Government in power until the Capital Site is settled ?
– No fear! I hope their time will be short.
– Mr. Price continues -
After all, what does it matter about the area of territory we offer in regard to the Federal city itself? If we take the history of Washington, we know that the Federal city will be a mere bagatelle. A certain number of members and Government officials will reside there, but the city itself will be a comparatively small place. Its establishment, however, will do away with the present centralization << Melbourne, and will foster the Federal spirit.
On what grounds can Mr. Price make such a statement? Have not the people of Victoria treated the National Parliament generously? What about the building we are meeting in to-day?
– Everybody acknowledges . the generosity.
– Mr. Price does not, but says that, if the seat of Government were shifted from Melbourne we should have a greater national spirit than there is today.
– So we shall ; and the same remark would apply to Sydney or any other of the big cities.
– But there has been a determined attempt to create a war between New South Wales and Victoria on this question.
– What is the honorable member himself doing now?
– We had a speech this afternoon by a representative of New South Wales, who made the startling statement that, if the people of that State had the opportunity to-morrow, they would vote against Federation.
– That is true !
– The honorable member for Nepean supports my statement. If that be the case, we should hesitate to place the Capital in a State where the people are dissatisfied with Federation.
– The unsettled Federal Capital question supplies one of the causes of their dissatisfaction.
– If there is a reason why the Federal Capital should not be located in New South Wales, it is that given by the honorable member for Lang, and the honorable member for Nepean, who have told us to-day that the people of that State, after nine years’ experience, are against Federation. Yet we find that the honorable member for Werriwa is in favour of the settlement of this question, and of a large expenditure of money, although a number of his own party asked to-day where the money was to come from to provide the aged poor and the stricken young with pensions.
– What has that to do with the question before us?
– It has all to do with it. Is the honorable member for Werriwa in favour of simply passing a bald resolution proclaiming this site?
Does he not know that in the opinion of the Minister of Home Affairs the Federal Parliament will meet in the new Capital in 1 91 3? Does he not know that one of his own party has stated’ that, during the next three or four years, the creation of the Capital will mean an expenditure of
– The honorable member is not in order in traversing that aspect of the question.
– I think I am in order in showing that there is to be a certain expenditure in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– I call the. honorable member’s attention to standing order 173, relating to proceedings in Committee, which distinctly states that the discussion shall be confined to the clause or amendment before the Committee. The honorable member is going far beyond those lines; but I have not interrupted him before, because I hoped every moment that he would come back to the question.
– I understand that the proposal is for an amendment of the Constitution, and that, I hold, opens to discussion every proposed site in Australia. I ani trying to show that this amendment should be carried, because the best site has not. been chosen.
– The honorable member may do that, but I think he was going beyond that question.
– I have no desire to go beyond the ruling of the Chair. At present I am merely inviting honorable members to compare Sydney and Melbourne for a moment. An amendment of the Constitution is necessary, in my opinion, so that we may have an opportunity of sayingwhich is the best site; and as some disparaging remarks have been made respecting the State I have the honour to represent, I wish to show that Melbourne is equal to Sydney in many respects, and, in other respects, is superior. However, I think I shall be in order in referring to the Dalgety site, seeing that this afternoon the honorable member for Lang referred to Yass-Canberra, and the water supply there. In my opinion, the claims of Dalgety are superior to those of Yass-Canberra; and, in support of that view, I propose to quote from a report submitted by the Commissioners, Messrs. John Kirkpatrick, chairman, A. W. Howitt, Henry C. Stanley, and Graham Stewart, on the 4th July, 1903. In that report it is stated that a medical witness said that the district of
Dalgety “is a marvellous place for health. I mention this in reply to the honorable member for West Sydney, who said that Dalgety is so bleak that no one can live there.
– Every place in New South Wales is healthy ; but Dalgety would kill the honorable member 1
– What can we make of that contradictory statement from the honorable member for Nepean?
– Who was the medical man ?
– The honorable member can read the report for himself. It would be out of order for me to quote from it at length, and I have no desire to come into conflict with the Chair. The report states -
Typhoid and similar complaints are practically unknown, and although pneumonia and pleurisy occur, they arc less frequent than in Sydney or on the coast, while the dry atmosphere favours recovery. Influenza is, perhaps, the most common complaint, but croup and such chest complaints as attack children are not met with. A few cases of hydatids! occur, traceable to usual and preventable causes.
The site could be easily drained by gravitation, and no extraordinary engineering difficulties would be met with; but, owing to the rocky nature of the ground, the cost, pf excavation would be higher than at any of the other sites reported upon.
I now come to deal with the question as affected by the amendment. As I have already said, this amendment, in my opinion, places every site before the Committee. If there is one question on which the present Treasurer is an authority, it is that of the Capital Sites; and I should rely on him as an authority more readily than on any other honorable member, or indeed any other man in Australia. The right honorable gentleman reported on the Dalgety site on 29th June, 1907, and dealt with the question of the water supply. Every one will agree that that question is of paramount importance in the selection ot a Federal Capital. The right honorable member, under the heading “ Abundant Water Supply,” said -
Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety under this heading.
– How long was he there t
– I am not prepared to take the opinion of the honorable member for Lang against that of the Treasurer. The honorable member for Nepean asks me to quote some other authority ; but I have taken the highest authority that I thought I could get on the question.
– The Treasurer would not claim to be an authority. He did not make any investigation.
– I do not know what he claims to be, but he is a recognised authority on the question. His words were -
Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety under this heading. ±t has no water frontage except the Molonglo River, which is almost dry in summer. It might be possible to conserve water in the Molonglo River by artificial means, though even then the inflow would cease in the summer. There could not be any large expanse of water for boating, &c, without immense expenditure.
Iii concluding his report, he says -
I have no hesitation in recording my opinion that as a site for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth Dalgety is far superior to Canberra.
In regard to the healthy climate of Dalgety, let me quote the words used By Sir joseph Carruthers at a banquet recently held there -
He noticed his old friend Mr. Harnett, “ the man from Snowy River,” whom he had seen in Parliament for 25 years past. (Applause.) He thought that the way Mr. Harnett used to recite that poem instilled him with a desire “to come to the “roof of Australia,” and see the old place where they bred the men from the Snowy River. (Applause.) Then there was his old friend, Mr. Merrett, who with a bottle of wine christened a peak which would for all time bear the speaker’s name. (Applause.) He contrasted the life of the man on the land, its freedom, and contact with the bracing atmosphere, with that of the dweller in the city, and expressed the belief that there was no part of Australia that had such a splendid climate as Monaro; and not only for crops, but children.
The honorable member for Lang claimed that- New South Wales had had to pay a great penalty for entering the Federation, and made the startling statement that the Protective Tariff of the Commonwealth had been the means of reducing the purchasing power of a sovereign in Sydney to 14s. I shall show by a statement recently made by the Minister of Defence regarding Federation that that is not correct.
– That has already been ruled out of order.
– I propose to quote a statement which I have not yet attempted to quote in this Chamber. I do not intend to quote anything which the honorable member ruled out of order when he was acting as temporary Chairman. I shall show that it would not be to the advantage of the Commonwealth to establish the Federal Capital in Sydney, with its dense population. I have figures showing the density of the population in Sydney, and the increasing number of industries established there.
– I ask the honorable member not to go into details on that question.
– The number of hands employed in Sydney had increased by 9,506, and the number of factories by 156, in twelve months. The necessity for carrying the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney lies in the fact that tha best site has not been chosen, and I take it for granted that the honorable member would not have moved the amendment if he had thought the best site had been chosen. I propose to refer to page 72 of Mr. Oliver’s report, to show the climate of Dalgety. Mr. Robert Eddie, a medical practitioner, gave the following evidence : -
Had been seventeen years in the district, which is free from epidemics, though measles and influenza had been experienced. There was no endemic disease. Had only seen three cases of typhoid in the district, and one diphtheria - consumption and asthma were almost unknown. There had been a few cases of hydatids. The district was a very healthy one, owing to the purity of water and altitude.
I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Lang’s statements about the water supply of Yass-Canberra. When the Premier of New South Wales dealt with the question, he devoted nearly the whole of his speech to an attempt to show that Yass-Canberra had a plentiful water supply, yet the honorable member for Lang simply brushed the question aside by asserting that there was plenty of water there. I wish to quote a statement made by the late Sir Henry Parkes in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on the 1st October, 1891. He was a statesman, and took an Australian view of things. It is to be regretted that a large proportion of the present representatives of New South Wales cannot look beyond their own State. Sir Henry Parkes said -
It does not follow that because this very fine port (Eden) has, from one cause or another, been neglected, that it will continue to be neglected. When that district is opened by railway communication, to which, in my judgment, it is richly entitled, Eden, which has a very fine harbor, will become the site of a very important maritime city. … I have that faith in the progress of this country that I have long foreseen that, although retarded by unfavorable circumstances, this result is certain by the very force of growth from without. . . . Twofold Bay has been the victim, if I may so term it, of singular neglect. I do not say whose fault it is. It is very difficult to distinguish ; but, certainly, before many years, Twofold Bay, where the town of Eden is situated….. will become one of the most important places in New South Wales. I have no doubt whatever of that. As far back as 1873 1 advocated the construction of a railway to the port to bring the traffic of Monaro to the bay……
– Since then the population has decreased.
– The honorable member for Nepean and others decry this part of New South Wales which was so highly spoken of by the late Sir Henry Parkes. On the same occasion the honorable member for Hume said -
I think, if there is a district in which a. railway should be constructed, it is from the tableland to the port of Eden. There is no finer port in the Colony, and there is no finer country at the back of it. It is certainly to be regretted that the construction of the line has been left so long in abeyance. There is no possible doubt that the’ port must become a great shipping port, and it will become a great centre of population.
– That was twenty years ago, and yet nothing of what was then predicted has happened.
– If Federation had been established twenty years ago, this part of New South Wales would be in a better position than it occupies to-day. Sydney was practically asleep until New South Wales joined the Union. In selecting a site for the Federal Capital, we should have regard to the facilities offered for effective defence. The late Mr. Oliver, in his report on the several sites wrote -
If the Seat of Government were to be’ located on the Monaro tableland, and connected by rail with a harbor such as Twofold Bay, the Commonwealth would acquire an invaluable naval base situated nearly halfway between the two State Capitals that offer the greatest temptations to an enemy - Sydney and Melbourne. The eastern States of Australia would acquire a harbor of refuge, or for refitting ships in distress, or for coaling. If the Commonwealth is to have a navy of its own, or even a training ship,. Twofold Bay would be a convenient station, particularly for gunnery practice, and suggests itself as the convenient head-quarters of the Naval Commandant. As the breakwaters would be fortified, the port of Eden could be made practically impregnable. With such a harbor the Commonwealth would have two routes for reaching the various State Capitals - one by sea, the other by land - and for facilitating the collection, mobilization, and despatch of troops, munitions, and equipments.
So far as I am aware, attention has not hitherto been directed to this all-important phase of the question. Mr. Oliver, who was a recognised authority on the subject, also wrote -
If the final selection is to be governed mainly by considerations of cost of acquisition, and present accessibility as between New’ South
Wales and Victoria, Yass would be entitled to first place ; but the resources of that site for an effective water supply for a large population are not as satisfactory as could be desired.
If the quality of the soil and the character of the climate are accepted as the controlling factors, Orange (or Canobolas) would be entitled to first place; but the cost of resuming land within this area will be very heavy, and the water supply from the Canobolas catchment is not very promising for a large population. This site has the additional drawback of not being, in respect of accessibility, a fair compromise as between Sydney and Melbourne.
If the Federal Territory is, within reasonable limits, to be selected independently of cost and of present accessibility, Southern Monaro combines more distinctively appropriate features than either Canobolas or Yass.
On their own merits, apart from the considerations indicated above, and having regard to the future, rather than the initial, requirements of the Commonwealth, Southern Monaro is entitled to the first place, and Canobolas and Yass may be bracketed as about equally suitable.
Health considerations should also be given due weight in determining the site of the Federal Capital. A large number of witnesses were examined by Mr. Oliver, and one of them, Dr. Eddie, I believe, said that consumption was unheard of in the Eden-Monaro district. That is an important point. It is estimated that 1,500,000 people - almost equal to the population of New South Wales - died from consumption in 1908, and something like 3,500 per annum fall victims to the disease inthe Commonwealth. We are ready to place on the Estimates votes to be employed in attracting people to our shores, and I think it is our duty also to look after the well-being of our own people. We ought certainly to take care that the Federal Capital shall be established in the healthiest part of the Commonwealth.
– That is Tooma.
– There is a difference of opinion on the point ; but if the amendment, as proposed to be amended by the honorable member for West Sydney, were adopted, it would be left to the people to determine which is the most desirable site. During the last seven years, 24,171 persons have died from tuberculosis in the Commonwealth.
– Then the honorable member would establish the Capital beyond the Commonwealth ?
– I should establish it in that part of New South Wales, which, according to the evidence of a medical man, who was examined by Mr. Oliver, is free from consumption. If there is any part of Australia where that scourge is unknown, it ought to be selected as the site of the Seat of Government.
– There is such a district in South Australia.
– In reply to the honorable member, I would remind him that I am a loyal supporter of the Constitution, and have no desire, even if he has, to rob New South Walesof the Federal Capital. The bargain made with the mother State ought to be kept; but we should take care that the very best site is chosen. I think that 1 have shown that, from a health standpoint, Dalgety is a far better site than is Yass-Canberra.
– The honorable member has said nothing about Yass-Canberra.
– I propose presently to quote statements made by two honorable gentlemen who visited that site. One of them, although occupying a very high position in the Commonwealth, could yet find time to make a personal inspection, and 1 agree with the conclusion which he formed as the result of his visit. Although I did not visit the site, I visited one of the sites, but the trouble with the motor cars was so great that I did not wish to see any more.
– Was it the motor cars or the country that upset the honorable member ?
– The motor cars and the bad roads; the country was good enough. The Minister has said that I have not quoted anything about Yass-Canberra.
– The honorable member has not quoted the reports regarding its healthiness.
– I should be ruled out of order, were I to read long reports on the subject, and I have no desire to come into conflict with the Chair. I have condensed my remarks and my quotations as much as possible. I wish, however, to read an opinion regarding Canberra which has been published by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. No one would charge him with bias in this matter, and he visited the district when a member of the last Government, at the request of the Minister of Home Affairs of the day. Would any one charge him with disloyalty to the Government of which he was a member, or to his party, in publishing a statement of opinions which he did not hold? Certainly I am quite prepared to take his views on a matter of this kind. We should be likely to agree pretty well. This is undoubtedly a. fair account of the impressions of his visit -
The surroundings of the Mugga Mugga sitethe best I saw- are beautiful ; but the great consideration in selecting a site is an adequate water supply for drinking and for power. This the district does not possess.
At any rate, the honorable member saw the site, so that he is not open to the charge which is brought against some of those who oppose its adoption. His opinion is borne out by experts.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The speech of the Premier of New South Wales in moving a motion relative to the site, in the Legislative Assembly of the State, was an endeavour to show that there is plenty of water at Canberra.
– He supported his statement by citations of actual facts. He had to refer to the matter at length because so many misstatements had been made on the subject.
– Let me continue my quotation from the report of the honorable member for Hindmarsh -
Experts say that Cotter Creek could be made to provide only about 3,000 horse-power for lighting the new city by electricity, or the driving of machinery, without leaving any water for domestic purposes. The supply could be obtained only by constructing a weir 200 feet high. The water would then have to be lifted 650 feet, and carried a distance of 30 miles to the city in a pipe line along the ranges, crossing a deep gully.
Surely this Parliament should not, in its expiring hours, on the eve of an election from which a third of its members will not return, commit the people to expenditure on a site where there is no water !
– After that we may expect the honorable member to say anything.
– I have no desire to misrepresent.
– That is what the honorable member is doing.
– I have quoted the opinions of experts. I have given the views of an undoubted authority, the right honorable member for Swan. Would any one charge him with writing a statement which did not express his real opinions? He says that Canberra is inferior to Dalgety, so far as water supply is concerned. A few days ago I was charged with not having visited the sites ; but when an honorable member does so, his opinion is not taken. Then there is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– Another expert !
– I do not quote his opinion as that of an expert, but as that of a layman who is as intelligent as any in the chamber. Surely it is worth “ something. He said -
As compared with Dalgety, the Yass-Canberra site is a most unfortunate selection. It is a pretty enough place, but from the point of view of water supply, I say that to use the site would be one of the biggest crimes ever perpetrated. I say after my visit that the taunt “ waterless Canberra “ is true.
Then there was Mr. Oliver, the special Commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government. Was he a1- layman?
– He was a lawyer - not a surveyor.
– Surely the honorable member will not reflect upon one who belonged to the same profession as he does. If there is another side to this question, and honorable members have authorities to support it, why do they not quote them? If my statements are contradicted by evidence, I am not so biased that I will not reconsider the position.
– The honorable member has carefully avoided references to the. statements of the experts appointed to examine the site. 0
– The only member who voted for Canberra was the honorable member for Robertson.
– Parliament chose Yass-Canberra, which includes Canberra.
– Canberra itself secured only one vote. If the site possesses the advantages which some honorable members attribute to it, this is the time to state them, and to show that adverse criticism is not justified. I think the honorable member for North Sydney will agree with me that there is no opinion which he would accept in regard to the selection of the site for a city more readily than that of the right honorable member for Swan.
– Not at all.
– The right honorable member had experience in Western Australia which makes his opinion on matters of this kind worthy of consideration.
– I now propose to quote from a speech by Senator St. Ledger -
I express the hope that the Federal Capital will never be a city of very large population. . . A population of from 50,000 to 60,000 is as large a population as I think we can expect to have in the Federal Capital within sixty or seventy years after it has been established. … I think it will prove to be an advantage to establish the Federal Capital in a district which is capable of supporting a comparatively small population…..
The Capital should not be a city of overwhelming importance. … I regard it as one of the reasons in favour of the establishment of the Capital in the Yass-Canberra district that it is not likely that, in that district, we shall have established a city likely to approach, for a very long time, the dimensions of Washington, for instance.
– Where was that statement made ?
– In the city of Melbourne.’ I now quote Senator Sayers -
I suppose that if Canberra be made the Capital site the city will be partially deserted when Parliament is not sitting. . . . We know that nobody will live in the Capital city except Government officials, with, of course, shopkeepers and others who will supply their wants.
– Is the honorable member quoting from Hansard?.
– I am quoting from a Sydney newspaper. I have avoided quoting from a Victorian newspaper, lest it should be said I was biased. I think the Minister of Home Affairs will agree that those two gentlemen knew something of the matter.
– I do not know ; the honorable member has given us no evidence as yet.
– In order to show that those two gentlemen are not in error, I shall quote the present Attorney-General, who made a speech in the Victoria Hall, Adelaide, on the 9th September, 1908.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the question now under discussion is in order, seeing that it is a proposal for an amendment of the Constitution, so as to permit a part of New South Wales being selected as a Capital site, and that it has been determined according to the preamble that the Bill is to take over territory that has already been set apart for the Capital site?
– Do I understand that the honorable member asks my ruling ?
– I desire your ruling, sir.
– I point out, first of all, that the honorable member has taken a rather unusual course in raising a point of order in the middle of the speech of the honorable member for Batman.
– Cannot a point of order be raised in the middle of a speech?
– A point of order can be raised at any time, but it is rather unusual to do so in the middle of a speech. Do I understand that the honorable member for Robertson raises a point of order on the amendment now before the Committee?
– I am raising the point of order on the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney on the amendment of the honorable member for Batman.
– When the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney was submitted I accepted it, but I must candidly admit, after looking into the matter carefully, that I was in error in doing so. The honorable member for Batman moved to insert after the word “ proclamation “ the words “ but not until after a referendum of the people of the Commonwealth has been taken as to the most suitable site.” On that, the honorable member for West Sydney moved to insert after the word “after” the words “such amendment of the Constitution shall have been presented t.o the people as is necessary to permit of any part of the State of New South Wales being selected, as the most suitable site.” The amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney certainly so broadened out the question as to embrace quite a different principle from that affirmed on the second reading ot the Bill. Under the circumstances, I think that the objection of the honorable member for Robertson is quite valid, and that the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney is not in order. At this stage I may say that it is most difficult, in dealing with a Bill such as this, when an honorable member submits an important amendment, especially at a time when there is excitement in the Committee, to decide at the moment whether the amendment handed in is or is not strictly in order. I admit that the point raised may ‘be open to a good deal of debate ; but I am firmly convinced that, in accepting the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, I was in error. I am pleased that the honorable member for Robertson has raised the point of order; and I rule that the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney is out of order.
– In view of the fact that a certain amount of discussion has been allowed on the amendment, would it not be fair to allow other honorable members to discuss it?
– My ruling will not at all interfere with the discussion. The amendment of the honorable member for Batman is quite broad enough to allow of all the debate that has taken place to-day, and will not interfere with the right of reply to honorable members who have already spoken. I have ruled the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney out of order; and the amendment of the honorable member for Batman is now before us.
– The Attorney-General estimates that Australia is capable of supporting a population of 150,000,000; and, if that be so, I think we may anticipate a larger population than 40,000 or 50,000 for the Federal Capital. Mr. Wade, the Premier of New South Wales, speaking in the State Parliament in September last, pointed out that one of the questions that would have to be taken into consideration in connexion with the Federal Capital, was that of population. On that occasion the Premier said -
Yet, although Sydney has taken 100 years to cover an area of 140 square miles. .. . we may, I think, very well agree that the Commonwealth shall have an area for what I may call city purposes proper of somewhere -about 240 square miles. This seems to me a reasonable and fair suggestion, and I may say that, so far as I can ascertain from the reports of the responsible officers of the Commonwealth on this question, this area has been fixed upon by them as that which will probably be embraced within the future Capital site.
In the face of these facts and expressions of opinion, I think the people of Australia should have an opportunity to say where the Federal Capital shall be placed. One of the most important statements in connexion with the question was made by the present Minister of Home Affairs on the 22nd September of this year, to the effect that the Federal Parliament was likely to meet in Yass-Canberra in 1913. If that is the proposal, the House should know where the money is to come from to erect the buildings. If the proposal is to meet in temporary premises it is a fair question to submit to the people. The Argus says -
This would involve the erection of temporary quarters for the legislators as well as for Departmental officers-
– Order I T ask the honorable member not to follow that line of argument.
– I wish to show that this ia a question of expense, and that, therefore, the people should have an opportunity of dealing with it. The Minister’ of Home Affairs knows that if this Bill is passed, a certain amount of expenditure will be necessary in connexion with the erection of buildings.
– We can consider that question when it comes along.
– The proper time to consider it is now. Where a large expenditure is involved the people should have an opportunity of saying whether it should take place or not. The building in which we are now meeting cost £1,000,000.
– Order ! If I allowed the honorable member to enter into a discussion of that question, it would open up a debate on a matter quite different from that now before the Chair.
– Then I should like to answer the arguments of other honorable members who have addressed the Committee on this question. The first to reply to me was the Attorney-General. He look a point of order, but the only objection that he could find to my amendment was that of expense. Ten. pounds would cover all the expenditure necessary for the taking of the referendum. If the amendment is carried the Government will be bound to give effect to the decision of the Committee. The honorable member for Dalley, who has spoken on several occasions on this question, also criticised the amendment. He ought to vote for a referendum, seeing that in the first six ballots he voted for Armadale, in the seventh for Lyndhurst, and in the eighth and ninth for Yass-Canberra. If he changes his mind so quickly he “should surely allow the people an opportunity of saying where the Federal Capital should be. He also urged that it would be necessary for every member to visit the sites in order to give an intelligent vote, but in that connexion I am prepared to accept the dictum of the honorable member for Parkes, with whom I do not agree on every question. He said that he had not visited any site, but was prepared to take the opinion of experts. So am I ; and, therefore, the argument of the honorable member for Dalley falls to the ground.
– But which set of experts ?
– I have stated about twenty times that I have taken as my guide the best authority in Australia - the present Treasurer. The honorable member for Dalley also said that my proposal was put forward by the press. The press of Victoria have not taken a very decided stand on the question. One or two of the leading journals have, but every paper in New South Wales, daily or weekly, with one exception, has been crying out for YassCanberra. Nothing is too bad for them to say about Dalgety. The honorable member for Dalley writes -for the press himself, and recently published an article in connexion with my proposal. The honorable member for West Sydney said that £250,000 would have to be spent in YassCanberra. He regarded that as too much, and stated that the best place for the Capital was Sydney. The honorable member for Darling also spoke. His only argument against my proposal was that it was not competent for the Government to take a referendum on the question. The honorable member for Wentworth suggested that the reason the daily press of Melbourne wanted the Federal Capital to remain in Melbourne was that it would cost them a great deal to keep a staff at the Federal Capital, but the honorable member knows that the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph are in the same boat, yet they strongly advocate Yass-Canberra. I refuse to believe that the press of Victoria are against the establishment of the Capital in a place of which the whole of the people of Australia approve. If the honorable member for Wentworth cannot find any stronger argument than that, he has a very weak case. I find that if the people of Australia had an opportunity to vote on the question by means of a referendum, they would declare in favour .of a site other than Yass-Canberra. Taking the number of votes recorded at the last election for each member who voted for Dalgety or Yass-Canberra, I find that in Victoria 46,768 votes were cast for YassCanberra, and 142,574 for Dalgety. In New South Wales 196,136 were cast for Yass-Canberra, and 20,370 for Dalgety; in Queensland 32,609 for Yass-Canberra, and 39,030 for Dalgety ; in South Australia 12,080 for Yass-Canberra, and 38,000 for Dalgety ; in Tasmania, 16,408 for Yass-Canberra, and 10,040 for Dalgety. Representatives of Western Australia did not cast a vote for YassCanberra, but honorable members from that
State, for whom 32,629 votes had been recorded, voted for Dalgety.
– The honorable member is adopting the Argus argument.
– I should not go to the Sydney Morning Herald for information on the subject. Out of a total of 586,644 electors; so represented, the majority in favour of Yass-Canberra was only 21,358. In support of my contention that this question should be submitted to a referendum,
I would point out that on the occasion of the first ballot, taken in this House with regard to the selection of a site, Canberra received only one vote. On the second and third rounds the voting was the same, and thereafter Canberra dropped out of the running. The honorable member for Robertson alone voted for it on that occasion. In the final ballot in this House Yass-Canberra received 39 votes and Dal’gety 33, or a majority of six in favour of the first-named site. At the previous ballot, however, Dalgety had a majority of ii votes.
– How does the honorable member account for the change?
– By the fact that representatives of Victoria, for whom 46,768 votes had been recorded, voted on the last occasion for Yass-Canberra. The honorable member for Lang has charged Victorians with disloyalty to New South Wales in this connexion, and I would remind him that but for the votes cast by certain representatives of this State, YassCanberra would not have been selected. I desire to say, in conclusion-
Several Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– It is interesting to note the cheers of representatives of New South Wales who a little while ago would have been ready to “ stone- wal 1 “ this Bill until they had the numbers available to support it. They think now that they have a majority against my amendment, and hence their cheers. So far only one representative of New South Wales has dared to defend the selection of YassCanberra.
– The other representatives have not had an opportunity to speak.
– I am prepared to give the honorable member an opportunity a few moments hence to vote on this question - a question which, I would remind the Committee, is of concern to every man, woman and child in Australia. The vote that is about to be given will bind future generations. In view of the difference of opinion existing amongst honorable members ; in view of the fact that Dalgety was originally selected, and that after the next general election one-third of the present members will probably no longer have a seat in this Chamber, I think that the people of Australia should have an opportunity to deal with this question. I trust that no one will deny to the people, who ure our masters, and whom we represent, an opportunity to say where the future Capital of Australia shall be.
– I trust that the Committee will support the amendment. I regret that the original decision of the Parliament in favour of Dalgety was- not adhered to. It is not fair to the other States that the Parliament of New South Wales should dictate to this Parliament what site shall be selected.
– It has not done so.
– -Yass-Canberra was selected by this Parliament.
– So far as this question is concerned, the Federal Parliament has been the blind bull with a ring in its nose led by the Parliament of New South Wales. It has been not only bulldozed, hut intimidated. This proposal is one to commit against posterity a crime unparalleled in history. Neither the records of plundered provinces nor of the most cruel of ancient rulers disclose such dictation as that to which the Federal Parliament has had to submit upon this question at the hands of the Parliament of New South Wales. We are on the dawn of new inventions, of intellectual progress, of Christian advancement; of great scientific achievements following the discovery of the North Pole and the onward inarch of the Esquimaux–
– Order ! Will thchonorable member connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– I shall, sir. This is a proposition to establish the Capital in a district which at times is so dry that a crow desiring to put in a week-end vacation there would have to carry its water bag. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports was there, and he knows my statement is correct.
– He nearly got drowned when he went for a swim there.
– He nearly got dry-blown. Americans admit that they made a mistake in establishing their Federal Capital so close to the Eastern States. The area of the Commonwealth is bigger than the continent of Europe. Metaphorically speaking, one could put Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and Sweden into New South Wales. It is because I am proud of the greatness of Australia, of its magnificent areas and its widespread influence, that I do not wish to see its Capital established in an undesirable place. The capital of a great continental people should be blessed with a cold climate calculated to nurture great men. The great men of the world - the great inventors and thinkers - have come from cold countries. Look at the great men produced by little Scotland, where the men sit by the fire at night, smoking tobacco and thinking, while their wives, by their sides, are spinning. If honorable members desire to see the effect which a hot climate has on the people, I invite them to go to the Spanish Main, where on Sunday mornings they will see bare-footed men with their trousers rolled up, huge sombreros on their heads, and roosters under their arms, hurrying to the cock pits. The spirit of a hot country is revolutionary. Where you can sleep out without a blanket there is no telling when the Government will be upset. We should have our Capital in a cold country, where we could breed great thinkers and inventors.
– Tasmania, for instance.
– The Federal Capital should be in Tasmania. Then we could rejuvenate and recreate the island, banishing the fossils. After my election, there were several deaths there. Honorable members must remember that this is a great question, in which .the whole world takes an interest. This is a subject that they think about in London. When a French expedition went into the heart cf Africa to visit a chief, the first question he asked was, “ What do they think of me in Paris?” As a matter of fact, they had never heard of him there. But they have heard of the Australian Capital question. The honorable member for Robertson is a fair-minded, progressive man, who is not hide-bound by party considerations. [ should like him to consider this question.
– I think the honorable member has made out a good case. I was thinking of ancient Rome.
– Rome fell because she did not look after the settlement of the land, and crucified her Gracchi. As Cicero pointed out - -
-The honorable member must confine himself to the question.
– I must vote for the proposition for a referendum. We have lost all right to legislate here. We have abandoned our sovereignty, and must ask the people in everything what we are to do.
– Is the honorable member opposed to the referendum?
– No;, but I am opposed to asking the people to settle things which we should settle ourselves. However, as we have determined to refer another great question to the people, I want to give them an opportunity to settle the Federal Capital site question. What is the proposal of the honorable member?
– Every elector is to say what site he prefers.
– And, no doubt, special trips will be organized, so that every one may inspect the various sites.
– Is it proposed to print the names of the best sites on a. ballot-paper, and ask each elector to put a cross against that which he favours ?
– We can decide the method afterwards.
– I should like the people to be consulted regarding certain specified sites. They should be asked to decide between Dalgety and YassCanberra.
– That is the idea.
– That is not stated in the amendment. The honorable member for Batman should alter his proposal so that the people may say whether the Capital site shall be at Yass-Canberra or at Dalgety.
.- As the numbers seem to be up, not much is to be gained by speaking at length ; and, therefore, I shall not try to make a long speech, supposing I could do so. It is some consolation to know that the elections areat hand, and that probably the result will be to upset the Yass-Canberra site as the Dalgety site was upset. I believe that it is only the Sydney people who want the YassCanberra site. The rest of the people of New South Wales are indifferent; and the people of the other States are antagonistic. That is shown by the statements of the honorable member for Batmanregarding the voting in this Chamber. Under these circumstances, Yass-Canberra will probably have little chance after the elections. If the people think that the matter is likely to be settled soon, they will take a keen interest in it; and even if we do not submit the questionto them by way of a referendum, they will express their view’s by requiring certain pledges regarding the matter from the candidates for whom they vote. What I would propose in regard to a referendum would be to allow every elector to write down on a voting- pa per the name of the place in New South Wales which he thought most suitable. No doubt the Queenslanders would largely vote for Armidale. Others would vote for Tumut or Albury; but I believe that the majority would vote for Dalgety. I recently had a conversation with a New Zea lander, who expressed great regret at the abandonment of Dalgety, because he thoughtthat, with a Federal port on the east coast of Australia, giving direct connexion by sea with New Zealand, that country would be the more ready to join an Australasian Federation, which many New Zealanders desire, and which, under the financial pressure, may be brought about. An alternative arrangement to that which I have suggested would be to select certain sites and submit them to the people. In my opinion, the Constitution might very well be amended to permit of a compromise such as they have adopted in South Africa, or to allow the people to say which of the recognised capitals should he made the Capital of the Commonwealth, thus saving the expense of a bush Capital. In South Africa, the people of the Transvaal wished to have the old State capital of Pretoria chosen for the capital of the Federation, whilst the people of Cape Colony insisted that the historical city of Cape Town should be selected. When the people of Natal had given up their claims, only these two cities remained in the list. Most people feel that it is undesirable to establish a Capital where there will be little population. We do not want a Capital such as Washington was when Dickens described it as a place of mud, canals, and desert spaces.
– It is a lovely city now.
– Because it is the capital of the country having a population of over 80,000,000 people. Besides, it is situated on a river, and has a port. In Australia, a capital would not be likely to grow as quickly as Washington did. The pressure of the public opinion of a great metropolis upon a Parliament is salutary. It is a mistake for politicians, or even private persona, to bury themselves where public opinion cannot reach them. In South Africa it was decided that the Parliament should meet at Cape Town, while the Executive capital was fixed at Pretoria ; and we could easily amend our Constitution in a similar direction. At present the Constitution provides that the Seat of Government shall be in New South Wales, but not in Sydney, with the Parliament meeting in Melbourne; and I should like to see an amendment to provide for the Executive capital in Sydney, with Melbourne as the Parliamentary capital. If people had an opportunity of voting whether they would have the Capital in Sydney or in some bush place in New South Wales, they certainly would select Sydney ; and I deeply regret that, the proposals made in the Convention were not accepted. The choice of the Federal Capital could then have extended over the whole of Australia, not excepting Melbourne, Sydney, or Hobart ; and the choice had to be made by the State Governors under the advice of their Ministers, and in case of disagreement, by, I believe, the late Queen. I hope that the honorable member for Batman will secure a third referendum, because I” should like the people to have a greater area qf choice. In view of the difference of opinion in this House, and the undoubted change of front on the part of representatives, particularly in another place, it would be wise to refer the question to the people.
– I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Batman. Some months ago I pointed out that the House was so equally divided as between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra that the question was one for further consideration ; and I am of that opinion still. There is nothing to prevent the whole of the sites, which have been proposed from time to time, being placed before the people, and a vote taken on the preferential principle. I remember supporting the honorable member for Calare in an amendment intended to give the Lyndhurst site a chance. It seems to me strange that the New South Wales Government should show such a dislike to Dalgety, Bombala, or any place in that vicinity. Some time ago, when there was a proposal for a railway in that part of Australia, we were told that the project would have been entered upon before, but for the fact that it might have assisted the advocates of Dalgety. It is certainly very strange for a Government or Parliament to retard the progress of a portion of a State because it might assist in the fixing of the Federal Capital there; however, that only shows what provincialism is capable of. It is very interesting to read the splendid accounts of the Kosciusko district in the Tourists’ Guide of New South Wales - of the beautiful scenery, the plenitude of fish, and so forth.
– The tourist guides do not praise Yass-Canberra !
– I have never seen any of the New South Wales Tourists’ Guides recommend Yass-Canberra as a health resort. In the establishment of a city, the first consideration is a good water supply. Some years ago, the honorable member for Lang told us that, after all, the water supply was only a minor matter; but to-day he quotes authorities in favour of providing a dam some 200 feet high, on the Yass-Canberra site. I told my, electors that, if I were expected to live in a city below a dam of that dimensions, I had no desire to be their representative - I have no ambition to be washed hurriedly down a stream. In conversation, I have heard of dams placed on little streams on private property leading to a railway accident in New South Wales some years ago; and I would much rather live alongside a stream like the Snowy River, from which a supply is obtained all the year round without any dependence on a large storage. The reports of experts show that a certain quantity of water flows down a river in the course of twelve months; but that .is no guide, because there might be a wonderful stream for a week or two or a month, with a dry bed for the remainder of the year.
– From that point of view we have no water supply worthy of the name at Sydney !
– I do not think there is a dam 200 feet high in connexion with the Sydney supply.
– There are two.
– At any rate, I have no desire to live in a city so supplied, when the Snowy River could supply all our wants.
.- There is justification for some of the criticism which has been evoked in connexion with certain New South Wales in- fluences. It is very unfortunate that there should have been so much interference with exclusively Federal functions by the present Premier of -New South Wales, not only in connexion with the Federal Capital, but in other matters.
– What has that to do with the question?
– This interference has caused a good deal of ill-feeling, and given honorable members like the honorable member for Batman, an opportunity to bring parochial retaliation to bear against the State of New South Wales. I should very much like, if it were possible, to deal with this as a national question ; but that cannot be done, in view of the fact that the Constitution makes it entirely a parochial matter. All the prating in the world about national ideals and aspirations will not affect the issue in the least. It may be that there are a hundred better sites in Australia than Yass-Canberra, but, according to the Constitution, we are kept within certain limits, and compelled to take the best to be found there. There has been altogether too much bargaining in connexion with Federation. Something has had to be given to one State and another, until I am afraid, some few years hence, the representatives of the people will find themselves shackled in all directions, and unable to give effect to the views which they think the best for Australia. I represent a city constituency ; and I must say that, when the Federal Constitution was before the people, it was held out as an inducement to them to vote for it that the limitation of the choice of the Capital would give the metropolis a tremendous advantage. It was pointed out to waterside workers, for instance, that all the shipping would have to come to Sydney for repairs, and that other artisans would reap great benefits, owing to the fact that Sydney would be for all time the port of the Federal Capital. By these appeals, some enthusiasm was raised, and a number of votes were cast for the Constitution because of the bargain made. I utterly disapprove of such baits being he’d out when negotiations are in progress. for the welding of great States into nationhood. However, we are not now asked to determine the reasons why the Constitution was agreed to in its present form ; we have to take the Constitution, and give effect to it as it is. The people of Victoria knew quite well that this special bait was held out to the people of New South Wales; and I ask why there should be any desire to go back on the bargain? While the Victorian people may criticise the position, they ought to be honest enough to honour their promise. There is no doubt that from Inter-State Free Trade and extended markets, Victoria hoped to gain much in a commercial sense. All the eloquence about national ideals and aspirations is beside the question. It must be admitted that there has been a change of opinion in regard to the sites on the part of some honorable members; but I do not see that another change would make the position any better ; on the contrary, it would accentuate criticism. I have been to YassCanberra; and, while I do not say that it is an ideal site, I regard the canards of the Victorian press and certain Victorian representatives as totally” unjustified.
– It is a good place in which to bury the dead.
– It is easy to make funny remarks to induce people to laugh at the site, but the honorable member has never been there and knows nothing about it. A large number of those who have expressed themselves most vehemently on the question are in a similar position. It is quite untrue that Yass-Canberra is hot. It is in the cooler part of New South Wales, and the honorable member for Darwin would not care to camp, out there even at this time of the year. It is evident that those who are proposing a referendum do not take the question seriously.
– Will not the honorable member trust the people?
– I believe in the referendum, and in the people deciding all those questions which they are competent to decide, but the selection of a Federal Capital site the people, as a mass, are not competent to decide. What would the people of Victoria as a whole know about the Yass-Canberra site? There is not a member of this Parliament who has read the whole of the reports on the different sites. It would take two or three years to do it. If the question were submitted to a referendum il would simply mean that the big papers would fight for the commercial interests of their capitals. Whatever suited the advertising clientele of the Age and Argus would be advocated bv them, and the people of Victoria, would be influenced not so much because one site was better than another as because one site would give greater advantages than another to the commercial houses of Victoria. The same thing would occur in New South Wales and all the other States. The suggestion to refer the question to the people is not a sensible one. We know from talk in the lobbies that a number of honorable members intend to vote for it for the express purpose of delaying a settlement of the question. They think that while there is life there is hope, and that there might be a possibility of upsetting the choice of Yass-Canberra in the new Parliament.
– The New South Wales crowd did that before with regard to Dalgety.
– That is no reason why I should agree to its being done again. The Victorian members are not troubled personally as to where the Capital should he, but they think they will gain .some kudos with the Victorian press, and be assisted at the next election, if they run with their big commercial organs on a matter of this kind, which is not a party question. It is farcical to suggest the submission of Dalgety, Tumut, Albury, Lyndhurst, and Yass-Canberra to a referendum. lt would be a very good thing for the Victorian folk that the Commonwealth Parliament should continue to sit- in Melbourne. Nearly £250,000 a year is spent in this city by reason of the Parliament meeting here. There are the heads of all the Departments and their huge staffs, the upkeep of both Houses, and a large number of members always living in Victoria, and one cannot blame the Melbourne people for looking after their own interests by trying to retain as much of that expenditure in their midst as possible. I shall not canvass the merits of the different sites, because that has been done time after time, and nothing that can be said now will alter a single vote. The honorable member for Batman spoke for four or five hours, but he knew he was simply putting up a straw man in order to knock him down again, and that all his speech would do would be, perhaps, to gain him a little kudos in the Age to-morrow morning. The numbers are up for the Bill, and it is going to be carried. The Sydney Daily Telegraph, in the issue that arrived to-day, points out that part of the compact between certain New South Wales members of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister was that the Free Traders should throw overboard their Free Trade principles, their idea of contributions to the Imperial Navy, and their advocacy of volunteer military training, in favour of the Prime Minister’s proposals, while he, on the other hand, should throw overboard his views about the Federal- Capital. Both sides, therefore, have thrown overboard some of the cargo of principles on which they were elected.
– Who says that?
– The Daily Telegraph. It happens that that agreement suits my book in connexion with the Capital site, and I am pleased that certain New South Wales members of the Cabinet have been able to snare the Prime Minister and some of his supporters on the question.
– The Treasurer, when he gets back to Western Australia, will have to explain why he has thrown Dalgety overboard. .
– After the manipulation of the Western Australian electorates that we saw the other night the right honorable member is all right. I know that in this case the influence of the Ministry is behind the Bill. If to their other sins there was added a failure on the part of the New South Wales members of the Fusion to settle the Federal Capital question, it would be a case of the last straw breaking the camel’s back, and they would have no chance of getting back. However, that does not concern me. All I am concerned about is that the question is to be settled. So long as we have a reasonable site, it is in the interests of Australia, seeing that we are confined by the Constitution within certain limits, that the matter should be settled at the earliest moment, so as to enable the Federal Parliament to become housed in a home of its own. I hope that when the Bill is passed the Minister will instruct his Department to take all the necessary preliminary steps - to clear the way - for the erection of buildings to accommodate the Parliament and the Departments, so that when Parliament meets again some months hence such fresh measures may be introduced as will enable the Parliament to speedily take possession of its own home, away from all those parochial influences which are associated with the State capitals.
– Give the Government a hint where they are to get the money from.
– I know the Government have an eye on duties on tea and kerosene.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that question.
– I hope that if the opposition to the Yass-Canberra site is sufficiently strong - and I do not think it is - they will upset the Bill straight out and proceed to make some other selection, because the proposal to submit the question to a referendum is only belittling their own intelligence, and will have no practical result. Those who are against the YassCanberra area ought to be prepared to take an honest course, and vote accordingly, and not attempt to press a proposal which has the appearance of honesty, but which, in reality, is only a deception designed to delay the passage of the Bill.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr.Coon’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 25
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the words “ and confirming the said agreement” be left out.
These words constitute the crux of the clause, and I move their omission inorder to give honorable members who voted against Canberra at the ballot taken in this House last year an opportunity to do so again. It will be within the memory of honorable members that on the occasion in question only one vote was cast for Canberra. It secured a chance of selection only by being bracketed with Yass. When the Yass-Canberra district was selected it was not thought that Canberra itself, amongst the multiplicity of sites in that district, had a chance of being selected. The popular belief was that a site in the Yass district, well supplied with water from the Goodradigbee and Gudgenby Rivers would be chosen. Between Yass and Canberra there are many sites that were favorably considered. As I have said, only one honorable member voted for Canberra.
– And he knew nothing about it.
– Possibly that is so, and I am of opinion that honorable members would not vote for the selection of Canberra now if they knew anything of the district. It was thought that there might be, somewhere in the Yass-Canberra district, a site which would be suitable for t he Federal Capital ; but the officials lent by the Government of New South Wales to the Commonwealth came to the conclusion after they had gone over the whole ground, and had made an exhaustive inquiry, that, bad as it was, Canberra itself was the best site there. That is the meaning of the present proposal. Many honorable members have admitted, and I make the admission myself, that it was thought good tactics to so group the sites that ultimately the Yass-Canberra district would be chosen, because they knew that the selection of this district would be least agreeable to the national feeling of Australia, being most agreeable to those who wished to benefit Sydney. The majority supporting the Yass-Canberra district was not very large. While we who voted for Dalgety have been charged ‘with having done so to postpone indefinitely the settlement of the question, I am satisfied that those who voted for Yass-Canberra felt, from the reports then to hand, that there was no possibility of any site in the district being finally adopted. All these sites had been dealt with before. There is the Lake George site, for instance. We heard of the lake which was to beautify the Federal Capital ; but we know now that there is water in it only after a heavy downpour. The honorable member for Hume, who declared the Lake George site to be the best in the district, had to admit that he had known the lake to be dry on many occasions.
– At one end.
– I suppose that when there is no water there the place is a quagmire.
– No ; good grazing country.
– The lake is dry at both ends, and in the middle, too, at times.
– During a recent drought it was as dry as a bone.
– It was suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney that the lake could easily be filled by the diversion of the rivers which give such a scanty water supply to the Yass-Canberra district. He had elaborate plans for supplying the district with water from the Cotter, the Molonglo, the Goodradigbee, the Paddy, the Murrumbidgee, and other watercourses which have been named, of which the Murrumbidgee alone can be called a river.
– We have been told that practically every river in Australia has its beginning, and almost its ending, in the proposed Federal territory.
– It has been suggested that almost every river in Australia can be diverted into Lake George. The honorable member for South Sydney, who was a late convert, tried to show how Lake George could be filled in this way. Of course, it is idle to address those who are representing constituencies in or near Sydney, or round about the Yass-Canberra district. I might as well be asked to vote against Protection. It would be as useless to ask me to vote against Protection as to ask them to vote against the proposed site. I am appealing to those who, like myself, are free to study the interests of the Commonwealth. I ask them if they have considered the scarcity of water on the proposed site. The Minister of Home Affairs is able to make his statements in such a way as not to create spleen ; but I ask the Committee to decide between him and the honorable member for South Sydney, and their own personal knowledge of the proposed Federal area, and the reports of the New South Wales officials regarding its possibilities. The Cotter River itself is really only a creek. Honorable members now have an opportunity to cast a vote in the interests of the people of Australia, who must be considered before the people of Sydney. What a sorry lot the other sites in the Yass-Canberra district must be if Canberra is the best ! I am putting up a fight in the interests of Australia, not to please my constituents, who are hardly affected. They know that Melbourne will not be the Capital. I would not vote for that. 1 do not agree with the honorable member for Corio that the Parliament should meet in Melbourne, while the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales. I wish to keep the compact contained in the Constitution. Any vote that I may give on this question is not likely to affect my chances at the “next election. I ask the Treasurer, who is the first man I heard speak on this question before entering the House, if he does not think that his first choice, Dalgety, is in every way better than Canberra? I ask others who voted for Dalgety whether it is not preferable to Canberra ? Of course, if honorable members care nothing about the interests of Australia, I cannot influence them. Apparently, many of those who were formerly adverse to Canberra have been slobbered over, like the prey of a serpent before it is swallowed, and now feel it useless to struggle, because conditions are against them. If the Canberra site has been considered at all, it has been rejected; and yet honorable members who voted for Dalgety tell me that the “numbers are up,” and ask what is the use of fighting the matter further? Do honorable members think that they satisfy their constituents by such an attitude? If the “numbers are up,” it is because the Fusion Government and party have nobbled honorable members on this as on other questions.
– The Labour Government introduced this Bill.
– And they were quite right. Even if the Minister of Home Affairs were a Victorian representative, he would be justified in submitting this Bill, seeing that it comes within his Department. The Labour Government were simply carrying out the behest of the House in endeavouring to arrange for the selection of the best site in the Canberra district. But I point out that it was not then made a party question ; the members of the Labour Government, and of the party, would have been free to take any stand they liked in regard to the Bill.
– But they would not have done so.
– Why not? Did the Deakin Government not do so? If the late Deakin . Government had been unanimous in regard to Dalgety - if the Prime Minister, as has been suggested, had had more backbone - Dalgety would have been the Federal Capital. It was not desired, however, then, that the supporters of the Government should vote on this as a party question; and- I wonder how any Government dare make the selection of the Capital a party matter. The Government are justified in presenting this Bill formally ; but the members of the Cabinet are not justified in supporting it if they do not believe in the selection recommended. We must not forget that this Government is led by a gentleman, who, as Prime Minister, presented Dalgety for acceptance last year. But times have changed ; Mr. Wade, the supreme being in Australia, has dictated to the Fusion Government - which he had some hand in bringing into existence - how they shall vote. It is proved conclusively that the only State to be considered is New South Wales. Representatives of Tasmania are bound hand and foot, and. forced to vote, not in the interests of their State, or of Australia, but solely in the interests of New South Wales. Just as they were nobbled for party purposes on the financial agreement, so they have been nobbled on this occasion, and, with the help of New South Wales representatives on this side, will pass this Bill.
– Bunkum 1
– The honorable member for Grampians is in his element; he has not been forced into his present position, but has helped to force others there. He has never endeavoured to hide his Conservative opinions ; and it matters very little to him what is done in connexion with the Federal Capital, so long as certain political advantages accrue to his party. I compliment the honorable member on the present situation; he and his colleagues “ worked it “ well, and bided their time. The ultra-Conservatives and the ultraRadicals have both gained what they desired - a division into two parties. I resent, however, the introduction of party considerations into this question.
– When the honorable gentleman gets older he will look back on this speech with very great regret.
– The Minister of Defence has nothing to complain of, seeing that his aspirations for years have been consummated. I can quite understand the honorable gentleman smiling to himself, and saying, “ I did that very well, with the assistance of the other Conservatives in the Fusion party.” The ratification of this agreement is one of the planks of that party, who will give anything away to gain certain political advantages for the present. My amendment will give honorable members an opportunity of voting, not in the material interests of New South Wales alone, but in the interests of Australia as a whole.
– The verbiage with which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has surrounded the submission of this amendment boils down to very small dimensions. He concluded by urging the great advantages which would accrue to Sydney by the selection of the YassCanberra site ; but the fact that the Commonwealth has been given access to the sea, with a port at Jervis Bay, dispels any idea of that sort. However, if any advantage should go to Sydney, I am one who believes that that city is perfectly entitled to it.
– The Commonwealth cannot go beyond high-water mark at Jervis Bay.
– I think I can show the honorable member that the Commonwealth will have perfect power to go beyond high-water rr.ark. The amendment is submitted with a view of giving certain honorable members an opportunity of again voting against Canberra; and I hope that the honorable member will be . satisfied when the division is taken. I point out, however, that, if this agreement is not confirmed this session, the question will be practically shelved altogether.
– The way will be open for another agreement.
– And, then, I suppose we shall be asked to leave the way open for still another. It would appear as though honorable members do not desire the Federal Capital question to be settled at all. However, I have no desire to discuss the matter further. The honorable member has made his object very clear; and I will only express the hope that the Committee, as a whole, will adhere to its previous decision.
.- T understand from the map that only the small areas at the heads of Jervis Bay are to be handed over to the Commonwealth. They do not join one another, and to go from one to the other it will be necessary to cross New South Wales territory.
.- One can go from the Federal Capital to the area of two square miles marked red on the map without crossing Jervis Bay. The other portions marked green were original lv set aside by the State of New South Wales for defence purposes, but were not used. When the New South Wales Premier expressed his willingness to hand over the two square miles, the Government thought it would be necessary, to have the other areas for defence purposes. They have now been handed over to the Commonwealth to make use of, and will be, arid ought to be, used for the defence of the port.
.- The Minister’s explanation shows that the area of two square miles is connected with the Federal territory, but that to reach the other parts at the heads, coloured green on the map, it will be necessary to pass through New South Wales territory. All that would have been avoided had the Dalgety site with Twofold Bay attached been granted. This amendment gives an opportunity to test the question whether honorable members will vote for the site that they really believe is the best, or for the one that has been pushed by wire pulling and ear-wigging of a description that I have not before experienced in twenty years of political life - so vile, foul, and disgraceful was it. Yass-Canberra would never have been accepted by the House if strings had not ‘been pulled as I never knew them to be pulled before. I was never so insulted before by men who I thought would never have disgraced themselves and degraded their positions in Parliament as they did in the effort to induce members to vote1 for this site. Some of them will not come back to the House, and one in particular, I have in mind, I shall not regret the loss of. Anyhow, he will not be here to use his voice and his vote, on this question. The present position simply means “hat New South Wales, dominated by Mr. Wade, wishes to be the dictator of Australia. Everything has been grudgingly given. The Constitution certainly provides that the Capital must not be within 100 miles of Sydney, but how was that brought about? Not by the free will of the Australian citizens, but by trickery, sharp practice, haggling, and bargaining that a coster would be . ashamed to indulge in in a public street. The then Premier of New South Wales, for whose abilities I have a high regard, . and whose genial character I appreciate, used his legal training and acumen to bargain with the other Premiers, until Sir George Turner, tired of the struggle, gave in, and said, “ Oh, well, have the Capital.” Then, in a spirit of resentment at having been forced to sell the birthright of every Australian, he insisted that the site should be at least 100 miles from Sydney. I personally would1 prefer the Capital to be in Sydney, if bv any means an equitable way by which the Federal Government could resume the valuable lands of that city could be discovered. Then, if the vote of the majority of the people of Australia was in favour of it, the Capital could be placed in Sydney. Even at the eleventh hour this amendment can be carried if honorable members will honestly vote for the site that they think is the best. Any name could be placed in the blank which would be created in this Bill.
Air. Fuller. - I do not think so. This is a Bill for the acceptance of territory.
– If a blank is created, the Minister will have to accept the decision of the Committee. What did the New South Wales Government care for the Constitution when, with the permission of their then Premier, they broke the law of the land, and seized wire-netting which was in the custody of the Federal Customs authorities? I believe that they have not even paid the expenses of that business up to this day. The people of New South Wales, who are Australians, are not responsible for all these things. They are not permitted to express their opinion on this question, because by the huckstering that took place the whole control of it was put in the hands of a few Premiers. The only parallel to what took place then is to be found in the infamous secret combination which met in Melbourne recently to discuss the financial question. No man knows what took place there, and it is said that the blotting paper was actually burnt lest some one should put it up to the light and try to read it. If Yass alone had been submitted’ there would have been no majority for it, and the same is true of Canberra, considered alone. At the ballot Canberra received only one vote, and then the scheme of putting the two sites together was devised to dish those who followed the advice of men like the late Mr. Oliver, that Dalgety was the best site. Mr. Oliver stood very high in the New South Wales Public Service, but he was pulled to pieces by the faction which is now controlled by Mr. Wade, that bombastic, petty little Premierlet who, by a concatenation of circumstances, and by happening to get a kind-hearted Prime Minister in a weak moment to bend down to him, has brought things to this pass. But where will the present State Premiers be in another five years? Not one of the other Premiers who made that huckstering bargain is in power today, and I dare say that in five years time not ore of the present Premiers will be in power. Two of them now are trembling on the edge of defeat. Earlier to-day I compared the New South Wales tendency as exemplified by Mr. Wade with the old man of the sea of whom Sinbad the Sailor got rid by making him drunk. The Sinbad of the present day is the Commonwealth, and the old man of the sea is Mr. Wade, the Premier of New South Wales. We could forgive a great deal to that grand old man, Sir Henry Parkes, who wanted to pay his Colony the compliment of calling it Australia. I should not have objected to that but I do object to the narrow-minded policy initiated by Mr. Wade. How grudgingly he gave permission to the Commonwealth to take a little strip of two square miles at the entrance to Jervis Bay ! Was there not trickery in connexion with the photographs of the two sites supplied to this Parliament? Faked photographs were sent down, and Mr. Wade, forsooth, would send none showing the Dalgety site and the Snowy River. If ever a man typified the infamous system of win, tie, or wrangle, it is the present Premier of New South Wales. Even when photographs were placed in the lobbies, questions were asked as to who had given permission, and the fair photographs of the Snowy River were put on one side, while a watercourse, which is merely a little trickling stream in the summer, was depicted as a fine roaring torrent. There is no question about the healthiness of the Dalgety country, and no man can measure the potentialities of electric power to be derived from the Snowy River. No scientist can say what electricity is, but it is a power for good when guided by the hand of science. It could be used at Dalgety to run the trams in theFederal Capital, to light the public buildings and the streets, to supply heat for cooking and other purposes, and for motive power generally. That magnificent site, with its splendid water supply, has been passed over in order to play into the hands of a faction. I believe that a previous Act of this Parliament provides that from a certain time the value of the land at the selected site cannot be increased, and that its taxing value under the New South Wales Land Tax Act is then to be taken as the basis on which the Federal Government can purchase it. Can the Minister state what that date is, so far as the Yass-Canberra site is concerned?
– The date is8th October, 1908.
– That legislation does away with the possibility of advantage being taken of the enhanced values that will attach to land within the district by reason of its selection. It was a wise law to pass, although I am not suggesting that large areas might be controlled by individuals with the object of securing enhanced prices. I have not yet heard why the Government of New South Wales and more particularly the Premier of that State, stand so firmly by this site. No honorable member is better fitted to express an opinion as to the relative merits of the several sites that have been suggested than is the Treasurer. We have heard him in this House speak most strongly in favour of Dalgety, and deprecatingly of Canberra. No one has seen more of Australia than he has, and I would rather take his opinion on this question than that of the best man in the Government of New South Wales to-day. His opinion was backed up by that of the late Mr. Oliver, and it seems pitiable that this House at the eleventh hour should be trying to foist this site on the people. If the Bill be passed, I take it that it will be more difficult later on to set aside the selection of YassCanberra than it was to remove the name of Dalgety from the Seat of Government Act. Had the Government of the day pushed on with the work of preparing Dalgety for the establishment of the capital, its position would have been stronger than it was. It was the delay of various Governments in taking action that made it possible to set aside the selection of that site. I shall have much pleasure in voting for the amendment. If it is a forlorn hope, we shall go down with our ‘fl!ag flying, knowing that having entered our protest at this stage, we shall be justified, if the opportunity offers, in taking up the fight again. During the coming election campaign, I intend to inform my constituents that if in the future experts should report that this is not the best site - and I hold that experts should be appointed from every one of the States, as all are interested in this matter - and that a better site is obtainable, I shall advocate a referendum to settle the question, should the Government of New South Wales oppose any change.
– I have given notice, Mr. Chairman, of an amendment relating to clause 10 of the schedule, and I should like to have your ruling as to whether in the event of this amendment, which is designed to strike out words confirming the agreement embodied in the schedule, being defeated, it will be competent for me to submit that of which I have given notice.
– I suggest to the honorable member that if he desires to move an amendment of the schedule,’ he should ask that clause 3, when we reach it, be postponed until the schedule has been dealt with.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Melbourne have viewed this question, not from a national, but from a parochial standpoint. The whole question was thoroughly threshed out last year when the House selected the Yass-Canberra site, and I thoroughly concurred in the decision then arrived at. I remember at the Mme asking some of the officers of the Railway Department what would be the cost of constructing a line to the border in the event of the Dalgety site being selected, and was informed by them that it would be about £750.000. Without such an expenditure an express service could not be supplied owing to the mountainous nature of the country. Then, again, New South Wales would have to construct a branch line at a cost of from £200,000 to’ £300,000, so that the two States would incur an expenditure in this way of something like ,£1,000,000. Another point which we took into consideration was that the YassCanberra district is four hours nearer Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, and two hours nearer Sydney and Brisbane, than is- Dalgety. That consideration must weigh with intelligent men, who recognise the value of time. The saving of time so secured is in itself sufficient, in my opinion, to justify the selection that has been made. The two points to which I have referred weighed with me and with many other honorable members who then sat in the Opposition corner, and we decided that in the interests of the Commonwealth it would be well to establish the Capital in the Yass-Canberra district. We were not actuated by any selfish considerations, nor were we canvassed, as has been suggested, by representatives of New South Wales. 1 know, at all events, that I was not, and I do not think that other members of our party were. It was with us a clear, straight-cut issue. We were not influenced in any way, and viewed the whole matter, not from a local, but from a national, stand-point.
– This is highly amusing.
– The honorable member may smile, but surely a saving of four hours’ travelling is an important consideration.
– The honorable member might just as well say that since the desert is nearer his home than is YassCanberra, the Parliament should meet there.
– The honorable member’s interjection shows his ignorance of the subject. As to the remarks which have been made regarding the alleged inadequacy of the water supply available in the district, I think it well to quote some figures compiled by one of the leading engineers in the Public Service of New South Wales. He shows that during the month of August last, the flow of the Cotter River amounted to 8,228,000,000 gallons, or an average of 265,140,000 gallons per day. The average consumption of 620,000 inhabitants of Sydney last year was 24,600,000 gallons per day, so that sufficient water flowed down the Cotter River during August last to supply Sydney and suburbs for 333 days. Those figures are a sufficient answer to the allegation that the water supply available for this site is defective.
– Does the honorable member say that the water supply of YassCanberra is as good as is that of Dalgety?
– I think that Dalgety would be a most unsuitable site for the Capital of the Commonwealth. The people, in my opinion, would not approve of its selection. Yass-Canberra is more convenient for the people in the main centres of population in. the various States. I am not speaking without a knowledge of the country. I know it fairly well. Over twenty years have elapsed since I visited Canberra ; but during the last ten or fifteen years I have frequently visited the Goulburn district, and whilst I know that the territory comprises a large area of very poor country - possibly as poor as any in the Commonwealth - I know also that it includes a large area of very fair land. We could not expect New South Wales to make us a gift of 900 square miles of magnificent country, As a matter of fact, the Government of that State have given us ah for which we have asked and a little more. Nine hundred- square miles of territory should be ample for all our requirements. But in addition, we have been granted an area of two square miles on Jervis Bay, which is one of the finest bays in the world. I believe that in it any fleet could anchor with safety. The Government of New South Wales have also promised to construct a railway line from Yass to the border of the Federal territory, and all these considerations have gone a long way towards pacifying the malcontents who did not originally approve of this selection. These considerations should weigh with honorable members. The Constitution provided for a territory of 100 square miles; but we have been given a territory of 900 square miles, and, in addition, complete water rights over another 500 square miles, should the water supply in the proposed territory not be found sufficient, though, as a matter of fact, there are good streams there,, and an ample supply. We have also got water rights over the Snowy River without any restriction. Those who say that there is no water in the territory do not know what they are talking of.
– It has been said that the water supply there is not as good as that of Dalgety.
– It has been said that the water supply is very poor, whereas it is really very good. I speak as an elector who wishes to have the Capital placed on a good site. I do not desire a
Capital in the wilderness. Dalgety would be four hours further from Melbourne than Canberra would be.
– Under present conditions.
Mi. HANS IRVINE.- No; with a railway through Gippsland. My authority is the statement of railway officers. It is also -nearer the other capitals. It is right that we should honour the provision in the Constitution which says that the Capital shall be in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney. Those who have regard to business honesty are careful to redeem -.their promissory notes, and we should redeem our promise in this matter. The people of New South Wales were opposed to Federation, because they could not get their own way in regard to certain matters; but they accepted the draft Constitution when the provision was inserted in’ it fixing the Capital in that State. It is best for the country that we should settle this question now and finally. I consider the proposed site one which, in the national interest, is a suitable one for the Capital, and I hope that the matter will soon be dealt with finally.
– I wish to call the attention of the Minister to the fact that the proposed Federal territory on which the Capital will be located will be separated from its port and navy by a strip of New South Wales territory. Experience is the unerring test of all human undertakings, the light by which we should be guided. When the American Civil War started, the army was mobbed in Baltimore, because it had to cross Maryland to get to Washington. Abraham Lincoln had to sneak into the Capital because he would have been murdered in Baltimore. Had not George B. McLellan taken the army suddenly into Maryland, and put the State under martial law, the position would have been very serious, as the Capital was practically hemmed in, with only its outlet to the bay. If New South Wales desired to make trouble, she could do so under the present arrangement.
– Any one would think that we were dealing with a foreign Power.
– When Washington picked the site of the present
Capital of the United States, and Daniel Carroll gave the ground, the American people were as enthusiastic Nationalists as some of my honorable friends are Antinationalists. But a few decades later there was a rebellion in that country which cost thousands of lives, and meant an expenditure of millions of pounds. It is not very long since the Premier of New South Wales broke open a Commonwealth Customs House, and seized wire netting. Had it not been for the patience and diplomacy of our Prime Minister, we might have had a rebellion then, with the Premier of the State, acting as a Bob Tombs and a Jeff Davis, at the head of it. What I suggest is that the Commonwealth should have a roadway 7 miles wide, from the Territory to the Bay, similar to that which President Roosevelt obtained from the Government of Panama. This would enable us to have free access to our navy.
– Could not the New South Wales people block us if - they wanted to, in any case?
– No, because they would have no right over the Territory. I see that we are certain to adopt the Yass-Canberra proposal, though I feel that it would have been better to stick to Dalgety. That was the choice of the Treasurer; but it was the splendid tales of the honorable member for EdenMonaro which got me to look into the matter. I feel now that Dalgety is a site where we could nurture a great and powerful people. I hope that the Minister will ask the Premier of New South Wales to give us this road of access.
– I have persuaded him to do a great deal. I have not the face tc ask for anything more.
– I admit that the honorable member has got a good deal. How far is the Yass-Canberra territory from Jervis Bay?
– One hundred and thirty miles by the proposed railway route, and nearly 100 miles in a straight line.
– I am sure that the honorable member could get the Premier of New South Wales to give us the road I ask for.
.- I tried to catch your eye last night, Mr. Speaker, but you called the Minister of Defence, who closed the debate, and consequently prevented me from making the personal explanation which I intend to make now. I, and a number of others on this side, voted against the naval proposals of the Government yesterday, not because we were opposed to the adoption of a scheme for the naval defence of Australia, but as a protest against the methods which were being adopted to pass the motion before the House. I make this statement with the knowledge that on public platforms men, on occasions, make extreme statements; and it may be taken that, because honorable members voted against the motion, they did not believe in establishing anything in the form of an Australian navy. I think it advisable to make this explanation in my own interests, as well as in the interests of those who took action similar to mine.
.- On the 10th November, the honorable member for Cook, quoting from a newspaper, read the following -
We may hope at least that there is no lower depth than that in which Liberalism is absolutely swallowed up in a fusion which is undiluted Conservatism.
According to the Hansard report, I here interjected, “ Hear, hear.” Now, there is nothing in the quotation read which I could cheer, but only what I would repudiate, and I remember that, when the honorable member for Cook read it, the honorable member for Bourke interjected, “Read the whole article;” and it was in reply to that request that I said, “ Hear, hear.””
– Yes; that is so.
– I ask the Postmaster-General when we may expect to deal with the Bill for the amendment of the Post and Telegraph Act, which was promised some little time ago, relating to the retirement of telegraphic messengers on arriving at the age of eighteen.
– It is the second Order of the Day for to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091125_reps_3_54/>.