4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Buildings, for the year ending 30th June, 1911, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Additional Strength : New’ Defence Scheme - Small Arms. Factory
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence able to say what number of additional officers and men will be required for the Permanent Forces, in accordance with the new defence scheme? Yesterday he gave me information regarding the number of officers, and promised to furnish to-day information regarding the number of men that will be required.
– I had an interview on the subject with the Minister of Defence this morning. While detailed figures are not yet available, it is the intention of the Minister that the Royal Australian Artil lery shallbe available, in accordance with Lord Kitchener’s recommendation, for supplying a second relief on the guns in the fortresses. Two batteries of permanent field artillery will be created. The number of officers and men required will have to be sufficient to bring these two batteries up to full working strength. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports yesterday asked me if it is the intention of the Government to appoint a manager for the small arms factory before the War Office has decided on a standard service rifle, and, if. so, whether it is intended to continue the manufacture of an out-of-date weapon. The Minister is informed that a standard service rifle has been adopted by the British Government, and it is intended to proceed with the manufacture of that rifle here. The machinery that is being installed in our small arms factory can be adjusted - to meet any change ot improvement that may be necessary. The honorable member for Parramatta wished to know why the salary of the factory manager had been reduced from £700 to£400. I understand that when Sir Thomas Ewing was Minister of Defence, he fixed the salary at£1,000 per annum.
– At £800 per annum.
– Perhaps the honorable member is right. He also fixed the salary of the assistant manager at £400 per annum. It is now proposed to call for applications from persons desirous of applying for the position of manager, at£750 per annum, and for the position of assistant manager, at£400 per annum.
– Are applications - being advertised for in regard to the position of manager?
– Why have the original arrangements been departed from? Commander Clarkson was tohave come back to take that position at a salary of at least£800 per annum. Has he declined it? If not, why are applications being advertised for?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of the question.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs yet had time to read the newspaper report of the experiments of Mr. Pike, who has received messages with wireless telegraphy, at Arncliffe, Sydney, from places 1,700 miles away, or 500 miles further than the radius fixed in the Government scheme for establishing wireless communication in the Pacific?
– I have read the paragraph referred to, and am bringing the matter under the notice of my officers.
– I presume that arrangements will be made in connexion with the scheme for establishing wireless telegraphy in the Pacific to take messages over longer distances than those now arranged for, which will be considered the minimum distances.
– I am not versed in the technical matters involved, and, therefore, I ask honorable members to give notice of their questions.
– No technical knowledgeis necessary to answer my question. I merely wish to know from the Minister, whether, as it has been demonstrated by an amateur that messages can be sent by wireless telegraphy for a distance of 1,700 miles, he willinquire if the number of central stations in the Pacific can be reduced?
– I said yesterday that I should look into the matter.
– As wireless telegraphy is being used daily on steamers all round the coasts of Australia, would it not be possible to arrange for the establishment of the proposed stations at Sydney and Fremantle at an earlier date than that contracted for?
– The Department is doing all that it can to expedite the matter.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs call the attention of the high experts who meet to discuss the question of adopting a standard railway gauge, to the fact that a motion was carried in the South Australian Parliament in 1888 or 1889, favouring a Conference of railway commissioners to determine upon a standard gauge, and the ordering of railway stock which could be accommodated subsequently to that gauge, to the records of Hansard, and to other material information which could be supplied by the States concerned ?
– It will give me great pleasure to do so. I think I am right in saying that the honorable member had a great deal to do with the motion’ to which he refers.
Estimate of Revenue - Crown Leases
– Yesterday, the Prime Minister, when being questioned by the honorable member for Fawkner as to how his estimate of £1,000,000 as the revenue from the land tax had been arrived at, told a deputation that there was another place for the asking of such questions. I presume that he referred to this House. As, no doubt, he agrees with me that honorable members should have the fullest information about the Government proposals, will he, before the debate on the land tax proceeds further, give us the details on which he has based the calculation that the revenue from the tax will be £1,000,000 a year?
– It is not my intention to do so.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the widespread doubt that- exists in the public mind as to whether the original Government proposal to tax Crown leases is to be adhered to or to be abandoned - Will he say definitely what course is proposed to be taken in that regard?
– It is not the Government’s intention to include Crown leases.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the promised early introduction of uniform postage throughout theCommonwealth, and the expected inevitable increase of postal business, he will inform the House- ?
What steps, if any, are being taken at the principal post-offices to -
Increase the sorting staff?
Increase the delivery staff ?
Increase the accommodation?
What is the . estimated loss for the first year -
By loss of revenue?
– If it is decided by the Government to adopt penny postage, the information asked for will be furnished when the Bill dealing with the matter is introduced.
– The financial year which closed on the 30th June last was remarkable in that it was the last full year in which the Commonwealth was subject to the limitation imposed by section 87 of the Constitu tion, popularly known as the Braddon section. It was also the last financial year in which the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution as embodied in the’ Surplus Revenue Act of 1908 were operative.
The total revenue received was £i5,538,440, which was £1,187,647 in excess of that received during 1908-9. The receipts from Customs and Excise amounted to .£11,593,050, showing an excess of £748,983 over those of the previous year, and of .£793,050 over the amount estimated. The collection of this- large amount was undoubtedly due to general prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. The receipts from the Post and Telegraph Department amounted to £3,729,894, showing an increase of £320,469 over the receipts for
A new item appeared in the shape of coinage receipts - £69,646. The Treasurer estimated that he would receive £100,000 from the profits of the new silver coinage. This included an estimated profit of £63,000 on £^100,000 worth of new coins intended to replace a similar amount expected to be withdrawn from Australia by the 30th June, 191 o. The Imperial Authorities, however, requested that the withdrawal at the rate of £100,000 per annum should be made in four instalments of ^£25,000 each, instead of in one instalment for the whole amount, so that the profit made during the financial year in connexion with withdrawals of coin from Australia was £47,000 less than was anticipated.
The total amount of revenue received during the year, namely, £15,538,440, was, in accordance with the Trust Fund Advances Act, supplemented by an amount of £451,832, which raised the total receipts to £1:5,990,272. It was necessary to provide this additional amount in order to comply with section 87 of the Constitution.
The expenditure amounted to £7,497,866, showing an increase of £1,077,468 over that for 1908-9. As regards the additional expenditure on old-age pensions, honorable members will recollect that in T907-8 £193,621 was transferred to a Trust Fund to provide for payment to pensioners in 1909- 10. Similarly in 1908-9, £462,528 was transferred. The amount of £656,149 was therefore at the credit of the fund on 30th June, 1908. £841,181 was transferred to the fund in 1909-10, making a total of .£1,497,330, which provided for the expenditure to 30th June, 19 10. The principal items of increase were -
The principal items of decrease were -
due to them. This amount was paid over early in August.
Honorable members will easily satisfy themselves by looking at pages 8 and 9 of the Budget Papers that the whole balance of£8,495,642 was divided amongst the States strictly in accordance with the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution as set forth in the Surplus Revenue Act, the whole of the Customs and Excise collections having been credited to the States to which the revenue was due, and the amount of £451,832 advanced from Trust Fund credited on a population basis.
The total receipts from Customs and Excise, including an amount of£5,570, being repayment by the States of their proportion of pensions paid, and an amount of £1,255 transferred to revenue from pension funds, amounted to£11,599,875. The expenditure of the Customs Department was £276,668.
The net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise being £11,323,207, three-fourths of this amount is £8,492,406, which was, as previously stated, paid over to the States on account of the year ending 30th June last, in compliance with section 87 of the Constitution.
Full information as to any items of revenue or expenditure to which I have not specifically referred will be found in the Budget Papers.
As the Inter-State certificates will shortly be abolished, to the great relief of the mercantile public, one interesting return will in future disappear from the Budget Papers. I refer to the Inter-State Customs and Excise Adjustment, page 26.
The States of New South Wales and Victoria have since 1901 maintained their position as the distributing States for goods. The latter State was debited in 1902-3 with £196,152, and in 1909-10 with £564,746, the amounts representing duties on goods transferred from Victoria to other States. New South Wales similarly was debited with £75,607 in 1902-3, and £242,955 in 1909-10.
Turning now to the current financial year ending on the 30th June, 191 1, the revenue has been estimated thus -
The Estimated Expenditure consists of-
Included in the amount of £2,324,496 provided for New Works, Buildings, &c, will be found provision for -
– How much of the railway will that amount build?
– If it will be any satisfaction to honorable members, let me tell them that that item means that we are going to build the railway.
The receipts of the Postmaster-General’s Department during 1909-10 amounted to £3,757,479. This included an amount of £20,183, repayment of States’ proportion of pensions, and ,£7,402 transferred from
Pension Fund of Commonwealth proportion of pensions.
The expenditure, not including construction of telegraph and telephone lines, post and telegraph buildings, &c, was £3,232,639, leaving a balance of receipts over expenditure . of £524,840. The expenditure on new works and buildings, including telegraph and telephone lines was £554,75*-
It is estimated that the revenue for the current year, including £25,000 repayment of States’ proportion of pensions, and £18,000 transfer from Pension Fund, will amount to £3,899,000. The expenditure (not including new works, &c), is estimated at £3,534,752, leaving a balance of £364,248. The expenditure for new works, including post and telegraph offices, telegraph and telephone lines, &c, is estimated at .£874,187.
Taking into consideration the whole period of ten years ending 30th June, 1 91 1, it is estimated that the balance of revenue :over Expenditure, not including new works, will be £2,245,776, and that the expenditure on new works, including post offices, telegraph and telephone lines, will amount to £3,312,551-
Provision has been made in the Estimates for the salary of a Chief Accountant for the Central Staff. It is intended to remodel the account keeping of the Department so that in future profit and loss accounts can be published with the annual report of the Department.
The total amount to be paid to the State Treasurers on account of the current financial year is £5,267,500. The following table shows the apportionment of this amount : -
The Commonwealth is not only responsible, as honorable members are aware, for making payments to the States on account of the present financial year at the rates prescribed by the Surplus Revenue Act, but it is, during the first six months, bound by section 87 of the Constitution to hand over three-fourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue collected in that period. By complying with these two conditions, the Commonwealth will have fulfilled to the letter the terms imposed by the Constitution and the Surplus Revenue Act.
It is estimated that three- fourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue which will be collected in the half-year ending 31st December next will amount to £4,284,799. This amount must be paid to the States by the end of the current half-year, leaving £982,701 to be paid during the halfyear ending 30th June, 191 1.
When the amount of £4,284,799 has been paid to the State Treasurers, the Commonwealth will be entirely free, as regards the famous Braddon clause. That it has not acted ungenerously during the ten years’ period to the States is proved by the fact that it will have paid over to the State Treasurers £6,059,088 more than it was bound by the Constitution to do.
In view of the very heavy liabilities of the Treasury during the first six months of this financial year, and the fact that most of the land tax will, probably, be received later in the year, it is my intention to ask the authority of Parliament to use a million and a half of the Trust Funds temporarily for revenue purposes, the sum so advanced to be repaid from revenue before the 30th of June next.
That means that we are paying the States in advance during the present half year. The Government do not intend to take a single penny from the trust fund referred to for revenue purposes.
– The money will be repaid ?
– It is a temporary assistance required on account of extraordinary circumstances.
– All loans are temporary assistance.
– What is done is not for the purpose of helping the Government over a stile, nor to assist them in meeting their financial obligations. The trouble with the honorable member for Parkes and others is that we are able to do this without loss to the Commonwealth.
– Are the Government going to pay interest?
– We have already borrowed similarly ,£451,832, which has to be repaid in the latter half of this financial year. There will be ample funds for the purpose, as under the Australian Notes Act a considerable proportion of the trust account will be held as cash by the Treasurer until the financial operation I have referred to has been concluded.
The following tables show the difference in amounts which the State Treasurers will receive, in accordance with the Surplus Revenue Act, and those actually received during the past two financial years.
For the purposes of comparison the amount of £450,000 odd to be deducted from the amount payable during the current vear has been eliminated.
The brief statement that I have just made shows the exact financial transactions of last year, and furnishes an estimate of what they are likely to be in the current year. In connexion with .the expenditure items, no doubt, the attention of honorable members will be directed to those on account of defence. The expenditure on account of defence this year amounts, per head of the population, to 12s. 8d.
– A big jump.
– It is a big jump. The Government admit that. Included in the amount, however, is a sum of £850,000 towards paying the cost of the new armoured cruiser. Although the increase may appear to be large, I think that honorable members will agree with me, when I say that if there was one thing more than another about which the electors were determined, it was that we were to make the defence of this country efficient.
– Hear, hear; both sides agree as to that.
– This Government intend, as I believe the previous Government intended, to incur such expenditure on defence as will enable them to say, “ We have now an efficient land and sea defence for Australia.” I shall give the Committee an idea of the nature of the increases, per capita, and in the total. The total increase for the year on defence is £1,298,103. That means a per capita increase of 5s. 7fd. What is meant by these increases is that the Minister of Defence and the Government, who are responsible, desire to lay down the principle that all the defence expenditure incurred by this country under ordinary circumstances must be paid out of revenue. We are now providing funds for the conversion of the volunteer forces into militia, thus securing greater efficiency. Tenders will be invited for mountings for 6-in. guns, all the equipment to be made locally.
– Not the guns themselves?
– All the necessary carriages and mountings will be made in Australia. The guns themselves are not counted as equipment. What is meant is that all that is required to work a gun, apart from the weapon itself, that can be made in Australia, will be made here. It is proposed to equip two batteries of field artillery to act as instructors and to furnish model batteries for the militia artillery. It is also proposed to establish horse depots. Their establishment is part of the policy of the Government. It is proposed to institute horse-raising stations as part of our defence system. The object of this is to provide for the horsing of our field batteries by means of horses belonging to the Defence Department, instead of our having to hire them. A large proportion of the increased expenditure on defence is to provide equipment and material in that direction.
– The Government will find that horse breeding is very expensive.
– The advice given to us is that it will be much cheaper to have out own horses than to hire them. A vote for the Military College appears now for the first time. Provision is made for a staff for that institution. The scholarships will be free. The work at the small arms factory established at Lithgow is proceeding, and the machinery for it will be immediately received. The cordite factory established at Maribyrnong is almost ready ta commence operations, and machinery for it is being obtained. The building of the armoured cruiser is proceeding satisfactorily, and the work is being paid for.
– What about the other ships for the Australian unit? Have they been ordered yet?
– We are allowing the whole matter of providing defence material to have free play according to the advice of those best able to assist us. As I understand the position, it is desirable, as far as possible, to allow the whole unit to be completed and equipped for sea- at the same time, and so save expense and promote efficiency in the matter of bringing out the vessels. It is the desire of this Government to find the necessary money and to allow our experts to produce the results required - subject, of course, to matters of policy, on which they may be directed. Of course, honorable members are aware that the ‘two destroyers have been launched - namely, the Parramatta and the Yarra. They are now afloat, and fit to be sent out here, and to commence their duties upon our shores.
– Is the Warrego coming out with them, or is she being sent out in parts?
– I think that the Warrego is in sections at the present time; and as soon as these are ready to be shipped - and, I take it, that will not mean a long period - they will be brought out. Arrangements are being made to put them together at the Fitzroy Dock.
Honorable members must be struck by the amount placed on the Estimates for Invalid and Old-age Pensions. The estimated expenditure for the financial year under this head is £2,070,000, and I do not think any one can regard this fact without a feeling of relief that something is being done to shield, as tenderly as possible, and to provide for, those whose shadows are lengthening, and whose friends of other days are scattered and gone.
– Very well read !
– The honorable member smiles, but to me this is no smiling matter. When one remembers that it is less than three years ago that the honorable member for Hume, as Treasurer, brought in the Bill which laid the foundation for Invalid and Old-age Pensions, we have reason to congratulate ourselves on the progress we have made.
– It was not the honorable member for Hume, but the honorable member for Darling Downs, who introduced that Bill.
– The honorable member for Hume was, I think, Treasurer at the time ; but, if the honours are divided, my own recollection is that it was the honorable member for Hume who brought the matter to an issue.
– Why name “individuals ?
– Well, then, I shall say the Government of the day introduced the measure. There is another financial consideration, to which I desire to call the close attention of honorable members. Of the ,£i,497>329 expended on pensions last year, only ,£38o349 was provided out of revenue actually raised. The balance was made up by £656,148, already in Trust Fund Account, and a credit of £451,832 from Trust Funds. In this financial year the expenditure will be increased by .£572,671; but the total amount actually raised for the payment of pensions last year was the comparatively small one of .£389,349. When we compare the estimated expenditure this year with the amount actually paid out of receipts last year, we see that there is necessarily a large demand for new revenue.
– The money would not have been saved if it had not been for the Trust Fund.
– Happy are we that there is a Trust” Fund available for this purpose. This matter was fought in the Court by the States; and I take no exception to that, but-
– The Prime Minister said that the end justified the means, and we said that it did not.
– I do not wish to quarrel with the honorable member on the point. We are happy to say that, as a Parliament, we were successful in establishing a fund which made Old-age Pensions possible throughout Australia. We can say that to-day; but, had we said so three years ago, we should have been charged with attempting to appropriate some other person’s property.
– I was charged with attempting to steal !
– And £600,000 to which we had no right was taken for the purpose - an immoral action.
– Provision is made in the Estimates to pay, in advance, on the 15th December next, the date to be proclaimed, pensions to women of 60 years of age and upwards, and to invalids - it is proposed to make the first payment at that date, and to make it in advance.
– Is the Prime Minister calculating pensions to- men at 60 years, and upwards?
– No; there is no reduction in the age in the case of men.
– The payment on the 15th December will be for the fortnight following that date?
– In the case of both women and invalids the payment on the 15th December will be in advance for the fortnight; and I hope that in regard to all pensions a similar arrangement may be made, in order tq surmount the serious difficulties arising in the case of persons dying between pay days. Every effort is being made to carry out the administrative work with rigid economy as regards the officers and considerateness as regards the applicants for pensions. When it is stated that over 70,000 cases have been dealt with, spread over 3,000,000 square miles of territory, respect may well be mingled with surprise at the result. I think the honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Hume, both ex-Treasurers, will bear me out when I say that the officers who have charge of this enormous expenditure, and this exceedingly difficult task, have performed their duty with great courtesy, care, and considerateness.
– And humanity.
– Yes, and humanity.
– The Prime Minister did not say what was the additional cost in consequence of the change in regard to women and invalid pensions.
– I think that I pointed out that the additional cost this year would be £572,671-
– Does that include any additional growth in ordinary pensions at present paid, or is it all new expenditure in consequence of the new classes of pensions ?
– That is the total amount; and it does not appear to me to be a very large increase on the present expenditure. Honorable members had better keep in mind that we are providing for only seven months of this year in regard to invalids and the pensions paid at the reduced age to women. This is the best that can be done in the meantime; and I think it will be very beneficial all round. Of course, if we get the large amount of revenue which people say will be raised from a source I need not name, there will be no difficulty next year in extending pensions, as the honorable member for Swan desires.
– I do not desire it; it is honorable members opposite who desire it for party purposes.
– I am sure the honorable gentleman will be ready to co-operate with- us, under such happy circumstances, in dealing with the matter.
Honorable members will see that in the Post and Telegraph Department the ordinary expenditure, per capita, is 15s. 9¾d. while that on works is 3s. nd., making a total per capita expenditure of 19s. 8fd., or very nearly £1.
– What does the income amount to?
– The total receipts are estimated at £3,899,000, or 17s. 5d. per head. A very large sum has been provided for the Post Office works ; and this may be a fitting opportunity to say that, in my opinion, the time has arrived when, especially in regard to telephonic and telegraphic works, there should be a schedule for more than one year approved by Parliament. It has occurred to me that a considerable sum of money is lost by what I may call the jars, jolts, and halts in the construction of works, and the preparation and approval of such a schedule as I suggest would prove more economical and more satisfactory to all concerned.
– There has been a difficulty in the way in the past.
– I know that my predecessors had not the opportunity that we have now to deal with this matter. Under the Audit Act no Treasurer could spend a penny without authority after the 30th June ; indeed, an officer of the Commonwealth could not even cash a postal note on the 1st July, except at his own, and somebody else’s, risk. I propose to ask the co-operation of the Leader of the Opposition and his party in so amending the Audit Act as to give, at least, an additional month within which to deal with works that are now delayed from the cause I have mentioned.
– To prevent votes lapsing?
– Yes, and especially after an election.
– The Prime Minister will have to go further, because sometimes contracts are in excess of the estimates, and works have to be cut down.
– I shall be content if the ordinary average expenditure of the previous financial year is allowed to dovetail into the new year, because that will get over a world of difficulties in our present financial position.
– Did not Sir George Turner propose that?
– It has been hinted at on two or three occasions, and I have always supported it as a reasonable proposal. It has been found to work well elsewhere.
– It will not give the Government power to incur new expenditure.
– I do not seek to incur new expenditure, or where it is possible lo avoid it to incur current expenditure in excess of the average monthly expenditure of the previous twelve months. I shall avail myself of an opportunity to ask the House to allow what I propose to be done.
I mentioned in the main part of my address that arrangements have been made for the keeping of special accounts in the Post and Telegraph Department. This will enable the Department to ascertain the revenue and expenditure in the postal, telephonic, and telegraphic branches, and, I think, will be found of very great advantage.
I should like to say that the Post Office Estimates have been so arranged as to enable penny postage to be established within Australia and beyond the seas.
– And beyond the seas?
– Yes, within Australia and elsewhere. It is proposed that this reform shall be brought into operation as from the ist May next. The Government do not propose to introduce a Bill dealing with the matter until they have had the advantage of a perusal of the Postal Commission’s report, but in the meantime the Estimates of the Department have been so framed as to permit of penny postage being established throughout Australia and elsewhere from the date I have mentioned. That means that the system will be in operation during two months of the present financial year. As regards the use of uniform postage stamps within the Commonwealth, that is to be arranged for as from the ist January next. Stamps of th» same denomination of the different States may from that date be used throughout “the Commonwealth.
– Are we to have a Commonwealth stamp ?
– Yes, we shall have a uniform Commonwealth stamp as soon as possible. I do not say that that can be arranged for by the ist January next. There will possibly be no difference in the postage stamps at that date except that stamps printed in South Australia, for instance, may be used in New South Wales, because it will make no difference which State stamps are used, so long as they are bond fide Commonwealth stamps.
– Will there be penny postage all over Australia?
– I have tried to explain to the right honorable gentleman that therewill be penny postage from the ist May next not only all over Australia, but to places oversea, too.
– To Great Britain?
– To anywhere oversea. Our Estimates for the Department have been framed on that basis. I do not bind myself to details, but I say that the Estimates have been framed on the basis of providing for penny postage throughout Australia, and from Australia elsewhere.
– Why the ist May, why not the ist July?
– I can assure the right honorable gentleman that if there are indications as the year goes on that the revenue will permit of the introduction of the reform earlier than is at present proposed, I shall be glad of the honorable gentleman’s hearty co-operation to give it effect.
– I think it would be better to establish penny postage in the way proposed on the ist January next.
– I can assure honorable members that it will please me very much if we find that we are able to do so, and if I can see where the money is to come from. I think now that it will be possible to bring the reform into operation during two months of the present financial year, and, as I have said, the proposal is to introduce it on the ist Maynext.
– I think it will require a great deal more consideration.
– Some honorable members have desired to know what has been the increase in the expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department this year as compared with last year. I am able to inform them that it has amounted to £621,549. It will be seen that the Department has had the advantage of a very fair allotment of expenditure.
– But, according to the reports we have had, the Department was £2,000,000 behind efficiency in the matter of expenditure.
– The Leader of the Opposition is anxious to know if we have made any calculation as to the probable loss upon the establishment of penny postage. The Estimates show that it will not largely exceed £600,000 in the first year. I am personally inclined to believe that the loss will be £1.60,000 less than that. What I wish to impress upon the minds of honorable members is that we shall not get rid of the difficulty by postponing it. Delay in this matter only adds to the difficulty, because every year our postal service is extending, a larger volume of letters is handled, and the longer the change is delayed the greater will be the first loss.
– The present system is unfederal.
– We are all aware that the present system is unfederal, and that, is why we are desirous of abolishing it -is early as possible. The Government will welcome the co-operation of the right honorable member for Swan in the matter. Another matter connected with the Post and Telegraph Department to which I wish to refer very briefly is the “All-Red “ cable service. That, I think, is desirable. It will be discussed and negotiated for until it is secured. I think an “ AllRed “ line from here to the centre of the Empire is very desirable, and it should be attempted. The Government propose to call the necessary tenders for continuing the Vancouver mail service. I have already mentioned the schedule of proposed work for the pOst : and Telegraph Department.
Honorable members are aware that quarantine has been taken over by the Commonwealth, and it may be observed that whenever any service is taken over there is at once a great demand for money. This is required to put in order the Department taken over.
– That applies especially to Victoria, when we took over the Customs Department.
– The position was worse in New South Wales.
– I am not complaining, but I think it is right that honorable members should know the facts. I think it will be admitted that all our quarantine stations should be equipped in a first-class manner, and that the service should be conducted as efficiently as possible. We have done our best to provide for that. We have not been able to provide as much as experts believe will be necessary to complete the equipment of the Department, but I think we have provided sufficient to insure an efficient quarantine service for the Commonwealth.
– To insure an improvement in the present condition of affairs, I hope.
– When the Commonwealth takes over a service we must improve it or we shall hear about it. At all events, a considerable sum will be found on the Estimates to secure the efficiency of the quarantine service.
In connexion with the taking over of the control of lighthouses, beacons, and buoys, considerable Federal expenditure is involved. We have put down no specific amount for this purpose, because there will be a revenue derived from the service. I think that no considerable expenditure will be required on this account during the present financial year. In addition to the expenditure required for the ordinary repairs and maintenance of existing lighthouses, beacons, and buoys, I venture to say we shall have a demand from people concerned in the safety of the navigation of our waters that the Commonwealth, having taken over this service, shall erect a number of new lighthouses for the better protection of the life and property of those who go down to the sea in ships. So far as I can provide the money necessary, I shall be prepared, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, to lend a very willing ear to requests of that kind. I think we should make our coast the best lighted and best protected, perhaps, in the world. In my opinion, it is our duty to do so, and if the money required for the purpose can be found, such improvements in the lighting of our coast as are required will not be delayed.
– The honorable gentleman mentioned that revenue is derived from this service.
– There is some revenue derived in the shape of light dues.
– One State makes a profit out of the service.
– I think it is quite proper to charge reasonable dues for the benefits conferred in the lighting of our coast.
– The Lighthouses Bill permits that to be done.
– A slight revenue is derived from the service in the way mentioned, but very considerable expenditure will be required in connexion with it. The service will be under the control of the Department of Trade and Customs, and the Minister at the head of that Department will be able to deal more fully with the matter.
Before I pass from the subject of revenue, I should like to say that it is very satisfactory to note that for the first two months of the current financial year the receipts from our two great earning Departments, the Trade and Customs and the Post and Telegraph Departments, were very satisfactory. If the revenue from these Departments is maintained at the same rate throughout the year, it is possible that there may be a little surplus to work upon, arid to enable the Treasurer to fill up holes that occur as he goes along.
Dealing with the proposed issue of Australian notes, I have to inform - honorable members that satisfactory arrangements have been made for the necessary printing on the note forms of the various banks to enable Australian notes to be issued on the ist December. It is proposed to print something like the following on the existing bank notes : -
Australian note payable in gold coin at the Commonwealth Treasury at the seat of Government.
In addition, the notes will be signed by two officers of the Commonwealth public service. It is not proposed by the present Government that they shall bear the signature of any political head of a Commonwealth Department. The work will be undertaken by permanent officers. Apart from that, if any people want some of the first issue for keepsakes, I should not object to letting them sign their own, and take them away, at the same time cancelling them. Thus should any one want a £5 note of the first issue as a memento, he will get it - if he puts down five sovereigns. A little difficulty may arise regarding the design. I understand that, with all respect to others who think they can do it, there are very few people in the world who have the ability to engrave the plates for the production of bank notes, and this means delay in getting plates for the new issue. I hesitate to suggest- anything regarding the design, beyond mentioning that I had the pleasure of seeing a most beautiful and artistic design, issued by the Government of France, and representing Fortune, in the shape of a graceful figure, smiling on Labour. I do not think the designer had any intention of capturing the Commonwealth issue with that design, but I hope honorable members will not think it out of place for me to mention it. Some have said that Sydney Harbor must have a place in the design of our notes, and others have suggested this Parliament House, and various other places. At any rate, I think I shall be in touch with honorable members on both sides when I say that the production should be artistic, and distinctively Australian. Beyond that, I think we need not trouble ourselves.
The Attorney-General has important Bills under his consideration at present with reference to matters that will be placed before the electors at an early date. It is proposed to seek an amendment of the Constitution to give this Parliament power to prevent and settle industrial disputes that may be confined to one State. We have felt for a long time, that it is a pity that when society is distressed by an industrial struggle, we should not be able to intervene, although we have powerful Federal machinery in existence. I venture to say in the most serious vein that one of the greatest evils which can occur in the Commonwealth is an industrial struggle that may be confined to one State, and with which, therefore, we are not able to deal. I am confident that the prosperity that we have recently had in Australia arises in great part from the feeling of security engendered by our industrial laws.We propose, therefore, to ask the people by referendum to give this Parliament power, not in excess of that possessed by the State Parliaments, but equal to theirs, to deal with these disputes, without destroying Wages Boards, or the subsidiary boards that deal with the causes of disputes.
– Will the power be paramount to that of the States?
– That is a matter which I should rather leave with the AttorneyGeneral to decide. AVe do not ask for suppressive power over State institutions, but simply for effective power, enabling our Courts to intervene if the parties to the dispute are prepared to come to them. We have been successful in our Federal arbitration law, and I think it was nothing but the timidity of the draftsmen of the Constitution which led them to insert the limitation. I believe the grounds urged in support of that limitation no longer exist, and the people are to be appealed to to remove it. They will have to say whether they care to place the power in the hands of this Parliament or not. Of course, the questions of the nationalization of monopolies, and of the power to prevent trusts and combines acting in restraint of trade, will also have to be submitted to the people by referendum. Those matters may be made clear in two measures.
– Including the arbitration question?
– I should think that two measures, or two referenda, would cover the whole of those subjects.
– We left the Government a pretty full report on the incidental difficulties of the whole matter.
– I shall leave that question to the legal gentlemen. It is obviously sufficient for me to say- what the policy of the Government is. It seems to me that the safety of the people can best be secured by giving the Commonwealth Parliament not less authority to deal with these important matters than that possessed by the Parliaments of the States.
It is not proposed to re-open the whole Tariff question until after those referenda, have been taken ; but I am able to say that the Minister of Trade and Customs will endeavour to give earlier relief, so far as it can be. afforded by the removal of anomalies.
– This session?
– Are those to be separate referenda, at a cost of £30,000 or £40.000 each?
– There will be two questions, or more, to be put to the people. The Minister of Trade and Customs has also announced that the policy of the Government is to give a bounty on the production of shale oil.
– Is that included in the anomalies ?
– No; it is a specific bounty.
– Is that the only new bounty ?
– I would not say that; but the question is subject to financial exigencies.
– I hope the Government will alter the arrangement’ for the bounty on wool tops, because it is paid now only on those which are exported.
– Next session something will have to be done.
I wish to mention now the question of the Northern Territory. The Government are of opinion that that is a national question.
– Is there any special item for it in the Estimates?
– No, that is not necessary. In this particular instance, we are proceeding by Bill.
– The Bill will be inoperative until you get some money. Is nothing provided towards the expenditure?
– The honorable member will see that that measure cannot be carried out by the expenditure of £100,000, or even £1,000,000. It involves, a large sum of money, and the question will have to be dealt with as a matter of policy, and not tentatively. So much has been said about the boundless possibilities of the Northern Territory, that it would not now be an easy task to say anything new on the subject. It has not been profitable to South’ Australia, which owns it; but that has, in a measure, arisen from what I call a wise policy. That State, to do it justice, has held the Territory for the people of the Commonwealth, although, no doubt, it could have sold it to speculators, or introduced labour that would have made it profitable. It is only fair that we should now face the question. Year by year the impression grows deeper that the question will have to be considered as a national question, apart altogether from pounds, shillings, and pence ; and apart altogether from the narrow interests to which we are all more or less, although perhaps unconsciously, subject. Therefore, the policy of the Government is to deal with the matter earnestly - it is not entered upon with a light heart - and to deal with it as early as it can possibly be done.
– Does that include the pushing on of the railway ?
– The railway is a condition of the contract. I do not think that I can say at once that the railway will be “pushed on.” I do not like to commit myself individually, and I cannot commit the Government immediately, to that course. But from my point of view, if the Commonwealth does take over the Territory, it will be of no more use to the Commonwealth, in its present state, than it is to South Australia. The expenditure required, therefore, although enormous, must be faced, and it is not of any use to delay that expenditure. It cannot be done out of revenue, and no sane man would say that it could be. It must be met as part of a national policy, and, I think, honorable members will find the Government ready and willing to co-operate in every possible way in every endeavour to settle that great Territory, which, if it is not a danger to us, is, in its present condition, at any rate, one of the difficulties that we must remove.
– Even if the Bill be passed, the Government would not proclaim the Act until the close of the financial year.
– Even if the Bill passes, it will be of no use to proclaim it until this Parliament makes financial provision for the working of the Territory. But it is only fair to South Australia, and only just to the people of the Commonwealth, that the Bill should be passed, and proper provision made for carrying it out, after the Commonwealth officials have had an opportunity of laying down a policy. Nothing could be more wasteful than to start to develop a country of that kind in a spasmodic, haphazard way. It must be a policy taking account of many years ahead, because the mere transfer of the Territory from South Australia to the Commonwealth will not develop it. We can do that only by adopting a sound policy, and by the expenditure of a large sum of money which, in good time, may prove profitable, but which, even if it does not prove profitable from a monetary stand-point, may yet prove very profitable in other respects which need not be mentioned.
– But no provision has been made upon the Estimates for any such expenditure.
– I have already said that there is no need for any such provision at the present juncture. A Bill dealing with this question is now before Parliament, which will first have to make an appropriation covering the whole amount due to South Australia, in addition to a sum to provide for the development of the Territory and the construction of the transcontinental railway. The Minister of External Affairs, in whose Department this matter is, also has charge of the important question of immigration.
– The proposed transfer of the Northern Territory is surely a matter of internal and not of external affairs.
– The right honorable member had better settle that question with my honorable colleague. I repeat that the Minister of External Affairs has to deal with the great and important question of immigration. I have read eloquent speeches by the Leader of the Opposition upon that subject, and I must confess that I experience a great difficulty in regard to it, because the Commonwealth Government, unlike any other Government dealing with immigration, is absolutely helpless, except that it is at liberty to invite immigrants to come to this country. It has no land to offer them upon their arrival, whilst other countries are in a position to say to them, “ If you will come to our shores, there is a holding upon which you may at once settle.”
– They can say that only to the extent of 10 per cent, of the immigrants.
– The honorable Treasurer himself, upon his arrival in Australia, did not go straight upon the land, and yet he is Prime Minister to-day.
– I did.
– Then the honorable gentleman must have come off it, which is a confession that he made a mistake.
– I am tempted to say where I landed in Australia, and under what conditions, but I will not. I cannot see what that has to do with this question. The Commonwealth has been advertising Australia as best it can, and the various States have been cutting into each other, more or less, in the matter of attracting immigrants to their territories. Now we have the High Commissioner in London, with a fairly well-equipped staff, as will be seen by reference to the Estimates of expenditure. He is endeavouring to put the case for Australia before the people of Europe who desire to come here, and who will be welcomed on their arrival, as they have always been welcomed.
– They have always been welcomed. There has been an almost inconceivable denunciation of Australia and of the Labour party in that connexion. But no party has been more ready and willing to receive persons of European descent in Australia than has the Labour party. Taken as a whole, nobody is more ready than are the trade unions of this country to give such people a hearty welcome. But, undoubtedly, they desire to see maintained the conditions which have been prescribed by Mr. Justice Higgins. They wish immigrants, upon their arrival in this country, to be able to maintain themselves and their families in a reasonable degree of comfort as members of a civilized community. Subject to that condition, there is no party more willing than is the Labour party to see Australia populated.
In regard to the High Commissioner’s office, I am scarcely anticipating my honorable colleague, the Minister of External Affairs, when I say that he has been negotiating with the various States with a view to establishing one common centre in London, at which information can be supplied relating to the whole of Australia. I am glad to say that he has obtained an assurance that some of the States are prepared to cooperate with the Commonwealth in this matter, and there is a lingering hope that he may yet be able to induce the other States to adopt a similar attitude.
– Queensland has definitely declined to do so.
– The Government of that State have declined to do so, but we all know that Governments sometimes change their views. The policy of the Government is to have one place in London at which all information relative to Australia can be procured first hand. Anything which makes in that direction will be welcomed. The Minister of External Affairs informs me that a suitable site is already under consideration, and that, as soon as possible, it will be submitted to the House for its approval.
An amount of £45,000 has been placed upon the Estimates in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– In the Estimates the amount set down is£50,000, but I quoted £45,000, allowing£5,000 as the saving on the vote.
– The Government will have to make some provision for the Northern Territory current debit balance.
– That does not affect our policy in any way. The Government intend to go straight on with that question, and when the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill has been passed-
– If the measure passes, will a Constitution be provided for the govern ment of the Northern Territory during the present session?
– It is hoped that everything will be done to give effect to our policy. When we have decided the main question, the Attorney-General will doubtless see that the necessary provision is made to give effect to the Government policy. I do not desire to enter into details, because I wish now to conclude my speech. I repeat that a sum of £45,000 will be available in connexion with the Federal Capital site. That money is intended to cover the cost of the preparatory work which it is necessary to undertake.
– We would like to know what the Government intend to do.
– We are in friendly negotiation with the Government of New South Wales-
– Will the proclamation for the acceptance of the Federal territory be issued immediately after the State elections?
– The Minister of Home Affairs is negotiating with the Government of New South Wales with a view to the Commonwealth securing the Molonglo area. That is a matter upon which very much doubt existed in the minds of our predecessors. I think that the Commonwealth ought to have that area. We are also in friendly negotiation with the New South Wales Government for the acquisition of a little more land at Jervis Bay. But these things in no way affect the policy of the Ministry in respect of the permanent Seat of Government. The Minister of Home Affairs has under consideration certain Bills which will be introduced-
– This session?
– Yes. They will come into operation when the Federal territory is proclaimed. It is desirable that a small Act should be passed which shall take effect from the date of that proclamation. It willbe seen, therefore, that there are reasons for the so-called delay to which the honorable member for Parramatta has referred in a way which, I think, was quite unnecessary.
– What is the general nature of the legal questions which are responsible for the delay in the issue of the proclamation ?
– I do not wish to deal with that matter now.
– Before the late Government left office, instructions were given to prepare the necessary constitution. That is nearly eight months ago.
– The honorable member has made that statement two or three times, and it is just as well to recollect that the Government, of which he was a member, assumed office after the’ site had been selected, and that they made no greater progress in the matter than we have made. Indeed, the present Government have started to do things. There is another little matter, which I may be permitted to mention, in respect of the Federal territory. It has been arranged that certain Australian timbers shall be stored in various States for a considerable time.
– A very proper thing.
– Just as was done in the case of the temple at Jerusalem.
– If we do not do any worse than was done in that case, we shall not do badly. Undoubtedly, a prejudice exists against things Australian. By storing that timber, we shall be able to get the very best possible results. We all recognise that great things sometimes follow small experiments, and I am one of those who have always thought that there are mines of wealth in the hardwoods of Australia.
– The great difficulty is to get matured timber.
– That difficulty is experienced in all young countries. Will the honorable member endeavour to recollect that the capital of Queensland is only fifty years old, and that some timbers are kept almost that time before they are used.
– The British piano manufacturers will not use certain woods until they are a century old.
– Then my honorable friend, the Minister of Home Affairs, has immortalized himself by his action, because a century hence the timber which he is having stored will only then be ready to cut up for the purpose of being put into musical instruments.
– Some of ourtimbers are the most beautiful in the world, and very few persons know it.
– There is no doubt about that..
– I hope there is no suggestion that we are going to keep the timbers, intended for use in the Federal Capital for a hundred years?
– Our good timbers would be lost there. They would be eaten up by ants.
– I wish to say a word or two more in regard to the item of £5,000, which appears upon the Estimates in connexion with the proposed transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie-
– I have been waiting patiently for that.
– I have been keeping the best till the last.
– The Prime Minister has said nothing about the little socialistic experiments, in the way of the establishment of clothing and saddlery factories.
– I did. Probably the honorable member was out of the chamber at the time.
– The honorable member overlooked it.
– At any rate, necessary provision will be made for clothing factories. The item to which I have referred, relating to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augustarailway, is an indication of the Government policy. The sum of £5,000 is asked for to enable plans and specifications to be prepared for submission to this Parliament next session.
– To allow of the calling for tenders?
– I shall not commit myself to that procedure. The matter wilt have to receive serious consideration. In Queensland, there has been no calling for tenders for railway construction for the last five years.
– New South Wales is giving up the system, too.
– I have it on the authority of men of the greatest capacity as engineers that railway construction can be done better and more cheaply without letting the work by contract. The setting apart of £5,000 for the preparation of plans and specifications will mean the ultimate expenditure of about £4,000,000 approximately.
– The line will not cost so much.
– That is the estimate: and has not the time come for linking up the east with the west by a steel road ? If honorable members think that it has come, consideration must be given, not to the question of route, because that has been practically determined, there being no engineering difficulties so far as I can learn, but to the method of construction. All must be impressed with the need for having a uniform gauge for the railways which connect the mainland capitals. Serious consideration must be given to that subject.
– There should be a uniform gauge for our main trunk lines.
– Not necessarily for the main trunk lines, but for the lines connecting the capitals. In Queensland, there is a main trunk line, running inland 500 miles from a port, which forms no part of the connecting railways. A great deal has been said about the rapidity of travelling abroad, and the distances which can be travelled in other countries by rail, but it must be remembered that we have now a line extending from Longreach, in Queensland, to Oodnadatta, in South Australia, a distance of about 3,300 miles, and that the actual rate of travelling on our fast trains is equal to that of the trains which cross the American continent. In time, there will be a line connecting Hughenden, Cloncurry, and Camooweal.
– We need a gauge on which trains can be run at a high rate of speed.
– It is erroneous to think that trains cannot be run at a high rate of speed on a comparatively narrow gauge, if the line is well built. But we should have a uniform gauge between Perth and Brisbane, so that one train could run right through. I hope that, in providing for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, we shall be able to bring about the adoption of such a gauge.
– The matter would have been settled twenty-two years ago but for the apathy of one State.
– I am inclined to think that’ that is so. I have not been in politics so long as some honorable members opposite have been, but I know that there has been bitter antagonism between the States, and that one State has done its utmost to prevent the linking up of its lines with those of other States. State feeling would be as bitter to-day but for Federation. Those who toiled to bring about the Union should be regarded as heroes, although they probably did not foresee the results of their efforts. The occurrences of the last ten years make it impossible to take too optimistic a view of the possibilities of Australia under one central Government. Those whose efforts were instrumental in breaking down Inter-
State trade barriers, and in providing for the population of Australia a common interest, have produced larger results than they even dreamt of. I attribute the present prosperity of Australia largely to the fact that there is free intercourse of trade and commerce between the States, and a feeling of common national interest among their peoples. With the greater advance of science and the applied arts, there will probably be a development in the next ten years which will astonish those of us who live to see it.
– The Labour party was opposed to Federation.
– I supported the Draft Constitution Bill, although it was not quite, what I wanted, because I thought that it was too good to miss.
– Why is the linking up of the east and the west to be delayed ?
– We shall enter into friendly negotiations with the two States most intimately concerned. Western Australia has already passed an Act setting forth its position. It will greatly expedite the construction of the line, and cheapen it, if a gauge is adopted which will allow a certain set of rolling-stock to run from end to end. The gauge recommended is 4 feet 8½ inches.
– Will the Prime Minister keep in mind the promise of the Government of Western Australia to reserve to the Commonwealth 25 miles on each side of the line?
– Our first object is the linking up of the east and west. We know that this involves a large expenditure, but the work will have to be done sooner or later, and the sooner it is finished the better it will be for Australia. I have spoken at greater length than I intended.
– The honorable member’s speech has been very interesting.
– There is one other item in the Estimates to which I wish to draw attention. £100 is set down to provide for some commemoration of the services of those who brought about Federation. I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat that portraits in oils, or statues, of the leaders of the movement should be obtained. It would be wise to get some disinterested person possessing sufficient knowledge to guide us as to a suitable form of memorial to adopt, either for thic
Parliament building, or (for that which will be erected in the Federal Capital. We cannot over-estimate the importance and the value of die work which these men did. We cannot over-appreciate the efforts which they put forth in the public interests. A position in public life is not a sinecure, by any means. Men of distinguished talents have passed away in the prime of life, largely owing to their public efforts. Some persons, of course, decry public men and public life generally, but, taking it all in all, the States, and particularly the Commonwealth, have been very fortunate in the leaders who have toiled, faithfully in the interests of the whole people. I heartily commend this proposal to honorable members. Our public men are entitled to this commemoration, and I am sure that it will be gracefully carried out. Regarding the item of £100, that is nothing. Whatever the work may cost, it must be done fittingly and well.
A great question which faces this Parliament, from the financial point of view, is the State debts question.
– That is a big question.
– It is a big question; but I do not intend to dwell upon it, as my views are well known. I agree with the principle of the scheme brought in by the honorable member for Hume, and, prior to that, suggested in various ways by several honorable members, including the honorable member for Mernda. The Commonwealth’s duty to the people is, I think, to take over the State debts. I am not in doubt as to whether the credit of the Commonwealth will be as good as that of the States. 1 think that it is impossible for the credit of .the States to be equal to the consolidated credit of the Commonwealth.
– The credit of the States to-day is as good as that of Canada.
– I am expressing my own opinion. The credit of the various States is better to-day because of the existence of the Commonwealth. Care was taken to place in our Constitution a provision which would prevent any of the States from defaulting, and, therefore, investors know very well that the Commonwealth is behind the States. The Commonwealth could not permit any State to default, and that is well known.
– The credit of the States is as good as that of Canada before Federation.
– In my opinion, it is idle for any person to say that the credit of the States is as good as the credit of the Commonwealth is and will be. I do not suggest that when the Commonwealth first enters the money market its credit will be much superior to that of the States, but I do hold that ten years afterwards its credit will be considerably better than that of the best of the States. If the people have been disappointed in one way more than another, they have been disappointed that, for ten years, we have neglected to deal effectively with this great question. Under the Surplus Revenue Act, and the recent amendment of the Constitution, the Commonwealth is entitled to use the 25s. per capita to be returned to a State in the payment of the interest on the debt of that State.
– That was in the Braddon section, too.
– I admit that, but the constitutional alteration will enable this Parliament to deal with the whole of the State debts at any time. It is a pity that we did not go further in the amendment, and enable the Commonwealth to deal with the stock of one State at a time. At any rate, it will be possible for the Parliament to get a set of men to devise a scheme which will enable the State debts, or a portion of them, in proportion to population, to be taken over and dealt with as Commonwealth stock. When that is done, I predict that in the lifetime of some persons now living, the Commonwealth will be able, by paying into a sinking fund the difference between the credit of the States and that of the- Commonwealth, to pay off the principal and the interest without raising a penny of revenue. That may seem optimistic, but that is my firm belief. Every inquiry will be made regarding this question, and next session the Government will endeavour to submit a scheme to Parliament.
I desire to say a few words regarding population and immigration. If our population is not so large as some of us would desire it to be, the natural increase is satisfactory from one point of view, when compared with other developments. The speed of the plough, for instance, in agricultural development has been much slower. Our population has increased at a greater ratio than has the area of cultivated land. Much as we may regret our small population, we must regret much more the limited area which is under cultivation.
– One is the corollary of the other.
– It ought to be, but I do not propose to go into that matter now. Whether the Commonwealth has a large or, comparatively speaking, a small population, whether it be numbered by millions, or tens of millions, I hold that so long as we have brave, honorable, and industrious people, our representatives will be heard amongst the nations of the world. Although we have entered into the national work of defence by sea and land, I hope that our representatives, whenever they speak in the name of Australia, will speak in the name of peace and industrial progress. We have no time for war or aggression. We desire to occupy this country, and to manage it in our own way, under, perhaps, the freest Constitution which can be found on the earth, and which leaves the people to guide their own destinies. If our people, by courage and culture, develop the talents which they have, I venture to say that the Commonwealth of Australia will find an honoured place amongst the world’s records. I move -
That the item “The President ^1,100,” be agreed to.
– Will the honorable gentleman agree to progress being reported now ?
– I am quite agreeable to the postponement of the debate on the Budget. But I should like the Opposition to agree to proceeding with the Works and Buildings Estimates. They contain some items which I know are a little controversial, but there are urgent reasons why they should be dealt with as early as possible. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition will think over my suggestion during the luncheon adjournment.
.- The Prime Minister mentioned this matter to me at an earlier hour, and, consequently, I have been able to consider it. I have been unable to find a single precedent for taking such a course, and there is no doubt that it will be attended with some difficulty. At the same time we quite recognise that we are in an exceptional session. As the honorable gentleman desires to leave this country on an official mission, at an early date, the Opposition has already undertaken to facilitate business in any way which is consistent with the discharge of its duties. I have seen a sufficient num ber of my honorable friends on this side to be able to say that, under the circumstances, we shall be prepared, after lunch, to proceed with the Works and Buildings Estimates.
– I thank the honorable gentleman.
– The Leader of the Opposition was w rong in stating that there is no precedent for taking this course, because I remember bringing down Works and Buildings Estimates entirely separate from the other Estimates, and I think that it was done twice previously.
– Yes, but not on the same day.
– Perhaps not on the same day.
– That is the whole point.
– I would point out to the Prime Minister that my experience has taught me that it is better to take one subject, and dispose of it, before taking up another. We are now in the middle of the debate on the Land Tax Assessment Bill, and I think it would be better to get that measure out of the way before dealing with anything else.
– If we cannot get through the Works and Buildings Estimates to-day, I shall not ask the Committee to consider them.
– We may dispose of those Estimates in an hour for all I know, but they may occupy ‘a much longer time.
– That, is the point which I was emphasizing. If the consideration of the Works Estimates is to occupy a long time, I do not think it is wise to break into the debate on the Lane Tax Assessment Bill.
– We might try to finish them at this sitting.
– I am only offering a suggestion to the honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member has no objection to our trying what I suggest ?
– No. It is for the Ministry to conduct their business in their own way, but, in my opinion, it is unwise to break into the debate on a very serious question such as land taxation.
– It was broken into by the delivery of the Budget.
– If the honorable gentleman desires honorable members to proceed with the consideration of the
Works and Buildings Estimates, I advise that they should be disposed of at this sitting, and that the ordinary work be resumed to-morrow.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to-
That the consideration of the General Estimates be postponed until after the consideration of the Estimates for Additions, New Works, and Buildings.
Sitting suspended from12. 57 to 2.15 p.m.
Department of Home Affairs
Division 1(Home Affairs), £110,400
– I wish to announce thatI intend to follow the usual procedure, and to allow a full discussion on the first item. Thereafter the discussion will be confined to the division or item immediately under consideration.
.- I do not propose to take advantage of the opportunity afforded on the first item to offer any general criticism on the amount of the Additions, New Works, and Buildings Estimates, inasmuch as any observations under that heading can be made,I assume, in the general discussion on the Budget. I take it that we shall not be precluded from alluding to these Estimates as part of the general Estimates that are before us, all of which we must consider in connexion with the Budget.
– No; there will be every liberty in that respect.
– I wish to know whether theitem, “ Store at Darling Island, Sydney, for the purposes of Departments of the Commonwealth, towards cost, £41,000,” relates to an entirely new structure, and has nothing to do with any building that is under the control of the Imperial Government?
– The total cost of erecting this building is £51,000. A contract for £34.000 has been let, and is in progress for the erection of a plain sixstoried building for ourselves.
– Then this item is to allow the store now in process of erection to be proceeded with ?
.-I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs what action he is taking for the acquisition of a proposed manoeuvre area for military purposes at Liverpool, New South Wales. I see no item on the Estimates in respect of that area?
– Negotiations are not yet so near completion as to warrant our putting an item on the Esimates.
– I should like the Minister to intimate whether he proposes to purchase the necessary land, or to lease it from the Government ofNew South Wales ?
– We are in friendly negotiation with the Government of New South Wales, and making arrangements, so that there will be no further dispute. We do not wish to go into the matter publicly until we have completed these arrangements.
– Has the Minister arrived at a determination as to what means he will take to acquire this area?
– As the matter relates really to the Defence Department, the honorable member perhaps will allow me to explain. The Minister of Home Affairs cannot be expected to be acquainted with all these details. The information that has reached the Defence Department is that the New South Wales Department of Lands is prepared to dedicate to the Commonwealth all the Government land within the particular area in question. It has been asked to resume the private lands that are involved, and there is now under consideration a proposal that the State shall lease to the Commonwealth the lands which they will have under their control. Our proposal is to pay the Government of New South Wales a percentage on their actual outlay.
– I desire now to ask whether the Government intend to proceed in the way the Honorary Minister has indicated - whether they are going to lease this land from the Government of New South Wales, or whether they intend to purchase it as was proposed by the late Administration?
– They are negotiating with a view of leasing it.
– I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will stir up matters in this regard, and see that the land is taken over by the Commonwealth as early as possible. The area, as a manoeuvring ground, needs to be improved. It is too hard a task for citizen troops to keep in touch with each other over the majority of the scrub land there ; and I hope that the Minister will take action at the earliest possible moment. I should prefer the
Commonwealth to own the site, rather than to lease it from the State. We must eventually own such a place, and the Government would probably not save money by waiting to take over the land later on. This is not a matter of detail, as was suggested by the brilliant strategist who came to the assistance of the Minister of Home Affairs. It will involve an expenditure of something like £80,000, if all the land is to be taken over.
– It means a lot of money.
– But there is no great principle involved.
– The efficiency of the defence forces is involved in the immediate acquisition and improvement of such a manoeuvring ground. The camps of instruction are supposed to be the places at which to test the value of home training. The value of home training cannot be tested unless we have a suitable manoeuvring ground, and for that reason 1 hope the Department will not wait another year, but will do what the ex-Minister would have been able to do had he remained in office, and complete this work during the present year.
.- I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister state this morning that it was intended to have appropriations running over two or three years, or whatever period may be necessary, to allow for the carrying out of certain works. The matter has been referred to upon several occasions, and I think such an arrangement would be a great convenience, since it would prevent the lapsing of necessary appropriations at the end of the year. In any change that is being made to enable that policy to be applied, I trust that provision will be made to cover cases where the tenders received are materially in excess of the Estimates. There should be a general vote on the Estimates, to enable the difference between the departmental estimates and the actual contract accepted to be advanced. I have in mind a case in South Australia, but not in my own electorate, relating to repairs to a postal building. The postmaster concerned informed me that the contract price was 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, in excess of the amount actually voted, and that the contract had, therefore, to be cut down, although the repairs were absolutely necessary. This officer has not decent housing accommodation for his family, and yet, because we had not voted a sufficient amount, the proposed alterations had to be cut down. I trust that such matters will be considered. Then, again, we find that in South Australia some contracts are suspended because, owing to the times being good, they are higher than was anticipated. Contracts are held over in the hope that the times will, in some respects, become bad, and prices or wages will fall.
– Nothing of that kind has been done by me.
– I hope that it will not be clone. I do not wish to mention any particular district, but some contracts have been suspended because the tenders are beyond the estimates of the departmental officers. Owing to the prosperity of the community generally, tenders are higher than was anticipated, and I do not think there is any possibility of tenders being materially lower during the next three or four years. It is a pity that the construction of necessary postal buildings, or the carrying out of repairs should be delayed because the tenders received are, in the opinion of the Department, beyond the amount that ought to be expended. We may wait too long, and find ourselves, in the end, in the same position as we are in at present.
– I should like to know whether this store at Darling Island is the building for which certain Victorian stone was sent over to Sydney.
– Just for the facings.
– Taking Victorian stone to Sydney is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
– It is to secure harmony.
– That is not so. Some of the trachyte of Sydney, which is a very fine stone, could be used in the erection of part of this building, and there is some splendid local freestone. The building is being erected in the heart of the best stone country in the Commonwealth.
– Trachyte comes from the Bowral district.
– Yes. The New York Life Assurance Company’s building and other magnificent structures in Sydney have been erected with it. It is a grey stone, and very hard. I do not know who recommended that stone should be sent from Melbourne for this building-
– Does the honorable member refer to Melbourne bluestone?
– Yes ; it is most ridiculous to send such stone to Sydney. As to freestone, I would remind honorable members that Pyrmont freestone is, perhaps, as good as any to be found in the Commonwealth. I suppose that the Minister is acting upon the recommendation of his officers, but I should say that very little dependence is to be placed on officers who would make such a recommendation.
– They ought to be shifted.
– I wish to know whether that recommendation is to be carried out.
– It cannot be true that such a recommendation has been made.
– It is true, for T have seen the Minister on the matter. On the south coast of New South Wales there is to be obtained Columbia basalt, which is eminently suitable for such work ; and care ought to be taken that the officers do not run the Department into stupid expenditure.
– Has the honorable member any idea of the comparative cost of bluestone and trachyte?
– One stone is on the spot, while the other has to be carried 500 or 600 miles by water.
– I know that stone from Tasmania has been delivered in Adelaide at a cheaper rate than South Australian stone.
– I believe that some Tasmanian stone was used in the building of the Melbourne Post Office, but better stone might have been found somewhere else.
– What is the comparative durability ?
– Trachyte is better than any stone - better than bluestone.
.- I cannot understand why there should be any necessity to use Victorian stone for a building in New South Wales, which is the home of stone of all kinds. Water carriage may be cheaper than the land haulage from the trachyte quarries to the site of the building; but I am at a loss to understand the need for bluestone in an erection of this character. The best foundation is concrete, which can be obtained in any quantity without coming to Melbourne. If the stone is not required for foundations, I see no reason for it in other parts of the building. Freestone abounds all over New South Wales, and is the envy of Australia. All the main buildings in Sydney are constructed of it, and its cost, compared with that of bluestone. must recommend it to any practical man.
– The Pyrmont quarry is only a few yards away.
– Quite so; a stone might be rolled from the quarry to the site.
– Does the honorable member for Gwydir consider himself a practical man?
– For over twenty years I earned my crust handling such material, and I think I know what I am talking about. I am surprised that the Department should take such a stand, and I think keen supervision is necessary in the choice of material, and also in the economical carrying out of public works, especially in view of the heavy expenditure there will be in connexion with the Federal Capital. There is serious need for practical knowledge and guidance in the Department in the two directions I have indicated. I should like to hear from the Minister whether this project in regard to Victorian stone has been indorsed, and if so, why?
– The amount to be spent on this bluestone is absolutely of no consequence in comparison with the cost of the building. For all ornamental purposes, and with a view to pleasing contrasts on some of the facings, this bluestone has been recommended. Used as it is, with an eye to beauty, I cannot see that a little bluestone in some of the facings can hurt the standard of this building.
– What is the amount involved ?
– The building is to cost £36,000, and £2,700 or £3,000 is estimated for the bluestone.
– Does the Minister call that a small item in stone?
– Surely the honorable member; with his practical knowledge, would not desire to see a building like a barracks, all of one material ?
– Trachyte is a far prettier stone.
– I did not know about the trachyte at the time. However, I shall have the matter looked into. I do not wish to give offence to New South Wales, or any other State, i» a matter of this kind.
– I was rather surprised to hear the statement of the honorable, member for Hume, but I think the Minister’s explanation is more or less satisfactory. After all, what was sought was, it appears, the æsthetic result, and, on that point, I would be almost as ready to trust the Minister as I would my honorable friend the honorable member for Hume ! I think, however, it is rather a farce to send stone all the way from Melbourne to Sydney. It may be that a bluestone foundation would give a more effective appearance.
– The honorable member had better have a look at the Waverley quarries !
– I have had a look at those quarries, but I shall not tell the honorable member how many loads I have myself lifted during my life time, though I do profess to know a little about stone. Still more absurd than sending stone from Melbourne to Sydney is the suggestion that the idea is purely æsthetic, considering that a building on Darling Island is designed to be of a strictly utilitarian character. For ordinary purposes of beauty there is no comparison between Victorian bluestone and Sydney freestone.
– But put the two together !
– For some purposes a slight improvement may be effected by a break between the base and the superstructure, as is the case with this Parliament House, which is one. of the finest buildings of the kind I know. In any case, it might be possible to obtain bluestone without conveying it all these hundreds of miles.
We ought not to be too ready to jump with both feet on officers who are, probably, only attempting to do their duty.
– I understand that bluestone is regarded as more suitable than freestone.
– Public officers are not concerned with quarrels between New South Wales and Victoria, or any other State, and it is very unjust, in a House of this character, where the officers have no opportunity to reply, to suggest that _ they ought to be fired from their places simply because they hold a special view of their duty. I hope that what the honorable member for Hume has said in this regard will not be taken seriously.
– He did not suggest such a thing.
– I wish the honorable member would tell the truth.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is in error - the suggestion was made in an interjection.
– Then I apologize to the honorable member for Hume, but, in -any case, I hope the suggestion that some officer should be sacked over this matter will not be taken seriously.
– I saw the Minister on this matter, and understood from nim that the foundation and facings were to be of Melbourne bluestone. I do not think there is any superior sesthetic value to be found in the bluestone, as compared with trachyte, and I should like to know from the Minister whether this decision was his own or whether it was arrived at on a recommendation? I presume, however, that it was a recommendation, and I do not think that it ought to be carried out. My only object is to have an inquiry made in order to ascertain by . whom, and why, the recommendation was made.
– I have no doubt that the officers of the Department have done their best. After all, it is only a comparatively small matter, and if it leads to an interchange of products and brains between the States, the stone will not have been purchased very dearly. Is it not time that the honorable member for Hume stopped this provincialism, and this cry of State rights ? The honorable member is so saturated with the State rights spirit that he is actually taking it into stone. He is beginning to ossify himself so far as his national view of things is concerned. It is time he stripped himself of all these State prejudices and took a broad national view of the foundations of this building. At any rate, this is a small matter, as I understand that only the foundations are being put in in bluestone.
– And some of the facings.
– I understand that that is for architectural effect. Why could not the bluestone be obtained from our own State?
– There is no stone better or better looking than trachyte.
– I have heard that it has some defects.
– Very hard, is it not?
– I understand so. But I believe there is another bluestone in New South Wales. I do not know, however, whether they have got it opened up for the purpose of cutting it for building purposes.
– We have not got the machines to cut it.
– In the district which the honorable member for Illawarra represents, there is bluestone of a quality equal to that of any stone in Australia.
– It was of the trachyte that I was speaking.
– I am not so gone on it as the honorable member is, and I do not know that it is being much used now.
– It is being used a great deal.
– It used to be, and I am glad to hear that it is coming into use again. If its qualities are all right there is no doubt about its beauty. When it is polished there is no stone in Australia, and I would almost say, in the world, equal to it in appearance. If it is available I would certainly prefer it to any other kind of stone, so far as appearance and artistic effects areconcerned, and that seems to have been the sole reason that has actuated whoever has designed this building in introducing the bluestone.
– Hear, hear ! That is it.
– I should think that an endeavour ought to be made in each State to utilize the stone available in that State where it can be done advantageously. The difficulty in our State is that there is not enough demand for it to induce the owners to put in the costly machines necessary for cutting it up.
– Perhaps not for the bluestone, but they are prepared to do it for the trachyte.
– I shall leave the question at that. I want to refer to other matters also connected with the Department of Home Affairs, which is the great construction Department of the Commonwealth. The sooner the Minister makes up his mind to make it into an efficient Department with branches in all the States to carry out our own works the better. At present the work is not being done satisfactorily, and it is of no use blaming the central office for it. They are struggling heroic; ally with the difficulties that surround them, but the net result is that the work is not being got out of hand as it ought to be. If there is one thing that ought to be done in connexion with our new departments and the development of the various schemes we have in hand, it is the spending of the money voted year by year by this Parliament, yet do what we will, we cannot spend by hundreds of thousands of pounds the small amount of money which we annually vote for our own public works. Those works are starving year by year. We are almost perishing from the lack of facilities for the transaction of our Commonwealth business, and yet hundreds of thousands of pounds go back unexpended to the Treasury year by year. When I was in the Defence Department I gave the officers strict instructions that the money voted for the Department should be spent within the year, and I am glad to say the result was eminently satisfactory. It is only when we come to the Home Affairs Department that the trouble begins. Last year for the Department of Defence £1,246,000 was voted, and £1,197,000 was spent, there being a residue of only £49,000 at the end of the year. That is a very satisfactory result. For special defence material £78,000 was voted, and £77,000 was spent, while, for the new special defence provision, £121,000 was voted and £118,000 spent. But, in the construction of buildings and plant and other matters controlled by the Home Affairs Department, whereas £111,000 was voted, only £69,000 was spent, leaving £42,000 unexpended. In the Postal Department £136,000 was voted for works under the control of the Home Affairs Department, and only £89,000 of it was spent, leaving an unexpended balance of £47,000. The only explanation I can suggest is that the Home Affairs Department is inadequately equipped. It has not the appliances or the officers necessary to do the work, which is given to the States to do, and the States do not do it as satisfactorily as they ought to, although they charge a commission of about 10 per cent. The temptation to the States to do their own work first seems to be irresistible, and our work is pushed back year by year, so that we have all this money unexpended while people are clamouring for the very facilities for which it has been voted.
– More money would be expended if the Works Estimates were made the first business every year.
– Perhaps so, but where the Departments themselves have the spending of the money they manage to get through it, or nearly so. The only remedy is a large increase in the staff, plant and appliances of the Home Affairs Department. In other words, we want our own Federal Works Department, for which I have been clamouring for years. -The sooner an effort is made in that direction the better. The money at present is not spent, and it is not proposed to spend it all even next year. I wish to call attention to the tardy way in which the small arms factory at Lithgow is proceeding. Even this year we do not expect to spend all that must be spent before the work is completed. If we are going to take more than another year to complete it there must be something radically wrong somewhere.
– The Minister of Defence has ‘just told me that he expects the small arms factory to be going very early in the new year.
– If so, how comes it that it is only proposed to spend another £25,000 to the end of June, 191 1, making a total expenditure, including that of last year, of about £31,000, although the whole expenditure required is put down at £48,000 ? How is the machinery to be set going six months before a little more than half the necessary money has been spent? Last year £6,016 was appropriated for the factory, and £6,859 was spent, and £[25,000 is asked for this year, making a total of about £32,000. But the estimated cost is £48,000, so that £16,000 will remain to be voted next year. That seems to me to be another instance proving the need for a Commonwealth Construction Department, and the sooner we get one the better.
– I find regarding the building at Darling Harbor that the bluestone which has been referred to is not to be used for the foundation, which would have been absurd, considering the nature of the bottom, nor for facings or ornamental purposes, but for the basement walls of what is to be a six-story building. The officers say that bluestone is being used, because, to save space, the walls must be narrow, and a strong stone is necessary to carry their weight. Could they make the walls wider, the ordinary freestone could be used, as in the General Post Office and other Sydney buildings. I consider the arrangement a wise one. There is no comparison between the cost of bluestone and trachyte. The latter is a very ornamental stone when highly polished, but is not the best for carrying a heavy weight.
– Any architect in Sydney will say that it is.
– Some of the largest buildings in Sydney are built on trachyte.
– Trachyte costs more to work than does bluestone.
– I have been told by the Under-Secretary that that is not so.
– I have worked both, and know that I am right. I am not a State righter to the extent of saying that we should always use for a building the stone obtainable in the immediate vicinity. The Department should study economy by using the best material available wherever obtainable within the Commonwealth. Had the Minister placed the facts before us, this discussion would not have lasted so long.
.- For some years past Toowoomba has not had an adequate rifle range, and I should like the Minister to inform me later what arrangements are to be made to meet the case. The matter has been before the Department for three or four years, but while the military authorities seem ready to come to a conclusion, it is apparently difficult to get the State authorities to agree. I see that there is on the Estimates a sum of money for the range, and I ask the Minister to expedite the work. The rifle clubs of the Western Association hold their annual meeting at Toowoomba, but rifle shooting is discouraged by leaving the place without an adequate range. I hope that the Minister will as soon as possible map out localities for the provision of proper training areas. Seven years ago I brought this matter under the notice of the Defence Department. In States where population is rapidly increasing, it is necessary to reserve training areas close to what must become large centres. Land should be acquired for training purposes in districts like Darling Downs. They should be secured, not only at Toowoomba, but at other centres in the Downs. Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is the need for increased accommodation at the Warwick post-office. The population of the town has recently increased by 2,000 or 3,000 owing to the cutting up of estates in the vicinity, and the carrying out of railway extensions. The post-office, however, does not provide sufficient accommodation for the business of the place. 1 understand that a conference is to report to the Minister regarding the advisability of providing residences for country postmasters. They should not be left without quarters in small country towns where there is great difficulty in getting other accommodation. Of course, it would not be wise to lay clown the rule that every postmaster should be provided with quarters, but quarters should be provided where other accommodation is not easily obtainable. 1 would urge expedition in this matter.
– The Toowoomba rifle range has been the subject of considerable negotiations, but arrangements have now been made by the Department with the Queensland Government for the acquisition of a police paddock on condition that a suitable site elsewhere shall be found foi the police. It is intended to make the range from 700 to 1,000 yards long, to provide five targets with mantlets and frames complete, stop butt 14 feet high, and firing mounds 40 feet long, at 700, 800, 900, and 1,000 yards. The present range is considered dangerous. As to the proclamation of training areas, the mattei is under the consideration of the Minister, who hopes to be able to decide at an early date where reserves can most suitably be made for the purpose.
.-! ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether it is proposed to proceed immediately with the erection of the Military College, and, if so, is the building to be erected at YassCanberra? In my opinion, it would be a mistake to proceed with it before designs for the Federal Capital have been accepted. I understand that a site for the college has been chosen at Yass-Canberra.
– It was stated in the press that a site had been chosen there tentatively and that the Department was only awaiting the passing of the Estimates to obtain funds to proceed with the construction of the building. If a site for a Military College is to be selected, surely that selection should be made after designs for the laying out of the Capital have been called for and a plan chosen. I ask the Minister what he proposes to do with the proposed vote of £45,000 with respect to the Federal Capital. For instance, does he propose to spend a portion of it in establishing brickworks at Yass-Canberra? If so, he may establish them in what may prove to be the very centre of the city, unless he proceeds upon some fixed plan. If the Minister of
Defence selects a site for a Military College at Yass-Canberra, and the Minister of Home Affairs selects a site for brick-works there, then those who are asked to supply a design for the Federal Capital will have to be informed of the precise localities at which they are to be established, so that they may provide for them. The Minister is putting the cart before the horse. If the Department means serious business with regard to this item for the Federal Capital, then we should at once call for designs before spending a single penny in respect of works and buildings there. We are asking, not for a plan of Parliament House, or of public offices, but for a design for laying out the Capital city.
– How can they develop a plan until the Territory has actually been acquired ?
– That is another argument in favour of the postponement of the item. We should not vote .£10,000 for a Military College, and £45,000 for various works to be carried out at Yass-Canberra until we know positively that we are to hav.e this Territory. Something might arise to prevent our acquiring it.
– It could be acquired to-morrow morning if the Government only said they wanted it.
– But I imagine that there are certain Federal rights which must be secured.
– There is no trouble. All that is necessary is the issue of the second proclamation.
– No one seems to be able to give us definite information, and I therefore hope that the Minister will agree to the postponement of both the items to which I have referred. If the item in respect of the Military College is merely to provide for the construction of a college at a place to be decided later on, I shall not oppose it, but otherwise I think we ought to postpone the two items until we have further information. I was not a member of the House when Parliament threw over the site chosen by a former Parliament, which was in a far better position to judge of the various sites that were offering. Had I been here, I should have objected to the departure from the first choice, which was made after a great deal of investigation. Honorable members came into this Parliament at the end of 1907, and, without any opportunity of inspecting the various sites visited by members of the first Parliament. they were induced by canvassers in the Legislature itself to vote for a new site.
– Does the honorable member think that every new Parliament should inspect all the sites?
– A new Parliament should consider the arguments which have induced a former Parliament to come to a certain decision.
– Then there would never be any finality.
– There would not be if every new Parliament were not to respect the decision of the preceding Parliament. I take the stand that the Minister is proposing at too early a stage in the establishment of the Federal Capital to expend £[45,000 upon it.
– What is £45,000? It is a mere nothing in the laying out of a city.
– It may be a mere nothing, but this item may be expended on works, the construction of which will interfere with the adoption of the best plan for laying out the Federal city.# Every one will admit that before we spend £1 at the Federal Capital, we should have a design.
– The Minister can spend three or four times that amount without any plans.
– But brickworks might be established in the very place where the honorable member would like an artificial lake to be constructed. I have very great respect for the Minister’s ability, but if he is to prepare a design for the Federal Capital, I should like to have further evidence of his capacity to do so. I hope that the honorable gentleman will accept my suggestion, and not spend any money at Yass-Canberra until we have before us the designs for the capital.
– I appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs to agree to the postponement of the item relating to the Federal Capital until the ordinary Estimates are dealt with. I am not altogether familiar with the procedure of this House with respect to the Budget, but’ as a new member, it seems to me that we are asked to adopt a strange mode of procedure in voting various items before the debate on the Budget has taken place. I should not complain if we were asked to agree to proposed votes similar to those passed last year. I recognise that to economize time, and for other reasons, the Government are compelled to ask the Parliament to agree to some votes pro forme. I should not object to that, but I ask honorable members, without party feeling, is it a fair thing to call upon new members at this stage to vote £45,000 in connexion with the Federal Capital? I recognise that we shall have to spend millions on the Capital, but my contention is that a new Parliament should have an opportunity first of all to discuss the general question, and should not be caught by a catch vote. That is what is being clone in this case.
– If every new Parliament is going to discuss the Federal Capital question, will it ever be settled ?
– That is mere moonshine. It is such a remark - and I do not apply this to the honorable member for Parramatta - as any tricky politician might be expected to make. The House, when it has time to go into the matter, should determine where the Capital should be established, and the Government should then push on with the work.
– That is already settled.
– It was settled, as a legacy, by the last Parliament, and was settled on a catch vote.. I therefore appeal to the Minister, as a matter of fairness to new members of the House, to postpone the item relating to the Federal Capital.
– - I trust that the Minister of Home Affairs will not assent to the suggestion that the item with respect to the Federal Capital should be postponed. We have upon the statute-book a measure passed by the last Parliament definitely fixing the site of the Federal Capital. . In the Governor-General’s Speech I lead that the Government are pledged to carry out the law as they find it; and the proposed vote is, I take it, a beginning. I hope the Minister will stand by the proposal, and that, when the time comes to ask for more money, he will get it readily. The honorable member for Capricornia says that it is not advisable to vote money at the present juncture, because we require plans; but I may be pardoned for suggesting that one way to obtain plans is to provide the money to pay for them. We cannot expect the experts df the world to supply us with suggestions without payment. I now desire to call attention to the fact that, at a place called Murrurundi, in my electorate, negotiations have, for years past, been in progress for the purchase of a site for a post-office, without any result, although the present accommodation is utterly inadequate and inconvenient. I trust that the Minister will see that, not only a site, but a properly equipped building is provided.
– I am glad to find, on one occasion at least, that I can stand shoulder to shoulder with my namesake, and, under the circumstances, I think we ought to be able to make some impression on the Committee. If the argument which has been advanced in regard to the right of a new Parliament to visit the proposed site and reopen the whole question, is sound, it will hold good in regard to every decision of this or any future Parliament. We see, however, that if that idea were acted upon in regard to every Bill passed, we should have no permanent legislation. We all recognise the right of a Parliament to review, amend, and repeal; but there must be finality in determining the question of the Federal Capital, otherwise the Constitution could be permanently ignored and no agreement would be secure of ratification. The settlement of this question was delayed for almost ten years; at any rate, for much longer than was originally contemplated ; but now Parliament, by legislation, has determined the Territory and spent a considerable amount in preliminary work. I agree with the honorable member for Capricornia that not one farthing should be spent in the erection of the permanent public administrative and other buildings, until plans have been submitted and approved, and we have a general idea of what the city is to be. The proposed expenditure, however, is of quite a different character, and has to do merely with preliminary works, which will be necessary quite irrespective of the site and the actual design of the city.
– Tell us what the works are.
Mr.W. ELLIOT JOHNSON.- Amongst the works are, I understand, provision for the storage and seasoning of timber, water supply, drainage and sewerage, railways to join the main lines and touch the seaport, and so forth; and I take it that the expenditure now proposed has some connexion therewith. The Minister will be able to say whether I am wrong in this view.
.-It is interesting and novel to hear from an honorable member of the Opposition what the Government propose to do with the money we are asked to vote. I do not wish to discuss the whole question of the Federal
Capital site, but I understand that the Government desire to get these Estimates through this evening, in order that public works may be proceeded with. That being the case, I do not think that any controversial item should be included. If the Government persist in their refusal to postpone the Federal Capital item until the consideration of the General Estimates is undertaken, it will simply mean that they will not get these Estimates through to-night, and may not have them passed for two or three days. In any case, if we are to discuss this item, a day ought to be fixed so that all members may be present, and the question thoroughly threshed out on a fair basis. We desire public works to be proceeded with, and, at the same time, we ask for a fair opportunity to discuss any item of a controversial nature. The question is not merely whether this or another Capital Site should be selected, but also whether the erection of a new Capital, at the present stage of our history, should be undertaken. We are faced with large expenditure in the immediate future, and. in that regard, the Prime Minister has taken a stand that we should expect a gentleman in his position to take. The people in the country districts are hard pressed for telephone and mail services. We invite people to settle in the backblocks, and, at the same time, we refuse them facilities for keeping in touch with Ihe rest of the community. Under present arrangements decent telephone and mail services are not provided unless the settlers, out of their own scanty money, provide a sufficient guarantee against possible loss. Under the circumstances, I do not feel prepared to vote this £50,000 - which has been described by some as a “flea-bite” - much less £100,000, in the establishment of a Federal Capital, which can very well wait until the people have been given proper postal facilities. Itis right that honorable members should have an opportunity to discuss the whole question of the Capital from the point of view I have suggested, and. therefore, I strongly advocate the postponement of this item.
– We shall require about £13,000 for survey work, find at least £5,000 for the designs we propose to call for from all parts of the world.
– How are we to get designs for £5,000?
– I ‘ think 5,000 is a fair start. Then we require 4,000 to start afforestation, because we are going to plant at least 100,000 trees on the Territory which, centuries hence, the people will come from all parts of the world to see. For certain works, including roads and the building of a railway from Queanbeyan to the capital, we require about £22,000, if we are to carry out the work ourselves. Further, we have to acquire a certain amount of freehold land. My wish was to acquire the whole of what we required at once, but, under the circumstances, we ask for only £6,000 under this head. The honorable member for Capricornia asked about the Military College; and I may tell him that the spot for the college will be selected by the Government, and that it will be so far out from the centre of the city that it will really not come into the general design.
– What is the reason for having the Military College a long way cut?
– It is not advisable to have a lot of young soldiers around Parliament House. Opponents of this site forget one point. Nine years ago I carried, or, at any rate, I fought for, a motion, that the Commonwealth should acquire Federal territory of 1,000 square miles. Such a territory means an immense asset for the Commonwealth. Every building which is built on leasehold means an increase in the value of the land, and in that way the Commonwealth will finally be possessed of one of the greatest assets in the wide world. Land will never be cheaper in Australia than it is now ; as population increases land values must go up. We have the right, under our agreement with New South Wales, to take over these lands at the value placed on them in 1908, and they are much more valuable now than they were then. If this question is put off year after year, the Commonwealth will lose hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds. The moment we issue our second proclamation we can take over the land. We are already having valuations made in the Territory on the 1908 basis, and we can take the freehold over at those valuations whenever we wish to do so. It will then be our property for all time, and, instead of being worth £2 or £3 an acre, as I suppose it is now, it will in years to come be worth thousands of pounds an acre.
-4/1- - I was somewhat reassured to hear the honorable member for Lang say that if we voted on this item we should not be committing ourselves to the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra, but I have waited in vain for some corroboration of that statement by the Minister of Home Affairs.
– Certainly we are committing ourselves, and the Government stand by it, too.
– That is what I wanted to know. I am sorry to hear so much from this side of the House about the repudiation of what was done by a previous Parliament. We did not hear the same cry from those who speak in that strain when a majority of the House repudiated what a previous Government had done in regard to the naval loan policy. It would be most unfair to commit those who have been returned to the House for the first time to the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra by what can only be called a catch vote. I hope I can speak as a Nationalist, returned by a Nationalist vote. I believe the majority of the members of this House have been returned by a vote of that character, and if the people spoke definitely upon one question more than another at the last election, it was against the establishment of the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra. Honorable members opposite, who can only see New South Wales on the map,’ may laugh, but with me it is not a matter of whether the Capital should be at YassCanberra or at Dalgety. What I desire is that it shall be at a place which is in the best interests of the whole nation. I followed the debate very closely when the question was before the House during the last Parliament, and I have noticed the peculiar fact that the majority of senators who voted for Yass-Canberra received their quietus at the hands of the people at the recent election. I do not think that even one of them got back again. There can be no doubt that those who voted for YassCanberra were actuated by the most parochial instincts, and that site was selected purely by the trick of a name-combination, which, to say the least of it, was not very creditable to the honorable members concerned, some of whom are still on the other side of the House. I feel that I should not have been doing my duty, not only to my own electors, but as a representative of the people of Australia, if I had not expressed myself on this question, and I sincerely trust that the item will be postponed.
– 1 was delighted by the speech of the honorable member for Indi. He spoke as a Nationalist in support of another Nationalist ; and the Nationalist member for Gippsland, with the Nationalist member for Indi, spoke in support of the Nationalist newspaper, the Melbourne Age ! Those honorable members know, as every member from New South Wales knows, that the Melbourne press are anxious to put off the solution of this question. It is not a matter of the comparative merits of this or that site, but purely a question of trying to conserve the revenues of those plutocratic institutions in Collinsstreet. The Nationalist member for Indi is out to help the Nationalist newspaper proprietors of Melbourne to increase their profits, at the expense of the settlement of this question. The cost to the Melbourne dailies of reporting Federal affairs at the Federal Capital will be increased by some £3,000 to ,£5,000 a year. For that reason, YassCanberra has been described, ever since it was chosen, as a place without water, without soil, and destitute of all the requirements of a modern city.
– The Bulletin does that, too.
– Then the Bulletin, like my honorable friend, is a mirror of all truth ! On this particular question, the Sydney Bulletin is not a reliable authority. I do not know what is disturbing it.
– Perhaps the Sydney daily papers can be depended on.
– In this particular question, the Sydney papers have no financial interest. The Melbourne press, for the first time in its history, is unanimous on a question; and is trying to throw mud at Yass-Canberra so as to get some other place chosen and the settlement of the question again deferred. Those Nationalist members opposite we’re perhaps returned upon a ‘ ‘ mandate “ that Yass-Canberra had no water, although an honorable senator was almost drowned in one of the streams there recently ?
– I do not think the newspaper proprietors care a snap about the question of cost to them.
– The Minister cannot be right, or they would not pay the expenses of special deputations to write down this or that district whenever it seems likely to be chosen.
Let me draw attention to a defence matter largely affected by the Federal Capital vote. There is an item on the schedule for the establishment of a Military College, which I think Parliament intends to be at the Seat of Government. The sooner, therefore, we fix the Seat of Government, the better for the Military Forces of Australia. The Military College is to be the nursing ground of the brains of the Australian Defence Force. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, in his report, recommends that the College shall train the instructors of the Defence Force, and the sooner we start training those instructors the sooner we shall get an efficient force. Why, then, should the Nationalist friends of the Nationalist Age newspaper be anxious to put off the settlement of this national question, and defer the efficiency of the future Defence Force of Australia?
– This is a proposition for the nationalization of land.
– Well, the Government have a “mandate” for the nationalization of land according to their platform of six years ago, so let them go ahead at once and fix this question up ! We have spent enough time quarrelling about it. It has always been a fight against the place selected. Last time, in another place, a number of members who expressed a strong opinion that Dalgety was the only place suitable for the Federal Capital changed round and would not vote for it, but voted for another place to block that site.
– Largely influenced by the honorable member.
– Here is another Nationalist member of this Parliament !
– It is a good thing that there are one or two Nationalists on that side.
– There are also one or two on this side under the influence of the public opinion excited by the self-interested press of Melbourne.
– Does the honorable member claim that New South Wales members are not under the influence of the Sydney papers?
– Most certainly they are not. When I am away -from Sydney, I do not read the Sydney papers. I have all my time taken up in dealing with matters that come before the House.
It is deplorable that the National Parliament should be made the tool of the selfinterests of this or that section of the community. Let us get this measure settled without subterfuge, equivocation, or mental reservation, knowing that the sooner we settle the Capital Site, the sooner we shall establish the Military College. Do not let those members who wish to defer its settlement pose as Nationalists. A lot is said about the expense of the Federal Capital, but I believe that in ten or fifteen years the expense will be less at the Seat of Government, the Capital having been established, than it would have been if we had continued in these big cities. In trying to find suitable sites for public buildings in a big city like Melbourne, we have to pay bigger ground rents, because we are competing with 500,000 people for the site, without taking into account the interest on the cost of construction. By going to a place where land can be bought by the acre instead of by the foot, and getting rid of the groundrent charged, you will keep down the cost of government, and get away from the unfortunate influence of a section of the Melbourne press. You will establish the Australian Commonwealth on a sound basis, free its Parliament from provincial interests, and destroy the pretences of those who declare themselves to be Nationalists but act insidiously on behalf of a small, and not the most deserving, section of the community.
– I do not wish to delay the settlement of the Federal Capital question, because I am not one of those who think that the Parliament should continue to meet in Melbourne’ indefinitely. We should fix upon a site for a capital in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. To me it is a matter of great regret that the Parliament of 1907 went out of its way to alter the decision of the first Parliament. I formed one of a party which visited probably a dozen proposed sites in New South Wales. The first Parliament chose Dalgety, the site recommended by Mr. Oliver, the New South Wales Commissioner appointed by the State Government to make a recommendation in this matter.
– Did the honorable member see Tooma?
– No. That site was brought forward only after the inspection of the other sites had been made. The delay in the selection of a capital has been due to the endeavours of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Tele graph to have a site chosen as near as possible to Sydney, so that the trade and commerce of that city may be increased. Sydney has already attracted a population of some 600,000 persons, and is full of slums, so that children cannot be brought up there as they should be. If we agree to spend £50,000 on the works outlined by the Minister of Home Affairs, YassCanberra will be the site of the Federal Capital for all time. The Minister seems to have very hazy ideas as to what he intends to do. I understand that he asks for £13,000 for survey work, £5,000 for the calling for designs, £6,000 to purchase freehold land, and £4,000 for afforestation. Of what use will it be to call for designs after the money has been spent? If ,£13,000 is spent on survey work, the surveyors will prepare plans of the city. Drainage works cannot be carried out without plans. The chief things in the Minister’s mind seem to be a sewage farm and brickworks, though we are told that the Military College is to be out of the city. How can afforestation be carried out before it is known exactly where the city is to be. and how it is to be planned? If the trees are planted before plans are made, it may be found subsequently that they are occupying a site required for public buildings.
– There are buildings already there which could be used temporarily for the Military College.
– What buildings are there at Yass-Canberra ? The photographs show only a large plain surrounded with hills covered with timber, more or less valuable.
– The Duntroon homestead is on the Capital Site.
– I have seen a good many homesteads, but none that would be suitable for a military college. It seems strange to spend money on surveys, drainage, sewage farms, brickworks, the erection of a Military College, and then to invite designs for the city. I hope that the designs will come from Australian architects. In preparing designs, architects will probably determine first the site for the Parliament House, and other public buildings. Then must come the choosing of sites for parks and open spaces, the residential areas, the areas suitable for small farms, and the areas where the farms must be larger because of the poorness of the land. All this should be done before money is spent in constructing drains and establishing a sewage farm. We require to know more about the site. Moreover, as the 1907 Parliament, which contained many new members who had not seen Dalgety, Tumut, or Orange, altered the decision of the first Parliament, this Parliament has a right to review the position again.
– In other words, according to the honorable member, two wrongs make, a right.
– Parliament cannot go on reviewing its decisions for all time.
– The Parliament of 1907 did a wrong thing in selecting YassCanberra, being influenced thereto by the parochialism of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. The honorable member for Wentworth has referred to the influence of the Melbourne Age, but that newspaper never exercised as much political influence as the Sydney newspapers exercise. There is not a greater liar in Australia than the Daily Telegraph.
– Nor the Bulletin on the Capital question.
– Unscrupulous’ men are employed by the Daily Telegraph to misrepresent the members of the Labour party and their politics. Not long ago the managers of the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald were waiting on the doorstep of the Postmaster-General to get cheap postal facilities to enable them to send their newspapers throughout New South Wales at the least possible cost. These great anti- Socialist journals are ready to use the socialistic institutions of the country to increase’ their dividends, and as the result the . £10 shares of the Daily Telegraph are now worth , £67.
– That is good business.
– It should be understood that the papers are run in the interests of their proprietors, who wish to bring as much trade as possible to Sydney. If the Federal Capital were built at Dalgety, a good deal of trade would go to Twofold Bay. National considerations require that we should do all that we can to prevent the large cities of Australia from growing bigger, and to bring centres of trade and commerce into the country. We can commence by reversing the decision of the Parliament of 1907, and again adopting Dalgety as the site of the Federal Capital. The matter is one which should be settled right away. Should this Parliament determine to retain Yass-Canberra, I shall be ready to vote for the expenditure of money to make the site habitable within a reasonable time. I do not say that we should spend anything like £7,000,000, which is the estimatedcost of the city. It will be sufficient at first to provide temporary accommodation for the ase of this Parliament.
– It appears to be the view of a majority that the Military College should be erected near the Federal Capital, and therefore the discussion of the proposal to expend £10,000 on its erection logically connects itself with the discussion on the proposal to spend money in making the Federal Capital available for occupation. The Minister of Defence takes a most serious view as to the necessity for the immediate establishment of the Military College; We are embarking upon a system of compulsory service for the youth of Australia; enrolment is to commence on 1st January next, and it is assumed that, at the end of the financial year, considerable enrolment will have been made.
– Why cannot the Government make temporary arrangements for the training of officers at the different universities?
– If the honorable member will permit me, I shall express the view which the Minister of Defence holds with respect to this matter. He is providing for the training of senior cadets by establishing at Albury at the present time a camp for the training of noncommissioned officers. Provision is also being made for the necessary military equipment, so that the services of these young men can be utilized whenever required. That being so, in the absence of a Military College, we may find ourselves in the position of having the soldiers, the noncommissioned officers, and the equipment, but minus officers. This is a proposition that cannot be carried out in a day. A cadet cannot be moulded in a few hours into an efficient officer, and it is necessary that the Military College should be established in the near future.
– Is not out-of-door training the best of all ?
– If the honorable member thinks that our officers can be trained in the open air. well and good ; but the view taken by the Minister and the military officers is that there must be buildings of some description. These buildings - some of them may be permanent, and others, although of only a temporary character, will be useful for other purposes - should be established, the Minister thinks, at the Federal Capital, and a site has been chosen, not within the city area, but at least 2 miles beyond the boundaries of what is at present the suggested area of the city itself. It has not been definitely agreed upon that this shall be the permanent site of the college, but there is a general expression of opinion in that direction. That will not interfere with the proposition submitted by the honorable member for Capricornia and others. The Government take the view that the establishment of a Military College is a matter of urgency, and that it is desirable to have it near the Federal city. Honorable members, however, are free to express their opinions with regard to the desirableness of Yass-Canberra as a site for the Federal Capital. There could be no more suitable opportunity than the present for discussing that matter.
– Except that the present position hasbeen sprung upon us.
– Judging by the discussion that has taken place, we are not going to “ spring “ the question through the Committee. The Government are particularly desirous that these Works and Buildings Estimates should be passed, and have taken the view that the measures that have been passed indicate the disposition of this Parliament - -
– Not this Parliament.
– Not this Parliament, but the previous Parliaments that have been competent to decide the question of the Federal Capital have shown a disposition to select Yass-Canberra. As a mattei of fact, they have decided for good or ill in favour of Yass-Canberra. I remember making the declaration when sitting behind a previous Administration that, if the Government of the day had made the Federal Capital question a Ministerial one, it would have been settled five years ago. The Government have taken up the attitude that this is a Government question, and until Parliament decides that another site shall be selected, they are prepared to proceed with the works on the site which has been chosen.
– I was glad to hear the straight-out declaration of the Honorary Minister, that the Government intend to proceed with work on the site which has been chosen. Time after time the Prime Minister has declared his intention of acting upon the legislation which has already been passed in regard to the Federal Capital, and we now have the assurance of the Minister of Home Affairs and the Honorary Minister that they intend to go on with the work. I have some sympathy with the complaint of the honorable member for Indi, that he has not had an opportunity to inspect the various sites. He must recollect, however, that this question has been before us for nearly ten years, that it was absolutely settled in the last Parliament, that the first proclamation has been issued, and that the second, providing for the taking over of the whole of the Territory, could be issued to-morrow.
– It could have been issued months ago.
– Yes, but I understand from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs that, notwithstanding that, in the schedule to the Act, it is provided that, until Pederal legislation is passed, the laws of New South Wales shall operate in the Federal territory, it is necessary, in the opinion of the legal advisers of the Crown, that certain Federal legislation should be passed before the second proclamation is issued.
– The Prime Minister said that it was desirable, but not absolutely necessary.
– In my opinion it is absolutely necessary.
– If it is not absolutely necessary, why do not the Government issue the second proclamation?
– There are a number of State laws that we do not wish to apply to the Federal territory.
-Then the Minister thinks it will be necessary to pass certain legislation before we issue the second proclamation. In my opinion, however, there is no difficulty, and the second proclamation should be at once made. Whenever the question of the Federal Capital is raised the Nationalists of the House deal with this national question in what, from their point of view, is a national manner. We invariably find these great national sentiments emanating from a section of the Victorian representatives.
– Do not rub it in.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong showed, by an interjection which he made this afternoon, that he was prepared to repudiate the decision of the last Parliament. The honorable member for Gippsland has now discovered a new reason why that decision should not be carried out.
– The honorable member for Illawarra repudiated the selection of Dalgety.
– I did not vote for Dalgety.
– And I did not vote for Yass-Canberra, so that the honorable member ought not to say that I have repudiated the selection of Yass-Car.berra.
– All that I said was that the interjections of the honorable member for Maribyrnong showed that he was prepared to repudiate the decision of the last Parliament. As Minister of Home Affairs in the late Administration, I had to deal with questions relating to the Federal Capital, and I do not hesitate to say that the proposed vote °f £45>0°o, under that heading, is wholly insufficient. For example, much expenditure will be involved in the preparation of a water supply scheme, the making of railway surveys, the giving of prizes for a design for the laying out of the city, and in other directions, so that, instead of asking for £45,000, the Minister should have invited the Committee to vote at least. £100,000.
– Or £150,000. Such a vote will be necessary to enable the work to be pushed on.
– This item is only a “ flea bite.”
– I am glad that the honorable gentleman thinks so, but he ought to have asked for sufficient to enable the work to be pushed on during the present year. I hope that he will be able to persuade the Treasurer to make advances for the purpose out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account. I am pleased that the Government generally are carrying out the policy laid down by the late Administration - that the surveys of the city, and of the whole territory, are being continued, and that everything is in readiness for inviting designs for laying out the city. I have always regarded this as a truly national question, which must be settled in the interests of the Commonwealth, and when we hear honorable members wrangling over statements in the Sydney and Melbourne press, we must be impressed with the necessity of getting away from the big cities, and establishing, at the earliest possible moment, a home of our own, in the Federal Capital. I trust that the Minister will not postpone the item relating to the Federal -Capital, and my only regret is that it does not provide for a larger vote. I wish now to make a few observations with respect to the Department of Home Affairs, to which the honorable member for Parramatta has referred. Since I was Minister of Home Affairs, during a great part of the last financial year, the honorable member’s statements are, to a certain extent, a reflection upon my administration. When I took office I gave the Parliament a distinct promise that I should endeavour to the utmost of my ability to expend the amounts voted by Parliament for new works and’ buildings. With that object in view I called a meeting of my officers, and they gave me a whole-hearted and loyal support in my effort to carry out my promise. Honorable members must not forget, however, that the Department has to carry out works for all the other Departments of the Commonwealth, and that it cannot proceed with any of those works until it is supplied with a requisition from the Department of Defence, for example, or any other Department actually concerned. I am not making any reflection on my late colleague, the honorable member for Parramatta, who said that everything was very satisfactory in his Department. So far as delays are concerned, in defence of the Department of Home Affairs I am bound to say that time after time I had to send the Secretary to the Defence Department in order to get the necessary requisitions.
– And the same with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– Perhaps so; time after time works were delayed in consequence of the absence of requisitions.
– That shows that when money is voted for buildings, it ought to be placed in a trust.
– There are other causes of delay which it is almost impossible to avoid. For example, when money is voted tor a post-office, the land has to be acquired, inspected, reported on, and approved, and then the title has to be looked into.
– Or the vote may be a few pounds short.
– I had a Treasurer, fortunately, who always supplied the necessary money in such a case. In some instances, the title cannot be accepted, and then further delay is caused.
– For instance, a deputation may come and ask for another site !
– That happened many times. Although a large sum remains un- expended, it will be realized that the difficulties I have indicated are real. I did my best, and had the loyal support of the officers of the Department; and the only way I can see of getting over the difficulty is to establish a Works Department of an independent character. There would have to be a branch in each of the States; but whether it would be worth while going to the expense is a question into which I ask the Minister to inquire before he commits himself. I had just started investigations on this score, when I was compulsorily retired from office. I hope I have given a reasonable explanation of why money is still unexpended in the Home Affairs Department ; and I desire once more to testify to the loyalty and energy of the officers. I now wish to refer to the question of rifle clubs and ranges. In my constituency there are Woollongong and Bulli, and Corrimal, which are thickly populated, and in need of ranges. At Woollongong, although there has been a rifle club for a number of years, and although a site was reported on and approved as suitable, and was leased over two and a-half years ago, since which time rent has been paid, the Department has never put it into a condition fit for use. The members of the rifle club were so disgusted that a month or two ago they put up a target on their own account, in order to provide practice before the big meeting in Sydney.
– Why did not the honorable member see that the work was done when he was Minister of Home Affairs?
– I tried to get my colleagues to do the work ; but it was not done. Amongst the riflemen concerned are some of the best shots in Australia, including Captain Lindsay, who took a team home to England a few years ago. No sooner had these riflemen erected their target than the Post and Telegraph Department ran a telegraph wire right across the line of fire.
– Did not the honorable member send in ‘a requisition to have this telegraph line erected?
– There may have been such a requisition, but I did not send one in. At Bulli and Woonoona the rifle shots have been endeavouring for some years to get ranges, without any result. Until the last few months, I had always been under the impression that rifle shooting was to be encouraged by this Parliament, but, so far as I can see, that is not the desire of the Department.
– Instructions have been issued to proceed at once with the construction of the rifle range at Woollongong.
– I am glad to hear that, and would like a similar assurance in regard to the other places I have mentioned. At Woollongong there is a population of about 15,000 people, and at Corrimal and Bulli there must be 7,000 or 8,000 ; and many of the residents are anxious to qualify as shots.
– There is an item in the- Estimates of £1,300 for new quarantine stations, including the acquisition of land at Triffit’s Point, Tasmania. I should like the assurance of the Minister that no money will be spent on the purchase of this land until other sites have been inspected. I myself suggested a site at Blackman’s Bay, near Brown’s River, as eminently suitable ; and I hope that further consideration will be given to the matter. As to the Military College, it would appear that the selection of the site for this institution is to decide the Federal Capital site. I was under the impression, however, that the Federal Capital site had already been chosen, and I regard it as altogether unfair to call on the members of this Parliament to go into the question again. The Government have come down with certain measures ; and if T am not prepared to accept those measures, it must mean that I am opposed to the Government, and, therefore, have no confidence in them. If honorable members have no faith in the Government, why not say so, and not seek to side-track the Ministry? Let us be straightforward and fair. I speak as a Nationalist, without regard to individual States - as one desirous of so building up this nation that it may become one of the brightest jewels of one of the greatest Empires the world has ever seen. We should not take account of the disputes between New South Wales and Victoria, but simply decide whether the Government are right or wrong in their Estimates. Under the circumstances, I intend to vote for the Estimates as submitted.
– Does the honorable member let the Government “ pull his leg “ like that?
– I know that the honorable member has a mandate from his electors to keep the Seat of Government in Melbourne, but I am here for no such purpose. I am not anxious that we should remove from Melbourne, where we have been treated well ; but we ought to take the responsibility of acting according to our convictions. If the Government think that the passing of this item is absolutely necessary, I see no alternative but to support them.
– I do not think that this proposed vote for the Military College ought to involve an expression of opinion in regard to the Federal Capital site. Wherever the Federal Capital is there the College must be; and I hope that it will be as near to Parliament House as it can conveniently be. I am glad to hear from the Minister that it is not proposed to take the College further than 2 miles from the confines of the city. I am surprised to find the honorable member for Capricornia so anxious to address the House this afternoon. If he speaks again, it will be his third address ; and I have never known him to speak with such animation on any subject. Something has put “ a little ginger “ into the honorable member, who usually speaks with the temperature of a refrigerator, while this afternoon he is110 degrees or over. What is there to excite him to this heated controversy ? I see nothing in the item before us to cause the honorable member to change the even tenor of his way, and burst out like a volcano. I should like to know the secret of the honorable member’s sudden and determined energy. Even if it should be decided to change the Capital site, I should not hesitate to say, “ Take the College to where the site is.” The College must be at the Seat of Government.
– Why? West Point is not at the seat of government in America.
– It is not very far away. I had several conversations on this matter with Lord Kitchener, who is strong on the point that the college should be as near Parliament as possible. He wants Parliament to take it under its wing in a special and peculiar way. West Point always receives as much money as it wants from the American Parliament.
– West Point is a long way from any influence, parliamentary or otherwise.
– All I know is thatthe senators nominate the candidates who are to go there. I hope such a thing will not occur in Australia; but I hope we shall imitate America by being generous to a fault if need be in our expenditure upon this establishment. Notwithstanding all the influences which would seem to make for favoritism, lenity, luxury or softness at West Point, the fact remains that the cadets turned out from that institution are the admiration of the whole military world, while their discipline is kept at a Spartan-like pitch. So generous is the outpouring of American money on this institution that it actually has one instructor on the average to every four cadets. The result is that they are able to specialize their instruction and so make West Point the finest college of its kind in the world. That is our pattern, and we could not do better than adopt the same generosity towards our Military College and take the same kindly interest in it as the American Parliament does in connexion with West Point. That is the principal reason why it should be as near the Federal Capital and as near our parliamentary institution as is fitting and good. Wherever the site is finally located there also should the Military College be established.
– We are all agreed about that. It is the site we are arguing about.
– The site was settled in the last Parliament.
– It was settled three years before that.
– It was never settled on the other occasion as it has been settled on this. All that is required to bring it into actual being is a simple proclamation by the Government. Parliament has nothing more to do with it, unless it reopens the whole matter. Everything has been decided. The site has been located and delimited, and everything we asked for has been done by the State Government. Agreements have been made and have been crystallized into Acts of Parliament on the part of the State surrendering the territory, and on the part of this Parliament by a deliberate selection of the same territory. You cannot reopen the matter here without reopening it again in the State also. Things cannot be modified here unless the same modification is made in the State Parliament. The final act has been completed so far as any act of a Parliament can be final. All that remains is for the proclamation to issue, and I am at a total loss to understand why it has been delayed so long. We are told that we first want a Constitution for the city. Six months ago instructions were given to begin to prepare that Constitution, and I have yet to learn that it should take all these weary months to frame it. I do not suppose that when we have framed our scheme for the government of the territory it will necessarily be the final word on the subject. We may have to revise it from time to time, and it should not have taken all this time to frame a skeleton form of government. There is nothing to prevent the Ministry issuing the proclamation to-morrow morning. They could have issued it three months ago, and so ended this controversy regarding the site, which it seems will never be really settled. I do not blame the honorable member for Gippsland, because he is interested in another site. My only objection to his attitude is that he always tries to make out that he is influenced by high national grounds.
– I am advocating the southern Monaro site, offered by the New South Wales Government in the first instance.
– Offered amongst a number of others. We have travelled years since then. The honorable member is referring to a time anterior to his entrance into the House. If we are to keep reopening the question every time a batch of new members comes in, we shall never reach finality. I do not deny the right of honorable members to discuss the question again, but is it prudent or wise to do it after it has been decisively settled by previous Parliaments ? What good can come from reopening it now? We might have another wrangle only to find that we are as far from finality as we were years ago. It has been settled so far in such a way as to satisfy all men who take a reasonable view of the question. I hope there will be no reopening of it, but that we shall vote this far too small modicum of money. It does not look like serious business to vote only £45,000 for commencing the establishment of a Federal Capital. The amount should have been three times as large. I see no earnest in it of a desire to build the capital in the early future. I appeal to the Committee advisedly not to reopen the matter, because it will mean another wrangle right through this Parliament and the possible reopening of the question in future Parliaments. We must get to finality some time. We have done everything the Constitution suggests to reach finality, and having followed that constitutional course it would be very unjust to reopen the matter at this stage.
– The Minister of Home Affairs remarked that he thought that money once voted for works ought to be placed in a Trust Fund. That is a common-sense plan, which I wish the Government would bring into operation. The Works Estimates, although brought inas early as possible, are often not passed until late in the year. At the end of the financial year the work is not done, the unexpended money goes back to the Consolidated Revenue, and has to be revoted. If a businesslike plan were followed it would be just as easy to use the money on 1st July as on 30th June, especially as the works have been all approved of, and in many cases plans drawn up, and all arrangements made. As the Minister of Home Affairs favours putting unexpended balances into a Trust Fund, I do not see why the Treasurer cannot make the necessary arrangements, unless, like other Treasurers, he looks forward to a nest-egg of unexpended money at the end of each financial year during his term of office. I know five or six different works which have been actually stopped, although the Department were ready to begin operations, becausethe end of the financial year had arrived. I trust that we shall not see any more of that sort of thing. The Labour party claims to follow common-sense methods, and I have now mentioned a common-sense reform which ought forthwith to be adopted.
– That is the rule now if a contract is let.
– I am not talking about what happens when contracts are let. Unless the works are started by 30th June the money lapses. We are in September, and the Works Estimates are now only being considered by this House.
– This is early.
– We are earlier this year than on most occasions.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– I am speaking only from memory. An amount of £5,000 is set down “ towards the cost of construction of the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.” That is a farce. Perhaps it is to cover some little item that has already been illegally expended. If not, it is too much to expect me to believe that that amount is to go towards the construction of the overland railway line. The question ought to be dealt with more seriously on the Estimates than it has been.
– This amount is to start an organization to fix up the equipment, &c.
– It means putting the question off for another twelve months. I am surprised that honorable members for South Australia and Western Australia have taken the matter so quietly.
– This amount of £5,000 is sufficient to make all the preparation in readiness for a Bill next session.
– I am pleased to hear it. I should like to be able to take the Minister’s word on another serious matter. Speaking on the question of the vote for the Military College, and the expenditure on the Capital Site, the honorable member made a speech as to which I wish to say a few words. I do not know whether he intended it as a cracking of the whip over this side of the House, but it had that effect on one honorable member. It certainly will not have ‘the same effect on me. If the Ministry has to go out on this question, my vote will be cast against it. Honorable members of the Opposition cheer these remarks,- but I know that they- will vote as it suits them. I was surprised when the honorable member for Denison said that he would vote for the Government proposal because the fate of the Ministry was at issue. My opinion is that we are not compelled to vote for it. I agree with much that was said by the honorable member for Parramatta regarding the advisability of establishing a Military College, but the erection of a building need not take place for another three or four years. In the meantime, the Defence Department can arrange with the authorities of our Universities to provide facilities for the education of officers. The Minister knows that it is not necessary to expend money at once on the erection of a college. As for the farcical proposal to waste money in making ready the Yass-Canberra Capital site, I am of opinion that we should follow the example of the last Parliament. It repudiated the choice of the Dalgety site, and we should repudiate the choice of the Yass-Canberra site. I may be told that Dalgety was selected only in general terms, and that, when Parliament was asked to state specifically where the site should be, it chose Yass-Canberra ; but every one knows the deceit that was practised. What ever the people of Sydney and of parts of New South Wales may think, the people of Australia, as a whole, are not satisfied with Yass-Canberra, and honorable members who object to that site will take advantage of -all the rules governing debate to prevent the expenditure of money on it.
– The honorable member must not be insubordinate to his party.
– Like the honorable gentleman, I know the limits to which 1 can go. He knows when loyalty to his party is necessary, and I know when loyalty to my party is necessary. During the past twelve or eighteen months, I have had occasion to reply to many members of my own party who have been making a song about the Capital question. While honorable members opposite are avaricious, some of the members on this side are regular gluttons, especially representatives of Sydney constituencies. I have upbraided that dictator, Mr. Wade, for trying to make it appear that he is the “ real Mackay “ in this matter, but the Labour representatives of New South Wales are going even further in endeavouring to prove to the people of that State that they are doing all that can be done to establish the Capital at YassCanberra. They want the Federal Capital built as near as possible to Sydney.
– State rights again.
– I have not asked for a special appropriation of revenue for Victoria, as the honorable member asked for one for Tasmania. I have not tried to rob the National Treasury of .£25,000 a year to bolster up a bankrupt State. Should I be a State Righter, I am much less one than is the honorable member. Those who now want the Federal Capital question settled once and for all sang a different tune when Dalgety had been chosen. As YassCanberra does not suit me, I claim the right to do what they did. Should the Government be in earnest in desiring to get the Works Estimates passed, I advise the Minister to withdraw the items which have been referred to, for discussion on the general Estimates. . If that is not done, the Government will have more trouble than it wishes. The political fight in New South Wales should not cause us to do a wrong to Australia. We know how the representatives of that State love each other. Whenever the opportunity occurs they are in antagonism, and when party considerations are involved there is all the more venom in their attacks on one another. But Australia should not be dragged at the heels nf the politicians of New South Wales. While£45,000 may not be much to spend on a Capital site - and when we are dealing with the money of the public, amounts are apt to seem small - it must be remembered that Canberra is destitute of the materials necessary for the construction of a city.
– Has the honorable member been there?
– Twice. On one occasion I spent three days there, and enjoyed myself very well. At Canberra there is no stone suitable for building, no timber, and, while there may be clay, I am informed that the bricks made of it would not be very good. The country is very suitable for rockeries, but the necessary vegetation must be introduced.
– Then there is plenty of stone there?
– The honorable member knows that it is useless for building purposes.
– It is porous.
– Yes, and useless for road-making. At any rate, it could not be used for the fine dressing that is put on the surface of roads.
– It would make good reinforced concrete.
– I may be told that there is no timber at Dalgety, but I am not comparing the two places. I do not care what site is selected, so long as it is the best in the interests of Australia.
– The honorable member would like Melbourne to be the Capital.
– I am as desirous as is any one that the Parliament shall meet away from Melbourne. While influences may have been brought to bear to keep us here, other influence has been exerted to take us to Canberra. I do not think that the meeting of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne has been of great material advantage to the city, but it has done good from an educational stand-point. There is very little water at Canberra.
– That statement is not correct.
– I have given great study to the subject. I enjoyed the drive from Yass to Canberra, being treated well on the road, and passing places very pleasing to the eye. I could spend a very agreeable holiday in the district. I am not going to say anything that is not absolutely true in regard to the site. Accord ing to my lights, I shall deal with the question from a National stand-point. Once Melbourne ceases to be the Seat of Government my constituents will not care where the Capital is established. Many of them would like Melbourne to be chosen as the Federal Capital, but I certainly intend to stand by the constitutional provision in this regard. As a Labour man both inside and outside this House, I have always looked forward to the selection of a site where, by the application of the principle of land nationalization, we should be able to obtain a revenue sufficient to pay for the cost of the Capital. If the people of Australia are to expend millions upon the establishment of the Federal Capital they should have some hope of being able to finance that expenditure out of the revenue that will be derived from the lands of the territory. I have always expected honorable members of my party to share that view, yet I find them clamouring for the selection of a site where the land would not produce sufficient to pay 2 per cent. of the cost.
– A barren wilderness.
– I shall not say that it is a barren wilderness, for portions of the territory are very pretty. I remember thinking, as I looked upon the site from an adjacent hill, that it would be a nice place in which to spend a honeymoon. I mentioned this to a friend who was with me at the time, and his reply was that it would be a nice place in which to be buried, and that there was a natural cemetery at the foot of the hill. When the question of the selection of YassCanberra was before us, the only one who attempted to deal with the water supply possibilities of the district was the then honorable member for South Sydney, Mr. J. C. Watson.
– The honorable member is speaking now of water power.
– Of water supply for all purposes.
– Is there not plenty of water for domestic purposes?
-But we want something more than a water supply for domestic purposes. I expect the honorable member for Werriwa to share my view that the Capital city should be selfcontained, and that the income derived from the land of the Federal territory should enable it to be, so to speak, selffinanced. We must all recognise that power, fuel, light, and heat are important factors in commercialism. Cheap power for industrial purposes is absolutely necessary, and the townwhich has cheap power will always get ahead of a city or town where power is expensive.
– Name a city that has gone ahead by reason of its cheap power.
– I am looking forward to the establishment of an Australian city which will go ahead, because of the possibilities that it offers in the way of cheap power. There is no such possibility in connexion with Yass-Canberra.
– What is going to be the motive power of the future?
– The honorable member is putting a poser. A constituent of mine told me recently that we should be able to produce gas from the air, and that we should not even want shavings or coke, whilst I read a little time ago a work in which the writer predicted the discovery of a new power which he called “vril,” that would be capable of doing anything. We have no vril at present, and we must see to it that, if possible, we have cheap power in the Federal Capital. Then, too, we desire that the Capital shall have a climate as perfect as possible.
– Then we must choose a site in Queensland.
– I do not want Victoriansto become blackamoors through having to reside in Queensland. Honorable members from that State come down here looking worn out and dejected, and, having taken two or three weeks to resuscitate, they proceed to talk about the magnificence of their State. Mr. Watson spoke of the Cotter as a river, although we know that it is only a creek, and he told us that it was capable of producing power sufficient for the purposes of a town with a population of 150,000. Any one who has studied Mr. Scrivener’s report on the Cotter, however, must know that to generate power it would be necessary to go about 36 miles from the base of the present water supply scheme, or 50 miles away from the Capital site. There we should be able to generate a paltry 3,000 or 4,000 horse-power.
– Be fair.
– I know that water for domestic purposes can be obtained from the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan, but such a supply would be very like that obtained from the Reilly-street drain. It is not possible to drink the waters of the Molonglo or the Queanbeyan.
– Be fair; it was never suggested - -
– I have heard the Prime Minister talk of damming up the Molonglo so as to form an ornamental lake. If an ornamental lake were formed by the use of the waters of the Queanbeyan or the Molonglo, visitors would have to hold their noses every time they went near it.
– The honorable member is thinking of the Yarra.
– The water in a lake so formed would be very like the waters of the Yarra in the neighbourhood of the foundries in, the old days when sewers used to discharge into the river.
– The honorable member is now overdoing it.
– No. I am going to give the site all the credit it deserves. Mr. Watson said that if the Cotter would not produce sufficient power we could go to the Gudgenby, another pellucid stream in the hills, about 100 miles away from the Cotter.
– A dam on the Gudgenby would be only 25 miles from the city.
– That would be only for domestic purposes. The power that would be generated from the waters of the Gudgenby when that stream was at its lowest flow would be, I think, from 250 to 300 horse-power. Mr. Watson suggested that sufficient power would be generated from that source to supply the wants of another 20,000 people, and he said if that were not sufficient we could go to the Goodradigbee or to the upper reaches of the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan. In other words we were asked to establish five expensive centres to supply power that should be generated from one place.
– Where could that be done?
– It could be done on the Snowy River.
– We have a right to go to the Snowy River, if necessary, for certain purposes.
– But the greed of representatives of New South Wales stopped us from having the Capital in the right place. I do not blame the honorable member for Werriwa for the attitude that he takes up. He is naturally narrowminded, because he represents a narrowminded constituency. He asks what power could be obtained from the Snowy River. Mr. Scrivener, I think, points out that within 4 or 5 miles of Buckley’s Crossing - the old name for Dalgety - a channel a mile and a furlong could be cut, which would give us a fall of some hundreds of feet in respect of the full flow of the Snowy River.
– The engineers declare that there is an unlimited supply there.
– The peculiarity of that river is that it does not depend upon the rainfall. It is when the sun is shining most strongly that the river, owing to the melting of the snows on the mountains, has the greatest volume of water. I am not putting Dalgety as against Canberra, but merely suggesting that some other place should be selected which is more suitable. I refer to the possibilities of the Snowy River merely because the honorable member for Werriwa challenged the statement that more power could be obtained from the Snowy River than from the Cotter Creek. Of course, I knew that the honorable member was “ pulling my leg,” but I could not allow him to go unanswered. Can we possibly imagine an ordinary city or town with four or five systems of water conservation, not for domestic purposes, but for light and heat? I know that what water there is at Canberra is good; but I assure honorable members that the only sign of Paddy’s Creek, of which we heard so much, was a place where water had been, and, if the other creeks are similar, of what use are they from a water-supply point of view? The Minister of Home Affairs knows that these items are debatable, and, further, that if once this money is voted there will not be another opportunity to reopen the question. Let the “ tigers “ in New South Wales finish the fight they are engaged in just now, so that we may consider these matters without the echo of that fight to influence us. I see the Prime Minister looking as though he intends to bludgeon these items through, and Ministers are gathered in full force to crack the whip of which the honorable member for Denison is so much afraid. . Owing to the intention of the Prime Minister to go to South Africa, and the desire to finish the session as soon as possible, we shall have the Estimates very shortly before us, and I again urge the Minister to postpone these items in view of the fact that they are highly contentious. I can well imagine what view the Minister of Home Affairs would take if he were a private member sitting in this corner.
– I think we ought to finish these Works Estimates now.
– These items are very far removed from ordinary Works Estimates.
– We are under an obligation to carry them through.
– When it is necessary to carry them through. The honorable member for Robertson, who is a recruit, claims allthe material benefits that his constituency can derive from the choice of Canberra.
– Is there ever a drought at Canberra?
– During last season 50 per cent. of the stock had to be removed from the district owing to want of fodder.
– The district produced fat stock all through last season !
– I have New South Wales newspapers - not Labour papers or papers run by Victorians - to prove that chaff was dearer around Canberra than anywhere else in New South Wales.
– Fat stock was sent from Duntroon station all last season.
– Duntroon station is one of the oldest in New South Wales. It is of considerable area, and the owners, at a cost of thousands of pounds, built a house which is really a palace; but they found it impossible to live there. If this were a genial climate, can we conceive of the owners leaving the place, or, at any rate, finding any difficulty in getting a tenant for it? There must be something the matter with the place ; I do not know whether the “ spooks “ walk about at night, but for some reason it is regarded as an undesirable residence.
– When the honorable member talks about the scarcity of fodder he is referring to Yass.
– I am talking of the Yass-Canberra district as a whole. I shall make an endeavour later to have these items omitted, and rely on the assistance of other honorable members to that end. I have known politicians thank God for an Upper House, and I think, on this occasion, we may be thankful that there is a Senate, where New South Wales members cannot “run the show “ as they try to do in this House, and where there is a chance of fair consideration of a national question.
– Where do the people at Canberra get their firewood?
– They will have to burn their rockeries if they want fuel, because for miles and miles no wood is to be seen.
– Are there any coal deposits ?
– The only deposit there is clay to make bricks ; and the people have fled from the place as if there were some scourge there.
– Does the honorable member not think that he is overdoing his advocacy ?
– I can assure the honorable member that, although this . is one of the oldest settled districts in New South Wales, it has not made any progress during the last fifty years.
– That is because of land monopoly.
– Is there not as much land monopoly in other places in New South Wales which have gone ahead? As this is the last opportunity honorable members will get of preventing the perpetration of what I regard as a crime upon the national life of Australia, I hope they will seize it. If they do not, it cannot be helped ; but I intend to do my best, and I hope those who are Australians will do their best also.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, while I was temporarily in the chair, took a very unfair advantage of my position while my mouth was officially closed, to make an attack upon the site which I was responsible for nominating. He said I had not been to the site; whereas I paid two or three visits to it before I nominated it, and it was because of what I saw on those visits that 1 took that course. I wish to prove the inaccuracy of two 01 three ot the points raised by the honorable member. He said there was no building stone in the neighbourhood. When he visited the district, he must have noticed Canberra church, one of the oldest in Australia, which was built out of stone obtained almost on the spot.
– There is very -little stone.
– The honorable member at first said there was none. There is a mountain called Black Mountain from which the stone for the church was obtained. Although it is useful for ordinary building purposes, I do not pretend that it is the finest quality of stone obtainable, or that it ought to be used in the erection of the most important of our public buildings. Not far distant, how.ever, at Bundanoon, on the main Southern Railway, there are immense quarries of the finest freestone to be found in any part of the world. An almost inexhaustible supply can be obtained there. That disposes of the question of stone for building. The honorable member also gave his case away when he spoke about a magnificent house he saw there. He described it as a beautiful building, but it,, too, is built out of stone obtained from the Canberra site.
– Two swallows do not make a summer.
– lt takes more than two stones to make a building though, and the two buildings which I have quoted, and one oT which the honorable member himself described as “magnificent,” dispose of his assertion that there is no stone on the ground suitable for building purposes. He also spoke about the inadequacy of the water supply. I suppose every honorable member, irrespective of his private opinion as to the suitability or otherwise of the site, will admit that the figures of expert engineers, whose business it is to know something about these questions, are more to be relied upon than the lay views of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, or any other honorable member. Their evidence is absolutely incontrovertible that, even in dry seasons, sufficient water can be got in one river alone to supply a city very much larger than either Melbourne or Sydney. Here are the official figures for the Cotter River for July last. The average daily discharge of the weir on the Cotter for July was 47,000,000 gallons. The average daily water supply for Melbourne, with a population of 549,000 persons, is 31,828,000 gallons. . The latest figures up to date are even more satisfactory. Yet the Cotter is only one of several sources from which the water supply for the Federal City can be drawn. That disposes of the honorable member’s contention with regard to water. As to the matter of bricks, on the last of many occasions when I visited that site, I went with several experts, including our own Director of Works and Secretary of Works, both eminently practical men, and the New South. Wales Government Architect, to examine local clay deposits, which they declared were eminently suitable to make excellent bricks. Even if that were not so, the carriage of bricks is a very small matter with railway communication available to so many brickproducing centres. On the three main points on which the honorable member based his attack on the Yass-Canberra .site, he is effectually met; and the ground is absolutely cut from under his feet by the actual facts. I did not think it fair to allow the honorable member’s statements to go unchallenged, in face of the incontrovertible facts and the testimony of experts. That must be set against the honorable member’s lay theories, jaundiced, as they are, by personal prejudice against the site and his antipathy to New South Wales.
– A good many members on this side must have derived amusement from this afternoon’s proceedings. I was very specially interested to hear the Acting Minister of Defence blow the Ministerial whistle; and I could see that, notwithstanding the little rebellion that was going on on the other side, most of those who had indulged in it immediately yielded to authority. I have no doubt that, in spite of the boastful character of the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when the time comes he, too, will be as tame as the tamest. The honorable member for Gippsland sounded a note of mutiny ; but as he is only one of a party of two, I do not know that his absolute abandonment of the Labour party would greatly affect it. The Minister of Home Affairs, who is not very often in charge of the Chamber, seemed a little affected at the time; but I am sure that when the end of the debate comes, he will display some of the stability suggested by that well-known range of mountains of which he so often reminds us. We have had two declarations from Ministers this evening, one from the Minister of Home Affairs, that the Ministry are going right on with the Capital site question, and the other from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to the effect that it is part of the declared policy of the Government. We have had this storm in a teacup for two or three hours, and it has been very interesting to see so large a number of men who have been conducting themselves for many weeks in the automatic spirit of a cogwheel in a big machine suddenly enjoying this little bit of debating freedom. It only shows what sort of a party they would be if they always enjoyed the freedom which we Liberals always enjoy on this side of the House. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has played the rebel to-day, and I can see plainly that unless he came within the range of .the lasso of the Labour caucus, he would be an absolutely unmanageable factor on that side. I do not know what particular exception has been made by the Government on this occasion, whether the members of the party have been informed that they have a free hand on the question under debate ; but if they have been, and this is an example of the conduct that we should witness if they always had a free hand, it only shows me what a hopeless party the Labour party would be if they were in possession of individual freedom. The honorable member for Gippsland threatened the Government, as he has a perfect right to do, that, if they persisted with this matter, the debate would last two or three days; but, in considering the case, we ought to remember the position in which the honorable member stands. He represents a constituency through which a railway might be run in the next century, if Dalgety were chosen as the Capital of Australia.
– The railway is already authorized to within 50 miles of the border.
– Twenty years ago, as Minister of Public Works for New South Wales, I offered the Government of Victoria to submit a Bill to carry the New South Wales railway to the border at Dalgety if the Victorian Government would submit a Bill to carry their railway to the same point. They then disregarded the suggestion ; and it was pointed out at the time that the Snowy mountains, or those adjacent to that range, were of such a difficult character that it would take some millions of money to take a line over them. That’ ought to have a very important effect upon the minds of men who talk of Dalgety as the Capital. It was clearly ascertained even by the experts engaged by an earlier Federal Government that the cost would run into some millions of pounds. I do not know why the honorable member for Gippsland should persist in opposing this site. He is a level-headed man, able to calculate the different forces about him, with the courage to think for himself, and he must know that it is most unlikely that a railway would ever be carried through that Gippsland country, and across that range of mountains for very many years to come. He must also know from the data collected many years ago that a railway from the coast up to the Dalgety site would be an almost equally impracticable scheme. A good deal has been said this af ternoon about the attitude of the Sydney press. I have watched the press of both States with great interest. The Melbourne Age in one of its articles pointed out in the most clear and patent way that, although the Constitution provided that the Capial site should be in New South Wales, it did not say when it should be established ; and, inasmuch as no time had been stated, the Victorian people were perfectly justified - I give almost the exact words of the paper - in adopting the attitude of the Merchant of Venice, of giving just what the law allowed, and no more. Some six years ago the Argus induced four candidates, standing at the Senate election for Victoria, to advocate the indefinite postponement of the choice of a Capital site.
– They went back on it.
– No; they were not elected, although they publicly proclaimed that their policy would be the indefinite postponement of the Federal Capital question. I am a constant reader of both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, and feel under no obligation to either newspaper, because both were in opposition to me during the earlier stages of the last electoral campaign; but it is only fair to say that they have never advocated the choice of any particular site. They have always contended that the Capital should be located in New South Wales, and have pointed out, over and over again, that the Victorian outcry against spending money upon a bush capital could not be made had not Sir George Turner, in arriving at an agreement with Sir George Reid, stipulated that the Capital site should not be within100 miles of Sydney. Very many Victorians would be willing to allow the Parliament to meet in Sydney, but after ten years’ experience here I am satisfied that if justice is to be done to all the States, the Parliament should not meet in the Capital of any one of them. To ascertain how far the ratio of representation between New South Wales and Victoria has been observed in the record of the divisions in this House, I had a return made of the voting of the first four years ; and I found that, although New South Wales was entitled, by reason of her larger population to a representation one-sixth greater than that of Victoria, the latter had enjoyed a voting power one-seventh greater than that of New South Wales. Whilst New South Wales members have to come from a great distance, and are prevented by business en gagements and family reasons from attending with constant regularity, the Victorian representatives live so near that they can be rung up by telephone, and, when the business is urgent, can be present to a man to record their votes. Had it not been for the unfair advantage thus enjoyed by Victoria, when the Tariff was under discussion, many of our Customs duties would be very different from what they are. Another reason why this Parliament should not meet in a State capital is that too much influence is exercised by the metropolitan press. In timespast we have seen the leading articles of one of the Melbourne newspapers act like a stockwhip upon certain Victorian representatives. We should meet where the influence of the metropolitan newspapers will not affect our deliberations. Then, further, in a place far removed from the capitals, honorable members will not be able to occupy themselves with anything but the business of the country, and that will create a tendency to shorten the sessions by long sittings, such as we have at present, so that we may return as soon as possible to our regular avocations.
Last Parliament I gave notice of a motion providing for the meeting of this Parliament in Sydney for a period of ten years, after it had sat in Melbourne for a like term, leaving the permanent choice of the Capital to be made hereafter ; but so little favour was shown towards the motion by the representativesof Victoria and New South Wales that I withdrew it, though I believe that were it possible to go back on the legislation that we have passed, my proposition would now receive favorable consideration. Furthermore, if the Constitution had not been framed as it is, I think that there would be a feeling in Victoria that: the Federal Parliament might verywell meet somewhere in the National Park 15 or 20 miles from Sydney, or at: Sutton Forest, some 70 or 80 miles from that city. The 100 miles limit prevents either site from being chosen, and it is highly desirable that the Capital should be situated at a distance from the chief cities of the States. I do not expect that the FederalCapital will become a great centre of commerce. Commercial centres are not made ; like Topsy, they grow, their situation: being determined by commercial needs.
– The capitals of most countries are not large commercial centres.
– That is so. Washington - though a beautiful city, and the capital of the United States - is not a commercial centre ; and, except when Parliament is sitting, is a lonely place, its society being composed almost wholly of those connected with the parliamentary institutions. Although I have not visited Canberra, I know from what I have heard and read of it, and from the photographic and other pictorial presentations of it which I have seen, that the honorable member for Capricornia was right in speaking of it as a beautiful piece of country. The honorable member for Lang has shown conclusively - and his remarks are borne out by the statements in parliamentary papers - that it fulfills all requirements with regard to water supply, stone, marble,, and clay supplies, character of soil and climate; I saw it stated a few weeks ago that marble of every conceivable colour in unlimited quantities is to Be obtained close to the site. In addition, the site has the advantage- of being remote from the capital’s of the States. Members meeting there will enjoy a splendid climate, and find the conditions suitable for getting through their work ; possibly in three months every year.
– Does the honorable member think that a site should be chosen within two or three hours’ journey of Sydney ?
– Canberra is seven hours’ journey from Sydney, and about ten hours’ journey from Melbourne. I was willing at one time to suggest that a third party, such as the Governor-General, should choose a site as nearly as possible midway between Sydney and Melbourne, but the House would not hear of that and the time for a compromise between those two cities has passed.
– Canberra is 200 miles from Sydney.
– Honorable members who have recently come into the House, should recollect that this question has been discussed many times during the last ten years, and the final determination arrived at after a number of sites had been fully considered. The Parliament of New South Wales has generously ceded to us an area larger than the Constitution provides for, and given us access to Jervis Bay, the finest harbor in Australia. Some honorable members are under the impression that Twofold Bay is comparable with Jervis Bay ; but it bears the same relation to it as the Chairman’s enclosure bears to the whole area of this Chamber. The naval squadron manoeuvres there from time to time, and having studied the Admiralty chart - not in connexion with the Capital Site question- I know that there are 120 square miles of anchorage, with a depth sufficient for 10,000 ton vessels, while the entrance is better than that to Sydney Harbor. The Labour party will have an opportunity to try on the Federal territory its experiments with regard to land nationalization, in which I, as a student of political economy, will be greatly interested.
I was amused to hear the Minister of Home Affairs speak as a capitalist this afternoon in dealing withthe unearned increment which the Commonwealth will gain by taking over this territory from the State. It was most amusing. The honorable gentleman talked as if he were buying terraces, rather than as a Minister who was merely securing for the State the unearned increment.
The New South Wales Government has given us, not only the site of the Capital, but a strip of country from the site to the harbor, which I have no doubt will become the Federal harbor of Australia. It is certainly the largest and best in the Commonwealth. In addition to other advantages the continuation of the railway now running from Sydney to Nowra, for a distance of 22 miles, would connect Sydney with the harbor of the Federal Capital. The Government of New South Wales has also given us a large area at Jervis Bay, and I understand that the Federal Government are negotiating for a still further area with the intention, ultimately, I suppose, of establishing a naval station there. Legislation has had to be passed by the Parliament of New South Wales, to offer us this land, and we have had to pass legislation to accept it. And now, at the eleventh hour we have the honorable member for Melbourne Ports enjoying this little interval of rebellion as a relaxation, after the thraldom to which he has been subjected. He has becomea sort of miniature Robespierre, and threatens to destroy the Government if they do not postpone the item relating to the Federal Capital. I take it, however, that the Government mean business. I have great faith in the Scotch character, and since the Prime Minister has said, “ We are going on with this item”; since the Minister of Home Affairs has said, “ We are going right on with it,” and the Honorary Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, has said, “ We are going straight on with it,”. 1 have very little doubt as to the determination of the Ministry. I see behind the Government a great many honorable members who recognise that there is upon them a responsibility which they ought to respect. I have very little doubt that the item will be passed, and am perfectly satisfied that we shall live to feel thankful that this site was chosen, and that no subsequent faltering took place.
.- I have not been pledged with respect to the site of the Federal Capital. As a matter of fact, the question was not raised in my electorate during the recent campaign, except by the proprietors of the Bulletin, who addressed to me a letter on the subject, and I replied that* I looked upon the matter as having been settled. The honorable member for Gippsland has drawn a picture of back-country post-offices that are in need of repairs, and of extensions, and has said that as we have no money for those purposes he objects to this item. I do not know whether he will use that argument when a Bill to provide for penny postage is before us.
– Penny postage will pay its way, if properly handled.
– And so will the Federal Capital. We have a right to observe the solemn bargain entered into with the people of New South Wales.
– Some bargains have been broken.
– The honorable member refers to the breaking of the bargain which was made last year by the passing of the Naval Loan Bill. How would the representatives of Victoria view the breaking of the bargain with respect to the Tariff?
– The honorable member is pledged to new Protection, so that he cannot do much in that respect.
– I could, if like some of my honorable friends, I chose to rebel. How would some of my honorable friends view the introduction of *a Bill to abolish the bounty system? If such a measure were brought down there would be a great outcry, and yet on this question they talk about upsetting the decision of the last Parliament. The representatives of the constituencies, in the last Parliament represented them on this question as well as we do, and we have a right to respect their decision. If the Government has any backbone, it will not withdraw these items. It must carry them through. In the Governor-General’s speech, at the. opening of Parliament, the Government pledged themselves to the establishment of the Federal Capital, and a like pledge was given to-day by the Prime Minister in the course of his Budget statement. It is absurd to ask the Government to break away from that pledge, because one or two honorable members are afraid to leave their homes-
– They are afraid of the Age.
– Perhaps that is the position.
– No; we have had to fight the Age before.
– It is quite natural that honorable members living in this city, and who are thus free from the discomforts of having to travel long distances, in order to attend to their parliamentary duties, would like Melbourne to remain the Seat of Government as long as possible, but they should have some consideration for the interests of the whole of the people. I have never visited Yass-Canberra or Dalgety,’ but am prepared to be guided by the decision of the last Parliament. We must reach finality in respect of this question. No one could suggest a site which would be unanimously approved by the Committee. If an honorable member wishes to delay the establishment of the Capital, the best thing he can do is to find fault with the site selected.
– That is the object in this case.
– Undoubtedly. One hon- orable member interjected, in reply to a representative of Tasmania, that Victoria did not require from the Commonwealth a bounty to keep it going, but I would point out that Melbourne is reaping a very considerable bounty in the shape of the expenditure which takes place here by reason of this being the Seat of Government. The Government of New South Wales has handed over to the Commonwealth 900 square miles of territory, although under the Constitution it was required to hand over only 100 square miles.
– Nine hundred square miles? That is not enough.
– If Victoria were to hand over such an area, she would have very little left. I invite honorable members to consider what may be done with that large area, not one foot of which should be sold. The whole of it, I hope, will be leased, and the rents therefrom will help to provide for the expenses of government. The establishment of the city will cause the value of the land in the Federal territory to gradually increase, and we shall derive from it a revenue that will pay for the construction of the Capital. Those who object to Yass-Canberra would establish the Capital at Dalgety, but I have been told by some who were prejudiced against Yass-Canberra that upon visiting it they found that it was infinitely superior to Dalgety. It is all very well to talk about water power possibilities, but that after all is a Bulletin fad. There is no civilized country which carries on its industrial life by water power. There are cheaper power systems.
– What is cheaper?
– Electricity, for instance.
– That has to be generated by some power, and why not water power ?
– It can be generated by other means. The proprietor of a printing business in Sydney told me that he found suction gas cheaper than water or electricity. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will stand by his guns, and that we shall tell the representatives of Victoria that we are going to deal with this item now, once and for all.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.4.5 p.m.
.- There are one or two items on which I desire to make a few observations. The first provides for a Commonwealth laboratory which, I presume, will be used for the purpose of analyzing products to be sent oversea. Although I do not represent an agricultural community, I am greatly concerned that the exports from this country should be dealt with as expeditiously as possible, so far as their analysis is concerned, in order to secure early shipment. In my opinion, the day has arrived when there should be a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture; but as that question will be discussed later on, I shall do no more now than express the hope that, in the meantime, every facility will be afforded to exporters in the direction I have indicated. Provision is made in these Estimates for a site, building, and equipment for a cordite factory at Maribyrnong. The expenditure this year under this head is set down at £39,300, and there follows another item of land in the same neighbourhood for de fence purposes, at a cost of £3,500. Is this item of £3,500 to cover expenditure in the purchase of land adjacent to the cordite factory site for the purposes of what is known as a permanent horse depot, or is it in order to comply with an award of the Court obtained against the Commonwealth Government in connexion with land already purchased for the factory site?
– It is required for an artillery depot.
– That is, for horses?
-I am quite in sympathy with the honorable member for Wentworth and others who desire that we should establish a horse breeding depot, in order that we may secure more suitable animals than in the past. The principal items under discussion this afternoon are those in connexion with the Federal Capital site. I have, of course, been twitted with being a Victorian, and, because I come from that little bit of Australia, in the south-east corner, have been charged with being somewhat narrow and parochial. However, I think I can say quite truthfully that the votes in this House, and out of it, of representatives of this particular State display as much national sentiment as has been shown on the part of representatives from any other State. I happen to be one of those unfortunate new members who have not had the pleasure of participating in some of the trips to the Federal Capital site ; and I plead most earnestly with the Minister to accede to what seems a very general demand for the postponement of these important items. Since the session opened, we have been kept very closely at* work on what I may call high plane legislation ; and, in order to keep abreast of the various measures, honorable members have had to be very constant in their attendance;, and to read pretty extensively. I have not imposed on the patience of the House very much, seeing that this is only my second attempt at a speech; but many of us have not had an opportunity of viewing the beautiful garden of Eden that we are told is to be found at Yass-Canberra; and I must urge that it is about time some of us Israelites who have been wandering in the wilderness, had an opportunity of paying it a visit, and ascertaining the facts for ourselves. I do not desire to throw any doubt on the statements of the Minister of Home Affairs, who tells the truth on every possible occasion; but I think I shall be able to show that that honorable gentleman has undergone a very sudden conversion on this question. I have some very interesting lines to quote, and I am certain they will prove entertaining, because the Minister is a man who indulges in very picturesque language. Another plea may be offered for the postponement of the items. Older members of the House have been wrestling for ten years with this subject, and are anxious to see the end of it; but there are seventeen new members who feel it important that they should closely and keenly scrutinize every proposal placed before them. It is only fair, therefore, that there should be a postponement to enable those new members to look into the matter and obtain all the information possible in regard to the proposed site. If those honorable members go on a trip of inspection, in company with the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Werriwa, it is possible that the eloquent advocacy of those gentlemen mav banish the “ narrow parochial sentiments ‘ ‘ of the Victorians and convert them to the Yass-Canberra view. I propose to pay a visit to the Sydney side in about three weeks’ time, and if the items be postponed, it is possible that, on my way back, I may find an opportunity to visit Yass-Canberra. If, at that place, there is to be found the magnificent country which has been described to us, a man would be very narrowminded and guilty of great prejudice if he did not almost at once come to the conclusion that that is the site for the Capital. As I said on the Address-in-Reply, I have no desire to support Dalgety, Yass-Canberra, or any other site that has been named, but # only anxious to select the best possible area “ in New South Wales. There is no wish on our part to break the compact made under the Constitution. In urging this request for a postponement I think I am expressing the views not only of myself, but of other honorable members, both old and new. It has been contended that, as this Parliament made a selection which has been ratified by an Act of Parliament in New South Wales, we new members are bound hand and foot by the action thus taken. But, so far as I know, and 1 have studied the history of Federal Parliaments fairly closely, in each hew Parliament some Act has been either amended out of all recognition or repealed. At any rate, it was supposed for a considerable length of time that Dalgety was the selected site, and I believe that it would have so remained but for what I may call an unfortunate combination of circumstances, owing to which, to place the most charitable construction on the facts; there was a successful attempt to palm on to us a site most undesirable from a national and broad Australian point of view.
– Dalgety. was rejected because honorable members, who favoured it, saw, on paying it a visit, that it was not suitable.
– I think the real reason for the change was the absence, on the occasion of the second vote, of the very active canvass which took place on behalf of Dalgety on the first occasion.
– There was more than that !
– If the honorable member for Eden-Monaro had not, unfortunately, been absent through illness on the second occasion-, I do not think the Dalgety choice would have been altered. It seems to me that there are members of Parliament, though I shall not say in this House, who are considerably influenced by a vigorous Whip. They listen to the pleading language, and, somehow, a change comes over their opinion just prior to the vote. I do not know whether some honorable members to-night have been hypnotized in some way, but there are those who, after expressing to me and others, in definite terms, their intention not to vote for Yass-Canberra, have now declared themselves emphatically in favour of that site.
– There is always room for the repentance of the erring.
– And, therefore, I hope the gate will be left open to me - that is all I am asking of the Government. My only desire is that some of the greenhorns in this House may have an opportunity to inspect the proposed site. Most of the capital cities of the world are located either upon the coast or upon some noble stream. We have an opportunity of placing our capital adjacent to one of the best streams of this continent, but I am rather afraid that if it is located at Yass-Canberra great difficulty will be experienced in connexion with the water supply. My opinion in that regard is backed up by the view df the best engineering talent in the world, that no city can become truly prosperous, without a proper water supply. Our capital city should be on the best site available, built of the best possible material, designed in the most artistic fashion, and lend itself to a beautification which will lead’ visitors from all parts of the world to- say that the people of Australia were wise when they made the selection. But at present it cannot be said that we have made the best selection from the sites available. I wish to be well informed on this question before I give a vote. We often hear complaints made by the Opposition about insufficient time being given for them to consider measures, and I, as a new member, have a right with others to claim a little time in order that we may have an opportunity of examining this site. I do not believe in buying a pig in a poke, or in voting in the dark. Although the honorable -member for Parkes said the party’ whip bad been cracked or the Ministerial whistle blown by the Honorary Minister, causing ;all the members of the party to come to “heel, I can assure him that not only I myself, but a considerable number of others on this side, are going to please ourselves how we vote on the Capital Site question, which has always, been an open one with us. Some of us have come here pledged to the hilt to demand the closest investigation before we vote any money for the site -selected by the last Parliament, and we :should be furnished with the fullest information in order to enable us to record an intelligent vote. That is all I am pleading for, and it is safe to say that very few knew on Friday, or even last night, that a debate on the Federal Capital site question would take place this evening. Seeing that the matter has been sprung upon us, it is only fair to ask that its consideration should be postponed. With respect to the -water supply of the site, I am rather fortunate in having in my constituency at present a gentleman who was engaged in railway building in the locality some twenty years ago. He knows a good deal about the Molonglo River and other water-courses in the vicinity. He was engaged under the Kew South Wales Government in constructing a railway line in the Queanbeyan district, and tells me that for months not a drop of rain fell there. They were so pushed for water that they had to put a pumping plant on to some of the water-holes -to which the river or creek was reduced, and pump them practically dry. But for a providential, downpour of rain which saved the situation, he did not know what would have happened to them, because they had pumped the water supply of the Molonglo dry,
– The Molonglo is only to be used to make a lake.
– Why is it that we have to bring so many streams into requisition :in order to supply one city, when we ran have a site upon the banks of a stream that would furnish all the water necessary not only for domestic or stock purposes, but also for motive power? .
– The Molonglo is only for ornamentation purposes.
– Apparently the whole site is only for ornamental purposes. From a utilitarian point of view, the project seems to be condemned on the face of it. I have not seen the site, but I have read extracts from reports written by officers who have been sent there. They say the country round about is totally unfit for our purposes, and that practically all around the area proposed to be devoted to the Federal Capital the land is locked up. I presume the owners of it will have to be bought out.
– Does the honorable member want a place that is wholly Crown land ?
– I want a site where whatever property we buy will be valuable, and where we shall be able to carry out some of the experiments so eloquently outlined by the Minister of Home Affairs,
– The honorable member will be able to do that on this site.
– Will the honorable member give me his assurance of that?
– If my assurance is worth anything the honorable member can have it.
– All I am asking for is what every Nationalist should ask for - absolutely the best site. No New South Wales member can truthfully say that we have got the best site available in that State.
– Indeed, they can.
– I understand that you mount a little elevation there on the stony ridges, and look down on a slight depression or dip. Certainly, the description of the contour that I have read does not indicate that it ‘is the best site available for the Capital.
– It is the best site within the constitutional limits.
– I should like to see the Federal Capital surrounded by the very best soil. We might then be able, in more senses than one, to set an object-lesson to the world in regard to land nationalization. We should also have a larger area than is at present placed at our disposal by the Government of New South Wales. I have often thought about the location of the capital city, and sympathize with the honorable member for Perth, for instance, who has to travel across the ocean to reach Melbourne. If he had still to continue his journey a long distance inland to a Federal city at Yass-Canberra, I am afraid that even his health would not be equal to the strain.
– I should be no better off at Dalgety.
– I am not advocating Dalgety or any other site. The honorable member voted religiously for Dalgety every time it was proposed, but his interjections seem to show that, at present, he favours Yass-Canberra. We should have the Capital Site somewhere near the south of New South Wales, because it would then be more convenient for members from Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria. I have no desire to delay the settlement of the question; in fact, I wish to see it settled, but the site at present decided upon will be under the domination of one of the capital cities. The honorable member for Parkes said one of the best things we could do was to get away from the range of the capital cities and of the daily newspapers.. I wish to do that myself, for I believe we should breath a rarer atmosphere, and do better work, and enjoy better health in doing it. I am afraid that if the majority - of the Committee decide to-night to retain YassCanberra, we shall not have many more opportunities of discussing the matter, but if only for the convenience of honorable members, we should do all we possibly can to choose a site which is more accessible. The honorable member for Parkes had a good deal to say about the Sydney Daily Telegraph. When speaking on the AddressinReply, I referred only briefly to the Federal Capital question, but that paper seems to snap up anything- a Victorian says, and in this instance, gave my remarks full publicity. I presume it had a political purpose in view, but I was surprised to find the space which was given to what I said. The report ran -
Mr. Fenton (Vic), in the course of a speech on the Address-in-Reply, said he regarded the capital site question as one of the most important to be discussed in the Chamber.
I said no such thing. What I did say, as Hansard will show, was that, so far as the members from New South Wales were concerned, they considered it the most important subject we had to debate in this Parliament. I did not consider it so. I should be utterly un-national in my ideas and” aspirations if I said anything like that. Having made that correction, let me read what follows -
The evidence at his disposal did not lead him to- be enamoured of the site that had been selected. So far as he was personally concerned, he was prepared to abide by the compact as it was in the Constitution.’ At the same time he wanted to see one of the finest capital cities the world had ever seen erected in Australia. That implied the necessity for the selecting of the finest site New South Wales could offer, and it was his opinion that Parliament had not been fortunate in its selection. With other members, he would do his best to have the question reopened. 1 then quoted the remarks of that fine Nationalist, the late Sir Henry Parkes. To show that the honorable member for Parkes was not quite right in saying that the Sydney papers take very little notice of matters relating to the Federal Capital city, I was surprised to find that in another part of the same paper my remarks were even more exhaustively dealt with and commented on. This was the report -
Mr. Fenton, of Victoria, continued his speech from last Friday. Like most of the members from his State, he is opposed to the YassCanberra selection for the Federal capital, and will join with the others who are determined to take the first opportunity to upset the compact.
I take the compact to be that the city i» to be located within the State of New South Wales. I do not regard the Act passed bv the last Parliament as a compact -
It is a curious fact about these Victorians that at one time they were all for Dalgety, and that they professed abhorrence of the suggestion that their pretended preference was due to a genuine enthusiasm for that as the best site. It was immeasurably better than Yass-Canberra. The new attitude, however, is to demand not Dalgety, but “the best site,” which means, in actuality, no site at all.
That is wrong -
A preference for Dalgety is an understandable proposition. But a mere abstract declaration that the “ best site “ should be chosen, without asserting where the “ best site “ is, is merely another form of seeking to defeat Yass-Canberra by gathering in the voles of those who may be opposed to it on any grounds, without wishing to substitute Dalgety. In other words, the battle which is threatening is one which will destroy the Yass-Canberra choice, and then let Parliament simply drift on in Melbourne.
That is certainly not my position. I am as desirous as is the honorable member for Parkes, and practically every other honorable member, to get away from the State capitals. But whatever site we may choose, will be chosen for all time, and will remain perpetually the Seat of Government, unless war should cause a change, and I trust that we shall never have that in this country. I ask honorable members, especially those who have not seen the various sites, to defer voting on this question until they have had. an. opportunity to form an opinion upon them. The honorable member for Perth seems just now affected with an anti-Victorian feeling, and said last night that he will be very glad to get away from Melbourne to the new Federal Capital, which he spoke of as a suburb of Sydney.
– Canberra is more than 200 miles from Sydney. It is nearly as far from Sydney as it is from Melbourne.
– I do not think that Canberra is sufficiently far from Sydney to be away from the influence of the pres» of that city. As the crow flies, it is within a very short distance of Sydney. The honorable member for Illawarra has pointed out that it is the intention of the Government of New South Wales to make a railway from Nowra to what may be termed a seaport.
– “ What may be termed a seaport “ ! Jervis Bay is a magnificent harbor.
– If the honorable member for Maribyrnong were shown Port Jackson he would speak of it as “ what may be termed a harbor.”
– I know the beauties of Sydney Harbor, and hope to be spared to visit them again three weeks hence. Nature has been bountiful to New South Wales, and given her one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.
– At Jervis Bay the honorable member can see another such harbor.
– I ask for the postponement of this matter so that I may visit these places.
– The honorable member knows all about them now.
– That is not so. Honorable members appear to me to be acting the part of commercial travellers in regard to this matter, and every one knows that all that a commercial traveller says is not accepted literally. They are doing their best to induce us to vote for YassCanberra. We have heard about the Scotch blood in the Ministry, and of our Ministers having their backs to the wall, but there is some Scotch blood in me, and I shall not vote for Yass-Canberra until I have seen the site, and, from personal observation, formed an opinion upon its merits.
– Mr. Scrivener spoke of Jervis Bay as no good.
– If so, he does not know what he is talking about; but I do not think that he has said that.
– Every one is wheeling his” Nationalist barrow to-night.
– Either the honorable member has had an exceptionally good dinner, or the numbers are up. I have never seen him look so cheerful before. His smile is quite disconcerting.
– It is well that the honorable member for Maribyrnong should, for once, feel the weight of numbers.
– Many of the capital cities of the world have ports, or are situated on .rivers. Washington is on the Potomac, a very fine stream, Berlin is on the Spree, Paris on the Seine, and Rome on the Tiber. What surprised me in connexion with the newspaper poll taken recently by the Argus’ was that quite a number of New South Wales journals voted against Yass-Canberra. A majority’ seemed to be in favour of re-opening the whole question. The present site is land-locked, and the Commonwealth will have great difficulty in enlarging its borders. When the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill was under consideration on 25th November last, the late member for Batman moved to postpone the issue of a proclamation, taking over the territory ‘ ‘ until after a referendum of the people of the Commonwealth shall have been taken as to the most suitable site.”
– What became of the member who moved that?
– I think that more of the supporters than of the opponents of the Yass-Canberra site lost their seats. I find that the present Minister of Customs delivered himself on that occasion-
– Why not quote what I said?
– Were I to quote all that Ministers have said against the YassCanberra site, we should be here all night. This is what the Minister of Trade and Customs said -
I regret that Parliament has its hands tied in this matter. To my mind, with the exception of Lyndhurst, Yass-Canberra is the worst site which we could choose, and I have seen all except the Upper Murray site, which some members say was the best-
– There is no doubt about that.
– Then let us have an opportunity to visit the Upper Murray - though it had no chance, because of its nearness to Victoria.
– It failed, for want of one vote, to be accepted.
– It was brought forward too late.
– It is not too late to reconsider it now.
– Members have now committed themselves to another site.
– When a man has made a mistake he cannot do better than mend his ways. According to their own confessions honorable members have made a sad mistake in selecting Yass-Canberra, and tonight will have an opportunity to give a vote which will enable the whole question to be re-opened. To continue my quotation -
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 heartily indorse those sentiments. The present Attorney-General was not satisfied with the completeness of the amendment moved by the then honorable member for Batman, and, after consultation with him, submitted a further amendment, which I should certainly support, providing that a referendum should be taken to determine whether the Yass-Canberra site should be selected. The honorable member for Yarra said -
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.
That was a capital speech on the Capital site question. It was brief, but contained a considerable measure of common-sense. At page 6400 of Hansard, Vol. LIV., I find a quotation from a speech made by the late Sir Henry Parkes in Melbourne, on9th 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 Hag.
– Sir Henry Parkes said he would have perfect reliance upon the honour of the central Parliament. We are relying now upon the honour of this Parliament to complete the compact.
– This Parliament has not previously discussed this subject, although two or three questions in respect of it have been put to Ministers by representatives of New South Wales and some of the more ardent Victorian spirits. The new members have not had an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon the site selected by a previous Parliament, and, what is worse still, they have not had an opportunity to inspect the several sites.
– Then what a grievance the next Parliament will have on the same ground.
– The honorable member was not satisfied with the selection of Dalgety. He knows that Dalgety was selected by a previous Parliament.
– I do not.
– Then I shall say that, as the result of a decision arrived at by this Parliament, Dalgety was certainly regarded as the future Federal Capital.
– And Dalgety was included in an Act of Parliament.
– I am not conversant with everything that has transpired in this Parliament, but the honorable member for Laanecoorie supports my statement that Dalgety was selected.
– That is not correct.
– Very well. I find at page 5194 of Hansard, Vol. LIII., a quotation from a report by Mr. Scrivener, as follows : -
Both the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan, and, in a less degree, the Cotter River -
I understand that the Cotter is really a creek - are subject to great variations in the daily Bow ;
– Mr. Scrivener completely changed his view.
– There have been so manychanges with regard to this matter that it is difficult to follow them all. There is too much of the weathercock character about some qf them.
– The honorable member should not read on only one side of the weathercock.
– This side of the rooster suits my purpose. Mr. Scrivener continued -
The former combined carry after. heavy falls of rain immense quantities of water for a few days, while in dry summers, they may and do cease to run.
The honorable member for Parkes asserted that Mr. Scrivener had later on changed his opinion with regard to this site. Having submitted a report of the character to which I have just referred, he surely could not have gone back upon it.
– He gave us a later report entirely in favour of the sufficiency of the water supply of Yass-Canberra.
– Strange changes take place. I have just had handed to me a copy of the Seat ofGovernment Act which was assented to on 15th August, 1904, and in which I find confirmation of my statement that Dalgety was selected as the site of the Federal Capital. In section 2 of that Act we have the following provision -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be within seventeen miles of Dalgety, in the State of New South Wales.
Either the memory of some honorable members is at fault, or something else has occurred. This incident proves to the younger members of the House that, after all, some Bills are passed of which some honorable members soon lose all knowledge. The Seat of Government Act of 1904 being a very short measure on a definite subject, it is remarkable that the honorable member for Parramatta should have forgotten the provision which I have just quoted. I shall now quote the amendment moved on the occasion in question by the honorable member for West Sydney. Having asked Mr. Coon, who was then the honorable member for Batman, whether he would agree to an alteration of the amendment, he 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 of the State of New South Wales being selected as the most suitable site by the people of the Commonwealth, at a referendum to be taken at the next general election.”
I do not think that the honorable member for West Sydney would have lent himself to proposing such an amendment, and to submitting it in exceptionally strong terms, unless he thoroughly believed in it.
– See whether he voted for it.
– It was verystrange if he did not. Another peculiar fact is that the present Minister of Home Affairs, who is in charge of the Estimates now before us, was, on 25th November last, most deliberate in his pronouncement against the selection pf Yass-Canberra. The honorable gentleman usually employs most picturesque language and I shall refresh the minds of honorable members by quoting from the speech which he made on the occasion in question. He said -
I trust that the Committee will support the amendment.
That was the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney. The honorable member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Darwin are still in company, but, unfortunately, on this occasion I think that their votes will be recorded in opposition to their previous wellset convictions -
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.
That was rather an emphatic statement, but it is received now in silence.
– The Parliament has since spoken.
– And so have the people, and there is a considerable change in the face of the Parliament since they have done so. I feel fairly confident that if a referendum were taken on this question, as was proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney, there would be an overwhelming majority against the selection of the Yass-Canberra site. I agree with the great Britisher who said that he had an illimitable belief in the people but an infinitesimal belief in their governors. If the people had their way, I dare say even those in the honorable member for Werriwa’s constituency would give him a direction. I shall probably quote from a speech made by him on this question.
– I am not afraid.
– Honorable members have done so many contradictory things that there is no telling what Hansard may prove against them. The honorable member for Darwin said -
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.
I heard the honorable member for Parramatta say that a member of this Parliament was like the bull of Bashan, but I never knew that Parliament itself waslike a bull with a ring through its nose -
It has been not only bull-dozed, but intimidated.
That is an awful charge to lay at the door of the Federal Parliament -
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;
Speaking of Christian advancement, I do not notice any reference to the Water Lily Church- of great scientific achievements following the discovery of the North Pole and the onward march of the Esquimaux-
I do not know, Mr. Poynton, whether you presided on that occasion, but I notice that when the honorable member had got as far as the Esquimaux, he was told that he was out of order. The report proceeds -
– Order ! Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
In the face of this speech, I am inclined to doubt the judgment of the Minister of Home Affairs. He went on to say -
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.
Yet that honorable member has the audacity,as Minister of Home Affairs, to present a proposition involving the selection of Yass-Canberra as the Capital site.
– That was before I saw the site.
– If it be true, as I hope it is not, that the Government intend to go straight ahead with Yass-Canberra as the selected site, new members like myself should have an opportunity to inspect the place.
– The honorable member ought to see the Tooma site before he decides.
– All that I desire to do is to act in a national way. The honorable member for Darwin went on to say -
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports was there, and he knows my statement is correct.
I think that is quite possible -
– He nearly got drowned when he went for a swim there.
The honorable member informed the House that, when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desired to perform his ablutions, he could not get water above his waist, and that, instead of having a beautiful swim, he fairly got “ dry blown.” He went on to say -
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.
Yet while the honorable member spoke in that strain last year, he now wishes us to believe that the site is one of fine hills, lovely terraces, charming valleys, and flowing streams. He proceeded -
The capital of a great continental peoplt 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.
The Minister of Home Affairs has been “ spinning “ some fine yarns about the Federal Capital site -
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, hurryto the cock pits. The spiritof a hot country is revolutionary.
I am afraid that if the Labour party are a bad lot in the cold climate in Victoria, they may prove worse in the hot climate of Yass-Canberra -
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.
I hope I have not occupied too much time ; but I think the quotations I haveread from speeches made by honorable members now on the Ministerial benches should be quite sufficient to condemn the Yass-Canberra site; how those members can support such a proposal passes my comprehension. I understand there are to be further developments, even to-night, in regard to these items ; and this is certainly a question that needs thorough investigation. We ought not to come to a hurried decision; and though, no doubt, the Minister of Home Affairs, when he spoke in the last Parliament, spoke in a somewhat jocular vein, the matter is really a most serious one.
– Does the honorable member think that the Minister of Home Affairs is serious now?
– I do not wish to do the Minister an injustice, but I cannot conceive how a man who used language so definite and emphatic can now change his opinion. I again plead with the Minister to allow an opportunity for the new members of the House to visit the site before coming to a decision.
– Vote first, and then look at the site !
– If I made such a suggestion to the Postmaster-General, he would consider it an insult. This question has really been sprung upon us to-night ; and it seems to me that, in common fairness, there ought to be a postponement. I hope we shall never have cause to look back on a resolution in connexion with this subject that we regret. Judging from expressions of opinion by those who are to-day supporting Yass-Canberra, that site is not the best.
.- I join in the plea that these items should be postponed for further consideration. The water supply at Yass-Canberra will have to be pumped, and is erratic; and it seems strange that, with the many hundreds of square miles available, a site could not have been found with a gravitation supply. We ought not to saddle future generations with the cost of pumping water to a city the size and importance of which we cannot foresee. Large quantities of water are required for sanitary, as well as other, purposes; and, in my opinion, nothing could be worse than a city dependent on a pumping supply. I ask honorable members to consider most seriously before they commit Parliament in the way proposed, and to take steps to secure a site where there is a good wholesome water supply by gravitation.
.- I may say at once that I am not satisfied with the manner in which the Minister of Home Affairs has laid’ before us the intentions of the Government. We are entitled to know what these items involve - whether they represent a step we can retrace if we so desire, or whether, in voting the money, we shall bind this Parliament to Yass-Canberra. In the last Parliament the two sites of Dalgety and Yass-Canberra were before us, and honorable members know my opinions as to their respective merits. I voted for YassCanberra as- against- -Dalgety because it wasa. case of choosing the less of two evils. I would do so again to-day if they were the only sites available ; but I have never hesitated to fight for, and endeavour to induce this Parliament to select, the Tooma site, beside which all others pale into insignificance. I have jone over it a couple of times, and have seen all .the sites suggested to this Parliament during the last six years. I have gone through them, not merely on a pleasure trip, but with the object of discovering the basis of their claims for selection, and I am confident that there is no site in Australia, much less in New South Wales, that can compare with Tooma in any particular. It wins on points in every way, whether for climate, water supply, surroundings, or any of the other elements so essential to a modern city. The Murra v River lies at the foot of the site, the land is undulating, and geographically it is an ideal site in every way. The climate,’ whether in winter or summer, is the best in Australia. Dalgety in winter-time gets the wind blowing off the snow ; but in this case you get the wind blowing on to the snow and off the land.
– What is the rainfall ?
– More than adequate. I think it is 35 inches, or thereabouts. Besides the Murray River at the foot of the site, the Tooma River and the Tumbarumba Creek come out from the snowclad mountains, and their flow of crystal water could be conveyed to the site with the least possible cost. Power could be got in the Tumbarumba hills to drive all the machinery necessary in the capital. As a New South Welshman, I went out to examine the site, not as a States Righter, but as one who had a duty to perform in the interests of Australia, not only of today but of years to come. We have no right to arrogate the right to decide tonight, from the development that has taken place in this island so far, what will be the best site for the capital of Australia in years to come. We must consider what will be the centre of Australia when this great continent is properly populated. In my judgment the Tooma site is in that .regard the one that should be chosen by this Parliament. . If I have again to “choose between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, I will vote for Yass-Canberra, for reasons that I have already put on record in Hansard.; but I should like the Government to allow the new members of the House, and others who have -not seen Tooma, an opportunity of visiting that site, and forming their own opinions upon it. Even the Minister of Home Affairs, when he went there, was delighted with it, and had nothing but praise for it. If we had had a fair test in 1904 there would have been no other site in the running, so far as this Parliament is concerned.
But it was brought in when the matter was on the eve of decision. A hurried visit was paid to it, and yet we only lost the vote on that occasion through two members being delayed on account of their train running late, and the Government refusing to grant an extension of time for the ballot until they could arrive. We lost the selection of that site by a pure accident, and then Dalgety was selected. The honorable member for Parramatta says “ No,” but undoubtedly it was selected.
– I said the matter was never finally dealt with.
– Nor is the YassCanberra site yet finally dealt with for that matter. We got one step further with YassCanberra than with Dalgety, but for all practical purposes Dalgety was selected. However, it did not suit some people, and they never ceased to agitate until they got the choice rescinded, and another site which had never been in the running at all put in its place. This was a new site fixed up to suit the occasion, taking in a whole area instead of any particular spot, in order to defeat the Dalgety site.
– It was the Sydney Daily Telegraph that stopped Dalgety.
– I shall not give that paper the credit that the honorable member wishes to give it, but the Sydney press has been fighting very hard for Yass-Canberra. Ministers talk about the influence of the Melbourne press, and I desire cordially to get away from Melbourne just as any man in this chamber. I should like to see the Parliament far away from the influence of the press that, to some extent, dominates it in this city, but I am not prepared to sacrifice the welfare of Australia in order to gain that end. Whilst the Melbourne papers are fighting against the final settlement of the question, the Sydney papers are fighting for Yass-Canberra, simply because there they can then exercise the same influence which they begrudge to the papers in this city. The site is so adjacent to Sydney that there will be no chance of inaugurating Commonwealth papers, and the Sydney papers, instead of the Melbourne ones, will dominate the politics of Australia. That is the key of the whole position.
– The Melbourne papers only dominate the politics of Victoria, if they dominate any politics at all.
– The honorable member is right to-day, but it was not always so. Honorable members opposite have realized, during the last year, that the papers are not the power that they used to be. The people are beginning to think for themselves, and the result is to be seen on this side to-day, but the desire of the press is still to dominate the Federal Parliament. I should like a clear exposition of what the Government are doing in regard to the Capital site. The Minister told us that they want ,£13,000 to cover survey expenses and £6,000 to buy land, and then went off into a flight of oratory about how land is going up, and how, if we do not make a quick deal, we shall pay the penalty in high prices. That is not what we want to know. We should be told what practical steps the Government have taken. We want the site located before anything else can be done. Designs cannot be called for a Capital unless the topography of the site can be furnished to competitors, but the site is not definitely located. We have not yet got the territory, and yet honorable members are talking about building a Military College and all that sort of thing. If the Minister is in earnest, he should be able to define step by step the course the Government intend to take. I understand they are already spending money in testing the clay around Canberra. They have spent a large sum in tracing the water in the locality. I understand they are going to establish great brickyards, and make bricks, after the style of the old Romans, two inches thick instead of three, so that they will be burnt hard. Are they going to build the Capital and all the public buildings of brick ? Brick may be suitable as a material, but it is not very aesthetic or artistic, and will not be suitable for the construction of a Capital city. The Minister might tell us how much money has been spent in this way, how many bricks it is estimated will be required for the Capital, and what sort of bricks are to be made, and whether wire-cut or moulded by hand.
– They might be sundried.
– They would be more likely to be sun-dried than anything else in that climate. These are all. matters that we ought to know now. It will be too late, when we have committed ourselves, to tell us that the Government have already made arrangements to build the Capital with bricks, or that they have secured areas of clay country and bought a plant for brickmaking. If that is going to be done with this money, let us know it, but I object to any Capital, or Parliament House, or public office being built of brick. A Federal Capital worthy of the name should be built of something more tasteful and solid.
– We are told that they have plenty of marble at Yass-Canberra.
Mr.WEBSTER.- I saw no sign of marble or granite near the site. The Minister has not told us what the Department are going to do with regard to the water supply, or whether they are going to take any steps to locate it before it gets away. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that no great city should have to depend on a pumping supply. It would be a disgrace to Australia to think that we could not find a place for a Capital city which afforded a gravitation supply. The Government ought to allow this matter to stand over until we have an opportunity to review the Tooma site. Tooma is leagues ahead of the other sites, as those who have seen it admit. But only a third of the members of the two Houses have done so; and if those who have not visited it are given an opportunity to go there, there will be no doubt about the final choice. If we cannot get Tooma, I shall not accept Dalgety, tout shall continue to support Canberra.
– I wish to explain my statement that Dalgety has never been finally determined by this Parliament as the Capital of the Commonwealth. The Act passed in 1904 furnished the basis for negotiations with the New South Wales Government.
– It was merely a preliminary step.
– Yes. That is clear from the wording of section 3, which says -
The territory to begranted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be should contain an area not less than nine hundred square miles.
That measure having been passed, the honorable member for Darling Downs and Mr. Justice Isaacs took the matter up in 1905, introducing -
A Bill for anActtodetermine moredefinitely the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and to provide for the granting to and acceptance by the Commonwealth of the territory.
The negotiations with New South Wales fell through. I remember asking Mr. Justice Isaacs what would happen if a grant were not made by the State. He said that there could be no Federal Capital until the grant had been made.
– The Commonwealth could have acquired the territory without a grant.
- Mr. Justice Isaacs expressed a different opinion; but perhaps he does not know the constitutional points of the case as the honorable member knows them.
– If his knowledge of constitutional law is no better than the knowledge of other matters shown in some of his decisions, not much reliance is to be placed upon it.
– Clause 4 of the Bill of 1905 says: “From the day that the grant and acceptance take place.” The measure was one for accepting territory which had been granted by New South Wales ; but as no grant was made, there was no acceptance, and no final determination of the Seat of Government.
– Parliament decided that Dalgety should be the Federal Capital ; but New SouthWales would not grant the necessary territory.
– My point is that this Parliament cannot itself finally determine the matter.
– Has the Yass-Canberra site been granted to the Commonwealth by New South. Wales?
– Of course it has. The preamble of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act, passed last year, says -
The Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales . . . have entered into an agreement, set out in the First Schedule to this Act, for the surrender to and acceptance by the Commonwealth, for the purposes of the Seat of Government - of the Yass-Canberra area. We have passed two Acts regarding that territory, one describing, roughly, the locality of the Federal Capital site, and the other finally determining the Seat of Government after negotiations with New South Wales.
– In spite of what has been said by the honorable member for Parramatta, Parliament, after this House had originally chosen Tumut, passed an Act providing that Dalgety should be the Federal Capital. I regard the Tooma site as the best available, and every one who has seen it will admit that it is.I do not say that merely because it is in my constituency ; Albury, another site, is also- there. The honorable member for Maribyrnong had very good reason for the very good speech which he made. There are twenty-five or twenty-six new members in this House who have never seen the Capital sites, and it is not fair to ask them until they have visited those sites to support proposals for the building of a city at Canberra. I voted for the Yass-Canberra site last time, because the choice was between it and Dalgety. My views have somewhat changed of late, and I think now that there should be no hurry to settle this matter. If any large sum of money is spent on any site it will be the Capital of Australia for at least a very long time.
– The honorable member in an interview the other day said that the matter had been settled.
– I said that Parliament had passed an Act regarding it, and that I should not reopen the matter. I am not doing so now. It must be remembered that the people of the United States of America were thirtythree years in choosing Washington, and it was many years before Ottawa was chosen by the British Government, who were called upon by the Canadians to make a choice.
– Notwithstanding the delay a mistake was made in both instances.
– The new members of the House should have an opportunity to visit two or three of the sites which are considered the best.
– There is only one.
– Orange is a beautiful site.
– Orange is out of it.
– If the New South Wales Government were to connect Werris Creek and Wellington, and Cobar and Broken Hill, Orange would not be out of it. We should not hasten too quickly. ‘ It may be possible to arrange for the Parliament to sit in Sydney for ten years.
– An alteration of the Constitution would be necessary before that could be done.
– The Government intends to refer several questions to the people, and this could be made one of them.
– Such a referendum would be most dishonorable. Federation was brought about on the faith of the promise that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales.
– The question to be referred to the people would be whether the Federal Parliament should meet in Sydney until the Federal Capital was built. I do not wish to prevent the placing of the Capital in New South Wales. State jealousies are not so violent now as they were at the commencement of Federation, and ten years hence they will have nearly died away. It would not be a good thing to have the choice of a site influenced by them in any way. Originally a certain number of honorable members voted for Armidale, others for Orange, and most of the Sydney representatives for Lyndhurst. Later an agreement was come to by Sydney representatives to support Yass-Canberra. The House had then to choose between Dalgety - not Bombala, which was originally recommended - and Yass-Canberra. I have described Dalgety as a wind-swept place, and in winter the coldest in Australia. During the winter months a westerly wind sweeps over the snow and down over the Monaro plains, with the result that it is almost unbearable. Tooma is on the other side of the mountain, and the westerly winds reach it before coming into contact with the snow-clad mountains. The climate there is magnificent, and there is a rainfall of nearly 40- inches per annum. The district is watered by the Upper Murray and the Indi, as well as by the Tooma River, which is a beautiful stream. The lastnamed river runs through a gorge 12 miles above the site and 1,200 feet above it, so that there would be no necessity to build a dam to provide the site with a supply of water. The whole valley could be easily irrigated.
– What is the quality of the soil?
– It is so good that when I desired many years ago to buy a small area there, I was asked £10 an acre for land in its natural state and many milesdistant from a railway. The soil is for the most part a black loam, and is as good as any that one could wish to see. I cannot describe the site in the picturesque language of the Minister of Home Affairs, but it is certainly a beautiful one. Mount Kosciusko is about 25 miles away, and in the springtime is fully covered by snow. In the valley below, through which the Upper Murray wends its way, there is magnificent rich virgin soil. I go there sometimes in the summer months for recreation and rest. It is a grand health resort, and I am sure that we should have been pleased had we selected it as the site of the Federal Capital. The State Government are now surveying a railway line by Adelong and Batlow, which is at the top of the ridge, and it is intended to carry it through to Tumbarumba, which is on the way to Tooma. Magnificent timber is produced in the district, and included in the area which we should have acquired there is a reserve comprising 72,000 acres of fine land, as well as another reserve of many thousands of acres. There is to be found there the finest timber that I have ever seen in Australia. The land is splendid, although not fit for wheat-growing to the same extent as is land in the Wagga district. It is best adapted to fruit-growing. It has been demonstrated that at Batlow there is the very best fruit-growing country.
– Is there any building stone available ?
– Yes, building stone is available in any quantity, whilst on the Victorian side large deposits of marble have been found, and some of it has been used for building purposes here in Melbourne. There is a splendid deposit of marble close to the Tooma site. Mount Bago is an extinct volcano, and on all sides where the lava in ancient days has flown the soil is very rich. There is a saw-mill on the top of the mountain, and it is cutting up timber that is found most suitable for making oars, axe handles, and other articles. This timber is in some respects equal to the American hickory.
– The honorable member refers to the mountain ash.
– Yes ; it is good for all purposes in which great strength is required. The proposed railway will run close to Tooma. It will pass Adelong, which is only12 miles distant.
– Tooma would have been selected but for an accident.
– That is so. Despite what Mr. Scrivener says, I think the water supply of Yass-Canberra is inadequate. Lake George has been dry three times in the history of New South Wales.
– Mr. Scrivener has not reported very favorably on the water supply of Yass-Canberra.
– If he had, I should not take very much notice of his report. Mr. Scrivener reported, for instance, that Jervis Bay is not a good harbor, whereas it is one of the best. I have been there scores of times in all sorts of weather, and do not hesitate to say that it is a splendid harbor. If he thinks it is not a good one, then his judgment is not of the best. I should like the Ministry, if possible, to give the new members of the House an opportunity to judge for themselves of the merits of the several sites. It is only fair that they should have an opportunity to do so, and I do not think that we should hurry on with this scheme merely for the sake of securing finality. If we do we may, for all time, regret our decision. If honorable members, having been placed in possession of the more mature information now available again select YassCanberra I shall not take a leading partin opposing that selection, but if I were a new member I should be determined to secure an opportunity, if possible, to visit the several sites. 1 trust that this debare will not be prolonged, and I should not have spoken, but that I thought I oughtto give new members the opinions I have formed, and the knowledge I possess in reference to this matter, which is of vital importance to the people of New South Wales.
– I agree that no subject which this Parliament is likely to be called upon to consider is of more transcendent importance than is that of the Federal Capital site. All legislation which has hitherto been proposed in this Parliament, and either carried into effect or postponed, fades into insignificance when compared with this great question which will undoubtedly have an effect upon the whole of Australia long after such measures as we are now projecting have passed into nothingness. Honorable members who have addressed themselves to this subject have joined in regretting, as I do, the fact that this discussion has arisen almost without notice, so that they have not had an opportunity to prepare for it. It would have been well had some notice been given in order that honorable members might havehad an opportunity to prepare themselves for dealing with the question by visiting the Yass-Canberra site and judging for themselves. of its possibilities.I havealways been guided by a desire to do what is best in this matter from a strictly Australian stand-point. We should approach this question, not as representatives of certain constituencies or of particular States, but with the belief that we represent to the fullest possible extent the whole of the people of Australia. We should certainly bring to the consideration of this question, above all others, a ripe judgment. Those who entered this House for the first time only a few months ago could not be expected to have- formed a proper judgment with regard to this important matter. I regret that the Government, since this is a non-party question, have thought it necessary to sink their own personal convictions and to carry out to the very letter the decision of the last Parliament. A great deal has been said about repudiation, and it is to be regretted that words of that character should be tossed from side to side when the actions of honorable members are under consideration. We all admit that no Parliament can bind a succeeding Parliament. If men are to I.* free representatives of the people they must come here pledged only to carry out to the best of their ability the policy which they have propounded to the people, and those matters which they believe to be in the best interests of the Commonwealth. In those circumstances they will often find themselves compelled to vote against the decisions of a previous Parliament. In fact, as has been pointed out, over and over again, trie last Parliament adopted that course with regard to this very question. The decision of a previous Parliament was repealed, and we substituted for “ Dalgety” in the Seat of Government Act the composite name of “Yass-Canberra.” 1 do not think there was much talk of repudiation on that occasion. If there was, I did not hear it, and this is scarcely the time for honorable members to use such a harsh and unnecessary word with regard to the action of those who come here free and unfettered to do that which they believe to be for the benefit of Australia. It is little short of” a calamity that this question from the very outset should have been -attended by a sort of evil genius which has placed it in the very worst possible aspect, both before the Parliament and the people. The results of various divisions on more than one occasion have been trembling in the balance, and the absence of an honor - able member or some such circumstance has more than once caused a decision to go from one side to the other. Since the House has previously been so closely and nearly divided, the Government would have been well advised had they hesitated before asking us to come to a decision on what is the first contemplated expenditure of a considerable amount upon the site which ;has been selected’. A. very much better feeling would have been exhibited had there been time for preparation. Although I recognise that, from the position I occupy on this side, I have no right to expect the Government to listen to me I urge, even at this late hour, that they should reconsider their decision, and agree to postpone this question for, say, a week or two, in order that new members may visit the site, and that members generally may, uninfluenced by party considerations on either side, arrive at a judgment with the care the importance of the matter demands. I shall not enter into the merits of the sites ; members of previous Parliaments know that I have consistently voted for Bombala and Dalgety ; but I should be prepared, if an opportunity offers, to support a site in the Upper Murray District, recently alluded to by the honorable member for Hume. We all regret that the condition of that honorable member’s health makes it absolutely necessary for him to refrain from entering too closely into parliamentary conflict, and divests his utterances just now of a good deal of that force and power with which he previously submitted the suggestion to our consideration. I feel satisfied that what he has said has fallen on ears that will not be altogether unresponsive. He speaks as one with wide experience and close personal contact with these districts; and his words should, at any rate, receive consideration, especially by new members. I suggest that the Government should not add another to the long list of unfortunate occurrences that have dogged this question, but should - although I understand they have a majority on this proposal - defer to the wishes that have been expressed on both sides, and give further time for consideration.
– Delay is a good argument every time !
– It is an argument which might more fittingly come from one older than myself ; but I venture to say that, on a question of this character, it is an argument that may well be considered by those who desire that no false step should be taken, or no decision arrived at which we may have reason to regret.
.- I urge the Minister of Home Affairs to take into consideration our representations in regard to calling for designs, which, I understand, he intends to submit to world competition. Up to the present, the Minister has shown himself to be rather a good Australian. When calling for tenders, I believe he has given preference to Australian manufacturers ; and if we are to build up a nation, such as has been talked about in the House lately, it can only be by encouraging, not only Australian manufactures, but Australian effort of every kind. If the Minister intends to submit the designs to world competition, with a mental reservation to give preference to Australian architects, I submit that will be most unfair to architects elsewhere. If the honorable gentleman advertises in Berlin, New York, and London, he will, without doubt, find a number of poor artists and architects ready to spend much time and thought over designs; but if a preference is to be ‘ exhibited to Australians, those artists and architects might as well save their time and trouble. I take the view that we have in Australia, at the present time, ample talent to furnish us with an acceptable design. All works of reference on art and other subjects will be at the disposal of Australian architects; and the competition might, therefore, be very well confined to Australia. I have no doubt that Australians are better fitted than others to supply such a design. There are few architects, I suppose, in other parts of the world who are acquainted with our climate and our modes of living, both of which, of course, have much to do with the matter. We have repeatedly asked the Minister to give us further information on the point, but he does not seem disposed to do so; and I cannot see why. I have heard talk on the other side of the party whip being cracked, but any one who believes that any man has a right to crack the party whip on this question must be very new to parliamentary methods. I have been in active politics, and in Parliament, for several years, and I know that in regard to questions which are not. on the party programme, all kinds of methods are adopted to obtain votes. Cajolery, flattery, and, in some cases, intimidation are indulged in. One member will approach another in a most mysterious way, and -induce him to go-to- some- quiet room, as if the object were to commit a burglary, and try to impress on him that the most calamitous things will happen if he votes in a’ certain direction. I hope, however, that new members will understand that no man has the right to crack the party whip on this particular question. The Minister simply said, as the report of his speech will show, that the Government propose to go right on with the question until Parliament’ selects a new site; and no doubt the Government are entitled to do so. The Labour Government are the only Government which have taken up the Federal Capital question in a serious manner.
– What a thing to say !
– It is perfectly true. If we consult the Sydney Morning Herald, which has, on occasion, endeavoured to be, and succeeded in being, fair, it shows that the Labour Government are the only Government which have pushed along this question in a practical way. The honorable member for Parramatta mentioned the year 1904, when a Bill was passed fixing the site within 17 miles of Dalgety, and told us that in the following year another Bill was passed. But what was. done in any practical way between 1904 and 1907, when the decision of Parliament was reversed? Nothing was done, because the honorable member for Parramatta, and others like him, were waiting an opportunity to reverse the selection in the interests of the shopkeepers of Sydney. It is the business people of Sydney and the newspapers of that city who are responsible for the reversal pf form, because they desire increased trade to go through Port Jackson. Why do Sydney representatives, like the honorable member for Parramatta, talk of the honorable member for Indi and others as being parochial ? I rememberthat when it was proposed by the Labour Government to have some destroyers built in Australia, the honorable member for Parramatta was one who ridiculed the idea, until he discovered that there was a chance of the mosquito fleet being constructed in Sydney, when he withdrew his objections. The honorable member himself knows that that is true.
– I know that it is absolutely untrue !
– I do not say that all the Sydney people are of the same temper; but there is no more parochial section than that to-which -the -honorable- member for Parramatta belongs. What party in this Househas tried to destroy Australian nationality and the building up of Australian manufactures, but the party to which the honorable member and other Free Traders belong? We on this side have surely shown that we desire a postponement of the consideration of the question now before us.;.
There ought to be no suggestion of the Government going out on a question of the kind.
– The honorable member does not desire a postponement, but a reversal.
– I do not know so much about that. I hope that honorable members will vote as they believe, and will give special attention to the argument that, if the Government have a majority, there is nothing to fear from a short postponement.
.- This is a great deal more than a proposal to vote £50,000 towards the establishment of the Federal Capital ; it is a vote which, if carried, commits us to a large and increasing annual expenditure for many years to come. While it is necessary to provide so many large works of developmental character, for the benefit of those settled on the soil, and those who will settle, we ought to bend all the energy and money we have to those works. The honorable member for Parkes has told us that some years ago he proposed that the Seat of Government should alternate between Sydney and Melbourne. That is a proposal, which, I think, finds a large measure of support today ; but at that time the honorable member received so little encouragement that he was compelled to withdraw it. That is a lamentable fact, because I feel satisfied that a similar proposal to-day could be carried to the satisfaction of the vast majority of the people. Although I represent an important Victorian constituency, I am prepared, and I know a number of others who are likewise prepared, to support a proposal of the kind which, for many years to come, would be better than the construction of a Federal Capital.
– If we once get to Sydney, we shall never get away again !
– It would be better to remain in Sydney for twenty-five or thirty years than to build a capital in such a place as Yass-Canberra. I voted for YassCanberra, but that was as against Dalgety ; it was not my lot to be able to vote for any of the other places. Like other large public bodies, in coming to a determination of the kind, we had to resort to the practice of gradually deleting the places which had the least support. Amongst those which had the least support were undoubtedly some of the best sites. It became a question of whether we should have Dalgety or Yass-Canberra, and I voted for the latter. The report of honorable senators who visited the site recently was that its selection as against Dalgety was more than justified.
– What about Tooma ?
– I voted for it as long as it was in the running. If it was an open question, I should feel impelled to vote for it again, believing it to be the best site, but as between Dalgety and YassCanberra, there was no question which was the better, and which would be more satisfactory to the people of New South Wales, and I think we ought to give some consideration to the views of the members representing that State. I suggest to the Minister that he should withdraw this item, if only for to-night, with a view to seeing whether he could not submit a proposal to make it a certainty that the Capital should be located in Sydney, at least until we are in a position to finally select a site and go on with the erection of a Capital city. I suggest that to him as a business man, dealing with a serious proposition, largely affecting the ultimate welfare of the Commonwealth. Another item on the Estimates is a vote of£1,600 towards the cost of the erection of Commonwealth offices in London. It is not a large sum, but on two or three occasions since I have been a member we have been called upon to vote on the question of purchasing a site, and I should like to know whether any steps have been taken to secure a site in London recently, and whether this item is the forerunner of a large expenditure in that direction.
– The cry for some time has been that we have too many people in the towns and not enough in the country, yet we now have before us a proposal to start a new city and settle a large number of people in a bush Capital before Australia is ready for it. There will be ample time to think of building a Capital when we can get an absolutely good site. I would much prefer to see the Capital in Sydney than anywhere in the bush. I am prepared to vote for submitting to the people by referendum an alteration of the Constitution so that the Capital can be in Sydney if the people of New South Wales desire to have it there. There are two very good sites there - the Centennial Park and the National Park. It will be much better for the officers, who will have to be in charge of Commonwealth Departments at the Seat of Government to live in a city like Sydney than to be buried away in the bush. The Government are proposing to build a Capital in a place which I am satisfied a large majority of people feel is unsuitable for it. Yass-Canberra was chosen by the biggest’ piece of log-rolling that has ever taken place in Parliament. Every man was button-holed, and the log-rolling that was carried on to knock Dalgety out makes one almost feel ashamed that such tactics should be carried on in any Parliament. Whether it was a right or a wrong place, Dalgety never had fair play. There was simply one constant shove to get it out of the road. Persons did not care where the Capital was to be, so long as it was not at Dalgety. I think we have chosen a place which is much worse than Dalgety, and the Government would be wise to give honorable members an opportunity of further considering the question. It is carrying things a bit too far to rush the matter through without any notice. It seems to me that the more Ministries we have the stronger Yass-Canberra will get. If we have sufficient changes of Government’ in the next few years, that place will get almost a unanimous vote, because as each new Ministry comes in they say, “ It is our duty to carry out what was proposed by the former Government ; so off we go for Yass-Canberra.” The process has been like a ball of snow, getting bigger and bigger as it rolls along. Some members of former Ministries were not very sweet on Yass-Canberra, but when its selection became a Government proposal, they voted in its favour. If the people of New South Wales are wise, they will make an effort to get the Capital in Sydney in preference to a place miles away, in no man’s country. What is the use of spending £4,000,000 or ,£5,000,000 in creating a new city when we already have cities with too many people in them ? The money would pretty well build one of the transcontinental railways, but it is being spent in dribs and drabs; £50,000, for example, is being voted this year. The hon orable member for Parramatta wanted to make the amount £200,000, and the hon- orable member for -Lang £”2 50^000 - They would like to grab the whole of the money that the Federal Parliament gets for its share of the Customs duties, and spend it on the Capital. They have a bee in their bonnet about the people of Victoria wanting to keep the Capital in Melbourne. I believe if a vote were taken 75 per cent, of the people in Victoria would be perfectly will ing to let the Sydney people have ‘t. We have not those parochial and narrow-minded sentiments which are ascribed to us. The honorable member for Capricornia explained the origin of the parochial feeling ; we know that the shopkeepers and papers of Sydney have been howling ever since the Federal Parliament has been in Melbourne.
– The arguments for delay advanced to-day are very much like those that have been used for the last ten years. I have taken part in all the Federal Capital battles that have been waged for nearly ten years in this House, and my view is that, if this Parliament has any serious iri*tention of carrying out the terms of the Constitution, it is about time this kind of procedure was brought to an end. I have heard some of that ancient history repeated to-night, but it seems that the further we get away from it the more we lose of what actually took place. Tt was contended tonight that in the first Parliament Tumut was selected. In the past there have been three parties on this question, the Southern, South-Eastern, and Central, and what happened in the first Parliament was this : The fight centred around Tumut, which graduated from Albury, on the one hand ; Bombala, graduating towards Dalgety, in the second place; and Orange to Lyndhurst, in the third. The vote was taken by exhaustive ballot. It was very nearly equal, but when the third site had to be eliminated, Bombala had to go out. Its supporters then concentrated their votes on Tumut, and so defeated the supporters of the Orange-Lyndhurst site. That decision was sent to the Senate, which promptly rejected it, the Senate vote being in favour of the Bombala, or Dalgety, site. The matter was left in abeyance in that Parliament. It was brought up again in the next, and the vote was similar, except that Tumut was defeated in the third last round, and its supporters concentrated their votes on Dalgety, for the purpose of defeating the Orange-Lyndhurst site, and Dalgety was accepted for the time being. The Bill passed on that occasion did not locate the site-. - -It- was merely -to open .up negotia-1 tions with the Government of New South Wales, and the Dalgety proposal was submitted to the Government and Parliament of that State, with the result that it was almost unanimously rejected as unsuitable, and not within the terms of the Constitution or of the agreement with New South Wales which underlay the terms of the
Constitution. The matter then dropped. When it was brought up .again in the last Parliament, the much-talked-of Tumut site and the Orange-Lyndhurst site had practically dropped out of the running. That happened because a very large number of members held it to be essential that the Federal Capital should have access to- a harbor, independent of Sydney Harbor. I regretted that at the time, but I admitted the force of the contention, because of the hostile action of the New South Wales Government, and particularly a certain anti-Federal action which they took on the eve of the dissolution of the State Parliament in seizing goods in possession of the Federal Customs Department. That incident was largely used in this House as an argument why the Capital should not be located at any considerable distance from the sea-board, and should have access to- a harbor under Federal control. That limited the sites to two south of Sydney. Sites could have been found north of Sydney which would have com: plied with the conditions, but it was thought that they would be too far from the southern States. The choice then was between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, and fell on the latter, an Act being passed to authorize this Government to negotiate respecting it with the Government of New South- Wales, and their agreement being embodied in another Act. Therefore the matter has been determined, so far as anything can be determined by legislation. The Government are still negotiating with the State Government, for increased control over the watershed of the territory, and for a larger harbor frontage, but that does not affect the position. Of course, this Parliament can repeal the Acts of its predecessors, and start de novo, and any future Parliament could do the same with our Acts. Even after millions of pounds had been spent on the capital, a Parliament could decide that the Seat of Government should be somewhere else; but is it wise for this Parliament to undo the work of .its predecessors ? If the question were reopened, the battle would still be, despite the assertions of honorable members who say that we should meet in Sydney for a term, between Dalgety and Canberra. A few members might put up a fight for other sites, but that would be the main issue-. The subject has been thoroughly threshed out. There was first an investigation by a Commissioner appointed by the Government of New South Wales. A second in- vestigation was made by Commissioners appointed by this Government. Honorable members, too, visited the several sites, and put their views before Parliament. Consequently it is not possible to obtain more information.
– But should not new members have an opportunity to consider the information that has been collected ?
– If the honorable member for Calare were in our position he would demand that opportunity.
– On the same reasoning, the new members of the fiftieth Parliament might demand an opportunity to consider the whole matter. We are in honour bound to give effect to the provision of the Constitution which induced New South Wales to enter the union. The first Federal Government promised to honour that compact, but there was so much dissension that no agreement was arrived at until last Parliament. The matter having been finally settled, why should we take action which will be inconclusive? Nothing is to be gained by reopening the subject. I hope that the Government will stand by their position, and see that the Constitution is honoured in the spirit and in the letter.
.- Although several speakers have referred to the threatened repudiation of the Acts of last Parliament, they did not use that word when they themselves repudiated the Act of the previous Parliament. T am sorry that more new members are not present to hear the facts of the case. The Commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government to recommend suitable sites gave first place to the southern Monaro district, which includes Bombala and Dalgety, and the State Government reserved from occupation the Crown lands in that area, and in other areas which he also recommended. Commissioners appointed by the Commonwealth also reported on the sites, but without recommending YassCanberra. Had any one told me that the Prime Minister would do what was unfair, I should have refused to believe him’; but what has been done to-day is monstrously unfair. After we have been sitting for twelve hours, it is proposed to keep us here until we come to a conclusion on a proposal sprung upon us without notice. I am surprised at this Government doing such a thing. Men who are deeply interested in the question are absent. Probably the man most to be considered is the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who ruined his health by speaking in favour of the Dalgety site when he was exceedingly unwell, which brought about a collapse. He had no warning that the question would come on to-day. I thought that notice of this discussion would have been given, so that both sides would be prepared. As it is, no one has had time to collect information. When the last Parliament was dealing with the subject, the Ministry did not make it a Government question, but gave every opportunity for the collection and studying of evidence. In addition, a week’s notice was given of the day when a vote was to be taken.
– Has not the honorable member been told a dozen times during the session that the Government is going right on?
– It has never before gone right on without giving honorable members notice. We knew that the Budget would be delivered to-day, and understood that the Works and Buildings Estimates were to be passed this evening. But no one thought that debatable items affecting the Federal Capital would be contained in them. It was thought that such items would be in the Estimates-in-Chief, and would be discussed after due notice had been given, and a date fixed. We have been told that Parliament never decided on the Dalgety site; but the Act of 1904 says -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be within 17 miles of Dalgety, in the State of New South Wales.
The territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, within which the Seat of Government shall be, should contain an area not less than nine hundred square miles, and have access to the sea.
At this time the Carruthers Government had come into being, and was strictly antiFederal in character. That Government had withdrawn from offer to the Federal Government the Southern Monaro site, which Sir John See and his Ministry were prepared to give us. This is what Sir “George Reid “then’ said of ‘the_selection- of Dalgety -
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.
When the matter was before this House cn a former occasion the honorable member for .Eden-Monaro. quoting from the New South Wales Hansard, said -
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales during the time that the right honorable member for East Sydney was Prime Minister of the country, the Premier of that State, Mr. Carruthers, said : - “ Interviews took place between Mr. Reid, Mr. Thomson, and myself. The result was that Mr. Reid and Mr. Dugald Thomson stated that the Seat of Government Act 1904, passed by the Federal Parliament, was, in regard to the selection of Dalgety as a site, mandatory and final, and binding on the State of New South Wales.
He further added - that the terms of that Act fixing the area of 900 square miles, with access to the sea, were open to discussion, but that the location of the territory at Dalgety was mandatory, final, and binding on New South Wales as well as on the Commonwealth.’ ‘
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro pointed out that Sir George Reid, when Prime Minister, said -
It is my earnest wish that the provisions of the Constitution should be carried out loyally on both sides. If they are, the Federal Capital will be established in New South Wales at no distant date. But, just as it is possible for the Federal Parliament in its treatment of the subject to so act that there will be no capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, it is possible for the Government and Parliament of New South Wales to so act that there will be no Federal Capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, unless we have an inherent right to select the capital by our own will. That is a question of serious importance which I hope will never have to be considered. I hope that those who have this matter at heart will rest satisfied that the Government will loyally regard, the decision of this Parliament -
That was the decision to select Dalgety - unless it is rescinded, and so far as I am concerned any attempt to rescind it will meet with my strongest opposition.
We do not need to appeal to representatives of Victoria as to what was the effect of the Act of 1904. The honorable member for Parramatta may say what he likes on the subject.
– How did Sir George Reid vote on the last occasion ?
– I do not care how he voted. He was an adept at the “ Yes-No” business, …. but on this occasion he was speaking as the Prime “Minister of Australia.
– The whole matter was subsequently reopened.
– It was, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro then made this quotation from Mr. Reid’s speech. He also quoted from a letter which Mr-. Dugald Thomson, as Minister of Home
Affairs in the Reid-McLean Administration, sent to the Premier of New South Wales. In that official communication we had the statement -
The Dalgety site was offered by the Government of New South Wales, and the offer was supplemented by Gasette notice, withdrawing the neighbouring land from alienation, with the object of making the acquisition easier if that site were selected for the Capital.
– Dalgety was never offered.
– As I have already said, the Southern Monaro site, which includes Dalgety, was offered and all the Crown lands within that area were reserved from alienation. Dalgety is within 20 or 30 miles of Bombala. However, this was the statement made by Mr. Dugald Thomson, when Minister of Home Affairs, in the course of an official communication to the Premier of New South Wales -
After some years of inspecting, reporting, and discussing, both Houses have, with much difficulty, reached a common decision.
Were the Parliament of the Commonwealth willing to reverse that decision, there would probably be still greater difficulty in obtaining unanimity as to another site.
The reasons given by you for excluding Dalgety seem to need some remark and correction, 1. “When first submitted to the Federal Parliament, it failed to command a single vote.”
It must be remembered that the Monaro sites - among them Dalgety - were all included with Bombala. Those of Gadara and Batlow were included with Tumut. The title meant the district, not the town, and the first choice of the district did not preclude any part of it being taken for the site.
The Parliament went to much trouble and expense in expert Commissions and visits to the sites in search of information. In the information now given by you, I see nothing that is not in one of the Commission’s reports, or the Commonwealth Parliamentary debates - except that the returns of crops in the districts are taken up to a later date than the publication of the reports. In fact, the descriptions seem copies of one or other reports.
This shows that the Commonwealth has not by its choice proposed to take some of the most productive land of the State. It may also be pointed out that the large area asked for, in excess of100 square miles, embraces mostly poor, rough, mountainous land, useful mainly to secure water supply.
We could not have any stronger statement with respect to the question of finality, the decision in favour of Dalgety being mandatory and binding on both the Commonwealth and the State of New South
Wales, than the statement made by Sir George Reid, who was opposed to the selection of the Dalgety site and had no sympathy with it.
– What else could the Reid-McLean Administration do in the circumstances? They were negotiating with the State on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I take it that Sir George Reid was not lying when he made these statements. It is rather singular that when this question was being discussed on a previous occasion there was circulated amongst honorable members a Sydney newspaper containing an article referring to the offer of these sites, in which the writer said -
Of these Tumut fails more than Dalgety to comply with the limitation of section 125 as to distance from Sydney, as . well as in other respects.
After referring to Canberra, the writer went on to say -
An effort, is being made behind the back of the State Parliament to securethe selection of a site on the Canberra area. The most meagre information has been published about it, nothing indeed to justify the choice. Like Dalgety, this place is in an isolated corner of the Commonwealth, not by any means central or equi-distant from the capitals of the respective States, and there is an effort to justify the selection as a “Compromise between Sydney and Melbourne.” But where does compromise come in ? Are these two cities the only great centres of population in the Commonwealth that all others should be discarded for their convenience, or are Victoria and New South Wales the only States in the Federal Union that are to be considered?
– What was the newspaper ?
– The Sydney Bulletin.
– No; it was an article in a newspaper circulated amongst honorable members. The writer was opposed to both Dalgety and Canberra.
– Is not his name mentioned ?
– No. I am quoting a paragraph from my own speech on the occasion in question. I did not then give the name of the newspaper, but I should have been able to give it had I known that this question was to come up for consideration this evening.
– Suppose we adjourn until to-morrow?
– That would be more reasonable than the action of the Government in keeping this discussion going, and, as one honorable member on this side has said, trying to bludgeon the proposal through.
There is no necessity for that. On a previous occasion the debate was kept going night after night until a division was taken on a night appointed. As the honorable member for Laanecoorie has said, the whole question became time after time the sport of circumstance. I venture to say that the selection of Dalgety would not have been repealed but for the illness of the honorable member for Eden- Monaro. Two honorable members in this Parliament told the honorable member, voluntarily, in my presence, that they were going to support the selection of Dalgety, yet, in his absence, they voted for another site. How the matter was worked I do not know, but this is a question that ought not to be rushed. I agree with the remarks that have been made with reference to the necessity of dealing with this subject with all possible care. My views, like those of the honorable member for Hume, ha.ve altered considerably. I am perfectly prepared, in the interests of Australia, to support an amendment of the Constitution providing that for the next ten years Sydney shall be the Seat of Government, rather than that we should at the present time commit Australia to the selection of some site which in after years may be found to be thoroughly unsuitable. It would be a pity if, after committing ourselves to a vast expenditure, the temper of the people so altered as to involve the throwing of that expenditure to the winds. Not only is it undesirable to make a definite selection at the present time, when great changes may take place in the development of Australia and the location of the population, but we are face to face with great expenditure, which will leave no money available for the purpose unless other and more necessary works suffer, or unless the Government propose to raise money by way of loan. I should be very much surprised if this Government were prepared to adopt the latter course. I do not care when this question is dealt with, so long as honorable members on both sides have an opportunity to discuss the matter. Then, whichever way the question may be decided, honorablemembers will be satisfied that it has been dealt with by this Parliament; but, if the matter is rushed through, in the absence of many, a good deal of soreness will be created.
– I feel a certain amount of regret that we have not more time to consider this extremely important question. At the same time, when I voted for the second reading of the Bill to ratify the decision of the House, I did so with a full sense of the responsibility which the vote entailed. Unless it was to be a farce and a blind, that Bill involved proceeding at a reasonable rate to the fulfilment of the measure. I do not believe in backing and filling on a question of this kind. We have heard all sorts of contradictory accounts of these proposed sites. When the matter came before the last Parliament, I, with a full sense of my responsibility to my constituency and the whole people, and exercising my judgment to the best of my ability, came to the conclusion that it was better to vote for Yass-Canberra. That vote undoubtedly did not compel us to undertake a very heavy expenditure in the actual creation of a Federal city, but, if we were acting honestly, it did bind us to proceed with preliminary work, for which, I understand, this £45,000 is required, and which, I take it, would be absolutely necessary in connexion with the establishment of any Federal capital. I shall always hold myself open to reconsider any vote or Bill passed by this House; but when we are dealing with an important matter like this, one of the very essence of the Federal bond -the choice having been made deliberately, and sanctioned by an overwhelming majority of the House - we ought to have some definite reasons brought forward, supported by reliableevidence, to show that we were wrong in our decision. I have not seen any such evidence.
– There was very good evidence here to-night.
– I shall take the honorable member’s word for it. I do not think there is any evidence as yet to warrant me in reversing the vote I gave in the last Parliament, and, for that reason, I shall support the Gpvernment.
– It would be better to postpone the consideration of this matter until to-morrow, because it is always a mistake for a Government to force through an important matter of this kind at one sitting. In any case, it is. unwise to consider the Works Estimates before we have dealt with the Budget.
– It has always been done.
– And I have always protested against the practice, for which there is no necessity. Nearly every speech delivered to-night has shown that large amounts voted from year to year remain unexpended.
– That is because the Works Estimates are usually brought down so late in the year.
– That is one reason, and it would be better if the Budget were delivered immediately Parliament meets. It has been stated that the Home Affairs Department is congested with work, so that a little delay can do no harm. It was not anticipated that this question would come on for consideration to-night ; but if anything would induce honorable members to vote for Yass-Canberra, it is some of the speeches which have been delivered against that site. I always pointed out to my own party when in office, that it was a blunder in tactics to bludgeon through a motion at one sitting, especially when that motion has come on unexpectedly. If there be a postponement until to-morrow morning we shall be in a better disposition to deal temperately with the matter, and the business of the country will really be advanced.
– As a new member I hope I may be able to express a view without running the risk of having any motives imputed to me. This question is a grave one, involving an enormous expenditure in the near future, and, in my opinion, as an Australian, the money could be devoted to better purposes. There is in contemplation a railway to cost about £4,000,000,- and the acceptance of the Northern Territory, involving a large sum, while we hear suggestions for a uniform gauge of railway, meaning an expenditure of £3,000,000 or £4.000,000 ; and each and every one of these works I consider should take priority over the creation of a Federal Capital. I do not know myself which of the sites is the best, and I do not intend to deal with that aspect of the question. I told my constituents that there were other questions to be considered before that of the Federal Capital.
– Why does the honorable member put the Federal Capital question alternatively to the others?
– I regard the others is of greater importance to the Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, we have no money to spend on a Federal Capital.
– Have we any money to give Tasmania?
– That is a different matter; if Tasmania is not entitled to any money she will not get any. We have had no explanation from the Minister as to how this £45,000 is to be spent; and yet, if we vote the money, Yass-Canberra will be recognised as the site for all time.
– There has already been an expenditure of £10,000.
– I was not a party to that expenditure, and I am not going to give my vote for any further expenditure for a Federal Capital.
– Not at this juncture, because I do not see that the Commonwealth is in need of a capital.
– It is not a question of sites with the honorable member?
– No; my contention is that this money cannot be spared just now. We are imposing severe taxation in order to build up this nation by means of railways, postal facilities, and so forth; and we require all the money for those purposes.
– When does the honorable member suggest that we shall be able to go on with the Federal Capital ?
– It all depends on the financial position of the Commonwealth. Transcontinental railways are necessary for the defence of the country. Of what use is a Federal Capital going to be? Is this chamber, or a chamber in Sydney, not good enough for us? There is no need for a new Capital city. We are not bound to carry out this provision merely because it is in the Constitution. We can all agree with the terms of section 125, and I would rather suggest that as the Government intend to submit two questions to the people by referenda in March next, they should also put to them an alteration of the Constitution with regard to this question. I would sooner see it put to the people that the Seat of Government should be in Sydney.
– An absolute breach of the Federal compact.
– If the people make the alteration, what has it to do with us?
– We will not have it.
– Then submit the names of all the proposed sites to the people. I understand that the area to be comprised in the Federal Territory is 900 square miles, but we have no information as to how much private property is included in that.
– The fullest information was obtained.
– It is not before the Chamber now, and new members know nothing about it. The Minister simply stated that this money is for a septic tank, or for surveying purposes. I object to a sum of £45,000 being passed hurriedly in this way. The Government could have intimated to the House yesterday that a certain sum would be wanted to create a Federal Capital, and that the matter would be brought up to-day; but we only heard of it this morning. It is the very first item that we are asked to pass. Why this hurry? What is behind the question?
– Its national importance !
– I cannot see it. I am quite prepared to vote for the passing of big amounts for the building of railways or the taking over of the Northern Territory, and therefore no one can say that I am not a Nationalist, but I cannot see why the Commonwealth should want to expend anything from£3, 000,000 to £10,000,000 in the creation of a new city when places like Melbourne and Sydney are available. If no other honorable member takes action, I shall move, in order to test the feeling of the Committee, that the item be reduced by £5.
– After I sat down previously, some remarks were passed to which I feel that I ought to reply. I stated that there was no evidence of the existence of stone in the Federal Territory to build any fair-sized buildings, even for a hamlet, and my assertion was quite correct. This Parliament has had ho intimation as to stone of commercial value for use in the building of the Capital being available there. I have been informed by one of the officials that during the last two months granite has been discovered on the other side of the Murrumbidgee, but no information has been given to the House on that subject. The honorable member for Parkes talked about marble, but we have no evidence of its existence there. My objection to this site is that all building stone would have to be brought from a great distance, and marbleis not accessible evento theextent of the granite that has been discovered. They are now exploring for lime, but so far have discovered none, so that what I said before is quite correct. I do not know where the honorable member for Parkes got his information about the marble: The honorable member for Illawarra, while Minister of Home Affairs, had no evidence of the existence near the Capital area of stone to any extent fit for building.
– The granite recently discovered is magnificent stone. It is within the Federal Territory.
– That information has never been given to the House. Several honorable members have endeavoured to misinform the Committee as to the water possibilities of the site. When Senator McDougall fell into the Murrumbidgee, the Sydney papers, and even honorable members of this House, tried to make it appear that he had fallen into the Cotter, and that there was 14 feet of water in the place where we said there was no water. I do not suppose the honorable member for Illawarra will say that the water from the Murrumbidgee, near the Capital site, can be used for power or domestic purposes.
– There has never been any idea of using or necessity to use it.
– The honorable member for Lang and others tried to make it appear, by questions put to the Minister of Home Affairs, and by speaking, that there was so much water in the Cotter to be used for purposes for which we said no water was available. The punt out of which the honorable senator fell appears to be somewhat of a trap. It was covered with mud when I stepped into it, and I also was near taking an unwilling bath in the Murrumbidgee. It must have been greased again for . the visit of Senator McDougall. I am told by the honorable member for Cook that there is more water available for a supply at Yass-Canberra than near Melbourne, where, I suppose, we. have one of the finest gravitation water schemes in Australia.
– There is more water flowing in the Cotter River to-day than there, is flowing into the Yan Yean Reservoir.
– The honorable member for Illawarra will bear me out when I say that a pumping scheme will be required to provide a water supply for the proposed Federal Capital.
– No, not necessarily.
– The honorable gentleman mustknowthat noother scheme has been suggested. To adopt any other scheme would render it necessary to go away from Canberra 30 miles, into the interior, and it will be admitted that to bring water from a long distance is inadvisable for many reasons. It is admitted by every one that the Cotter supply would be quite insufficient to supply the power that would be required for industries in an ordinary town, to say nothing of the development of a Federal area. The honorable member for Calare said that one of the reasons for the selection of a Federal Capital south of Sydney was the great antagonism shown to the Commonwealth Parliament by the authorities of New South Wales. We have plenty of evidence to show that no New South Wales Government, whether composed of those who hold office in that State now, or of Labour men, can be trusted not to retard the development of Federal territory in the interests of their State. Many Labour members of the New South Wales Parliament, in what they have believed to be the interests of their State, have shown as much provincialism and narrowmindedness as have the members of any other party in that State. I say that before the Commonwealth Government proceed a step further to bring into existence a Federal Capital at the site now provided, they should have the obligations of the New South Wales Government in connexion with the matter plainly set out in black and white. When the Prime Minister recently endeavoured to have a certain arrangement made with the New South Wales Government, he was asked why it was necessary that the matter should be settled prior to the issue of a certain proclamation. The answer was that it was not exactly necessary, but that it would be as well to make sure beforehand. I advise this House to make sure beforehand in every case in which it is dealing with a New South Wales Government.
– That is very unfair to the New South Wales Government; they have acted most liberally in this matter.
– We have evidence that New South Wales politicians, who are for the most part Sydney politicians, are prepared to do anything that will retard the advancement of the Commonwealth if to do so will, in their opinion, be in the interests, not merely of New South Wales, but of Sydney. Only recently the present Premier of the State made the announcement that in future the practice of centralizing everything in Sydney was to be departed from. That was an admission that it had been the practice of the past in that State. I would not trust any body of men who, in the past, have so carried out the development of the State as to centre everything in Sydney. I can ask the Leader of the Opposition, as well as the Prime Minister, to say whether any sense of fairness has been displayed by a New
South Wales Government in their dealings with the Commonwealth Government in the past. Has not every Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, in approaching the Premier of New South Wales with a view to a mutual arrangement, been repulsed?
– I can appeal to the honorable gentleman’s leader, the honorable member for Ballarat, to say whether he has not always contended that, in approaching a New South Wales Government; it was useless to expect them to display any feeling of amity towards the Commonwealth. We know that the New South Wales Government have influenced the Governments in a majority of the States to adopt a similar attitude towards the Commonwealth Parliament. When, in dealing with the subject of immigration, or any other matter, an endeavour has been made to bring about a mutual arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth, the approaches of the Commonwealth Government have been so met by the Government of New South Pales that no man with any self-respect fould care to approach them again. It is evident to me that this will be the last opportunity we shall have to prevent the commission of the greatest crime that could be perpetrated upon the people of Australia. Honorable members and the Leaders on both sides have found that we cannot trust the New South Wales Government. How can we now be asked to accept the word of the New South Wales Government when they have not in the past been bound by an Act of Parliament? The honorable member for Gippsland proved conclusively that a New South Wales’ representative, when at the head of the Commonwealth Government for a term of ten or eleven months, accepted Dalgety without question as the site of the Capital city. The Carruthers and Wade Governments in New South Wales refused to hand over territory to enable the decision of this Parliament to be given effect, and we found honorable members of this House acting in this chamber as an echo of the Carruthers Government, and daring the Government of the Commonwealth to drive a peg in the place selected by this Parliament for the Federal Capital. When the site selected was not that of which they approved, they fought the matter to the bitter end, and brought about the selectionof another site in that portion of New South Wales where the Government of the State wished the Federal Capital to be located. The politicians here have grovelled to the Premier of New South Wales and the State authorities, obeying their demands to the letter, without regarding the effect on the interests of Australia. I protest against what is being done to-day. We are being treated unjustly. The Government would not dare to act towards the Opposition as it is acting towards its followers. Had this been a proposal to which the honorable member for Parramatta was opposed, he would have had a great deal to say about the manner in which it has been brought forward.
– And Ministers would have given way to him.
– Yes, as they have already done on half-a-dozen occasions this session. Ministers are making the biggest mistake that they have ever made in forcing loyal supporters to take a stand such as I am now taking. I do not wish to pose as a prophet or to use a threat, but I say that Ministers and those behind them are doing something which the movement to which we and those who sent us here belong will always regret. I make the assertion with the full knowledge of what it means. They had better be careful in the future not to try to bludgeon their supporters in a way in which they would not dare to treat the Opposition. Their conduct has caused a sore which will rankle. Are we men of flesh and blood to be treated in this manner ? I tell the Prime Minister that many more occurrences of this kind will not be in the interests of the party to which he and I belong.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has over-reached himself. He has made statements which were utterly unjustifiable, and which he had to withdraw to a certain extent.
– I did not withdraw them. 1 said that we had no information, and that is the position.
– The honorable member went out of his way to make an uncalled-for attack on the Government of New South Wales . I was Minister-of -Home Affairs - when negotiations took place between this Government and the New South Wales Government in connexion with the granting of territory for the Federal Capital. The Constitution says that the Federal Capital area shall not be less than 100 square miles. Would any sane person say that a court of law would interpret that to mean 900 square miles ? Yet when we asked the New South Wales Government for 900 square miles, and full rights respecting water in regard to another area of 650 square miles, it unselfishly granted both requests.
– Because Ministers favoured the adoption of the site which had been chosen.
– That is so. Ministers and their supporters and the State Opposition, whose members belong to the party to which the honorable member belongs, were unanimously of opinion that Yass-Canberra was the best site available. Furthermore, the New South Wales Government conceded to us the right to make a railway from the Capital site to Jervis Bay, a distance of 90 miles as the crow flies, and of about 120 miles by the route which will have to be followed, and at Jervis Bay, one of the finest ports in Australia, gave to the Commonwealth 2 square miles of territory for wharfage purposes.
– Jervis Bay is practically a suburb of Sydney.
– The honorable member is talking nonsense. He is repeating what has appeared in the Age, morning after morning, for the last ten years. lt is a pity that he cannot abandon his parochial views, and deal with a national question in a national spirit. The Government of New South Wales met us fairly and honestly, and should receive the thanks of every elector in Australia. The provision in the Constitution requiring the Federal Capital to be in New South Wales is the expression of a compact between that State and the other five States of the Union, and if anything is done now to upset the arrangement which has been made, it will be an act of absolute injustice. I do not consider the matter merely from the State point of view. I think that in the interests of the Commonwealth we should have our own Seat of Government, and I am glad that Ministers are determined that effect shall be given lo the arrangement at the earliest moment.
– The honorable member who has just spoken is very keen in his desire 10 have the Seat of Government established at Yass-Canberra’,- and- he was equally keenabout getting this Parliament to reverse its decision in favour of Dalgety. After the latter site had been chosen there was nothing but wire-pulling indulged in with a view to getting that decision revoked. Now the supporters of Yass-Canberra are breaking their necks to have the Seat of Government established there. The Government might to be very proud of their supporters upon this occasion. The Government Whip has practically nothing to do, because all the whipping is being done for him by members of the Opposition.
– Does the honorable member wish this matter to be determined on a party vote?
– Then to what does the honorable member object?
– I merely say that the Government ought to be proud of their supporters on the present occasion. It is unfair for the Ministry to attempt, without notice, to push this matter through by means of an all-night sitting. Not a word was uttered yesterday to indicate that that was the intention of the Government. The statement published in the newspapers was that the Budget would be delivered this morning, and that afterwards the consideration of the Land Tax Assessment Bill would be proceeded with.
– An arrangement was made. Let the honorable member ask the Leader of the Opposition if that is not so.
– At any rate, it is unfair to push an important question like this through when there is ample other business with which to proceed- Why not make the question of the Federal Capital a separate one, and take a referendum upon it? The supporters of Yass-Canberra know perfectly well that if a’ referendum were taken upon it, the people of Australia would send that site as high as a kite. They dare not afford the electors an opportunity of voting upon it.
– What do the people of Australia know of the merits of that or of any other site?
– What did they know of the merits of the Financial Agreement which was submitted to them? I venture to say that they know quite, enough to discard the Yass-Canberra site if they were afforded an opportunity of doing so.
– What does the honorable member say to a proposal to adjourn?
– I am very anxious that “ should adjourn, and that the Government shoul afford us an opportunity of further considering this important matter.
Mr. J. H. CATTS (Cook) (,11.34].- The Government are to be congratulated upon having placed a sum of money on the Estimates to give effect to the decision of the last Parliament in respect of the Federal Capital site.
– This is another Nationalist.
– Of course, I re.gard the “ gag “ about the national view of this matter as so much hypocrisy. As a matter of fact what troubles the people of Melbourne is that they may lose about £200,000, which is annually being paid away in this city in connexion with the various Federal Departments. Honorable members who have to attend here during the session must also spend a portion of their salaries in this city. The newspapers are naturally raising a howl because when the Seat of Government is removed to Yass-Canberra this money will be expended in that centre. They realize that the change will detrimentally affect their advertising clientele and their business in Melbourne. That is about “all the national spirit that is being exhibited in this matter. Honorable members who are opposing the establishment of the Seat of Government at Yass-Canberra are chiefly the representatives of Melbourne and border constituencies. They wish to see a site selected near Albury in order that land values i« that neighbourhood may be improved. They have used this gag for electioneering purposes. The latter have told the farmers that they will fight for the establishment of the Federal Capital in a particular locality, and consequently they have to come here and make a fuss.
When I spoke upon this question upon a former occasion I admitted that I was very sorry that a bargain had been entered into with New South Wales prior to the establishment of the Federation ; but seeing that a bargain had been made, and that the residents of Sydney had voted for the Constitution Bill because they expected to derive material benefits from that bargain, I felt bound to stand by it. It was a very sordid bargain to enter into, but, nevertheless, effect must be given to it.
I cannot understand why so much heat should be displayed by honorable members upon the Government side of the House. This is not a platform matter.
– Why should it be bludgeoned through in this way ?
– There is no bludgeoning about it. Every member of the Labour party is absolutely free to vote upon it as he chooses. If I entertained a different opinion from that which is entertained by the Government, I should exercise my undoubted right by voting against their proposal. 1 repeat that this is not a platform matter. Hence my inability to understand why so much unnecessary heat has been imported into the debate.
The honorable member for Balaclava suggested that a referendum should be taken upon this question. If we wish to convert the principle underlying the taking of a referendum into a farce, by all means let us adopt that course. What do the residents of Western Australia or of Tasmania know of the- merits of the Federal Capital site which has been chosen by this Parliament? Indeed, what do the people of New South Wales know about it? The suggestion of the honorable member is an absolutely farcical one.
– It is, when the honorable member does not like it.
– Who is making a farce of the question?
– Those who are raising a storm in a tea-cup.
We all recognise that politicians have to play the game. Some honorable members have stood up in this House for the purpose of creating a great fuss and of working up great enthusiasm, when, as a matter of fact, there has been nothing in it.
– The honorable member is a past master in that art.
– I know just about as much as do other honorable members, and it is apparent that a very nice little game is being played.
I do not agree that these Estimates should be put through to-night.
– That practice has always been followed.
– I am not finding fault with that course when circumstances warrant it.
We have had a number of discussions on this question, and finality must be reached. When Dalgety was selected as the site for the Capital, and the Deakin Government proposed to take certain action, I said that if they were prepared to -stand- -by that- -selection- -I-. was -pre= pared to stand by them, but that if they were going to throw their measure on the table and invite a general scramble, I should vote for the Yass-Canberra site. The Deakin Government simply threw their proposal at the House, and allowed honorable members to do exactly as they liked. As the whole question was re-opened, I voted for Yass-Canberra, but surely that sort of thing cannot be allowed to go on for ever. If the question were re-opened now., and although I do not think it is possible, a fresh site were selected, and the next Parliament were to demand that the same process should be gone through, we should never make any headway.
In New South Wales there are a number of sites suitable for a Federal Capital, but in my opinion, at Yass-Canberra a first class Capital can be built. I do not know whether the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has been there or not.
– I was on the area twice, and gave it as much attention as anybody did.
– So far as a layman can form an opinion, it seems to me to be a good site. I do not believe that any persons except engineers and surveyors are really competent to express an opinion of any value on the matter, but there is not an engineer or a surveyor who would condemn Yass-Canberra in the way that some honorable members have done to-night.
It is to the credit of each Labour Government that its members have been prepared to stand together and do something towards the establishment of the Federal Capital. The matter would not be advanced so far as it is had it not been for the action of, first, the Watson Government, and second, the last Fisher Government. I think that the members of the present Government are to be congratulated upon sinking any differences of opinion which they had on this question, and carrying out the decision of the last Parliament.
– And rushing the thing through.
– There is no question of rushing. The question has been discussed here ad nauseam. The honorable member appears to think that whenever a new Parliament is elected every new member should discuss the question over and over again.
– He has the right to do so.
– I understand that the -honorable “member” has “ exercised’ his right pretty freely.
– I intend to exercise it again.
– I hope that the honorable member will exercise his right until he has said enough. I am prepared to sit here until he is finished. I cannot see why any heat should be aroused. Let those who have made a promise to their constituents vote in accordance therewith. It is not a platform matter, or a question of Labour policy, and therefore every honorable member has the right to exercise his judgment as he thinks best.
– - I think that the discussion might well be adjourned at this hour. I am extremely sorry to be a party to depriving many honorable members of their peaceful slumbers. At one time I used to get to bed before midnight, but unfortunately my recent experiences have not been in that direction. I know that a number of honorable members wish to speak. If the Government persist in continuing the discussion, I presume that every one of those honorable members will exercise his privilege of speaking more than once in Committee. I suggest to the Government and those who have pushed this matter so far, that they might now agree to an adjournment and allow us to catch our last trams. If I miss my last train, the next one will not start until ten minutes past 5 to-morrow morning. I presume that I may as well put in the time here.
– Is the honorable member in order, sir, in deliberately threatening to “stone- wall” the proceedings?
– I did not understand the honorable member to threaten to “ stone-wall “ the proceedings.
– Yes, he did, sir. He said that he would speak until 5 o’clock in the morning.
– The honorable member for Parramatta seems to have the unhappy faculty qf rising to a point of order whenever anything is not according to his wish. On several occasions the other night he rose to a question of order when the honorable member for Cook was speaking, and spoilt the thread of his argument. I have had no time to prepare a speech on this question. It has been sprung upon me, and now an attempt is made to bludgeon it through. I presume that we shall have to submit to characteristic Scotch doggedness. It is certainly a question on which I am asked to vote in the dark, which I never like to do. As soon as we arrived this morning, the messengers started to place in our hands a very important document, from which we learned that it was intended to expend large, sums of public money in this and other directions. I can quite understand the reason why that course was taken. I recognise that it was not desirable to allow the information to be divulged to the public before it was made known to the House.
– That is the usual course.
– There may be nothing unusual in it to the old parliamentary hand ; but I think that if the honorable member were not imbued with the idea of having the Federal Capital established at Y ass-Canberra, we should find him engaged in setting up a “ stone- wall “ on the other side of the Chamber. It seems to me that the whip that has been cracked on this occasion is that of Mr. Wade. That gentleman is prepared to do almost anything to get the Federal Capital established at Canberra. I do not appear here as an advocate for either Dalgety or YassCanberra, but I observe from the evidence which I have been reading that those who have reported on Yass-Canberra did not originally use very complimentary language concerning it. Mr. Scrivener on the first occasion reported very adversely. It is true that, later on, acting in conjunction with other gentlemen, he signed a document in which he practically contradicted his earlier report. But when a man is prepared to swallow his own recommendations, one is very suspicious. I make no charge against any particular official, because I recognise that public- officers are not here to defend themselves. But it strikes me as being very peculiar indeed that an officer should report on one occasion in an emphatic fashion in one direction, and should afterwards sign another report containing a paragraph expressing opinions in the opposite direction. One of the most important aspects of the question affects the water supply to be obtained from the Cotter River. I have before me a report in which it is stated that some of the land suitable and desirable for building purposes at Canberra has an altitude considerably over 2,000 feet. I understand that all engineers who have reported on the watersupply concerns have unanimously condemned pumping schemes. It is eminently desirable that, at the Federal Capital, we should have a gravitation supply. lt would be the height of absurdity to attempt to supply the Capital by means of a pumping scheme.
– What does the latter part of the report to which the honorable member has been alluding say on that subject?
– If the latter part of the report contradicts the former part of it, that goes to support my statement that an officer in one set of circumstances is prepared to furnish one kind of report, and, in another set of circumstances, to furnish a report of a different character. I am always inclined to discount the testimony of a man who is constantly contradicting himself. When interrupted I was pointing out the benefits of a gravitation as opposed to a pumping scheme, and I would remind honorable members that there are in New South Wales many fine streams flanked by fertile country where it would be desirable to establish the Capital. But instead of availing ourselves of the great advantages which a kindly Providence has showered upon this country, we are simply proposing to gratify the parochial feelings of a very small section of the people of New South Wales by establishing the Capital at YassCanberra. The honorable member for Hume, in his plain, unvarnished tale of the advantages of the Tooma site, certainly opened my eyes, and I am pleading now for an opportunity to be extended to some of my brother members and myself to visit the Yass-Canberra site. According to the report to which I have been referring, some of the buildings in the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra will be erected at a higher altitude than that of the source of water supply, so that, as I have explained, pumping will have to be resorted to. That is a most unscientific system. In level country such as we find in the Wimmera district there is no other course to adopt ; but it is ridiculous to talk about a pumping scheme to supply the Federal Capital when in a district adjacent to Yass-Canberra there is an abundance of clear water flowing downa mountain side which could be supplied by a gravitation scheme. If, as this report shows, the source of our water supply at Yass-Canberra will be at an altitude of 2,000 feet, and it will be requisite to carry water in some parts of the Capital at an altitude of 2,400 feet, a pumping scheme is inevitable. Many of our progressive farmers have set us ah example by the way” in which they have provided for raising water from bores into tanks, from which they are able to reticulate their homesteads, and there can be no doubt that in connexion with the Federal Capital we should have a gravitation scheme, for that is certainly the most advantageous. I wish to see a model city with a model water supply.
We are told in one report that the service reservoir should be at a level of 2,250 feet, in order to provide a reasonable head, and that to deliver water to such an elevation from the CotterRiver by gravitation, the weir on that river would need to be at a level of 2,400 feet, allowing 150 feet fall in the pipe line from the weir to the service reservoir. This allowance, it is said, is none too great, and to reach an elevation of 2,400 feet on the Cotter, the pipe line and aqueduct must be longer than 30 miles. A gravitation scheme, even at twice the cost of a pumping scheme, is the better, because, with the latter, there is always the wear and tear of machinery, with uncertainty of supply. If we decide on this site, I believe that in future years leading men from other parts of the world, no matter how magnificent the buildings may be, or how beautiful in other respects the city, will laugh at our ideas of an adequate water supply. Then, again, we have to consider the question of building material. We have been told by the honorable member for Parkes that many vaxieties of marble have been discovered in the vicinity ; but we must remember that the extent of the quarries has yet to be proved. The stone, if of an entirely new character, has, of course, never been tested ; and, although it may appear all right to the eye, it may prove altogether unsuitable for building purposes. We have all seen stone of that description ; and I am told that the material at Yass-Canberra is scarcely fit for road metal, owing to its liability to crumble under any pressure. We find honorable senators in another place denouncing this site as altogether unsuitable for national purposes ; and, under all the circumstances, I am quite prepared to agree with others in the idea that it would be better to make the Seat of Government for a term of years in Sydney, Brisbane, or Adelaide. I care not which city may be selected, because, as I said before, I am not a parochialist, but, I hope, a Nationalist. I believe that we are being asked to-night to hurriedly make a selection which we shall repent later. That is why I have been asking for either an adjournment of this debate or a postponement of the settlement of the question. I have always been opposed to centralization, and I am sure honorable members will agree that in the great cities of Sydney and Melbourne’ we have too great a centralization of our population. I believe that it will be possible to select within the boundaries of the State of New South Wales a site for the Federal Capital which would not be dominated by either Sydney or Melbourne. I Sup PAC that for many years Sydney will continue to be the commercial centre of one portion of Australia, and Melbourne the commercial centre of another, and in the interests of decentralization I contend that it would be wise to take further time to consider this matter. It is, in my opinion, quite unfair to ask the seventeen new members of this House, who have not yet had an opportunity to visit the site, to make a declaration either for or against it in dealing with these Estimates. I frankly admit that in voting against Yass-Canberra, as I intend to do on this occasion, I shall be giving a vote in the dark.
– The least the Government could have done was to have set apart a day for a discussion of the question.
– I thought it was generally understood that, after due notice, a particular day would be set apart for the discussion of the matter. I believe that but for the inclusion of one or two items in the schedule before us these Estimates would have been agreed to almost on the voices. It is unreasonable that we should be unexpectedly asked to discuss this matter in dealing with a schedule of Estimates for new works and buildings. However, I have endeavoured to do my duty, and I shall use all legitimate opportunities to prevent the expenditure of money on an undesirable site.
– I do not wish to cast a silent vote, because I think it my duty to protest against the manner in which these proposals have been rushed forward, and to make my position clear to my constituents. When submitting myself for election, I said that on the information I then possessed I should vote against the Yass-Canberra site, but I promised to take the first opportunity to visit the various sites, and to use my own judgment respecting them. I object to the expenditure of £45,000 on a site which I consider unsuitable. The new members, who comprise such a large section of the House, should be given an opportunity to visit the sites.
We have been told that we wish to repudiate what the last Parliament did, but almost all legislation is the repudiation of past measures. Without repudiation we should have to stand still. Honorable members opposite who have raised the cry of repudiation would be the first to repu- diate the Land Tax Act, the Australian Notes Act, and almost every other measure passed by this Government if they were ever fortunate enough to return to power.. I admit that we must have finality at some time. But there -are special circumstances surrounding the selection of a Capital site.
– It was reopened by the last Parliament in order to secure finality.
– The history of this matter is not creditable to past Parliaments, nor has the discussion to-night been creditable to the Committee. I shall not make charges against the Government, because it must administer our Acts. But expenditure such as is proposed should not be voted for until the new members have had an opportunity to view the sites. Parliament selected a site in 1904, which a subsequent Parliament set aside in favour of another site. In the first ballot Canberra received only one vote. But by methods described by honorable members who were here at the time, a majority was subsequently obtained for the Yass-Canberra site. There has been” a larger change in the personnel of this House than has been the result of any previous general election. That is a strong reason for asking for the re-opening of the question.
Some honorable members have stated that they are Nationalists, and that others are Parochialists, Victorian representatives having been charged with advocating a change in the interests of Melbourne, and New South Wales representatives with opposing a change in the interests of Sydney. I give honorable members generally credit for honesty, and do not subscribe to the remark of the honorable member for Cook that we are “ playing the game.” I do not intend to “ play the game “ in regard to any vote which I may give. But with the information in my possession I cannot conscientiously vote for the expenditure of £1 on the YassCanberra site. After I have visited the sites I may be able to support the Government’s proposals. I certainly do not wish the Parliament to meet in Melbourne indefinitely, because I feel that if we select a proper site and govern it properly it will be self-supporting, and should return re-, venue to the Commonwealth. What need is there to hurry?
– The Works and Buildings Estimates have always been passed on the night following their introduction.
– The Government know that there is a strong feeling in favour of re-opening the Capital. Site question; and the items to which we take objection provide for expenditure which is entirely new.
– We have already spent money on the site.
– Money should not have been spent on it. In any case, it is better to lose what has been spent than to spend more. If the Yass-Canberra site be an unsuitable one, it is better that the Commonwealth should lose the money which has already been expended upon it than that the Seat of Government should be permanently located there. I did not rise for the purpose of “ stone- walling, “ but I felt that I could not cast a silent vote upon this question. I make no charge against the Government, and I regret that I shall be compelled on this occasion to vote in opposition to them. The whip has not been cracked over my head, nor, so far as I am aware, over the heads of any honorable members on this side of the Chamber. Consequently, the vote which I intend to register will prove to my constituents that when some of my opponents declared that I would be ruled by the caucus, the statement did not convey the truth. I shall vote against this item because I cannot conscientiously support the expenditure of money upon a site of which I have no personal knowledge.
– I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have no intention of “ stone- walling’ ‘ these Estimates by talking out of sheer cussedness. It is true that this is the second occasion upon which I have addressed the Committee this evening, but honorable members will remember that I rose a second time only after they had missed their last trains. I wish to make a final appeal to the Government, even at this late stage, to consent to the consideration of this particular item being postponed. As a new member of this Chamber, and one who has had no opportunity of inspecting the YassCanberra site, I contend that I am being subjected to treatment to which I should not -be -subjected -it- is- -unfair-.- When- I- previously addressed the Committee upon this question, I entertained some misgivings as to whether the passing of the item under consideration would commit us to the establishment of the Seat of Government at YassCanberra. But from the speeches which have since been delivered by Government supporters, I gather that there is no doubt that it will. There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. So far, the Committee has been exclusively engaged in the consideration of this one item. I venture to say that there is not a single honorable member upon either side of the Chamber who has devoted a moment’s consideration to any other item upon these Estimates. I do not think it is reasonable to expect honorable members to vote for the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, seeing that they have not been afforded an opportunity of devoting their attention to any item other than that with which we are now dealing. I am merely speaking in order to satisfy my own conscience, and to assure the electors of my constituency that I will not vote for the expenditure of money upon a matter on which I have not had sufficient information supplied to me.
– The honorable member cannot expect to be afforded an op,portunity of paying a visit of inspection in: connexion with every item on the Estimateswhich we may be asked to authorize.
– But this, item is very different from any other.
– Votes in connexion’ with the Federal Capital will be coming, forward for several years.
– But this Parliament differs from any other Parliament -. -
– We .know that, to our sorrow.
– I believe that the honorable member is not unconscious of the fact that the result of the. general election prior to the last general election was in some little degree influenced by considerations relating to the Federal Capital site. We cannot deny that the votes recorded by the people at the last election had some reference to that question. I wish now to direct the attention of the Committee to certain figures which were compiled by an honorable member upon the opposite side of the Chamber during the last Parliament, with a view to showing how the elections of six years ago were inflfluenced by itv Taking- the-number -of votes polled by each member who supported either Dalgety or Yass-Canberra as indicative of the feeling of the electors upon this question, what is the position? In Victoria, 46,768 votes were cast for Yass-Canberra, and 142,574 for Dalgety ; in New South Wales, 196,136 votes were cast for Yass-Canberra, and 20,370 for
Dalgety; in Queensland, 32,609 votes were cast for Yass-Canberra, and 39,030 votes for Dalgety ; in South Australia, 12,080 votes were cast for Yass-Canberra, and 38,000 for Dalgety ; and in Tasmania, 10,400 votes were cast for YassCanberra, and 10,040 for Dalgety, showing a considerable majority against YassCanberra. New South Wales was the only State which could muster a majority for Yass-Canberra. The honorable member for Maribyrnong and others have referred to the influence which the Premier of New South Wales has exercised in this matter, and their remarks have not found much favour with honorable members occupying the Opposition benches. I think that Mr. Wade has practically settled where the Federal Capital is to be established, and how much territory is to be allotted to the Commonwealth. He has also decided that the Commonwealth shall be allotted a strip of land to high-water mark at Jervis Bay. Apparently the whole idea is to make the Federal Capital a suburb of Sydney. I regret to find some honorable members on this side actuated by most parochial ideas. If a man is accused of anything, he sometimes endeavours to get out of it by making a similar accusation against his accuser. When I hear the honorable member for Parramatta accusing those who have spoken against YassCanberra of being parochialists, I cannot help thinking that he is trying to throw dust in the eyes of his constituents or the people of this country. How can that charge be made against any one who has spoken against Yass-Canberra from this side ? At the elections, with me, it was not a question as to whether the site should be at Dalgety or at Yass-Canberra. I said that I was against the latter place, because I had taken the trouble to go through the various reports, and that my opinion was backed up by the testimony of men who had lived in the locality for a number of years. A reliable man, who lived near Canberra for fifteen years, and whom I know very well, described the site to me as a dip surrounded by hills, and measuring about 5 miles wide by 7 miles long. He said that the members of this Parliament would find, when they took their wives and families to Canberra, that even if the population did not increase beyond that point, there would not be enough water for the Monday’s washing. He said that at times he had seen the Cotter River quite dry.
– His statement is contradicted by a man who has lived there for fifty years.
– The assertion that honorable members on this side who have spoken against Yass-Canberra desire to have the Seat of Government retained at Melbourne goes by the board. At the elections I said that with me it was not a matter of Yass-Canberra versus Dalgety, but a matter of Yass-Canberra versus the best possible site in the interests of the whole people. J regret that a constitutional restriction was placed in the way of establishing the Capital in the best position in any part of the Commonwealth. From the very inception of Federation there has been a feeling of parochialism actuating those who come from New South Wales, simply owing to a great blot in our Constitution, under which special concessions were made to New South Wales. I should like to see the Capital established at such a place as would best serve the requirements of the whole people of the Commonwealth, whether it was at Perth, or Brisbane, cr Hobart, or even in the Northern Territory.
– Would the honorable member’s electorate furnish a good place?
– It “contains some places which would be infinitely better than Canberra. In my opinion either Albury or Tooma would be infinitely better than Yass-Canberra or Dalgety. It is interesting to consider the conditions which it was thought necessary to impose when the Capital site was first chosen. First of all, it was insisted that the place must not be less than 100 miles from Sydney; and, secondly, it was considered requisite to have an adequate water supply. Yass-Canberra is suitable enough in respect to the first condition ; but as to the second, can any honorable member give us an assurance that the chosen area possesses an adequate water supply? How is it that Mr. Scrivener in his first report distinctly condemned the site on that ground ? It is a noteworthy fact that as soon as Mr. Scrivener furnished his report, he was quietly put into .the background, and others were appointed to report until the New South Wales Government secured a verdict which was more congenial to them. Then, again, it was first contended that there was plenty of water in the Cotter River. But since then the New South Wales Government have themselves almost repudiated that statement by dragging in four or five other rivers to satisfy the requirements of the country. I do not wish to say much more, but I must enter my protest against the manner in which thissubject has been foisted upon us to-day. I do not think that we have been treated fairly. I do not desire to embarrass the Government in any way, but I consider it to be my duty to my constituents not to give a vote on this or any other question, especially one involving the expenditure of public money, unless I am thoroughly conversant with what is proposed. We are now asked to vote entirely in the dark. I appeal to the Government in the interests of fair play to postpone the consideration of the subject for a certain time. It is strange that honorable members opposite who are so anxious to get this matter hurried on are the very people who a few days ago were urging that the Government were rushing through their land tax proposals, although, as a matter of fact, those proposals had been before the electorsfor the last quarter of a century. Those very members are now endeavouring to push through this Bill without a reasonable opportunity being afforded to new members to make up their minds as to whether what is proposed is just and fair to the country. As a young member, I deeply regret having to assume this attitude. I wish to follow the Government in every way. But in return, I consider that the Government might have accorded to us a little consideration. I believe that the honorable member for Parramatta has referred to the mandate which our party received from the people. I may tell him that, in my opinion, the votes that I secured at the last election were greatly influenced by the attitude I took up on the Capital site question. I firmly believe that the majority of the people of this country are entirely against the establishment of the capital at Yass-Canberra. Unfortunately, many of the New South Wales representatives can see nothing else on the map but their own little State. The “ Ma State “ has been badly spoilt by the people of the whole Commonwealth.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member - who ought, as one of the instructors of Australia, to know better - in order in using language of this kind ? He has actually called New South Wales the “ Ma State,” whatever that means. I insist that he shall withdraw the term and apologize for using it.
– The honorable member for Parramatta surely is not serious.
– The honorable member must be dreaming; he cannot be serious. When I refer to the “ Ma “ State, I have in mind something that is matronly and requiring matronly representatives. The “ Ma “ State has been sadly spoilt by the Commonwealth, which, from the very outset, has given her all her own way.
– She is giving Victoria £100,000 of revenue this year.
– It is about time that she gave something in return for the concessions that have been made to her. I have not, however, a word to say against New South Wales. I view that State - precisely as I do Victoria - as part of the Commonwealth, just as the Northern Territory is, and I should regret to say a word against any part of the Union. We should think in continents instead of in back yards, as some of the representatives of New South Wales do. They do not appear to realize that the sun shines anywhere save in that State. I am afraid that the sun will be shining before we conclude this sitting, but I do not begrudge the time given to the consideration of a question of such great national moment. I wish to satisfy my conscience that I am doing what is right in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. We have yet some Nationalists in this Parliament, and I hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will re-consider their decision, agree to the postponement of this item, and give the new members an opportunity to visit the proposed site before we are asked to committhem selves to its selection.
– I have had an opportunity to address myself to the Federal Capital site question on more than one occasion, but I cannot vote in this division without explaining why I intend to join with those who favour delay, in order that the matter may be properly discussed relatively to its great national importance. Thereasons that have been put forward in favour of setting apart a day for the discussion of the Capital site question are unanswerable, and I “regret” thatthePrime Minister hasnot taken the view that he might reasonably have been expected to take. It is certainly right that new members should have an opportunity to express an opinion on the main nuestion. I do not intend to traverse the selection of the site, except to say that I voted consistently in favour of Dalgety. I had at the time several objections to
Yass-Canberra, although I believe that later reports have proved that the possibility of water supply for domestic purposes are better than they were supposed, in the first instance, to be. There is, however, the serious objection that a pumping scheme would have to be resorted to, and that a number of streams would have to be drawn upon to obtain the requisite supply. There is also the fatal objection that YassCanberra has not a water supply sufficient for the generation of the electrical power that will be required. We cannot be unconscious of the fact that the voting of this item of £45,000 means voting for the building of the Federal Capital. The reasons put forward during this debate by many honorable members, and more particularly by the honorable member for Bass, who urged that since we had to carry out many important works to bring about that great national development which is absolutely necessary to the future safety of the Continent, we should hesitate to embark upon the tremendous expenditure which the establishment of the Capital will involve, are certainly worthy of great consideration. I have always been in favour of honouring the bond of the Constitution. There has been a great deal of talk of the provincialism and want of a national spirit shown by representatives of Victoria. If any provincialism has been introduced in the discussion of the Capital site question, it has been due to the attitude of representatives of New South Wales in the Federal Convention, and afterwards at the Premiers’ Conference, in forcing this question into the Constitution itself. It had no right to appear there, and the result of the insertion of the provision in the Constitution in regard to the Federal Capital has been to hamper the discussion of the whole question. There is no reference to it in the original Convention Bill, as submitted to the people, and it was .the insertion in the Constitution of the provision that the Capital should be in New South Wales that brought about the parochialism that has disfigured our debates on this question. I have not heard any great preference expressed by the people of Victoria for the retention of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne. As a matter of fact, I do not think they are much concerned in the matter, but are prepared to have the Seat of Government at the most convenient centre. There is great force in the argument of the honorable member for Parkes in favour of establishing the Capital sufficiently dis- : tant from any of the great cities to> be outside its immediate influence j but that can scarcely he regarded as an argument for the present site, which is only 190 odd miles from Sydney, or within a train journey of four or five hours. I can scarcely hope to influence the Prime Minister, seeing that honorable members oi> his own side have been unsuccessful ; but 1 do suggest that a day ought to be set apart for the discussion of this question. The Government are. no doubt, fully alive to their responsibilities, but, before they embark on the new policy of actually building the Capital, there ought to be another opportunity for discussion here. It wasnecessary to select the site in order to comply with the Constitution, but it is not. necessary to build the Capital now. Since we have the power and wisdom to legislate in the interests of the people of Australia,, we should not be forced to carry out thiscondition of the Constitution during the first nine or ten years of our parliamentary existence. As a matter of fact, we have already made great strides towards the settlement of this question ; and we ought to be allowed to commence the building of the city when the interestsof the country the finances permit. I have heard the Prime Minister, as a private member, discuss this question with considerable breadth and statesmanlike ability ; and, in my own opinion, we ought to bear in mind, when dealing with this matter, the conditions that are likely to prevail a hundred years hence, and, in the meantime, pay every attention to really developmental work.
– If the Government had not made this provision in the Estimates, they would have been criticised for the omission.
– I do not say that the Government should not have placed a sum on the Estimates for the purpose of completing the work of taking over the territory; but, if we vote this £45,000, we shall be committed to the immediate building of the city, involving an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is not a matter to be dealt with merely as part of the annual works Estimates, but it demands calm and dispassionate discussion.
– It is quite evident that a great number . of honorable members areunder a painful misapprehension of the position. The site has been selected by this Parliament.
– Not by this Parliament !
– By the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The preliminaries have been settled as between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales. Since the present Commonwealth Government took office, communications have been continued, and, in every one of the communications we have been committed to the Yass-Canberra site. On no less than twenty occasions in this House the Government have intimated that, while they are desirous to arrange some preliminaries for the protection of Commonwealth interests, they will in no circumstances set aside or in any respect abrogate the decision of this Parliament. Work has been going on at the Capital site, and money has been spent, and will continue *o be spent. The only thing necessary to complete the contract is to issue a proclamation any day the Government so desire; but the Government do not seek to shelter themselves behind the proclamation until a really utilitarian agreement has been arrived at on some subsidiary matters that were overlooked when the agreement was being drawn up; and yet the Government are told they are rushing the matter.
– Are the Government not doing so?
– With all respect, I think that honorable members who have had no experience of how the Works and Buildings Estimates are treated in this Parliament are labouring under a serious misapprehension. Threats will not influence the Government in the matter at all.
– I have a right to speak here, and I intend to exercise it.
– I am sure that no one makes any complaint on that account.
– Then why did the honorable gentleman construe what I said into a threat?
– I ask also that I may be allowed to make my statement without interruption, since I did not interrupt other honorable members. The proclamation to which I have referred, if published, would have practically” settled” the matter. The vote included in the Estimates before the Committee is a necessary, and not an excessive, vote for the preliminary work requited, even if it were only to make provision for the health of those who will have to reside at the Federal Capital site when we begin to lay out the city. In connexion with the Estimates for New Works and
Buildings, this Parliament has always been in a peculiar position. The works cannot be commenced until the Estimates are passed, and on many occasions they have been passed on the day on which their consideration was entered upon. If members of the Government have not taken a part in the discussion of the question, it has been because they had no wish unnecessarily to take up time. On the question of a visit to the site by new members of this Parliament, and the proposal to deal with the matter by referendum, let me say that this Parliament is specifically enjoined by the Constitution to select a site for the Federal Capital within New South Wales, and not less than 100 miles from Sydney. It is a constitutional, and not an electoral, mandate. Some honorable members contend that Canberra is not a suitable site; others contend that it is; others, again, that we cannot afford to spend money on the site at the present time; and. still others say that we should not, for the next fifty years, decide upon the site of the future Capital of the Commonwealth. Then there has been a further suggestion that the Commonwealth Parliament should embark upon a perambulatory existence, and should go from Melbourne to Sydney, to Brisbane, “to Hobart, to Adelaide, and to Perth. That idea is altogether impracticable, and if it is suggested that the Parliament should meet alternately in the two large cities of Sydney and Melbourne, I say that that would be a gross and wilful violation ot the provisions of the Constitution. Honorable members must say that they are in favour of the establishment of the Federal Capital at a reasonably early date or that they are not. And they must say that Canberra is a suitable place for the Capital or that it is not. In the opinion of the Government, it is a proper place in which to establish the Federal Capital. I can speak freely in the matter, because I have never voted for Canberra, and have always supported Dalgety. My difficulty now is that I find that many even of those who are opposed to Canberra, prefer that site to Dalgety. With -regard to the- -suggestion - that new members of this Parliament should have an opportunity of visiting the site, let me say that the settlement of the question has been carried too far for that. If, on every occasion, new members of the Federal Parliament are to be given an opportunity of inspecting proposed sites, this Parliament would never be able to settle the question at all. I remind honorable members that the proposed vote for preliminary expenditure, if agreed to, will do no more to finally settle the main question than has been done by the expenditure on the Canberra site up to the present time. The Government have made a choice in the matter, and while extending every courtesy to honorable members, they are bound to see that the business of the Parliament is carried on. I utter no personal note, but when honorable members complain of inconvenience, their inconvenience is not greater than mine, nor have their labours been more arduous.
.- 1 would like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs to explain the purposes for which the proposed vote for £50,000 “ towards the cost of the establishment of the Federal Capital “ is asked.
– In the first place, let me say, in answer to the honorable member, that £13,000 is required to defray the cost of surveying, y 5,000 is set down for designs ; £[4,000 is asked for the nursery in which we are to make provision for 1,000,000 trees. Then money will be required for roads and bridges that are necessary even to carry on preliminary operations. We propose the construction of a line of railway from Queanbeyan to the site.
– I may say at once that honorable members will not, by the passing of the vote, be committed to that railway.
– It is expected that £[22,000 will be required foi roads and bridges. £6,000 will be required for the acquisition of land. Something was said to-night about the erection of a Military College, but it is proposed to make use of existing buildings at the site until such time as designs are completed and a commencement is made with the erection of the permanent buildings of the Capital. I was asked a question about die lands to be acquired. The total area of the land over which the Commonwealth will have proprietary rights is 261,385 acres. We shall get that land from the Government of New South Wales. The area of the Federal territory is 576,000 acres, and the difference between that area and 261.385 acres represents the area that is freehold. We are also in negotiation to secure rights over the catchment areas of the
Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers. The New South Wales Government has met us fairly all along the line. I confess that at one time I fought strenuously for the acceptance of the Bombala site, but since I have become acquainted with the Federal territory, I acknowledge that it is a mistake to fight for a site without having full information regarding other sites. I urge honorable members to look at this question philosophically.
– The supporters of the YassCanberra site did not look at it philosophically when the Dalgety site was chosen.
– One wrong cannot be justified 6y another. It is useless to defer this matter. My desire is to get the land while it is cheap.
– We shall get it at its value at the time of the passing of the Act.
– If we are able to make our own valuations, we shall be able to put them in evidence in opposition to the statements of proprietors who are asking for high prices ; but if we cannot make valuations now, we may, years hence, have no evidence to offer in rebuttal of the statement that the land was worth, say, .£50 an acre at the time of the acquisition of the territory by the Commonwealth. For this reason I urge honorable members to settle the question to-night.
.- I shall not discuss the merits or demerits of the various Capital sites, although there are arguments for and against the acceptance of any of them. Even though YassCanberra may be the best site to be found in New South Wales, honorable members have a right to object to the manner in which the Government proposals for expenditure upon it have been brought forward to-day. Government supporters, too, must complain of the treatment which they have received from Ministers. When members of the Opposition have commented upon Government measures, one Minister after another has risen to explain the policy, and to endeavour to placate them. But the followers of the Government have not been treated in that way to-day. I object also to the bringing forward of these proposals in the Works and Buildings Estimates. To say that the last Parliament chose the YassCanberra site carries no weight with me. We are no more bound by that decision than we are bound by what has -been done’ by previous Parliaments in regard to preference to unionists.
– Or the Naval loan.
– Yes. This is a new Parliament, and we have a right to amend or annul anything in the actions of our predecessors of which we may disapprove. Moreover, it is wrong to use the Works and Buildings Estimates to bind us to accept the determination of last Parliament.
– No more objection is to be taken to the items providing for expenditure on the Federal Capital site than to those which provide for expenditure on post offices.
– The items referring to the Capital site open up a question of national policy ; proposals for expenditure on post offices are mere matters of administration. Would the honorable member say that it would be right to provide in these Estimates for a transcontinental railway, and to seek thus to bind honorable members to the -acceptance of a particular route ?
– 1 explained very fully what is to be done in regard to the transcontinental railway.
– Suppose that the Government had put into these Estimates an item providing £100,000 for a railway to Port Darwin, following a certain route, would not honorable members object to be bound in that way to a particular policy ? That is what 1 find fault with in the present procedure. I condemn it, too, for party reasons. Personally, I ‘care not where the Federal Capital may be located, nor is the great bulk of the workers much concerned. What binds the members of th’s party together is the principles which we hold in common; in regard to all questions not dealt with in our platform we are free agents. Former Governments have regarded themselves as responsible to the Parliament, and not to the party supporting them, Ministerialists being supposed to blindly follow their leaders. But we are in favour of the principle of elective Ministries, the party formulating the policy, and Ministers carrying it into effect. Year after year we have shown how our opponents - the honorable member for Parramatta, for example - have varied their utterances- on different ..matters, in accordance with changes of circumstances. We have derided them, and held them up to obloquy for doing this, but what will be said of us if we follow their example? Every member of the Labour party, including the Ministers, should be free to speak and vote as he pleases on all questions not included in the party platform.
What should it matter to this Government, or to the party which supports it, where the capital is situated ? Why should not the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Trade and Customs, who have expressed themselves strongly in favour of other sites, be able now to give expression to their true opinions? What can it matter to the Government what decision Parliament comes to on this subject? lt should aim, so far as it can-
– At keeping the capital in Melbourne.
– What does that matter? Every Minister and every member of the rank and file of the Labour party should vote as he thinks on all questions outside the platform. The Labour party was formed to advance the material interests of the workers, to whom the situation of the Capital is not of vast moment. But Ministers have given the Opposition an opportunity to show that their actions today are in contradiction to their speeches on a former occasion. It is our duty, as a party, to set a higher standard of political effort than has been recognised in the past. Therefore, I object to members of the Ministry being bound to give effect to some particular policy in this matter.
– Is the Government attempting to bind its followers?
– It would be useless to do so. Dealing with the question directly before us, I should like to read the following minute by the right honorable member for Swan : -
In accordance with a promise I made to the Premier of New South Wales to inspect Canberra, and express an opinion upon it as to its suitability as a site for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, I visited this locality on Tuesday, 4th June. The weather was fine and bracing, and I had a good opportunity for inspection. I have already inspected and reported on the following sites, namely, Delegale, Bombala, Dalgety, Coolringdon, “Lyndhurst, Tumut, and the suggested sites in its neighbourhood, namely, Wyangle, Toomorroma Gadara, and Batlow, and have reported that, in my opinion, Dalgety, on the Snowy River, is the most suitable site of those I have examined for the Federal Capital City. In reporting upon the present site, it therefore only becomes necessary to compare it with Dalgety in order to ascertain whether Canberra has any advantages which would- justify me- in- preferring it .to the. Dalgety site. In my former - reports, I have based my conclusions upon nine factors, namely - (a) distance from Sydney to be not less than a hundred miles, and height above sea-level not less than 1,500 feet; (i) abundant water supply from a perennial source ; (c) good climate, summer and winter; (d) accessibility by railway from Sydney and. Melbourne; («) great water power for electric light and power and other applications of electricity ; (/) water frontage for recreation, sport, and beauty, good approach and commanding view; (g) commanding sites for public buildings, and suitable ground for laying out, constructing, and draining a Capital City ; (h) fertile territory and other natural resources surrounding and adjacent to Capital site ; (i) surrounding and adjacent scenery with great natural features and within convenient distance. I propose to deal with Canberra on the same basis and in the same manner; as, by the application of these factors to both Dalgety and Canberra, a just estimate of their comparative merits may be arrived at.
From the stand-point of abundant water supply from a perennial source, the honorable gentleman says -
Canberra is very inferior to Dalgety under this heading. It is drained by the Molonglo River, which runs through its southern portion. This river is not perennial, though water is always obtainable in it, and is said to be plentiful by sinking.
The honorable member for Corangamite has already pointed out that Mr. Scrivener also reported, in the first instance, against the water supply of the Canberra site.
– I have reports very much later than the one to which the honorable member refers.
– Does the honorable member wish to read them, because, if so, I shall resume my seat? Mr. Scrivener, upon presenting his report to Mr. Wade, was told by that gentleman that it was unsatisfactory. The result was that he subsequently submitted a report which was favorable to the requirements of the Government of New South Wales. Sir John Forrest also states -
I inspected the Cotter River, where it joins the Mumimbidgee, and it was a strong clear stream, of probably a daily volume of 10,000,000 gallons, though in the middle of summer it would not be so great. …..
Canberra is said to have an excellent climate, in every way suitable for the Seat of Government. The following table, giving a comparison of temperatures between Canberra and Dalgety, shows that there is much similarity between them ; and with the information before me it is impossible for me to say if one has any advantage over the other, though probably Canberra is a little milder than Dalgety in winter, and a little hotter in summer.
He further declares that the rainfall at Dalgety is infinitely superior to that at Canberra, and he says that in the matter of water power for electric light and power, and other applications of electricity, Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety. Under the heading of “ Water frontage for recreation, sport, and beauty; good approach, and commanding view,” Sir John Forrest writes -
Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety. It has nc water frontage, except the Molonglo
River, which is almost dry in summer. It might be possible to conserve water in the Molonglo 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.
So that a gentleman who is in no way identified with the parochial interests either of New South Wales or of Victoria, and who is a thoroughly impartial critic, reported that, from every point of view, Canberra is inferior to Dalgety.
– He is one of the best judges in Australia.
– There is no doubt about that. He is always impartial, and, upon this question, he is an undoubted authority.
– And he is supporting the Yass-Canberra site.
– -Then the value of his testimony has diminished. Apparently, under the new code of ethics which has been adopted, an honorable member may go back upon anything. Sir John Forrest also states that, in the matter of providing commanding sites for public buildings, Canberra is inferior to Dalgety. He affirms -
There are no rising knolls suitable for public edifices, and the rising ground is only found on the spurs of the Mount Ainslie range, which separates the two plains. Public buildings would have to be built on the plains or on the spurs of the range. Even the pretty church with spire and the parsonage are built on the level grassy plain.
Under the heading of “ Fertile territory and other natural resources surrounding and adjacent to Capital site,” he says -
Canberra is, I think, very similar to Dalgety. The land is fertile, consisting of wellgrassed, open, plain country, apparently well suited for agricultural and pastoral settlement, and on which timber grows well…..
From the foregoing it will be seen that, in my judgment, Canberra does not favorably compare with Dalgety in the factors of abundant water supply ; in water power for generating electricity for light, for railways and tramways, and for all mechanical appliances; in water frontage to a perennial river capable of being made into a deep lake 10 miles long of ever-running water; in commanding approach and sites for public buildings; and in being within 40 miles of the highest .range on the Australian continent, which culminates in Mount Kosciusko, 7,238 feet above the level of the sea. The only objection to Dalgety that I have heard is that it is too cold in winter, and a comparison of its temperature and rainfall with some of the great capital cities of the world may, therefore, be worth recording. I may point out that it is not so cold as London, Paris, Washington, Ottawa, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, and St. Petersburg, as an inspection of the table hereunder will show. It should also be borne in mind that, with the exception of Hobart, all the capital cities of Australia are too hot in summer, and those who can afford it go away for a time to a colder climate. If the Federal city were situated at Dalgety, and Parliament were to meet from November to March, all those requiring a cooler climate would visit the Federal city with their families, either as members of Parliament or as tourists, with the result that it would become a fashionable tourist resort.
Another report by Stephen H. Weedon, inspecting engineer, is opposed to the selection of the Canberra site. In some of his reports, too, Mr. L. A. B. Wade, the Chief Engineer for Rivers, Water Supply, and Drainage in New South Wales, urges very similar objections to those urged by Mr. Weedon. Mr. E. M. De Burgh also reported upon the water supply available at Canberra.
– Will the honorable member read his report?
– I thought that the honorable member would jib at that report, because it is opposed to his own views.
– Then there is a report on the supply of building material at Canberra by Mr. W. L. Vernon, the Government Architect for New South Wales. That report was made in 1907. Then further correspondence took place between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales, between the 31st October of that” year, and 6th January, 1908. But I must terminate my remarks. I am no good at this game. My eight years’ experience in the Victorian Parliament has not qualified me to “ stone- wall.” I have tried to do so upon a few occasions, but have always ignominiously failed. I am absolutely incapable of speaking upon any subject unless my heart is in it. I feel strongly upon the action of the Government, and if I could do so, I would speak upon this matter till breakfast time. Our party ought to set itself on a higher plane than has been occupied by political parties in the past, and should not be bound down by the precedents those parties have- set. -The- prostitution, of -conscience does no good to a man or a party; I protest against the method which has been adopted. I urge the Government to give to their party as much consideration as they have extended to the members of the Opposition, and at all times to make for their information a full and’ clear explana-‘ tion. of their proposals.
– What consideration have the Government shown to the Opposition ?
– I am afraid that I am feeding the Opposition, and very much to their satisfaction. At the same time, I am not going to continue to sit dumb. I cannot continue the hostilities of to-night as strongly as I should like to do; but I have uttered my protest, and if the necessity again arises I shall protest even more strongly.
.Tonight the honorable member for Parkes repeated the story which he has related on every occasion when this question has been brought before the House. On the last occasion, I took the trouble to correct, in his presence, a statement which he had made about the enormous amount which it would cost to connect Bairnsdale by railway with the border. I told him that just at that time the reports of the Railways Commissioners with reference to proposed railways had been presented to Parliament. 1 mentioned that there were three or four routes which had been surveyed between Orbost and the border, explaining that from Bairnsdale to Orbost one route was common. I said -
No. i runs up towards Bonang, through country over which it would be expensive to take a railway, and where it is said that none but a narrow-gauge line could be made, except at great cost. No. 2 route, which has found favour with many of the settlers, is projected by way of Murrungowar and Mount Ellery. It is said to be rather an expensive route, and only a narrow-gauge line is practicable. There are two other routes, both of which go up the Cann Valley, coming out in New South Wales near Bondi, about 17 miles lower down than Bombala. No. 3 route represents an attempt to get into the Cann Valley by a direct line, it strikes past Club Terrace, and from an engineering point of view is preferable to the other routes described. It would permit of a broad-gauge line with fairly sharp curves and fairly steep grades. The highest elevation crossed is 1,600 feet, the total length from Bairnsdale to the border, 141^ miles, and the estimated cost of construction £7,000 per mile. The line finally decided on from Orbost goes by way of Marlo and Sydenham Inlet. Thence it follows the Little River, crossing over the watershed into the Cann, and reaching the border near Bondi in- about- -1-4?- miles. It- is- -estimated to cost. ^5)75° P« mile.
Yet the honorable member had the assurance to state to-night, as he did on two previous occasions, that this line would cost an enormous amount. When I made that statement he interjected, “ What is the estimated cost to the border?” and I replied; “ The total cost of constructing 142 miles of railway at ^5,750 per mile, would be about £816,000. I mentioned that the facts which _ I had given were taken from the reports made by the engineers for the Victorian Railways Standing Committee, and that it would not take long to make the line. As a matter of fact, it has already been authorized from Bairnsdale to Orbost, and is in course of construction, so that a length of only 60 miles has yet to be authorized by Parliament. What he said about the enormous cost of taking the line over practically insurmountable mountains was all moonshine. As I stated, on the one route the highest point was 1,600 feet, and the cost was estimated at £7,000 a mile; but on the. other route, which was adopted, the distance was only half a mile longer, and the cost was only £5,750 per mile, which cannot be said, by any means, to be an expensive route; and certainly not what honorable members were led to expect by the honorable member’s remarks. Then, as regards the other side of the border, on the previous occasion we were told that there was no railway communication nearer than Cooma. Reference has been made to-night to the parochial spirit of the people of New South Wales. It is a fact that the Bill to connect Cooma with Bombala by railway was passed through the Legislative Assembly, and thrown out in the Legislative Council because it was likely to go very near Dalgety, and put that place in railway communication with Sydney. That statement was made deliberately in the Legislative Council, and the Bill was thrown out. When this House decided on the last occasion in favour of YassCanberra, the Bill was re-introduced and passed by both Houses, and the line is being constructed from Cooma, so that within a short distance of Dalgety, on that side, there will be railway communication to Sydney. As I said, the provision of railway communication between Bairnsdale and the border is not an expensive matter, and one-half of the line is in course of construction. We could not find more conclusive evidence of parochialism in Parliament than is furnished by the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in throwing out a Bill because it would be beneficial to Dalgety if a line were constructed, and then, after Dalgety was rejected as a site for the Federal Capital, passing the measure. Without discussing the merits of Dalgety at this stage, I should like to remind honorable members of another state- ment which was made by the honorable member who then represented North Sydney, who was not a supporter of the Dalgety site. With reference to it being a bleak place, he said -
We must, however, remember that Australia is a new country, and that the beauties which we admire in other lands are not always - indeed, are not often - due to purely natural features. Many of the most famous beauty spots have been the creation of centuries ; and many parts of New South Wales, which look very unpicturesque at the present time, will, in the course of a generation or two, become very different in character, and will possess some of those scenic beauties which are to be met with in older lands. For instance, take England itself. I suppose that it would be possible to find thousands of splendid places for a Capital City in England. But the natural features of that country - that is, the formation of the ground - are not grand, are not imposing, speaking generally. I think I am correct in saying that there is not a mountain in the British Isles over 5,000 feet in height. There are very few mountains approaching that altitude. There are no great natural features in the shape of large rivers such as there are in the United States. But cultivation, the growth of trees and hedges, the construction of buildings, and improvements made by one generation here, and by another generation there, have created many of those beauty spots in England which most attract the visitor to that country. We in Australia can, by the same means, turn many situations’ which are now not at all picturesque into sites which years hence will display many of the beauties which prove an attraction in older countries. Therefore, scenic beauties, and the presence of grand natural features, have not so much influence upon my mind as they seem to have upon the minds of many honorable members. And after all, we have to remember that we are a Federal Parliament, and that our public Departments are created for business purposes - to perform important services for the community.
There is another point which is very material and well worth recalling. On each occasion when the matter was brought before the last Parliament, a great discussion arose with reference to a port, and access thereto. We were told that we would not have access “to a port, that even if we took Dalgety, New South Wales would not give us Twofold Bay. It was made a pretty strong condition, when the last measure was before the House, that the Commonwealth should have access to the water and a port. The measure was not at all satisfactory to honorable members, and so I moved an amendment in favour of getting access to the sea. It was very strongly represented by members of the Labour party that in his keen canvass Mr. Watson gave an assurance that the Commonwealth would have a port at Jervis Bay, and access thereto. When the feeling got pretty strong in the Chamber, we had member after member getting up and stating that he was perfectly willing that there should be a port there, and every one agreed to it; but it was held that there was no necessity to insert a provision in the measure. The honorable member for Coolgardie, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, said that he quite understood that the House desired that the Commonwealth should have access to the sea and a port, and that it could rest assured that he would represent that desire to the New South Wales Government. Member after member kept making that statement, but somehow or other they all strongly objected to putting a provision in the measure, and when a division was taken my amendment was defeated by a large majority. What happened? Just what I anticipated when’ I stated that a provision ought to be inserted. When a Bill was brought in to define the metes and bounds, we found that there was no access given to the sea. The present Minister of Home Affairs said that he wanted a strip of territory 7 miles wide, but of course his mouth is now shut.
– We are negotiating now for another 100 square miles.
– The honorable gentleman can negotiate and play with the New South Wales Government as long as he likes. I am talking about making it a condition precedent to dealing with them that the Commonwealth should have a strip of territory seven miles wide. Instead of getting a strip, all that we got was an easement to run a railway over the country. And as regards the port, what did we get? It is worth while to recall what took place in reference to the port when the honorable member for Parkes was speaking -
– What can be the object of having communication with that port by railway if we have not control over a sufficient portion of its seaboard?
– Does the honorable member mean that the Commonwealth should own it?
– Then I_would._not support any such proposal. I am quite sure that the people of New South Wales would not consent to completely hand over to the Commonwealth the finest port which Australia possesses.
– I am afraid that the honorable member misunderstands my question. I asked whether we should not have control over a sufficient portion of the bay to make a harbor of our own ? . ‘
– The harbor is already there.
We have not an atom of control over a foot of water ; and so far as the territory on the shore is concerned, the New South Wales Government were most careful to provide that it should only run to highwater mark. That is what we got for trusting the Government of the day to negotiate with the New South Wales Government in carrying out what was known to be the desire of all sections in this Parliament to have a seaport at Jervis Bay. We have simply the right to construct a railway, and to acquire a small frontage, without any control over the port itself. The Prime Minister saw fit to address the Committee on the subject at an early hour of the morning, although he did not say a word when this subject was first sprung upon us. He tells us deliberately that we have to be bound by the decision of the last Parliament. The Minister of Home Affairs tells us that we have to take things philosophically. But how did honorable members opposite take matters when the site which they favoured was not selected, notwithstanding that their leader, Sir George Reid, said that the site chosen was final and mandatory upon the Commonwealth and New South Wales? They did not hesitate to block in every possible way every step taken with respect to the acquisition of Dalgety. When the subject was brought before Parliament by the Deakin Government they obstructed on every occasion. On one day they had agreed with the Leader of the Government that a division should be taken at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. When the arrangement was made it was forgotten that that was grievance day. The honorable member for Parramatta, then Deputy Leader of the Opposition, broke faith; and it came out at a later stage that the reason was that the Opposition had not the numbers to attain their object. They broke faith in order to block proceedings until they could be sure of success. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro rose while he was in a bad state of health and made a brilliant speech in favour of the site, of which he was the champion. On the next day he completely broke down; as a consequence of which his keenness as a Whip was not able to be exercised in favour of Dalgety. The Opposition were thus enabled to secure what they wanted. Some honorable members who had pledged themselves to the honorable member for EdenMonaro to vote in a certain direction went back on their promises, and finally YassCanberra was selected. We are now given to understand that that choice is to be regarded as final and binding upon the Commonwealth. But I cannot see why this Parliament should be precluded from reopening the question as the last Parliament did. If the Prime Minister earlier in the sitting had stated that we were not. to have a free hand in the matter we should have understood where we were. But the subject was sprung upon us in the most unfair way. Ministerial supporters did not even know that it was to be discussed today, still less that it was to be forced to a division before the House rose. The treatment that we have received was not such as we had a right to expect from any leader, and was certainly not such treatment as we were fairly entitled to receive from the Prime Minister. There has not even been an opportunity for the new members to make themselves familiar with the reports and debates on the subject. If it had been announced last week that the matter was to be determined to-day we should have been better prepared. If, however, we are supposed to comply with the demand, “ gape sinner and swallow,” the situation is a very unpleasant one. I can only enter my strongest protest against a matter of policy that is known to be in dispute being forced on us without notice and rushed through at one sitting.
– I should like some information regarding an item in subdivision 3, erection of Commonwealth Offices in London. It is proposed to spend £1,000 in this direction. In the last Parliament we had a protracted debate on the subject. In 1908 preliminary arrangements were made for the acquisition of a certain site. It was hoped that a building would be erected which the Commonwealth would occupy in conjunction with several of the States. But somehow the parties got at variance, and a strong fight was put up against the perpetuation of what was regarded as an enormous blunder. I wish to know whether it is the intention of the Government to instruct their officers in London to look round for a suitable site, and if the sum of £1,000 now to be voted is for that purpose ?
– The £1,000 referred to by the honorable member is for the purpose of erection of a building on a site yet to be determined upon in London. No site will be determined upon until Parliament has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion. No selection has yet been made. The question is involved in a matter of policy as to whether a site shall be selected which will enable all the States, if they choose, to be housed in one common building. If they are not so disposed the Commonwealth will have to select a smaller site. Of course, we cannot force the States, and if they do not agree to what we propose we shall have to erect a building for our own purposes. The question ought to be decided as early us possible, because the present accommodation for our officers in London, having regard to the volume of business being transacted, is wholly inadequate. The existing, state of affairs cannot long continue, ana as soon as the matter is sufficiently far advanced the Government will submit to the House proposals for the acquisition of a particular site, and for the erection of a building thereon. Once that is done, the preparation of plans and so forth will be undertaken before next year’s Estimates are submitted.
– Is the item of £1,000 designed to enable the Government to clinch a bargain without submitting it to the House ?
– No; I have just said that no money will be expended in connexion with the matter until the House has had an opportunity to determine the site of the proposed building. It is proposed, before next year’s Estimates are submitted, to purchase in London a site for the Commonwealth Offices; but the actual site will not be determined upon until this House has expressed its opinion upon the question.
– Do the States show any sign of co-operating’ with the Commonwealth ?
– On the whole, their attitude is very satisfactory. The Victorian Government, although they have already selected a site and erected a building of their own, have cordially agreed to join with the Commonwealth Government. j.ne Government of Western Australia are also anxious to come in. New South Wales has asked for more information, which has been supplied, and I expect every day a reply from the State Premier intimating the willingness of his Government to join with us. So far as I can gather from his letters, they are disposed to fall in with our proposal. South Australia has not yet given a definite reply ; but I am satisfied that, if possible, it will adopt our project. We have had only one refusal, and that is from Queensland. The Government of that State say that their existing lease has some thirty-six years to run, and that therefore they do not see their way to the adoption of our proposition. No other State has turned it down, and there are promising prospects of the establishment in London of an Australian House, which will be representative of the whole Commonwealth and very convenient for all purposes.
.I do not care to give a silent vote upon the item relating to the Federal Capital, and we shall probably save time by a discussion of the question at this stage. The question is of much importance, and I am satisfied that the site selected is so unsuitable that if we do not make an alteration a subsequent Parliament will have to do so. The Constitution in this respect is slightly defective. The whole trouble has been brought about by the power given to this Parliament to select a site by a bare majority vote. There should have been in the Constitution a specific provision that the site of the Federal Capital should be determined by a majority of at least two-thirds of the members of this House.
– Why not a similar provision in regard to every other matter ?
– It is specially necessary in this case. It was only reasonable to assume that parochialism would creep into the consideration of the question, seeing that rival States were likely to come into Competition with each other. I am sorry that an inferior site has been chosen. Having heard the opinions of honorable members, I think that there are at least two or three other sites superior to that of YassCanberra. Either the Tooma or the Armidale site would be considerably better, judging by the testimony of honorable members. This question has. a most important bearing on the future of Australia, and I do not wish to see the Capital established where it will always be a source of ^expense and annoyance tq the people. I do not care particularly where it is located ; but I intend to be loyal to the constitutional provision that it shall be established in New South Wales. It is strange that far better sites beyond the 100-mile radius of Sydney have not been submitted to this Parliament. There must be excellent sites for the Federal Capital in the vast territory of New South Wales. The Federal Capi tal will not be the chief centre of commercial activity in Australia. In that regard neither Melbourne nor Sydney has anything to fear from the Federal Capital, wherever it may be established; but I do wish to see the most suitable and effective site selected. As has been pointed out, Yass-Canberra has some very objectionable features. The Government Ought not to make this a vital question. It is not on our platform, and we should have a right to look to the best interests of the country, irrespective of any party discipline. The suggestion has been made in the Melbourne press that the question should be remitted to a referendum of the people. With that I do not agree ; but, not having inspected this site, I am not satisfied that the best selection has been made; nor am I satisfied that, if we agree to this item, the money will not be practically wasted. We could not expect every elector of the Commonwealth to make a personal inspection of the various sites offering, and then to come to a reasonable and enlightened vote at a referendum. Had Yass-Canberra been chosen by a substantial majority of members of both Houses of the Parliament, I should have felt little compunction in voting for the item relating to the Capital; but, having read the history of the selection, I think that it has been a matter of finessing as between one party and another and one State and another. The whole position is unsatisfactory. We have not in Yass-Canberra a site that will fulfil the requirements of the Federal Capital ; and, therefore, I am very loth at this stage to agree to a vote to provide for survey and other preliminary work, so that in the near future the establishment of the Federal Capital on that site may be in full swing. If this vote be carried, Parliament will commit itself to a huge expenditure upon the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra, and year after year an increasing amount will be voted. It is because of that fact that I enter my protest against the item of £45,000, feeling that the money is not. going to. be .used to good, not to say the best, advantage. It simply means that if this item be agreed to, every year large appropriations must be made, and nobody could reasonably object. Members are not returned here to carry on a fight of this kind for ever. At the same time, I have never had an opportunity in Parliament to enter a protest, and, seeing that I intend to vote against the item, it is only right that I should give some reasons. The Government, as a Government, could not very well adopt any other than their present attitude, because, when Parliament decides on a certain line of action, it is for the Government to administer the law. But the manner in which it is sought to make the necessary provision seems to be wrong, because very little freedom is allowed to honorable members on the question. There are very few who believe that this is really a good site. I have spoken to members of the Government individually, and to others ; and I think there is a general feeling, both in this House and outside, that a mistake has been made which, if not rectified, may place great disabilities on the taxpayers. I have always been a firm believer in the unearned increment from land being to a large extent appropriated for public use. There are two ways of improving land, one by placing improvements on it, and the other by placing improvements around it; andthe Capital should be selected in a locality that will insure a large increment to relieve the Commonwealth expenditure in the future, and provide, if properly managed, a constant source of income. According to the newspapers of to-day, the Government propose to expend considerable sums, and the object of those newspapers seems to be to draw the attention of the electors to the fact. Under the circumstances the taxpayers will reasonably hope for revenue which can (be raised without hardship. Some newspapers tell the people that this is a “bush Capital,” and so forth; and we ought to be able to show some prospect of its not only paying its way, but proving a source of income. In my opinion, the land at Yass-Canberra is not fertile enough to realize this desire, and the surroundings are not in keeping with the future home of the Federal Parliament. 1 express my opinion now, because I desire, in case of difficulties arising in the future and people upbraiding the present Government for their choice of a site, to have it placed on record in Hansard that I, at any rate, could foresee the disabilities, and was of opinion that there were many eminently more suitable sites available. I had hoped the Government would have seen their way to so introduce this question that it would not have to be dealt with by new members as an item of the Works Estimates. The honorable member for Hume has, I think, clearly demonstrated that Tooma or Armidale would be an infinitely preferable place. When I entered this House I admit that, from reading the Age, I was of opinion that Dalgety was all that could be desired; but I have since spoken to an experienced engineer, and a perfectly disinterested man, who describes that site as unthinkable for a Federal Capital. This opinion has greatly influenced me; and I had hoped there might be a chance of being able to visit the various sites. I cannot, under the circumstances, vote for this proposed expenditure; and I hope that in the future we shall have an opportunity to discuss the question. I feel sure that when the electors realize the unsuitability of Yass-Canberra, they will return members definitely pledged to select a better site.
– I move -
That the item “ Federal Capital at Canberra - Towards cost of establishment -£50,000,” be reduced by£1.
I submit this motion as an indication to the Ministry that in the opinion of the people of the Commonwealth the most suitable site has not been chosen, and that an opportunity should be afforded for reopening the question.
– I regret that the Government cannot accept the proposal. The question has already been discussed.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I should like some information on the item “ Transcontinental railway, from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, to Port Augusta, South Australia - Towards cost of construction - £5,000.” What is the construction in which the Government propose to engage under this vote? Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs would give the Committee some explanation of it.
– This small vote is put down in order to enable us to organize equipment, that we may be in a position to begin operations next year.
– To provide plans and specifications for Parliament.
.- I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence for some explanation of the proposed vote of£2,000 for “ Naval Training School - Towards cost, site, and construction.”
– The necessity for the proposed vote has been fully impressed upon the Minister of Defence.. The school is intended for the training of seamen and petty officers who will ultimately be drafted into the Australian Navy. The site is not yet chosen. The” selection of the best site will be one of the matters to be dealt with by Admiral Henderson, who is now on a visit to the Commonwealth.
.Are we to understandthata naval training school for the Commonwealth is to be established without any explanation at all ? Where is it to be established ? Where are we to get the seamen? Are we to understand that our ships will be manned by men at present having experience of work at sea, or by naval recruits who pass through the proposed naval training school?
– I have just informed the Committee that the site of the proposed naval training school has not yet been chosen. It is one of the subjects which will be inquired into by Admiral Henderson during his visit to Australia. It is intended that he shall visit all the States and inspect sites which may be suitable for dockyards and other institutions which it is necessary we should have if we are to train men fitted for service in the Australian Navy. Just as the camp at Albury is intended for the preparation of future instructors of senior cadets, and as the Military College which is to be established is intended for the training of officers who will be able to instruct the officers of the land Defence Force, so this naval training school will be an institution for the training of the seamen and petty officers who will ultimately be drafted into the Australian Navy. I may inform honorable members that the Australian ships on their voyage out from the Old Country will be manned almost exclusively by men drafted from the British Navy.
– Are we going to train seamen ashore?
– I have said that a site for the proposed naval training school has not yet been selected; but the honorable member for Franklin must know that if we are to put up buildings they must be erected on land, and I have no doubt they will be erected on the coast in the most convenient place for the establishment of such a school. When we have a sufficient number of our own men trained to take the place of the British seamen who will be brought out on the Australian ships, the latter will be returned to the British Navy.
– We are getting into the very bad habit of passing items involving large expenditure with but very little discussion. Before we agree to the proposed vote of £2,000 for a naval training school we should be given some information as to what the Government propose to do with the money. The answer supplied tothe question by the Minister representing the Ministerof Defence would indicate an intention on the part of the Government to train our seamen ashore. Surely that is not seriously proposed? I protest against our being asked to deal with so important a matter at this hour, and after we have been sitting for fifteen hours. As the only really contentious item in these Estimates has been dealt with, the Government might very well permit us to adjourn and take up the consideration of the remaining items of the schedule at the ordinary hour of meeting to-morrow.
.I am not prepared to agree to votes amounting to ^£2,250,000 without getting some information. I should like to _ say that I have never before heard that sailors can be trained ashore. I have understood that they follow their occupation on board ship. When we “are asked to vote ,£2,000 towards the cost of site and construction of a naval training school, I wish to know what the total cost will be; who are the men to be trained in the school, and what our ships are for if it is not to train those who will be expected to man them. I have always understood that sailors learned the art of seamanship at sea, and in order to do so must begin work on board some vessel as boys. Are. we to understand that our vessels will be manned by persons who already have had some seafaring experience? In what will seamen be instructed in the proposed naval training school. .We should know what instruction is to be given.
– The amount set down here is for acquiring land for a site for a naval training school. Every one has heard of the West Point Military College of the United States of America, but many people do not seem to be aware of the existence of the Annapolis Naval College, where they qualify men to become admirals, and to make war at sea. Smart boys are taken from the merchant marine, and, after they have passed an examinatian, are put into the college. They come out adorned with stripes and buttons, qualified to fight.
– I understand that in the Imperial service the training of boys commences at the age of twelve or thirteen years.. The trainees are given a start ashore at schools, where they receive physical drill and learn the rudiments of their profession, subsequently being drafted on to ships to acquire a knowledge of seamanship. The proposed school is only for the preliminary training of boys, who will complete their education at sea.
– - For the consolation of the twelve Nationalists, I suggest that, should it be con sidered expedient to establish the proposed training school somewhere beyond the area of circulation of the Melbourne Age, the institution should be connected by wireless telegraphy, or a speaking tube, with the editorial rooms of that newspaper, to make certain that the “ National “. interests of Australia as a whole shall be in safe keeping.
.Have we come to this pass, that we must depend for information on the explanations of members of the Opposition? What would members of this party say were they in Opposition, and asked to vote £2,250,000 without explanation? That is what is being done now. But, whatever my position in the Chamber, I shall decline to vote money without explanation. Whenever there are items upon which I desire information, I shall demand it, and I have a right to get it. Surely we should receive from the Government which we support, and whose Ministers are members of the party to which we belong, the treatment which we should expect from a Government to which we were in opposition? Is the proposal to establish a naval school a legacy from the last Government, which Ministers do not thoroughly understand? Are the inmates of the school to be taught navigation, or to be taught seamanship? The Minister says that they are to be qualified to become admirals. But can boys learn to steer, to take in sail, to rig a vessel, and the other arts of seamanship, without going to sea? The idea is absurd. I expect from Ministers a clear and proper explanation of the intentions of the Government in this matter. We should know whether the school is for the training of young officers or for the education of boys. If it is intended to teach young officers the science of navigation, we should be told so, but if it is to teach boys the art of seamanship, the school will be a failure. We should know who the instructors are to be, and what amount is to be expended.
– I cannot understand the warmth of the honorable member. I discussed this matter with the Minister of Defence yesterday morning, and have twice made to the Committee the explanation given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. For the first time in the history of Australia we are providing for our own defence on land and by sea. We are establishing a Military College to provide efficient officers for our land forces, while to train officers for our Navy, the proceeds of the New South Wales Dreadnought Fund, amounting to something like £40,000, are to be devoted to the erection of a Naval College at Middle Head, Sydney. There is no nation in the world,possessing a navy, which has not a naval college for the training of officers.
– Everywhere navigation schools are on land.
– Yes. This particular item is to provide for a training school from which boys will be drafted into the Australian naval unit. We are getting the most experienced man in the British service to recommend the best site for the college, and it is intended as soon as we can substitute Australian sailors to return to the British Navy the sailors who must in the first instance man our vessels.
– Had the Minister given this information at first, there would not have been a protest from the honorable member for Bourke or myself.
– I have merely repeated my first statement, with the additional reference to the proposed Naval College at Middle Head, which has nothing to do with the item.
– Session after session Estimates involving the expenditure of millions of poundshave been rushed through a tired Committee, often after an all-night sitting. I emphatically protest against this method of doing business, and warn Ministers that it may lead to bitter discussion at a later stage of the session. The country has a right to expect a full explanation of every item from the Minister in charge of the Department. If an attempt be made to push the whole of these Estimates through before the House adjourns we shall have to enter our protest by moving that the Chairman report progress in order to test the question of whether the Committee is to be bulldozed in this way at the end of a protracted sitting.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK(Parramatta) [3.41 a.m.]. - There is just one point in connexion with the explanation of the Honorary Minister which requires to be elucidated. It is all very well for honorable members to gird at the Minister of Defence, but I say that it is impossible for any man to master the intricacies of the Defence Department within the short period of two or three months. Consequently it is unfair to level violent criticism against a Minister who has been in charge of that Department for only a couple of months. The honorable member for Bourke has shown by his latest diatribes that he does not understand this question of seamanship. The experience which I gained during my brief occupancy of the position of Minister of Defence taught me that the men in this Chamber who have served a term either as privates in our Military Forces or in the Navy are prone to speak as if they knew all about defence matters. I recollect the first occasion upon which I confronted them in this Chamber. Idid sowith the greatest trepidation. But their very first deliverances convinced me that I had nothing to fear. A man may serve in the ranks and yet know very little of the intricacies of the Defence Department. The explanation which was given by the Honorary Minister was correct so far as it went. But I did not anticipate that our boys, when they have finished with the training school, will be immediately drafted into the vessels which will constitute our Navy.
– Nor did I say that they will.
– The honorable member stated that they will be drafted into some of our Australian vessels.
– When they are efficient.
– But there is an interval between the time when they will complete their course at the training school and the period when they will become efficient, which they will require to serve upon the water. When they have completed their shore training, they will need to be drafted on to a special training vessel, not necessarily a vessel of the Australian Squadron. It would be impossible to maintain the discipline of a fighting ship if we permitted it to be overrun by boys who are learning the business. The lads must be drafted on to a special training ship. Canada has one of these ships.
– Howwould it do to send them for a trip on the trawler?
– The best thing that the Government can do is to obtain: one of the vessels which may very well be spared from the British Navy for the purpose of training these youths in the arts of seamanship, thus making them efficient up to a certain standard before they are taken on board the ordinary fighting vessels of the Squadron.
.I have listened very attentively to the utterance of the honorable member for Parramatta, who, I have no doubt, would make a most excellent admiral in Pinafore. But I wish to place before the Committee the explanations which have been made in connexion with this item. We have been told that .?2,000 is to be voted for the establishment of a Naval College. The Honorary Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, made a statement which I did not understand; and it was followed by an explanation on the part of the honorable member for Parramatta, to the effect that the proposed Naval College is designed to teach boys the rudiments of seamanship.
– It is not a naval college, but a training school.
– The honorable member said it is to be a naval training school, to which boys of from twelve to fourteen years of age will be admitted. On the other hand, the Honorary Minister declared that the institution is intended for the training of officers.
– I did not say that. I said that the Naval College is to be established at Middle Head, with the aid of the Dreadnought fund which was subscribed by the citizens in New South Wales, for the purpose of training officers for the Navy. .
– We have been told that the college is intended for the training of officers, and reference has been made to other countries which have established similar institutions. But I would point out that those institutions are essentially of a class character. Is our college to be of a similar character? We may be told later that it is intended to be an institution in which seamen and petty officers may be trained. If so, this vote will be an utterly useless one, because seamen and petty officers cannot be trained at a college to perform work at sea. I am perfectly satisfied that the officers of the Defence Department have merely put forward proposals without a clear comprehension of their meaning. We ought to have a most explicit statement from the Honorary Minister before the item is agreed to.
.Are we not to receive any explanation from the Government in regard to the item “ Erection of Commonwealth Offices in London - Towards cost - ?[1,000 “?
– I have already given the fullest information upon this matter, but possibly one or two honorable members were absent at the time. The ?1,000 which appears upon the Estimates is intended as a preliminary expenditure in connexion with the acquisition of a site in London for Commonwealth Offices after this Parliament has approved of that site. If it does not approve of the site recommended by the Government, the money will not be expended.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 2 (7’rade and Customs), ?4,454
– I should like some information in regard to the item, “ Launch for trawler, ?400.”
– Before dealing with that question I may mention that some time ago an honorable member asked for information in respect of the erection of a new laboratory in Melbourne.
– Why is it to be erected in Melbourne?
– Because it is badly needed here. The sum of ?5,000 was appropriated for the purpose last year, and the amount of ?824 which appears upon these Estimates is for the purpose of completing the work. Formerly the analyst was compelled to operate in the State laboratory, but in order that the whole of our analytical work may be undertaken in one building it has been decided to erect a new laboratory, which will be one of the finest in Australia.
– The explanation given by the Minister is most unsatisfactory. A’ new laboratory is to be erected in Melbourne. Why? What is the reason for this dastardly provincialism? Why cannot the Government take a broad, national view of this question?
– I must ask the honorable member not to make a burlesque of the matter.
– In what respect am I making a burlesque of it?
– The honorable member’s very attitude is a burlesque.
– I submit that you, sir, have no right to make a remark of that sort unless you point to the words by which I am making a burlesque of it. A similar remark has frequently been made to-night, and I have not heard you call an honorable member to order for burlesquing a question. I have merely repeated the language which has been used satirically quite a score of times this evening. I admit the satire, but I have yet to learn that it is the duty of the Chairman to prevent the use of a little satire in the Chamber. I have always understood that his function was to keep order, and not to control a member’s rhetoric. It is time that this kind of interference was stopped. The Minister need not nod his head, as I know perfectly well my position here. I might very well adopt a kind of language which has been current here all the evening and protest against this provincialism which puts even a laboratory in a particular city. However, there seems nothing else to do but to submit, particularly as the Chairman has taken a hand in the affair.
– In the opinion of the Director, the trawler is handicapped in her work through not having a launch. The provision of a launch was approved of, and the Home Affairs Department started to build one, but on going into the matter more fully the Treasurer and I thought that the trawler could get along without one, and decided to use the launch which has been partly built as a Customs launch in Melbourne.
.The Minister said that the trawler would” not be complete without a launch.
– In the opinion of the Director.
– I notice that the launch will not be complete without a berth. The first item under the head of Trade and Customs is “ Berth for Customs launch, £101.”
– I have already explained that that vote is required for berthing the Customs launch in Sydney. The harbor authorities decided that they would not allow a Customs launch to berth any longer at Circular Quay, and so a new berth ls’ “being provided. “ This item” includes a re-vote of £66. Last year £70 was appropriated at the instance of the Government which the honorable member was following, but I do not remember hearing him make a noise about it. Only -£4. was spent, and now honorable members are asked to re-vote £66 and to grant an additional sum of £s5-
– I am not making any noise about it.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs see that the trawler, as soon as she is provided with a launch, is sent round to the coast of Western Australia to do some work ? Although it represents a large part of Australia it has not yet been visited by the trawler, and many questions have been asked on the subject. I want to know whether it has been owing to the want of a launch that she has been kept away from that coast.
– I desire to know whether any steps have been taken to replace the Bronzewing, which was destroyed by fire in Sydney the other day. Is the launch for the trawler for which we are asked to vote £400 to be used for any such purpose?
– The honorable gentleman said it was to be used for Customs purposes.
– In Melbourne, in all probability.
– Everything seems to be concentrated in Melbourne. Really, we must take a national view of these matters. I do not care where these things are done, but it is time that a protest was entered. When is this trawler likely to go up the Parramatta River?
– The week after she goes up the Yarra. She will never go up either river.
– Very well, that is a bargain. It is time that we knew a little more about what she has been doing.
– Surely the honorable member does not want the information to be given on this item?
– I do not care on what item it is given.
– It will be given on the Estimates in Chief.
– So long as it is furnished, I shall be quite satisfied.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division .3 (Quarantine) £20,000
.Will the Minister tell the Committee how many new quarantine stations it is proposed to provide in Victoria, and where they are to be placed?
– In view of the transfer of the Quarantine Departments to the Commonwealth, the States practically starved all the stations round the coast for eight or nine years. I shall state the position so far as Victoria is concerned, and if my honorable member desires to know how the money is to be spent in New South Wales, I have the figures from the Director of Quarantine, upon whom we are relying to keep Australia as free as possible from plague and other diseases. Honorable members may have noticed in the press a week ago that the cost of the outbreak of small-pox which occurred on the R.M.S. Otway, although it was only a small one, amounted to over £2,700, of which the shipping company will pay about £1,000, and the Commonwealth the balance. It is in order to have the quarantine stations brought more up to date that this vote of £20,000 is required. As regards Victoria, the accommodation at Portsea is inadequate owing to the large vessels now trading. The proposed works will increase the accommodation in the least expensive manner. They will provide a modern isolation hospital and administrative block. At present, a large building which was erected for immigrants fifty years ago is used for the purpose. By erecting a small properly equipped hospital block the risk of spreading disease will be minimized, and the large building will be set free for other purposes. The vote of £4,500 will also provide a disinfected luggage shed, which is required to minimize the risk of damage to goods disinfected. It will also provide bathrooms, and sanitary conveniences, and sewerage, the present conveniences being insufficient ; and a post-office and dispensary, which are necessary to insure proper separation and isolation of different groups of persons in quarantine. The vote will also enable separate accommodation to be provided for nurses engaged in nursing cases of quarantinable disease. It is most desirable that this accommodation should be separate from the hospital building. It will also provide fencing to improve the means of isolating different groups of passengers, and disinfecting and fumigation chambers and offices for shipping, and animal quarantine offices ; there is no provision for this at present. I have full information regarding the proposed expenditure on every quarantine station throughout Australia. It will not do to spend less than £20,000 this year, in order to bring the stations more up to date than they are at present.
– Has the Minister the details of the proposed expenditure at Sydney ?
– He never said a word about Sydney.
– When I asked if any honorable member wanted information about expenditure at the Sydney station, not an honorable member spoke.
– This is provincialism.
– In New South Wales the sum of £7,000 is required to provide a ship fumigation plant for the destruction of rats. It will be made in Australia, and will be similar to that installed in large ports throughout the world. An observation block is also required for the prompt isolation of suspicious cases, which must not be placed with definite cases, and, on the other hand, cannot with safety be left among the other passengers. There is no such provision at present. It is also proposed to erect a disinfection and bath block. At present there are no adequate facilities for the disinfection of the large number of persons who are usually quarantined at Sydney. Then kitchen and diningroom accommodation is required for thirdclass passengers; there is no proper provision at present, and the existing conditions are most unsatisfactory. The vote will also provide for sewerage and protection from flies and other insects which are the conveyers of disease.
– Can the Minister give any information regarding the item of £1,300 towards the cost of new quarantine stations in Tasmania, including the acquisition of land at Triffitt’s Point?
– There is no proper quarantine station at Hobart, and. therefore, it is proposed to obtain a suitable site for the purpose, to prepare for the necessary building, and to construct a jetty, if required. I point out to the honorable member, as I have done to the honorable member for Denison, that the words “ at Triffitt’s Point “ are included in the item ; but, as I informed him on a deputation, it has not been decided to have the building erected at that Point, although it was recommended by the previous Health Officer for Tasmania, and is, I believe, recommended by his successor. We shall consider any other suitable site which the local authorities think will be better for Hobart, the people on the mainland, and the oversea traffic. Although the words “ at
Triffitt’s Point “ are included in the item, that will not commit the Department to this site or prejudice the consideration of any other site.
– The Minister might strike the last three words out of the item.
– I have no objection.
– The Minister has met us very fairly, and so long as the retention of the words will not confine the Department to Triffitt’s Point, I shall be satisfied.
– I think that this is the right place to state some objections I have to having the quarantine station in Sydney continued at the Manly site. So far as I could gather, a sum is to be spent on structural alterations. It is a very large and, in my opinion, a very complete quarantine station as it is. If it is proposed to spend any money upon it, we ought to previously consider whether it should be retained where it is. On the right-hand side of the historic front door of Australia we have a quarantine station adjoining one of its most popular marine suburbs. It seems to me that the quarantine station ought to be removed to a place that would give all the facilities required and enable this particular piece of ground to be handed over to the public for a park, with the reservation of a portion of it for a battery for the defence of the harbor. It is surely a great pity that this beautiful place should be occupied for all time by a quarantine station, for it certainly is one of the grandest entrances to a city on the whole of God’s earth. The residents of Manly and of other parts of Sydney have urged upon the Government the desirableness of removing the station to some less expensive spot, where equal facilities could be obtained and all precautions could be taken for preventing the introduction of diseases. Side by side with this aspect of the case we have the advice given to the Government by Lord Kitchener that a battery ought to be erected on the spot. If that bedonethe quarantine station must beremoved,because it would be impossible to have military practice going on whilst on the other side of a fence persons suffering from infectious diseases were under treatment. I hope the Minister will consider seriously whether it would not be in the public interest to remove the quarantine station to a more convenient position.
– The question raised by the honorable member for North Sydney is undoubtedly an important one. But the question of providing immediate quarantine equipment of an up-to-date character is even more important. The Director of Quarantine presented a report not only to the Minister of Trade and Customs, but to myself, which proved that the quarantine stations were in a state of disrepair, and were no credit to the. Commonwealth. The demand made for money to put them into proper order was very large indeed. I pointed out yesterday that as soon as the Commonwealth took over the quarantine service there was a great demand for up-to-date equipment. I certainly think that our quarantine stations should be equipped at least as well as are ordinary hospitals devoted to the care of the sick and injured. Until a new quarantine station is made available, it is imperative that the present station at Sydney should be. put into a fit state.
– I hope that the Government, before they expend any great amount of money on quarantine stations, twill take into consideration the point whether it would not be possible to have one station for the whole of Australia.
– It is quite impossible.
– I do not think that it is impossible; 1 do not see why we need to. have so many quarantine stations. At the time when Federation was being discussed by the Conventions, I saw reports of suggestions that were made, clearly indicating that one quarantine station for the whole of Australia was possible. I hope the Government will take the subject into their serious consideration before they spend too much money on the numerous stations already in existence.
.- I am sorry to see so much diversity of opinion upon this question ; but I rise particularly to congratulate the Minister of Trade and Custom’s on his clear and explicit statement with reference to quarantine stations. I shouldalso. like to drawattentionto the fact that £16,200 is to be spent on quarantine stations in New South Wales alone, and that £7,000 is to be spent in that State this year. I venture to express the hope that when the full sum of £16,200 is expended, the necessities of New South Wales will be fully provided for in this respect.
– I trust that the .£7,000 will be fully expended, even though it is smaller than the amount which the Director thought it necessary to expend on the Sydney quarantine station. It is estimated, as the honorable member for Bourke has pointed out, that the total expenditure on the Sydney quarantine station will be £[16,200. That expenditure is required in order to bring the equipment up to the standard required by the Director. Regarding the point mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney, I may mention that a deputation introduced by him and Dr. Arthur laid representations before the Attorney-General, and he sent them on to me, and I submitted them to the Director, who is responsible for the Quarantine Department. I also had a consultation with him on the subject, and asked whether it was possible to meet the objections of the Sydney residents, and to remove the station to some other place. It was suggested that the station should be removed to Botany Bay or Broken Bay. The objection made to that proposition was that if every ship entering Sydney Harbor had to go north to Broken Bay to be examined before she was cleared by the health officers, it would be extremely inconvenient. The health officer of course has to board every ship that enters the harbor. I should like to meet the wishes of the people by removing the station from’ its present position, but of course the convenience of shipping has to be considered, and we also have to be careful to safeguard the health of the community. However, I shall be pleased to see what can be done in the matter.
– The matter of the removal of the Sydney quarantine station has been under discussion for some time, and we have always been met with objections on the part of officers who naturally do not desire to get too far from Sydney. Officials never want to get far from the large cities. But there is really nothing in the objection urged by the Minister as to sending ships to be examined at Broken Bay. They could be examined anywhere; and if the detention of any ship were necessary, she could be sent on to the quarantine station. We quite understand that the medical officers do not wish the station to be removed to a place several miles from Sydney, which would ‘ not be within easy access to the delights of that very charming city. But there is available a good site at Broken Bay, exceedingly extensive in area, and where the land is not worth more than £1 an acre. Indeed, the Government could obtain any quantity of land almost for nothing. It certainly is not desirable to continue to utilize the beautiful historical position at the front gate of Australia for this purpose, more particularly as it is close alongside one of the marine suburbs of Sydney, to which, in the summer time, millions of people troop for the sea bathing. I warmly press this matter upon the attention of Ministers, and trust that they will not be put off by bluff in the form of official explanations. I assure the Minister that an excellent site could be obtained a few miles away that could easily be controlled by the quarantine officers. It is highly undesirable that land that is worth at least £4,000 or £5,000 an acre should be continued to be used for this purpose.
– I strongly support the case which has been submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney. It has always seemed to me that the quarantine station in Sydney ought not to be located in what is certainly one of the choicest spots in Australia. I am satisfied that if the station were removed, the present site would be rapidly filled up, and become one of the beauty spots of Sydney. No inconvenience to anybody would be caused by the removal of the station. The effectiveness of the control would not be diminished in the slightest degree. I trust that the Minister will look into the matter seriously, and see if the land in question cannot be made available to the citizens of Sydney.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 4 (Defence), £[189,986.
– I draw attention to the item of £429 for drill halls in New South Wales. Last year the appropriation for this purpose was £[485, of which sum only £111 was spent. Of the sum proposed to be spent this year, £374 is a re- vote, and £55 is all that is proposed to be spent for additions to drill halls. This amount seems to be ridiculously small to cover the needs of the whole of New South Wales. I am aware that the Government have been in communication with a number of local governing bodies, with the object of obtaining the use of town and shire halls and other public buildings for drill hall purposes ; but I do not know that any great amount of success has attended the negotiations. I have been agitating for a drill hall to be erected at Grafton for the last two or three years, but not much headway has been made. 1 have been continually met with the answer that the matter is under consideration. I shall be glad if the Minister will make some explanation as to the policy of the Department with regard to the erection of drill halls, as they are certainly very necessary for the instruction of the troops.
– The question of providing drill halls for the instruction of the troops certainly’ presents a serious problem to the Defence Department. It is well known that the Department is incurring heavy expenditure in connexion with the training of the youth of Australia. We have been negotiating with local bodies - municipal councils, agricultural societies, and the like - having halls available, and have been endeavouring to have them made available occasionally for defence purposes. In some States we have been successful. In other States we have been only partly successful. In view of our increasing necessities we hope that as these local bodies gain a more thorough appreciation of what is proposed there will be a more generous response to our requests. The Minister of Defence is particularly desirous that every facility shall be granted in those districts that are to be proclaimed as areas.
– I was looking for such an item as “ rent of halls,” and so forth.
– No doubt such an item would appear under the heading of “ Miscellaneous” in the general Estimates. I shall have the matter looked into, and supply the honorable member with every information before the general Estimates are passed.
– I do not know whether the Defence Department has yet thought of what -possibilities - there- are- in -the- -making ofdrill halls useful for general purposes. I am in hearty accord with the desire to thoroughly equip the drill halls for purposes of defence, and there are other objects which could be equally well served if the halls were given a wider area of usefulness. Some effort should be made to make them a social centre for the physi cal and mental development of the young men of the towns and rural districts. I see no reason why drill halls, especially in country towns, should not be thrown open every night and provided with facilities for gymnastic exercises. There is a magnificent opportunity for the use of drill halls in this direction, not only to train our young men, but to provide them with means of physical development. If this course were adopted it would tend to make the defence of the Commonwealth an attractive element to the young men who otherwise are inclined to mis-spend their time. I hope that the Department will keep these possibilities before them, and I promise that I shall return to the subject later on.
.I wish to obtain from the Minister an explanation of the reason why items relating to defence buildings and rifle ranges appear in some cases under the heading of the Department of Home Affairs and in others under the Defence Department. Portion appears in one Department and portion in another.
– The explanation is that in connexion with certain works it is necessary for the Defence Department to enlist the services of the experts of the Department of Home Affairs. Their services are necessary, for instance, in the erection of buildings, but in other cases the items appear under the heading of the Defence Department, because the expenditure has been incurred by the Department by handing the sums direct to the rifle clubs concerned. In some cases the construction of rifle ranges is carried out by the rifle clubs themselves.
.I thank the honorable Minister for his explanation. I do not understand it, but I shall read it in Hansard. As to the matter to which the honorable member for Brisbane has drawn attention, I understand from the Minister of Home Affairs that it is the intention of the Government that drill halls shall be used for general public- purposes when .they, are .not .actually required in connexion with the drilling of troops. 1 would point out that in many large centres we have no drill halls, and that naval cadets, scouts, and others have to drill in the open. The local town halls are not available, and the Department is not prepared to make any concession to the municipalities in return for their use.
The contention of the Department is that the municipalities, if they have any patriotism, will throw open their halls, free of charge, for the use of the troops. If the Department is not prepared to build drill halls to meet the local requirements, it should make some concession to the municipal councils who grant’ the use of their public buildings for the training of our scouts, cadets, and general forces. I ask the Minister to take that suggestion into consideration.
– I shall strongly recommend to the Minister of Defence the desirableness of adopting the honorable member’s suggestion. The Government are letting the drill halls wherever possible, where other public halls are not ‘available, provided the municipalities will give us a clean bill of health, and agree that we have complied with the health laws. As Minister of Home Affairs, I could not consent to the use of our drill halls, and run the risk of being tried for manslaughter in the case of an accident, where the requirements of the Health Act had not been complied with.
– I wish to call attention to the provincialism of these Melbourne people. The moment a Victorian Minister makes an explanation, the honorable member for Bourke thanks him, and compliments him on the full and clear statement he has made; but he has nothing save contempt for a representative of poor Western Australia, or little Tasmania, and empties upon them the vials of his sarcasm. After that special rebuke, I shall proceed to ask the Minister for an explanation with regard to the item “ Stabling, and other buildings for military horses - Towards cost, £1,000.” In a footnote, we are informed that the total cost is to be ,£9,435. Where are these stables to be provided, and what kind of buildings are to be erected? If they are to cost practically £10,000, is it wise to vote only £1,000 in respect of them?
– It is the intention of the Department, as far as possible, in the future, to have its own horses in the big centres of population, instead of having to hire them by the day as at present. In connexion with that scheme, it is proposed to erect stables, to begin with, in at. least two of the large centres. One will be in Sydney and the other in Melbourne; and they will be used as depots for all the horses that will be required. To begin with, some money will be expended in providing accommodation for the horses that are now used in these particular localities. The scheme, when complete, will provide for all the horses required in the whole of the metropolitan areas, and those horses may ultimately be drafted from the breeding establishments which we seriously contemplate creating.
– When shall we have a statement regarding the proposal for breeding horses? It is a very important one; and this item seems to me to savour of putting the cart before the horse.
– It is not a case of putting the cart before the horse. Our proposition is that, instead of hiring the horses we require, as we do at present, at a considerable cost, we should have our own. We cannot, however, start breeding horses to-morrow, and have a supply for the field artillery on the following day. It will be at least four years before there could be any horses ready to be drafted from the breeding establishments, to take the place of those at present employed. When the general Estimates are under consideration, I hope to be able to make an explanation of the intention of the Minister of Defence with regard to the creation of a horsebreeding establishment. At present, we have stables in various parts of our metropolitan areas ; and we think that we shall get greater efficiency and save money by the system of concentration that we propose.
– I am rather glad that the Government propose to have their own horses for defence purposes. In connexion with one of our demonstrations, I was rather struck by the poor appearance of the cattle that our men were asked to ride. Subsequently, I addressed certain questions to the Minister, and obtained some information as to the money we pay by way of the hire of horses. I found that tenders were called, and that there were only one or two people in the city who could enter into a contract for their supply. As they have not anything like the number actually required, one man tenders for the supply of the lot, and then farms out the tender to others. I should not mind that, if horses fit to ride were supplied ; but, as a matter of fact, our men are often given a horse that is not fit to head a bullock. I had intended to say something more, and would have done so but for the statement of the Honorary Minister that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the question of a breeding station.
Ihope, however, that before the Government commit themselves they will seriously consider the matter. The breeding of horses seems a very simple business to a man who sees a horse, which he thinks has been bred for £5 or £6, sold in a yard for £40 or £50, but such a horse is only one in a thousand ; and my suggestion is that the breeding of horses be left alone - that other people be allowed to take the risks. If horses bred by the Government should turn out to be not good enough for military purposes, they will prove a poor speculation. I should now like to call attention to the matter of rifle ranges in New South Wales. Last year, £1,724 was provided for. this purpose, but only £914 was spent, leaving the balance to be revoted this year. The revote £810 shows thatthe Department still regard £1,724 asnecessary ; but, if that be so, why was the money not all spent, in view of the fact that all over New South Wales rifle clubs find it impossible to obtain a shilling for ranges. If some slight improvement is asked for in a range, an official is sent from Sydney to report, at a cost more than that of the proposed work.
– We are stopping that now.
– The Estimates would show that the evil is being perpetuated. In reply to the honorable member for Bourke, the Minister said that an amount of work has been carried out by the local clubs themselves in a very satisfactory manner ; and from all I can see, the Department has in that way had more than value for its money. I hope that the Government will see that men who are disposed to give their time in qualifying themselves as first-class shots are not discouraged owing to the want of ranges.
– I agree with what the honorable member for Cowper has said in regard to rifle ranges. Our great effort ought to be to encourage rifle shooting in every way, and the best encouragement is the provision of adequate ranges. In many instances there are either no ranges, or ranges whichthe expenditure of£5. or £10would make available; but there is the greatest difficulty in getting the Department to attend to these little matters. It is a fact that some of the clubs cannot be kept together because of these disadvantages; and I hope the Government will inquire into the, matter. I do not know whether it is right or wrong for the Government to breed their own horses; but I may say that, a few years ago, when in Switzerland, I had an excellent opportunity of inquiring into the system there. I discovered, amongst other things, that the military authorities, instead of keeping a large body of horses in idleness, have an excellent plan by which they have command of any number at about a quarter the cost that would be incurred under the purchase plan. When a private person desires to buy a horse, he submits the animal to a military veterinary surgeon, and, if it be passed as fit for war purposes, a certificate is given to that effect, together with a portion of its cost. In return for this and a small annual payment, the military authorities have the services of the animal at any time they require it, a record being kept and periodical examinations made. If we are called upon to defend the Commonwealth, we shall require a large number of horses for transport, as well as for actual fighting purposes; and, under the Swiss plan, we should have a full supply at one-third or one-fourth the cost of buying the animals outright.
– Can the horses m Switzerland be obtained when they are required for drill purposes?
– They can be obtained for any purpose, on a requisition being sent to the centre nearest to the encampment or field of operations. This is a practical suggestion that forced itself on my consideration, and I strongly recommend it. In Switzerland they go further, and obtain their transport waggons on a similar plan. These waggons have to be of a certain strength and specified construction; and if private individuals will use the military type the Government pay so rauch towards the cost and upkeep, on the understanding that the vehicles are at their disposal as occasion arises. Possibly many of these waggons are worn out by the private individuals in ordinary work, thus adding wealth to the country, and are replaced by others; at any rate, there is always an adequate supply of both horses and waggons.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is evidently not aware that the very system he suggests is already in operation here so far as waggons are concerned.
– It is most extraordinary that the Legislature is the last to learn the fact !
– If the honorable member had been in the House when the last Estimates were under consideration he would have heard the whole scheme explained. Last year the Government spent £3,000 or £4,000 in testing the schemes at the Kitchener camps, and I was particularly struck with the huge number of Capecarts which were brought into camp in Queensland, and did duty for transport. These carts seem eminently suitable for the bush of Australia, and their value was thereby demonstrated.
– How many horses were registered as available ?
– There are no horses registered; I am speaking only of carts.
– Horses are hired usually, are they not?
– Yes. The system suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney is simply that the men furnish their own horses, subject to inspection by the authorities, and they are gradually recouped the cost over a series of years. It is a very good system ; but I am not sure that we could not better it in Australia. Switzerland is a very small place, whereas Australia is a large place ; and I see no reason why we should not utilize the Yass-Canberra Territory for a horsebreeding station, and so supply horses as we need them.
– But plenty of good food is required for military horses !
– There is plenty of good food at Yass-Canberra. I should like to call the Minister’s attention to the estimated expenditure of £31,760 for stabling, made up of £9,435 for Victoria, £9,435 for New Soutth Wales, £4,385 for Queensland,£2,600 for Western Australia, £2,600 for South Australia, and £3,305 for Tasmania.
– I mentioned that it was not a provincial proposal.
– It is a waste of public money.
– The honorable member is speaking “ without his book “ on this question.
– It is certainly a huge item for stabling accommodation.
– That is for the complete scheme.
– I am speaking of the complete scheme; and before the arrangements for horsing the mounted forces of Australia are submitted, there are two courses open to us : We can either breed our own and utilize the Federal Territory for the purpose -
– Probably only one horse out of three would prove suitable for the work !
– This item has absolutely nothing to do with the breeding establishment.
– The honorable member is quite right, but the breeding establishment will have something to do with this item when it is in operation.
– It may or may not, but we shall require this vote if we never hare a breeding establishment !
– This item will not be required if the scheme suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney comes into operation; and it is certainly worth the attention of the military authorities. I hope that what I cannot avoid describing as the crazy scheme, suggested when the last Labour Government held office, will not be carried out. It was a scheme for the breeding of horses somewhere in the Northern Territory. It was proposed that, after breeding the horses, the Government should hire them for ordinary work. The Department was to stipulate the kind of work in which they should be employed, the number of hours they were to be worked, and to require that they should be available when necessary for purposes of training; and they were to get from 18s. to 20s. a week from those who would be foolish enough to hire them at such a price under such conditions ; and the Government expected in that way to make an immense profit out of the operation of the scheme. That scheme is still in the Department, and I hope it will be kept there as a curiosity. In Australia, where we have plenty of open spaces, I favour the breeding of our own horses for military purposes, if possible; but I have to admit that, under our scheme of training, the problem of horsing the Defence Force is by no means an easy one to solve. Sixteen days’ training is provided for in the Defence Bill, and the question arises : What is to be done with the horses for the rest of the year? Is it proposed that they shall be kept in stables eating their heads off?
– The scheme I suggested would overcome that difficulty.
– The Government might very well have omitted this vote from these Estimates until the policy it was intended to adopt had been finally decided. By looking through the votes for the various States, we discover that the Government are asking for £30,000 to build stables for horses. We had no idea that so large an amount was involved, and the Government should not attempt to force the vote through in the way they are doing now.
– However good the suggestion made by the honorable member . for North Sydney may be, those who have experience of the work of the Department will scarcely recommend it for acceptance. The action of the Department in connexion with the railway accident which occurred when Lord Kitchener visited Tasmania was simply disgraceful. In that accident a number of horses were killed, and the Department paid £15 per head for horses that were worth £50, and told the men who freely brought them out for service that they had only insured to the extent of £15 per head, and if they wanted any more they would have to sue for it. I have no hesitation in saying that the action of the Department in this case has struck a serious blow at the mounted infantry regiments of the island State. It amounted to nothing less than repudiation, and was not creditable to the National Government of a country like Australia. In these matters the heads of the Government Departments run Federal Ministries and the Federal Parliament for all they are worth. Whenever an honorable member approaches n Federal Minister upon any subject, he takes a note of the matter, refers it to the head of his Department, and if that othcer does not recommend what the member has suggested, the member is given a polite reply, and that’ is all the satisfaction he gets. That, I am sure, is the experience of all who have had any dealings with Federal Ministers during the last ten years. On the subject of the breeding of horses for the Defence Force and the erection of stables, I repeat my protest against the introduction of so important a “new matter after a sitting of seventeen or eighteen hours when half the members of the Committee are asleep, and do not know what subject is being discussed. Horses suitable for military purposes are the result of crossbreeding, and any one who understands the breeding of horses will know that that means that for every three horses bred on the military stations not more than one will be suitable for military purposes.
– Not more than one in twelve.
– I make a moderate estimate, and I ask, What is to be done with the other two? Are they to be thrown upon the market to fetch whatever they will? We are being asked to vote £30,000 for the erection of stables. What horses are to be stabled? Is it the intention of the Government to buy horses, use them for a fortnight or three weeks for military purposes, and stable them for the rest of the year? The scheme is so mad that it is hard to believe that even the head of a Government Department would recommend it.
– With regard to what the honorable member for Franklin has said about the heads of Departments running Ministers, whilst that may have occurred heretofore, honorable members may take it from me that the head of a Department who will run me is not yet born. I can say further, that during the time I have been in charge of the Home Affairs Department the heads of that Department have never tried to do so. They put matters from their point of view and the Minister decides.
– As a rule, the Minister does not know very much about the matter on which he is called upon to decide.
– If he is a business man, he will know as much about it as another. I venture to say that I could run the British Empire. When a member of Parliament calls upon a Minister in connexion with a particular matter, the Minister must ask the Secretary of the Department to make an inquiry into it before he can know what to do. I agree with what has been said by the honorable member for Cowper regarding rifle ranges. The number of small things which can only be done at great cost, and which in America I could deal with by ringing a bell, -is appalling-. There is -too -much- red tape, but will honorable members make suggestions for avoiding the expenditure of public money on departmental reports and the usual routine procedure? It seems to me that when a member of Parliament notifies a Department that a post-office needs repairing, we should be able to telegraph to some one in the town to do the work.
– I am pleased that the Minister is stiffening his back, and intends to effect economies. The provision of stabling for military horses seems a needless expense. In Queensland the farmers would be very glad to have their horses retained by the Commonwealth, and a number of them thought of breeding horses which would be suitable for defence purposes, and could be retained for less than it would cost the Department to breed its own horses.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the following paragraph, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of 23rd August last -
SUNDAY RIFLE SHOOTING.
Senator Pearce made plain today his attitude in regard to rifle shooting on Sundays. It is reported that shooting has taken place on Sundays on some miniature and other ranges in the Commonwealth. The Minister said that he thought the matter was one entirely for the clubs, which had the power to prevent members from shooting on any particular day. He was not going to be the keeper of riflemen’s consciences. If those people who objected to Sunday rifle practice would concentrate their efforts on the clubs they would, probably, be able to effect their purpose. It was not a matter for Ministerial intervention.
This is certainly a matter for the intervention of Parliament. I protest against the inaction of the Minister.
– The battle of Gettysburg was fought on a Sunday.
– War has no respect for one day more than another, but the Commonwealth Government should respect the feelings of the people in regard to Sabbath observance. The best interests of Australia will not be served by allowing Sunday to be a free and easy day. If the rifle ranges are to be used on that day, why should not the drill halls, the Departments, and Parliament also be open? The using of the rifle ranges on Sunday gives offence to a very large section of the community - a section composed of its best elements, law abiding, reliable citizens. The Minister should not have treated the matter so cavalierly. When I hear of occurrences of this kind, I shall give publicity to them, and try time and again to get improvements effected.
– The Government is asking us to vote ?31,750 to provide for stables. Of this amount, ?[10,000 is required for New South Wales, ?10,000 for Victoria,
Queensland. Yet the Department has less than eighty horses - about sixty cadre horses, and eight or ten transport horses. No proposal is made for the breeding or acquiring of other horses. In the absence of explanation from the Minister, I shall move -
That the item “ Stabling and other buildings for military horses - Towards cost, ?1,000,” subdivision 1, New South Wales, be left out.
– -I shall take an early opportunity to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane. I hope that the Committee will not agree to the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta. I have already pointed out that we have a well considered scheme for the effective defence of Australia by sea and on land. On land we shall need both foot soldiers and horsemen. It is estimated that the cost of the whole scheme this year will be about ?[2,800,000; but as for the stabling referred to, only ?[1,000 is needed for New South Wales, and ?1,000 for Victoria. The expenditure mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta will not take place until it becomes necessary.
– That will not be for some years.
– That is so. The Minister is advised that by spending ?1,000, as proposed, he will effect economy. Honorable members seem to think that the eight days’ camp and a little additional drill is all that concerns the field artillery, but the guns are taken out for instructional purposes nearly every Saturday afternoon, to give the militiamen an opportunity to understand their use. When our defence scheme is completed, we shall have made provision for the accommodation of 1,445 horses to be used for the field batteries and for other purposes. There will be 450 horses in use in New South Wales alone. If the Committee takes this matter out of the hands of the Minister, it must accept the responsibility. I am satisfied, from the interview which I had with him yesterday that what he proposes is the most economical method of dealing with the case.
– I have only to say that if the statements of the Honorary Minister be correct, they ought to be susceptible of demonstration to this Committee. The honorable gentleman has merely made, bald
assertions. He has advanced no proof of them. He has declared that 1,445 horses will be required, but he has not told us why they will be required. All we know is that we are to have two additional batteries of artillery, in which the present cadre horses will be merged. He has not told us for what purpose these 1,400 odd horses are to be used. Before we commit ourselves to an expenditure of £30,000 upon stabling, we ought to know whether the Government intend to breed their own horses, and whether they can demonstrate to the country that the adoption of such a course is preferable to buying the number of horses which we require. We ought to be told whether it is better than paying to the owners who breed horses a retaining fee of so much per head, according to the requirements of our army. The country has a right to know which is the best scheme to adopt before committing itself to an expenditure of £30,000 upon stabling accommodation. I ask the Honorary Minister to withdraw the item until we have been afforded an opportunity of discussing the whole question of horse production in connexion with the Estimates-in-Chief . In the meantime, let him bring down a memorandum, showing exactly what the Government propose to do. If he establishes his claim for these horses I shall be the first to support it.
– I think that the honorable member for Parramatta is in error in supposing that the Commonwealth is being asked to commit itself to an expenditure of £30,000 for stabling accommodation. These Estimates provide for the expenditure of only a small portion of that money during the current financial year. That expenditure forms part of the Government policy, which is a well considered policy, i have a distinct recollection of talking .this matter over with the Minister of Defence, and we were both convinced, not only that this is the cheapest, but also that it is the most efficient, way of protecting our horses which are intended for use in the permanent -artillery-.
– Surely that fact can be demonstrated to the Committee.
– Every horse will, undoubtedly, be trained for the artillery. Horses cannot be trained for that work in a day, or a month, or a year, and for that reason we require permanent stabling accommodation for their protection, because such animals will be valuable. After all, artillery transport is the very first essential of artillery efficiency. In the absence of proper equipment we might as well be without artillery. _ If the information, which has been given to the Committee on this matter, is not as full as it might be-
– No information has been forthcoming in reference to the Government scheme.
– The policy of the Government has been well considered, and the proposed vote is merely a vote on account. If further information is required, I promise the honorable member to at once obtain it, and to lay it before Parliament. If that information is not what it ought to be, I will agree to eliminate the item from the Estimates.
– The Prime Minister cannot do that.
– Then I will promise to make such arrangements that the proposed expenditure will not be incurred.
– Will the Prime Minister undertake to give the Committee particulars relating to this matter before the Bill passes from our control?
– I think I can manage to do that before the report stage is reached.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that he has merely stated the problem with which we are confronted. He has offered no solution of - it.
– I would not state that which I do not know.
– I agree with the honorable gentleman that we cannot overrate the importance of having a sufficient number of trained horses for our mounted troops and our artillery.
– And stables in which to accommodate them.
– But I repeat that the Prime Minister has merely stated the problem. The real question is whether it is wise for the Commonwealth to keep these horses all- the year round for the” purpose of getting two or three months’ work out of them ? The commercial side of the matter is one which we ought to consider.
– The horses will not be kept in stables all the year round.
– I wish to know what the Government are going to do with these horses during nine or ten months of the year.
– They will be used by the permanent artillery.
– But the horses will not be permanently employed. I hope that the Prime Minister will furnish us with a memorandum setting out the whole scheme of the Government. Upon that understanding, I am content to allow the item to pass.
– The item upon which I desire to obtain information has reference to rifle ranges in Queensland. Last year £789 was appropriated for this purpose, but only £184 was expended. I do not know who is responsible for that small expenditure, but I do know that the State from which I hail is very short of rifle range accommodation. The Department of Home Affairs has refused to spend money upon the Ipswich range on the ground that it is unsafe. I know that a scheme was on foot for the establishment of a rifle range at Redbank and I should like to know what progress has been made in that connexion. I also desire to ascertain how the proposed revote of £605 is to be expended ? I wish further to ask whether the Department of Defence is committed to the Beerburrum rifle range, which I think is intended as an artillery range? This matter has been under consideration for some time, and I should like to ascertain whether the Department has decided to purchase the land which has been offered to it for practice purposes.
– I wish to obtain information in regard to the establishment of a rifle range for metropolitan troops in the vicinity of Brisbane. Last year, out of an appropriation of ,£8,932, only £4,890 was expended, and an additional sum of ,£471 is provided this year which, added to the revote of £4,042, brings the estimated expenditure up to £4,513. Does that amount include the cost of providing some means of communication between the Enoggera railway station - the terminus of the line - and the rifle range? The range is very inconvenient of access, and I have heard strong complaints, not merely from the men in the service, but also from the officers of the cadets, and the cadets themselves, who are compelled to walk two miles from the station before they can begin shooting.
– They ought to have a motor car provided for them.
– I know that a proposal was made to run a light tramway from the railway station to the rifle range - a tramway which would not only accommodate the Defence Department in the matter of carriage of their supplies, but would also be a very great convenience to the men themselves. Under the existing arrangement, the latter are subjected to an unfair handicap. Does the Department contemplate making some arrangement for establishing communication between the railway station and the rifle range?
– I scarcely think that the Government can accept any obligation to provide quick transit from the railway station to the rifle range for some time to come. We have to spend such a considerable sum in getting the rifle ranges into a suitable condition that I am afraid that most of the funds which are available will be exhausted when giving consideration to other matters. Whilst I sympathize with the unfortunate position of those who have to travel a very considerable distance to the rifle range, I am afraid that that is a matter with which the Department cannot deal at present. As regards the rifle range itself, the work of construction is being carried out by day labour. The item submitted on these Estimates also provides for the erection of a caretaker’s cottage and a magazine. The caretaker will be responsible for the care of the Government stores. There are no buildings adjacent to the site which could be rented for that purpose. In reply to the honorable member for Moreton, 1 may mention that the total estimated cost of the Beerburrum rifle range is £3,000. The proposal is to provide an artillery rifle range, and a vote of ,£500 is now asked towards the cost of clearing an area for camp, line of fire, and targets.
– In these Estimates I can find no provision made to compensate the owners of some houses for the damage done to them by the firing of guns at Fort Forrest, in North Fremantle. I received from the Minister of Home Affairs a letter stating that such provision will be made. If it has been made on these Estimates, it has not been stated very plainly. I should like to be satisfied that it is made, because a copy of the letter was sent on to the owners. Their houses have been shaken to pieces, and squares of ceiling have fallen down. In fact, the houses are really dangerous for persons to occupy, because they are within a chain road of the big guns.
– If provision for compensating these owners has been made, it would hardly appear on the Works and Buildings Estimates. I understand that’ the matter has been brought before the Defence Department, and, as the Treasury is concerned, I shall place the honorable member’s representations before the Treasurer to-morrow, and acquaint him with the reply.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 5 (Post and Telegraphs), j£2«>3°5-
– Under the head of Post and Telegraphs, we are asked to vote £4,496 for additions to sundry offices in New South Wales. Last year we voted £4,961 for this purpose, but only £3,106 was spent, and, to show that the appropriation of the money was quite justified, we are now asked to revote .£1,855. It is nonsense to suggest that the offices in New South Wales do not require the expenditure of this money. There is not a representative from that State who has not worn the soles off his boots and the point off his pen in applying personally and by letter for additions to be made, but he cannot get them.
– They have not a staff sufficiently large to carry out the work.
– This item has, I am sure, engaged the attention of every honorable member. We have all used our best efforts to get improvements effected in buildings in our electorates. Many of them are in a very insanitary condition. In some cases the repairs required to be done are not very extensive, and in other cases a considerable amount of repairs is needed. But the wretched red-tapism which prevails between the Departments taxes both my patience and my temper. I received an assurance from the Minister of Home Affairs that the absurd routine which is now practised in connexion with applica- —- tions would-not -be- allowed “to continue, “but” it is still indulged in.
– It is not the fault of our Department.
– It is not for me to say whose fault it is, but for the Minister to remedy matters. If the Public Works officer has reported that the repairs to a building ought to cost £15, and a tenderer has asked £15 10s., his tender cannot be accepted. In one case tenders have been called no less than four times simply because the tenders had exceeded the estimated cost of the work. The papers are still going backwards . and forwards, and the work is not yet done. The Committee is asked to vote a sum of £4,496 for the additions. If every penny of that amount is spent, the offices will not be in the state of repair in which they should be. In view of my past experience, I fail to see what chance we have of getting the money spent this year if present conditions are permitted to continue.
– The conditions are going to be killed.
– I heard that an officer was going to be killed over the business, but he is still alive. The blind adherence to redtapism ‘ has brought the Department into absolute contempt. If it is only a tin-pot affair, costing a ,£10 note, all the routine is gone through. I can refer the Minister to files in both Departments which will show that the reports on applications have cost more than the works themselves would have done. Officers have had to travel forty or fifty or one hundred miles to report on a £40 or ,£50 job, and, of course, they did not travel second class, nor do I desire them to do so The present Minister said that he was going to institute a drastic reform.
– So I am.
– It is still a matter of circumlocution. Here we are discussing in the first week of September Estimates which will will not be passed for some weeks. In the past these matters could not be dealt with because the necessary money was not available, and the officers were not allowed to call for tenders until the beginning of the calendar year, because nearly always the Appropriation Bill is the last measure of the session.
– As soon as this Bill is passed, they will be allowed to go on with the ‘works. - - - .
– I have made the officers so familiar with these cases that whenever I enter the office they can always anticipate what I have come to inquire about. I hope that the amount which is provided on these Estimates will be spent. The complaint used to be that the House did not vote enough money, but that cannot be said in regard to the vote for last year, because in each case there was a surplus. Surely the officers can manage to spend the money voted within the financial year. If the Minister of Home Affairs will institute an inquiry he will find that works cost a lot more for reports than they ought to do. Some time ago I asked for information as to how works were carried out, and what arrangements existed between the Home Affairs Department and the State Public Works Department, and, generally speaking, the terms for the average work were about 6 per cent. I do not think that that amount is too high, because if the Department had to send a man of its own it would probably cost as much. But the trouble is that when matters have to be referred from one Department to another there is always delay, and even after a particular work is carried out nobody in the Home Affairs Department seems to know that it .is finished. The last time I was in Sydney I went to the Home Affairs office there and asked whether certain works in my electorate had been completed. I knew the contract time had expired. But the officials said they did not know, and that the only way they ever knew when works were completed was when the final voucher was presented for payment. The final voucher is only received when a contractor intimates that his work is completed. The public works officer for the district inspects and passes the work at such time after as he can conveniently visit it. The Home Affairs Department knows nothing about what is going on until the final voucher is produced for payment on die certificate of the inspecting officer. Even today I do not know whether the works to which I refer are finished or not. Certainly I have had no notice that they are finished, and I was making inquiries only a few weeks ago. These are defects that no privately managed institution would permit for twenty-four hours; and if the Government wish the public to agree to the extension of Commonwealth functions we shall have to show that the affairs we- at present manage are much better conducted than is the case. Otherwise people will be inclined to take control from the Commonwealth instead of intrusting it with greater responsibilities. The schedule contains a list of new post- offices to be built in various places. I regret that there is no reference in the list to a post-office that is required to be erected at Wauchope. I have made special repre- sentations concerning the matter. At present the Department rents some small premises. But last year a suitable site for an office was acquired and paid for. The practice of the Department is, after acquiring a site, to have plans prepared and make arrangements for building. But when I made inquiries as to whether the usual practice was being pursued in this case I found that it was not so. I then made representations to the Minister, and showed that this was a special -case. The town in question is the terminus of two railway contracts, tenders for which will be invited within the next week or two. When the railway work commences about a couple of thousand men will be engaged upon it, and the present office at Wauchope will be quite inadequate. It is absolutely idle to think that the present premises, that are not big enough as things are, will be anything like sufficient for a larger population. I was informed by the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department that they had approved of the work and had applied to the Home Affairs Department, who expected that the office would have been included in this schedule ; but I now find that the Treasurer has refused to find the money. Under the circumstances there might be good reason for the postponement of the work, but I can assure the Treasurer that the Government must have a larger office in which to carry on their’ work. It is impossible to continue with the present arrangements. When the railway work commences every place in which a man can lay his head will be rented.
– How much would the work cost?
– I should say that it would cost £500 or £600 or possibly £800.
– That is rather an expensive office.
– A weatherboard building is usually built for this class of office. I am judging from the amounts which I see provided for similar offices in other places. The fact that the Post and Telegraph Department approved of the expenditure for work shows that it is warranted. I ask the Minister whether it is possible to make provision for the building to be erected, in view of the commencement of the railway works to which I have referred.
– I call attention to the proposed expenditure of £1,100 for the Wyong office. What is proposed to be done is to build a new post-office. Wyong is a rapidly growing place. The present office is tumbling down about the ears of the officials through the ravages of white ants, and the Department are going to repeat the trouble by erecting a new wooden office instead of a brick building.
– The white ants must have food !
– They ought not to be fed at the public expense.
– The revenue of the post-office in question is between £900 and £1,000. The population of Wyong is about 500. It is reported that the present premises, which are Commonwealth property, are being rapidly destroyed by white ants. It is considered inadvisable to spend a large sum ot money on repairs and alterations, and it is therefore proposed to erect a new building- on a new site, which has been acquired.
– The population of Wyong has been very much under-estimated by the Minister. I also think that his figures as to revenue are not up to date.
– Does the honorable member know why white ants were allowed to get into the premises and remain in?
– How do the white ants get into the telegraph poles?
– Nobody lives in the telegraph poles !
– It is appropriate that the Prime Minister should know so much about the habits of white ants, with which I have heard the members of his own party compared.
– White ants can be kept out of premises anywhere by intelligent people.
– So they can, hut somehow some people do not seem to be able to get rid of them. The point is that the Department is “about to “erect a “brick post-office with a wooden residence attached, and it seems to me that for the sake of another couple of hundred pounds a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy is being pursued. A wooden building, in ten years’ time, will be eaten away, but a brick building will stand for a hundred years. I, therefore, ask the Minister to have the residence erected of brick instead of wood.
– We will look into the matter, but apparently there is a special brand of white ants at Wyong !
Proposed vote agreed to. .
Division 6 (Telegraphs and Telephones), £688,000.
Mr. CHARLTON (Hunter) [6.10 a.m.j. - I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the first two items in this division. They relate to the construction and extension of telegraph lines, instruments, and materials, in respect of which last year £37,530 was voted, and only £20,738 expended, and to the construction and extension of telephone lines, instruments, and material, in respect of which ,£106,050 was voted last year, and only £86,635 expended. I fail to see why there should have been such a large unexpended balance in each of these cases, having regard to the fact that many urgent works are still awaiting construction. Quite a number of works have been promised, and have been delayed. Many that should have been completed last year remain untouched, yet the’ vote passed has not been expended. What is the use of voting money for these services if it is not to be expended? It is idle to say that time would not permit of the expenditure of the full amount, because far more than was actually voted could have been expended during the financial year. If the Department is short of the necessary material the officers should see that a supply is obtained. We receive numbers of promises, but nothing is done in the way of carrying out new works. On the other hand, there is no difficulty experienced by the Department in reducing the status of a post-office, or in paying miserable wages. There is no difficulty apparently in doing that which causes the people to suffer, and in making savings of this kind, which are opposed to the public interest. It is time, so far as this Department is concerned, that we put our house in order. We are not giving the people the services to which they are entitled. Yesterday I received a letter saying that’ one telegraph line which is urgently needed in my electorate is thirteenth on the list, and that it cannot be constructed during the present financial year. Yet we find that of the vote passed last year to provide for the construction and extension of telegraph lines, £[16,792 was unexpended. There are important works connected with the Postmaster-General’s Department that were expected to be carried out during the last financial year, but nothing has been done in regard to them. No good purpose is served by voting these amounts if the Departments concerned do not rise to the occasion, and see that the works for which we make provision are carried out. Complaint is made against honorable members when the fault rests not at their door, but at the door of the Department, which fails to expend the votes passed for its purposes. This matter requires to be looked into, for, so far as I can ascertain, the trouble is not that we want more trained men for certain work, but that we do not keep in hand the material required. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs and the PostmasterGeneral will see that votes of this kind are expended before the expiration of the financial year, and that when next year’s Estimates are before us, we shall have no cause to make a complaint of this kind.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether provision has been made for constructing the new trunk telephone line between Sydney and Newcastle. I know from my own experience that the traffic on the present line is absolutely congested, for at midday, which is supposed to be the slackest period, I have had to wait until twelve others have used it.
– Before the Minister replies, I wish to refer to the item relating to “ metallic circuits in existing single wire networks,” in respect of which provision is made for an expenditure of £[15,000. Last year £9,000 was voted, and only £6,057 expended. Instead of trying merely to perfect the present system in the metropolitan areas, the Department should endeavour to give telephone facilities to scattered districts. I have been on an earth circuit on a single wire for the last ten years, and have had a splendid service, having found no difficulty in conversing over a distance of 200 miles. If an earth circuit works satisfactorily at a place like Ipswich, where we have large electrical works - and my office there is close to the railway line where noises should be likely to interrupt conversations - it should be good in other districts. Before the Electrical Engineer endeavours to supply an up-to-date service in every little town he might endeavour to extend a single wire one to country districts where there is no telephone service whatever. I believe that in Sydney the service is not as good as it might be, and that metallic circuits are absolutely necessary in all large cities. But in country towns where there are no electrical works, and not many noises, a single wire gives a good service. Many towns would be pleased to have such a service pending the establishment of metallic circuits. I offer no factious opposition to the item, but I suggest to the Postmaster-General that consideration be given to my suggestion that single wire services should be provided in country centres where no telephones now exist.
– I hope that no attempt will be made to interfere with the Engineer of the Department in regard to the substitution of metallic circuits for single-wire networks. It is a great mistake to use an earth circuit, and I speak as one who has had long experience in the construction of telephone lines and the installation of the very latest system. With an earth return it is impossible to have a good service. Wherever there are electric light works such a system must be interfered with. ‘We established a metallic circuit between Hobart and South Bridgewater, a distance of about 12 miles, and on that circuit on a busy day twenty telephones can be successfully worked. That is due to the fact that we have there a metallic circuit, and not an earth return. It is a perfectly sound line. . The wires are transposed every quarter of a mile, that is to say, they are not connected metallically, but a line on one side of a pole is carried crosswise over another on the other side every quarter of a mile. In that way we avoid all noise. I hope that honorable members will not attempt to interfere with the efforts of the engineers of the Department to bring about a better state of affairs than we have at present.
– I entirely agree with what the honorable member for Denison has said with regard to metallic circuits, and am surprised to find a member of my own party “ looking over his shoulder “ in this respect.
– We want to give the country districts some of the benefits of civilization. I have had a decent service for ten years on a single wire.
– Then the honorable member is very fortunate. I have had a very unsatisfactory one, and there can be no satisfactory service unless there is a metallic circuit. I wish to know why the installation of metallic circuits is proceeding so slowly in New South Wales.
– One man can do only one man’s work. We are told that the staff is not equal to the work.
– I am tired of hearing that explanation for years and years. The fact is that the Department has never caught up to the congestion caused when I reduced the telephone rates, and now the present Postmaster-General is going in the opposite direction. However, as the honorable gentleman is now making the people pay more for their telephones, he ought to give a more efficient service.
– More money is now being spent than ever before !
– That is not saying very much; the honorable gentleman proposes to spend £124,000 more this year than last year, but millions of expenditure is needed.
– We cannot spend more than a certain amount.
– It could be done if the thing were tackled. How is it that in other countries millions of pounds can be spent every year? I am not blaming this Minister, but the Department has never really caught up with our comparatively small amount of business
– Parliament will not provide the money.
– Parliament has provided more money than the Department can spend in a year, and if £1,000,000 more were voted the Department could not spend it.
– Because there is not the material for the works.
– But why is there not the material and the personnel, as in other countries? In the United States of America, I suppose, there are 100 telephones to one in Australia.
– Nothing like that !
– There are about four times as many telephones in the United States of America as there are in all Europe, and they can meet an annual demand one hundred times that of Australia.
– It costs four times as much proportionately to give the service in Australia.
– I am speaking of getting the service, anyhow. For the last twelve years we have had the cry that, owing to want of money, or some other cause, an efficient service cannot be given. If it has been the fault of Parliament, it ought to be the fault of Parliament no longer.
– I do not think it will be. but it has been so in the past.
– I am not prepared to say that Parliament is wholly responsible; but the question ought to be put to the test as early as possible; indeed, in my opinion, the Postmaster-General was in duty bound to have the question settled before he interfered with the rates.
– The interference with the rates is the best thing the Minister ever did.
– My complaint is that the Postmaster-General, in making the big man “ sit up,” also makes the little man “sit up,” and, at the same time, an efficient service is not given. In the Sydney network the telephone system is about as bad as it can be, and, I ask, how it is that, while it is proposed to spend only £15,000 on metallic circuits there, the estimated expenditure on similar work in the case of Melbourne is £117,000?
– The honorable member for Hunter complains, and, I think, very rightly, that a good deal of the money voted in the past has not been spent. One reason is that, in times past, unless the money could be spent in the year in which it was voted, the work was not started, because all unexpended money had to be returned to the States. On the 1st January in this financial year, however, that difficulty will disappear. The honorable member for Parramatta has, to some extent, covered the ground traversed by the honorable member for Hunter, and one reply may do for both. The Department is not altogether to blame for not being able to carry out more works ; the fault lies primarily with the Parliament for not voting more money in thepast, sothat material, instead of being bought simply for specific works, could be obtained in large quantities. Then, again, there has been a great want of trained men in order to carry on the work. We can employ temporary hands for much of the work, but it is essential that the supervision should be in the hands of permanent officials responsible to the Department.
– Some of the temporary hands are as good as permanent hands.
– I believe there are temporary hands who are -even better than some of the permanent hands, but it is only right and fair that the latter should perform the work of supervision. It must be remembered that once a man is put on the permanent staff he remains in the service, although he may early catch up to the work he has to perform.
– Surely a public servant, whether permanent or not, can always be retrenched?
– Unless a man violates the Public Service Act he, practically, cannot be removed. In the future it will be the policy of the Government to order material more extensively than in the past, and, under the new financial arrangement, there will be no necessity to waste six weeks, or two months, towards the end of thi financial year, .but we shall be able to go right on with the works. The honorable member for Parramatta asks why les: money is placed on the Estimates for metallic circuits in Sydney than is provided for Melbourne. I somewhat differ from the honorable member, who says that the service in the Sydney net-work is not so good as in the southern capital, because, in my opinion, the Melbourne service is the least efficient. What I mean is that there are very few metallic circuits in Melbourne. I do not know how many, but I believe the exact figures were given in the Senate in reply to a question by Senator Keating. In Sydney a large number of subscribers are already on the metallic circuit. Whereas we ask for a vote of £[15,000 for this purpose this year, we asked for a vote of only £6,000 last year. In Melbourne very few subscribers are on the metallic circuit, but in a very short time the Melbourne service will be infinitely better than the Sydney service. Those responsible for the work in Melbourne, instead of endeavouring to patch up the present service”, decided to do their best with it, and to start a fresh service in an absolutely new exchange. Those responsible for the work in Sydney, instead of following a similar policy, have been endeavouring to patch up the old exchange, and consequently there are some 2,000 or 3,000 subscribers in Sydney on the metallic circuit working side by side with those on the magneto board. In Melbourne at the present time practically all the subscribers are on the magneto board; but I hope that in twelve months’ time the greater number will be on the metallic circuit. We hope that the Windsor exchange will, in two or three weeks’ time, be on the metallic circuit, and that a new exchange on the metallic circuit will be opened at Northcote in about six weeks’ time.
– Out of consideration for the staff that has been on duty all the night, I shall be very brief in my remarks on this question. Prior to Federation, telephone lines and telephones were put up anyhow under the management of the State Governments, and when the service was transferred to the Commonwealth we had to take over a very poor system indeed. Then a code of regulations was framed which did not permit of men being kept on at the work when they had learned how to do it. Just as a man becomes efficient he is put off, a new man is put on in his place and has to be taught how to do the work. I can mention the case of a line which cost £105, and I venture to say that I could run that line for £54 19s. 6d. and make a good thing out of it. The reason for the excessive expenditure was that efficient men were put off and new chums brought on to the work who had to be taught how to do it by the man in charge. I should like to say that I have been astounded at the paltry pay given to* the men who have to work outside. They work at the risk of their lives, because they never go up a telegraph pole without knowing that they may at any time come in contact with a live electric wire and be killed. In spite of these risks, untrained men are put on to do this work. On the subject of the examination, I may say that I know a practical man in Tasmania who secured the maximum marks for outside line work, but was unable to pass the clerical examination. He was discarded and another man,, who was not nearly so good, was put on because he managed to pass the clerical examination. I could coach up any man sufficiently to pass the clerical examination in. a few weeks, but it is practical men. that the line overseers want. I hope mafin future some more attention will be paid to the outside men. Then we have men who are called telegraph engineers, but who have only been operators and havenever put up a telegraph line in their lives’. Some of these gentlemen are able engineers, but, unfortunately, some arenot, hence the Department suffers. I complain, further, that the fitting staff who are called upon to work the Wheatstone bridge have to come on at 8 o’clock in the morning and work until 5, with half-an-hour for dinner, while the clerk in the Department comes on at 9 o’clock, gets a full hour for dinner, and works only until half-past 4 o’clock. I believe that the clerks’ hours are quite long enough, but I cannot understand why the Department should penalize men who have to do scientific work. The men who are classed as fitters should receive better wages and work shorter hours, and if I am long enough here I shall do my best to see that their condition is improved. I have teen delaying action in the matter only until the report of the Postal Commission is presented. When we get that report, I shall be able to give honorable members the benefit of twenty-five years’ experience at this work. I know what I am talking about, and how the men engaged in this work have been treated in the past. A Deputy Postmaster-General, who may know nothing whatever of telegraphic work, in the effort to keep down expense in his Department, does not hesitate to sweat these men, so that he may get an increase of £20 upon his salary. I notice from the Estimates that the electrical engineers in some of the States are to receive an increase of £20 in their salaries.
– That is the work of the Commissioner.
– Then the Commissioner should know his work better than he does. I shall deal with the matter as a practical man at a later date.
– I regard this question as a very important one. I remind honorable members that when half the members of the service are only temporary men, who are put off after six months’ work, it is impossible to expect them to work well.
– The Department do not say that these men shall not work for more than six months. That is provided foi by an Act passed by this Parliament.
– That may be so, but no business” man “in the “ community “ would dream of carrying on his business in such a way. It is obvious that a man who has worked at a particular business for six months is a better man for the work than a man who is entirely new to it. I understand that the heads of Departments get a bonus for running their Departments cheaply.
– This is the first I have heard of it.
– Then how is it that there is so much work to be done, and yet men are put off? Post-offices are reduced to second and third grade to save expense on salaries. I hope that when the general Estimates for the Department are under consideration, we shall be able to deal with the matter thoroughly.
.. - The Postmaster-General has just said that he hopes soon to have the metallic circuit established in Melbourne. I should like to say that at Hawthorn, where I live, the telephone service must be as bad as any in the world. When one endeavours to connect with another subscriber he can hear twenty people speaking, and all more plainly than the person he has called up. In Western Australia we have private lines up to 106 miles in length in the bush, on which conversations can be heard more plainly than they can over from a mile to a mile and a-half of line between the Exchange and Hawthorn. The condition of affairs in the Department is disgraceful to a Government institution, in view of the service that is maintained by private persons in the interior of Australia.
– I suppose that very little that is new can be said on this matter, but it is well to- press upon the Minsiter and the officers of his Department the necessity for improving the existing condition of affairs. Last year we were invited by the then Postmaster-General to vote a sum of £197,310 for the construction and extension of telegraph and telephone lines, instruments, and material, in New South Wales. I understand that when a Departmental officer sends in an estimate for which he is prepared to carry on a certain branch of the Department, it is submitted to a Committee of the Cabinet or the Treasurer, and may be cut down, so that the figures placed before honorable members in most cases represent reductions upon the estimates supplied by the Department.” Of “the £197,310 which “we voted “last year, only £134,129 was spent. In other words, we voted over £63,181 more than was spent on the construction of telegraph’ lines, instruments, and materials, telephone new trunk lines, metallic circuits, and so on. We are asked now to vote ,£207,000, an increase of over £9,000 on the appropriation of last year.
– And ,£74,000 more than was spent last year.
– I wish to impress upon the Minister the great inconvenience that is occasioned through the nongranting of the facilities for which the unspent money was voted. It is idle to say that the £17,000 not spent on the extension of telegraph lines and construction materials was saved, because the country needed the expenditure. It is also useless for the officer in charge to say that he did not require the money. We find that the “instruments used by the Department are in many cases quite obsolete. There is probably no more important telegraph line in Australia than that between Melbourne and Sydney, and yet I was told in reply to a question the other day that the Wheatstone instruments used by the Department are in at the rate of 320 words a minute each way, are not used in connexion with that line. Obsolete instruments are the cause of a great congestion of business, yet such instruments are to be found in offices where there should be a duplex or a quadruplex.
The Minister says that the Department has been handicapped through want of material. It is impossible to make bricks without straw, but why cannot material be obtained ? A few days ago, I had a letter with reference to a line which connects Grafton with Maclean and the Lower Clarence. Six telephone exchanges work on it, and the telegraph business for the district and to the Richmond is carried over it. The Department acknowledges that the work is urgent, but although it has been promised since 1907-8 it has not been carried out. In the last letter re- ceived regarding it the Department says that tenders have been called for the material, but that this will not be available for six months. The erection of the line will take another two months, so that it will be a year before the work is com- pleted. If I had a man in my business who could not keep his stocks up, he would soon find another in his place. The Post- master-General on the Estimates-in-Chief is providing for about 100 additional linemen and inspectors, and I shall be glad to be informed later whether they are temporary hands transferred to permanent offices or whether they are really new hands. By reason of the use of obsolete instruments, and the failure of the officers of the store branch to keep sufficient stocks of materials, money which has been voted -cannot be spent on necessary work. The same remark applies to telephone construc tion. Although £106,000 was voted for telephone lines, only ,£86,000 was spent, nearly “£[20,000 remaining unspent. The representatives of country constituencies are deluged with letters, asking for telephone lines, yet the vote this year is only
– It is useless to vote more money than can be spent.
– Why not vote at least as much as was voted last year?
– We are voting altogether £60,000 more than was spent last year, and we hope to spend this year all that is voted.
– Judging by the past, I do not think that that will be done. At present, the public has no reason to be proud of the telegraph and telephone Departments.
– I take exception to the statement of the Postmaster-General that the telephone system of Sydney is better than that of Melbourne.
– At any rate, it is not so bad. Neither is good.
-More money has been spent on the installation of metallic circuits in Sydney than has been spent in Melbourne, and, perhaps, the use of metallic circuit lines in conjunction with other lines causes trouble, the bad service neutralizing the good.
– That is so, but it cannot be helped. We are spending money as fast as we can in the Central Exchange in Sydney.
– In Melbourne £[170,000 is to be spent, yet only £13,000 is to be spent in Sydney.
– We are paying in Melbourne for work that has been going on for some years past.
– I still think that more money should be spent in Sydney.
– We would gladly spend £100,000 more there, if we could do so.
– By far the most important matter covered by the schedule is the connexion of Port Davey with other centres of population in Tasmania. Port Davey is the only harbor between Recherche and Macquarie. When I tell honorable member* that wreck after wreck has occurred uponthat coast, that ship-wrecked sailors have actually landed there and died of starvation by reason of the lack of communication, they will see that the work which I am now advocating is a necessary one in the interests of humanity. Any vessel making too much southing is liable to strike the west coast of Tasmania, and as a matter of fact, the heaviest loss recorded there was in the case of a ship which was bound from England to the mainland of Australia.
– Are there no people living there?
– Did the shipwrecked crew actually die of starvation?
– Yes. I suppose that it is one of the most inhospitable coasts of the Commonwealth. Upon that coast there is an unbroken sea stretching down to the ice - one of the roughest seas in the southern hemisphere. It is quite a common experience for vessels trading from Hobart to Macquarie Harbor to be compelled to seek shelter in Port Davey, and frequently the friends of those on board do not know for a week whether they have foundered or not. In the case of the Briar Holme which went ashore on that coast, one man who landed was rescued after he had existed for three or four weeks upon shellfish. It is not proper that such a harbor should be left without means of communication.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Tasmanian Government ought to do something?
– The Government of that State have already made an extremely liberal offer to the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth will undertake the construction of a telephone line from Port Davey to some centre of population, I understand that they have offered to supply a man to take charge of it, and to maintain a depot for the use of shipwrecked mariners. As a matter of fact, a depot has been established at Port Davey for some time. The cruel feature is that that depot existed when the unfortunate sailors of whom I have already spoken, were driven to take refuge there, but that they wereunaware of thatfact. The State Government, I repeat, have offered to do a fair thing. They have intimated their willingness if the Commonwealth will construct a telephone line-
– Which will cost £2,000.
– What right have we to ask the State Government to shoulder the cost of telephonic construction ? Seeing that ships are so frequently wrecked in this particular locality, it is obviously the duty of some authority to afford the crews a chance of being rescued after they have reached the shore. Only in June last a vessel layweatherbound in Port Davey for over a week, and during that time it was not known from one end of Australia to the other whether she had foundered. Personally, I do not think that the establishment of telephonic communication with that port would cost nearly the amount which has been mentioned by the Postmaster-General. From Recherche Bay the distance would not be more than 60 miles, although from Strahan it might be a little more. Upon the question of the route to be followed I offer no opinion. I do not care what route is traversed so long as communication is established between Port Davey, which is a constant haven of refuge for ships, and some Tasmanian centre of population. It is our duty to provide that means of communication. The State Government cannot erect a telephone wire-
– They can under regulation 18.
– At any rate, it is not fair to ask them to undertake what is essentially a Commonwealth duty. This particular wire is required more urgently than is any other wire in Tasmania. Has the Postmaster- General obtained an estimate from reliable persons who have travelled over the route which the line would probably traverse?
– One estimate of the cost which I received was considerably in excess of £2,000.
– The construction of the line ought not to cost much, because all along the route which it would traverse the necessary timber for the poles is growing. Thus the Commonwealth would only have to incur an expenditure covering the cost of the wire and of the clearing which it would be necessary to undertake. I hope that the Postmaster-General will give this matter his favorable consideration, because if shipwrecked mariners were again toland uponthisinhospitableportion of the Tasmanian coast and to perish from starvation, neither the Commonwealth Government nor this Parliament could absolve itself from responsibility.
– Do not talk nonsense. Similar conditions obtain all round the coast of Australia.
– If the PostmasterGeneral can point to one port on an uninhabited coast in Australia at which a third of the delays occur which are experienced at Port Davey, or at which there has been a third of the wrecks which have been recorded between the South-west Cape and Macquarie Harbor, I shall have nothing more to say. The establishment of telephonic communication with Port Davey is a necessity-
– Which the Tasmanian Government failed to realize prior to the establishment of the Federation.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral suggest that no work should be undertaken by the Commonwealth which was not undertaken by a State Government prior to the advent of Federation? The disastrous wreck, of which I have already spoken, occurred since the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Considerations of humanitv alone demand that something should be done in this matter, and I hope that the Postmaster-General will see that steps are taken at an early date to establish telephonic communication between Port Davey and some Tasmanian centre of population.
– I should like to know the number of wireless telegraphy stations for which provision is made on these Estimates ?
– I also desire to be informed how far the Commonwealth is committed to the Telefuncken wireless system? Suppose that we require an indefinite number of extensions, are we pledged to the Telefuncken company in any way?
– Only so far as the contracts for the erection of wireless telegraphy stations at Fremantle and Sydney are concerned.
– Are the various parts of the apparatus which will be used at those stations interchangeable?
– Then I should like to direct the Postmaster-General’s attention to the youth at Arncliffe, just outside of Sydney, who appears to be getting excellent results in the matter of wireless communication at his station there. The other day he spoke to a ship which was entering Suva, a distance of 1,700 miles. He established communication with that vessel from his station at Arncliffe.
– He seems to have got them all right, but they did not say whether they got him.
– He got them, and therefore it would have been possible for them to get him, I should think.
– That is what I have been watching carefully to find out.
– I should think that the one thing follows the other. I should expect that the instrument which would receive their message should enable him to correspond with them in return.
– Not necessarily, because the transmitter might not be suitable.
– In view of the fact that by a system of his own invention this boy got these extraordinary results, the Postmaster-General might well direct his attention to that quarter.
– Yes, I shall be pleased to encourage any Australian invention.
– If the honorable gentleman can encourage a boy of that character, I should think it would be a very proper thing to do.
– I think so, too.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 7 (Government Printing Office), £2,150; division 8 (Stamp Printing), £5,160, agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Division 9 (Rifle Clubs and Ranges), £12,345; division 10 (Special Defence Material), £250,000, agreed to.
Division 1 1 (New Special Defence Provision),£47,300.
– Under the head of “ New Special Defence Provision” we are asked to vote £5,000 towards the establishment of a “ woollen cloth factory,” £2,000 towards the establishment of a “ uniform clothing factory,” and £2,000 towards the establishment of a “harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements factory.” I should like to know what is intended by these items. Surely this must be a rich joke.
– If it is to depend on these amounts so much the worse for Socialism.
– It is a good beginning.
– Of what?
– It is to buy scissors for the tailors.
– Exactly, and that is about all that it will do. Are the Government going in for the manufacture of these articles, or are they not? If they are, they must confess that these items are simply a joke on their part. Why do these amounts appear on the Estimates at all ?
– This is a beginning ; we never got a beginning before.
– Of course, it is a beginning, but why begin in this way ? Is this all that my honorable friends can screw up their courage to? Is their Socialism only worth £9,000 for three huge estabments? Since they have the money, the power, and the votes, why do they not make a bold start? These items seem to me to be nothing more nor less than a placard.
– Is the honorable member aware that we have just voted £50,000 for the purchase of cloth?
– I know that, but the idea of providing a £2,000 plant for making it up is ridiculous. Let my honorable friends go to Ballarat and see what it costs to instal plant and machinery, and then they will realize how ridiculous is this item. I should like an explanation why these trumpery amounts appear on the Estimates.
– I think that the Minister representing the Minister of Defence might give the Committee some information on these items, which, in my opinion, are rather important. The honorable member for Parramatta is mistaken in thinking that with a vote of £2,000 a very fair start could not be made with a clothing factory, because it is simply a matter of providing so many sewing machines, but it would take six times £5,000 to establish a woollen factory.
– Not to make woollen cloth, but to make up woollen cloth.
– A .” woollen cloth factory “ means a place for the manufacture of woollen cloth ; perhaps the Honorary Minister will explain to us what is -meant-. —– . _ . . _
– In conversation yesterday morning, the Minister of Defence assured me that the conditions under which the Defence Department is served with woollen cloth and clothing generally for the various services are of a most unsatisfactory character. For a very considerable time the Department has been looking around to see if it could not make better provision for. supplying the necessities of the troops.
– Have not some of the mills refused to tender owing to the treatment which they received from the Department?
– I believe that in some isolated cases there has been a difficulty with the Department. It claims that its only desire is to see that the requisites were supplied, but it was not prepared to accept inferior articles. On these Estimates, honorable members are only asked to vote certain amounts towards the establishment of three factories.
– Why were not these items treated like other items, and the estimated cost set out in a footnote?
– The honorable member must know that it is rather difficult to estimate the cost of a factory.
– This is a nice little placard ; it will sound well outside.
– I can assure the honorable member that it is not a placard so far as the Department is concerned, because its endeavour is to get more satisfactory articles at a reduced cost, even though it means an instalment of Socialism.
– We might make the clothes for the postal officers, too.
– At present we are dealing with the requirements of the Defence Department. The idea of the Minister is, if possible, to establish the three factories close together.
– The Government intend to establish a woollen mill?
– The Government ask the Committee to vote £5,000 towards the establishment of a woollen cloth factory,, and to vote certain amounts towards theestablishment of two other factories. I can assure my honorable friend that an undertaking of this description would not be embarked .upon by the Minister of Defence, on the advice of those who are most competent to give information, without being satisfied that it is right.
– That may apply -to the cloth, factory,, but-not -to the .woollenmill. Such a great departure should have some defence, surely.
– It certainly may be regarded as a great departure from existing conditions. But it must be recognised from the items in these Estimates that we are embarking in fields which previously have never been entered.
– I recognise that the honorable gentleman knows nothing about the matter, and that no Minister can give any information to the Committee.
– It is thought that on the1st July of next year, under the new compulsory system, there may be 100,000 persons available for the defence of the country, and considerable provision must be made for clothing them and supplying harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements. This departure is undertaken to complete the general scheme for the defence of the country, and I earnestly ask honorable members not to interfere with it.
– The Honorary Minister takes the cake for a bit of bluff.
– He does not know anything about the matter.
– He does the best with the material at his disposal, and I compliment him upon it.
– Why not start a tannery, too?
– If honorable members on the other side keep on making such suggestions we may adopt some of them.
– As long as my honorable friends proceed on this scale Socialism is all right. As long as they toy with it in this way there is, so far as I can see, nothing very wrong. But to claim that they are going to attempt the manufacture of cloth for the clothing of 100,000 soldiers next year, with a vote of £5,000, is ridiculous. It is not much less ridiculous than the proposed expenditure of £2,000 on a clothing factory. This is not a proposal to employ a few women to make up a few garments, but to supply clothing to the value of perhaps £250,000.
– Is the honorable member complaining that we are not going in for this work extensively enough?
– I say that the Government are absolutely fooling with the matter. If they were entering upon the work seriously,I should not have much to say, for they would be simply following in the wake of the British War Office. To my own knowledge there has been a clothing factory in connexion with the War Office for thirty-five years at least. Call you this a backing of your Socialism? A plague on such backing ! The Government are certainly wanting in both courage and prudence, and their proposal will not deceive any one. They should either go in for this matter seriously, or let it alone altogether. Their Estimates use the phrase “ towards the establishment of.” In what way do honorable members opposite think that a clothing factory can be established for £2,000? I say again that the Government are merely “ monkeying “ with the subject, instead of undertaking the business seriously.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 12 (Fleet unit for the Naval Defence of the Commonwealth, towards cost), £850,000.
– I observe that this £850,000 is also “towards cost.” At any rate, I congratulate the Government on going forward with this proposal. Is it not time, however, since they are undertaking a responsibility of £2,000,000, for this vessel, that they stopped gibing and jeering about the “exploded Dreadnought idea” ? It is not exploded by any means. It is here. The supporters of this Government who denounced the Dreadnought proposal so heartily upon the platforms in the country are supporting it now. I congratulate my honorable friends opposite on their fealty to what has been proposed, and hope that they will see the whole thing through. Really, however, it is about time that they stopped their gibes about a policy which they are themselves carrying out.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– What does the Prime Minister intend to do about sitting at a later hour to-day? He has secured the accomplishment of a feat that has not been performed for many years past, in getting votes for £2,300,000 passed in one sitting. In view of that fact, the Prime Minister might very well dispense with a sitting to-day.
– I intended to ask honorable members to agree to meet at 3 o’clock. I desire to do everything possible to meet their convenience.
– What is to become of private business?
– If we meet at 3 o’clock, private members will have half-an-hour in which to move their business forward.
– Does the Prime Minister really propose to deprive private members of their time ?
– We cannot help doing that under the sessional order. If the House meets at 3 o’clock, Government business will be proceeded with at 3.30.
– I think it is most unfair to deprive private members of their opportunity of proceeding with their business.
– I have consulted a number of those who are interested in business standing on the paper, and they are agreeable to take the half-hour that will be available for re-arranging their business.
– That simply means that the Government will lose no time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That tbe Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to pass the Appropriation(Works and Buildings) Bill 1910-11 through all its stages without delay.
Resolution of Committee of Supply adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That tbe Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by. Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Mr. FISHER laid upon the table the following paper : -
The Budget,1910-11 - Papers prepared by the Honorable Andrew Fisher for the information of honorable Members on the occasion of opening the Budget of1910-11.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 3 o’clock this day.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-Iwish to_draw the attentionof the Minister of Trade and Customs to a matter which is reported in this morning’s newspapers, in connexion with the frozen meat trade. The Age report says -
The disclosures made in the Age yesterday concerning the scandalous treatment of Aus tralian meat on its way from the ships’ holds to the London market caused consternation among meat exporters. Our report showed that Dr. W. A. Chapple, British M.P., had stated in Sydney that meat is discharged in barges composed of bilge water, cockroaches, fungus, dirt, and rotten wood, and is trodden upon by the labourers engaged in handling it.
The report goes on to describe the way in which meat is handled. If these disclosures be true, the facts, when they become generally known, must be disparaging to our products when they reach London markets. Indeed, the meat can scarcely be in a fit condition for human consumption.
– It is not very clear where this happens.
– My reading of the statement is that it is likely to occur at the other end. I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to ascertain whether the statement is true, and whether steps cannot be taken to insure the placing of our product on the market in a condition that will be creditable to the trade, which is of considerable dimensions.
– I shall certainly have an inquiry made into the matter.Mr. Lockyer, in his report on the meat export trade, dealt with some phases of this question, and referred to a statement as to the way in which meat was treated upon its arrival at Durban, in South Africa. I shall be delighted to do anything that can be done to improve the selling price of this product abroad.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 7.57 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100907_reps_4_56/>.