6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
-Has the Prime Minis ter noticed the statement in the press that the Prime Minister of Canada is likely to pay a visit to Great Britain to consult with the British Cabinet on. problems of Empire; and can the right honorable gentleman inform the Blouse whether there has been concerted action by the overseas Dominions to bring about a consultation of that kind ?
– I have not seen the statement in the press, but I have private information, though not from the Prime Minister of Canada. Beyond the public statements that I have made, there have been no negotiations with other Dominions on this subject, and I do not think that it would be wise to do what the honorable member speaks of. It has been left entirely with the British Government to say what is necessary and best for the protection of the Empire and the success of the war.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy, in view of the fact that the British Government have invited able business men to co-operate in the organization for the supplying of munitions, if the same thing can be done here. Cannot leading business men, who are not bound up with red-tape technicalities, take charge of this work?
– The Defence Department has not yet lost control of this part. of its administration, and is, I think, capable of doing all that is necessary.
– The Hobart Daily Post, in its issue of Monday, 7th June, contained an interview with the Treasurer of Tasmania, headed - : “ Treasurer’s Successful Intervention.” In the course of the interview, the Treasurer is reported to have said: -
He felt, however, that if his visit resulted in any reduction, ho would have accomplished what the deputation had failed to do, and that made him more determined, knowing the justice of the claim, to not let it rest until a reduction was definitely conceded. He felt that his trip to Melbourne had been fully justified, as he was convinced that but for that interview with Mr. Tudor there would have been no reduction, but that the charge of 8d. per ton would have come into operation on 1st April.
I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, in view of the valuable information furnished him by the deputation, which consisted of Tasmanian Federal members, and the Master Warden and Wardens of the Hobart Marine Board, he will, in justice to all concerned, kindly acquaint the House of the actual facts in connexion with this important matter, so that the people of the Commonwealth may be able to judge whether Mr. Lyons was justified in making the statement he is reported to have made?
– No one individual is justified in asserting that the reduction m the light dues was brought about through his efforts alone. The statement of Mr. Lyons that the charge of 8d. per ton would have come into operation on the 1st April last, had it not been for his interview with me, is not correct. The light dues did not come into operation on the 1st April, because the States had not at that date agreed to hand over to the Commonwealth the lighthouses which we propose to take over; and, indeed, one or two of the States have not yet done so. Unless all the States have agreed to do this by next week, I shall proceed with the Bill now before the House, with a view to empowering the Commonwealth to take over the collection of light dues. Every Tasmanian representative, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, has been very active in this matter; and the statement that Mr. Lyons alone is responsible for the reduction is incorrect. If any person is entitled to special mention, it is the honorable member for Denison, who has been exceedingly active in his efforts to get the reduction made.
The following paper was presented -
Small Arms Factory Lithgow - Report re Second Shift- by J. Davis, M.Inst. C.E., Director-General of Public Works, N.S.W.
Ordered to be printed.
– In view of the widespread misery and loss occasioned by the present disastrous war, will the Prime Minister, as the leader of an enlightened Democracy favorable to. the settlement of international disputes by conciliation and arbitration, consider the advisability of taking appropriate steps, through the Imperial Government or otherwise, to ascertain what ends the belligerent nations are seeking to attain, and on what terms they are prepared to conclude peace, so that united action of the Commonwealth towards that object may be taken ?
– I believe that every member of this House and of the Parliament, and every person in the country, desires an honorable peace at an early date,, but I do not think that the time has come to intervene with a statement of the kind proposed to His Majesty’s British Government, which is responsible for carrying on the war. Such a course might, and I think would be misrepresented’ by the enemies of our country into an admission that we are weakening in our determination to see the war out to the bitter end, and to either succeed or go under.
– The other day the honorable member for Richmond asked for information regarding the issue of passports, and I .am now furnished with a full reply to his question. As soon as the Commonwealth took over the issue of passports full particulars were furnished to the Collectors of Customs at Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, and Adelaide, and to the Commonwealth Public Service Inspector at Perth, who were instructed to insert paragraphs in the press advising applicants that the necessary forms and information could be obtained from their respective offices. The new regulations with regard to the supply’ of two unmounted photographs by applicants, and the necessity for persons travelling to France and Belgium to have their passports visaed by a French or Belgium consular officer respectively, were passed on the 18th February last. Copies of these regulations were sent to the Collectors of Customs mentioned above, and to the Commonwealth Public Service Inspector, Perth. Copies were also sent to Messrs. Thomas Cook and Son and to the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Steam Navigation Companies at Melbourne, who were requested to bring the new requirements under the notice of their branches in the various States. At the instance of the Imperial Government a new form of passport is being prepared, and the existing regulations amended and consolidated. It is anticipated that the new regulations will be passed this week. As soon as they have received the approval of the Governor-General in Council a fresh circular giving full instructions and information will be sent to the shipping companies.
Allowance to Nurses : Offer of Hospital Accommodation : Recruiting : Winter Clothing for Recruits: Delay in Notifying Casualties: Notification of Illness in Training Camps: Country Medical Examination of Recruits : Prevention of Robberies : Insurance Premiums.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence if he will reconsider the allowance, which is now given to nurses who volunteer for the front, namely, £15?
– The Department is of opinion that that amount is sufficient, taken together with the assistance given at ohe other end, to meet all requirements.
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether the Melbourne Turn Verein has offered its splendid gymnasium and building for use as a military hospital?
– I understand that such an offer has been made, and is under consideration.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if the answer given yesterday by the Assistant Minister of Defence to a question asked by the honorable member for Grampians, that “we have a sufficient number of recruits so far,” indicates the mind of the Government on the subject? Does the right honorable gentleman think that such a statement will tend to stimulate recruiting ? Do the Government not want any more recruits than they are now getting?
– My honorable colleague could answer the question as effectively as I can. The interpretation put on his answer of yesterday is not what ho had in his mind.
– I have merely given the answer, without placing any interpretation on it.
– A strained- I hope unconsciously strained - meaning has been placed on the answer ; I trust not for political purposes.
– I object to these continual insulting remarks of the Prime Minister.
– The Leader of the Opposition may rise to a point of order, but he must not otherwise interrupt in the middle of a reply to a question.
– I rose to a point of order.
– The honorable member did not say that he rose to order, and if he objects to a statement made by the Prime Minister, or by any one else, he must do so in the proper way. I am sure that the Prime Minister will not persist in any statement that the right honorable member considers objectionable.
– I rise to order. T did so before.
– I do not wish to get to cross-purposes with the right honorable member, but I appeal to his own side to say if, on the first occasion, he said that he rose to a point of order.
– He meant to do so.
-The right honorable member must not repeat his statement. ‘
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the Prime Minister is in order in imputing unworthy motives to me on almost every occasion upon which I ask a question. I resent it keenly.
– Neither the Prime Minister nor any other member may impute unworthy motives, and I again, for about the third time, draw the attention, of Ministers to the difficulties that the House will encounter if the answering of questions without notice is continued to. the extent that it has been practised for some time past.
– I had no intention to reflect on the Leader of the Opposition. The Ministry have declared their policy on this subject time and again. They want every able-bodied man in Australia to join the ranks, and to be trained so that he may go to the front if necessary. We intend to carry out that policy, and shall be glad to accept help from any one. I did not impute motives to the right honorable member, but I say that he did not correctly interpret the answer of my honorable colleague.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence say whether all the troops now in training have been supplied with warm clothing, and whether, if they are training in dungarees, he considers that they are clothed in good winter material 1
– Some of the recruits in camp may be clothed in dungarees, bub. they are all supplied with warm woollen singlets and underpants. The medical authorities say that in this way they are sufficiently warmly clothed.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence explain the unconscionable delay that occurs in telegraphing casualties to Australia ? I cite my own case. My son was wounded on the first day of the Dardanelles operations, but sixteen days elapsed before he was reported wounded here.
– I know of a case of a man who was killed on the first day, but yet the fact was not known here until yesterday.
– There is something wrong in a system which permits this delay, and I ask the Minister whether he will look into the question seriously and see if the trouble cannot be remedied 1
– Several days may intervene before the wounded in the fighting line can be placed on board a hospital ship, and then when they are taken to Alexandria, Cairo, or Great Britain, and placed in hospitals, it may take some time before the officials can go round and ascertain their identity.
– It should not take so long.
– The honorable member cannot expect to receive a cable message from the seat of war as soon as a man is wounded.
– When a man is in the hospital, the fact should be reported instantly.
– We can only give the facts as we have been advised regarding them.
– All these postal and cable matters, and the question of the supply of information to the relatives of the wounded, have been discussed by the Minister and Colonel Legge; and the latter, who is on his way to the front, has been instructed to see into- them. We cannot do more. We are doing all that we can. We are not responsible at this end for any delay in the cabling of information from the other end.
– Are there any regulations guiding the conduct of doctors at Liverpool in the matter of communicating with the friends or relatives of men who die or who are ill in camp ? A case has come under my notice of a man who wrote to his wife on a Saturday to say that he was quite well, but was put in hospital on the Monday following, and the first intimation of it that his wife received was a message, “ Your husband is dead; come at once.” The absence of any intermediate communication is unpardonable.
– I shall have a conversation with the Minister of Defence in reference to the matter referred to; but I can assure honorable members that everything that the Minister can do in this direction is being done, and will be done.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence ask the Minister to issue more definite instructions to country doctors so that men will not be passed as recruits in the country and come to the cities to be afterwards rejected ? There are numerous cases of this sort occurring every week.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister.
– Will the Department make some provision for the supervision of the clothes of men while they are submitting themselves for medical inspection, in order to see that the men are not robbed? Many persons have complained that they have been robbed after they have stripped and passed into another room for inspection by the doctors - one man, named Morris, complaining of having lost £5 in this way.
– I shall communicate with the Minister of Defence in order to see that provision is made whereby a person who has left .his clothes in a certain place will not be robbed.
– Yesterday, the Attorney-General, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Ballarat, promised to make some statement this morning regarding a matter connected with insurance. Does he propose to make that statement to-day ?
– All that I have been able to do so far has been to look into the matter, and ascertain so far as possible what the Government and this Parliament can do in regard to it. On looking up the papers in the Department, I ascertained that the point had been raised in various letters; and, as I have made an appointment to receive a deputation from the insurance companies on Wednesday next, I thought it well to leave the matter in abeyance until I could put it before the deputation, and see exactly what the insurance companies propose to do.
Griffin Papers - Woollen Mills
– Does the Minister propose this morning to carry out the promise made last night to lay the Griffin papers on the table of the House?
– As soon as the work, which is now in hand, of having the papers copied is completed, they will be laid on the table. I was asked by the honorable member for South Sydney when the Department of Home Affairs would hand over the woollen mills at Geelong to the Defence Department. I have made inquiries, and have to inform the honorable member that the work is completed, with the exception of the steam connexions to the various machines, which are expected to be completed about the end of this month. The work is being expedited, and we are resorting to overtime in order to do so.
Mr.- GREENE (for Mr. Palmer) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether the post office at Euroa is being reduced in grade; if so, why?
Is the volume of business decreasing?
Arc any branches of the postmaster’s work being removed from his control?
Is the reduction of grade of tins office part of any general scheme of reduced grading?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished me with the following replies: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he does not consider a non-party war preparation committee of this House, to advise and consult with the Minister of Defence, to make investigation into the resources of our various industries, would not secure a more concentrated and effective supply of the munitions of war, and must necessarily inspire greater confidence among all classes, than the present party system; if so, will he consider the advisability of appointing such a committee? jj, ,,-
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I desire to say, on behalf of the Ministry, that, in all matters relating to the conduct of this war, no party interests are involved. So far as the Government is concerned it will accept advice and assistance from any one outside or inside Parliament, in order effectively to carry out the determination of the people of Australia to give all the assistance in their power to help bring the war to an early and successful issue. However, viewing the position in the most patriotic spirit, the Government feels it would not be in the best interests of the country for it to share its responsibility for the administrative acts necessary to the effective carrying out of that policy.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, owing to the absence of full information with reference to the conduct of the war, ho will consider the advisability of giving the Minister of Defence an opportunity of addressing the members of the Federal Parliament at an early date to fully explain what has been done up to date by the Commonwealth Government and its determinations for the future prosecution of the war?
– I have brought the honorable member:s question under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and he is considering the matter.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– These questions should be addressed to the Assistant Minister of Defence.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I have just received this question, and answer it to the test of my ability at once, as follows -
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 10th J une, vide page 3942) :
Department of Home Affairs
Division 98 (Administrative Staff), £31,209
– LastWednesday the Minister of Home Affairs favoured me with the following reply to a question that I had put to him in regard to the designs for the Federal Parliamentary buildings at Canberra : -
I rose principally to say that the conditions sought to be imposed by the Min ister and the Government are not satisfactory; indeed, they are decidedly unsatisfactory, because of their partial and parochial aspect.
– Is this a criticism of the Government?
– Yes, and particularly of the Minister of Home Affairs.
– I did not think that this would be allowed.
– It is most certainly out of order.
– This is about the time when steps should be taken towards commencing the architectural work in the Capital city. The honorable member for Darwin, when Minister of Home Affairs, instituted a competition for designs of the parliamentary buildings, but was not allowed to carry that competition to finality. The conditions he attached to the original competition were sadly interfered with by his successor, the honorable member for Wentworth, who imposed conditions which were only less objectionable than those introduced by the present Minister.’ His proposal, which evidently has been approved of by the Government, to restrict the competition to British architects, shows an inadequate conception of the class of building which we propose to erect at Canberra, and the conditions that ought to attend the erection of what will be the dominant feature in the Capital city. In his replies to me the Minister suggested that, owing to the conditions of the competition for the lay-out of the city not having been acceptable to British architects, we should alter our conditions for the buildings competition so as to confine the competition to British architects. That is about the most feeble and puerile argument that any one could advance. Some little time ago designs were invited for the Commonwealth offices in London, and the British architects denounced some of the conditions that were imposed, particularly that of preference to unionists, and in their high and haughty style declined to compete. That did not deter the then Minister from proceeding with the work. The Government of the day refused to be influenced by the decision of the British architects. It is now suggested that, because British designers did not like the conditions in regard to the lay-out competition, we must try to meet their offended dignity by limiting the competition for the buildings design to British architects. That proposal is wrong from various points of view. British architects do not possess a monopoly of the architectural skill of the world; indeed, one wonders where the Minister expects British architects to have gained knowledge and experience sufficient to justify them in even submitting a design for parliamentary buildings that is not to be open to criticism and competition from architects in other parts of the world. There is only one Parliament House in the British Empire that can be in any way compared with the building we propose to erect at Canberra, and that is the Parliament House at Westminster. There are several parliamentary buildings in Canada, and there is a most convenient legislative structure in Cape Town, but excepting that in London, there is not one parliamentary building in the British Empire which could be accepted as an illustration or guide to what we wish to create at Canberra. We are acquainted through the medium of photographs with various parliamentary buildings in the capital cities of Europe, but the action of the Minister will deny Australia the advantage of the experience, knowledge, and training possessed by the architects in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Brussels, Stockholm, Moscow, Petrograd, and other big cities. It will also deny us the experience of the architects ‘ of America. The United States has at least thirty parliamentary buildings, because, in addition to the Congressional chambers at Washington, most of the States have their own legislative buildings. And there is no doubt that in certain features of building construction America is leading the world. There are some features of American buildings that do not appeal to us, but from an engineering point of view American architects are showing inventive genius and resource that are not being approached in any other part of the world. When we think of the parliamentary structures in the cities of Europe and America, and remember that the men who created those designs are to be excluded from advising and assisting Australia in the designing of its parliamentary .buildings, we must realize that the Minister has made a mistake.
– The inside arrangement of the Washington Parliament House is perfection itself.
– I have not seen the Congressional chambers, but I have visited a large number of the parliamentary buildings of the States; I have a. little acquaintance with the Parliament House in Cape Town; and I have some knowledge of the parliamentary buildingsin Canada, and of Westminster itself.
– The Minister’s action may lead to yet another unfortunate result - actions for damages by those who entered the original competition.
– If we continue choppingand changing we shall never get to Canberra.
– The worst feature of the competition which the Minister has arranged is that it represents a breach of faith with those who entered the original competition. The only fault I find with the conditions imposed by the honorable member for Wentworth was that the adjudication was to take place in London by men who had not an intimate knowledge of and personal acquaintance with the conditions in Australia. By the mere inclusion of a condition that the designs should be adjudicated upon in Australia after a visit to the site to obtain first-hand knowledgeof the local conditions, the competition formulated by the honorable member for Wentworth would have given us good results. We must not overlook the fact that the parliamentary buildings in Canberra will be the dominating feature. The selected site on Camp Hill is a very attractive one; it has a beautiful outlook and is in the centre of the bestlandscape features of the city. If we make a mistake in regard to this central building that mistake will filter through the city, and I am afraid that- the same mess-up and unsatisfactory squabble that we have had over the design of the layout will be repeated and perpetuated in regard to the buildings. If the Parliament .Houses were not to be the main and central buildings -of the city there might be some justification for the Minister’s action in limiting the competition in some ways to certain architects; but thereare to be scores of buildings, and I will gladly assist the Minister in restricting the competition for some of the designseven more closely than he proposes torestrict the competition for the Parliament House. The administrative buildings, the town hall, the theatres, and the various public institutions will provideabundant opportunities for special competitions restricted to British architects. and in some cases, I hope, to Australian architects exclusively, because I believe that in the Commonwealth we have architects second to none in the British Empire. As a matter of fact, when the designs for the Commonwealth offices in London were received they were so unsatisfactory that the Minister of Home Affairs sent Mr. Murdoch to London, and he, by a small and inexpensive alteration of the accepted design, gave us a very much increased floor space.
– And an extra £3,000 a year in rent.
– Yet I suppose Mr. Murdoch would be excluded from the competition for the parliamentary buildings. I have not found that the competitive principle is a good thing in ordinary life. My own experience is that it is better to select your architect, and, after consultation, give him the job. The principle of competition in connexion with the buildings at Canberra seems to be accepted, although it has not proved a success in the past. I hold some rough notes given to me two years ago by a gentleman who has exhibited more professional ability and more courageous thought in regard to building than any other architect in the Commonwealth. I refer to Mr. Kirkpatrick, the Chairman of the Board which adjudicated on the plans for the lay-out of the Federal Capital city. In regard to competitions for buildings, Mr. Kirkpatrick said -
Is the Minister aware that the London County Council held an important competition for their new offices, and that the result was a failure?
Is he aware that the Winnipeg Parliament House’s plans were subjected to a competition, and docs he know the result?
Again, the last competition in America for the new Law Courts, New York, costing about £3,000,000, when the judges were specially selected by the various architectural institutes, eventuated in yet another instance of failure.
Carnegie’s Peace Palace, Hague, Holland, was built a few years ago under an architectural competition throughout the world. Practically all countries sent in plans, and judges were appointed, nominated by different institutes of architects, appointing such men as Calcott (England), Professor Ware (America), and judges from Germany and France, all good and first-class experts, and again a gigantic failure resulted.
– What do you mean by “failure”? Greater choice is given.
– We get a sort of scratch, hotch-potch design, the result of a number of different men, with different ideas, endeavouring to arrive at a common plan. Instead of representing the dominant idea and creation of one man’s individual thought-
– The plans are not mixed together.
– The difficulty is that we get too many ideas in the one plan. St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London, is definitely associated in history, and in our minds, with the dominant ideas of ChristopherWren, and a similar remark may be made as to the design for the parliamentary buildings in the metropolis.
– If there are twelve competitors, does not each one put his best thought and work into his particular plan, and thus give a choice of twelve designs? How are they mixed up?
– I shall give an opposite illustration. “We invited designs from all over the world for the layout of the Federal city, and we got some splendid work from many countries. The Adjudicating Board decided on a special design which was accepted as the basis of all the designs.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ the basis of all the designs?” Was not each design made independently?
– But this design was accepted as the basis of the final design - it was not accepted in its entirety, but with the object of incoporating the best features of the other designs.
– That is the weak spot - trying to improve on a complete design.
– Exactly; that is the difficulty we have to-day.
– But that is not due to the competitive system.
– I am merely using this as an illustration of what happened in regard to the first design, and what will happen in regard to the designs for the buildings if we follow the same course.
– The fault lies in meddling with the complete design, and not with the competitive system.
– I do not think that what the honorable member for Brisbane suggests would be possible under the terms of the competition as drawn up when I was at the Department.
– What I have indicated is due to the fact that no single competitive design will completely satisfy the adjudicators. We must not forget that there is such a thing as professional jealousy - that the adjudicators have their own ideas. Some points in any one design will appeal to them, along with some points in another design; and, having their own ideas, they conclude that by their incorporation in one design a better result is obtained.
– The adjudicators had not to make the design, but to award a prize for the best; and the successful designer was to he employed as architect.
– Did not the adjudicators, in regard to the laying out of the site, recommend that a new design should be prepared, incorporating the best features of the accepted design?
– I do not think so. If that were so, it is news to me.
– The honorable member must not forget that a number of competitive designs give the Minister a wider choice of something approaching to his ideal; and if he mixes them up afterwards that is his fault, and not the fault of the competitive system.
– The Minister of Home Affairs, in the case to which I have referred, did not pretend to decide the matter, but referred it to experts.
– The same trouble would arise if there were only one design.
– Then the fault does not lie with the competitive system.
– I am merely saying that I am not at all impressed favourably with the idea of competition in regard to the designing of the buildings. My experience may not be worth much, but, personally, I have found, as I think most other people have found, that it is much better to select a man, and allow him to work out his own ideas, under, of course, some reasonable restrictions and oversight. Where there is competition, particularly in an untried matter like that now under consideration, we get such a heterogeneous collection of ideas, that it is impossible to select one design, and decide absolutely that it is the one to be adopted. We are compelled to try to gather the best features of all the designs, and then, as I say, we have as a result a hotch-potch arrangement which gives satisfaction to no one.
– Does not that argument apply to competitions of the kind all over the world?
– Then what is the value of the argument?
– The best buildings in the world to-day - those poems in stone - were not submitted to competition.
– I think that that statement requires to be modified. Most of those “ poems in stone “ are the products of very many architectural minds, as wit-, ness Westminster Abbey, which, I think, is regarded by experts as a much finer building than St. Paul’s. Westminster Abbey represents no one man’s idea, and the same remark may be made of almost any notable cathedral.
– The Law Courts in London, St. Mary’s in Edinburgh, the Town Hall in Manchester, and many other great buildings were erected without competitive designs. True, such buildings as these are not usually wholly erected at one time, but are gradually added to, care being taken that the dominant feature of the original design is preserved; and an illustration of this is afforded by Westminster Abbey. The trouble is that in many cases the dominant idea is not preserved; and the result is an incongruous building - a building without homogeneity.
– There was an attempt made in the programme drawn up by myself to arrive at the end the honorable member desires.
– The fact that Sir Christopher Wren carried out the whole of the work of St. Paul’s does not prove that there were not designs from eleven other competitors, which may have been rejected in favour of his.
– Exactly .
– Then it is not the competitive feature to which the honorable member objects, but to interference with the complete design after it has been adopted.
– I accept thehonorable member’s suggestion, but I go further. I say that once the design is accepted, the originator should be given charge of the work, and allowed to select from the other designs what he thinks will improve his own and give the best results.
– That may be- an architect may improve his own design.
– But it is because of interference by so many different authorities that we have the present muddle at the Federal Capital to-day.
– No doubt if officials of the British Works Department had been allowed to interfere with Christopher Wren’s design the cathedral would not be the perfect thing it is.
– At Washington, for instance, L’Enfant made the design for the city area, and some interfering people, as here in Australia, interfered with it.
– Christopher Wren’s original design for St. Paul’s was interfered with by the authorities.
– Then it may have been spoiled to that extent;
– It was, to a certain extent.
– Unless a man is permitted to carry out his own ideas, as expressed in his design, the result must be patchy work, more or less of a failure. At Washington it costs the country millions to bring the building back to tha original design, and there are examples of such interference to be found all over the world to-day. There are very few notable structures in regard to which the original designer has been allowed a free hand ; but in all cases where he has been, the results have been successful. There is no reason that I can see why this competition should be limited to British architects, and on this point I cannot understand the attitude of the Minister.
– I am glad to see this cosmopolitan spirit coming into the honorable member’s views!
– However that may be, on what ground does the Minister limit to British architects the architectural ability necessary for the main buildings at the Federal Capital? What knowledge have they of Australian conditions? South Africa is the only part of the British Empire in which conditions approximating to those of Australia can be found. What do London architects know of our requirements? What do Canadian architects know of them?
– Why object to Canadian architects?
– Canadian conditions are the very antipodes of those in Australia, and buildings suitable for the Dominion would be an absolute monstrosity in the Commonwealth. I repeat that South Africa represents the only part of the Empire where architects might be expected to have an approximate knowledge of what we require.
– Is that why a Chicago; architect has been so successful?
– At any rate, I repeat that we are more likely to get a satisfactory design for a parliamentary building from America than from any other country, seeing that every State of. the Union has its Parliament House. But in the British Empire there is only one Parliament House that would be likely to comply with Australian conditions, and that is in South Africa. Why should we deprive ourselves of the services of French, Swedish, and American architects? In regard to the lay-out of the Federal city, there was a world-wide competition, and the most successful design came from America, the second best from Finland, and the third best from France. Although we have accepted these de signs, and are trying to incorporate them in a very faulty and unfair way, their originators are excluded from the com-, petition for the main building, which, of course, will be the dominating feature of the city. I appeal to the Minister, to open his mind, so that; we may have the widest possible . choice of design for our central building. I venture to suggest that for the work of adjudication on the designs to be called for, there are two men specially qualified. My time limit has expired, but I may be allowed to say that those two men are Mr. Griffin) the designer of the lay-out of the city, and Mr. Murdoch, the architect of the Department, who knows exactly what we require.
– I desire once more to refer to a matter which has been the subject of some questions by myself in the House) and of interviews and correspondence with the Department, extending over a considerable period. I refer to a case in regard to which I asked questions recently in the House. A workingman some years ago, in order to make provision for hi3 old age, bought a piece of land on the Liverpool area,, on which he and his son were in the habit of spending their week-ends.- His idea was that in improving the land and preparing it for cultivation, he might be able to derive a modest income from it, and to live on it in his declining years. The military authorities, for good and sufficient reasons, considered that an area, of which this land formed a very small portion, was required for a manoeuvring area. The land is very conveniently situated to Sydney, near to one or two railway systems, and there is also the navigable George’s River skirting one side. The Government decided to resume certain of this land, including the small area, which this man, who is only a ^working man dependent on his. weekly wage, had had the forethought to acquire, to provide a means of subsistence in his old age. It is a very inexpensive area, as honorable members will understand, because a man in his position could not have sufficient means to acquire land of a better quality. Offers to purchase have been made to him, and the other day I showed the Minister the original letter sent to him by a man named Kirkland, whom I know very well, in which he made an offer stating that the most he felt prepared to pay was £600, a considerable advance on what the Department is offering. I may mention that the father and son were working this land, improving it at the time this resumption was decided upon, and I understand the offer of Mr. Kirkland was made prior to the decision of the Government to resume the land. When the Government decided to resume, all chance of selling was at an end, and the matter has now been hanging in suspense for two or three years. The owner is in the very unfortunate position of neither being able to get a fair amount of compensation from the Government, nor of being able to dispose of the land privately, notwithstanding that he has an offer - larger than the amount the- Government are prepared to give. When speaking on Supply the other day, I brought the matter- under the attention of the Minister. I referred to what I considered was the undignified attitude of the Government - to calL it by no- worse- term’ - in making use- of its powers by taking: men of that kind into Court in order to coerce them into the acceptance of a sum which they felt to be absolutely inadequate, and far below the true value of the land. The Minister said that no such thing was being done, and that my statement was incorrect. I told him I objected to men being harassed because they were not in a position to leave their employment without risking the loss of it, in order to fight the Government in the High Court, and that, even if they were successful, but did not get the full amount claimed, they would be mulcted in costs which would probably amount to more than the land was worth. Rather than risk the consequences of such a proceeding, many men were forced to accept a sum far below the real value of their property, and when I said that this was being done in this case the Minister said the statement was not correct. His answer is reported in. Hansard. Since then I have obtained a notice from the Supreme Court that was sent to this man, Mr. Walton. It reads -
In the matter of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906, in the matter of the Judiciary Act 1903- 1912, Commonwealth of Australia, and the matter of the disputed claim for compensation between the Minister of State for Home Affairs of the Commonwealth of Australia, applicant, and John Edwin Walton. respondent. Take notice that this matter for the determination of the amount of compensation payable herein had been set down for hearing on Monday, the 14th day of June.
That is Monday next. Yet when I said this sort of thing was being done the Minister replied that I was incorrect.
– You said we were being hard on poor men.
– Well, I say now you are being hard on poor men.
– You shall have the facts when you sit down.
– I know that these are the facts. When I asked the other day if this matter had been further considered, and said that the amount involved was not very large, the Minister said it was the difference between £200 and’ £900.
– Right !
– That.is not correct. I think the Minister has made a mistake. The amount offered, I understand, is £400.
– What is your claim ?
– I do not know what the exact amount is.
– It is £900 - more than £900.
– Then the amount at issue is the difference between £400 and £900. But the point is that this man has been offered £600 for the land by a careful Scotsman, who is not inclined to throw his money away.
– You would go on the principle that the value of the land is its worth in the open market.
– I take it that the probable value of the land is about £900 if a canny and very careful Scotsman is prepared to offer £600 for it.
– When did he offer this - before the resumption or afterwards? .
– I do not know what the date was, but I understand that it was prior to the resumption that the offer was made.
– These small holders ought to be sympathetically treated.
– And they are.
– Sir James Martin said in the Supreme Court, in regard to resumptions, that the owners should be treated generously, and then have 10 per cent. added.
– I am quite willing to proceed on that principle.
– Especially in acase of this kind, where the land has a considerable prospective value for subdivisional purposes. This land, in a direct line, is only 13 miles distant from Sydney, only 2 or 3 miles from a railway station, and yet £3 an acre is the value put upon it. I do not believe you can get land, buying privately, of course, anywhere within 13 miles of any of the capital cities of Australia at so cheap a rate as £3 an acre. If the land were not resumed, syndicates would be willing to buy it up, and they would probably be able to sell at from 10s. to 15s. a foot, if not more. Land not very far away from this particular land was sold privately at the rate of 30s. per foot; and if land of that character, on the top of a cliff, very difficult to get at in comparison with this land, is worth 30s. a foot, then this particular land must be worth a great deal more. I understand that surrounding land, less favorably situated, has been valued at a very much higher rate, and that a higher rate of compensation has been given by the Government. What is the explanation of that? There should be some explanation. I have tried to get a satisfactory reason for the action of the Department, but so far I have been unsuccessful. I ask the Minister not to adopt a Shylock attitude in regard to small claims like this. This man is getting well on in years. He is reaching the time when he will no longer be physically able to carry on his ordinary occupation, and he had looked forward to going to this place in his declining years, with his son to assist him in developing the land. This son is now at the front - giving his services to his country - and, in his absence, the father is being haled before the High Court at the instance of the Commonwealth, who desire to coerce and force him into accepting as compensation an amount far below what he believes to be the true value of that land. If that is not harassing working men - men who are not in a position to fight a Government - then I do not know what term may be applied to it.
– Is he a wealthy man ?
– He is a working man on weekly wages. If he leaves his employment without the permission of his employer to go to the Court he will risk the loss of his job, and, as I said before, if he wins his case he may be mulcted in costs exceeding the value of his land. I say it is not a proper thing, it is not a fair thing, it is not a decent thing for the Commonwealth to put itself in that position when dealing with men of this kind. If they were dealing with a wealthy corporation or a wealthy individual the probability is that the matter would be arranged out of Court, but this is a poor man, and he is in consequence being forced to support his claim with all the attendant inconvenience and cost before the High Court. I ask the Minister to stop the High Court proceedings, and to again go into this matter a little more carefully, with a little more consideration for the man who has to lose possession of his land. I will ask the Minister if he would be willing to do that?
– I cannot hold out any hope.
– Then this man is to be dragged before the Court. I appeal to honorable members on the other side of the House, as well as to honorable members on this side, not to allow an injustice of that kind to be perpetrated.
– There is no injustice at all.
– It is an injustice; a flagrant injustice! I feel very hotly about these things, because, if there is injustice and tyranny, it rouses me more than anything else.
– Sit down, and let me give the Committee the facts.
– I say these are the facts, so far as they have been presented to me. The mere fact of a nian, whose son is at the war, fighting the battles of the Empire, being haled before the Court for a paltry matter- of this kind is a disgrace to any Government which lends itself to such a proceeding - to taking an undue advantage of a working man’s financial inability to fight a powerful Government in the High Court of the country to obtain a fair and square deal.
– I do not wish to detain the Committee, but I think it only fair to the Government that the other side of this case should be stated. I have no feeling in the matter, but consider it to be my duty to guard the money of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. I have always endeavoured to deal sympathetically with every poor man from whom we have had to acquire land, and I shall always do so. My antecedents are not such as would make me likely to crush any poor man. Here are “the facts in regard to this case, as reported by the Acting Director of Commonwealth Lands and Surveys -
Liverpool Manoeuvre Area, New South Wales. - Claims of J. E. and A. E. Walton. - This land was acquired on the 7th March, 1013. The following claims were submitted, viz.: - J. E. Walton, £389 ls. 3d.; A. E. Walton, £581 5s. The valuations (improved) obtained were as follow: - J. E. Walton’s land (holding No. 85) - B. E. Futter, £77 18s.; Slack and Co., £90 13s. 9d. A. E. Walton’s land (holding No. 86)- R. R. Futter, £75 12s. 6d. ; Slack and Co., £104 10s.
I have not let loose a number of welltrained officers with an order that they shall wander all over the country and try to rob the poor in the interests of the Crown. We have these lands valued by well known outside valuers, whom »ny one may employ.
– Did the Minister obtain a valuation from Messrs. Richardson and Wrench or Messrs. Hardie and Gorman, of Sydney; they are recognised property valuers in Sydney?
– No; but I have given to the Committee the names of the valuers employed, and am inclined to think that they are men of repute.
– I have never heard of Putter.
– He is a good man.
– The departmental memorandum continues -
The Minister offered in the case of J. E. Walton the sum of £91, and in the case of A. E. Walton £105, each of which have been refused, and the claimants have been advised that the offers cannot be increased.
It will be seen that we offered a little more than the highest valuation placed on these lands by the valuers employed on behalf of the Department -
With a view to having the claims determined, the papers were referred, on the 9th February, 1915, to the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, who has reported that the hearing for the determination of the claims has been fixed for Monday, the 14th June, 1915.
The valuations which these two men placed on their land totalled £970, as against our valuation of £194. In such circumstances should I be justified in paying the amount claimed 1
– Did the claimants send in any valuation made on their behalf by weil-known valuers?
– I do not think so. They would not be likely to disclose their hand.
– Such a valuation is often sent into the Department.
– In many cases that is done when there is a desire ‘ to secure a settlement.
– Has not the Minister received an offer in writing that was made by a third person to purchase this land for £600 ?
– .The honorable member knows as well as I do how the game is played. It is a very easy matter to get some one to come along and say, in such circumstances, “I am prepared to give you so much for that property.” If these people desired to avoid litigation, why did they not reduce their original claim in a reasonable way, so that we might have been able to split the difference. Instead of doing so they “sit tight.” I do not think I should have been justified in giving away the taxpayers’ money on the sentimental ground that the claimants concerned are poor people.
– We do not ask that they should be given all that they claim, but the Department ought to give a fair price for this land.
– I do not think they have made any reduced offer. I do not like to hear reflections cast upon the High Court. Over and over again, in dealing with claims of this kind, the Court has shown its desire to do justice to all parties, and I believe it is actuated by the highest motives of justice and uprightness.
– Where the Department always goes wrong is in failing to consult the people interested when these values are being assessed. .
– I should not think it would consult them.
– I always consulted them.
– My honorable friend could rarely have been in his office if he travelled all over the country to consult the people concerned in claims of this kind.
– Does not the Department take any cognisance of the valuations of local governing bodies?
– They are almost invariably lower.
– In one of these cases the man has paid rates on three times the value placed upon his land by the Department.
– I cannot say whether that is so or not. Mr. Joseph Cook. - The Minister has the rate papers in his own hands.
– They are not here.
– I gave them to the Minister last Friday. I am informed that £20 per acre has been paid for land within a mile or so of these blocks ?
– That may be. There is often a very great difference in the value of two blocks of land only a little way apart from each other.
– But there is no such difference in this case.
– I do not know the land, and it is needless to say that I cannot be familiar .with all the land which the Commonwealth has from time to time to acquire.
– When Minister of Home Affairs I had a good deal to do with the settlement of cases of this kind, and invariably kept them out of Court by having a personal interview with the parties concerned. I would suggest to the Minister that he arrange to meet these men in Sydney and avoid litigation by talking over the matter with them. Even if he paid “them a little more than he now offers it would be better than incurring the expense of a big law suit. When I took over a site for the new post-office in Perth, claims amounting to £250,000 were made, but I went over, and, as the result of personal interviews with the claimants, I settled for £166,400. I urge the Minister to see these men, even if he has to pay their fares to Melbourne in order that they may interview him.
– They cannot afford to leave their jobs to come ‘to Melbourne. They are poor men.
– Perhaps so. In one case in Western Australia I settled for £58,500, where a claim was made for £81,500. It is all very well to leave these matters to the officers of the Department ; no doubt they will carefully consider them, and do what they think is absolutely right. But a business man, as soon as he comes on the scene and discusses the issues involved with the parties concerned, is usually able to arrive at an agreement which will avoid all litigation. The Minister, especially in the case of small men, should talk over their claims with them with a view to a settlement out of Court. I am sure that the great Labour party does not desire to crush any one. When I held office we could not arrive at an agreement with regard to the taking over of the Duntroon Estate, and finally Mr. Campbell came out from England, and met me at the Federal Capital on 13th March, 1913. There was a difference of £30,000 or £40,000 between us, but a3 the result of this personal interview we arrived at a satisfactory settlement within less than an hour.
Many years ago in this chamber I suggested the erection of a Commonwealth building in London, and there was a lot of sneering at the suggestion. When the Cabinet decided to erect such a building, the High Commissioner recommended that we should choose an eminent man to design it, and we chose a big firm of London architects. When their design came to Melbourne it was exhibited in the Melbourne Town Hall, and Mr. Murdoch, the Home Affairs architect, who thirty years before had been trained by the firm that designed it, discovered on inspection that too much space was lost by the ornamentation. Subsequently, after a consultation between the honorable member for Barrier, who was then Minister of External Affairs, and myself, in which I pointed out that a business building ought to be on a business basis, the honorable member determined to send Mr. Murdoch to London. Mr. Murdoch went to London, and, without interfering with his old boss, Mr. McKenzie, he got put into the building accommodation that increased its rentals by £3,250 a year, and without destroying its ornamental appearance. If we continue without organization and system in the slipshod methods of the past, we shall continue to receive what we have been getting in the neck from the Germans, but if we mean organization, efficiency, mobilization, and progressive development on lines of modernization we must reform. Our Capital is the last Capital of a great nation to be built on God’s green earth. In the building in which we are now meeting there is not a room in which you can take ten men to dinner and be private.
– The honorable member does not call this a modern building.
– It was designed by” one of the greatest architects in Victoria.
– He was not able to stop bribery . and corruption, and the sacking of a man like a dog.
– This building is unfinished.
– We erect in the bush railway stations that would be good enough for Chicago and New York.
– Because there is too much political influence.
– Politics is the science of government, and govern ment is the basis of the universe. Unfortunately, our government is not organized, which is the point to which I am directing attention. Are we to havea capital designed in accordance with theideas of a little island, as our railway systems are ? We use little trucks, when, by using large ones we could save animmense amount of money.
– The railways of Victoria pay.
– In Tasmania we lose £70,000 a year on therailways. The honorable member’s interjection shows his narrowness, and the= isolation of the States. I am a nationalist; I am for all Australia. I opened the competition for the designing of the Federal Capital to the whole world.
– But framed regulations which prevented the best architects of Europe from entering.
– No. The English architects attempted to dictate to us, and I did not think that we should allow that. Australians should be the judges of what they require for their Capital, and therefore I appointed an Australian Board. No one has claimed that the Board did not do justice to the designs submitted.
– I do not know about that.
– The honorable member for Brisbane asked where in the world is there a Federal or a State capital the equal of Washington.
– What about Ottawa? -
– That is not to be compared with Washington.
– Canada will become a greater country than the United States of America.
– I hope so. No one would cheer that more than the Americans.
– The honorable member is a Canadian.
– I am a Canadian- American-Australian. I was born in Canada, and made my mother go to the United States of America when I was two years old. There I got my training, and then I came out here, and helped to make the laws, and laid out the Federal Capital, and gave you a banking system that, had it been wholly carried out, would have created the greatest bank on earth.
– We should not have had our present bank had it not- been for “the honorable member.
– For fourteen years I was the only man in this House who made a speech on banking.
– That speech flabbergasted everybody.
– It laid the basis for the present system, which the Brisbane Conference adopted. I should like to know where Australia would be if it were not for that system.
– The honorable member was not able to commend his ideas to his party.
– Like members on the other side, the members of my party are not bankers, and it is hard to convince a man about a matter in regard to which he is ignorant. The Minister of Home Affairs should open this competition to the whole world, and give effect to the promise of his predecessor. I do not think it is fair and honest, or Labour, to break a promise made to the whole world. If a private firm broke its promise, people would not do business with it. It is my universal rule that if a private man does not keep his word “with me, he shall never again do business with me where there is boodle concerned. The Cook Government’s promise was published in the American newspapers, and made known all over the world. People talked about it, and Australia got a great advertisement in consequence. To repudiate it would be like the repudiation ofa debt or of an agreement. The Labour Government ought not to stand for that. Are we to build a capital to suit a circumscribed, narrow, and peninsular.idead people, or one that the whole world will come to see, and will talk about as the ancients talked about Athens and Troy? To-day we talk about Washington. A man who goes to America and does not visit Washington has not seen the country. Only the other day, when visiting a private house, a young lady was speaking to me about Washington. If we pay the highest price and do not get the best results, we shall show ourselves not to be business men. I am glad that the honorable member for Brisbane, who has travelled over the whole earth, and seen its capitals, drew attention to this matter. It will cost us as much for a slipshod capital as for ‘a first-class one. I pointed out the other night, as the honor able member for Brisbane has done today, that after a great French engineer had laid out Washington, the little narrow men came in and said, “ We cannot afford to spend the money that this scheme will cost.” Until 1860 Washington was being built in sections, in shreds and patches. Finally, another great genius, a Mr. Shepherd, a big business man, was made chairman of the Commission, and he said, “ This capital has got to start right.” He went back to the original plan. To carry out that plan cost millions of money, but Abraham Lincoln, and all the big men, were interested in the war at the time, and while they were thinking about it Mr. Shepherd was building Washington. That is why Washington is what it is to-day. In Australia we have a splendid chance to create a fine city. Sometimes I do not care to discuss this matter lest, as I was Minister of Home Affairs, people may say that it is a case of sour grapes. That is not so. It is my enthusiasm for Australia, the country of my adoption, that makes me take an interest in this matter.. I stay here because I like this land better than any other, not because I cannot get away from it. I have interests in other countries.
– Does the honorable member pay an .absentee tax 1
– I do not know how it is yet; it is only lately that my brother left me these things. I want to see this country get the best. I hope that the Minister will broaden out, and see that we get the best. Times being so bad that there are 33,000 men out of work in Australia, a board, or some authority, should be appointed to take advantage of Mr. Griffin’s knowledge and genius. When I asked Mr. Griffin whs he was willing to abandon the immense business which . had come to him in America as the result of gaining the competition which made his name known throughout the United States, he replied, “ You seem to look at everything from a material stand-point.” I said, “ I look at a lot that way.” “Well,” he answered, “I do not. This is the final Capital of the world, and I would sooner leave to my family and my race the recollection that I helped to build it than have the wealth of Rockefeller.”
– The true artist spoke there.
– I said “ Good gracious, you are a peculiar American.” He took my breath away. I had never previously met a Yank like him. Things must have changed in America since I left there. Mr. Griffin said, “I would sooner have my name associated with the construction of that capital than have the wealth of Rockefeller, for that would pass away. I would like to have my name remembered as the name of the founder of the American capital is remembered.” No person can go to Washington without seeing there the monument of the engineer who laid out the city.
– Engineer? Why did they not have an architect?
– Architect, engineer, and surveyor - all three played their part.
– I thought that the modern idea was to have an architect to do everything.
- Mr. Griffin is a landscape architect. He is a thinker. A thinker is a man with imagination, and a man with imagination is a man of foresight, one who is able to prognosticate the destiny of a nation. We need to secure the services of a man who can sit down and bring to his work the results of thirty or forty years of thought upon it. When the honorable member for Parkes appears in Court he does not speak merely from his brief. He puts into his work the concentrated knowledge of thirty or forty years of legal training. I hope that the Minister will take this matter to Cabinet, and that Ministers will consider it over and over again. I hope that they will adopt the position taken up by their predecessors, and practically carry out what was virtually a contract made with the world. If they do - though neither I nor the Minister will probably live to see the day - generations still unborn will bless the Minister of Home Affairs for having the courage to invite the genius, of the world, the thinkers of the world, the visionaries, and the dreamers, to give us the benefit of their ideas, while leaving to the practical man here the task of putting them into concrete form.
. -To come down from the transcendental statesmanship of the honorable member for Darwin to a little resumption claim that has-been brought under the notice of the Committee by the honorable member for Lang, is a difficult matter ; but nevertheless it is a question to which the Minister should give careful consideration. I agree with him that the poorness of the claimant is not a matter to be considered by him.
– What; not by a Labour Minister?
– I do not think so. At the same time I do not think the Minister is proceeding correctly in regard to the method of arriving at the value of the land. As an old resident of New South Wales I am bound to say that I have never heard of the name of either of the gentlemen whose valuations have guided the Minister - Mr. Futter and Messrs. Slack and Company, though I understand that the latter are house and land agents in a Sydney suburb.
– They are the principal firm in the district.
– The Minister does not seem to have consulted any of the principal valuators in New South Wales such as Richardson and Wrench, Raine and Home, and Hardie and Gorman. I have had a little experience in these matters. When I “was Minister of Public Works in New South Wales for three years, I had a good deal to do with resumptions, and in my professional capacity I have appeared in many scores of cases both for and against the Crown.
– The State Government valuator in 1910 valued the land at £78 and £50.
– The State valuator of New South Wales is a highly competent man.
– I refer to Mr. Home.
– That gentleman is not the State Government valuator, though he may be an assistant. I think that the Minister will consider it a fair proposition if the claimant produces his valuation for local rating purposes. He has produced one valuation which should carry great weight with the Minister. He has been rated on land in that locality on a basis three times as great as the amount which the Minister is offering to pay. Lately there has been a movement to accept local municipal valuations for land valuation purposes, as it is recognised that the men chosen for the purpose of making these local assessments are sufficiently competent to assess the value of land for taxation purposes. If the valuation of the local valuator in the Liverpool district is taken as a guide, the land would have a value at least three times the amount that the Minister is offering. I quite agree with the Minister that no value can be attached to the private offer that the honorable member for Lang said has been made for the land. It is very easy and a very common thing for claimants to get two or three people to make private offers. These persons know very well that there is no chance of their offers being accepted ; as they risk nothing, they can possibly help their friends by putting in offers for the land. In these circumstances, private offers are of no value in arriving at the value of land resumed by the Crown, but I do dwell strongly upon valuations made by a local municipal valuator.
– The private offer referred to was made long’ before there was any idea of resumption.
– The prospect of a big resumption of land at Liverpool has been in the air for some years. Every one knew that land was to be resumed for military purposes, and this particular land came almost within the area that it was thought would be resumed. There are always numbers of people who are willing to risk a little money by purchasing in such cases and securing the difference between what they give and what they may get for the land when it is resumed. They even do not fear the possibility of betterment.
– I have the local valuations. They are £150 and £100, respectively.
– They make a total of £250 as against the Minister’s offer of £195, but I understood from the Leader of the Opposition that the shire valuation of the land was three times as great as the amount the Minister was offering. While the Minister is justified in ignoring private offers to buy the land, he should be guided to some extent by the valuation placed upon it by the local valuator for rating purposes. Many years ago, Sir James Martin, one of the ablest Justices we have had in Australia, for guidance in regard to the great Darling Harbor resumption claims, which covered some millions of pounds, laid down the principles of compensation.
He said that if the power of the Resumption Act was exercised by the Government, they should be prepared to give a man the full value of his land upon a generous basis for what they took, and that, if they cared to do so, they might add 10 per cent, to that valuation for forced sale in order that the public should not benefit by the sacrifice of private, interests.
I pass’ now from that question to the matter raised by the honorable member for Brisbane, who has been contending that competitive designs are a failure; but I think that the honorable member got a little off the track. In order to prove his case he showed that, because one of a number of competitive designs had been adopted and was afterwards altered, the competition was a failure; but the case he instances does not seem to touch upon the question of the utility of calling for competitive designs. I rather favour the system of calling for competitive designs. Twentyfive years ago, when I was Minister of Public Works in New South Wales, having found that the Government Architect had grown old and obsolete in his ideas, and that every public building was being put up according to his design, I altered the practice entirely, and directed that competitive designs should be. invited, not only from architects in New South Wales, but also from all over Australia. I also laid down the principle that any man who succeeded in winning a competition should have the right to carry out, in co-operation with the Government Architect, the erection of the building for which the design was submitted. As a result of this system an entirely new style of public buildings was introduced into New South Wales.
I am glad to see the cosmopolitan spirit displayed by the honorable member? for Brisbane. He does not wish to confine competition to the British Empire, but wishes to go all over the world and invite everybody to compete. At the same time, however, he claims that there should be no competition, but that we should intrust the work to one man. Whether he was to be a Chinaman, or a Japanese, German, or an Englishman, the honorable member did not say. In fact, the honorable member was mixing his ideas. It is quite obvious that it is not the competition to which the honorable member objects. He objects to interference, and messing in the Department with a complete scheme, after it has been sent in. I agree with the honorable member for Darwin that local knowledge is required in order to get a proper design suitable for Australia. People have gone from Australia to Adams, the great domestic architect in England, and have taken his designs bodily and imitated them for Australia, the result being that they were found to be utterly unsuited for our requirements. Houses, suited for cold climates, were built without verandahs or balconies; no consideration whatever was given to the necessity for wide verandahs and wide balconies. We require in a Parliament House, not only chambers in which we can debate, but also pleasant rooms, broad terraces, and balconies, well covered from the sun, so that when honorable members are not working in the chambers they may enjoy themselves in the open air without suffering discomfort from a semi-tropical heat. What we need is to give the men who compete for this work full information as to the conditions of our country. No doubt, through Mr. Griffin having been brought to Australia, he will be enabled to adapt his design to the conditions of Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane that, when one competitive plan has been adopted, it should not be handed over to subordinates in the Department to tinker with it. The man who has prepared the plan and won the competition should have all the other plans submitted to him, so that he may incorporate suggestions from them in his own plan, and so that the ultimate design may be a complete scheme emanating from one man, and having in it all the consistency that he can produce. What is being done now, I do not know, but I take this opportunity of expressing my regret that, when the honorable member for Darwin was in office, headopted rules which excluded members of all the best British architectural societies from engaging in the competition for the Federal Capital buildings. The honorable member’s answer is that the British architects tried to dominate him, but I think he will admit that all those architects contended for was that certain conditions of competition should be observed. I cannot believe that all the highly-educated and cultured men belonging; to the best architectural asso ciations of England could have attempted to impose upon him any conditions that were not practicable and desirable, and I am certain that had he gone more fully into the rules of those great associations, containing some of the best minds in England on architecture, he would have found that he could have adapted his conditions so as to enable all the members of those associations to take part in the competition. As it is, the designs for the buildings have not had the advantage of competition by British architects.
– The competition I arranged was only for a plan of the lay-out of the city.
– But English architects have not had an opportunity to compete for the buildings.
– Oh, yes, they have; there was an original draft of the conditions, which I altered.
– Do I understand from the honorable member for Darwinthat Mr. Griffin’s design for the Houses of Parliament was the result of a competition which was open to the architects of England?
– Mr. Griffin has not submitted any design for the Houses of Parliament.
– I thought he had done so since he returned from America. I am only endeavouring to indicate what I regard as a general principle to be observed. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane that any competition for the Houses of Parliament should be open to the whole world ; and I do think that, for the benefit of those who would like to compete, but will not have an opportunity of studying the local conditions, some statement should be drawn up which would give the competitors a clear idea as to climatic conditions and Australian requirements.
– That was done.
– Then we are on the right track. ‘ I have heard from time to time that the honorable member for Darwin had imposed a condition that there should be accommodation for members day and night-
– Every member was to have his own room.
– Members were to have private rooms, so that when they left their homes to go to what is still a distant part of the country to do their legislative work, they would be surrounded by all the comforts which they enjoyed at home. I do hope the Minister will take to heart the advice that once he has adopted a design of which he approves generally, he will not allow “other officers in the Department to interfere with its homogeneity. The honorable member for Brisbane, who has blown hot and cold on this question in some respects, boasted that, after the design for the Commonwealth offices in London had been - accepted, Mr. Murdoch was sent home to make alterations in the design, which added £3,250 to the annual rent produced. That action was interference with the complete scheme of the original architect.
– The original architect readily concurred in Mr. Murdoch’s idea.
– So long as suggested alterations are submitted to the original architect, and he has an opportunity of saying whether they will harmonize with his design, that is all that is necessary; but to allow subordinates to interfere with a complete scheme without giving the original architect an opportunity of incorporating and harmonizing their ideas with his own plan would be a great mistake. As long as the rights of the successful competitors are thus preserved, I think we are on the high road to .get’ a building which will be not only suitable to the requirements of honorable members, but a credit to Australia.
– I do not intend to go into the merits of the case brought forward by the honorable member for Lang, but I think that, after hearing the information which has been afforded to the House, he will be inclined to modify the emphatic opinions he expressed earlier in the debate. A land resumption case was brought under my own notice, and I know that claims considerably higher than the market value of the land have been submitted from time to time to the Home Affairs Department. Every honorable member has a desire that all questions in connexion with land resumption shall be settled in an amicable spirit. There is no desire to rush a landholder, whether he be rich or poor, into the Law Courts ; but there are some men who seem to have a very contrary spirit. In the case I am referring to, there was no possibility of the Home Affairs Department bringing the land-owner to anything like reason, and finally the matter had to be taken to Court. When the man found that the Department was not prepared to put up with his procrastination, he began to climb down on the very threshold of the Court. I know of a case in which a man claimed nearly £20,000, and finally the Court, taking the very liberal valuation submitted, and adding 10 per cent., awarded him something over £1,000.
– The question is whether it would not be better to have a cheaper method for dealing with poorer men than submitting cases to the High Court.
– I agree that a body should be created which would give an equitable decision in these cases, without resort to the High Court.
– What would you propose ?
– It is a difficult matter to deal with.
– It would be necessary to appoint a man with a judicial mind, and who is able to weigh up evidence. Men cannot be taken into Court without being involved in considerable expense.
– But often the man brings expense on himself.
– I am aware of that; and I have just mentioned a case where a man was not prepared to climb down until he was right on the threshold of the Court. I know that, even then, the Minister and the Department were prepared to treat with him; but he continued his unreasonable attitude, and a Judge had to settle between the parties. There are people in the community who, though not ordinarily dishonest, think that the Government are always very fair game. The sooner their minds are disabused of that idea the better. They must b© taught to realize that it is just as dishonest of them to put their hands into the public exchequer as into the pockets of a private individual. It seems as if there is a kind of loose morality amongst many people so far as dealings with the Government are concerned, and they take the view that the Government -have plenty of money, and therefore they are entitled to get as much from the State as they can.
– Very often, the Government make fair game of the other fellow.
– That is very rarely the case. On the contrary, some men aredealt with in a most munificent way. It is not my intention to say much about the competition for the Federal Capital buildings, but if we can get the best talent amongst Australian architects, they should be given every opportunity. There are men in the profession here who are Australian-born and almost Australiantrained, and if they were allowed to enter into the competition for the designs of some of the buildings in the Federal Capital, they could do as well as, if not better than, many of the architects abroad. The argument of the honorable member for Parkes is very applicable in this regard; we have often gone thousands of miles to get designs from architects when we could get better designs from Australian men. I believe that a very talented young Australian has been employed in connexion with the Federal Capital, and, to my mind, it would be a good idea to allow him, in conjunction with the successful designer of the Capital City, to have some say in the designs for laying out the City and its buildings. I am afraid that, in calling for designs for the Capital buildings, particularly the Parliament House, we will spend so much time in preliminaries, and in the examination of the various plans, that it will be years before we have any foothold in the Capital City. I have been told, on the best authority, that the chamber in which we are sitting was complete and ready for occupation thirtyone years before any exterior portion of the building was complete. This chamber was ready for occupation in the year 1856. If we really desire to get to the Federal Capital at the earliest possible date, there is no reason to wait for the general design of the parliamentary buildings, or other public offices, because all we require is a chamber with proper acoustic qualities, and lighting and ventilation on the most up-to-date methods.
– Would not the chamber be part of the general design ?
– That is so; but I do not suppose that the chamber of the new House will be very different from that in which we are how assembled.
– I hope it will.
– I am now speaking of the general arrangement and furnishing, and not of the ventilation or lighting, in both of which latter respects the present chamber is very defective. I hope that the combined wisdom of the architects already at work will be directed to that end ; and there ought to be no difficulty, considering thatAustralian archi tects are now engaged in erecting town halls and other public buildings in various cities in the Commonwealth, according to the very latest ideas. As to the external parts of the buildings, we can wait until the finished design has been placed before us, as the outcome of the competition amongst the architects of the world; but, so far as the absolute chamber or chambers are concerned, there is no reason why, at the latter part of this year, or the beginning of next, accommodation should not be ready for us at the Federal Capital. The honorable member for Lang, I see, is looking at me; and, doubtless, he has heard me express myself differently regarding the Federal Capital. However, I can now say that nobody has a greater desire than I have for the removal of the Seat of Government.
– If you remain a member until we go to the Federal Capital, you will have had a good innings!
– That is the interjection of one of the Jeremiahs in our ranks. A little while ago, the honorable member for Darwin was speaking of men of imagination and optimism, and, perhaps, I am more optimistic than is the honorable member for Hunter. Whether my time as a member be long or short, I hope that it will not be very many years before I see this Parliament at work at the Federal Capital. I hope there will be no undue interference with the original design that won the competition, for I believe that Mr. Griffin deserves all the encomiums that have been heaped upon him this morning as one of those clear-brained, idealistic men whom it is a treat to meet, and who is just the sort of architect to give us the city we require. In my opinion, however, Mr. Griffin would desire to call in to his aid the man who has lately been co-operating with him.
– In what way?
– I understand that an architect, whose design was thought much of by the adjudicating Board, has been in association with Mr. Griffin. He is an Australian who knows what Australian conditions require; and if Mr. Griffin can be associated with such a man, the results cannot, I think, be otherwise than satisfactory. I do not think for one moment that Mr. Griffin is narrow or niggardly in his ideas, or has any desire to keep the whole credit to himself, but rather that he is at all times prepared to enlist the sympathy and co-operation of others who are qualified to give him assistance. It is to be sincerely hoped that the ultimate result will be a design for a city which has not yet been equalled.
.- I am glad that this question has been raised this morning; and perhaps it would be as well if I were to inform honorable members of the steps taken while I was Minister to secure a wide response to our appeal for plans for the parliamentary buildings. After the plan for the Federal City had been practically decided upon, and Mr. Griffin’s temporary association with the Department had been arranged, that gentleman took six months’ leave of absence from Australia, in order to settle his affairs in America. He, at the same time, undertook to get into touch with architects in European and American centres: in order to ascertain which of them- would most commend themselves to the profession in their respective centres as members of an adjudicatory commission. Mr. Griffin visited Europe, England, and, of course, America ; and he succeeded in getting ‘together the names of a number of prominent architects who were ready to act. Those names were submitted to me, and in due course the gentlemen were communicated with. We then issued the terms of the competition, which set out in the clearest, most accurate, and unvarnished way, the actual climatic and physical conditions of the Capital Site. All the facts that could be ascertained were set forth; the prevalent winds, the average heat and cold, the building materials that an architect could expect to obtain reasonably, and so on. This was done in order to place all the competitors in the various countries in an equal position with regard to the probable cost, &c, of the buildings that were to be designed; and I do not think there was a single side of the problem that was not fully explained. We then invited a response from architects throughout the world, and offered prizes for the successful competitors. In order to guarantee that uniformity of plan and execution, to which the honorable member for Parkes and, in another way, the honorable member for Brisbane, has referred, iti was stated in the programme of competition that the successful architect, or architects, would be employed in the carrying out of the work. In this way it was sought to secure a great architectural feature in these first buildings on which the general aesthetics of the whole city would be moulded. The invitation was issued, and, in all human’ probability, those who responded at once employed staffs to gather together the necessary material for the designs, for which prizes were offered, and in connexion with which, an honour, far higher than any prize, awaited the successful man.
Now, it was set forth in the programme that the prize design could be altered only by the Director of Designs and Construction at the Federal Capital. That condition was inserted deliberately, because T felt that the professional men would have confidence in another professional man, seeing that they would feel that no alterations would be made without good and sound reasons. But! what has happened ? We find now that that competition has been withdrawn entirely, and that the Minister, on advice other than that of his. responsible adviser, has drawn up fresh terms. All I can say is that, apart altogether from the breach of faith, there is certain to be a crop of actions-at-law all over the world, seeing that any one of the competitors who has proof that he did anything in anticipation of the competition, will have full right to take that course.
And why should this be done behind Mr. Griffin’s back? What is Mr. Griffin here for? Why did he go all round the world, and see those architectural authorities in London, Paris, Vienna, and elsewhere? Why should Mr. Griffin, as it were, be set aside in favour of some man who has taken only an academic, and a comparatively small, interest in the matter? What is the reason for deliberately refraining from inviting the assistance of the man whom the Department had at its disposal?
– Mr. Griffin was asked for a report, was he not?
– Was he?
– Then some one else drew up the report, not the Minister.
– I am responsible for it.
– Who drew it up? What business had any officer, besides Mr. Griffin, to draw up a report?
– Surely an officer could draw up a report if I requested him to do so?
– That is a different matter. In that case, my complaint is that the Minister did request some other person to draw up a report.
– I am responsible for that.
– We have heard from the Minister, time after time, that there is no quarrel or difficulty with Mr. Griffin; and yet we find, as a result of this: cold-shouldering of Mr. Griffin, that there is a trouble which may involve many actions at law.
– That is only your yarn !
– It is obviously true, and when the papers are produced I shall prove it.
– It is obviously wrong.
– There is nothing obviously wrong in what I have said. It is a case of arrant stupidity, the result of departmental friction.
– I suppose there is no stupidity in the blessing you gave to this competition all over the world?
– I do not follow the honorable gentleman.
– I shall tell the honorable member what I mean.
– I hope the Minister will do so. and will put the matter quite clearly. I hope, further, that he will produce the papers sufficiently early for us to deal with them on the Estimates.
– You have seen the papers.
– I have, and they give, absolutely, contradiction to half that the Minister has said in the House.
– Thank you ; but I do not believe it.
– I know it.
– You say anything that suits your party purposes.
– That statement is unworthy of anybody in the House except the man who makes it.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– Before the adjournment I was explaining my apprehension that the failure to comply with the terms of the original competition for the Parliament buildings at Canberra would, in all probability, lead to actions at law by architects in various countries, which will be very troublesome, and perhaps very costly, to the Commonwealth. It is not too late to put this matter right. I would strongly urge upon the Minister that he should submit this particular question to the Attorney-General.
– I am under the impression it has already been done.
– There is nothing of it in the papers. What was submitted to the Attorney-General was a question as to Mr. Griffin’s own status in the Department. That is quite a different matter.
– I would not contradict you, but I think the other matter was also submitted.
– I do not remember seeing anything about it in the papers, but the fact will be clear to any honorable member that if any person in the community is invited by a responsible Government to enter upon certain deliberations, troubles, and expense, in the expectation that if successful he will win a certain prize under certain terms, and that if those terms are altered without complying with the terms set out in the invitation, then that person has an action at law.
– Did you issue a proclamation, and sign everything ?
– The whole thing was fixed up, and, as far as any Government could be committed, this Government was committed.
– Then they will get compensation.
– A mere change of Government does not alter liability in that respect.
– If it did, one Government could repudiate the contracts of another.
– That, of course, cannot be done. The worst feature of this case is that, apparently, the Minister has set out to alter the whole thing without reference to or consultation, in the first place, with his responsible officer. He has gob some opinions from somewhere, but who in his Department is as qualified to advise as Mr. Griffin?
– There are two officers quite as competent. I think so, anyhow.
– There are two officers as competent as Mr. Griffin to advise ! Is that what the Minister says ? If he holds that view, and will not accept the advice of his responsible officer, why is Mr. Griffin there?
– You brought him here.
– Of course I did, and I am prouder of nothing else. As far as I could, I endeavoured to see that by Mr. Griffin’s presence in Australia there should be no more tinkering with his plan. There has been nothing else ever since, as these papers will disclose. I do not want to go into the matter fully. There will be a further opportunity of doing that on other Estimates. I do not charge the Minister with any breach of candour in this question; but, as far as I am able to understand it, the Minister said, in the first place, that the plan, as approved by me, had not been approved by me at all - in effect, that no plan had been approved. Yet, I hold in my hand a copy of my approval of that plan ! Eventually that excuse was discarded. No doubt the Minister found out the truth.
– What is the date of your approval?
– This approval is in reply to a minute by Mr. Bingie drawing my attention to a minute from the Administrator. It is dated 7th July of last year. But the approval, which should be quite enough for any common-sense officer of the Department, was incorporated in this schedule, which was issued on 1st February, 1914, with a reproduction of the plan, so that everybody could know what it was.
– That will bind the Government.
– If the Minister will go into this question-
– I have gone into it - do not make any mistake about that.
– I think all the Minister has done is to put his foot into it. I want him to make an .inquiry into it.
– Do not worry about that; your foot will be in it worse than mine.
– I hope that the Minister will be able to do something more than make these vague and flamboyant charges. When any matter of this sort ia referred to the cleverest Minister we have got, he is instantly insulting. But we must bear with him.
– I suppose you are never insulting, are you ?
– I do not think I could insult my honorable friend.
– Order! These personal interjections must stop.
– In this particular matter, having failed with regard to the authorization that had been given by their predecessors, some other excuse had to be found, and then it was said there was no plan. Afterwards it was stated that the only one there was was too small; that it was reproduced on the back of the schedule, and was obviously too “ finnicking “ for anybody to deal with. So that miniature was. But in due course Mr. Griffin produced a plan on which he had been working all along, based on a scale of 1 in 800. Some excuse was, of course, required. They said it was not big enough, and that a map of l.in 400 was wanted! Now, the 5-feet contour levels shown on the plan of 1 in 800 are quite clear and apparent to the naked eye, and the plan is quite sufficient for the ordinary rough business of locating streets, &c. But here, again, a grievance was assumed.
– I wanted his levels.
– His levels of what?
– Bridges, and so forth.
– But why did you want them ?
– Because it was his plan, and I wanted his levels, so that he could not say the levels were those of my Department.
– What gave rise to that suspicion in your mind ? Why should you imagine that he would try to shelter himself behind any of your officials?
– Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– The whole thing show3 the amount of hostility and suspicion that has been raised against this officer, who made great sacrifices to come here at all. So far as the lay-out was concerned, the Administrator had had the position made clear, and yet in these papers will be found a minute from the Administrator which I will, in due course, read to the Committee, and animadvert upon, because I think it was disingenuous, to say the least of it. Having failed first of all in the contention that there was no authorization, and in the second place that there was no plan, papers will disclose that they then tried to block this officer in a number of ways. When Mr. Griffin made certain proposals, no doubt with an eye to his water scheme, which, after all, covers the same area as the water scheme of the Department Board plan, there was no question of extravagance such as has been raised against him since; but in order to be sure that he was going to get adequate water for his plan he asked for a consultant opinion, from Mr. De Burgh, a great authority in New South Wales on run-off and other matters affecting water conservation and supply. The Minister, hearing of this, informed Mr. Griffin that it was no business of his! The consultant opinion was refused him. The matter lay dormant for months, when suddenly the Minister came to Mr. Griffin and demanded that day to know what all these data were regarding the ornamental water scheme! Then again, as an evidence of the sort of friction and trouble that has been going on to the detriment of the whole scheme, let me give two sets of estimates that the Minister himself invited for a Bridge across the northern end of this ornamental water scheme. One was invited from the Engineer-in-Chief of Railways, and the other from the InspectorGeneral of Works, Colonel Owen. If the Minister had been a keen student of character he would have known, as well as I do, that there has been the greatest friction, mentally if not otherwise, for a long period - ever since the Departmental Board plan was set aside. Naturally all of these officers were anxious to have their plan put into operation.
– Absolutely incorrect.
– Absolutely correct - as correct as that I stand here. There was great feeling upon that question. Here we have these two separate estimates. Will the Minister produce them so that we may see exactly what the difference is. I am speaking entirely from memory; but I think Colonel Owen’s estimate was more than twice as much as Mr. Bell’s estimate.
– One was for a railway.
– No; quite apart from the additional works which were dealt with by Colonel Owen’s estimate.
– One was the report of a railway engineer ; the other of a civil engineer. They were bound to differ.
– They were both dealing with the cost of putting up a railway bridge, and I think I am accurate in saying thatMr. Bell’s estimate was somewhere in the neighbourhood of £80,000, and Colonel Owen’s £150,000, whereas the full cost of the civil engineer’s idea of that bridge came out at something over £350,000. There is no easier way of dealing with a simple-minded Minister than that of putting before him excessive estimates if you want to stop anything from going through. Nothing easier in the world !
– That is not fair - to describe the honorable member as simpleminded.
– I am speaking generally; I do not want to be in any way offensive.
– All I have to say is that if I could not see as far as you, well, God help me!
– I have had criticisms about the eventual cost of the Capital City heaped upon me. I admit that it is impossible for a man to sit down and find out to the fraction of a penny what the Capital is going to cost. But present economy may mean ultimate waste. May I give one instance of what is in my mind ? Take one railway connexion that in Mr. Griffin’s plan was shown round the sides of hills, mainly in cuttings through soft country. That railway, as shown, will of course cost a great deal more now than a railway across level country. But the moment the town expands, if you have your railway on level country, you will have to build bridges over your railway for all the roads. You will have to lift them right up. and that in itself will be a tremendously expensive item. On the other hand, if you carry your railway under the contours of the hills, you may have a greater initial expense, but a considerably reduced expense ultimately in road construction.
– You do not expect the Minister to be an engineer.
– No ; but these are the considerations that ought to be given to any plan showing the lay-out, before damning it on account of the immediate expenditure which is likely to be involved.
Anybody, if asked whether it would be best for a railway to be constructed under the hills, as is suggested by Mr. Griffin, or across flat country, would say, if it was purely a railway proposition, that it should be put across the flat country. I know that when I was Minister, the Director-General of Works came to me about this railway and asked me to settle the question. I looked at the plan without nearing what Mr. Griffin had to say about the cost of bridges, and saw that by putting the railway across the flat, you would eventually have to lift the roads over the rails. I said that obviously the other course would ultimately be the cheaper and more efficient as well as’ the more aesthetic course, to pursue. The Director-General of Works was always referring to this railway. He thought it was wrong. No doubt he still thinks that it is wrong.
– So do I.
– And he has persuaded the Minister to adopt that view, although I dare say that the honorable gentleman has never discussed the question with Mr. Griffin.
– Does the honorable member refer to open cuts or tunnelling ?
– Both to open cuts and tunnelling.
– It is only a very short stretch of country. The expense saved ultimately in road construction is a great deal more than the extra expense which the railway would involve now.
– It is a matter not of expense, but of beauty. Whoever saw the beauty of a town when approaching it through a tunnel?
– Good heavens ! Are we going to disfigure our Federal City by running an open railway through it for the benefit of those who enter it by train and to the detriment of those who wish to see the beauty of the city from the inside? The honorable gentleman might as well say, “ What is the use of having a railway line in Flinders-street when we could take it up Collins-street ? “ I dare say that my honorable friend, when he visited England recently, deeply regretted that he could not view the beauties of the country through his railway carriage window.
– I was sorry that I could not see St. Albans, because the line ran through an open cut.
– And on that one illustration the honorable gentleman would determine the building of the Federal Capital.
– There are a good many others of the same kind.
– Every town planner tries, as much as possible, to keep from the public gaze such an unsightly object as a railway line. A railway is not a thing of beauty.
– The honorable member would have a twopenny tube running all round Canberra.
– Have honorable members ever heard anything like this? I ask my honorable friends opposite whether they are not proud occasionally of their handiwork ?
The papers, as I have read them, disclose the departmental friction to which I have referred, and this departmental friction is going to damage very materially the monetary interests of the Commonwealth, as well as the interests of the Federal City itself, by leading to an arbitrary alteration against the actual terms of the competition of the terms for the parliamentary buildings. That must be clear to any man of the meanest intelligence who examines the papers.
– When the honorable member held office, did he have any assurance in determining the practicability of Mr. Griffin’s scheme?
– No such assurance was required. If the honorable member sought such an assurance he would find it in the fact that the water part of the departmental scheme - the present object of attack - involved the same quantity of water as in the case of Mr. Griffin’s plan. The only difference between the two was that Mr. Griffin’s water plan followed comparatively regular contours which the contour levels themselves gave, whereas the departmental plan aimed at retaining every little backwater. In the one plan there were places where stagnant water could collect; in the other we had a formal water basin that would easily remain clean. I approved of the formal water basin. There is nothing impracticable about the matter. The only question of practicability relates to supply of the water.
– That is everything.
– If the honorable gentleman holds that view, why did he refuse the consultative opinion, which he could have obtained at a cost of one hundred guineas, from Mr. De Burgh? Mr. Griffin asked for it. Mr. De Burgh is the best man in New South Wales to consult on the subject. He is employed in all matters relating to water supply and watersheds.
– We have an opinion on the subject; we know all about it.
– The Minister may have Colonel Owen’s opinion.
– It is not Colonel Owen’s opinion; but I suppose that he, or any other engineer, could collect such information.
– If his opinion is to be accepted, then the Minister has it in the departmental plan, because Colonel Owen signed the plan which gives the same water scheme, as far as the area of city lakes is concerned, as the other.
– I thought that the honorable member favoured Mr. Griffin’s scheme.
– Of course I do. Why should the Minister attack it because some one in his Department - although he will not say so straight out - is attacking it? Every one in his Department has agreed to a scheme of similar proportions, so far as city waterworks are concerned.
– It has to go to the Public Works Committee.
– I do not regret that the Public Works Committee is looking into the matter; but it seems rather strange that the Minister should be instinct with suspicion about this one question, and yet would not obtain a consultative opinion which would have thoroughly satisfied him on the subject. There are one or two other questions to which I desire to address myself.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had not intended to speak to this question; but it seems to me that if the Minister and his predecessor cannot agree upon the advisableness of adopting some particular plan that will enable us to push on with the work of building the Federal city, we have little hope cif arriving at finality in the matter. I regret that, although much money has been spent at the Capital, not one permanent building ba8 yet been erected, either for housing the Parliament, or any of our officers.
Much work of a substantial character has- been carried out. We have, for instance, a good water supply scheme, which is. almost completed; and a complete power plant, sufficient to light up the city, and to supply power for any works that may be established there. We have also the sewerage works under construction, while other important works are almost complete; but all these are practically standing idle because the Department cannot decide upon the lay-out of the city.
– That question has to go before the Public Works Committee.
– Quite so. I regret the delay that has taken place in determining upon a plan for the lay-out of the city. If the Minister and the two honorable members who immediately preceded him in his office have different ideas on the subject, and the engineers of the Department also differ, how is the matter to be settled? I think that the Government made a mistake in deciding to hold over for a time the competitive designs for the parliamentary buildings. If they had allowed the competition to proceed, the designs would have been sent in last March. As it is, I do not think that any definite step has yet been taken, other than to appoint another committee of experts, and to secure the advice of the Institute of Architects as to the terms of the competition and the limitation of it to architects within the Empire and the countries with which we are allied.
– We have been coming down here a long time.
– And I am afraid we shall continue to come down here for many a day. If a committee of common-sense, practical men - I care not whether they be engineers or architects - were appointed to determine the lay-out of the city, the whole matter would be quickly settled. I hope that the Minister will brush aside the various objections that have been raised, take the bit between his teeth, and decide the question for himself.
– I must refer it to the Committee of which “the honorable gentleman is chairman.
– There is another question to which I wish to draw attention. I understand that the erection of all buildings in the Northern Territory is under the control of the Department of Home Affairs, and that the Government continue to erect wooden buildings, although
I have it on the authority of competent men who have worked in the Northern Territory, that the white ants eat such buildings almost as quickly as they are built. A Melbourne firm has started the manufacture of bricks at Port Darwin, and is turning out an excellent article. Surely it would be common sense to avail ourselves of this supply on the spot, and to erect substantial brick buildings. As to the competitive designs for the parliamentary buildings at the Federal Capital, I think that the honorable member for Brisbane was somewhat confused in his reference to the different classes of architecture that might possibly be worked into any one design. An architect who proposed to prepare a design would first determine what style it should take - whether he should adopt the Roman, the Gothic, or some other style of architecture - and having made a selection, he would adhere rigidly to it. It is a mistake to suggest that if twelve men sent in competitive designs, we might have a building erected according to a design in which several different styles of architecture were introduced. If the Gothic style be adopted, then everything will be erected in accordance with that design. It is not likely that the Roman and the Gothic style would be incorporated in the design of any one building. If the competition be confined to architects in the Empire, and in those countries with which we are allied at the present time, I think we shall have many eminent men competing. I hope there will be no delay in pushing on with the work of laying out the Capital City. A visitor to the Capital at the present time finds in the nurseries millions of young trees ready for planting in the avenues. Many of these are going to waste because no decision has yet been arrived at regarding the lay-out of the avenues and of the city generally.
– They are becoming too old to be transplanted.
– Yes. If the Minister decided the lay-out of the avenues, these trees could at once be planted. I hope that the Government will do everything possible to hasten the acceptance of a design for the Parliament building, and that when finished that building will be one of the finest of its kind in the world.
– It is curious to find from speeches of honorable members that both those who live in Melbourne and those who live elsewhere are keen about getting this Parliament moved to the Federal Capital. The honorable member for Maribyrnong said that the sooner we get there the better.
– Hear, hear!
– No doubt we shall some day adopt a definite scheme for the laying out of the- Federal Capital. The matter has been debated continually almost from the inception of Federation, but, unfortunately, each Minister wishes to take his own course. We shall arrive at some conclusion only when a plan has been adopted, and each successive Minister agrees to work on it. Until that is done in regard to both the Federal Capital and the Northern Territory there will be no progress. I have risen to bring under the notice of the Minister the manner in which land is acquired by his Department. The Department deals with two classes of land-owners - those who are reasonable, and learning that their land is wanted for public purposes, are ready to part with it for a fair price, and those » referred to by the honorable member for Lang, who try to get the greatest amount of compensation possible. The Department does not differentiate between them. It treats both classes alike, and irritates them as much as possible. I heard a trumpet sounding last night about the wonderful things done by the honorable member for Darwin when Minister of Home Affairs; but even under his administration what I complain of occurred. The departmental officers do not tell the Minister that certain land-holders are willing to accept a reasonable price, and do not get their cases dealt with straight away; they merely put before the Minister piles of orders” for compulsory purchases for him to sign. When the man who is prepared to be reasonable receives a notice stating that his land is to be compulsorily purchased, he becomes unreasonable. My experience is that when you can see a Minister about any matter of this kind, he is prepared to deal fairly and expeditiously, whatever party he may belong to, but it is difficult for a private individual to get such a hearing, and in the end he has generally to see his representative before he can obtain reasonable treatment. A private person, if he goes to the Department, is treated unsatisfactorily. Indeed, he is almost cheeked by the departmental officers. When the honorable member for Darwin was Minister, the Department acquired a very valuable piece of land in my electorate. That land belonged to the shire council, whose officers, when approached, said that the Department could have it at any time on paying fair compensation. It had been bought by the council about six months previously for a certain purpose, and had on it a windmill, and several pits had been made in it. Notwithstanding the statement of the council’s officers, a notice of compulsory purchase was served on the council. I do not blame the Minister for this, because the action was that of his officers.
– Perhaps what was done had to be done to comply with the law.
– If so the law should be made reasonable. In the case that I mentioned the land could have been acquired from the shire council at a reasonable price and without any trouble. The Department, however, was not content to get what it wanted in that way. It served a notice of compulsory purchase, and ordered off the land stock which was being raised there by the tenant of the shire council. It also took possession of the land and cut off access from it in every way. I then took up the case. I saw the acting Secretary, who was then Chief Clerk, and he behaved very reasonably, and called in the Inspector of Works, before whom I laid the matter. There were about 40 acres in the whole block, and the Department wanted about 10 acres. On behalf of the council I asked if it would give access to the balance, and the inspector .replied, “ I cannot tell you.” I said, “ That seems unreasonable.” He replied, “We must refer the matter to the Defence Department to ascertain whether it will allow access.” I said, “ Give me a letter to the Defence Department, and I will get its answer.” The Inspector said, “ I cannot give you a letter,” and the acting Secretary was forced to remark, “ Surely this is not the way to answer a gentleman. Cannot a ‘ chaser ‘ be sent to the Defence Department to find out whether it will give a road across the proposed rifle range?” I pointed out that if access were not given to the land that was left that land would become useless to the council, but that if it would be given the council would like to move its improvements from where they stood on to the land it was not proposed to resume. I showed that it would be useless to move the improvements if it were proposed to take the whole of the land, and that it would cost the Government a good deal more to resume the whole block than to take only a portion of it. The reply I received was, “ What does it matter what it will cost the Government - the Department will pay ? “ Apparently it does not matter what waste takes place. It is thought to be sufficient that the Department will pay.
– How long ago did this happen?
– About two and a half years ago ; but the same sort of thing is going on now.
– I hope not ; I do not know of it.
– It is not possible for every private land-owner whose land the ‘Department proposes to resume, to see the Minister. Indeed, it is difficult for a member- to do so until he has cooled his heels in the passage for hours.
– I do not think that honorable members have had to do that since I have been a Minister.
– The Minister is often busy, and a private individual has no chance of interviewing him. He must see the permanent heads in the various States, and that is very often how all the friction arises. Many* cases could be settled quite reasonably, as owners are generally prepared to settle straight away; but the practice of the Department seems to be to irritate a reasonable man until he is brought up to the fighting point, and’ once a man’s blood is roused, trouble begins. The Minister says that the Department has most trouble with the small men. It is the small men to whom Parliament should extend its protection. The man who has a portion of a large estate resumed can take his case to the High Court and fight the Crown, or make the Department toe the mark and come to a reasonable agreement; but, as the small man cannot do this, it is our duty to see that he is not forced into the Court, and that he has every opportunity of getting a fair deal. The Minister claims that there is not much of this going on at present, but I believe that there are just as many cases nearly as bad as the one I have mentioned. When the Department wishes to resume land, it does not go to the leading valuers in the district to secure a valuation; it does not go to the men who are valuing land every day; it looks upon those men as rogues ; but it gets its valuations made by men who probably have never valued an acre of land before. At least that is what has happened in my district. If the Department will not employ men who are accustomed to the work of valuing, and thus enable settlements to be more easily effected, will they accept the shire valuation ? At any rate, a case should be looked into before the irritating stage is reached. When we have to deal with men who are ready to part with the land we require, cannot we abolish the compulsory provision of the Act, and let inspectors go out and secure a valuation from some responsible person who knows the values of land in the district concerned, and then come to a settlement with the owners?
– I am under the impression that I am not allowed by the Act to do so.
– There is power in the Act to acquire land by agreement.
– At any rate, very often if the owner could go before the Minister the whole matter of the acquisition of a piece of land could be settled in a few minutes.
.- I am under the impression that the whole trouble in regard to land resumption could be settled very easily if the Government could be persuaded to provide that the price to be paid for resumed land is to be based on the valuation on which the owners pay land tax, with the addition of up to 10 per cent. for disturbance.
– If we acquired land under those circumstances we would not pay what we are paying to-day.
– The honorable member is speaking of the unimproved value only. Surely there is another value.
– Certainly improvements would need to be valued separately. There should be a law providing that the
Commonwealth, the State, or the municipality may resume land on the valuation on which the owner pays rates and taxes, with up to 10 per cent. added for disturbance. I was under the impression that the basis of compensation for the resumption of land in the Federal Capital Territory was the value set forth on a certain date in the Land and Income Tax assessments of New South Wales. If there was one act on the part of the late Government that I could not censure, and that I wholly approved of, it was their step in bringing to Australia the great man who had won, in open competition with the world, the prize for submitting the first design for our Federal Capital. No other architect who has visited Australia has had the honour of having his drawings - placed on satin - exhibited in Vienna and Paris. When it was decided to throw open to the whole wide world the competition for the designs for our Parliament House at Canberra, and to get the greatest architects in the world to examine them, every artistic architect in the world, no matter under what sky he was born, would have full confidence in submitting a design ; and what architect with the pulse of honour in his composition but would glory in competing? Are we going to the olden days to judge of artistic temperament? Do we not know that there are men who would rather have had the honour of designing the great Parthenon of Athens, never surpassed in the grace of its lines of architecture, than have double their weight in gold in return for their services? The Minister once had the honour of speaking in St. George’s Hall in Liverpool, a splendid hall of purely Greek design, copied from one of these ancient structures that once graced the southern slopes of Attica. That design, if copied in a sunny land like Australia, might be seen to advantage, but it was not suited for the dull, cloudy atmosphere of England. The honorable member knows that that glory of an architect’s dream is to-day like a gleam of sunshine in that dull and cloudy city. Was it the salary of £1,000 that induced Mr. Griffin to come here - a man who can show by his books that his in come in America was double and treble what he is making here? Is not jealousy on the part of heads of Departments responsible for some of the present trouble?
Thos© men were not forbidden to enter into this competition. When the then Minister threw the competition wide open to the world, any member of the Public Service had a right to compete.
– I do not think so.
– I know that to be a fact.
– And one public officer, Mr. McDonald, did send in a design.
– If a great picture by Tintoretto or Raphael were sent to Australia, and the members of the art society, to which I have the honour to belong, were asked to amend that glory of painting, would they do it? No; they would answer that the result would be nothing but a botch. I could have wished, if the money had been available, that the Government had invited to Australia the three men who obtained the first three places in the competition, and that they <had been asked to consult and combine the best features of the three designs. Our aim is to build a city that will equal the dream of the greatest architects of the world. Even in the so termed barbaric ages a ruler in India did not hesitate to send to Venice for an architect to build that wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal. The Indian race, with all their pride and affluence, at the time, did not scruple to import a Venetian to create that temple, and any one who has viewed that jewel of the architectural world, rivalling in splendour and beauty the creations of the genius of the elder Greece, will admit that, through all the centuries that have passed since, their action has been justified. Shall not we also build for the future? Did ever an architect have before an opportunity to build a capital for a whole continent? No such opportunity has ever been presented in the history of the world. The prizes for the best plans for the lay-out of the city were awarded by judges appointed by the honorable member for Darwin. Will any one dare to raise a voice against those adjudicators? I congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth on having thrown open to the whole world the competition for designs for the Parliament House, but his action has been rescinded. If our compact with those who prepared to take part in the original competition is to be broken, our escutcheon will be stained, and I will not remain silent, either in this House or outside, while such a breach of faith is attempted. By all means let the genius of Australia compete freely, and let no man’s hand or mind be trammelled whether he be in the Public Service or out of it. The Minister having contradicted me on a statement I made, I desire to fortify my argument with a quotation from Hansard. Speaking on the 15th October, 1914, the honorable member for Hindmarsh said -
To make sure of my ground, however, I conferred with the President of the Institute of Architects, who was good enough to call on me at my request, and he advised that little, if any, work had been done in” connexion with the competition, and that, therefore, there could be no liability.
– How would he know what work had been done?
– Honorable members are asking for information, and I am supplying it.
The gentleman referred to was Mr. Tompkins. How in God’s name could Mr. Tompkins say who had been working on the preparation of plans? The competition was advertised throughout the world, and if Mr. Tompkins will swear an affidavit on oath that no architect had made preparations for a design, I will prosecute him for perjury. I know of one architect who Bad devoted three months’ work to a competitive plan ; and yet Mr. Tompkins, who is not omniscient, who has not an X-ray intellect, professes to know what had happened throughout the world. The name of that gentleman does not loom highest in the list of Australian architects.
– If Mr. Tompkins had been told how many architects had registered their names, he might not have made that statement.
– I do not suppose he knew. The poor little man went to the Minister and gave a ready answer without knowledge. I do not blame the Minister for having repeated what Mr. Tompkins told him, but the escutcheon of Australia will be stained if the Minister depends on that statement to justify him in breaking an honorable understanding with the whole world.
– Mr. Tompkins’ evidence would not be worth much in a Court of law.
– I am astonished that there should be any doubt on this subject. It is all very well for the Minister to say that there has been no friction in the Department. Every member who cares to look into the official papers, as I Jla ve done, must see that there has been friction. One of the heads of the Department has written that Mr. Griffin’s engagement will expire two years hence. What does it all mean? I feel sure that if the Committee understood the whole of the circumstances, the dispute would be ended at once, and we could go ahead with the work of establishing the Capital. More than 3,000 men could be employed above the number- now engaged in the Federal Territory.
– Five thousand.
– As a supporter of a Labour Government in this time of strife and unemployment, I object to the Government not proceeding as fast as they should with the work at the Capital. If Mr. Griffin were given an opportunity of giving effect to his design, I say 3,000 is a moderate estimate of the number that could be employed, but we are now told by the ex-Minister, who ought to know something of the matter, that the number is 5,000. It would seem that an Australian native, on whom the heads of the Departments have their thumbs, can never get fair play. I hope to see the day when a searching inquiry will be made into the manner in which large salaries are increased, and also to ascertain whether the Public Service Commissioner has ever refused to accept the nomination of the head of a Department. I know that a place was kept open for a medical lady while she was away in Western Australia, because, perhaps, she was the niece of a gentleman who lived, as she did, in the same street as did the Public Service Commissioner; and, in connexion with this appointment, every medical man and woman in Melbourne and Sydney was insulted. I take it that in a Democracy like this we all desire that brains and intelligence shall have a fair chance, and that men shall not be promoted unduly over the heads of their seniors.
– Western Australia has no chance in regard to the appointment of nurses!
– As to that, what has been done in relation to nurses, officers, and men who volunteer for the front, passes all understanding. There is one case to which I should like to call attention, and this will be of interest to the honorable member for Darwin, who was Minister at the time it occurred. When I was viewing the plans, along with that honorable gentleman, at Government House, I asked one of the adjudicators whether any of the competitors had takers advantage of the Australian sunlight ill’ the way of designing a health city. The adjudicator told me that there was one plan which might interest me in this connexion, and he showed me No. 9, which, by a system of orientation, provided that the sun should shine on each of the sides of a building or square at one time or other of the day. Having studied the suncure in Germany, that plan appealed t& me; but, of course, I did not know the name of the designer, only his number being attached. When the prizes had been awarded, I made inquiries and ascertained that the designer of No. 9, unfortunately for himself, was an Australian native, employed in the Public Service. He had been an honoured officer in the Public Works Department of Victoria, and had been transferred to the Federal service? but, as at that time there were very few works in hand for the Commonwealth, he was transferred to another branch. His design had excited the attention of tha three adjudicators, and when Mr. Griffin, on his arrival, asked for advice and assistance, this officer was placed at hia disposal by order of the honorable member for Wentworth, who was then at the Department. This officer spent his holiday over the work that was handed to him; but, owing to some wire-pulling ob the part of departmental heads, he was asked why he was out of his own branch. It is to the honour of the Government who were then in power, that they placed £50 on the Estimates as some recompense for the work which this officer had done, but the fact remains that this officer, who was the right-hand man of Mr. Griffin, has been removed from where he was off so much use. Under the circumstances it is strange that the Minister should tell us that nothing is occurring to prevent the progress of the work in connexion with the Federal Capital design. I hope the Minister will see tha* the way is cleared up, so that this maunmay have a fair chance of building the city, and so that when the history of the times comes to be written, tfes Minister will be given the credit for having seen this work carried out. I hopealso that he will prevent certain heads . in his own Department, wmo, in my opinion, seek to destroy Mr. Griffin and to prevent him doing his good work… from doing this. I am sure the Minister does not desire to bo referred to as the Minister who broke an agreement .made by a previous Government with the architects of the world. He does not desire to be spoken of as the Minister who, for the sake of saving a few pettifogging shillings here, or expending a few more elsewhere, injured the future of a great city beyond repair. I hope he will rise to a higher level than that, and give this man the opportunity of making the beautiful city he has laid out, a city that shall be the best and healthiest of any capital city in the whole wide world.
– He is now only marking time.
– Up to the present he has been doing nothing else, and I am asking the Minister, particularly as he is a Labour Minister, to recognise that the time has come for him to see that, whatever may be the attitude of the heads of his Department, this man is given a fair chance to carry out his work. There are other men besides these particular heads who might take a share in this work. I have in mind a very good architect, Mr. Murdoch, who might very well be associated with Mr. Griffin in this work; but what I want to urge upon the Minister most of all, and I think every honorable member of the House will agree with me in this, is that a man who wins the competition for the building of Parliament House shall have control over that building, independent of all the Colonel Owens or all the Colonel Millers.
– I think the House ought to be thankful to the honorable member for Melbourne for the valuable suggestions he has made upon this subject, and particularly for his remarks upon the subject of sunlight, though the trouble is that his suggestions, if carried out, may interfere with the whole of the plans. I would urge the Minister to take into consideration the question of valuation, so that we may be able to arrive at some uniform process. At the present time, iri New South Wales, difficulties arise owing to the fact that there are four or five different methods of valuing property. First of all, we have the value put upon land by the municipalities; then we have a separate valuation by the shire3. For resumption purposes the State fixes up another valua tion; there is another valuation for the Federal land tax purposes, and the owner has his own value. So that, altogether, there are five valuations; and in order to bring an end to this state of affairs, I would urge upon the Minister the desirability of entering into consultation with the different States to see if it is not possible to arrive at some uniform system.
– I wish to call the attention of the Minister to the system of land resumption which obtains in all Departments. I had made up my mind prior to the last election that, if we were returned, some change should be made. I do not know any branch of the Public Service that needs reform so much as this does, and we need reform in the interests of the working men of Australia, the small land-owners, the men who are unable to fight the Government, the men whose interest it is not to fight the Government. The big men can look after themselves. They are able to brief counsel and take risks that the small man cannot afford to take. Take the case mentioned this morning by the honorable member for Lang. This man came to see me the other day, thinking that my honorable friend had not got back from his trip. I know him, and although I am bound to say I think he has put an absurdly high valuation upon his land, he is a thoroughly good, honest fellow. Why has he put this valuation on his land? Remember he is only 17 miles away from Sydney, and in the course of the next few years Sydney is going to spread. Then this land will probably be sold by the foot for residential purposes. That is what this man had in mind, and that is what has led him to place this high value upon his land. I know that in some places at Liverpool land is already being sold at so much per foot, and at a considerable sum per foot, too.
– Land at Belmore, which is not far away, recently sold at as much as £20 a foot.
– Since I came into this Parliament I could have bought ten acres of land near where I lived at Marrickville for £10 an acre. To-day it is worth, I suppose, £500 an acre. You cannot tell how quickly the city is going to expand. This particular land is only 11 miles from Sydney, and that fact alone will enable honorable members to see why this man has put the value he has upon his property. Some of the finest grape-growing country in Australia is to be found in the Liverpool district. The owner of this land is an engine-driver in the employ of the Water and Sewerage Board, and he and his sons have spent all their spare time in improving the land - in fencing and clearing it ready for the time when, upon leaving the service, he may settle there and develop an orchard. After working on it for all these years, he is now offered by the Government a price which, on the face of it, is most absurd. Here are his rate papers, which he presented to the Minister, and which show that he has paid to the Liverpool council rates on the basis of £250 unimproved land values. Add to that another £100 for his improvements, plus 10 per cent., to say nothing of its future accretion of value because of its possible use as building sites, and you have more than twice the amount that the Minister is offering. The Minister says to this man, “ Go into the High Court of Australia.” He drags a working man into the High Court to determine a £200 resumption. One cannot go into that Court, responsibly and adequately, for the whole of that amount. The law needs to be amended. Men are compelled to accept valuations far below the real value of their land because they cannot fight the Government. I have in mind a case at Baulkham Hills, near where I reside. There is a rifle range there, and three men occupying land which came within the danger zone received notice of the intention of the Government to resume their properties. It has taken me four years to get that matter cleared up.
– Why did not the right honorable member clear it up while he was in office ?
– I could no more clear it up than the honorable member could clear out the Beef Trust now that his party is in power.
– He would if he had the power that the right honorable member had as Prime Minister.
– He would not. Mr. Justice Street told him that there was no Beef Trust in Australia that was doing the slightest injury - that all his statements,’ in the elegant language cf Senator Pearce, were so much “ hot air.”
– The honorable member has not read the Commissioner’s report.
– I have, and I notice that the honorable member never has anything to say about Mr. Justice Street’s findings. The elections are over, and everything, of course, is all right from his point of view ! This man st Liverpool is now actually summoned to. the High Court. He is told that he must attend before the Court on a certain date, and show cause why he should not be paid the compensation offered by the Department. Here is the summons. This sort of red-tape costs the Department more than would be involved in giving most of these men whose land is resumed what they want. In the Baulkham Hills case, valuation after valuation has been obtained. The last secured by the Department was given by a Sydney man, a reputable valuer in the district of Parramatta not being called into consultation. The Department succeeded eventually in inducing these men to accept £9 per acre for their land. It is just opposite where I live, and I should be glad to take every foot of it from the Government at £12 per acre.
– Is it a “ good spec.v ?
– I do not want it as a “spec.” Land in the district is very scarce, and I should like it for grazing my own cattle. These men took £9 per acre for their land rather than be dragged into Court. Men dare not go into Court over these small matters. In the Liverpool land case, the owner is almost prepared to take anything for his land rather than be dragged into the High Court, knowing what it may possibly mean when the Government begin to fight him with all the expert legal ability for which they are able to pay, while he cannot do so.
– The officials take advantage of that fact every time in connexion with land resumptions all over the Commonwealth.
– Quite so. I am aware that the Department has sometimes to take strong action. Exorbitant claims are sometimes made. But what is wanted is a facile Court where men could put their own case at little or no cost to themselves, and where they could obtain summary and substantial justice, instead of having their cases dragged on year after year. One of my complaints is that no officer of the Department has seen Mr. Walton about his land. A man has a right to be heard when his land is being taken from him ; he is entitled to put his case personally before some tribunal appointed for the purpose by the Minister. The sooner the Act is amended the better, so that all who are having their land, and, in many instances, their livelihood, taken from them, may be heard. In the Baulkham Hills case, to which I have already referred, the resident teacher, who is getting up in years, purchased a piece of land at the rear of his school, and spent his spare time in preparing it for his use in his old age. But he has now to pack up and go further away. The Government have the land; he agreed to take £9 per acre for it rather than go into Court. There should be some other tribunal where, if possible, resort could be had, without any costly proceedings, to conciliation and arbitration. The method of the Department is to have the land values assessed for themselves, without reference to any outside authority, and then to say to the owner of the land, “Here is our offer; take it or leave >t. If you are not satisfied, go to the High Court.” To go to the High Court might suit ‘the big man sometimes, but -would ruin the small man. In some cases it would be better to give one’s property to the Government than to fight the question of compensation in the High Court. While the valuation in the case referred to is undoubtedly high, it must be remembered that the land is only 17 miles from Sydney, and adjoins a main road, so that it is only a matter of time when it will become worth a great deal more than £900. I hope that the Minister will undertake to bring in a Bill to provide for a Court before which a small man can get values assessed without interminable delay and considerable expense. But I ask the honorable gentleman to report progress now.
– We must get the Estimates through.
– Let us adjourn now, and we will give you your Estimates in good time next week.
– On the first day of meeting.
– The whole lot; these and those of the Department of the PostmasterGeneral ?
– The honorable member’s supporters will not agree to that.
– I see no reason why the Minister of Home Affairs should not get his Estimates through on Wednesday; but we are all waiting for the PostmasterGeneral. No one occupying the position of Minister of Home Affairs, as the Department is at present organized, lies on a bed of roses, and if I am allowed to continue my remarks next Wednesday I think that I shall then, be able to make a few suggestions for the decentralization of its work, and the reallotment of duties, which will make things much easier. His Department, of all others, must be fairly and fully criticised, because its tentacles stretch right through the Public Service. I ask leave to continue my remarks on Wednesday next.
Leave granted ; progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
Australian-made Motor Cycles.
Motion (by Mr. Archibald) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The other day I made representations to the Postmaster-General in regard to calling for tenders for motor cycles for the Postal Department. Is the Minister now in a position to make a statement in regard to this matter?
– A little time ago tenders were called for motor cycles of Australasian make. At the time it was not very clear that motor cycles were being made here; but I am glad to say that tenders were sent in by more than one firm who were making the greater portion of parts of their motor cycles here. However, there were no specifications; and the honorable member for Cook and one or two other honorable members complained on behalf of several firms that they were afraid that the absence of specifications might subject them to unfair competition. The object’ of having no specifications was to prevent certain firms being shut out, as -would have been the case had restrictive specifications mentioned the type of machine required. Alao, it was not known that there were firms who could compete in Australia. However, after inquiry, it has been recognised by the Department that it will be fairer to the tenderers to have specifications, and therefore, it has been de,cided t to call for short-dated tenders, and place all on a similar footing in regard to the requirements of the Department. Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at’ 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 June 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150611_reps_6_77/>.