4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs yet in a position to inform us whether a definite determination has been made regarding the military manoeuvring area at Liverpool? I brought the matter prominently before the House last Thursday, and should like a positive reply as soon as possible.
– We are negotiating with the New South Wales Government to lease the land, which it is to purchase.
– I am aware that that is so, but, in the interests of those who have holdings within the area, who are now in a state of uncertainty, I ask for definite information as to what will be done.
– Will the honorable member give me notice of the question ?
Letter-sorters’ Test - Line Inspectors’ Examination.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the whole of the examination papers in connexion with the examination held May, 1910, for line inspectors?
– Examination papers are confidential, and it is undesirable that they should leave the Examiner’s office. There is no objection to the honorable member seeing the papers at the office of the Public Service Commissioner.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
As the returning officers will have almost as much work to do at the coming referenda ballots as at a general election, will he see that they are paid for their services?
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Commissioner from the29th March last as press officer, at a salary of £8 8s. per week.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. No. Further inquiries, with a view to manufacture locally, are being made.
asked the Minis ter of. Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– This subject is receiving the very earnest attention of the Government, but no final decision as to the course to be pursued in the best interests of the industry has been arrived at.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page. 5891), on motion by Mr. King O’malley -
That this Sill be now read a second time.
– I desire to acknowledge the courtesy of the Minister in consenting to the adjournment of the debate last night so that I might have an opportunity to continue my speech this morning, and can best show my appreciation by condensing what I have to say as much as possible. The honorable member for Angas pointed to a very vital omission from the Bill when he showed that it does not contain a provision for the assumption by the Commonwealth of the financial responsibilities incurred in respect to the Territory by existing local bodies. No doubt an ordinance passed by the Governor-General would provide for that, but it should be set out in the Bill itself, so that there may be no doubt whatever on the subject. I have no quarrel with the provisions of the measure, which are necessary for the proper government of the Territory, and its details can best be considered in Committee. But before this final step is taken - and I regard it as the final step, because I assume that when the Bill becomes law the proclamation will issue for the formal taking of possession by the Commonwealth - I urge honorable members to consider whether the Territory which has been chosen is a suitable one. Arguments against its retention have been advanced, and they are only too well founded. The great bulk of the evidence, supported by individuals and bodies having no personal interest at stake, is such as to call for further consideration.
– The honorable member might supply proof of that statement.
– The reports which have been circulated have not been contradicted.
– Every one of the disparaging reports is absolutely unfounded.
– Does the honorable member say that it is an unfounded report that the water required for the Federal Capital will have to be pumped ?
– It can be pumped or obtained by gravitation.
– To obtain it by gravitation would mean virtually the construction of a new river. Does the honorable member deny that it will be necessary to get the supply by pumping.
– It can be obtained by pumping or by gravitation.
– No doubt water could be brought from Mount Kosciusko, but no one having regard to the financial obligations of the Commonwealth would suggest such a wild scheme. Water cannot be supplied to the Capital as cheaply by gravitation as by pumping, which will cause us perpetual expense, and be left at the mercy of machinery.
– One engineer in his report said that it would be preferable to pump the water.
– That may be so from the engineering point of view. I know that some members of the legal profession, and I dare say there are some members of the medical profession, who will propose a procedure which cannot be looked upon as the cheapest, but which may provide a very ready means of subsistence to a large number who otherwise would be left entirely without it.
– The honorable member might take a tooth out very cheaply.
– I am not here to discuss truisms of that character with the honorable member. What I do wish is that he, and those associated with him, would come down from the clouds, view this question from the practical standpoint, and realize that if we are to have a large, settled and contented population within the Federal Territory, we must secure for it all those advantages which’ modern civilization demands. We can only do that by taking in the first instance a portion of New South Wales, which could be most easily brought into use in the fashion I have indicated. The whole matter, unfortunately, has assumed the aspect of an appeal to provincial feeling. I venture to say. that in Victoria there is an absence of that provincial animosity which uphappily has been found to exist to an enormous extent in the sister State.
– How about the attitude of the Argus and the Age?
– The honorable member has quoted two newspapers in Victoria which have taken up a certain attitude with regard to this question. But I venture to say that the arguments which they have adduced against the proposals now before the House are the mere a, b, c of journalism, compared with the lurid statements which have emanated from the whole of the Sydney press. Only one newspaper in New South Wales has, I consider, taken up anything like a national attitude. During the recent election we had an exhibition of this anti- Victorian feeling, which, I venture to say, was in some degree responsible for the defeat of the late Government in that State. The appeal which was made from the platform over and over again by the candidates of the late Government to this anti- Victorian feeling was a disgrace to those who were responsible for it. I believe that it brought its own punishment.
– Mr. Wade said the same thing at a banquet the other night.
– I should have thought that his late experience would have taught him better manners. If there is one thing to be deplored, it is that this great question should be made a provin- cial one. The Governments which have brought the matter before the House from time to time have refused to allow it to become a party question. It is to be deplored that those who belong to a State Parliament should endeavour to drag it down from the position which we here have tried to make it occupy. The attitude of Victoria stands out in very bright contrast to that adopted in the other States.
– I am astonished at the honorable member.
– I ask any honorable member to quote from speeches made on Victorian platforms, at election or other times, which in any degree can be compared with the speeches made from time to time in New South Wales.
– In Victoria a Labour senator out-Heroded Herod.
– Surely the honorable member has made a statement of which he cannot produce proof !
– It was a most provincial appeal.
– In Victoria the Labour senators may have made statements about persons, but I venture to say that they did not utter such slanders about the people of New South Wales as from day to day were’ uttered by candidates in that State against Victoria. I have been drawn somewhat aside from the path which I laid down for myself, and I must express my regret. I wanted very briefly to again urge upon the Minister that, even at this late hour, he should exercise his own volition, and express to the House, as he only can too well do, his own convictions regarding this proposal.
– He says that he has visited the place, and is now satisfied.
– If we were able to release him from the trammels in which he is enveloped, to unwind the skeins of red tape which are hobbling him, and to leave him that liberty which he knows so well how to use, we should have a candid statement.
– He never talks spread-eagle now.
– The honorable member ought to have heard the Minister talking yesterday as a second Moses. It was Canaan, Rome, and other places rolled into one. I would point out that, although the Minister may desire to pose as a second Moses, looking over the promised land, in two respects he differs from his prototype. He - still remembering the crow and the water bag - has not the power to strike the rock and cause water to gush out. I hope that wherever the Federal Capital may be situated he, unlike his prototype, will be able to settle down there and enjoy it. If he were to free himself from the deadening effects of the thraldom of tradition in which he finds himself, if he were able to throw off those bonds of precedent about which he has inveighed so much, we should have in him one of the strongest advocates for the reconsideration of this question whom we could possibly hope to have, either here or outside. If he is not prepared to exercise his own volition, and give full play to his political conscience, I would ask him to take another step than that which he is now proposing. This question has, I think, about reached a point where the division amongst the representatives of the people is so marked, and the majority in favour of the particular site is so small-
– If they are allowed to vote as they like, there is not a majority in favour of it.
– The honorable member again draws attention to the unfortunate position of certain honorable members. He knows that when he was a member of a Government, he and a colleague acted in strict antagonism, bringing up two sites. We do not wish anything of that sort to occur.
– He had three sites, but he did not know which of them to go for.
– He had freedom to go for whichever site he chose. He was not compelled either by Cabinet responsibility or by pressure from outside to sink his individual opinion, but he was allowed the utmost freedom, which I venture to say he exercised to the full.
– Nearly every Minister is opposed to Yass-Canberra.
– We have now a Government composed of members who pride themselves upon their absolute freedom on all questions outside the platform to which they are pledged. But we have not had an exhibition of that freedom with regard to this, the most important of all questions, and .the most essential non-party question which could be brought before Parliament. If there is “one question on which a member of a pledged party could excuse himself for breaking away it surely is a question of this character ! Yet we find the
Government as solid as a rock, taking up an attitude which has never been adopted here before - voting solidly against their own often-expressed opinions and convictions, and supporting the selection of a site of which a majority of them have been the strongest opponents.
– Rub it into the Minister ; he is the worst offender of the lot.
– I venture to say, if one may deduce anything from the present attitude of the Minister, that he feels his position as keenly as any remarks of mine could make him do.
– He is prepared to swallow it.
– He knows that he has the numbers, and that is the most comforting thing that a Minister sitting at the table can have to recompense him for any statement made about his previous or present action. I feel that this question has reached such a position that the people of Australia should be consulted, that we should not refrain from asking them whether they are of the same opinion as those members of the Government who have changed their views with regard to this site.
– They will all want to go there.
– Perhaps that would not be altogether a bad thing. I hope that it will be such an attractive place that all the people of Australia will desire to visit it.
– That can never be.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. I believe that if the Federal Capital be established on this site it will be a mere village in the bush, segregated from ordinary civilization, and full of officials and a few unfortunate members of Parliament and their more unfortunate families who may be compelled to go there for a few months.
– It will be a monument to the stupidity of this Parliament.
– The same thing has been said of Dalgety.
– Arid Washington.
– Was it not justified in regard to Washington? Is not that the most apt example of the folly of people settling on an unsuitable area for the purpose of a Federal Capital ?
– It is the dreariest place I was ever in.
– I do not know whether the honorable member for Parkes has ever visited Washington.
– I have.
– Evidently the honorable member took his own atmosphere with him.
– It is the most beautiful city in the world.
– I hope that Yass-Canberra will have just as good an advocate in the years to come as the Minister is now of this small community known as Washington.
– What is the population ?
– Four hundred thousand. I suppose it. shows less advancement than any other city in the United States, either in population or in industrial welfare.
– Is that a cooked book which the honorable member has in his hand?
– It is about people and things American. After the tremendous reversal of form which has. been shown by the Minister I am not prepared to accept things American as being worthy of being quoted to the House.
– This work is by an Australian, Grattan Gray.
– In my opinion this question should be submitted to the people; and the only valid objection to such a suggestion would be that of expense. We are told that it will cost ^30,000 or ^40,000 to submit the referenda in regard to the constitutional measures, but the additional cost of submitting the question in regard to the Federal Capital would be no more than that represented by the printing of the question on the voting paper. I suggest, therefore, that the Minister should adopt this Democratic method of ascertaining the views of the people, because no question will have greater effect on the future welfare of the Commonwealth.
– We should have to ask the people to alter the Constitution before we took a vote.
– I .do not think so ; because I am prepared to allow the question to go to the people with the limitation in the Constitution. Nothing that I have ever said or done could possibly be construed into a desire to take the Capital away from New South Wales ; but I contend that the people of that State, in return for the substantial advantages they will reap from having the Federal Capital within their borders, should give to the Commonwealth the best available site.
– -And so they have!
– I could quote speeches of the honorable member on this matter. He knows that at first he was not an advocate of Yass- Canberra.
– I always advocated a site in that district.
– Yass-Canberra received only one vote when it was submitted to this Parliament.
– I voted for Lake George, which is in the same district.
– Lake George is not in the same district.
– It is just outside YassCanberra.
– Then the honorable member has been astute enough to induce Parliament to come over to his opinion by offering something which, after all, is what has already been rejected. The honorable member knows how many votes were recorded for Lake George, Lyndhurst, and Yass-Canberra, and that the present proposal is a direct reversal of the first decision. In order that the question may be remitted to the people at the same time as the constitutional measures,I move -
That the word “ now “ be left out, with a view to add, after “ time,” the words “ as soon as and not before a referendum of the people of Australia has been taken with regard to and in favour of the proposed site.”
This would mean the postponement of the second reading until after the referenda early next year. If the people decide in favour of Yass-Canberra, then, of course, the Bill will be proceeded with ; but if they decide otherwise, as I hope and believe they will, further consideration will be given to the question. We shall then have rescued Parliament from what 1 regard as a most serious blunder, if nothing more, and have rescued the people from the infliction of a decision which, I venture to say, is not in accord with the best interests of the Commonwealth, and is also against the expressed opinions of a majority of both Houses of the present Parliament.
– I do not know whether to admire the honorable member for his powers as an actor, or for his constitutional temerity. The honorable member has at the last moment - evidently without sufficient thought, from the fact that he had not, even yet, completed the drafting of his amendment - endeavoured to induce the House to again postpone the settlement of this question, which has been before Parliament for ten years. I have always regarded the honorable member as an excellent actor, but to-day he seems to lack one physiognomical qualification, for, as shown in his personal appearance, there was running all through his speech a consciousness that he was not only trying to bolster up a very bad case, but was placing before us views which he knew to be absurd and impossible. Notwithstanding what the honorable member has said, I submit that, if this House were now, after ten years’ philandering, to practically abandon its duty as a legislative body, and throw back on the people one of the most important questions that the people elected us to determine, it would be utterly unworthy of the position it occupies. Why are we sent here? Are we sent here to go crying to the people for help every time a difficulty arises, or are we sent here to save the public the trouble, in their busy lives, of going into the details for themselves? The honorable member almost reminds us of those primitive times, when, instead of having a Parliament, people used to meet in what they called a moot, and decide administrative questions on the hillside. The honorable member knows very well that, in the evolution of things politic, we have advanced beyond that stage. The people of Australia are very busy, and, instead of taking what I might describe as the almost impossible trouble to enter into the details of questions of this sort for themselves, they have elected what they believe to be a body of intelligent men, who can make all necessary inquiry with respect to the various scientific aspects of this matter, and, in the interest of the people as a whole, settle it once for all.
– The people, probably, also thought that the men they elected were consistent.
– They evidently did ; and I admit that the honorable member has shown great consistency, because he has been uttering jeremiads on the subject ever since Parliament met in 1900. I never heard the honorable member speak on this question without taking the most lugubrious view of it - the water was bad, the site was bad, the time was inopportune, the people would be disappointed, the township would be a failure, there would be no commerce - indeed, I doubt whether he believes it possible to have a fine day at Yass-Canberra, simply because it does not happen to be within the little State of Victoria.
– This is only the second time I have spoken on the question !
– I have heard the honorable member speak more than twice on this question in this House. Of course, I know that discussions were held when he occupied the chair, and when, much against his will, he was prevented from adding to the jeremiads I have heard him utter. The honorable member has talked about the provincial view of some honorable members ; but surely he is not serious, and must have had his tongue in his cheek when uttering, that sentiment. Does he not know that some of the best sites of New South Wales were barred by the representative of his own State? Were not the people of Victoria so absolutely jealous of the possibility of the capital being planted in or near Sydney that their representative, without naming a place, stipulated that, though the site should be within the oldest State of the Commonwealth, it should not be within a hundred miles of that great city. We have heard frequently in the Victorian press of the “ bush Capital “ ; but who made it a “ bush Capital “ ? The Victorian people.
– Nonsense !
– The Victorian people have made it a “ bush Capital “ because, with their Premier’s provincial feeling, they would not permit it to be within 100 miles of Sydney.
– The honorable member does not know what I have said on this question, though he appears to know a great deal of what I have not said !
– I have made it my business to study a number of the honorable member’s utterances, because I recognise the numerous pearls of wisdom which they contain.
– I have always objected to that stipulation in the Constitution.
– Then the honorable member did not mention his objection to-day, but spoke as if the whole of the provincial feeling had been on the part of New South Wales. Does the honorable member forget the leading articles which appeared in the Age, of which he apparently thinks so much, and which said, in effect, “ True, constitutionally the people of New South Wales are entitled to the capital, but the Constitution never said when it should be placed there ; that is our point, and we shall apply the Shylock principle, and postpone it indefinitely.” Those press sentiments the honorable member seems to have put on one side in considering where provincial feeling has been shown. . Then, again, did the Argus not nominate four candidates for the Senate, and require them to advocate the indefinite postponement of the choice, in spite of the constitutional obligation, sincerely and seriously entered into with the Mother State? If the question had not reached a stage at which it is a foregone conclusion, I could spend an hour in enumerating the miserable pettifogging instances of provincial feeling on the part of Victoria’s representatives, simply because the oldest State was to have the capital within its boundary. If the people of Victoria were willing to allow New South Wales to have the Capital, there are halfadozen sites within the 100-miles limit infinitely better suited than the present one. There is the National Park, within 30 miles’ of Sydney, with thousands of acres of magnificent land, and a river and a harbor, which I am sure the people of the State would have been perfectly willing to give up. Then there is the district of Sutton Forest, one of the most beautiful stretches of country of the English type to be found in the whole of Australia, some 80 miles from Sydney. Unfortunately, the then Premier of New South Wales did not realize that, in fixing on the exact distance of 100 miles in order to conform with the provincial wishes of Victoria, he was cutting off at least one of the best sites in Australia.
– Was it not provincialism that caused the site to be fixed in New South Wales?
– It was provincialism that caused the Premier of Victoria to stipulate that the Capital should not be within 100 miles of the greatest city of the Commonwealth.
– Why was the Capital fixed in New South Wales?
– Because New South Wales is the oldest, most prosperous, and in every way the greatest State of the Commonwealth. I could name halfadozen Victorian members of this House who will openly admit that New South Wales and Sydney are forging ahead, “ out of sight “ of Victoria and Melbourne.
– Under the Protective policy.
– The honorable member should know very well that in 1865, when the Protective policy began in “Victoria, this State was 50 per cent, ahead of New South Wales in population, in imports, in exports, and in shipping. Yet within twenty- five years New South Wales was more than 50 per cent, ahead of Victoria. I do not, however, want to go into that matter. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has spoken disparagingly of the water supply of Yass-Canberra. It does happen that in the first report that was made by Mr. Scrivener, who, I believe, is not an engineer but a surveyor, be expressed some doubt about the water supply. But when Mr. Scrivener caine to investigate the site in company with two of the most eminent engineers of Australia, who were able to estimate the possibilities much more accurately than he was, they reported that there was an ample water supply, even by gravitation, and Mr. Scrivener himself practically amended his opinion.
– Hear, hear; he had to.
– The facts were too strong for him. Mr. Scrivener changed his views by affixing his signature to a document prepared and signed by the other two gentlemen, who were fully equipped in the matter of professional knowledge to express an opinion on the subject. In this latter document Mi. Scrivener and his colleagues expressed the opinion that the water supply was ample for a large population. But the honorable member has not thought fit to take notice of Mr. Scrivener’s later opinion. He preferred to rely upon the opinion expressed “by Mr. Scrivener when he was no more authorized and no more capable of expressing an opinion on the subject than I am.
– The report on water supply made by the engineers has been con.firmed over and over again by the gaugings.
– As my honorable friend reminds me, the water supply report of these gentlemen, of whom Mr. :Scrivener was one, has been over and over again confirmed by the practical tests which have been made. And what greater irony can you have than this - that a body of senators went to visit the site; they were biased against it, and prepared to confirm their own opinion of the insufficiency of the water supply, but when they crossed (he river one of them was nearly drowned !
– That was in the Mumimbidgee.
– The incident occurred in a river in the Territory.
– The Murrumbidgee is not in the Territory.
– The river into which the honorable senator fell, and where he was nearly drowned, was actually inside and almost close to the centre of the Territory now taken for the Federal Capital.
– It was in the Territory.
– It was in the Territory, and whether the river be called the Murrumbidgee or the Yarra I do not care.
– A man was once drowned in Elizabeth-street, Melbourne.
– I know that it is very hard, from the point of view of the Australian Natives’ Association of Victoria, that this State should lose her reputation as being at the very altitude of Australian States. But the young gentlemen who are members of that body, and who are so obsessed with the idea of the importance of their own State, will have to swallow the leek. They know very well that the question is absolutely settled, and that their objections merely amount to beating the wind.
– Settled by a trick.
– The honorable member and others may delay the final settlement by a few hours, but they will have to accept it. It is a waste of the time of the House, and a waste of their argumentative powers, for them to try and stop it now. But I do feel impelled, in the interests of my State, to protest against this repeated misrepresentation of the facts with regard to the Territory. We know very well that the matter of choosing the Federal Capital has not only extended over a very long period, but that opinion has moved about from one part of the State of New South Wales to another. At least half-a-dozen sites have at various times been favored; and out of the parliamentary turmoil this is the only one for which we have been able to secure something like a consensus of opinion on the part of a majority in Parliament. And now halfadozen political striplings come into the House - I do not want to offend them by saying so - and they desire, like all young reformers, to turn the doings of their predecessors upside down and begin the business again de novo. I think we may all smile at their efforts. I notice that there is a good deal of real dissatisfaction at the consummation of our wishes on this question ; but that cannot be helped. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has spoken of the possibility of making Yass-Canberra a commercial centre. I thought it was one of the elementary principles of history that you cannot make a commercial centre. A commercial centre is like a nerve centre in the body ; it is a growth ; it is a matter of evolution. Because you happen to choose a piece of land in the middle of a country, you cannot suddenly develop commercial activities there so as to make it a commercial city. It was never intended to make a commercial city of the Federal Capital. If we had wanted a commercial centre for Federal Capital purposes, the proper course would have been to resume some commercial centre in New South Wales, and make it the Capital site of the Commonwealth. But we have avoided doing so for a very good reason. One of the great objections to the settlement of the Capital site question has been the expense entailed. We have heard over and over again of the hundreds of thousands of pounds that are going to be spent. What a splendid case it would have given to the provincialists of Victoria if we had attempted to choose a commercial centre in New South Wales involving the resumption of a township or a town ! They would have at once said, “This will mean a million of money.” But, instead of doing that, Parliament has very properly taken land upon which there is very little settlement, upon which there is no town, upon which there is no township, and in connexion with which no great expenditure for resumption is involved. If the honorable member for Laanecoorie believes that we must have commercial activities around our Federal Capital, I can only tell him that he is like a child crying for the moon, unless this Parliament is prepared to take a commercial centre already established. I therefore think that, with regard to that, and with regard to population, the honorable member has been on a false line of argument altogether. He said that there would be no population at YassCanberra. We heard the honorable member for Parramatta quote from a well-known American book to show that when the site of Washington was first taken, although it had a river, and all the apparently natural requirements for a commercial centre, it had no commerce in it at all. Washington has no commerce to-day.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member seems to think that is a subject for regret. I do not. Do we want to have a commercial centre as our Capital ? Byandby, perhaps, there may be tall chimneys and smoke, and many other of the accessories of commerce, but they will all go to disfigure what should be one of the most beautiful features of Australian life.
– A place subject to Australian droughts.
– Can the honorable member tell me of any part of Australia, from Cape York to the south of Tasmania, that is not subject to drought?
– Yes; the south-west part of Australia ; there is never a drought there.
– Even in Tas-, mania, which is supposed to be the garden of Australia, I have seen the whole country looking like a piece of toast, so absolutely devoid of verdure was it.
– The whole of Tasmania ?
– I have, I say, driven through Tasmania when the whole country looked like a piece of toast.
– The rivers were flowing, I suppose?
– They were not very full. Therefore the honorable member has been simply putting up a number of bogies to justify himself in his own mind for the attempt he is now making. It is quite in keeping with the Argus attitude; quite in keeping with the provincial feeling to which I have referred ; quite in keeping with the Age attitude; - “ Give them their pound of flesh and no more; give them their Capital, but postpone the building of it indefinitely, and so keep the institutions of the country in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria.”
– Remember that the honorable member called it “ a pound of flesh.”
– I am simply quoting from the Age. It was that newspaper which actually mentioned the Merchant of Venice as containing the principle which we and this Parliament should enunciate in dealing with New South Wales in reference to the Federal Capital.
– Was it not Shylock who demanded his pound of flesh ?
– The honorable member sees the application of the point. It was the Age that said, “ We must treat New South Wales on the Merchant vf Venice principle.”
– That is to say, that New South Wales is a Shylock !
– We all know
Shylock, and we all know the Merchant of Venice as well as the honorable member and other members of the Australian Natives Association. I think that the principle advocated by the Age shows a thoroughly provincial and unjust spirit, and indicates the state of mind in which a great many Victorians were prepared to deal with this question.
– Does not the honorable member admit that the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph were just as bad ?
Mr.- BRUCE SMITH.- No, I do not. I think that the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald have their faults, just as other newspapers have, and I am not going to pose as a champion for them.
– They are quite willing that the Capital should go to Sydney
– I have heard many Victorians in this House say that they were willing that the Capital should be established in Sydney. But they only say that when they think there is a chance of getting an alteration made with the object of keeping the Seat of Government in Melbourne for all time. Did I not in this House, long before the honorable member came here, propose an amendment by which the Federal Capital, instead of being now fixed, ‘should remain in Victoria for ten years and be in Sydney for ten years? What was the objection? It was that my proposal would involve an alteration of the Constitution. When the matter came forward I found that we in New South Wales should not be safe in respect of securing the Capital in the future, because I saw that the alteration would be used in order to prevent the settlement of the question for Australia generally.
– I would sooner go to Svdnev than to Yass-Canberra.
– It is so easy to sav that now. If the honorable member chooses to move an amendment, and 5f it were possible or practicable to place the Capital in Sydney, or within the shortest possible distance of Sydney, I should like to test his sincerity. I have looked through this Bill very carefully. I congratulate the Minister of Home Affairs, and I congratulate the Government, upon having made one step further in the settlement of this question. As I have said, the question is settled. We must remember that not only has this House hummed and hawed for ten years over this question, but that at last it has made its choice, and that in pursuance of that choice the Government of New South Wales has been approached. New South Wales has not only granted the area which is required by the Constitution, but she has granted what we required many times over. She has shown the greatest generosity. She has said - “ We give you what you want nine times over, and we give you, in addition to that, a piece of country which will enable you, if you think it necessary, to construct a line of railway down to the finest harbor in Australia.”
– That shows the value they place on the countrv !
– That is rather a shabby way of estimating the value of a gift. Because you ask for something, and it is given to you freely, you tell the giver that it cannot be worth much ! How would the honorable member like it if his constituents said to him : “ If you come to us so readily to represent us, your time and services cannot be of much value “ ? We ought not to forget, as some of the new members do. that after philandering with the question for ten years, we settled the site. We went to the State of New South Wales, which gave us all we wanted nine times over. We have chosen a site near the finest harbor in Australia. I say that from a full personal knowledge of the harbor and of the Admiralty charts. It has an area of 120 square miles.
– Does the honorable member say it is one of the finest, or the finest?
– The finest in Australia. Can the honorable member tell me of a better?
– Cambridge Gulf and King George’s Sound.
– The honorable member might as well talk of an ocean, or straits, as of a gulf. I am talking of a land-locked harbor, in which the local British Squadron gather from time to time to perform their evolutions. It has an entrance even superior to that of Sydney harbor. There is practically no limit to the depth of the entrance to Jervis Bay.
– Why has it not been utilized before this?
– Because there is no population round it, and there are none of those features about the country that attract commerce. You cannot make a commercial harbor-
– You can keep a harbor back, and this has been kept back.
– No State in Australia has passed less legislation to keep anybody back. New South Wales has been the most openly free-trade and individualistic State in Australia. I understood the Minister of Home Affairs and the Acting Prime Minister to say on previous occasions that the only thing keeping back the second proclamation was the necessity for passing a Bill to arrange for the local government of the Federal Territory. I take it that this is that Bill, and that when it is passed there will be nothing to prevent the issue of the final proclamation which will bury for all time the sort of criticism that we have heard from the honorable member for Laanecoorie. The measure is very simple. Whereas under the 1904 Act the laws of New South Wales were applied, this Bill cuts out certain measures in the schedule which the Government, according to the Minister, do not think sufficiently Christian in their principles to apply to the Territory. Beyond that there is a complete body of laws applying under the 1904 Act and, in substitution for those cut out, clauses 5 to 8 make certain Commonwealth Acts applicable. It is also provided that the Governor in Council, which means ultimately the Minister and the Cabinet, shall have the power to make temporary laws in order to supplement those which the Bill makes ap- plicable. As I told the Minister when he was making his historical speech on the second reading of this measure, he is going for a short time to be a Cromwell. No man in this House is better qualified to play the part. He is a King in name, and will, under this measure, be for a time a King in fact, because he will be able to say what laws shall govern the Territory. In fact, he will be better than Cromwell, because Cromwell did not have the advantage of living in the United States and seeing the spread-eagle on the Rocky Mountains. I think we can rely on it that the
Ordinances for which the Minister will be responsible will be fair and reasonable, because they have to be placed on the table of each House, and can be disallowed by Parliament. Everything that can be done has been done, and the Bill is a model of simplicity. No attempt is made to frame an elaborate code of laws for the Territory. I congratulate the Minister on his great speech, and on the simplicity of the Bill, and congratulate the Government on recognising the obligation resting on this Parliament to carry out the solemn undertaking in the Constitution to give New South Wales the Capital so long as it is not within the 100-mile limit of Sydney.
.- The charge made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie that this matter has been dealt with from the most miserable provincial aspect by some people in New South Wales has been amply proved by the speech to which we have just listened. The honorable member for Parkes has shown how certain people can look at the question from one point of view only. He talks about this Parliament having philandered with the question for ten years. Let me remind him that there was one Act passed by this Parliament which, apparently, when speak- ‘ ing, he could not get out of his head, because he kept calling the Seat of Government Act relating to this site the Act of 1904 instead of the Act of 1909. The Act of 1904 was, 1 think, the Act fixing Dalgety .as the site. He knows that this Parliament selected the Dalgety site by a majority in both Chambers, and that the present site was only carried by - what? I suppose I cannot reflect upon the action of a member in another place, but we all know that on the last occasion when a ballot was taken in another place there was a tie between Tumut and Yass-Canberra, and that, for party purposes, the very man who proposed Tumut, and said that it was the best site in New South Wales, within about an hour of casting his vote for it, cast his vote on the second ballot for YassCanberra.
– How many voted for Dalgety on that occasion?
– As a matter of tactics, the supporters of Dalgety voted for Tumut on that occasion, in order to throw out YassCanberra. Recently, when the vote of £45,000 on the Works and Buildings Estimates for the Yass-Canberra site was before the Senate, it got through on a tie, an adverse amendment passing in the negative because the voting was equal. The only clear decision on this question ever arrived at by this Parliament was the decision in favour of Dalgety. The other site has simply scraped through. On the ballot in this Chamber, Canberra was never selected. Only one man voted for it. Lake George had about the same number of votes, and then, on the final ballot, by some inexplicable workings, the combined YassCanberra site was selected, although Canberra and Lake George, which it included, had both been rejected.
– How does the honorable member account for the Ministers’ conversion?
– Ministers have not been converted ; but for some extraordinary reason they are all sinking their own opinions on the subject and voting as a Government for the Yass-Canberra site, which nearly every one of them has, in the strongest possible language, condemned.
– Until they went to see it.
– No; the majority of the Ministry are at this day opposed to it. If ever there was anything that justified a reference to the people on a subject, it is the way that this Parliament has dealt with the matter. The honorable member for Parkes was very severe in his references to provincialism, and his comments on the action of Sir George Turner in insisting, as we are told that he did, upon the I 00-miles limit. But where did the provincialism first begin ? Is it not a fact that the Constitution was, in the first place, accepted by the people of New South Wales, without any limitation as to the site of the Capital, by a large majority - by the majority that was originally agreed upon - but was subsequently altered after the agreement had been entered into with the other States?
– That shows that the people of New South Wales were not provincial.
– Exactly; it was the miserable parochial feeling of certain people in Sydney that caused the alteration to be made. When the matter came up for reconsideration, it was the Premier of New South Wales that, in a provincial spirit, said, “ We do not come into this great Union unless you give us something for it. We must have the Capital within our territory.”
– And the Premier of Victoria said, “ You must not go within 100 miles of Sydney, or we wont play.”
– I do not know whether he said it or not, but, whoever said it, there is no doubt that that was the sordid bargain that was made. One desired that the site should be in New South Wales, and the other insisted that it should be distant from Sydney not less than 100 miles. It was at this Premiers’ Conference that the provincial spirit was first displayed, and the sordid bargain made. Everything connected with .the matter since then has been tinged with the spirit which animated the Premiers at that Conference. After all, there has been no great delay in dealing with the matter. The first thing that happened was that the Government of New South Wales at the time, headed by Sir John See, deputed an independent Commissioner, selected by themselves, to report upon suitable sites for the Federal Capital.
– Let us get the matter through ; we have had all this a dozen times.
– I may say that we have listened to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Parkes a dozen times. I have heard it four or five times already, and it is as well that the antidote should be presented with it. Sir John See, as Premier of New South Wales at the time, appointed Mr. Oliver as an independent Commissioner to report upon suitable sites, and that gentleman recommended as his first choice Southern Monaro. The then Premier of New South Wales was animated by some national feeling, and accepted the report of the Commissioner. He offered the Southern Monaro site for the Federal* Capital, and reserved the Crown lands in the vicinity from occupation. That was followed by the selection by this Parliament of a site in the Southern Monaro district, and then the provincialism of certain people in New South Wales was shown. I remind honorable members that the Southern Monaro site was not selected because of Victorian opinion, but as the result of investigation by an independent New South Wales official. This Parliament, comprising a majority of representatives of the other States, selected the very district that the New South Wales Commissioner recommended, and the New South Wales Premieroffered to the Commonwealth. How carr* honorable members now turn round and saythat Dalgety was selected as the result of Victorian influence? They must know that there is not an atom of justification for the statement. New South Wales representatives then said, “ We will not give you the site which our Commissioner recommenced, and will not carry out the promise made by our State Premier when he offered the site to the Commonwealth.”
– It was then that the intriguing first commenced.
– Just so. New South Wales representatives said, “No; we shall block you. We shall not let you go on with the matter until we can get the decision come to by the Federal Parliament reversed, and a decision made in accord with our provincial spirit.” We know that when in the last Parliament a Bill was introduced to define the limits of the Dalgety site, it was blocked continually. When it was agreed that a division should be taken at 5 o’clock on one Thursday afternoon, we all remember how the famous postal motion intervened. The then Prime Minister, the honorable member for Ballarat, objected that the bargain made with the honorable member for Parramatta was not being carried out, but to his intense surprise the honorable member for Parramatta got up and denounced him for trying to block the motion submitted by the honorable member for Gwydir. The matter was then put off to another time, and the honorable member for Parramatta was twitted by the honorable member for Ballarat, a week or so later, with having delayed the decision of the Federal Capital site question. In reply, the honorable member for Parramatta said that he was not a bit sorry, because those who ‘thought with him on the matter were not ready. The honorable member was then told from the Treasury bench by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that he knew that the numbers were against him. The settlement of the question was put off from time to time until those who were working with the honorable member -for Parramatta knew that they had the numbers necessary to give effect to their desires.
– The honorable member is dreaming.
– The honorable member knows well that I am stating facts. On the last occasion when the matter was discussed, those in favour of Yass-Canberra had the necessary numbers, but they were secured only by some honorable members going back on the promises they had given to the honorable member for EdenMonaro in this House. I have personal knowledge of the fact that some of those who voted for the Yass-Canberra site had voluntarily given their word to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that they would not vote against the Dalgety site. When that honorable gentleman’s health broke down, after the great speech he made in support of the Dalgety site, the honorable members referred to took advantage of his absence to do what they would not have done if he had been present.
– Who were the men who did that?
– I have once before said that I am not going to mention names in this House.
– Then the honorable member should not have said what he has said.
– I can tell the honorable member for Franklin that he was not one of them, and that should satisfy him. A charge has been made, not only against representatives of Victoria, but against this Parliament, of acting unjustly towards New South Wales in this matter. We know that there is no justification for the charge, but let me give this reply to it, by Mr. Griffith, who is a member of the present New South Wales Government. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on 2nd November, 1909, he said -
We all know that the Government of New South Wales offered the Dalgety site to the Commonwealth Parliament amongst others. We know that the Commonwealth Parliament carefully examined the various sites, and, after serious and perfectly honest consideration, a majority decided to accept that site. Then the Parliament of New South Wales turned round and withdrew the site that the Government of this State previously offered. There was a distinct breach of faith. There was bad faith, if any bad faith had been shown. It is said that the delay in fixing the Federal site is due to the Commonwealth Parliament. Such a statement is preposterous. No one in this House can believe it. When a statement is made against the Parliament of Australia which we know is untrue, such a proceeding is disgraceful. We know all this; but it is necessary to make this statement because a great many of the public do not know it.
That confirms what I have already said. Now, as to the character of the YassCan.terra territory, I do not intend to repeat what has been said about the water supply, as there is already sufficient on record about it. But I shall refer honorable members to statements made in the Parliament of New South Wales. The Minister of Home Affairs has spoken eloquently of this beautiful locality, and has said that he would be prepared to buy the whole of it at £,2 an acre, although some persons who know the country have said that a great deal pf it is not worth more than from 2s. 6d. to 5s. an acre. I am qui le satisfied that though the Minister of Home Affairs may at this table say that he would be willing to give £2 an acre for the territory, outside he would never be such a fool as to do anything of the kind. One of the best indications of the character of the district is that this area of 900 square miles, although it is within a comparatively short distance from Sydney, and has been open to selection for very many years, is occupied by only 800 or 900 people. The honorable member for Parkes has described the territory as a very generous gift by New South Wales, but Mr. Wade, speaking of it in the State Parliament, said -
And although the area, in itself, may sound large - 30 miles one way by 30 miles the other way - after all, the space occupied in the map of New South Wales is comparatively of no importance.
When the Bill dealing with the subject was before the Legislative Council of New South Wales, I find that the Hon. J. Macintosh, speaking of the territory, said -
Most of the land comprised within the area to be surrendered is not of very high character, so far as productive quality is concerned. Most of it has been open for settlement for the last hundred years, and has not been taken up. Some of the land in the neighbourhood of Yass is good, but other portions are not very rich. 1 1 has been open for settlement for a hun dred years, and has not been taken up, and it is therefore no wonder that Mr. Wade should say that it is of very small importance to New South Wales. We know very well that if the land in this area had been good land, it would have been occupied long ago by New South Wales settlers, and in the next place it would never have been offered to the Commonwealth.
– Do not these observations apply equally to the land in the neighbourhood of Dalgety?
– I am ‘dealing at present with the Yass-Canberra district, and have quoted the opinions concerning it of members of the New South Wales Parliament. I shall cordially support the amendment in view of the way in which this question has been dealt with, and the decision with respect to Yass-Canberra arrived at in both Houses of this Parliament. It is clear that members of this Parliament are thoroughly divided on the question, and the decision in favour of Yass-Canberra has only been secured by intrigues and the exercise of undue influence, for reasons of personal friendship and other reasons, upon individual members. In the circumstances, I consider that it is only right that the people of Australia should be given a say in the matter. So far as I am personally concerned, I should be quite prepared to leave the matter to the decision of the people of New South Wales. I am satisfied that they would not select the YassCanberra site. If the feeling of the people of New South Wales in favour of ‘ the Yass-Canberra site were so strong as some New South Wales provincialists have invited us to believe, the State Government of New South Wales would have taken a referendum in that State on the subject long ago. That they have not done so satisfies me that they believe the people of New South Wales are not behind them in this matter. Dealing with the question from another point of view, I said a little time ago that I had come to the conclusion that it would be more in the interests of the Commonwealth that we should amend the Constitution, and that this Parliament should sit in Sydney for ten or fifteen years than that we should at this stage select any Capital site at all. We have an enormous expenditure to face within the next two or three years, and where we are to get ^1,000,000 with which to establish the Federal Capital on whatever site may be selected, I do not know. If it involves taxation, I, for one, shall not be willing to support it. The tide of immigration is setting in now to Australia, and ten or fifteen years hence it is quite possible that if the matter were still open we should not think it well to select either Yass-Canberra or Dalgety.
– We can approach this question to-day in a much “calmer spirit than we did when it was previously discussed. Honorable members on’ both sides are more enlightened now than they were when they dealt with this matter before.
– They have had the opportunity to read the honorable member’s speeches.
– I am not taking any credit to myself. I do not know that the honorable member for East Sydney is open to conviction in this matter. I should like to say that if ever a member of this
House spoke with his tongue in his cheek it was the honorable member for Parkes when to-day he was eulogizing and complimenting the Minister of Home Affairs on the admirable, eloquent, and knowledgeable statement he made in introducing this measure. When I am fighting a battle, I find it a very difficult task unless my heart is in it.
– No one ever suspected the honorable member of having a heart.
– I have not recently been medically examined, but I presume that my blood would not be circulating if I had not a pumping scheme inside, and the heart performed that function. This reminds me that a very costly pumping scheme will be required tq provide a water supply at Canberra”. I commiserate with the Minister of Home Affairs. He has my heartfelt sympathy in the ignominious position hi which he finds himself, because of the fact that he has to father a Bill relating to the government of territory somewhere about Yass-Canberra, in which, in his heart, he does not believe. The honorable member, in the course of his brief speech in introducing this measure, indulged in various flights of fancy.
– What of the plains of Lebanon, and the Seven Hills of Rome?
– The honorable member talked of the Seven Hills of Rome, and spoke of Moses, that grand old leader of the children of Israel, standing on Mount Pisgah and viewing the promised land. He reminded us of the men who, with Joshua, were sent to spy out the land of Canaan, and who came back bearing with them the fruits of a land flowing with milk and honey. Those who go to spy out YassCanberra, however, can bring back no fruits. There are no grapes of Eschol to cut, and no flowing streams; no fertile valleys, or beautiful mountains of which to speak, as far as this territory is concerned. I am surprised that the Minister of Home Affairs, with a mind spiritually inclined, should have thought fit to refer, by way of illustration, to Moses standing on Mount Pisgah.
– The Minister, as was Moses, is a good financier.
– Yes. Moses was an admirable leader, and a great law-giver ; and I am glad that this Parliament is passing laws somewhat in consonance with those which Moses gave the children of Israel.
It must have been comforting to that grand old leader, in the last moments of his life, to look upon the goodly promised land. I can imagine him on the top of Mount Pisgah, with the Jordan rolling between, standing, hoary-headed, with his 120 years full upon him, gazing on the promised land, and feeling comforted in the knowledge that the children of Israel, whom he was leaving in the charge of Joshua, would soon possess it.
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– Yes. I am going to connect them just as the Minister of Home Affairs connected with the Bill his references to Moses. I wish to tell a story of a. modern political Moses, who visited New South Wales about two and a half months ago, and, arriving at the railway station nearest the district known as Yass-Canberra, and on arrival at the place he said to his guide, philosopher, and friend, “ Colonel, I want you to take me to the most elevated spot in this locality, because I desire to view the surrounding country.” The Colonel obliged him, and, as our modern political Moses took his stand upon the highest elevation, and looked upon the country, he said, “By the Red-skin Temple ! The boys down there in the House have said the correct thing. This is neither more nor less than a howling wilderness.” I believe that if the Minister of Home Affairs were to speak from his heart of hearts he would say, “ Good Lord, deliver me from having anything to do with this measure.” To come to the Bill itself, let me say that it presents many features with which I am pleased. I am glad, for instance, that it will wipe out, so far as the Federal Territory is concerned, those disgraceful pieces of legislation that were passed some time ago by the Parliament of New South Wales.
– The Minister was congratulated by the honorable member for Parkes for proposing to repeal those Acts. That is what surprised me.
– It certainly surprised me. It seems to me that the honorable member for Parkes ranged himself on the side of the Democrats when he rejoiced in the fact that we were going to repeal those measures in so far as their application to the Federal Territory is concerned.
Although I trust this Government, and have supported practically even measure they have introduced.’ I do not believe in government by regulation, and I think that under this Bill the Ministry of the day will have far too much power in the way of governing the Territory by regulations or ordinances.
I wish now to refer to one or two remarks which have been made by some members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Parramatta suggested that the diatribes indulged in with respect to the selection of Washington as the Capital of the United States of America were similar to those to which we have now to listen in connexion with the selection of YassCanberra. He read a statement from what I presume is an authentic work, showing that antipathy very similar to that displayed to Yass-Canberra as the site of the Capital of the Commonwealth was exhibited in regard to the selection of Washington. Although it is admitted by Americans that a very great mistake was ‘ made in locating the Capital of the United States of America, my reading leads me to believe that as a Capital site it is a thousand times better than is the site which has been selected for the Capital of Australia.
– It was almost a swamp at the start.
– An adequate water supply is an all-important consideration. If it be true that the land in the YassCanberra district is worth only from 2s. 6d. to 5s. an acre, as shown in a report quoted last night by the honorable member for Indi, it could still be put to good use by the use of fertilizers and the free application of water, provided, of course, that an ample water supply were available. A good water supply is absolutely essential, and it cannot be said that Washington is lacking in that respect. Here is a description of the Potomac, on which Washington is built -
Potomac, a river of the United States, formed by two branches which rise in the Alleghany Mountains in West Virginia, and unite 15 miles south-east of Cumberlan.d, Maryland, from which point the river flows in a generally south-easterly course 400 miles, and falls into Chesapeake Bay, after forming an estuary nearly 100 miles long, and from 2½ to 7 miles wide. The largest ships can ascend to Washington, and the tide reaches Georgetown. A few miles above Washington the river forms a cataract 35 feet high, and between there and Westport it falls more than 1,000 feet.
There are no falls on the rivers in the Yass-Canberra district like those which exist near Washington -
The scenery in this portion of its course is wild and beautiful, especially where it breaks through the Blue Ridge at Harper’s Ferry. Its principal affluents are the Shenandoah, Cacapon, and Monacacy. The Potomac forms the greater part of the boundary between Virginia and Maryland.
The honorable member for Parramatta omitted to make any reference to this wonderful stream which has been so splendidly described by a writer in Chambers’ Encyclopedia. I am sorry that the Minister of Home Affairs was absent while I was reading the description, for I had hoped that the reference to familiar American names would stir the national spirit within him, and that he might be led to say to the rest of his colleagues, “ After all, I feel that I cannot stand by this Bill.” I want to rouse the national feeling lying dormant in the honorable member’s breast. I do not think that it is yet too late, and if I can fan the spark into the flame once burning there, I shall feel that I have done well in making this speech. The Minister of Home Affairs has often described himself as “ the baldheaded eagle of the Rocky Mountains.” Did he not display the characteristics of that free bird when he was delivering his diatribes in this chamber a few years ago against this very same site ? But compare his speeches then with his lame utterance upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill last evening. I sympathize with him, because I know that he is engaged in a work in which he has not his heart.
– That is a reflection upon his honesty?
– No. It may be that some members of the Cabinet were very astute in the early history of the Cabinet, and a solidarity decision on this question was arrived at. But if there be one question upon which the Ministry should have allowed its members a free hand it is this matter of the Federal Capital site.
– The honorable member has had a pretty free hand upon it.
– And I intend to exercise a free hand upon all questions which are not included in the Labour platform.
– That is the essence of our political creed.
– Then why does not the Minister himself exercise a free hand ?
– I am doing so.
– I fear that the honorable gentleman is not exercising a free hand in this matter. The honorable member for Parkes told us this morning that the passing of this Bill will represent the final act in the selection of YassCanberra as the permanent Seat of Government. He informed us that when once this measure has obtained legislative sanction, things will run along smoothly, and he and his friends who think with him, will be able to give full effect to their ideas in connexion with the Federal Capital site.
– The sooner the better for all concerned.
– Speaking as a Victorian upon this great national question, let me tell the honorable member .that I have no desire to remain in Melbourne. While it is my pride and pleasure to represent one of the most important parts of this city, I recognise that a bargain was struck with the people of New South Wales in reference to the Federal Capital site, and that the Constitution provides that the permanent Seat of Government shall be within the borders of that State. I intend loyally to adhere to that compact, and I told my constituents so upon every occasion that the question cropped up.
– Which eye did the honorable member keep shut when he made that statement?
– The fact that I voted to wipe out the selection of Yass-Canberra does not imply that I am opposed to the establishment of the Federal Capital within the borders of New South Wales. A few of us have endeavoured to take a national view of this question.
– -When he was on the hustings the honorable member committed the fatal mistake of making too many promises upon matters which are outside our platform.
– Had the honorable member been present at an earlier stage of the proceedings this morning, he would know that one or two honorable members who are consistent in their “attendance here, have already had to submit to a couple of lectures. I certainly think that he is a little out of order in adopting a lecturing tone. I do not blame the honorable member for Werriwa for putting up a good battle on behalf of the YassCanberra site.
– The honorable member thinks that I am actuated by a similar motive to that which influences him.
– Last night I felt that the honorable member recognised that he had an awfully weak case, and that that was why he made such a poor job of it. The fact that we are now performing the last act in connexion with the Federal Capital site seems to afford him a wonderful amount of pleasure. But the day is coming - and I trust that, although the honorable member for Parramatta has quite a number of useful years of service behind him, he will live to see it - when the people of Australia will rise and say, “ We are not going to have a politically-made Capital, but a Capital which will be in consonance with our feelings and aspirations.” Although to-day we may pass this Bill, and although we may even agree to further legislation in connexion with the Federal Capital, I believe that at no distant date there will be such a revulsion of feeling amongst the people that finally YassCanberra will not be the Seat of Government. I should like to see the electors given an opportunity to express their views upon this question when the referenda is taken upon the Bills which we have passed providing .for an alteration of the Constitution.” Those who have read history must know that at one time a certain political coterie desired to make Winchester the Capital of England, that another section endeavoured to make Scone the Capital of Scotland, and that some patriotic Germans sought to’ make Frankfort the Capital of Germany. But do we find to-day that Winchester is the Capital of England, Scone the Capital of Scotland, or Frankfort the Capital of Germany ?
– Or Dalgety the Capital of Australia ?
– I have nothing to say in reference to Dalgety; but there is another spot in New South Wales where I would like the Federal Capital to be located.
I might refer to older countries for the purpose of showing that the Federal Capital sites which have been selected have been upset, not only in dozens, but in scores of instances. Australia, in my humble judgment, is going to fall into line with those countries. The people at no distant date will say, “ We intend to have a Capital which will be in keeping with our great future.”
Amongst the reports submitted in connexion with the eligible Federal Capital sites is one by Mr. A. H. Chesterman, a surveyor, dealing with the merits of the Tooma site. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has recently had the privilege of speaking with a man who has lived in the Yass-Canberra district for a number of years, and who has had an opportunity of ascertaining the value of the country there. He has left the district in disgust.
– What is his name?
– I do not think that anybody will accuse the honorable member for Laanecoorie of introducing a fictitious name into this debate. Mr. Cameron is a live man and a good Scotchman.
– He is not a good Scotchman^ if he cannot live in the Yass-Canberra district.
– We cannot disregard the testimony of men of his stamp. I propose now to quote the opinion of a man who has a practical acquaintance with every inch of New South Wales.
– Bring him along here and put him upon his oath. Let us have an opportunity of cross-examining him. I do not believe in quoting the testimony of the man in the street in this fashion.
– The honorable member must admit that he .has sometimes obtained most valuable hints from the man in the street. But I am now about to quote the testimony of an officer-
– What is his name?
– I do not know that I would be justified in giving his name. But if I were to mention it I am sure that no honorable member would deny his capacity to give us the very best information upon the question which is now under consideration. I repeat that this officer knows practically every inch of New South Wales. He said to me, “ I have travelled over it for years.” I then asked him his opinion of Tooma as a site for the Federal Capital. His reply was, “ Mr. Fenton, it is absolutely the most delightful spot that could be selected.”
– The Minister of Home Affairs holds the same opinion.
– Yes. His head indicates that he does not, but his heart says, “ Yes.” “ But;” the officer in question added, “ there is no port there.” Why do we want a port? In my judgment this Parliament is only loading itself with an excessive expenditure by insisting upon a port in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– The majority think that we require a port.
– That is not my opinion. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Werriwa in regard to the distance between the Yass-Canberra site and Jervis Bay are very much astray. But what I wish to point out is that we now have an opportunity to perform a national duty by selecting at Tooma, or in the country adjacent thereto, one of the very best sites it is possible to select in New South Wales. There are two sad defects at Yass-Canberra, namely, the poorness of the soil, and the inadequacy of the water supply. If that district had a poor soil, but possessed an adequate water supply, the latter advantage would to some extent compensate for the former deficiency. But a place with a poor water supply, and poor soil, is poverty-stricken indeed. That is why Mr. Cameron, a practical Scotchman, and a friend of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, had to leave the district; and when a Scotchman cannot make a “do” of anything, no one else can. Mr. Chesterman has reported on the physical characteristics of Tooma as follows -
Possibly the best site for a city will be found to include and surround the village reserve. However, within the area, which is edged by blue hatching on Plan X., I would not anticipate any difficulty in obtaining a well drained city site, offering good gradients and all necessary expansion. “Suburban expansion could extend beyond this area which has been marked on plan from general knowledge of the locality. The average elevation of the site would probably be, approximately, 1,100 feet, and the aspect’ partly southerly and partly easterly. Good situations would be obtainable for prominent buildings and ample facilities for creating artificial lakelets and pleasure grounds will be found along the banks of the Murray and Tooma Rivers. The scenery in the Upper Murray District is very fine, and in the vicinity of the more lofty snow-clad mountains it becomes magnificent. From the top of Bald Hill, or from the more prominent points near the suggested city site, fine panoramic views are obtainable, embracing diversified stretches of river flats, rolling uplands, and wooded hills, the whole framed in a mountain background.
– What has that to do with the Bill ?
– The Minister of Home Affairs was allowed to take us to Mount Pisgah, so surely I can stray a little from Yass-Canberra.
– The honorable member will change his views about the place when he sees it.
– I intend to visit thesite about the end of March, when I shall- be pleased to have the honorable member’s company in viewing the beauty spots which his imagination has created, and which he will have great difficulty in pointing out. To continue my quotation from Mr. Chesterman’s report -
The Murray and Tooma Rivers thread tortuous courses, and, with the foliage lining their banks, relieved by an occasional crescent-like lagoon, add a variety and additional charm wherever visible. Undoubtedly its beautiful scenery is a feature of the Upper Murray District.
Where could we obtain a more poetic description of any part of Australia? What I have read is, not the report of a journalist wielding a trained pen for the fascination of his readers, but the statement of a cold, calculating surveyor, who feels compelled to burst out into this beautiful language. We could go to Tooma without any expense at all.
– How is that?
– There is a great difference between a district possessing beautiful, fertile river flats, and a splendid water supply, and one where some of the land is not worth more than from 2s. to 5s. an acre. At Tooma there is great natural beauty, and good supplies of stone, marble, wood, and other requirements, whereas everything needed for building purposes at Yass-Canberra will have to be brought from a great distance.
– Does the honorable member accept the statements which he has just read?
– The report of this coolheaded aand competent surveyor is corroborated by the testimony of a prominent officer in the Commonwealth service, who knows every inch of New South Wales, and characterizes Tooma as one of the most beautiful ssites that we could choose. The level-headed Scotchman who. represents Perth has also stated that Tooma is the “best site.
– No doubt about it. It is a thousand pities that it was not brought forward earlier.
– Surely it is never too late to mend. That is an adage which -the honorable member has followed with success in private life and business pursuits, and should apply it to public life too. Marble “like that in the beautiful pedestal on which the statue of the late Queen Victoria stands in the Queen’s Hall can be obtained close to Tooma. What beautiful public buildings “we could build with such stone.
–We have discovered beautiful granite at Yass-Canberra, like that in the White Mountains of Vermont.
– We have had enough of the honorable member’s American comparisons.
– I visited Tooma, but do not recognise it in the descriptions which the honorable member has read.
– Those to whom I have referred are more capable of appreciating the merits of the site than is the honorable member.
– The district is a fine one, but there are not many of the rich river flats of which the honorable member has spoken.
– It is one of the finest districts in New South Wales, and, I am informed, the best site that has been offered to us. It will be a standing disgrace if we persist in retaining Yass-Canberra.
– What a pity it is that the honorable member was not in the House six years ago, to change the opinions of members.
– The honorable member for Werriwa read from a report giving the distance from Yass-Canberra to Jervis Bay at 94 miles. I do not accuse him of attempting to mislead the House, but I would point out that Mr. Scrivener reports that the distance by the route shown on his map would be 125 miles.
– The railway has been made for 29 miles of that distance.
– When a surveyor is called on to make a report, why should he include 26 miles of line which have already been constructed ?
– That is correct. That is the distance.
– I think that he must be right, and the honorable member wrong.
– They are both right.
– I presume that if the line is going to be constructed it will be a purely Federal property. The report says -
The distance from Canberra to Jervis Bay by the route shown in red would be about 125 miles, and it would cross the Shoalhaven about T3 miles north of Braidwood ; by crossing the Shoalhaven further south better access to Braidwood would be given at the expense of a longer railway.
I cannot conceive why it is necessary to have a Federal port in connexion with the
Federal Capital, especially at a distance of 125 miles. Why should we incur all that expense? Better by far to choose another site.
– We must have a port.
– Because the State Government might do as they did before.
– They might not let us have the place at all.
– Surely if it is a matter of ingress and egress this Parliament is not going to sit down quietly, and like f. docile animal accept all that New South Wales chooses to give. Does the honorable member mean to suggest that because we have not a port in connexion with the Capital the State Government will prevent honorable members from getting away to their homes at the end of the session?
– They would prevent you bringing in commodities unless you obtained them in the State.
– At any rate, I am informed that it is not necessary for the Commonwealth to have a port in connexion with its Capital. So long as we adhere to the Yass-Canberra site the Federal Capital never will be a city of any importance.
– Who made the honorable member a prophet?
– I have expressed not the opinion of myself, but the opinion of cool-headed men, and supported it by quoting from official documents. I have given the direct opinion of some of the most expert men who could possibly be consulted on this question. Of course, they may not be conversant with the constitutional side of the question regarding a port, but it seems to me that, instead of indulging in lavish expenditure on a railway through a strip of territory, we might very well take a larger area in a more productive part of the State. The honorable member for Werriwa has also advanced the argument that there will be no very great engineering difficulties in the construction of the proposed railway.
– The engineer says so.
– This line of 125 miles in length will cost at least ,£9,000 per mile.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– Some of the estimates of the cost of construction have reached between £800,000 and ,£900.000, and, according to the latest reports, we shall not be able to construct the line for less than £1,000,000.
– That is nonsense. Where did the honorable member get the figures?
– Only yesterday the honorable member said it was a pity that the honorable member for Hindmarsh had not read some of the reports.
– I have read them all. I know them all pretty well byheart.
– I am endeavouring to place a fair and square proposition before the House. Speaking of the country this morning, somebody made the statement - 1 am rather inclined to the opinion, too, though it may be said that it is ungenerous -that, although the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth must have a Federal Territory of at least 100 square miles, New South Wales has been exceptionally magnanimous in multiplying that area by nine, and giving us 900 square miles.
– Only because this Parliament said it would not take less.
– I wish that the Parliament had insisted upon getting a larger area. If the Commonwealth is going to carry out in the Federal territory some of the experiments which I hope to see carried out, its area should be far more than it is. I wish to point out from official reports that the description given by some officers of the country bears out some of the statements which have been made in the House, and which have been characterized as somewhat unfair by the honorable member for Parkes and others. Referring to the country between Jervis Bay and the Federal Capital site, Mr. Scrivener writes -
Speaking generally, the country between the Shoalhaven River and Jervis Day is of the poorest possible description, only relieved by the few basaltic outcrops met with; it is costly to clear, and when cleared of little value, hence it is unlikely, in the near future, to carry any considerable population.
The honorable member for Moreton takes a general interest in land, and knows good soil when he sees it. I feel quite sure that he is prepared to accept the testimony offered by Mr. Scrivener in respect to the quality of this land.
– I know the country.
– The honorable member knows that it is poor.
– The Minister of Home Affairs said that if he were taking it on as a private speculation, he would be prepared to take all the land in the Federal Territory at the rate of £2 per acre as a busi ness proposition. Would the honorable member for Moreton give £,2 per acre for the land which he saw in that area?
– Some of it is worth £25 per acre.
– Sometimes in a mine you can get a pocket yielding 200 ozs. of gold to the ton, but when you prosecute your operations a little more you find you cannot get 2 dwts. to the ton. The same with land, some is valuable and some useless. I understand that it is intended to cover absolutely the best land in the Territory with a magnificent pile of buildings.
– I think that the honorable member is wandering a little now.
– The honorable member asked me for my opinion with reference to the value of the land between Shoalhaven River and Jervis Bay.
– That, I admit, applies to only a limited area. The honorable member informed me that he knew the country well, and I asked him whether, as a business proposition, he would be prepared to give £2 per acre.
– It was the other land which the honorable member asked me about.
– When the honorable member stated that he knew the country, I understood him to mean the whole area in the Federal Territory. In his report Mr. Scrivener continues -
The only settlement along this part of the route is about Nerrige and Sassafras, the former a hamlet comprising one hotel, store, post-office, and school, with a number of farmers and small graziers in the vicinity where basaltic outcrops occur ; the latter a group of about twelve occupied holdings, the owners apparently not being exceptionally prosperous.
These men have been, I presume, carrying on farming and dairying operations during many years, but according to this report they are, apparently, not “exceptionally prosperous.” That may be due, perhaps, not to the infertility of the soil, but to difficulty in the transit of produce. Even though a man has fairly rich soil, unless he has proper transit it is very difficult for him to make headway.
– The Sassafras soil is good.
– According to this report the owners of the land are apparently not “ exceptionally prosperous.” It continues -
This railway would not give access to any large ‘amount of useful timber, but sufficient for the purpose of construction would be obtained near the route.
The line shown in red indicates a practicable route, requiring bridges, over the Shoalhaven.
I do not’ know the exact width of the river, though I understand that the Federal Capital Site is about 2,000 feet higher than the level of the sea at Jervis Bay.. No doubt the honorable member for Werriwa thinks that because a train could run down to Jervis Bay on a decline practically all the way, therefore, the engineering difficulties will be very infinitesimal. But I can assure him that some of the greatest engineering difficulties in railway construction have been experienced in providing for trains to run down hill, in fact there is some danger in managing a train on down grades. The honorable member will remember that on various lines on which we have travelled they had to be graded so as to allow the trains to go down hill. -That is one of the most difficult engineering feats. Even though you might have a nice run from the Federal Capital to Jervis Bay, on the back journey you would have to travel upwards nearly all the way, I should say from sea level to a height of 2,100 feet. A railway which, according to the experts, is to cost £9,000 a mile cannot possibly be devoid of engineering difficulties. Mr. Scrivener writes -
The line shown in red indicates a practicable route requiring bridges over the Shoalhaven, Mongarlowe, and Corong . Rivers. An alternative route is shown in blue, following the Bora Creek, and crossing the Shoalhaven below the Mongarlowe. If this prove practicable, it will reduce the distance between Canberra and Jervis Bay, and avoid a large bridge over the Mongarlowe. Before a route .is finally decided upon, a comprehensive inspection, extending over many weeks, is necessary, and only after such an inspection should any survey work be undertaken. 1 do not know that I need to further criticise the route of the railway. I may be wrong in thinking that no Federal port is needed, but I find that others hold that view. I do not see any necessity to have a port of entrance. I fail to realize the value of a port 100 miles away. I could understand having a port if the Federal territory were close to the coast. I am aware that the same argument has been used against the selection of Dalgety as a site. I believe that similar difficulties would be experienced in running a railway from Dalgety to Twofold Bay.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Exception has been taken to the statement that residents of Yass-Canberra have left the district because they are unable to make headway there in agricultural or farming pursuits. On turning to records which have been handed to me I find that between the census of 1891 and the census of 1901 the population in the County of Murray, in which the Territory is, I understand, situated, decreased by 397 ; and this would seem to indicate that Yass-Canberra is regarded as a place to be left as quickly as possible.
– Is that not owing to land monopoly ?
– Land monopoly, I should say, is usually to be found in the fertile parts of Australia.
– We are not going in for farming !
– We are going in for farming; the present proposals are only part of the general scheme.
– It is desired to build the capital on a rock !
– So far as I can see there is no rock to build on. The great misfortune is that the only elevated and the richest portion of the Territory is that which it is proposed to cover with city buildings. As there is likely to be a strong revulsion of feeling in regard to this selection, I advise the Minister of Home Affairs to draft his plans so as to provide for temporary buildings, perhaps of the tent variety, which, I understand, he once favoured in consequence of the small remuneration he received for his valuable legislative services. If we are to live in a primitive city let us live in a primitive fashion.- As to the cost of resumption, I find that the lands within the Cotter River catchment area are of a total value of £55,681 ; the lands within the catchment area of the Queanbeyan River, above the Molonglo River, are valued at £302,245; the lands in the catchment area of the Molonglo, above the junction with the Queanbeyan River, at £248,649 ; and the lands within the catchment area of the Molonglo River, below the junction with the Queanbeyan River, at £[400,419. It will be seen that if we have to purchase these lands an immense amount of money will be required; and what for? To purchase practically, I should not say an arid waste, but lands that will be of very little use for some of the objects which I should like to see carried out within the Federal Capital area. The honorable member for Nepean says that we are going there to build a city, but that is only one of the purposes to be carried out by the Commonwealth.
– It is the principal purpose.
– I believe that, with ‘ proper soil, water supply, and other conveniences, we could present some very desirable object lessons to the rest of the world. I protest as vigorously as I can against the Federal Capital being fixed at such a place ; and I submit that the proposal is neither more nor less than a pandering to the miserable, narrow, parochial feeling of the Sydney press and public, and of only a small section of these at the best.
– Do not forget the Melbourne press !
– No; I desire that we should get out of Melbourne as quickly as possible. I believe, however, that a vote in New South Wales itself would show such an overwhelming majority against this selection as would surprise some of the parochialists within this Legislature. I do not claim to be a’ prophet or the son of a prophet, but I think that many of those who are now actively supporting YassCanberra will, before a few years are over, regret the step, and, in order to prevent them placing themselves in an awkward position, I plead with them, even at the eleventh hour, to give up their present idea, and select the best site, which, in my opinion, is to be found in the beautiful and salubrious district of Tooma.
.- I enter an emphatic protest against the proposed expenditure of money in face of the important works which must be carried out in the near future. Extensive railway construction ‘ has to be undertaken ; and, indeed, the whole work of development has practically to be carried out by the Commonwealth. Under the circumstances, an immediate and large expenditure on a Federal Capital will mean a great injustice to present and future generations. When the measure was before us last session, I was under the impression that it meant merely a preliminary to future building, when funds permitted, and the necessities of the Commonwealth required. I thought the wisdom of the Parliament would be sufficient to protect the people from a huge expenditure without rhyme or reason at this early stage of our development. This Bill i.i a mistaken step ; and I can only hope that the people will be afforded an opportunity of saying whether or not they approve of our now undertaking this work which, if once undertaken, cannot be abandoned. A referendum could be most conveniently taken next March or April j and this method ought certainly to be resorted to before we expend ^50,000 straight away, and thereby pledge the Commonwealth to further large expenditure on non-reproductive work. I am not in the least, concerned whether the Seat of Government be retained in Melbourne or not. If it should prove to be in the interests of this Parliament and the people to remove to some other commercial centre for a number of years, I am quite prepared to vote for such a step. The question is, not whether we shall keep the Capital in Melbourne, but whether, at this early stage, when we are surrounded with nations daily growing in strength, we should not husband and develop our resources, and attract a large population, as the best possible means of preserving this continent for the European races. Under all the circumstances, I consider the proposal of the Government as absolutely indefensible. I have received from various parts of Victoria resolutions passed by municipal and other public bodies in favour of referring the question to those who, after all, will have to bear the taxation to meet the necessary expenditure. The merits of this site have been discussed at great length, and I have never had any hesitation in expressing the opinion that Parliament has not made the best choice in the interests of the people. Yass-Canberra will be largely under the influence and shadow of one of the great commercial centres of Australia, while not possessing any commercial importance in itself.
– That is a serious reflection on the honorable member for Echuca, who voted for Yass-Canberra 1
– Fortunately, the honorable member for Echuca is well able to defend himself against any attacks from the Opposition benches.
– It is the honorable member who is making the attack.
– I am attacking the selection of Yass-Canberra. Whatever might have been said about the choosing of the site, no substantial reason can be advanced for launching upon a large expenditure in the construction at this early stage of Australia’s development of buildings which at best can serve no better purpose than is now amply met by existing structures in our great commercial centres. The shifting of the Federal Capital into some ill-chosen part of Australia can only result disastrously to the best interests of the Commonwealth, as has been proved by what has occurred in the United States of America. The Minister of Home Affairs has spoken in terms of excessive eulogy of the great capital city of Washington. Let me direct the attention of the House to the opinion of another great authority in the well-known writer, Mr. H. G. Wells, who recently visited Washington. His views should carry some weight. They very amply and lugubriously foretell what may happen as soon as the Parliament moves to the proposed Capital Site at Canberra. After visiting Washington, where apparently he was well treated, he said -
There are many reasons for believing that the National Government will always remain a little ineffectual and detached from the full flow of American life, and this notwithstanding the very great powers with which the President is endowed. One of these reasons is certainly the peculiar accident which has placed the capital on the Potomac. To the thoughtful visitor to the United States this hiding away of the central Government in a minute district, removed from all the great centres of thought, population, and business, actually becomes more and more remarkable, more and more perplexing, and more and more suggestive of a weakness in the National Government as he grasps more and more firmly the peculiarities of the American situation. I do not see how the central Government of that great American nation of which I dream can possibly be Washington, as I do not see how the present central Government can possibly be transferred to any other centre. But to go to Washington, to see and talk Washington, is to receive an extraordinary impression of the utter isolation and hopelessness of Washington. The National Government has an air of being marooned there. One goes from the abounding movement and vitality of the northern cities to this sunny and enervating place, through the negligently cultivated county of Virginia, and one discovers the slovenly, unfinished promise of a city, wood avenues, lined by negro shanties and patches of cultivation, great public buildings, and an immense post-office, a lifeless museum, an inert university, a splendid desert library, a street of souvenir shops, a certain industry of “ seeing Washington,” an idiotic colossal obelisk. It seems an ideal nest for the Tariff manipulator, a festering corner of delegates and agents and secondary people. In the White House the writer found a transitory flow of intellectual activity ; the spittoons and glasses that once made it like a London gin palace had been removed, and the former orgies of hand-shaking reduced to a minimum. To this place out of the way of everywhere, come the senators and congressmen, mostly leaving their families behind them in their States of origin. Thither, too, are driven a multitude of political agents and clerks, and a crowd of mediocre men. For most of them there is neither social nor intellectual life. The thought of America is far away, centred in New York. The business and economic development is in New York. Apart from the President it is in New York that one meets the people who matter, and the New York atmosphere that grows and develops ideals and purposes. . . . Government from the district of Columbia is in itself the repudiation of any organized national system. But government from this ineffectual, inert place is only the most striking outcome of that inflexible Constitution, the wrangling delegates of 1 787-1788 did at last produce out of a conflict of State jealousies.
That seems a timely warning which might well be taken by this House before it advances this important question another stage. The site itself has so many disqualifications that we should hesitate to build on it at all, but in view of the enormous responsibilities that this Parliament has to undertake in the almost immediate future, no proposal to spend colossal sums in erecting buildings for the Federal Parliament when others quite as good are available in the great commercial cities of the Commonwealth can be justified. The time for discussing the financial situation that looms ahead of us is not the present, but it may not be out of place to reiterate that we must undertake in the immediate future the construction of two large transcontinental railways which, with the accumulated debt on the Northern Territory, will run the Commonwealth into an expenditure of probably £20,000,000. The State Parliaments can only expect to settle the lands of this continent by tapping the rivers, storing water, and inducing intense cultivation. These things will cost large sums of money, but they are requisite to bring about that progress which is absolutely essential to the future safety of this great nation. In ordinary cases a mistake made in one session can be remedied in the next, without any very serious or lasting injury to the people, but that is not the case with the Federal Capital. Once we embark on its building, it is improbable that we shall ever repeal the Act under which the work is being done. The question is therefore different from almost any other with which we have been, or will be, called upon to deal. It can be properly considered only by attempting to realize the probable conditions of Australia in a hundred years’ time.
– We had better set about a proper system of defence for Australia if we expect to hold it in another hundred years.
– It is because we require population and a proper system of defence that we should hesitate to spend millions on works that will not be in any sense reproductive or assist in the slightest degree ~in the development or defence of Australia.
– Is the honorable member associating this proposal with the expenditure of millions ?
– Probably £3,000,000 or £4, 000, 000 will have to be expended before the whole of the public buildings are erected. The Australian people are not accustomed to sit down and wait an indefinite time before completing their plans, and the probability is that once a proper start is made with the construction of Parliament House, the Library, and various other public buildings, the work will be proceeded with until it is finished. It is very hard to say. at this stage how many millions of pounds will be involved in those undertakings, and in providing the necessary Water supply for a decent Federal city. None of these works will be interest bearing, but they can be undertaken at this early stage of our history only at the expense of those necessary developmental and reproductive works which are essential to the future safety of this great continent.
– The building we are in was found necessary for Victoria, but it is unproductive.
– It is necessary, of course, that we should have a building that will be unproductive in which to transact the business of the country ; but that is not necessary in Federal politics at present.
– A good deal of trash is talked in it, for all that.
– The safeguarding of the interests of the future generations of this Continent will hardly be regarded in 100 years’ time as trash. Future generations will, when they look at the debates of these times, be able to judge who were the parochialists and who were the nationalists in this matter. It should have been settled altogether apart from provincial considerations, because it involves the future of the whole of Australia as does no other Act that we have been or are likely to be called upon to pass. Apparently, it is of no use to appeal to the House in its presentdisposition to say whether the expenditure of all this money shall be undertaken, as it must be, simultaneously with the passing of this Act, or whether the people of Australia, who have to pay the piper, shall have the opportunity of deciding this important National issue. We have already perpetrated one serious mistake in the selection of the site itself. No independent body of men, carefully weighing the evidence in regard to the several suggested sites, could come to any other conclusion than that from the stand-point of . its neutrality, its water supply, and its freedom from the influence of large cities, the site rejected in the last Parliament was the best that could be chosen in the interests of the people of Australia.
– The trouble was that it was not near enough to Sydney.
– That was the trouble, and yet this question is supposed to have been settled on National grounds. We have perpetrated one serious mistake, and 1 hope that this Parliament will not be the victim of parochial influences on this second occasion by agreeing to the expenditure of a large sum of money on a Federal Capital - an expenditure for which there can be at this stage no possible justification.
.- It is not my intention to delay the House on this question, but I feel constrained before a vote is taken to make a few observations. This Bill marks one more step towards fixing for all time the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and the step to be taken is so important that advantage should be taken of every opportunity to avoid a fatal blunder. It is said that this question has been threshed cut from time to time till it has become practically threadbare. I have not had an opportunity, however, to discuss it at length, neither have I had an opportunity as a representative of the people to visit Yass-Canberra. I am prepared, consequently, to take advantage of every opportunity to delay the final settlement of the question until honorable members have had an opportunity to inspect the site, and so lo fit themselves to cast an intelligent vote.
– Some honorable members have been in this House for nine years, and have opposed this site from the first.
– I think that the honorable member has been here too long.
– When the honorable member has been here as long’ as I have been–
– I hope that I shall be a better representative of the people, and that my views will be more in consonance with the wishes of the people of Australia than are those of my honorable friend.
– There is much need for them to be better than they now are.
– I shall deal with the honorable member presently. The honorable member for Parkes, in his characteristic style, this morning referred to honorable members on this side of the House as young men and striplings. I do not know lhat it is a crime to be young. If it is then we shall grow out of it. I would sooner be a young man, imbued with a desire to do my best for my country, than he old, and have no desire for its welfare. The honorable member for Parkes treated us to what I might call a University lecture, on the elements of almost everything under the sun, so that we might well refer to him as “ The Professor for Parkes.” He declared that we were prepared only lc give New South Wales her pound of flesh, and he made that assertion, because he held that we were seeking at every opportunity to delay the settlement of this question. The honorable member quoted a newspaper article in support of his statement. Even if the charge be true, I would sooner be the one prepared only to give the pound of flesh than the one who demanded the pound of flesh. The honorable member said that provincialism was evidenced in connexion with the choice of the Federal Capital. Where did the provincialism first arise? Whence did it come? From New South Wales, the State which he represents.
– I stand corrected. When the people of Australia had the Constitution Bill put before them they were not asked to consider mere details or sordid bargains. They gave consideration only to the broad principle of Federation, and it is no argument to say that they agreed to the insertion in the Constitution Bill of a clause providing that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales. The charge of provincialism comes with an ill grace from those who represent the one State which stood out for a sordid bargain. We have been told that Victoria demanded that the Capital should not be within 100 miles of Sydney, and that in that respect she was guilty of provincialism. Even if that was provincialism, it was introduced into the Constitution by a worse form of provincialism on the part of New South Wales. From start to finish provincialism has been in the atmosphere and enveloped every discussion of this important question. I may be young, but my idea is that the Federal Capital should be the ideal city of Australia. We should be able to establish a modern city which will serve as an example to the rest of the civilized world, and particularly as a guide to other parts of Australia. We are starting to build up, so to speak, from scratch, and have the experience of civilization to guide us. We are the inheritors of the progress of generations. All that science and art have been able to accomplish are within our reach, and yet the honorable member for Parkes declares that we want nothing in the nature of commerce at the Federal Capital, because if we had we should have a smoky town. No doubt that would be the position if the Capital were established at YassCanberra, where there is no water to give us a smokeless power ; but if it were established on a site possessing an adequate water supply the. Capital could be a centre of commerce and yet be almost smokeless. The- honorable member for Parramatta quoted from a newspaper, 130 years old, some of the prophesies made in regard to the establishment of the Capital of the United States at Washington. He read with great gusto the statements that were made against that site, and one of his colleagues cried out, “ History repeats itself.” The honorable member waved his newspaper clipping in triumph and sought to show that all that was bad was said against Washington just as everything that is bad is now being said against YassCanberra. I see no reason for triumph on his part, since Washington has not been the success that its advocates claimed it would be. If it is a case of history repeating itself, then we have the strongest argument in favour of our contention that Yass-Canberra is not the best site obtainable in Australia. Let us have a little more of “ history repeating itself “ as regards the selection of Washington. Mr. Wade, referring to the question about twelve months ago, said -
As far as I can ascertain from the records, something like nine or ten years elapsed before the location of the Federal territory was determined upon; whilst the negotiations, the manipulation of votes, and the handling of voters that went on to secure that purpose were not very creditable to those days, and very nearly led to a violent disruption of that young Constitution.
Here we have history repeating itself once more. It is because of these facts, and not because I believe that a reference to the people is the best method of settling a question such as this that I favour a referendum being taken in regard to the site of the Capital. My desire is that the decision of this question shall be removed from the arena of politics. There has been so much lobbying and such a display of party feeling and provincialism of the worst type in this Parliament that I prefer to refer the question to the people of Australia for determination. Unlike some honorable members, I am not going to decry any portion of Australia. Possibly Yass-Canberra is a very fine part of the Commonwealth, but from what I have read, and even from the admissions of its advocates, I feel convinced that it is not the best site. Even if a better site is not procurable within the limitations of the Constitution, I think that in dealing with so important a question as this we should proceed most cautiously, and give to it the most careful consideration. We do not wish to repeat the mistake of ten years ago. Is it not time that we withdrew all limitations to the opening up of this question once more, and endeavoured to secure for the Australian capital the best site that Australia can offer? The honorable member for Illawarra interjected, whilst the honorable member for Laanecoorie was speaking, that Lake George was the site that he favoured.
– When the question first came before this Parliament, I voted for Lake George, which is in the same district as Canberra.
– The honorable member did not vote for it.
– I did, on the first ballot.
– Why not on the second ?
– The only two to vote for it were Mr. Conroy, who was then the honorable member for Werriwa, and myself.
– And the honorable member was so much enamoured of the site that he did not vote for it after the first ballot.
– Perhaps the honorable member does not know the history of this question.
– He does not know what combinations took place.
– Lake George dropped out after the first ballot.
– No; there was so much juggling of votes-
– Just as took place, according to Mr. Wade, in connexion with the selection of Washington.
– Yes. It reminds one of the juggling and manipulation of votes that took place when the selection of Washington was made. It is because of all these facts that I intend to support the amendment, although I do not think this belongs to that general class of questions which ought to be referred to the people.
– Then why refer it to the people?
– Because I believe that, with all their limitations, the people are better qualified to give an honest decision than is the Parliament. When the question was first discussed in this House, the Yass site received very little support, and Canberra also received only one vote. Then, to secure a combination of votes in favour of a site near Sydney, Yass and Canberra were put together as one site, with the result that the site which secured only one vote at every ballot is that on which the Federal Capital is now to be established. The honorable member for Parramatta said that we wanted to get away from Melbourne. The honorable member and others from the remaining States of the Commonwealth have been well treated here, and it ill becomes them to express so strong a desire to get away from this city. I am not saying that we should remain here, but it ill becomes those who have received such excellent treatment from this State to express a desire to run away from it. The honorable member says that we ought to get away from it, so as to be free from the influence of the provincial press of Melbourne. I would remind him that what he describes as “ the provincial press of Melbourne “ has supported him and his colleagues ever since they have been in this Parliament. If we go to Yass-Canberra, we shall have the worst provincial newspapers in Australia delivered at our doors every morning. No one has less regard for the press than I have, but if it is necessary, as the honorable member for Parramatta asserts, to leave Melbourne to get away from the influence of the press, we should certainly not go to YassCanberra. I do not regard this as an ideal question to submit to the electors, but Parliament having shown itself incapable of . dealing fairly with it, we must appeal to our masters. I protest against the taking of any more steps towards dealing with the Capital until the best site has been chosen. The Bill appears to be a good one for its purpose, but our children will not look upon our actions with pride if we choose a site which is not the best for the whole Commonwealth.
– I shall support the amendment, though 1 am not in accord with all the reasons which have been advanced on behalf of it. It must not be forgotten that New South Wales entered the Union on the distinct and positive promise that the Federal Capital would be built within its boundaries, and, therefore, to provide for the establishment of a Capital outside that State would be a breach of faith. When I entered Parliament I was in a similar position to that now occupied by the honorable member for Corangamite ; I had not my choice between several sites, but had to vote for either Yass-Canberra or Dalgety, and my judgment inclined me to choose the former, though I believe that there were other places more suitable, and that Tumut was infinitely superior to it. I am afraid that we shall be outvoted on the amendment, because, although most of the Ministers when in Opposition were violently opposed to Yass-Canberra, they now say that they are bound to support it on the ground that there must be continuity of action. They have not shown the same desire for continuity of action with regard to other matters, and had no hesitation in securing a reversal of the vote regarding the borrowing of money for naval construction, which was the policy of the last Parliament. I do not propose to quote the speeches of those who opposed the selection of YassCanberra, and are now voting for expenditure there; but as an Australian native who feels the responsibility of seeing that no false step is taken, I think that we must do all that we can to get the best site. If Parliament is not able to make a suitable choice, we should appeal to the people. I should like them to have an opportunity of choosing a better site than either YassCanberra or .Dalgety, and I think that in days to come they will thank us for taking action which will enable them to do so.
Question- That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question (Dr. Carty Salmon’s amendment)-put. The 1 louse divided.
Ayes … …32
Noes … 17
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I desire to lodge my protest against the present selection. I take it that every member of the House desires that the finest site on the continent should be chosen for our Federal Capital ; and I do not deny for one moment that each of us is patriotic from his own point of view. The whole history of this question discloses a huckstering bargain, which will be remembered when the history of these times is written. New South Wales refused to join the Federation unless the Capital were placed within her borders; and the spirit so disclosed was one which ought never to have had any influence in the birth of a new nation. I have nothing but contempt and loathing for those who demanded the terms of that bar gain, and for those who cravenly acquiesced. Where are the men who made the bargain?
– One is in London. Dr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [3.30].- I think, got well in out of the wet, because I feel sure that the present representative of East Sydney would have defeated him at the last election. However, I think all of us have a soft corner in our heartsfor our dear, kind, stout friend; and are all inclined to say, “Hang his politics; he is a dashed good fellow.” But where ate the other parties to the bargain? So far as I know, only two are in active politics to-day, and they sit in Opposition, where they will remain for three years at least. The right honorable member for Swan was one who persuaded me in favour of Dalgety ; but I notice that whenever an opportunity presents itself, loyalty to the Governments of the past, and to certain friends of the present, causes him to vote for the site proposed in this Bill. Honorable members opposite know that they have no hope against honorable members on this side when we vote solidly; but this ought not to be a party question. We know, however, that the present selection was made by dint of lobbying such as I have never seen equalled in twenty years’ experience - lobbying which, when the history of these times is written, will stamp men, who may now shine brightly in the eyes of Australia, with the stigma of advocating an unworthy cause. A suggestion I should have liked to make is represented in the plan which was adopted when the capital of New Zealand was selected. There no little, petty, parochial interests were allowed to have any influence, but experts were brought from the Old Land, and given power to select the best spot in the whole Dominion. In my opinion, a Royal Commission of experts should be appointed, consisting of five experts chosen from Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United States, with the power, never exercised by men before, of selecting a Capital to dominate a Commonwealth. I ran well imagine these men, with all the honour that would pertain to them, exercising their power, unmoved by any consideration whatever, except that of making the best possible choice in the interests of the whole continent. One man who. has been thrown into the dust-bin of political oblivion - who was leader of a party in New South Wales, and was instrumental in placing an innocent man in gaol, and causing him to go abroad to seek justice - refused to give the Commonwealth free control over the lands when Dalgety was chosen, declaring that we must take Yass-Canberra, and no other site. I understand that half a port has been granted to the Commonwealth, though undoubtedly we should control the whole. Be that as it may, I make my protest’ against the selection, which is the result, as I have said, of lobbying, the strongest and most unceasing I ever saw. However, next session the power of the referendum and the initiative will be given to the people, and they will be able to amend the Constitution, and see that a new selection is made. Between now and next session the Minister of Home Affairs, who adorns the office he holds, will not be able to spend an unlimited amount.- His natural shrewdness ‘ and ability, which have been cultivated by many years of business experience, will prevent him spending money foolishly ; and even if the site be changed, the money will not have been thrown away. I understand that the honorable gentleman is planting “ trees ; and afforestation, in YassCanberra or anywhere else, is always profitable. The people who have sent the present majority to Parliament will, with their sense of wrong, rise up and disclaim a huckstering bargain which had to be accepted by those who were determined to have Federation. They will say that the Federal Capital should be chosen, not in the interests of one State or of one party, but for the benefit of the whole community. In Asia, the home of the Aryan race, there arose, perhaps the greatest empire the world ever saw; and we cannot imagine, if a capital had to be selected, that any petty considerations would have been permitted to interfere. The wisest of counsellors would have been called in, and told to select that place which would best dominate that vast dominion. As an Australian, I love my country, and my only desire is to have a Capital worthy of the Commonwealth. Were such a Commission as I have suggested appointed, the 100 mile limit might be waived, and the best possible selection made, irrespective of any condition of the kind. That is not a very great thing to face. We have already in the teeth of strenuous ‘Opposition passed a Bill to alter the Constitution if the voice of our creators, the people, indorses it. I do not wish any one to think that I desire to keep the Federal Capital in Melbourne. As the member for
Melbourne, with this Parliament sitting in my constituency, I could wish it a hundred miles away, and my vote would be gladly given to remove it, but I wish to see it in the site where the water power will be the greatest available in the continent, because no scientist can foretell the potentialities of power from a cheap water supply. Science has shown the way to produce a Wire which to touch is death, but the only nation that has put that into effective use is Japan, in the island of Formosa, to keep the rebellious natives under control. With our power coming from the mighty Snowy River, we could have around our Capital city at Dalgety barricade after barricade that would be absolutely impassable to any army, however bravely led, that might land on our shores. In the site that has now been chosen we shall have to raise our water supply 850 feet, or about seventeen times higher than the roof above me, before the prospective inhabitants can be supplied with a single glass of water. One member on the other side said that gravitation is not always the best way of pro- ‘viding a city with water. Let us examine that statement in the light of history. It is an established fact that gravitation is the cheapest and best, and in fact the only effectual, way to supply a large city population with water. When Rome was at her mightiest she had nine aqueducts. To-day she has only three, yet even to-day. she is the best-watered city in the world. The combined water power of London, Paris, and New York does not equal that of Rome, so that we can imagine what her water power was like in the days of her nine aqueducts. Chicago, which has been quoted by the Minister of Home Affairs, is the only large city that has continued to supply itself with water by pumping.
– And it is the fourth city in the world.
– But it actually pumped its water for household use from the great lake upon which it is built, and at the same time insulted that lake by emptying its sewage into it. That sort of thing could not happen with a water supply by gravitation. The water supply of a city is like the blood supply of a human being. The heart sends the rich, red fluid through the arteries, and when the blood has done its work it comes back through the veins. So the good water supply that comes to a city from a fair distance by gravitation leaves it by its gutters.
– Where is the sewerage of the Capital city to take place?
– I have not gone into that question, but if we have to face the difficulty of raising our water supply 850 feet, we shall find a much greater difficulty in disposing of the sewage, because that will require a large supply of water to carry it away. The only parallel that I can find to the practice adopted by Chicago until comparatively recent years is that of a Chinese junk in the river at Canton, where they empty out the sewage at one end of the vessel, and at the other draw up the water in which to cook their vegetables. By all means let us have the water supply of our Capital city as pure as possible. Our engineers should be able tq emulate what the Arabian engineers did in Spain 800 years ago. By means which as yet no engineer has been able to discover, the. snow-water from the hills 40 to 50 miles from Granada, once the capital of the Moorish possessions in Spain, is brought to the Alhambra Palace in that city, where it leaps up in a splendid stream. What was the reason of all the “ lobbying “ that took place over this site? Why did men forget the duty they owed to their own constituents? Was it a question of the value of the land, or not? I do not say for one moment that it was, but there must have been some dominant reason ; and that is as great a mystery to me to-day as was the resignation from politics of one honorable member who took a very prominent action in the matter. I do not fear to face the future. The memory of a wrong will live in the minds of a people for a long time; and a sense of wrong in this matter is permeating the electors throughout the length and breadth of Australia. It may be a long time in the life of a member, but it will be a short time in the life of our Commonwealth, before the people, when they have the power of the referendum and the initiative, will rise up, prompted by the sense of wrong and injustice done to the whole nation in the matter of the Capital site, and say to the State of New South Wales, “ We shall remove the Capital site from within your borders. You have proved yourself unworthy of it by putting it in a spot that was not the best. Whatever spot the experts say is the finest, whether it is in the north, south, east, or west of the continent, shall be fixed for the Capital.” What will those who are now voting for this site think then, if they be still alive, or, if they are dead, what will their descendants think of them ? They will regret the stigma attaching to their names for having put the Federal Capital in an unsuitable position. In view of the nearness of Australia to the teeming millions of Asia, some might say that, if water-power could be obtained in the centre of the continent, that would be the best place in which to plant the Capital. I do not lean towards that view, because of my reading of the history of Madrid, the one capital that was planted in the centre of a nation. It was made almost unassailable by an enemy, but it lost in greatness. If, however, the experts show that a site in the centre of Australia is best, that will be equal almost at once to two or three army corps for the defence of the empty north. The wrong that is being done to the people of Australia now was first started in the huckstering which occurred among a lot of politicians, all but two of whom are now in the limbo of oblivion. The remaining two are in the cold shades of Opposition, and are likely to remain there. It was perpetuated by the personal animus of the Premier of a State, the voters of which have now sent him also into the limbo of oblivion. I venture to prophesy that, eventually, there will be an upheaval throughout the length and breadth of Australia, when the Australian citizens, endowed with the mighty powers of the referendum and ‘ the initiative, will say, “ A plague on your quarrels, a plague on your lobbying, a plague on your unjust hucksterings and bargainings. We ourselves shall decide where our Federal Capital is to be.” When in those days the voice of Australia thunders forth, how little will appear the Premiers of the day who took this action, upholding State rights against National rights, and fighting the National Parliament at every step of our progress !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– I move -
That the following proviso be added : - “ Provided that the proclamation shall not be issued until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and twenty.”
I wish to give the Committee one more opportunity to defer further expenditure upon this undesirable site. If honorable members refuse to see eye to eye with me. in this matter, I cannot complain, but I trust that the amendment will be agreed to.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The honorable member for Gwydir did not move from his seat on my right until the tellers had been appointed. I therefore rule that his vote must be recorded with the “ayes.”
– There was some confusion, Mr. Chairman, owing to the fact that some honorable members asked that the call for a division be withdrawn, whilst others objected. I thought that you had not solved the question, and did not know as a matter of fact that the tellers were appointed when I proceeded to leave my seat.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Effect of Continuance of State laws).
– It is desirable that we should know what is the attitude of the Government with regard to debts that may have been incurred by any municipal or local body which, under this Bill, will be abolished. The Commonwealth, it seems to me must take over such debts. We ought to have a statement of the policy of the Government.
– We cannot go into details at this stage, but I can assure the Committee that we shall do the square thing. We shall do all that is requisite to carry on the Territory under civilized conditions.
– Whatever obligations there are.
– Does the Minister mean that in the event of the Government taking over a municipal property to which a debt attaches the Commonwealth will pay its proportion of the debt on the property transferred ?
– That is a question for adjustment.
– I believe that, as a matter of fact, there is no municipal property to be taken over.
.- Under this clause, it is provided that the State laws continued in force under this Bill shall become the laws of the Territory, and as such they will be Commonwealth laws. The principle of the Constitution is that where a State law is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the State law to that extent is abrogated. It will therefore be difficult to determine, where there is a slight inconsistency between the State laws to be continued and the general laws of the Commonwealth, which is to prevail, but, as the clause is drafted, I do not know that we can cure the difficulty. Probably the High Court would hold that the last word was the final word.
– The power to make Ordinances is of the widest possible nature. I would like to know if it is the intention of the Government that Ordinances to be made by the
Governor-Generalshall go so far, for instance, as to provide for a complete system of land tenure within the area?
– They might do so.
– We shall have power under the Ordinances to do all that is requisite for the good government of the Territory.
– There is power to frame any form of legislation the Government maythink fit with regard to land tenures, education, and so forth. But as this Bill is to provide only for the provisional government of the Territory, I presume that only such Ordinances will be made as are really necessary in connexion with the building of the city until the proper law-making body is constituted.
– We shall take all the powers necessary.
– I candidly confess that I do not like this clause. It seems to me to empower the Government, by Executive warrant, to make laws of all kinds. The power seems rather wide. I do not favour such a method of framing laws which may interfere with the liberties of the people. The provision is very wide, and it seemed to me rather an unusual power to ask for. Legislation by Executive warrant is foreign to our practice nowadays, though power is often given to make regulations in- pursuance of an Act, so as to give effect to its provisions. This is not such a power, but is a power to be exercised by the Executive Government to pass legislation for the control of the Territory.
– These provisions are required to allow elasticity of administration, so that those responsible for the government of the Territory may be able to make Ordinances to govern the carrying out of works in the absence of a local authority. We cannot get parliamentary authority in the recess, but if anything wrong is done, we can be brought to book for it when Parliament meets again.
– A layman seems at a disadvantage in a discussion like this. As usual, two legal members of the Opposition have been assisting the Government to perfect the measure, and the right honorable member for Swan, who has had more experience of administration of the kind proposed than any one else in Australia, has condemned what the Minister seeks to do.
– The right honorable member for Swan is a doctor of laws.
– Yes, I should have said three lawyers. As chief Executive officer of a Crown Colony, which subsequently, under responsible government, fell almost entirely under his personal control, the right honorable and learned member sees the dangers hidden in these provisions. I view the clause with a great deal of suspicion. It is the correct thing to say in a connexion like this that one has every confidence in the present Minister, but we do not know who may replace him. Yet I fear that we may be placing too much power in the hands of the occupant of the office. The Ordinances, so far as parliamentary control over them is concerned, will be much like the statutory rules which are required to be laid upon the table within fifteen days of their promulgation, and which we very seldom see. Under the clause, the Minister of Home Affairs will become virtually a reigning sovereign.
– A benevolent despot.
– In view of the way in which he is “ bullocking “ through this measure, I doubt whether benevolence really lies beneath his pleasing exterior. I wish him to explain what kind of Ordinances he desires to promulgate, and what their effect will be upon those at. present administering the local government of the Territory.
– He could re-establish the existing shire councils if he liked.
– The Bill seems to empower him to even put the Territory into pawn.
– He could not raise much on it.
– I am sure of that. But having heard his financial utterances, it is with some apprehension that I view the conferring upon him of the powers given by the clause.
.- Honorable members opposite must know very well that, in the absence of a local government, the Minister must have power to make Ordinances.
– Give us a precedent.
– We have a precedent in what was done in connexion with the government of Papua.
– There is a Legislative Council there.
– Prior to the creation of the Council, Papua was governed in the way in which it is proposed to govern this Territory. Now there is a Council, but its Ordinances do not take effect until ratified in Melbourne. Of course, there cannot be a local governing body in the Federal Territory for some time to come, and the Bill provides that until the creation of a local government the Commonwealth Administration shall have power to make Ordinances having the force of law. It is impossible for the Minister to say exactly what Ordinances will be issued this year, next year, or the year after. The legal representatives of the Opposition seem to be trying to entrap him.
– Is the honorable member speaking for the Minister?
– I am expressing my own individual opinion.
– How will the Ordinances be passed?
– If the honorable member reads clause 10, he will know. We have a precedent for what has been done in what was done in connexion with Papua, and, no doubt, similar legislation will have to be passed for the government of the Northern Territory.
.- I do not think that honorable members need be too anxious about this matter, because, although the Ordinances will take effect from the date on which they are passed, they will subsequently be ratified by the Parliament. What we wish to know is whether the Minister proposes to issue them merely for the administration of the Territory, or to lay down a definite line of policy ? That is a question which he should easily answer.
.- It is the members of the Opposition who seem dissatisfied, but none of them, not even the right honorable member for Swan, has enough courage to move - to amend the clause. I should like to know from the Minister how many bodies are going to govern the Territory. The Seat of Government Acceptance Act declares that the laws of New South Wales shall apply to the Territory, but this measure empowers the Governor-General to set aside any of them, with this proviso -
That, with respect to any such law, the GovernorGeneral may by Ordinance declare that it shall, while the Ordinance remains in force, but subject to the provisions of .the Ordinance, have effect in the Territory, and continue to be administered by the authorities of the State, as if the Territory continued to form part of the State.
The Territory belongs to the Commonwealth, but is to be governed by the laws of the State, subject to their amendment by the Governor-General in Council, while the Ministry of the day is to- be able to say that these laws shall be administered by the State authorities as if the Territory remained part of the State. Will the Minister tell us what kind of laws the State will administer in our Territory ? Of course, I’ know that the whole belongs to New South Wales, and I suppose this provision is another case of pandering to the Government of that State.
– It is a very simple matter. I tried to explain last night that we will take over all the good State laws, and abolish those which we do not consider desirable.
– Who is to be the judge?
– I shall be the judge. Supposing that a man were arrested in the Territory for some offence, we should not bring a Justice of the High Court to try him, but would summon him before some local magistrate, who is acting for the State.
– But that sort of case is provided for in clause 9.
– Supposing we desired to start a brickyard or build a weir, and we found that some New South Wales law stood in the way. We should then issue an Ordinance enabling us to control the work from our own Department. It is a very simple matter, and I am amazed to hear the lawyers “ splitting hairs.”
– I quite appreciate the difficulties of the Minister.
– The Minister says there is no difficulty at all !
– I said that I quite appreciate the difficulties, though they may not be evident to the Minister himself. We are introducing for the first time the principle of delegating legislative authority to the Governor-General. At present the Governor-General has power to disallow any Act, or to reserve it for Royal assent, and so forth ; but there are no safeguards in the Bill. Under the Act dealing with Papua, for instance, the LieutenantGovernor cannot give his assent without reservation, and some Bills do not come into force for a year after they have been passed ; and, in addition, there is a Council of Advice. But under this Bill the Governor acts, as it were, “ off his own bat,” and there is no one to disallow any Ordinance he may issue. In the case of Papua the Lieutenant-Governor may disallow any act by the Governor, and any act by the Governor-General may be disallowed by the King ; but who is to disallow any Ordinance of the Governor-General? It seems rather anomalous to give the GovernorGeneral carte blanche as to what shall be the class of legislation by Ordinance. Supposing, to take an extreme case, we abrogate the law of murder and pass another. It will not be much satisfaction to the hanged man to have the Ordinance disallowed six months after he is in the grave.
– Is that possible under the Bill ?
Mi. GLYNN. - It is a legal possibility. As the Bill stands we can disallow any Ordinance only after it has operated, perhaps, to the detriment of some person, and there are cases in which no compensation can be made. I understand the great difficulty of suggesting an alternative, but, as a challenge has been issued, I suggest that we confine the powers of ordinance to those of the Acts specified in the schedule.
– Then we should be bound to continue the State laws, and on other- matters to come to this Parliament.
– The Government would then be hobbled.
– If some limitation is desired, the best suggestion is that I have made.
– The honorable member means to confine the Ordinances to those matters which are dealt with in the Acts repealed ? That would not give us half the necessary power.
– As a matter of fact, I do not believe that a single other Ordinance will have to be passed before Parliament meets, for the reason that the laws of New South Wales will be found adequate.
– But supposing they are not”?
– The test is that the draftsman has gone through all the Acts of New South wales to find those which should not be perpetuated, and he has placed them in the schedule.
– The Acts in the schedule are those which are wholly inapplicable.
– However, it is for the Government to take the risks ; but the provision is a most extraordinary one, and the difficulty might be obviated by having more extensive powers for the government of the Territory through some new machinery.
This clause offers a wide field for criticism, but it is’ very difficult for those who criticise to suggest a way out of the difficulty. The Government are, in my opinion, doing all that could reasonably be expected, in providing that, with the exception of certain State laws which are specified, the others shall operate, and in taking power, if necessary, to issue. Ordinances through the Governor-General. We know that the Governor-General cannot issue an Ordinance except by the advice of the Executive; and for any Ordinance the Ministry will be answerable to this House. In view of the approaching end of the session, and the necessity for the issue of the final proclamation, the. Government cannot do. otherwise than ask the House to pass this Bill.I do not see why there should be any delay, because the laws of New South Wales will operate, with the exceptions mentioned, and there may be emergencies for which those laws do not provide, and for which the Government reserve, the power of issuing Ordinances.
.- The Minister has not replied to the point I raised in regard to the administration of the laws. According to the Bill, the Ordinances may “direct that the laws are to continue to be administered by the authorities of the State as if the Territory continued to form part of the State. I take it, however, that the State will have no authority in the Territory once we have possession.
– Could not a police magistrate be asked to take cases?
– I take it that there will be no police magistrate holding Courts there. Are we to appropriate the services of State officials without any arrangement with the State ?
– We are using State officials now.
– I know we are using State officials right and left; but they administer the laws for us, and not as if a particular place formed part of the State.
– There is no difference in principle.
– The Minister gave an example in respect to the administration of justice, but that is provided for in clause 9.
– The State officials will not be utilized if we do not need them.
– But there will be no State officials there; and the Minister ought to give us some example of what is contemplated. An offence may be committed, and sent for trial to some neighbouring Assize Court ; but the clause says that the laws are to be administered in the Territory by the State authorities.
– What does the honorable member suggest ?
– I am not here to suggest anything. The Minister has inserted this clause; and he evidently meant something by it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Application of Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-1909).
.- Why is it proposed to limit this clause’ to the Act mentioned, without including any statutory modification thereof? There is before the House an effective amending Bill that will be passed before the end of the session, and that should be made applicable.
– Clause 10 gives power to include any future modification.
.- I think it would be safe to put in the words “ and any Acts amending the same.” I should do so if I were in the Minister’s place.
– These clauses are simply to make provision for the application of these Acts in the Territory.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 - (1.) Until the Parliament makes other provision for the establishment of a local Legislature for the Territory, the Governor-General may make Ordinances having the force of law in the Territory.
– I move -
That the words “ establishment of a local Legislature for “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ government of.”
The clause, as drafted, presupposes the necessity for establishing a local Legislature, which is not even contemplated by the Constitution. My amendment will give the Government all the powers necessary, without committing us to establish a local Legislature. The great city which the Minister expects to see grow up on this site is not going to be governed by the residents of the city, but by the people of the whole Commonweal th .
– I accept the amendment, because I have always been of the opinion expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney. The Minister of External Affairs has madea similar provision in the Bill for the provisional government of the Northern Territory.
– Then, why was the other provision put in this clause?
– In my opinion, we should have the Federal Territory run by a small Commission doing real business, just as in the case of Washington.
.- Has the Minister in his mind, or in immediate contemplation, any particular form of administration for the Territory ? The question that I put previously to him was not intended in any way as hostile criticism. Although he takes in this clause general power to pass laws for the government of the Territory, seeing that this is intended only to be a provisional government asset out in the beginning of the Bill, what I asked him was, whether he had in contemplation only the passing of such provisional Ordinances as were necessary for the effectual administration of the Territory. I wanted him to say, in order to allay all suspicion, that it was not intended to take general powers to carry out all sorts of legislative policy. I understand that his intention is to exercise only so much power as is necessary to effectively administer the Territory. Can the Minister state whether he has yet come to any decision upon policy - as to what he is working up to? Is it intended to have Commissioners to control the Territory until such “time as the city can have its municipality, with a properly constituted council and mayor, or is it contemplated to appoint from the Department some specific officer or officers to whom are to be delegated under Ordinances, in the meantime, the duties of regulating andgoverning the city?
– We purpose operating the Territory on economic and efficient lines. We shall only utilize whatever power is requisite to enable us to get the framework of this great city laid out before the next Parliament meets.
Amendment agreed to.
– I should like to insert, after the word “ Territory,” the words “provided that no such Ordinance shall deal with the alienation of land owned or acquired by the Commonwealth.”
– I believe that is provided for in the principal Act.
– There will be no alienation.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Laws of the State of New South Wales which are not to continue in force in the Territory.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act1899 (1899 No. 3).
Industrial Disputes Act 1908 (1908 No. 3).
Industrial Disputes Amendment Act 1908 (1908 No. 24).
Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act 1909 (1909 No. 26).
Local Government Act 1906 (1906 No. 56).
Local Government (Loans) Act1907(1907 No. 1).
Local Government (Amending) Act1908 (1908 No. 28).
Country Towns Water and Sewerage Act 1880, and all Acts amending or extending it.
All Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties (except so far as they impose duties on the estate of deceased persons).
.- It is provided that the Local Government Acts of New South Wales shall not apply to the Federal Territory. We ought not to exclude those laws without first coming to some understanding with the local body or bodies. I take it that this area is included in one of the New South Wales shires?
– In three.
– The important question arises whether any indebtedness has been incurred by those shires, and to what extent the people living in the Federal Territory are responsible for it. If they are responsible, it would be very unfair for us to exclude them from the operations of the Local Government Acts, and throw the whole of the burden of indebtedness on the people who still remain in the three shires. If any of the people in the Federal Territory have received the benefit of indebtedness incurred by the shires in order to provide roads and other facilities for them to get their produce to market, they should still be held responsible for their share of the debt. Perhaps no money has been borrowed by the shires, but, if there has been, the Minister should be able to give us some information in regard to the matter. If he cannot do so now, I hope he will consider the matter, and have inquiries made, in conjunction with New
South Wales officials, so that justice may be done as between the shires and those living in the area that is now being taken from them by the Commonwealth.
.- Would the Minister name the section in the existing Act which prohibits the alienation of land in the Territory? Was not the Minister of External Affairs thinking of Papua when he interjected?
– We put the provision in one Act.
– It should be remembered that the 1904 Act was repealed in 1908.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question. The clause dealing with it has already been passed.
– The honorable member for Hunter can rest assured that this great Commonwealth is not going to inflict any injustice on the people in the Yass-Canberra district, or on the people who have been mixed up with them in any shire transactions. We shall see that they get justice. The Federal Territory cuts into the Yarrowlumla Shire, the Queanbeyan Shire, and, I believe, the corner of another little shire. If they state their case, we shall see that they get justice.
– Does that mean that the Commonwealth is going to pay their proportion of the loans ?
– It means that we shall have to look into the matter and see what sort of a bargain has been made before we take action. I hope honorable members will not try to put us in a false position, so that we cannot examine the question.
– The Government should not put them in a false position.
– We do not intend to do so. This great democratic Government has not yet done an injustice. With regard to the proposition of the honorable member for North Sydney, nine years agoI moved a motion to prevent the alienation of land in the Federal Territory.
– Surely that is not sufficient. The honorable member might as well give us his assurance, and close Parliament.
– I do not say that it is sufficient, but it shows that while I administer the Territory not one pennyworth of land will be sold, although we shall buy all we can as fast as we can. If, however, the provision against the alienation of land is not already in the existing law, we had better put it in this Bill.
-A very serious question has been raised by the honorable member for Hunter. I freely admit that the Minister will see that no injustice is done to the local residents, but I would point out that the schedule includes the Local Government (Loans) Act of New South Wales among the State laws which are not to continue in force in the Territory. This question affects not so much the residents as the Government of New South Wales and the creditors of the various municipal councils within the Territory. Do the Government intend to assume responsibility for all loans that have been raised by these municipalities?
– The Minister has promised that they will do so.
– He has said that the Government will do justice to the residents. If the Commonwealth would take over the responsibility for the debts of the municipalities within the Territory, and say, “ We shall finance the councils,” that would be satisfactory from my point of view, but no such promise has been made by the Minister.
– It would be satisfactory to my constituents, and we wish to know what is to be done.
– We all desire to know what is to be done. The Minister should have included in the Bill a schedule showing the amounts which have been advanced, either by the State or by private individuals, to the shires within the Territory. I wish to know whether the Government intend to assume responsibility for these debts?
– I ask the Minister of Home Affairs to give this matter very serious consideration. He must have some clear obiect in view in seeking to make non-applicable to the Territorv the various State Acts set forth in the schedule. Among those is the Local Government (Loans) Act 1907. The security given to those who have advanced money to the shires within the Territory must be the rates derived from the lands of the Territory. It is now proposed in this Bill to take from those who have advanced money to the shires a portion of that security, and the Government must have a definite policy in view. When I mentioned the matter to the Minister last night I thought that he would take steps to ascertain what loans had been raised by municipalities within the Territory. Is it the intention of the Minister that those who have advanced money to these municipalities shall be compensated for this loss of security? In other words, are the Government going to assume the liability which previously attached to the Territory ?
– They must do so. The policy of the Government is to acquire the land.
– But they have not acquired the whole of the land within the Territory, and we need some definite information on the point. I would also point out that by declaring that the Local Government Acts of New South Wales shall no longer be applicable to the Territory, the Government, by means of this Bill, are doing away with all local government there. I presume that the reply of the Minister will be that it is proposed by Ordinance to constitute some local governing body.
– It may be necessary to do that, but it is too. early to speak of what will be wanted. There is no one there at present.
– Surely the Territory is not to be left in a condition of anarchy?
– Of course not. That is why we are taking power to make Ordinances.
– Are those Ordinances going to operate before next session?
– Then what do the Government intend to do in regard to local government in the Territory? What is the object of repealing the State local government laws now applicable to the Territory ?
– Because the boundaries of the Territory are not co-terminus with those of any district.
– Local government laws must be applicable to every portion of Australia. Is it wise to repeal the State local government laws until the Government have formulated some policy in regard to the matter ?
– Their obligations are entirely to the Government of New South Wales.
– But by the repeal of these laws local residents will be relieved of the rates payable under the State Local Government Acts. The regulation of highways and practically all police regulations will be abolished.
– Does not the honorable member think it would be better to have no laws ?
– Apparently that is what the Minister thinks.
– There must be some good reason for proposing to repeal these Local Government Acts.
– Are there any municipal loans?
– I do not think that there are.
– Is the honorable member for Kooyong speaking with a particular acquaintance with these Statutes ?
– We are asking, first of all, for information. Surely the State Local Government (Loans) Act must be applicable to the Territory, otherwise it would not be proposed to repeal it.
– I do not think that follows. We propose to repeal it because it is not applicable to our future requirements.
– We ask for information as to the loans which have been raised by ‘municipalities within the Territory.
– Is the honorable member of opinion that this is a method of repudiating existing liabilities?
– Not necessarily, because the Minister of Home Affairs has said that the Government will undertake any liability that exists in this regard.
– The liability of an individual to the State of New South Wales ?
– Quite so.
– I did not say that. I said that we should do justice, but that does not mean entering into a bargain.
– If the Shire of So-and-So owes the State Government a certain sum, or if Jones owes the shire so much money, what has that to do with us?
– I. am referring to the repeal of the Local Government Acts, and more particularly the Local Government (Loans) Act, so far as it applies to this Territory.
– The question is one not of liability, but of the future applicability of that Statute to this Territory.
– No; there are three municipalities involved, and doubtless some of them have borrowed moneys on the security of the Territory as well as other portions of the State. This Bill now declares that the Local Government (Loans) Act shall be repealed so far as it is applicable to this Territory. The Government cannot assume liability in this regard ; but the point is, what is the object of repealing these local government laws?
– The Government would take over the responsibility and impose fresh taxation to meet the liability.
– No claim has been made as yet.
– Because this Bill has not been passed.
– But one does not go out looking for obligations.
– I wish to know whether the Government propose to indemnify those who have advanced money to the shires within the Territory for the depreciation of security which they will suffer under this Bill?
– The Local Government (Loans) Act to which the honorable member has alluded is a short measure to amend the Local Government Act. It provides in its operative sections, which are two in number, that the council of certain existing municipalities may borrow money, and it validates certain loans already contracted, and deals specially with the municipality of Lithgow. Surely the honorable member does not contend that the financial obligations of that municipality concern the Federal Territory.
– No; but obligations may have been incurred by other municipalities in respect to land which is now part of the Federal Territory.
– Existing obligations will not be affected by the Bill.
– Surely they will.
– Not in any way.
– If money has been borrowed on land which is now part of the Federal Territory, the obligation will be affected by the repeal of the State Act authorizing it.
– The Local Government Act is of very wide scope, the New South Wales land tax being collected under its machinery. All these matters, and many others, will have to be considered when we are framing a Constitution for the government of the Federal Territory. What is being done now is merely to repeal certain
Statutes which, on the face of them, are inapplicable to the Territory. The scope of the Act referred to is extremely limited. It is, in the main, a validating measure, and one dealing with only a few municipalities. Section 170A, of the New South Wales Local Government (Loans) Act, provides that -
Where, before the twenty-eighth day. of December, 1906, the council of an existing municipality had obtained the sanction of the Governor under the Municipalities Act 1897 to borrow money, and had entered into but not completed negotiations for such borrowing, or incurred liabilities which it was intended should be met by the proceeds of such borrowing, the council of the municipality constituted by this Act may, with the approval of the Governor, borrow such money under this Act, in which case the limitation of amount, sub-section one of section one hundred and sixty-nine, and the provisions of section one hundred and seventy, shall not apply in respect of such borrowing.
That provision refers to existing municipalities which had entered into, but had not completed, negotiations for borrowing. Sub-section 2 provides that -
Where before the said date any such council had obtained such sanction and had agreed for such borrowing, and the money was advanced after such date, and before the third day of July, one thousand nine hundred and seven, to the council constituted under this Act, such borrowing shall be deemed to have been and to be valid, and to have been the borrowing of the existing municipality made before the firstmentioned date.
That is a validating provision. Section 170b deals entirely with the municipality of Lithgow, empowering it to borrow £6,000, and limiting the purposes for which the money may be used. Section 170c declares that -
Nothing in this Act shall be taken to repeal the Municipal Loans Authorization and Validation Act 1906, and any powers conferred by that Act upon an existing municipality may be exercised by the council of a municipality constituted by this Act.
The Municipal Loans Authorization and Validation Act is not sought to be repealed by the Bill. The other Act has two special purposes, the authorization of borrowing by the municipality of Lithgow, and the validation of the acts of certain councils.
– The Attorney-General seems not to apprehend the nature of the difficulty. The repeal of the Act to which he has referred, will probably only have the legal effect of preventing authority under it being exercised in respect to the Territory; but that does not determine the effect of the repeal of the Acts in the schedule, including the Local Government Act of 1906 and the amending Act of 1908, the effect of which, I take it, will be to remove the Federal Territory from the control of those shires of whose area it has, until now, formed part. The Minister is, apparently, unable to say whether money has or has not been borrowed on the security of what is now Federal Territory.
– That is so.
– We must assume, therefore, that money may have been’ borrowed; and it would appear that the repeal of the Acts mentioned in the schedule would have the effect of taking from certain municipalities security on which they have raised loans, thus depriving them also, in part, of the power to repay, because they will be unable to continue to rate the Territory which we have taken from them.
– While the whole burden of the loans is put on the area that remains to them.
– Yes. The Government must assume some definite attitude in this matter. It must either determine to deprive certain municipalities and their creditors of security, without compensation, or give the definite assurance that the obligations incurred in. respect to the Territory will be recognised. Admittedly, the Minister does not know whether money has been borrowed on the security of what is now Federal Territory. One of the strange things about the Bill is that it, apparently, destroys the existing machinery of local government, without making provision for the continuance of the maintenance of roads, and other public works, until the Minister, imitating the lawgiver whose view of the Promised Land from Mount Pisgah he described in such glowing terms, brings down another Decalogue.
– I understand that the Minister has promised to respect any liabilities incurred in respect to the Territory.
– We should not be asked to accept such a loose kind of assurance. The Government should say exactly what is to be done.
– I regret that the Committee has not some definite information in regard to this matter. We wish to know how the three shires of whose area the Federal Territory forms part, will be affected by its .transfer to the Commonwealth. I do not think any one will deny that those shires can no longer rate property which is now within the Federal Territory.
– That means that so much security has been taken from them.
– Yes. We do not know whether they have or have not borrowed money on the security of this land which was once under their control ; but, assuming, for the sake of argument, that they have borrowed , £10,000 on it, and that we aretaking from them one-third of their original area, we are depriving them and their creditors of one-third of their security, and leaving them only the remaining two-thirds to bear the burden.
– We decrease their responsibilities.
– It may be that half of the money borrowed was spent on works within what is now Federal Territory ; but, as that land can no longer be rated, the remaining municipal area has to find the interest on expenditure from which it has not benefited.
– And the principal.
– And the principal. The contention of the Acting Prime Minis- ter does not hold good, because, once we take over this area, it becomes Commonwealth Territory. The Committee are mite entitled to ask the honorable gentleman whether he has made inquiries as to the position of the three shires, and the extent to which they are indebted. If he has not that information, he should give an assurance that, before the Bill is finally dealt with, inquiries will be made, so as to prevent any injustice to either the people inside or the people outside. Unless the Government are prepared to give that assurance, I shall move the omission of this particular part dealing with Local Government Acts.
– The honorable member for Hunter has permitted himself to get very heated, and to speak as though the intention of the Government was to permit injustice to be done. If the honorable member had taken the trouble to look at the Act in question, he would have seen that what I said was perfectly true, namely, that it does not at all interfere with existing liabilities. Where existing liabilities are interfered with, the honorable member may rest perfectly assured that evenhanded justice will be done. What I said by way of interjection was that when the upkeep of a shire or municipality is dependent on rates levied on the ratepayers, it is very obvious that, by so much as the area is lessened, the liabilities of the shire or municipality are decreased. I do not say for a moment that where there has been a loan raised, and the benefit of the money distributed unevenly, benefiting twothirds of the ratepayers wholly, or much more than the other third, the remaining one-third shall, therefore, be saddled with a responsibility which ought to be distributed over the whole. Nothing of that sort will be permitted. Where there is any liability which should properly rest on those persons who, after the proclamation, will be citizens of the Commonwealth Territory, rather than ratepayers of the shire or municipality, the Commonwealth will see that they shoulder their fair share of the responsibility.
.- If the Attorney -General looks up the papers, he will find that there is not very much in the matter. I remember that Mr. Wade came over very hurriedly one Saturday morning, and we had a meeting in the AttorneyGeneral’s office. I think Mr.Garran was present; and I wrote out a series of questions as to what liabilities or matters there were to be considered. I think that memorandum will be found in my handwriting, or typed, in the Department.
– That is the question we have asked.
– I asked questions as to what compensation for buildings, and so on, we should have to pay. Under the Constitution, we get Crown lands free, and a difficulty arose as to what Crown lands there were. To settle the point, we specified certain things in paragraph 15 of the agreement, in respect of which the State was not to ask for payment. I remember I asked whether there were any court-houses or other buildings; and, though I forget Mr. Wade’s exact words, he said, in effect, that there was nothing worth talking about involving compensation. There was never any question laised as to the liabilities of a municipality being thrown on the Commonwealth. I suggest that if there is any difficulty, the State Government ought to be consulted; and, no doubt, what appears to be fair will be done. The Lands Acquisition Act applies to the acquisition by the Commonwealth, for any puhlic purposes, of lands owned in the territory by any person. We may never take over any municipal property ; but if the functions of a municipality cease, some one will have to assume them, and if the State does so, it will have to pay. If a loan has been incurred on any properties, it will be a curious state of affairs if we have to pay for those properties, and also the debt; we cannot be expected to pay the liabilities as well as for the property. I think communications ought to be opened up with the State Government, in order to ascertain whether there is any debt, or portion cf a debt.
– Ought that not to have been done before the introduction of this Bill?
– I regard the late Government as quite as responsible as the present Government.
– I merely asked for information.
– At all events, I put the question to Mr. Wade, and there is, I think, a memorandum on the matter.
– Is the State Government the only creditor?
– It may be that there is some debt due by a municipality ; but I do not think there is.
– If so, what has. the State Government to do with the matter ?
– But supposing there is a debt, the question arises whether the municipality is liable. I ask the question because we shall have to pay for assets on which there may be a debt.
– If we take the assets over; but that is not proposed.
– Has not the Acting Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth will be responsible?
– I am merely throwing out suggestions for consideration, because I do not think everything we say now ought to be taken as final.
– We ought to have some definite assurance.
– I shall have the memorandum found, and I shall write over to Sydney, and see if there is anything further, or necessary, to be said or done.
– The whole thing was done so hurriedly that the telegraph had to be used - there was great hurry to settle the matter in the interests of New South Wales.
– Were not the interests of Australia also considered?
– Of course- the honorable member ought not to get out of temper. I am not reflecting on the importunity of New South Wales, but that State was particularly anxious to get the matter settled, and we deferred to what I described last night as its reasonable desire. Even against my own conviction, I endeavoured to bring the settlement about, and voted in favour of the view of the State.
– Against the honorable member’s own conviction?
– Against my own convictions.
– For the reasons I have given. I would prefer the Capital to be in Sydney.
– That is a frank, honest admission !
– Then there is nothing to complain about. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to ascertain from the Department of Home Affairs whether there is any debt for which the municipalities are responsible, and the extent to which their capacity to pay is unfairly interfered with by this transfer. I mentioned last night that that is the principle of the Act, 24 and 25 Victoria, when there is a change of the kind.
– This Bill has no- thing to do with the taking over of property in the Territory.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon ; we do not, without payment, get municipal property on which a debt is incurred. Are there any buildings?
– Then that is all right ; I understood there was nothing to be compensated for, but if there is any doubt it ought to be removed.
– There is a church! and a school.
– That is about all.
– What is the obligation in regard to those buildings? We must be careful not to recoup obligations incurred for ordinary purposes of general expenditure.
. -I am sorry the Attorney-General has not dealt with the matter which has been brought before the Committee, but rather with only one of several Acts concerning which we require information. The case put was that the municipalities within which the Territory is may have borrowed money ; and the question is who has to assume the liability - whether the Commonwealth has to assume it, which would be a most extraordinary state of affairs; or whether that proportion of the liability is to be thrown back on the municipality which borrowed the money e
– The position I take up is that, suppose Jones, a ratepayer, becomes by this transfer an inhabitant of the Commonwealth Territory, the liability is not discharged.
– I am talking about municipal loans raised on the rates, of that particular portion of Territory now being withdrawn from the municipalities, and the question is whether, as the rates would cease to be paid, the whole of the responsibility would be cast on the municipality that borrowed the money. If that be the state of affairs it is most unjust to the municipality. As the Attorney-General is going to look into the matter and obtain further information, I ask him also to consider whether it is advisable to repeal the Local Government Acts for the present, so far as they are applicable to the Territory. Would it not be sufficient to repeal them when we are introducing legislation for the government, local and otherwise, of the Territory ? The continuance of these Local Government Acts could be of no disadvantage in the mean - time.
– No doubt I ought to have known that the memorandum referred to by the honorable member for Angas was in the Department, but I did not. However, I shall remedy that fault at the earliest possible moment, After all, this is a question of fact ; and I shall inquire to what precise extent these obligations, if any, exist, in order, by negotiation, and in every other way justice and effective administration necessitate, that justice may be done. No shirking of responsibility or liability of any sort or kind ought to be, or will be, permitted by the Commonwealth. The Acts mentioned in the schedule were singled out by him only after the most careful consideration. We might very well have omitted mention of this particular Act, because its place is insignificant by comparison with the Local Government Act itself. I can give the Committee my assurance that every care has been taken, and that, where there is anything inapplicable in other laws, it will be remedied by Ordinance.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the following provision in the schedule -
Laws of the State of New South Wales which are not to continue in force in the Territory : -
All Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties (except so far as they impose duties on the estate of deceased persons).
Why is that exception made?
– We have thought it desirable not to relieve persons in the Territory of this liability, which is a convenient method of raising revenue.
– That revenue will go to the Government of New South Wales.
– Why should it?
– lt is now imposed by them for their particular purposes. After the proclamation it will go to us, and not to the State of New South Wales. The whole question arose of utilizing the Local Government Act. The land tax of the State is now carried on through the machinery of the local governing bodies. Income tax, stamp duties, and probate are all imposed and collectable for the purposes of New South Wales, and are not at all necessary for the purposes of the Commonwealth. We have thought it sufficient to rely on duties of Customs and Excise, and on land taxation, which, we think, are amply sufficient for our present purposes. Why should these people pay double?
– There is more in the question raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong than the Attorney-General has apprehended. Under this Bill the money derived from probate duties, under the New South Wales Act, will continue to be paid to the Government of New South Wales, but I understood that the whole scheme of the transfer was that the Territory for all purposes of taxation was to come under Federal control. What are we to get for this taxation? A very considerable part of the taxing power will still be exercised by the Government of New South Wales, because I understand that the probate duties afford a considerable amount of revenue. .
– Does the AttorneyGeneral say that that money will go to the State?’
– Of course, it must, because the only authority for collecting it is the authority of a State Act, which requires that it shall be paid into the State Treasury. If that State Act is not- repealed, so far as the Territory is concerned, probate duties, collected in the Territory, will continue to be paid to the State Treasury. What are we to get for that? Our taxing power is to that extent diminished.
– Can the State Government impose taxation of any kind within the Federal Territory after its transfer to the Commonwealth?
– Power to impose this particular kind of taxation is expressly reserved to the State Government in this Bill, but all the other taxation laws of the State are removed.
– What is the objection to striking out the reservation?
– I want to know why it has been put in. That might be explained by the Government.
– I fail to see why the State of New South Wales should collect probate duties in the Federal Territory. <
– Surely it will not?
– I want further information on that point. If the whole Territory is to be managed and financed by the Federal Government, it will be rather onesided to allow the New South Wales Government to step in and collect probate duties. “ When we take the Territory over, the New South Wales Government and people will have no further interest in it other than their intercourse with it. Why, then, should these duties be paid to the State of New South Wales any more than to the State of Tasmania ?
– We shall have to avail ourselves of much of the machinery of the New South Wales Government.
– If we agree to the State Government collecting the probate duties, will the Acting Prime Minister make some arrangement with them for the return to the Commonwealth of a monetary quid pro quo? Until the Minister gives us some further information as to the arrangements to be made, I shall decidedly oppose the provision, which should not have been put before us in its present one-sided form.
– - Clause 4 explains what is to be done, and how the money is to be utilized. It provides -
Where any law of the State of New South Wales continues in force in the Territory by virtue of section 6 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909, it shall, subject to any Ordinance made by the Governor-General, have effect in the Territory as if it were a law of the Territory. ….
Therefore, although it may be provided in the New South Wales Act that the State authorities shall collect the money, there must be read into every such State Act this particular reservation, that it is to be collectable and collected by the Commonwealth Government, and that the State Government have nothing at all to do with it. We collect it and we have it, and nothing more seems to be required.
– If that be so, what is the object of using in the schedule the words “ Except so far as they impose duties on the estate of deceased persons “ ? The provision in clause 4 would be applicable to all State Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties, but then those other words are added. Why should not all the rates and taxes which are at present collectable within the Territory be collected in the same way for the benefit of the Commonwealth ?
– I have already explained that there are a large number of taxes and rates now imposed in New South Wales. We do not desire to impose any of them. We consider that the Customs and Excise duties and the Commonwealth land tax will be sufficient for our present purposes. We have left the duties on the estates of deceased persons.
– I want the Commonwealth to collect them.
– We shall have them. If honorable members really want all these taxes on, they can have them on.
.- In order to carry out the promise of the Attorney-General, would it not be necessary to strike out the words, “ Except so far as they impose duties on the estate of deceased persons “ ? The honorable member’s explanation seems to be somewhat against the wording of the schedule.
– - Not at all. What we say is that no State Acts imposing taxation are to be effective in the Territory, except such Acts as impose taxes on the estates of deceased persons. Therefore, once we issue the proclamation, the people in the Territory will be liable to no taxes except probate duties, Customs and Excise duties, and Commonwealth land taxation.
– Are the people there going to be free from all income tax?
– At present, yes.
– It appears to me that clause 4 means that the State of New South Wales will continue to collect the probate duties because we cannot collect them.
– Hear, hear 1
– I must give grave consideration to any legal opinion expressed by the honorable member for Flinders ; and so I think the safest way would be to delete the words in question from the schedule, and leave the Federal Government to collect probate by Ordinance.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Acting Prime Minister, and Attorney-=General) [5.59J. - Take, as an example, the Police Offences Act and the Crimes Act of New South Wales. We have no Commonwealth criminal code, and we must have the criminal laws of New South Wales applied to the Territory. ‘We shall naturally utilize the New South Wales machinery to administer them. We could not now administer them at all, otherwise. So, in this case, there is machinery in New South Wales to determine the amount of the tax on the estates of deceased persons, and collect it. The money is gathered in by that machinery, which is an eminently convenient arrangement ; but I assure the honorable member that that is all the State Government will do. They will do the work, and we shall get the money.
.- I am afraid that that statement is quite inconsistent with what the Attorney-General said before, and inconsistent with the Bill. The exception of that New South Wales Act from the repeal of all the other State taxation Acts can only mean that that Act remains in force in the Territory ; and the only effect of that is that all the inhabitants of the Territory will have to pay probate duty at death to the State of New South Wales. But an even more difficult question is raised. We are taking over a new Territory, and shall have to take over, in connexion with it, as a Federal Parliament, obligations which we have not got in regard to any other part of Australia. We have to take over, not only the ordinary” Public Service, but the obligation of maintaining all the roads, bridges, and other public works, and continuing the administration of justice in the Territory ; because we cannot hope that the State of New South Wales will do all that work for nothing. In addition to the cost of the ordinary Federal services, the Government will have to provide for the local administration of the Territory. That must be financed. We have imposed Customs and Excise and land taxation over all Australia to provide for Federal expenditure, but the Government will have also to meet the expenditure which the local administration of the Territory will involve. No doubt, either by Ordinance or Act of Parliament, it will provide for taxation of a different kind to meet that expenditure.
– Local taxation?
– Yes, we have power to impose such taxation. Unless the Government are going to make the Territory a sort of sanctuary, wherein even’ one will be free from the payment of income tax, stamp and probate duties, and other taxation, all these matters will have to be provided for. I presume that the Government intend, first of all, that people within the Federal Territory shall be subject to the ordinary Federal taxation for Federal purposes, and that provision will also be made for financing the ordinary local administration by some form or forms of taxation. Why should we allow a particular portion of the taxation which belongs to New South Wales to remain within its control so far as this Territory is concerned? The Government will have to provide for an income tax and probate duties within the Territory, if such forms of taxation are to be included, and possibly a number of other methods of direct taxation, to meet the local expenditure which we shall have to undertake. The Minister should have come down with a statement showing how it is proposed to finance the local expenditure. We are making a very bad beginning byleaving New South Wales in possesssion of a large slice of the taxing power that we acquire in taking over the Territory. That is the position which the Attorney-General’ has not met. All the machinery for local; administration is being abolished, and I desire to know what the Government intend to do. Has the Minister in his mind any scheme to provide for the cost of keeping the roads in repair, the local administration of justice, and so forth?
– That has nothing to do with the schedule.
– It will be affected by- the schedule. From the moment that this Bill receives the Royal assent, the whole of the machinery of local government in operation in the Territory will cease. The Government will have no provision for the maintenance of roads, or for the apprehension of malefactors if any should reside there. Action must be taken at once to make good these deficiences, and I presume that the Government intend to provide for them by certain Ordinances. The point that I wish to emphasize is that whatever machinery is created by means of Ordinances will at once involve the Government in local expenditure.
– Why should not the State laws continue in operation for the present ?
– Exactly. The Government ought simply to have provided for taking over the Territory, and have allowed the administration of justice and all matters relating to municipal government to continue under the existing laws until this Parliament could be asked to substitute other measures foi them. Had that course been followed, we should have had an opportunity to discuss a definite scheme, and, in the meantime, the Government would have had the use of their taxation power within the area to meet the wants of the local administration. I do not know what’ is the object of the Government in allowing this important part of the taxation power to go over to New South Wales, which will have no responsibility in connexion with the local administration of the Territory as soon as this measure becomes law.
– The reason for excluding from the laws of the State, which are not to continue in force in the Territory, Acts imposing duties on the estates of deceased persons is that we have to stop somewhere, and that this” seems to be a most appropriate point at which to cry a halt. One could not safely venture further than the grave. As to what may be done, I would point out that section 6 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 provides for just such powers as are now proposed to be exercised, It sets forth - . . . Where by any law of the State in force in the Territory on the proclaimed day, any power or function is vested in the Governor of the State, or in any Authority of the State, that power or - function in relation to the Territory shall be vested in and exercised or performed by the Governor-General, or the Authority exercising similar powers and functions under the Commonwealth, as the case requires or as the Governor-General directs.
Provided that the Governor-General may direct that any such power or function may be exercised or performed on behalf of the Commonwealth by the Authority of the State in which it was previously vested; and while that direction remains in force the Authority of the State shall, in regard to the exercise or performance of that power or function, be deemed to be an Authority of the Commonwealth.
That is a complete authority.
– But the Commonwealth will have to pay for it all. The point we are discussing is that the Government are giving away the means of paying for these services.
– We have the power to do directly under a State Act everything that could be done by the Government of the State, or any authority of the State which might exercise the power under Statute. What is more, we may delegate to any State authority the power to act on our behalf.
– But section 6 is not applicable to the Local Government Acts which are being repealed under this Bill.
– Of course not. As lo those laws which remain in force, I point out that, under section 6 of the Act, and under section 4 of this Bill, we may delegate our authority to any authority we please.
– No one is disputing that. The point is as to what is to become of the municipal government of the Territory if we repeal the State local government laws, so far as they are applicable to it.
– We have power to make Ordinances, in which we can include any or every section of the Local Government Acts of New South Wales that are applicable. We can provide for any form of local government that we favour directly this Act is proclaimed.
.- I am rather pleased that this question has been debated at such length, since it illustrates ‘the difficulty which this Parliament would have, in the event of Unification, in dealing with the affairs of a continent comprising 3,000,000 square miles.
– The honorable member is measuring the Territory bv 1 the length of the debate.
– The honorable member has grasped the point that I wish to make. Since it has taken us more than a day to deal with a small Bill relating to 1,000 square miles of Territory, how long will it take us to pass measures relating to the whole of Australia when the Commonwealth Parliament supersedes the State Legislatures? After all, I do not think that there is much in the point that has just been discussed. Judging by what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said of the character of the country, it is hardly likely that any person dying there would leave any estate in respect of which probate duty could be collected. I trust, however, that the Minister will take this matter into careful consideration, and provide at once for the local government of the Territory and the administration of juslice there.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
– Before - the Bill is reported, I should like the Government to promise to recommit it, in order that we may insert a provision to prevent the alienation of land within the Territory. When clause 10 was under consideration, I was induced to withdraw an amendment to that effect, because of the assurance of certain honorable members that the Seat of Government Act provided for the non-alienation of the lands of the Territory. I have since discovered that no such provision has been made. I take it that it is almost the unanimous opinion of this Parliament that the lands in the Federal Territory shall not be alienated, and we ought to have an opportunity to discuss the advisableness of inserting in this measure a provision to that effect. If the Government will give a promise in this regard, honorable members generally will be glad to have it.
– We intend to insert a clause similar to that in the Northern Territory Administration Bill, which will meet the honorable member’s objections.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr. King O’Malley) agreed to -
That the Bill he now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for the consideration of a new clause.
In Committee (Recommittal):
Amendment (by Mr. King O’Malley) proposed -
That the following ‘new clause be inserted : - “ No Crown lands in the Territory shall be sold or disposed of for any estate of freehold except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.
– It seems to me that the clause, though applicable to the Northern Territory, requires amendment if it is to be applied to the Federal Territory. I suggest the postponement of its consideration.
– Let the Senate improve it.
– No; let us put it right here.
– I take it that the policy of the Government is to accept in fee simple the unalienated Crown land, and to acquire by purchase all alienated land, irrespective of contracts in regard to it.
– The honorable member will allow the Government to state its own policy.
– The Minister might have stated the Government policy in introducing the Bill. Our difficulty has been to find out what that policy .is. 1 wish to know whether it is intended to resume all the alienated land in the Territory. The clause should be more definite. The Commonwealth will spend some millions of pounds on public works in the Territory, and should profit by the increase in value which that will give to the land. We should buy out all the existing owners, irrespective of contracts.
. -I understand that the intention of the clause is to preserve the rights of those who have entered into contracts with the State for the purchase of estates in freehold. “The Government does not wish” to be put into the position in which it was put in respect to Papuan land. The want of a provision such as this has caused the Department of External Affairs a great deal of trouble. Section 7 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act provides that-
All estates and interests in any land in the Territory which are held by any person from the State immediately before the proclaimed day shall, subject to any law of the Commonwealth, continue to be held from the Commonwealth on the same terms and conditions as they were held from the State.
After freehold rights have been acquired the Commonwealth can at any time buy the land back.
.- -It is the intention of the. Government that no further estates in freehold shall be acquired within the Federal Territory.
– How long will it be before provision is made for the resumption of the privately-owned land in the Territory? The owners of land there should not be kept in a state of vncertainty. Some date should be fixed for the resumption.
– The New South Wales land laws are probably the most complicated in the world ; and, therefore, we shall act wisely in not interfering with them. If a man has an option of any kind, he must be permitted to exercise it; but it will be subject to the same conditions in the Territory as now apply out of it.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. King O’Malley) proposed -
That the reports be now adopted.
.- We should be clear regarding the position of those holding land in fee simple within the Territory .
– The Government will resume such land at its value in 1908.
– But the right to resume may not be exercised for some years ; and, in the meantime, the owners of the land will be unable to do anything in regard to it, because, if they expended money largely in improving it, no compensation would be given for the improvements.
– Section 10 of. the Seat of Government Acceptance Act provides that -
The provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906 shall apply to the acquisition by the Commonwealth, for any public purpose, of any land owned in the Territory by any person :
Provided that, in determining the compensation to which the owner is entitled under that Act, the value of the land shall be taken not to exceed its value on the eighth day of October, one thousand nine hundred and eight.
The provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act which apply are those which are contained in section 13 and onwards. They, in conjunction with the provision which I have read, will govern the resumption of the States in freehold.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
.- The Attorney-General has undertaken to obtain certain information and lay it before this Chamber. In the meantime, he has very properly moved that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages ; but I do not know whether he intends the Bill to pass before the information referred to is obtained.
– I propose to obtain the information and afford an opportunity to consider it before the Bill becomes law. I shall lay the information on the table.
– I have no desire to delay the passing of the measure, because the information can be subsequently supplied, and any necessary alteration made elsewhere. In the meantime I suggest that the honorable gentleman should consider the advisableness or otherwise of permitting the local government laws to remain in force until he introduces a Bill dealing with that matter. The honorable member for EdenMonaro has asked me to make a request to the. Government. The Seat of Government Bill provides that the land taken over shall be so taken at its value on the 8th October, 1908, and there is a similar provision in regard to the acquisition of the Northern Territory. In the latter case, however, it is further provided that any improvements which have been made in the meantime shall be taken into account.
– It is proposed to have a similar provision in this Bill.
– That is very satisfactory. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro also desires to know when it is the intention of the Government to resume land - whether it is to be within the next twelve months or within the next two or three years.
– It would not be proper to give that information under the circumstances.
– In the meantime operations within the area will be more or less paralyzed, and, on behalf of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I suggest that, if it be possible, the information might be afforded when the Bill is’ before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to have the Bill recommitted for the insertion of n. new clause.
– The Minister of Home Affairs should have intimated his desire before I put the question for the adoption of the report. I had no idea the Minister desired to propose a new clause.
Under the circumstances, I do not see how it is possible for me now to accept a motion for recommittal.
Bill read a third time.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
After the debate on the Seat of Government Administration Bill, on which strong feeling was displayed owing to considerable division of opinion, it will probably be some relief to debate a measure which, so far as its object is concerned, has the support of every honorable member, whatever opinions may be entertained as to the method proposed. The Government do not regard the machinery provided in the Bill as the last word that can be said, and they invite discussion with a view to obtaining as perfect a measure as possible. Honorable members, I think, know what is sought to be obtained by the Bill, and the circumstances which have led to its introduction. The object is to afford protection to Australian children employed outside the Commonwealth, so far as it is possible for us to regulate a matter of the kind. The Bill deals with cases such as that brought under our notice a week or two ago by the honorable member for Perth, those to which I drew the attention of the House when discussing the honorable member’s Bill, and also with the removal of aboriginal natives from Australia. The necessity for such protection as is proposed was shown very forcibly in the facts recently made known, particularly in the case of some children employed in opera troupes travelling in India and other parts of the East, and, further, in another case cited by the honorable member for Perth, in which an Australian child was taken by an Asiatic from her mother in Australia, though with her mother’s consent, and is now being brought up in India under conditions which, I think, we all regret. If anything, the case of the opera children was even worse than that of the child I have just mentioned, as is shown in the conditions of their employment, and in letters written by the children, not with a view to being made public, but in order to inform their parents of the circumstances. There are, further, the facts brought out in the course of legal proceedings taken against a Mr. Rouse, who on witnessing one of the performances in India, felt that the conditions of the children’s employment were so bad that he, as a British citizen, ought to interfere. He took the extreme step of practically kidnapping the children; and thereupon the proprietor of the troupe instituted the legal proceedings. When the case was heard, however, theJudge decided that the manager, owing to his treatment of the children, was not fitted to have charge of them, and dismissed the case with costs against him. It will be admitted on all hands that a repetition of this kind of treatment of Australian children should be prevented. The Ceylon Times of 9th April, in commenting quite temperately on this case, said that the affair raised in a striking manner the point “ whether the Australian authorities have sufficiently looked into the question of the. exportation of child performers,” and added that we were “ not likely to be lax in the future.” And I think the newspaper is perfectly justified in the latter remark. As soon as the facts of the cases - for there was not an isolated case - were brought under the notice of the Government, we took the earliest opportunity to deal with the matter. Of course, the children directly concerned were brought back to Australia, and the Government were glad to pay expenses and expedite their repatriation in every possible way. I take this opportunity to express the thanks of this Government and the people of Australia, to those gentlemen who interfered on behalf of the children, and to all concerned, including the members of the Indian Government, for the assistance they rendered.
– I think we ought to take more direct steps than this to thank Mr. Rouse, who relieved the children from their position.
– I agree with the honorable member, and the Government will consider the suggestion.
– An expression of thanks made in this mode will hardly reach him.
-That may be ; this mode of expressing thanks, however, ought not to be neglected I need not give any further particulars of cases. We all agree that we should do everything to prevent our children being treated in a similar way in the future. The only question is as to the best means, and on this, of course, there may be considerable difference of opinion. Undoubtedly the problem is not an easy one.
It is much more difficult to regulate the employment of children outside than inside the Commonwealth, and we have to take what seem to be rather inefficient means of achieving our object. Although this Bill appears to do practically all that is possible, it does not give ‘ me complete satisfaction, and if honorable members can suggest ways of improving it the Government will be glad to consider and, if possible, to adopt them. One of the difficulties in dealing with the employment of children outside the Commonwealth is that we have to presume conditions - to predicate what is taking place or is likely to take place. People do not shout out from the housetops their motives or the conditions, under which they propose to employ persons. In those circumstances, all that we are able to do is to try to insure that in all cases where children are taken from the ‘ Commonwealth under contract the conditions of the contract shall be submitted to a responsible authority. We propose in the Bill that that authority shall be the Minister, and unless the conditions of contract appear to be proper we provide that the deportation of the children may be disallowed. There is a misprint in the interpretation clause in the definition of “child.” The Bill says, “ child means a child under the age of sixteen years.” That should be eighteen years. The Government thinks sixteen years is too low. The means we propose to adopt to prevent, as far as possible, the employment of children outside the Commonwealth under conditions which are likely to be harmful are, first, to require that the contract shall be submitted to the Minister, and that no person shall be allowed to take out children without a permit.
– Which clause provides for the submission of the contract to the Minister ?
– The provision is contained in general terms in clauses 3, 4, and 8.
– It is not expressed anywhere. It appears only by implication, and that is rather dangerous, as the presumption will be against it.
– If the honorable member thinks it better to make the provision, stronger and more definite I shall be glad to do so.
– The application should always contain a copy of the contract under which the child is supposed to work..
– I shall be glad to discuss these details in Committee. Of course, in the middle of a busy session such as this it is somewhat difficult to draft a Bill which will effect everything that is desired. It is the intention of the Government that a permit shall not be granted unless the contract has been submitted and approved. If that is not clear in the Bill it will be made so. The same thing applies in the case of a child of European race or extraction. That means that no adult Asiatic shall be permitted to take a child of European race or extraction from Australia without -obtaining a permit. I do not think we should be justified in saying that under no conceivable circumstances shall an Asiatic take a European child out of the Commonwealth. That would be absurd, but we do say that an Asiatic shall not take a European child out of the Commonwealth without obtaining a permit and satisfying the Government that the child will be properly treated.
– What circumstances would justify an Asiatic taking a European child from Australia?
– I do not think that the honorable member can suggest that there are no circumstances that would justify a European child accompanying an Asiatic. There would, of course, not be many cases and no permit will be granted except in cases where it is the proper thing that it should be’ done. The same applies to aboriginal natives. The aborigines of Australia ought not to be exploited by persons who merely wish to make money out of them. Our aborigines cannot possibly understand the conditions under which they will be employed outside the Commonwealth, or the experiences they are likely to undergo in a foreign country. They are not free agents, and we propose to take the part of guardians, and say that in no case shall an aboriginal native be taken from Australia without a permit, and then only under conditions that will insure his being properly treated.
– Does the Government intend that provision to include halfcastes ?
– Aboriginal native is defined in the interpretation clause to include “ any native in whom the aboriginal native blood preponderates.”
– That would not include a half-caste, in whom neither blood preponderates.
– It is not “easy to arrive at quite a satisfactory definition. I do not think that aboriginal natives have, up to the present, been taken from Australia in any great numbers, but I know that they have been taken sometimes, - and proposals frequently come along for taking out troupes of aborigines in order to show them in Europe. Quite recently I had to deal with an application for permission to take a number of Papuans and show them,, in connexion with the pageant of Empire, at the Coronation celebrations in London. I prohibited this being done, because I thought it wrong to remove a number of natives, born in the tropics and unaccustomed to clothing, straight away into a climate like that of London, merely for the sake of pleasing a crowd and making a London holiday, and, perhaps, without sufficient thought being given to the probable effects on the natives themselves. The next important provision is contained in clause 4, to the effect that a child shall be deemed to be under contract tq perform theatrical, operatic, or other work outside the Commonwealth if any agreement or arrangement exists between the child, or a parent, or guardian of the child, and any other person under which the child is to perform, or take part in the performance of any theatrical, operatic, or other work. That provision, perhaps, sounds loose, but there may be no formal contract-
– Does that include any person taking service on a ship?
– Yes, decidedly so. We ought to know the conditions under which any child is being taken away from the Commonwealth under contract or agreement. That is the only way in which we can begin to take Steps to prevent a repetition of the very deplorable cases that have already arisen. Clause 5 shows when an aboriginal native is deemed to be taken out of the Commonwealth, and clauses 6 and 7 provide for the granting of permits By the Minister or persons authorized by him. The’ next important clauses are those providing that, if the master of a ship has reason to suspect that a child under contract, or an aboriginal native, is being wrongfully taken away, or that a child of European race or extraction is -in charge of some adult person who is not df European race or extraction, he shall inform the officers of the fact, failing which he shall be liable to ai penalty. The succeeding clauses deal with the power of our officers to board ships, and to search any vessel or boat, and under them the master of a vessel is bound to facilitate a search by mustering the passengers and crew. Power is also given to officers to remove a child or aboriginal native from a vessel, and to restore it to the parents or guardian, or, in the event cif the parents or guardian being considered undesirable, to the custody of a Commonwealth or State authority. It is also provided that the Department may require a person taking a child or aboriginal native out of Australia to enter into a bond, which may be forfeited in the event of the nonfulfilment of the conditions. That, in practice, may prove a very substantial and useful part of the Bill. I do not say that cases will not arise in which these provisions will be evaded, and that children from Australia may not possibly be subjected to conditions different from those under which they would be employed ifthey remained here. But we are at least making an attempt to remove an existing evil, and if we did not do so, our neglect would stand to our everlasting disgrace. I do not think it likely that there will be any lengthy debate on this motion, for every honorable member is in sympathy with the object of the Bill. My desire is that it shall be taken into Committee as soon as possible, so that any provision which may seem to be impracticable may be discussed and improved. I submit this measure with confidence to the House.
.- I was not aware until I entered the chamber this evening that the Government proposed to submit this Bill to-night, and I have not had an opportunity to consider its provisions in detail. I cannot say, however, that the matter is altogether new to me, because whilst I was administering the Department of External Affairs the necessity for some such regulatory measure was brought under my notice, and the whole question was being inquired into at theclose of last session. The honorable member for Perth is deserving of the thanks of the community for having first raised this question, and also because of the carewhich he exercised in making a personal investigation of the facts, in order to bring home to the Department the seriousness of” a case which had come under his attention, lt was at his request that inquiries weremade from the Indian Government, and’ the information elicited revealed the absolute necessity for some measure to safeguard the interests of Australian-bom”- children who were taken beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth. This Bill deals with three classes of cases. First of all, it deals with those of children under the age of eighteen years who are taken beyond Australia to earn money for parents or guardians who, as a rule, remain in the Commonwealth. We know, from the actual facts, that children are taken out of Australia without the exercise of any safeguards, and that they are subjected to conditions entirely beyond their control. The Commonwealth Parliament has no power to legislate for the whole world, and does not desire to attempt to arrogate to itself such n. right ; but we have the power to regulate the conditions of those who reside here. lt is proposed under this Bill to safeguard the interests of those who leave Australia at an early age, when they could hardly be expected to understand the conditions of employment under which they are engaged to go abroad. Some safeguard is necessary to prevent their being subjected to conditions such as we would not tolerate in Australia. Paragraph a, of clause 3, which deals with that class, must meet with our approval, bub-clause b deals with the case of children of European race or extraction who are taken beyond Australia under the £are or charge of some adult person, who 3S not of European race or extraction. That -provision will apply to the general class of cases brought under our notice by the honorable member for Perth. There is urgent need for such legislation. I am glad that the Minister has also taken power to deal with aboriginal natives, although the extent to which it conflicts with the power of control which is left to the States, under the Constitution, is a matter for consideration.
– But we have entire control of emigration.
– I was about to mention that fact. Under the Constitution, aborigines are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the States, and we are debarred from legislating with respect to them. We have full control, however, over emigration and immigration. It is quite possible to reconcile those powers and leave to the Commonwealth the power to legislate with respect to aborigines leaving Australia. It will be gratifying to Australians to learn that the Commonwealth Parliament looks upon the aborigines of Australia as deserving of the special care and consideration of the people, and I am inclined to the opinion that their general control should be vested in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Is the honorable member ashamed of the conduct of the State Governments in regard to them?
– The example set by the Government of Queensland in the treatment of aborigines might well be followed by every humane and Christian community. The aboriginal natives of Australia are scattered over the whole of the northern portion of the continent, from Western Australia to Queensland; and they are subjected to three different jurisdictions; but, as time advances, we shall have a larger and larger shipping trade in the northern ports, and uniform control will become more necessary. The information I “Gave from those who are working amongst the aborigines inclines me to the opinion that it would be better if some form of Commonwealth control over them were adopted. The power taken under this Bill to deal with them is most essential. I think, however, it will be necessary to insert in the Bill a clause relating to the production of contracts, a precedent for which will be found in the Contract Immigrants Act. Under that Act, a copy of every contract under which an immigrant is being brought to Australia must be filed with the application to the Department, and I think it would be well to require, in all cases where a permit is sought to take children to serve outside Australia, that an absolute copy of the contract, giving the full conditions under which the child is to be employed, shall be filed.
– In the case of a child or aboriginal native.
– In the case of any person to be taken out of Australia under contract. In that way alone will it be possible for the Minister to ascertain the terms of the contract. Whether the Bill is wide enough, I am not prepared to say until I have had an opportunity to further examine it, but inasmuch as it emphasizes the growing feeling as to the responsibility of the nation for its child life it meets with my hearty approval. We are beginning to realize more and more, in connexion with our social legislation, that the nation owes a duty to child life, and that there are growing up what may be called child rights, which are just as worthy of regard as are any other. Our young life is going to be the future manhood and womanhood of Australia, and the more at- tention we pay to the conditions which regulate its growth and development, the better it will be for the nation.
– Let us save the children, too.
– Yes. Australia has no more valuable asset than its child life. There is nothing more precious to us than the young life of Australia, and the more we provide for a’ healthy environment for our children, the better it will be for the Commonwealth.
.- The Minister is to be heartily congratulated on the expedition with which he has redeemed the promise that he gave me to introduce, before the close of the session, a measure to take the place of that which, at his suggestion, I withdrew. I am glad to realize that this is one of the few measures that have come before the House which is likely to be discussed apart from party considerations. The result should be such as to secure the object aimed at, although the achievement of that object in all respects may be somewhat difficult. I cannot, however, help expressing a feeling of disappointment with this measure. When I withdrew the Bill that I introduced, I understood that the Minister would substitute proposals more drastic and far reaching. It appears to me, however, that the reasons for asking for the withdrawal of my measure are not quite apparent in this. It undoubtedly provides for the protection of children proposed to be taken out of the Commonwealth to take part in operatic or theatrical entertainments, but I fail to see why the Bill which I submitted could not have been amended in that direction. The measure, compared with that which I introduced, fails in an important respect, in that it does not instruct the Minister as to the conditions which must be observed before a permit is issued. I have given n. good deal of thought to this matter, and the more I study it the less inclined I am to err on the side of moderation. We cannot express our views too strongly, nor make the law too drastic, for the welfare of Australian children.
The clauses which have been drafted to prevent the emigration of children from Australia under contract to take part in theatrical performances, or to do other work, are very weak indeed. There will be great difficulty in proving the existence of a contract, especially when it is proposed to take children away with the connivance and for the pecuniary advantage of parents. Girls, who, although they had reached physical womanhood, were mentally children, have been allowed by their parents to leave the country under imperfect oversight, for purely monetary considerations; and we cannot avoid the conclusion that those parents grossly failed in their duty, and that the State must exercise its powers of parens patria, and give such children the protection which they need. At a meeting of a ladies’ organization in this city, the Government was congratulated on the legislation which it proposes, and an earnest appeal was made to parents to “ safeguard the moral welfare of their girls by absolutely refusing, so far as they have it in their power, to allow them to go to India with such associations, and exposed to such alarming temptations and perils,” and the co-operation of other women’s societies was invited. Those ladies have shown the weakness of the Government’s position. There will be the utmost difficulty in many cases in proving the existence of a contract. Where parents are agreeable, a hundred reasons may be given in place of the real one. It may be said that the children are to be taken to Europe to complete their musical education.
– How can we prevent that?
– I intend to move an amendment in Committee which I think will go a long way to meet the difficulty. I propose to amend paragraph a of subclause 1 of clause 3 so as to require a permit in the. case of every child who is taken out of Australia by any one other than its parents. I do not think that that proposal goes too far, though I fancy that I hear some expressions of dissent. When a child who is not in charge of its parents is proposed to be taken out of Australia, the Government are justified in inquiring whether the emigration will be for its welfare.
– The honorable member might wish to take away a nephew on a tour.
– It would be right that 1 should be required to justify what I was doing.
– The honorable member could be questioned under clause 11.
– Undoubtedly ; but the person challenged should be required to give assurances that the change would not be disadvantageous to the child.
– Should we gain anything by that? Permits would have to be issued as a matter of course, unless there was reason to believe the existence of a contract.
– I have reminded the Minister that he has left out of the Bil] an important provision which was in my measure, the statement of the conditions under which permits should be granted.- I have an amendment which will remedy that. I do not wish to prevent children from being taken out of Australia under conditions which would be advantageous to them ; but the State should see that the welfare of the child is properly secured. In England, the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice acts as the guardian of children.
– That is where money is concerned.
– Does the honorable member wish to protect only those who have money? My desire is. to protect all children.
– The object of the English provision is to protect the property of the child.
– Had the honorable member allowed me to complete my sentence, he would not have made such an unfortunate interjection. The English Court has frequently intervened to prevent children from being taken out of its jurisdiction, or, in other words, out of the country. Surely we cannot do wrong in applying to all children in Australia a provision which safeguards the propertied child in England ?
– The English provision is for the protection of the child so far as its property is concerned.
– Precisely, and the property of every Australian child is its Australian citizenship. A child might very well be taken to other lands where its f future life would be seriously affected. We can go as far here as has been gone in England. The Minister in criticising my measure pointed out a defect which he has not remedied. He showed quite correctly that my Bill would not remedy a case such as that which I brought under his notice, in which a child born of white parents, with an alleged Asiatic step-father, was taken to India, and converted to Mahommedanism, being educated and reared as a native of that country.
– A number of grown-up persons are being converted to Mahommedanism
– Undoubtedly. I should not try to prevent an adult from changing his religion as often as he wished to do so, but children who have not reached years of discretion should not be forced into an alien religion. There are many cases in which women have formed a connexion with Asiatics, and when they have children by former marriages, they should not be permitted, under the domination of the alien stepfathers, to send them out of Australia.
– It would be impossible in such cases to prove the intention of the parties.
– I repeat that I intend to move the insertion of a sub-clause containing specific directions as to the conditions to be observed in the issuing, of permits. The Minister or authorized officer should be satisfied that children proposed to be taken from Australia by irresponsible white persons, will not be subjected to conditions likely to be detrimental to their welfare. We shall be able, by the insertion of my proposed amendment, to secure to a certainty all the Minister aims at in paragraph a, which, I am afraid, goes no further than a pious intention. As to the second condition, when it is proposed to take away a child of European birth by, or at the instigation of, any person other than of European race, I desire to secure that the Minister shall be satisfied before a permit is given that the child will not be committed to an alien life. That has undoubtedly happened in the case which I brought under the notice of the Department - a case which of itself, even if no other were likely to ‘arise, would thoroughly justify my attitude. In that case, a little girl six or seven years of age was taken out of Australia by an Asiatic neither kith nor kin to her. She was taken a long sea voyage, and subsequently a long railway journey in India, by this man; and the thought of it is enough to make any parent’s blood boil. Further, this man has committed the child to the “care” - Heaven save the mark ! - of his own people to be brought up in the faith of lslam. From the report of the Indian Government it appears tha t_ the people to whom the child has been committed are very poor and of low caste, and that her environment is such as to justify the Minister in taking steps to recover her. The honorable gentleman has given me a promise to that end, and I hope that by this time something has been done. I trust that the amendments I have foreshadowed will be accepted ; and I contend that we can hardly err in safeguarding the rights of Australian children in this respect. I do not propose, nor do I believe the Minister proposes, to do anything to prevent the legitimate transfer of children from Australia to conditions that are not in any way detrimental to their welfare. Wherever it can be shown that the conditions will not be detrimental, there will be no difficulty in obtaining a permit ; but in all cases there is a duty on the Government to see that, at any rate, the interests of the children are reasonably safeguarded.
.- I take this opportunity to thank the exMinister and present Minister, and officers of the Department of External Affairs, for their prompt action in regard to the particular opera company whose circumstances have been brought under notice. It is a pleasure to address oneself to a Bill that really represents the desire of the whole House. Had a measure of this kind been in existence, the operatic manager responsible for the misfortunes of the children would not have been able to escape proper punishment. The one case mentioned by the honorable member for Perth is sufficient to stimulate us to prompt measures; but we must be careful not to go too far. At first hearing, I have an idea ‘that the amendments suggested by the honorable member may, perhaps, somewhat tie the hands of the Government; but, in any case, this point can be considered in Committee. I am delighted at all times - and I know that in saying this I voice the opinion of every member - to take part in any effort to safeguard or rescue the child life of Australia. The Commonwealth, unlike any other country in the world, has granted pensions to the old throughout the length and breadth of the land, and has endowed each human being with the rights of citizenship; but the importance of taking care of the old-age pensioners, important as they are, is small in comparison with the importance of taking care of the children in view of their great potentialities. I trust that this Bill is only the forerunner of further legislation of a more comprehensive character embracing every child in Australia. I am quite in agreement with the suggestion which has been made by the honorable member for Darling Downs, and which, I hope, will be carried into effect in Committee, so that no aborigines may find themselves in the unfortunate position of those children in India. I have always regretted that a representative band of Australian aborigines has not visited Europe, and I have still hope that some such company as I saw display their intelligence and power of tracking in Melbourne may find its way to the Old Country, where, I am sure, they would rival in attraction Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. From my reading of the Bill, I am glad to see that there is nothing to prevent such an enterprise being carried out under proper conditions. As I say, I thoroughly indorse this measure, even if it only helps a few, in the hope that it will be followed by further legislation designed to render the safekeeping of every Australian child a sacred trust.
– This Bill heartily commends itself to me as a measure of justifiable interference in the interests of the weakest of the community. Such legislation is not only justifiable here, but in the older parts of the world, where the authorities are less prone to interfere in such matters. In England, if it were not for the pressure of legislative work, there would be a similar law, but probably going much further, so as to embrace what is known as the “ White-slave traffic,” which is claiming the attention of humane people all over the world. I had hoped, when I heard df this Bill, that its scope would be such as to prevent the introduction of that traffic into Australia. I do not know of cases personally, but I have seen reports of experts at Home, stating that New Zealand and Australian girls have been decoyed by bogus contracts, theatrical and otherwise, to Buenos Ayres, Johannesburg, and Paris. I hope the Ministry will see their way to make this Bill more restrictive, so as to stop any person, under any circumstances, from taking persons away under any contract, verbal or otherwise, in such circumstances as I have indicated.
– The Bill already gives power in the case of “ any agreement or arrangement.”
– The Government are to be congratulated on taking up this work, though I think that they have rather weakened than strengthened the Bill of the honorable member for Perth. That gentleman is to be highly commended for bringing this subject under the notice of the public - I do not think that any private member’s action in the Legislature has ever been so worthy of commendation. I hope the Bill will be passed, and made even more drastic. I belong to that school of political thought which is sometimes called laissez faire, but I do not carry my laissez faire doctrine to the length of neglecting the utmost precautions to protect the young, the weak, and the helpless..
– I desire to add a word of congratulation to the Government, the honorable member for Perth, and the ex-Minister of External Affairs on their attitude in relation to the cases which have been brought under their notice. When I was Minister of Education in the State Government of Victoria, similar contracts were brought within my knowledge in the course of my official duties. There is a State law which compels all people who engage children in any avocation to have them properly educated if they are under school age or have not passed the standard. This law, of course, means that all contracts are submitted to the Minister ; and engagements with the opera manager mentioned, or one of the same name, were made the subject of very careful scrutiny by the State Department. During my term of office I had interviews with parents who had signed agreements, and who, I am sure, had not the remotest idea of what those agreements meant to their children.
– And, perhaps, were indifferent.
– I am afraid that in some cases that was so ; but, either from self-interest or an awakening of proper parental feeling, some of them desired to have the contracts cancelled. I always used my utmost endeavours and exerted all my influence with the people who run these companies to secure the freedom of those who had entered into these contracts, but we have recently been faced with an added danger in the fact that these children having been taken to other parts of the world have there fallen upon very grievous times. It would be well to make this measure as far reaching a,s possible. I agree with the Minister that the case brought under notice by the honorable member for North Sydney will be met under the clause which provides for a contract being defined as any agreement or arrangement to perform any work. I feel that there are a large number of young people who from time to time are leaving Australia under contract to enter upon some business arrangement, but who have little or no knowledge of what that contract really means. I agree with the honorable member for Darling Downs that all these contracts should be filed in the office of the Minister of External Affairs, and I hope the Minister will take care to have that matter dealt with. The Department should have complete control of all these engagements entered into by young citizens of the Commonwealth. We owe a duty to these young citizens. It is our business not only to protect them while they are here, but, if we find they are going away, to take the place of the all too-careless parents or guardians by seeing that they have some idea of the business they are going to undertake.
.- I wish to add my congratulations to those already offered to the Minister and the Government for introducing this measure, and to express my appreciation of the work that has been done in this very laudable direction by the honorable member for Perth. I think the House is unanimous in its desire not only to protect the young life growing up in the community, but also to see that it is not expatriated from Australia under conditions tending to its degradation. I am personally acquainted with the efforts made by the honorable member for Perth to unearth the case that he Has referred to. The parent of the child in question lived in one of the northern districts of Victoria, and the honorable member, after gaining some knowledge of what’ had taken place through the medium of the Western Australian press, took the first opportunity of visiting the district and thoroughly investigating the matter. The result was the measure which he circulated earlier this session. I believe the clause dealing with contracts is a broad one and covers not only theatrical, but other occupations. It should be broad. So far we have devoted the whole of our attention to seeing that only a desirable class of people enter Australia. It is time that we took action to prevent desirable young life being taken out of the Commonwealth un3er unfavorable conditions. That phase of the question has been brought under the notice of the House by the honorable member for Perth, and the Government are to be congratulated upon having so speedily introduced a measure dealing with it. I have very much pleasure in extending a hearty support to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears “ Aboriginal native “ means an aboriginal native of Australia and includes any native in whom the aboriginal native blood preponderates ; “Child” means a child under the age of sixteen years ;
.- Is the Minister satisfied with the definition of “aboriginal native”? I think in the Sugar Bounties Act 1906, the term “ halfcaste “ is used and defined. It is very difficult for a Minister to decide the preponderance of blood in any person.
– We cannot use the words of the Sugar Bounty Act.
– That refers to a halfcaste, the child of one white parent.
– The definition in this Bill would not include a half-caste.
– We want it to include a half-caste.
– This definition would include only the child of a fullblooded native and of a person having some native blood.
– My knowledge of aborigines leads me to believe that the class that needs the greatest protection of the law is that of the half-caste. If the Minister thinks it is necessary to reconsider the definition and put it right, even in another place, I shall be satisfied, but I do not think he can be altogether satisfied with it as it stands. It might be improved by adding the words “and includes any half-caste.”
– I agree with the honorable member that half-castes ought to be included. The suggestion of the honorable member for Darling Downs might be adopted, and if it is found to require further definition when submitted to the legal advisers of the Government the matter can be attended to. I therefore move -
That the words “ in whom the aboriginal native blood preponderates “ be left’ out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof theword “ halfcaste.”
– I prefer the definition as it stands.
– If left as it stands it will not include a half-caste.
.- These definitions run through several Acts. I think. I was asked last year, when the Electoral
Act was before us, what really was a coloured alien or a member of an Asiatic race. The general interpretation given is that the preponderance of blood determines the question. It would be just as well before a final alteration is made in this case to consult the drafting department, so that there may be no difference of interpretation in this measure from that of other Acts. If we put in the words “ and includes a halfcaste,” what will be the definition of aboriginal native? It will be necessary to get a definition of half-caste, which may be a quarter or an eighth caste, or such a caste as would require a cast in the eye to see it. I am against what may be called myopia in these matters of correct interpretation.
– We could avoid the difficulty of defining “half-caste” by using the words, “ and includes any native one of whose parents is or was an aboriginal native.” To do that it will be necessary to retain the word “ native” which the Minister has moved to strike out.
– In the Sugar Bounties Act the language is, “ any half-caste born in Australia, having one white parent.”
– That is the same thing commencing from the other side. In this measure, as the Bill deals specifically with aborigines, it is better to start from the side I have suggested.
– I am inclined to think that the suggestion which’ has been made by the honorable member is the best that has” been offered, and, therefore, with the leave of the Committee, I shall amend my amendment by moving -
That the words “ in whom the aboriginal native blood preponderates” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the woTds “ having one aboriginal parent.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I think” it would be better to leave the clause as it stands. As soon as a case arose under this provision the first question asked would be, “What parents has this youth? “ If an officer wished to discover the aboriginal parents of a native he would find the task a difficult one. As the clause stands, it would be purely a matter of medical test or observation as to what was the predominating blood.
– But it would exclude the special class that we desire to include.
– Predominance, after all, is a question of degree. Under the clause as proposed to be amended, the question would be one of absolute balance - one parent black and the other white.
– Does the honorable member contend that from white and black parents we could have a quadroon or octoroon?
– No. My contention is thatthe test for the purposes of this provision should not be proof of parentage, because it would at once give rise to difficulty. Under the clause as it stands the question of predominant blood could te determined by medical or other observation, and the Minister would have power to refuse a permit.
.- I would ask the Minister whether he does not think that there is danger of his amendment excluding a person who has two aboriginal parents?
– No; the amendment will cover the case of a person having either one aboriginal parent or two.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) agreed to-
That the word “sixteen,” line 8, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ eighteen.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause,as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 - (1.) The emigration from, or taking out of, the Commonwealth, except in pursuance of a permit under this Act,of any of the following persons is prohibited -
. -I move -
That paragraphs a andb of sub-clause1 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : -
Any child not in charge of a parent.
Any child whose parents are or were of any European race in charge of a parent, namely, its mother, who has formed a connexion, by marriage or otherwise, with a man who is not of any European race.
The first paragraph of my amendment embodies my contention that the proposal of the Government is not sufficient to protect children who may be taken out of the Commonwealth to take part in theatrical or other work. In nearly every case, the difficulty of ascertaining the existence of a contract will be sufficient, in my opinion, to nullify the effect of the clause as it stands. It is the duty of the State to investigate every case in which it is proposed that a child shall be taken out of the Commonwealth by persons other than its parents. I admit at once that many bond fide cases would occur, but that fact affords no sufficient reason why we should not legislate to prevent possible outrages on children. We can readily conceive of cases in which children might be taken out of the Commonwealth by persons other than their parents for a reason that would not bear investigation. My amendment would undoubtedly strengthen the measure, whilst it would create no hardship. If, for instance, a relative wished to take a child out of Australia for a holiday, there would be no difficulty in obtaining the necessary permit. I would remind the Minister that it is customary, in some countries, to require a person who is going abroad to obtain a permit, or, in other words, a passport. I do not wish to provide for a passport in all these cases ; but I do ask for that which will protect children from being taken away if their welfare is threatened.
– I regret that I cannot accept the amendment. I. recognise the object at which the honorable member is aiming, but fear that the amendment would carry us further than is necessary. Where there was no agreement or contract to work, there would be no justification for the Department stepping in and preventing the children of white parents leaving the Commonwealth in the company of a parent or relative. How would it be possible for us, in the absence of an agreement or contract, to refuse a permit? We must have some kind of suspicion upon which to take action.
– Iwish, later on, to propose certain instructions for the guidance of the Minister in this respect.
– I do not know what instructions are suggested, but to say that a child shall not leave the Commonwealth with its uncle, for instance, on a holiday trip to New Zealand, without obtaining a permit, would be to carry us to the verge of the ridiculous. Surely such supervision is not necessary.
– How is the Department to deal with verbal contracts?
– The amendment would not improve the position in that respect. In the case of a verbal contract, the Minister would know nothing of it, and would have to grant a permit, as a matter of course. The Minister ought only to have the right to prevent a child being taken out of the Commonwealth where there is reason to believe that it is being taken out under a contract or arrangement which ought not to be made. Under this Bill, as it stands, the Minister has a right in every such case to interfere, and, that being so, I hope the amendment will not be pressed. If it were carried, the result would be that the officers of the Department would be called upon every day to grant permits, and, ultimately, they would be issued as a matter of course.
– That says very little for the officers.
– The success of this measure will depend on the inquiries that can be made in different cases. We are dealing with a difficult matter, and if we overload the Bill in the way proposed by the honorable member, we shall hinder,’ rather than facilitate, the achievement of our object.
– I join in the commendation of the zeal displayed by (he honorable member for Perth in this matter; but I think that we ought not to impose upon personal liberty restrictions that are not justified. Bit by bit, we are cutting down the liberty of the individual, until a man will not know where he is. The principle of this Bill is that a man who is a suspect shall not take a child out of the Commonwealth ; but if this amendment be carried, it will alter the whole character of the measure.’ In the case of every child being taken out of the Commonwealth, perhaps, on a holiday voyage, it would be necessary to obtain a permit. If such a provision be inserted, people will be fettered and bound in every way. lt would gradually reflect on the character of our people, and I am sure that the honorable member would be the last to intend such results. Therefore, I hope that he will not press an amendment which does not seem necessary to give effect to the. policy of the measure, and violates what should be an underlying principle of legislation, that the remedy must be proportionate to the acknowledged disease. The amendment seems to go be yond all bounds, and is not in keeping with the Bill, which is based on the supposition that something is wrong. An uncle who takes a child of seventeen out of Australia should not be looked upon as if he were the wicked uncle of the “ Babes in the Wood,” when he may be merely obeying a natural instinct.
.- I drafted the amendment on the understanding that the word “ child “ would mean a child under the age of sixteen years, and still think that we should be justified in requiring a statement of intention from any person other than a parent who proposed to take such a child out of Australia. I fail to see that the provision would impose hardship on relatives taking children to New Zealand for a holiday, because all that it would be necessary for them to do would be to state their intentions to an officer of the Department of External Affairs, and to obtain a sort of passport, such documents being in common use in countries quite as highly civilized as our own. However, I do not wish to puthonorable members in a false position, and, with the Government, and some of the legal luminaries of the Opposition .against me, I see no chance of carrying my amendment. Therefore, I ask leave to withdraw paragraph a, though I must insist on paragraph b. The intention is to require the Department to consider the granting of permits to women, the mothers of children, whose fathers were white, who are being taken out of the country under the domination of Asiatic stepfathers, or Asiatics with whom stepmothers have formed an irregular connexion. I propose that the Minister should not allow the emigration of such children unless he is satisfied that they are not being taken to an alien condition of life, that is, a condition of life alien to persons of European races, a phrase used in my measure which ran die gauntlet of the criticism of those who assisted me with their legal knowledge in its drafting.
– I said, when discussing the honorable member’s Bill, that I did not think we could take a child away from its mother.
– That cannot be done under ordinary circumstances, but there are many cases in which a child is taken from its mother and cared for by the State. 1 think that the Minister sympathizes with my object. The case which I have already brought under notice justifies inquiry by the Government, and the prohibition of emigration where there is the least doubt concerning the child’s welfare. It must be remembered that the child is helpless. I trust that the Government will recognise the need for the latter portion of the amendment.
Amendment, to substitute new paragraph for paragraph a, by leave, withdrawn.
. -I sympathize with the object of the honorable member for Perth, and have already given a great deal of thought to this matter in consultation with one of the Crown Law Officers. The position of the child of a woman living a depraved life, who is about to be taken out of Australia to an even worse environment, calls for sympathy, but is difficult to remedy by law. The conditions of child life in Australia are under the control of the States. The Commonwealth cannot interfere to prevent the continuance in Australia of what it is being asked to prevent abroad by prohibiting emigration. A child in Australia, living with its mother in the company of Asiatics, would be in nearly as bad a position as if in India, but the Commonwealth could not interfere. In such a case as has been referred to, if an appeal were made to the State authorities, they could do nothing, because the mother was feeding, clothing, and providing a home for the child.
– And was a respectable person, fitted to take charge of it.
– I think it would be better to allow the Bill to pass as it stands. The Minister will tell the honorable member that we have no legislation in any other country to guide us. We must make our own experience.
– Honorable members seem afraid to begin.
– The Bill is a beginning. The Minister admits that it is purely tentative, and will not cover all the cases which it is desirable to cover.
– That is so, and it is therefore not satisfactory.
– I think that the Minister might promise to look into the matter, and deal with it by an amendment in the Senate if that is found to be possible.
– I give that promise with great pleasure, but after consultation with the Attorney-General and the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, no way has been discovered to meet the case.
– A difficulty arises in giving to the Commonwealth rights in respect to emigrants which the States do not possess in regard to persons living here. I should like to see a satisfactory solution of it.
.- With the greatest desire to meet the honorable member, I cannot consent to allow children to be taken from the custody of their mothers simply because the latter have married Asiatics.
– We could not do so.
– I do not think there is sufficient to justify our doing so.
– I think that what is meant is a case where the depraved conditions are a danger to the child’s morality.
– But there may be a case of permanent expatriation.
– Quite so; but, after all, such cases are not so bad as that of children who are brought up in the Chinese quarters here, because, perhaps, their mother is married to a Chinaman of dissolute habits.
– The Commonwealth will have to legislate in regard to such marriages.
– In the case mentioned, it is not contended that the mother was not fit to have charge of the child, and she expressly intimated her desire that the child should be taken out of the country by her husband.
– Her alleged husband.
– Of course, such a case as that will be prevented in the future under this Bill, because a child can be taken away only by its parents. I doubt, however, whether we have the power to remove a child, simply because the child’s mother is married to an Asiatic.
– Does the amendment not give merely a discretionary power to the Minister?
– But is it a discretionary power the Minister ought to have? This Bill is only a beginning, and we ought to see how it works. I am inclined to think that such a case as that cited will probably never occur again.
– I have a letter from a man who has a large connexion amongst Asiatics, and he tells me there have been several such cases.
– I doubt whether there have been several exactly similar cases. I think the honorable member would be well advised in not endeavouring to make the mesh so small as to render the measure ineffective.
.- Those who oppose the amendment are, considering more the rights of the mother, while I am regarding the rights of the child. I am somewhat surprised at the attitude of the Minister, because it was, to a certain extent, on account of the objection he raised to the corresponding clause in my Bill that I withdrew it in the hope of some improvement by the Government.
– I never suggested that I was in favour of such an amendment.
– The Minister pointed out that the clause as it stood was a defect in my measure, and I was quite content to withdraw it so that it might be amended. We are showing considerable hesitation in grasping a nettle that will have to be seized sooner or later - I mean marriages between white women and Asiatics, which we have too much of in Australia. I do not look at this matter from any narrow, bigoted point of view as a member of a superior race. I am well enough acquainted with the history of the races of the world to recognise that even amongst the so-called inferior peoples there are many points we ought to admire and imitate. But my reading and observation point to nothing but deterioration when the East and the West come together; and the case I have cited is more than justification for the amendment. The Minister reminds us that this woman has formed a respectable connexion with a respectable Asiatic. The man may be quite respectable from his own standpoint; but the fact remains that he has made an irregular alliance with this woman, having entered into a Mahom- medan contract of marriage with her, before some Mahommedan resident in this city; although he has a native wife living in India. In this way he obtained control of the White Australian child whom he has taken to his own country.
– That would be prevented by this Bill.
– It would not.
– What the honorable member seeks is to prevent a mother taking the child out of the country.
– Yes, to conditions that she, unfortunate creature, is prepared to meet without any true knowledge of their significance. I have no wish to interfere with the choice of any adult person in this or any other matter of a similar kind, but we have every right to protect an innocent child whose whole course of life is to be altered in a way that outrages social and religious convictions. I cannot consent to the withdrawal of the amendment; and if it be defeated I feel sure that at no far distant time a similar provision will have to be adopted.
– I am sorry the Minister cannot accept the’ amendment, or so word it as to give greater power in the direction suggested. We undertake the responsibility of excluding alien races from Australia.
– But we do not take the responsibility of prohibiting their marriage when they are here.
– We do not pass a law to prevent innocent children, whose parents are unable to exercise proper guardianship, from being placed under alien conditions.
– There are a hundred cases in Australia to one outside.
– I should be sorry to think that such cases are very numerous in Australia ; and if we have the constitutional power to deal with them, I should be prepared to exercise it. I am certain that no Minister would use the power proposed, except in cases where he was absolutely certain that the father or mother was mentally or morally unfit to safeguard the child’s interests - that it would be put into use only in such extreme cases as have been cited. I am sure that the Minister is in full sympathy with the desire of the honorable member for Perth. At any rate, although I can see that difficulties are involved, in the interests of the children, I prefer the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause
Ayes … … 21
Noes … … … 7
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Although I was compelled to oppose the amendment of the honorable member for Perth, I do not regard the matter as closed, and if there are any means by which we can meet his wishes to any extent, I am quite prepared to insert an amendment to bring about the effect that we all desire, without creating the difficulties which I foresaw in the amendment that has just been defeated.
– Will the Minister give consideration to the desirability of providing, in some way, for meeting cases where a child of pure European parentage is going out of Australia, one of his parents having contracted a second alliance with an Asiatic, and where the Minister, on inquiry, is satisfied that the conditions to which the child is going will be inimical to its welfare ? That would meet what the honorable member for Perth is aiming at
– It is my intention.
– It was, perhaps, the intention of the honorable member’s amendment ; but there was a difficulty in regard to its drafting.
.- I intimated, when speaking on the second reading, my objection to the fact that the measure conveyed no instruction to the Minister how to act with regard to the granting of permits. To remedy that serious defect, I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added to clause 3 : -
No permit shall be given under paragraphs a and b of sub-section 1 of this section unless the Minister or authorized officer is satisfied that the child will not be subject to conditions liable to be detrimental to its welfare or will not be committed to an alien life.
– Who is to determine that?
– The Minister will have to do it. The provision that the child shall not be committed to an alien life, applies more particularly to such cases as I have already indicated, where it is frankly and openly proposed by an alien, who has formed a connexion with a white woman in this country, to take the child of that woman by her previous white husband to his country, there to bring it up amongst his own people and apostatize it to his own faith. That is a state of affairs clearly alien to the life of an Australian child; and if that is shown, it ought to prevent the granting of a permit. Some kind of instruction is necessary to the Minister who has to administer this measure. A large amount of discretionary power will be left to him, even with this amendment; but, as the Bill stands, it is all discretion and no instruction, in circumstances where a very definite limitation is absolutely necessary.
– If the honorable member will consent to strike out all the words after “ welfare,” I am prepared to accept his amendment, which will then cover all that is necessary.
– I agree to do so.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
.- No condition is laid down regarding the granting of a permit to take an aboriginal native out of the country. In order to protect his interest, and secure his return, I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added to clause 3 : -
No permit shall be given under paragraph c of this section for any period of absence from Australia beyond twelve calendar months, nor unless the interests and the due return to his district of the aboriginal native for whom the permit is granted are secured by bond or otherwise.
– That amendment involves a limitation. Permits ought scarcely to be granted in any case.
– Under the pro posed amendment, it would be impossible to grant them.
– The amendment is quite unnecessary ; but if the honorable member presses it, I have no objection to letting it go.
– I could, perhaps, leave the matter in the hands of the present Minister; but we may. have in power another Minister who would give a much more liberal interpretation to his discretionary power.
– We have made aboriginal natives include half-castes. If half-castes are engaged in maritime pursuits, this amendment would prevent them from entering into engagements for more than twelve months. I agree with the honorable member for Perth that in the case of a full-blooded aboriginal native there should be some obligation to return him to the district from which he is taken. There should be a limitation of time, with a proviso that in exceptional cases the Minister shall have the right to extend the term.
– Why not strike out the limitation of time altogether?
– Yes, I think that would do; but we should provide that an aboriginal native shall be returned to the district from which he was taken.
– I do not object to that.
.- With the leave of the Committee, I desire to amend my amendment by leaving out the words “ for any period of absence from Australia beyond twelve calendar months nor. ‘ ‘
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– - Before the question is put, I should like to point out that, under sub-clause 3 of clause 12, it is provided that -
Any aboriginal native removed from a vessel or boat in pursuance of this section shall be dealt with as directed by the Minister or as prescribed.
The regulations would prescribe that he should be returned to the district from which he had been taken.
– But that does not relate to the regulations under which permits shall be granted to take aborigines out of the country.
– We shall make regulations under clause 7.
– Permits cannot be granted until regulations have been made.
– I do not think that anything will be gained by the acceptance of this amendment. Regulations must he prescribed as to all the circumstances under which permits shall be granted or refused, and, in practice, any words that we insert in the Bill itself defining the conditions under which permits shall be refused will be construed as a limitation of the power.
– I do not wish the Minister to have too wide a discretion.
– But the amendment would tell against the object which the honorable member has in view.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Powers of officers).
.- No doubt this clause will be very effective in administration, but I question the desirableness of giving to officers the very large powers for which it provides without providing for some control over them. This clause will enable an officer pf the Department of Trade and Customs, at his own sweet will, to board any vessel. That is all very well. There cannot be much harm in an officer asking for facilities to board, ‘ or to search, a vessel, but I think we are going too far in giving an officer power to call upon the master of a vessel to muster his crew and passengers in order that they may be inspected.
– How would the officer be able otherwise to get at a prohibited immigrant ?
– He has already an arbitrary power of search.
– The officer could not make a search without power to order a muster.
– If he suspected that there was a prohibited emigrant on board, then he might be entitled to ask that there should be a muster; but this clause does not require suspicion of any sort to be entertained before such a demand can be made. I dare -say that the provision will not be abused, but I think the power is too wide, and would suggest that paragraph b should be so amended as to provide that at the re- . quest of the officer the master or person in charge of a vessel or boat shall -
If the officer believes or suspects that there is a prohibited emigrant on board, &c. . . .
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 1 1. to 15 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 5A. (1.) Every contract with a child or aboriginal native, by the terms of which the child or aboriginal native is required to depart from Australia, shall be in writing; and unless-
a copy of the contract is forthwith filed with the Minister, and, if he so requires, is verified on oath, and
the Minister in writing approves of the contract, the contract shall be absolutely void. (2.) Every person who enters into any such contract with a child or aboriginal native, and does not forthwith file a copy of the contract with the Minister, and, if the Minister so requires, verify it on oath, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the. Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Batchelor) read afirst time.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to intimate that it is proposed to proceed to-morrow with the Australian Industries Preservation” Bill, and with the remaining measures in the order in which they will appear on the notice-paper.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to endeavour to expedite the settlement of the question relating to the Toowoomba rifle range. I have shown him a reply which I received to a request made to the Department in this matter. For some years efforts have been made to obtain a suitable site for a rifle range at Toowoomba, but difficulties have been raised by the State authorities, and now difficulty is being experienced in connexion with the police authorities. The range at present is so defective that rifle practice cannot be properly carried out. That condition of affairs has prevailed for the last four or five years, and I therefore ask the Minister to press this matter on the State authorities with a view to obtaining a solution of the difficulty. The matter is exceedingly urgent, otherwise I should not have brought it before the House.
.- I have several questions which I desire to bring under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral in order that he may give them his consideration. I had proposed to put them on the notice-paper in the form of questions to the honorable gentleman, but as they embody a little more information than should be included in a question put in the usual way, I have determined to bring them under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral on this motion -
I ask the Attorney-General if he will have this matter inquired into and let me have his answer when considered?
– Inreply to the honorable member for Darling Downs, I wish to say that the Minister of Defence is doing his best to arrive at a settlement of the vexed question regarding the Toowoomba rifle range. The Secretary to the Department has recently visited Queensland, and there is now a prospect of a satisfactory arrangement being come to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101110_reps_4_59/>.