3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
SEAT OF GOVERNMENT ACCEPTANCE BILL.
Senator W. RUSSELL.- I desire to ask the Leader of the Senate if the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill is a Government measure, or if members of the Government have a free hand on the question ?
Senator MILLEN. - It is a Government measure, introduced by the Government.
Senator W. RUSSELL. - Then how is it that the name of Senator’ Best does not appear in the division list?
The PRESIDENT. - Order. I point out to the honorable senator that having received an assurance that the measure is a Government measure, it is not in order for him to ask why any honorable senator did not record his vote.
Senator W. Russell. - I shall take another opportunity of referring to the matter.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if any steps have yet been taken by the Postmaster-General’s Department to put Tasmania, in regard to telegraphic communication throughout the week, on the same footing as the other five States?
– For the last two days I have had with me a communication, anticipating that this question would be put. It happens that now that the honorable senator is here, and has put the question, the papers are not with me, but on the motion for adjournment this afternoon I shall have them available, if he will repeat his inquiry.
What are the names of officers commanding senior cadet battalions in New South Wales?
What has been their length of service respectively ; what examinations passed, and Schools of Instruction attended by them, and special qualifications of such officers?
What are the names of officers nominated for appointment as officers commanding cadets in New South Wales?
What has been the length of service, ex aminations passed, Schools of Instruction attended, and special qualifications of such officers?
Debate resumed from 21st October (vide page 4818), on motion by Senator Givens -
That the President’s ruling to the effect that an instruction to the Committee to consider the advisability of substituting the district of Dalgety for that of Yass-Canberra in the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill is out of order be disagreed with on the following grounds : -
That the President is mistaken in saying that the proposed instruction is irrelevant.
That the ruling would unduly restrict the right of Senators to exercise their independent judgment in selecting the best site for a Federal Capital.’
– Itis perhaps to be regretted that Senator Givens moved for an instruction, because I think that, in Committee, he would have had an undoubted right to move to amend the Bill in the direction he desired, and that the Committee could have considered his amendment without an instruction. However, he took the course of moving for an instruction, and therefore I assume that his action was governed bystanding order 319A. I take it, sir, that your ruling is not as to whether an honorable senator can move to amend a Bill in a certain direction, but simply that it is not competent for the Senate to give an instruction to amend the Bill in the direction proposed by Senator Givens. He seeks an instruction in order to amend the Act which is sought to be amended by the Bill. The question is somewhat complicated. The parent Act of 1904 provided for the selection of the district of Dalgety. The Act of1908, which repealed the parent Act of 1904, practically contained all the substance of that Act, the only difference being that it subsisted the district of Yass-Canberra for the district of Dalgety. This Bill seeks to repeal and take the place of the Act of 1908. I regret that I have not had time to look up the discussion in the Senate when we adopted the new standing order, 319A. I am under the impression that the general opinion was that it was adopting a standing order which, if availed of, would enable the Senate to give to a Committee a purview of, not only the Bill, but also the Act or Acts which it sought to amend.
– Does this Bill amend any Act?
– Yes. If that was not the intention of the Senate, sir, why did it amend the old standing order? If it did not desire to afford an opportunity to bring before the Committee on a Bill the: legislation which.it was proposed to amend, it would not have agreed to the new standing order. When we had before us an Electoral Bill dealing with a number of principles of the Electoral Act, Senator
Mulcahy wished to amend the Act in a direction which was not dealt with by the Bill, and the President ruled, in accordance with precedent, that the Committee could not amend the Act in a specified direction- unless the subject-matter proposed to be amended was dealt with in the Bill. That was at once recognised to be a hardship, although _ it was perfectly in cognisance with the spirit of the existing standing order. It was I who brought the question of amending the rule before the Standing Orders Committee. It was threshed out there, and the whole of the argument turned on the point that when it was proposed to amend existing legislation it would be convenient for the Senate to have the power, if it thought fit, to instruct the Committee to consider, not only the Bill, but any provision of the Act which it sought to amend, although it might be foreign to the scope of, and not relevant to, the subject-matter of, the Bill. We have now before us a Bill which, in clause 3, proposes to repeal the Seat of Government Act of 3908. What is an amendment ? What does standing order 319A say? -
An instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant
Is clause 3 of the Bill an amendment of the principal Act?
– It is a clear repeal of the existing Act.
– Is not a repeal an amendment ?
– Certainly not, but exactly the opposite.
– A repeal means destruction, but surely an amendment does not mean destruction?
– An amendment may mean destruction. When a motion is proposed, ‘ ‘ That ‘ ‘ for the purpose of so and so, such a thing should be done, it is competent for any honorable senator to move the omission of all the words after the word “That.” That is riot only an amendment, but in effect’ a repeal. It is an absolute destruction of the motion.
– It may be moved with a view to an enlargement of the motion.
– Yes; but the omission of the words is a destruction of the motion, unless other words are substituted. That is an amendment which every presiding officer must receive, although it is tanta mount to a repeal. Clause 3 says, “The Seat of Government Act 1908, is hereby repealed.” Will any honorable senator say that when that clause is called on, I shall not have the right to rise and move the addition of these words, “ with the exception of section 4?” Will any one take the ground that although the Bill proposes to repeal the whole of the Act, it is not competent for the Committee to agree to repeal the whole of the Act, except, say, sections 4, 5 and 6?
– I would point out that the Act deals with only one site - Yass-‘Canberra ; and it would not be competent for the Government under the Act to make an arrangement to take a site which is outside that area.
– I am not concerned with whether we get an opportunity to substitute Dalgety for Yass-Canberra, but with seeing that the interpretation of the new standing order is not going to be inconvenient to the Senate in the future. When clause 3 of the Bill is called on, would it not be competent for me to move the addition of the words “ with the exception of section 4,” which deals with the site of Yass-Canberra? If the Committee agreed to my amendment, it would continue the section of the Act of 1908 which specifies that Yass-Canberra shall be the district in which the Federal Capital shall be located. On my amendment, an amendment could be moved to omit the district of YassCanberra, with a view to inserting the district of Dalgety. So that, in Committee, we are entitled to do exactly what Senator Givens desires an instruction to do? He has taken a different method of arriving at the same object.
– Evidently he could not have agreed with that view.
– I do not care whether Senator Givens agrees with my view or not.
– I took the course I did in order to avoid the possibility of dispute or trouble.
– I am not concerned with whether Senator Givens agrees or disagrees with my view, but with the fact that we should not put upon the Standing Orders such a restricted meaning that we should be compelled to revive the whole subject.
– Or such a wide one that we could introduce any subject.
– Yes. All I. wish to do is to carry out the spirit of the standing order.
– Must .we not be governed by the preamble and title of the Bill?
– Not in the case of an instruction to the Committee on -the Bill.
– By the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– By means of an instruction, the Senate can give specific power to the Committee on the Bill. In the case of an ordinary amendment, we must be governed by the subject-matter of the Bill, and the subject-matter of clause 3 of this Bill is the repeal of the Act of 1908? A repeal is, I repeat, a form of an amendment ; in fact, the most extreme form of amendment.
– It practically destroys the whole thing.
– It amends it out of existence.
– Yes, but we can limit the repeal.
– I think that we can.
– The fact that we have the power to limit the repeal as to a certain section shows that the clause is, in effect, an amendment.
– Why is the repealing clause put in the Bill? Why should we repeal the Act?
– That is a question of policy. I should like you, sir, to reconsider your decision, because I am afraid that it puts too restricted a meaning upon the standing order. If the Senate is going to affirm that an amendment does not include repeal, I say that the time has arrived when the standing order should be further amended, so as to make it clear that it refers, not merely to Acts which are to be amended, but also to those which are to be repealed.
– I was particularly pleased to hear the assurance of Senator Pearce that he intended to approach the consideration of this matter from the stand-point of endeavouring to prevent any unnecessary restriction being imposed upon the Senate’s power of discussion. I hope to approach it in a similar spirit. Whatever may be our decision upon this matter, there is no possibility of preventing the Senate from expressing its views upon the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill. If a majority of honorable senators are opposed to YassCanberra, it is still possible for them to make their views known. One simple way in which they can effect their purpose is by striking out the schedule to the Bill. Indeed, the amendment of a clause would be fatal to it.
– We may effect our purpose by merely striking out the words “ Yass-Canberra.”
– Those words do not appear in the Bill. But my honorable friend agrees with me that it is possible* by recording a negative vote upon any vital clause, to turn down the Bill. One such opportunity has already been presented, namely, upon the motion for its second reading.
– If the supporters of the Bill absented themselves from the Chamber, it would be lost.
– The Bill will not be lost. The whole point of this discussion seems to me to turn upon the question of relevance. We have to ask ourselves whether the instruction which Senator Givens desires to give to the Committee is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. Now, what is the subject-matter of the Bill? Its purport is not to select a site for the Federal Capital. That was done under the Seat of Government Act of 1908.
– Another selection was made under the Seat of Government Act of 1904.
– But that Act has been repealed.
– And it is possible for this Parliament to repeal the Act which was passed last year.
– The question which I have to ask myself is, “ What is the subject-matter of this Bill ?” I say that its purport is not to select a site for the Seat of Government, but to approve or reject an agreement which has been reached between, the New South Wales and the Commonwealth Governments.
– Have we not power to alter the boundaries defined in that agreement ?
– If we do that, our action will amount, technically, to a rejection of the agreement.
– Are we not empowered to reject the agreement?
– Of course, we are. I do not suggest for a moment that the alteration of the boundaries specified in the agreement would be fatal to the Bill. Any such alteration would merely be an intimation to the contracting parties that those boundaries should be revised, so as to make them conform to that alteration. But, technically, it would amount to a rejection of” the agreement. I repeat that the subjectmatter of this Bill is the acceptance or rejection of an agreement which has been entered into between the New South Wales and the Commonwealth Governments. That agreement provides for the acceptance by the Commonwealth of a certain territory which has been surrendered by New South Wales. For honorable senators to argue that a proposal to instruct the Committee to substitute another territory for that defined in the agreement is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, is simply preposterous.
– Any such action would merely be an intimation to the contracting parties to the agreement to revise the boundaries which are specified in it.
– It would bc tantamount to a rejection of the agreement. I take it that any instruction or amendment must be in furtherance of the purpose of the Bill, and not in the nature of a direct negative of its purpose.
– Is not Dalgety already included in the agreement, for certain purposes ?
– Certainly. Under that agreement, it is proposed to give the Commonwealth power to draw upon the Snowy River and other streams for electrical and other purposes. But I again ask my honorable friend. “ What is the subjectmatter of the Bill ?’ ‘ It seems to me that it is a measure under which we are asked to sanction or reject a certain territory, which is clearly defined in the agreement. We cannot give an instruction to the Committee of the Senate, which would lie tantamount to a direct negative of the purpose of the Bill. That negative may be registered by a hostile vote.
– Paragraph 10 of the agreement shows that my proposed amendment is perfectly relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– Let me put it to my honorable friend in this way : Suppose that the Bill became law, and that, later on, a measure were introduced for the purpose of authorizing the laying of. the foundation stone of some central building in this particular territory. Can he con tend for a moment that a proposal to strike out the words “ Yass-Canberra,” with a view to substituting ‘ ‘ Dalgety “ would be relevant to the subject-matter of the measure? The subject-matter of this Bill is not the determination of the Federal Capital site. Its whole purpose is to declare whether or not we approve of ari agreement under which the New South Wales Government propose to surrender a certain territory, and the Commonwealth propose to accept it. To insert “ Dalgety “ in the agreement cannot be considered relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, because New South Wales has not offered to surrender any territory at Dalgety, and the point which we have to consider is, “ Shall we accept the territory which has been offered ?”
– Is not the VicePresident of the Executive Council rather discussing the Bill ?
– I am endeavouring to show that its purpose is not to determine the Federal Capital site.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is practically saying, “ Hands off the Bill.”
– It does seem a curious thing that, whilst honorable senators opposite claim that they are endeavouring to view this matter free from any party influence, they are unable to credit others with being animated by similar motives. I have already said that the Senate must necessarily have a free hand in this matter, and, therefore, it is idle to urge that I am suggesting “ Hands off the Bill.” But, as the purpose of the measure is not to determine the Federal Capital site, I contend that any instruction which would authorize the Committee of the Senate to consider the question of a site, is irrelevant to the Bill, the sole object of which is the acceptance by the Commonwealth of the territory which has been surrendered by New South Wales, and the approval or otherwise of the agreement. That is my view of the matter. I cannot understand the contention of Senator Pearce that, even if the decision of the Senate be fatal to the instruction which Senator Givens desires to give the Committee, it will still be competent for the same question to be revived in Committee. It does seem to me that if our decision is that the amendment covered by the proposed instruction is not within the compass of the Bill, it will not be competent in Committee for us to receive or adopt any similar amendment which tnay then be brought forward.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11.1]. - I do not like to allow this occasion to pass without offering one or two observations, because, as Senator Pearce has very properly said, the question at issue is one which will affect our future proceedings, and any standing order which may seem to restrict our freedom of debate ought to be very gravely considered. But I fear that I cannot agree with Senator Pearce, that the repeal of an Act is equivalent to its amendment. Of course, in one sense, the repeal of any clause of an Act is an amendment of it. But it is not an amendment in the sense that is contemplated by the standing order which was quoted yesterday, and- with which Senator Pearce has dealt. Clearly, the object of that standing order is to enlarge the power of instruction to a. Committee of the Senate, but to enlarge it within certain well-considered and beneficial limits. That is to say that, if the Government were to bring down a Bill to amend an Act, honorable senators should then be afforded an equal opportunity of submitting still further amendments with a view to improving the measure.
– That is the express design of the standing order.
– Whatever may be its express design, there is no doubt as to its meaning. Therefore, we ought not to strain its words for the purpose of enabling us to substitute something in the nature of an entirely different provision, which may have the effect of reopening the original subject of debate. Whilst we all admit that Senator Pearce is right in seeking to resist any possible restriction of debate, and to uphold the privileges of honorable senators, I think he must recognise that neither our freedom ot debate, nor our privileges, can be unduly curtailed by the construction which, I submit, ought to be placed upon the new standing order. If that be so, the foundation of the instruction which Senator Givens desires to give the Committee of the Senate fails, because it is quite clear that this Bill is not one similar to that which became an Act last year to determine in what district the Seat of Government of the. Commonwealth shall be located.
– But one of the objects of the Bill is to amend the Act of last year.
– To repeal it.
– I thought the honorable senator’ admitted that it was in the nature of an amendment.
– My honorable friend has apparently listened to only one part of a sentence in what I have said.
– Unfortunately, Senator Symon does not entertain the view that has just been expressed by Senator Trenwith.
– I do not know why this repeal clause has been inserted in the Bill. All that we did under the Seat of Government Act 1908 was to determine that the Seat of Government should be within the district of YassCanberra.
– We simply exercised our right under the Constitution to choose the territory.
– Exactly. We ought not now to place the Commonwealth Parliament upon a lower plane by declaring that because the New South Wales Parliament has offered us a different area,we are going to repeal our own legislation upon the subject.
– But, last year, we repealed the Seat of Government Act of 1904.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- I repeat, that the repeal clause in this Bill ought to be eliminated. All that the New South Wales Government have done is to declare what portion of the Yass-Canberra district they propose to offer to the Commonwealth. The presence of the repeal clause in this measure strengthens the position which has been taken up by Senator Givens very materially. If we do not interfere with the Seat of Government Act of 1908, this Bill will then be based on the assumption that the Commonwealth has chosen the Yass-Canberra district as that within which the Seat of Government must” be located. Under the agreement which we are asked, to ratify, the New South Wales Government have denned the portion of that district which they consider will be most suitable for our purposes. The one act follows naturally upon the other. Obviously, therefore, to propose the substitution of the Dalgety site for that of YassCanberra would be utterlv irrelevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. But if we repeal the Seat of Government Act of 1908, the whole question will be re-opened, because the position will then be that no district will have been selected by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be established. It is the repeal clause which causes all the difficulty and confusion. That clause being in the Bill, Senator Givens will be fairly entitled, when we get into Committee, to contend that it is open to him, without any instruction to the ‘Committee at all, to raise the question whether the Dalgety site should not be chosen.
– Then it must be open for the honorable senator to give an instruction with the same object.
– I think not. The inclusion of the repeal clause is a misadvertance. We have to consider the purpose of the Bill as approved on the second reading. That purpose is to decide whether or not a certain agreement shall be accepted. If we do not accept it there is an end of it.
– This is not a Bill to amend an Act.
– No, and, for the reasons I have given, I think the repeal clause should be struck out.
– When we come to the repeal clause in Committee, I can move, as an amendment, that only so much of the existing Act be repealed as I desire.
– I shall say nothing about that at present. It is not right that I should anticipate a ruling. So far as the instruction at present under consideration is concerned, it seems to me that it is either unnecessary or inconsistent with the declared purpose of the Bill, which is admitted to be a measure to accept, or to accept with modifications, a particular agreement. Senator Givens might have moved the amendment he desires to move on the second reading of the Bill. There was nothing to prevent him on the motion, “ That this Bill be now read a second time,” moving to strike out all the words after “ That,” with a view to inserting “ the district of Dalgety shall include the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth,” instead’ of the district of Yass-Canberra. The honorable senator’s opportunity to do that has passed, but he will- have another opportunity when the details of the agreement come to be discussed.
– If I could move my amendment on- the second reading, I can move it on the third reading.
– I think that the honorable senator will have other opportunities. It would be a pity if, under our new standing order, we should say that when we-have before us a Bill which purposes to repeal an existing Act it should be treated as a Bill to amend that Act, in order that amendments might be moved in respect of the previous legislation sought to be repealed. For the reasons I have given, I think the proposed instruction is not quite in order. As Senator Givens will have other opportunities of dealing with the matter, probably he will not press his motion.
– I should like to ask Sen’ator Pearce whether, assuming that clause 3 were hot in the Bill, he would still con- . tend that we could give the instruction, which Senator Givens desires, to the Cornmittee. I think the honorable senator’s case depends entirely upon the accident that clause 3 is in the Bill.
– Is the clause in the Bill by accident?
- Senator Symon pointed out that clause 3 is not an essential part of the Bill. What would Senator Pearce’s contention be if the Bill did not contain that clause when it passed its second reading?
– I should say then that we could not give the proposed- instruction.
– That is a strong admission against the position which the honorable senator is taking up. By a mere accident, due probably to an error in drafting, clause 3 is found in the Bill.
– Whether it is due to an error or not, the’ clause is there.
– I am showing how weak Senator Pearce’s contention is when he is obliged to rely upon a mere accident.
– The honorable senator has shown how strong it is, because he has to assume that clause 3 is not in the Bill in order to defeat the contention.
– The broad ground for asking that the President’s ruling should be disagreed “with is that honorable senators may have an opportunity to renew the battle of the sites for the Federal Capital on a Bill which, in every line of it, refers to the conditions and terms of the acceptance of a particular territory.
– That is not the ground for disagreeing with the ruling. The grounds are stated in the written notice which is before the honorable senator.
– I say that, supposing we assume-
– The honorable senator has no right to assume anything. He should confine himself to the notice of objection.
– The. honorable senator is surely within his rights in giving his reasons for the action ,he proposes to take.
– And I have a right to correct him.
– No; the .honorable senator has not that right.
– Then I rise to a point of order. Why should I be restricted in this way, when you, sir, ventured to correct Senator Pearce when he was addressing himself to the matter?
– Order. I point out that no honorable senator is entitled by interjection to direct any other honorable senator as to what he should do. If an honorable senator is transgressing any rule the proper course for those who object is to submit a point of order for the ruling of the Chair. Senator St. Ledger is endeavouring to debate the matter within reasonable limits, and to sustain the position lie desires to take up. I shall not give Senator St. Ledger any greater liberty than I shall be prepared to give Senator Givens, or any other member of the Senate.
– I was trying to state the case from the point of view put forward by Senator Givens himself. Assuming that the Senate disagree with the President’s ruling, as the honorable senator proposes, we might renew the whole battle of the sites on a Bill which, from beginning to end, is submitted to determine whether or not we shall accept certain territory offered to the Commonwealth by the Government of New South Wales. Senator Pearce has said that he is jealous of the privileges of every member of the Senate. We are all equally jealous of those privileges, but we should be careful not to interpret the Standing Orders in a way which would bring about chaos, and which would put no limit to the field over which our debates may roam. Without demanding a hard and fast determination of the Standing Orders, we should at all times be careful that debate shall be definitely directed to the subject-matter before us for discussion. It must be patent that if the ruling be disagreed with instead of deliberately directing our attention ito the question whether the territory offered by the Government of New South Wales shall be accepted or not, we shall have a fierce and prolonged contest over the mere question of sites. If the ruling were disagreed with we should have no finality upon this question. I repeat that Senator Pearce considerably weakened his own case when he admitted that were it not for the accidental existence of clause 3 in the Bill he could not support the contention of Senator Givens.
– What right have we to say that the existence of clause 3 in the Bill is an accident? It is there as theresuit of a deliberate act.
– If Senator Trenwith desires .that the Standing Orders should be literally interpreted, it is open to me to turn the tables upon him by insisting that clause 3 proposes the repeal, and not the amendment, of the existing Act.
– I shall compel the honorable senator to vote on my amendment even if I am defeated on this motion.
– There may be a hundred ways in which the honorable senator may attain his object, but I am contending now that he is proceeding in the wrong way in trying to have the President’s ruling reversed.
– ^ hare looked through the debate which took place a few years ago, when the amending standing order which has been referred to was adopted. There can be no doubt that the discussion shows that the intention was to amend the Standing Orders in the way suggested by Senator Givens. Before the standing order in question was adopted it was within the power of the President to refuse to accept any such motion as that proposed to be moved by Senator Givens, but under the new standing order the power is given to the Senate to instruct a Committee to consider a matter irrelevant to the clauses of a Bill so long as it relates to an Act proposed to be amended .by the Bill. Senator Givens’ proposed amendment has a direct relationship to the Act proposed to be repealed by this Bill, since it deals with the place to be chosen as the site for the Federal Capital. In the circumstances, I think, it comes directly within the new standing order.
– I feel the deepest possible regret at being compelled to the conclusion that in this matter, sir, your ruling is incorrect, and that if it were supported it would have the effect of restricting the power of the Senate in a direction that it took special pains to avoid. We amended our Standing Orders in order that we might have greater lati=tude in this particular direction. The only point on which there appears to be any doubt is as to whether a repeal may be properly described as an amendment. Senator Symon very properly, I think, admitted that, in a sense, to repeal is to amend.
– Not at all.
– Surely if we have legislation which we think prejudicial to the well-being of the Commonwealth, and we propose to repeal it, we propose to amend our legislation by its repeal? When the question of repealing a pernicious law is before us, it is perfectly competent in the process for any senator to suggest that, although in the main the law proposed to be repealed is undesirable, there are provisions of it which it would be wise to retain. I think it is obvious, therefore, that when we are asked under this Bill to repeal a particular law it will be perfectly competent for any member of the Senate to propose that certain provisions of it should be retained. Honorable senators should remember that we are now considering the adoption of a precedent. Some doubt has been expressed by Senator Symon as to whether it is not arguable that Senator Givens’ contention is correct. Indeed, the honorable senator believes that, even if the. President’s ruling be upheld, Senator Givens will have other opportunities to attempt what he desires.
– A dozen, and I shall take advantage of every one of them.
– The object of an instruction by the Senate to a Committee is to direct the attention of the Committee to something which it might do without direction, in other words, to insure matured thought. That is the only object of an instruction .to a Committee.
– I think that the honorable senator will find, on reference’ to May, that that is not the case.
– I cannot at this moment refer to May; but, certainly, my present impression is that the clear object of an instruction to a Committee is to direct the Committee to do something which it might do without an instruction.
– Something which might otherwise be overlooked.
– I think the honorable senator will find that he is mistaken.
– That is my view of the matter. We are invited to consider a certain agreement in connexion with the Bill, and I should like to refer to an observation made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in this connexion. The honorable senator has said that, while we have the power to reject the agreement, we have no further power. The agreement was made as a. recommendation to Parliament. It is not an agreement at all, ex11cept of a tentative character, because it was made by persons who had not the power to consummate it. It cannot be an agreement in the full sense of the term until this Parliament has ratified it, and while considering whether we should ratify it or not, we are obviously entitled to consider whether we should modify it. I say that or> the point of relevancy to the Bill and the agreement there is some farce in the contention put forward by Senator Givens, and, therefore, very reluctantly, I shall be compelled in this instance to disagree with the President’s ruling.
. -I think that the confusion “in this case has arisen from the way in which the Bill has been drafted. Regarding the Act passed last year as I do as one which determined the district in which the Federal capital is to be located, without fixing it within metes and bounds, I think it should never have been proposed to repeal it in this Bill. In drafting the Bill I should have recited the Act, and proceeded to declare that the Bill was to define the metesand bounds of the territory within the district chosen. But as the Act is drawn, I am inclined to think that this is an original Bill, and rather outside the new standing order. I think, however, that the whole point is governed by general principles which cannot be ignored by you, sir,, because if they were we should get into a very grave state of confusion. One of the general principles to which I allude is that we have passed the second reading of the Bill.
The second reading is the’ most important stage through which the Bill is required topass; for its whole principle is then at issue, and is affirmed or denied by a vote of theHouse.
What principle was affirmed by our agreeing to the second reading of this Bill? The only possible principle which we have affirmed is that the Capital Site is to be the one mentioned in the schedule of this agreement. We have absolutely affirmed the principle contained in clause 5 -
It is hereby declared and determined that the Seat of Government shall be in the Territory described, in the Second Schedule of this Act.
If honorable senators will glance over the various clauses they will find that every one will be waste-paper if clauses 4 and 5 are deleted. Having by agreeing to the second reading affirmed the principle contained in those two clauses, it would be subversive of all Parliamentary practice to allow that affirmation to be nullified by an instruction to the Committee on the Bill. The general principles to be observed are that the presiding officer cannot allow contradictory legislation, and that an amendment must be such as to further the object of the legislation. With regard to instructions to the Committee on a Bill, it is laid down in May -
The object of an instruction is therefore to endow a Committee with power whereby the Committee can perfect and complete the legislation denned by the contents of the Bill, or extend the provisions of a Bill to cognate objects, and an attempt to engraft novel principles into a Bill, which would be irrelevant, foreign, or contradictory to the decision of the House taken on the introduction and second reading of the Bill, is not within the due province of an instruction.
I would also contend that in agreeing to the second reading of the Bill we practically fixed the site of the Federal Capital, and while I think that the boundaries are open to alteration, it seems to me to be quite an unheard of proposition that, having decided where the site shall be, it is in any way relevant to the Bill to strike out the clause fixing the site, and insert a clause selecting an entirely new district. In doing that we should be nullifying what we have done, and repealing the Act.
– But the Bill proposes to repeal the Act.
– Why? Because by agreeing to the second reading we have practically affirmed the principle that the Act is to be repealed, and the Bill is to take its place.
– Oh, nol
– We have also affirmed that the site is to be that which is delineated on the map here, and proposed in the agreement. How can we affirm an agreement and the location of a territory, and then suppose that we can be allowed to alter that affirmation?
– - Senator Symon does not seem to be aware of the difficulties under which the Senate was labouring with regard to the Bill. He said that the proper course for me to have pursued was to move an amendment tothe motion for the second reading. When I addressed myself to that question the agreement was not before the Senate. We did not know what it contained, and at that time it had not been’ even signed by the contracting parties. Therefore, to that extent, I was in the dark, and did not have that opportunity which the honorable and learned senator seemed to think that I did have. So much for that line of argument. It is wonderful to me how, when any course which is proposed to be taken is objectionable to some honorable senators, they will discover a hundred and one other ways. But any way in which you do propose to do a thing is always the wrong one. I do not want to shelter myself behind any tactics. I consider that I took the proper course by moving for an instruction, but I can see a dozen courses which are still open to me, and of which I propose to avail myself if I am deprived of this one. There are only two grounds on which I have moved to dissent from the President’s ruling. Senator St. Ledger was kind enough to say that I had several other motives, but in saying that he was assuming far too much. The grounds on which I propose to dissent from the ruling were distinctly stated by me in writing, and he was not entitled to assume anything else. Those two grounds, sir, were, first, that you are mistaken in saying that my proposition was not relevant to the Bill, and, secondly, that your ruling would be an undue restriction upon honorable senators, and deprive them of the right to exercise their independent judgment on the question. With regard to the question of relevancy, let me point out, as others have pointed out, that this is not an original Bill. It is a Bill dealing with a matter on which Parliament has already legislated. Clause 3 says - “ The Seat of Government Act 1908 is hereby repealed.” But the Bill does a great deal more than repeal the Act. It proposes to substitute something in place of the Act, and, therefore, to all intents and purposes, no matter what construction mav be put on the words, it is an amending Bill. We are amending our legislation by repealing the Act of 1908, and putting another measure in its place. Absolutely without question it is an amending Bill, and, therefore,- I contend that it comes within the scope of the standing order which says that it is competent for the Senate to give to the Committee, on an amending Bill, an instruction on a matter which is not relevant to that Bill, but which is relevant to the subject-matter of the Act which it is> proposed to amend. I contend that it cannot be successfully disputed that this is to all intents and purposes an amending Bill. Therefore, sir, I think you are mistaken in the ruling which you gave in that connexion. With regard to the relevancy of my proposal, it has not been contended by the Minister, or anybody else, that the boundaries that are proposed in the agreement, which is not yet embodied in the Bill, cannot be amended in any particular. As a matter of fact, since the second-reading debate was initiated several amendments have been suggested. We have been furnished with a map showing amendments of the boundaries of the area proposed to be surrendered at Jervis Bay. It is possible that, in the light of further discussion, it may seem desirable to the Senate to have further alterations of the boundaries. Now, Dalgety is not nearly so far away from the proposed site as the land which has been included in the amended boundaries on the foreshores of Jervis Bay. I, therefore, contend that it is quite possible for the Senate to alter the boundaries, going even as far away as Dalgety is, in the Bill without departing in the slightest degree from its subject-matter. If honorable senators will refer to the agreement, copies of which have been distributed, they will see that clause 10 says -
The State shall grant to the Commonwealth, without payment therefor, the right to use the waters of the Snowy River, and such other rivers as may be agreed upon, or, in default of agreement, may be determined by arbitration, for the generation of electricity for the purposes of the Territory, and to construct the works necessary for that purpose, and to conduct the electricity so generated to the Territory.
Every one knows that Dalgety is on the banks of the Snowy River ; the right to take water therefrom and construct works thereon for the use of the territory which it is proposed in the Bill to accept is given to the Commonwealth by the agreement. A number of honorable senators may be of opinion that, if we are to have the right to the use of the waters of the river at that place, and also the right to construct works there, it would be eminently desirable to have, and to use, that territory as our own, and not as State territory, and that it should be included in the territory which is to be surrendered as portion of the Federal Capital site territory. I contend that, viewed in that light, my proposal was indisputably relevant to the Bill. And that being so, sir, I think I can reasonably contend that you made a mistake in ruling otherwise. It is proposed by the Bill to deal with the Act of 1908. When the question is put from the Chair in Committee that clause 3 stand part of the Bill, it will be possible for me to move to amend the clause, which reads -
The Seat of Government Act 1908 is hereby repealed.
I can move, as an amendment, that only a certain portion, or certain words, of the Act be repealed, and that the rest shall stand. If that be so - and I contend that it cannot be denied - the Committee would have the right to amend the Bill accordingly. In any view which may be taken of my proposal, it cannot reasonably be ruled out of order as being irrelevant. With regard to the second ground of my objection to the ruling, it seems to me, sir, that there is a sort of organized conspiracy on behalf of the Government to unduly restrict the right of private senators to exercise their independent judgment with regard ta the settlement of this important question.
– I point out to the honorable senator that it is not a question of the Government doing that, but a question of whether my ruling will have that’ effect. I am entirely dissociated from the Government in the matter.
Senators GIVENS. - I shall not pursue that line of argument.
– I may also tell the honorable senator that no member of the Government was aware of the ruling which I intended to give.
– That does not alter rr.y view in any way, because in my speechyesterday I acquitted every member of the Senate of having, so far as I knew, taken the point of order, and said that you bad only done so in your undoubted rightto use a discretion in the matter. Therefore it is not necessary for me to deal with that point again. No matter whowants it done, or whether no one wants it done, the point, sir, is that your ruling will unduly prevent honorable senators from exercising their independent judgment. We. are virtually told that we must not alter this, that, or the other thing, that we must accept what is placed before us, and that, like an infant, we must close our eyes and open our mouths and swallow the medicine, whether we like it or not. I do not think that that is a dignified position for the Senate to occupy. I believe that it is competent for the Senate, especially in view of what Senator Symon said, to amend this tentative agreement. As Senator Trenwith so cogently pointed out, it is an agreement entered into by parties who have no right or power to consummate it. As a matter of fact, if it were adopted by the Parliament, still it would not be an agreement, as it would have to be dealt with by the State Parliament. Therefore, I contend that at this stage it is altogether improper to say that we cannot alter the boundaries. That being so, I hope that the ruling will not be agreed to, and that such an undue restriction will not be put upon our rights to adopt a course which in their wisdom may seem good to the majority. We ought to have the right to amend the Bill, and say in what direction the boundary shall go, what form or shape the territory shall be, what river shall be included therein, and what particular watershed shall be included for the water supply area of the Capital, and other details of a like nature. As the town of Dalgety is only about 80 miles in a straight line from the district of Canberra, it is quite possible that it could be included by an alteration of boundaries, in the same territory as Canberra. As the territory is supposed to be 900 square miles, we could have a strip 80 miles long by nearly 12 miles wide, and it would not be so outrageous in appearance as the areas delineated on some of the maps hanging in the chamber. If that is so, sir - and it cannot be denied - I contend that my proposal was perfectly relevant, and that your ruling would be an undue restriction upon the right of honorable senators to exercise their independent judgment. That is a right which ought to be jealously conserved, and on these grounds I intend to press my motion to a division.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st October, vide page 4812).
Clause 1 agreed . to.
– Before talcing the ballot in connexion with the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the subject-matter of the motion submitted by Senator Pearce, it may be well for me to read the standing order relating to the method of procedure to be adopted, so that honorable senators may know exactly what has to be done. Standing order 343 provides -
The ballot shall be taken in the following manner : - Each senator present shall give to the Clerk a list of the names of such senators as he may think fit and proper to be chosen al such ballot; and if any list contain a larger or lesser number of names than are to be chosen, it should be void and rejected. And when all the lists are collected, the Clerk, with the mover acting as scrutineer, shall ascertain and report to the President the names of the senators having the greatest number of votes, which senators shall be declared to be chosen. If two or more senators have an equality of. votes, the President shall determine by lot which shall be chosen.
The Standing Orders also provide for the appointment of seven honorable senators upon any Select Committee, so that it will be necessary for honorable senators to vote for that number- neither more nor less. Printed lists of the names of honorable senators will be handed round the chamber, and I would suggest that honorable senators should then put a cross opposite the names of those whom they desire to serve upon the Committee.
– Will there be any necessity for us to initial our ballot papers ?
A ballot having been taken -
– I have to announce to honorable senators the result of the ballot which has been taken. It appears that there are three honorable senators who have received an equal number of votes, and it is necessary that two of these should be selected in order to complete the Select Committee. The standing order provides that if two or more honorable senators receive an equality of votes, the President shall determine by lot who shall be chosen. I therefore propose to have placed in the vessel on the table three papers bearing the names of the three honorable senators who have received an equal number of votes. I shall then direct the Clerk-Assistant to withdraw two of the papers, and -the names which they bear will be the names of the honorable senators required to complete the Committee.
- Assistant having withdrawn two papers from the vessel.
– I have to announce that, as the result of the ballot, the following honorable senators have been elected to form the Select Committee : - Senators Pearce, Dobson, Findley, Givens, Guthrie, Neild, and Pulsford. The second part of the motion will, therefore, read -
That the Committee consist of Senators Pearce, Dobson, Findley, Givens, Guthrie, Neild, and Pulsford.
There is another motion that it is necessary to submit, in order that the Committee may have power to send for persons, papers, and records. When this matter was alluded to last night, I was under the impression that the Standing Orders provided that all Select Committees appointed by the Senate should have the right to send for persons, papers, and records. On referring to the Standing Orders, however, I find that, without a separate motion, the right is confined solely to the Committee of Elections and Qualifications. I therefore now put the motion -
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Pulsford, Findley, Dobson, Neild, Guthrie, Givens, and the Mover.
In Committee (Consideration resumed vide page 4909) :
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The Seat of Government Act1908 is hereby repealed.
– I should like to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has any reason to offer why certain provisions of the existing Act should not be retained. There are some provisions of the Act dealing with the resumption of land.
– Those are repeated, with a slight alteration, in clause 12 of this Bill.
– There is still another point to be considered. The Act of 1908 is an expression by this Parliament that it has exercised its constitutional right to make a choice of the territory.
– I have no objection to the omission -of the clause.
– I think it ought to be left out. I think there should be some record on our statute-book that this Parliament has made a choice.
– I do not consider the clause material, but it was thought desirable to confine the declarations on this matter within the compass of one Act. Clause 12 of this Bill proposes a slight alteration of section 6 of. the existing Act ; but instead of proposing an amendment of the existing Act in the way provided for in clause 12, it was deemed desirable to repeal the Act altogether, and re-enact certain provisions. I have no objection, if the Committee desires it, to leave the clause out, as I think that, for all practical purposes, its retention would be immaterial.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.30]. - I think this matter deserves a little consideration, although I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that this clause ought to be left out. There is another clause which I think ought to be left cut; otherwise I am afraid that it will reopen the whole question of Dalgety versus Yass-Canberra.
In 1908 the Parliament determined that the Seat of Government should be in the district of Yass-Canberra, and that decision remains on the statute-book.
– This is a Bill to more accurately define the site.
– No. This is a Bill, not to more accurately de-‘ fine what the Parliament did in the Act of 1908, but to select an area in the district of Yass-Canberra which the State Parliament has agreed that we may have as a Federal Territory, and within which, of course, the Capital would be built.
– This clause will define the boundaries by ratifying the first schedule which it is proposed to insert.
– That is so, but we do not want to repeal the Seat of Government Act of 1908.
– I am not suggesting that we do.
– I think that, in the interests of the dignity of this Parliament, that Act ought to remain on the statute-book. We should adhere to our choice, and ought not to allow any one to reopen the question, if it can be helped. If we strike out the clause, the Bill will not be inconsistent with the Act, but will be in furtherance of what we did in 1908. We then took one step, and we are now asked to take another step - to say that by an arrangement with the Government and Legislature of New South Wales a certain area shall be carved out of the district within which the Federal Parliament has determined by its legislation the Seat of Government shall be. Senator Givens made a reference to clause 5 ; hut that is very like the provision which we had in the Bill submitted last year, bringing again before Parliament the determination of the Seat of Government. That is not what we are here to do at all. We are here to define a lesser area within the large district which we chose. We do no want the whole district of Yass-Canberra, and the State Legislature has kindly helped us to choose a portion which will be sufficient, namely, an area of 800 or 900 square miles. The two measures must run together, otherwise we shall be continually reopening the question, and never know where we are. Clause S ought also to be struck out, although that is not very important if we delete clause 3- I suggest to my honorable friend that the decision of this Parliament to choose the district df Yass-Canberra ought to remain, and that we ought now to say what part of that district we intend to take.
Clause 4 (Ratification of agreement).
– If we agree to this clause we shall ratify the agreement. I suggest to the Minister that the clause ought to be postponed until that question has been dealt with.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council [12.36]. - I have no objection to the postponement of the clause if, as I anticipate, the desire is to prepare the way for a test vote between those who still have a lingering regard for Dalgety and those who support the Bill as it stands. It appeared to me that a test vote could be taken just as well on clause 4 as on clause 5. At the same time it is immaterial to me on which provision it is taken. I take it, however, that the supporters of rival sites will ask for one fair test vote, and will accept the decision as final. I move -
That the clause be postponed until after the consideration of the first schedule.
– It is just possible that if the clause is postponed and a test vote is taken on it some supporters of Yass-Canberra might, whilst selecting that site, wish to amend the agreement.
– The clause if postponed will not be considered until after the agreement has been dealt with.
– I do not wish to select this clause for the purpose of taking a test vote, because I believe that the agreement is capable of improvement.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.38]. - The test vote is, I understand, to be taken, not on this clause, but on clause 5. Perhaps it might facilitate business if clause 4 and the other clauses -were postponed until the agreement has been dealt with.
– Hear, hear; that would be better.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be a waste of time to discuss the agreement if the Senate is really in favour of reverting to Dalgety ?
– I’ do not think that it would be, but I do not intend to press my suggestion.
Motion agreed to ; clause postponed.
Clause S -
It is hereby declared and determined that the Seat of Government shall be in the
Territory described in the second schedule to this Act.
– With a. view to the taking of a test vote, I move -
That all the words after the word “Territory “ be left out.
If those words are deleted, my intention is to move the insertion of words indicating the selection of the Dalgety district as the site.
– What words does the honorable senator propose to insert?
– I propose to insert the words “ within a certain radius of the town of Dalgety, in the State of New South Wales. “ ‘
– That is, if the honorable senator succeeds in deleting the words “ described in the second schedule to this Act”?
– Yes. I do not propose at this stage to occupy very much time, because the pros and cons of the several sites have been discussed at such length that there is really nothing new to be said. ‘What moves me particularly to favour the selection of Dalgety rather than Yass-Canberra are two facts. One fact is that Dalgety undoubtedly has the advantage of an unrivalled water supply. Everybody will agree that for the purposes of a large city that is an advantage which cannot, and should not, be overlooked. A water supply such as is possessed by Dalgety has many and great advantages with regard to the selection of a site. If the Capital were established in that district it would give us an unfailing and practically unlimited supply of the purest and best water for domestic and civic purposes. Further than that, the Snowy River presents opportunities for developing the largest possible amount of electric power at the lowest possible cost. I anticipate that in time to come the Capital, in addition to being the political centre of the Commonwealth, will also be a hive of industry. I do not see why in the territory we should not develop industries in many directions ; why it should not be an important manufacturing and commercial centre. For those reasons it is important that we should have some means of generating the power which will be required at the cheapest possible rate. It is known to honorable senators that no source of power is so cheap and .effective, or can be used to such advantage as water power when it is available. There can be no question that it is available in the vicinity of the Snowy River. It would be an immense advantage to have cheap electric power, generated by water, for running a city tramway service, electric lighting service and power service. AH these advantages the Snowy River would confer upon us at Dalgety, whereas the Yass-Canberra area can offer us no such advantages. That is one point of view which ought certainly to commend itself to honorable senators in the selection of the Federal Capital site. I hold in my hand a letter which I have received from- a gentleman who is entitled to write the letters M.R.S.A. after his name, and who is a certificated trigonometrical computer and a draughtsman, and astronomical meteorologist. I do not propose to give his name.
– If the honorable senator reads the letter, he will have to lay it upon the table of the Senate.
– I intend to read it. It is as follows -
One of the greatest objections to the YassCanberra site for the Federal Capital is that it is a drought-stricken locality. The average annual rainfall is good (twenty-six inches), but it is subject to alternate droughts and floods. As much as ten or twelve inches of rain occasionally fall in a few days, and twenty inches in three or four months ; but these heavy downfalls are invariably followed by long periods of drought, very little rain falling throughout the whole of some winters. During such seasons, which average about two out of three, the crops are very poor, even orchards failing to yield their increase. These facts, together with the fact that the water supply necessary for the domestic purposes of a great city is only obtainable at immense cost, . should arouse every patriotic citizen of the Commonwealth to exert his utmost endeavours to prevent the Federal Capital being established in such a place. Under the conditions mentioned, epidemics would doubtless be a frequent occurrence. It is obvious, therefore, that the site is a most unsuitable one. And further, Jervis Bay is not a good harbor-
– It is a very good harbor. I know that, because I was there forty years ago.
– The writer continues - whereas Dalgety is in every respect a suitable site for the Capital, and its port - Twofold Bay - one of the finest harbors in the most picturesque part of Australia.
– The writer has never seen a navy chart, or he would not say that Jervis Bay is not a good harbor.
– I have read the letter for what it is worth.
– It is not worth much.
– It ought to be worth something, seeing that it comes from a certificated trigonometrical computer and draughtsman and astronomical meteorologist. . Is it not a fact that the only place in the Yass-Canberra district, for which any records are available, is the second driest locality in New South Wales?
– Some of those who make such statements will go to a much drier place.
– This is not a question of mere assertion or of contradiction. It is a question of statistics, which have been compiled by New South Wales Government officials. The information in reference to the site can be obtained from the Statistical Register of that State. That being so, how can honorable senators reconcile the selection of Yass-Canberra with their consciences?
– Perhaps they are not burdened with consciences.
– Very likely. But I have known occasions upon which politicians have deemed it advisable to develop a conscience. How can honorable senators opposite reconcile the selection of YassCanberra with their avowed desire to do what is best in the interests of Australia? According to the Statistical Register of New South Wales, the only spot within the Yass-Canberra area of which we have any rainfall records, is the second driest locality in that State.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that Bourke is not drier?
– The only place in New South Wales which has a less rainfall, than has Queanbeyan, in the Yass-Canberra district, is Broken Hill.
– The honorable senator must be dreaming.
– Then I would refer mv honorable friend to the Statistical Register of New South Wales for the year 1907.
– Does the honorable senator say that there is some spot in the Yass-Canberra area which has a lower rainfall than has any other place in New South Wales, with the exception of Broken Hill ?
– I say that the only spot in that area in respect of which records are available, possesses a lower rainfall than does any other locality in New South Wales, with the exception of the far western districts, of which Broken Hill is it fair sample.
-Either the honorable senator is absolutely wrong, or there is a misprint in the official return.
– Then upon what are we to rely ? Are we to assume that the records supplied to us by the New South Wales authorities are full of misprints?
SenatorFraser. - The honorable senator is absolutely wrong, no matter what the returns may be.
– Queanbeyan is not within the proposed Federal territory.
– I did not say that it was. But it is the only spot in the YassCanberra district for which rainfall records have been kept, and those records show that it is the second driest locality in New South Wales.
– There are lots of drier places than is Broken Hill in that State.
– There may be, but we have no records of the rainfall at them.
– The rainfall of 23 inches which obtains at Yass-Canberra is not so bad.
– But the rainfall there is only about 11 inches.
– The average rainfall there is about n inches.
– The honorable senator would not like to wager upon the accuracy of that statement.
– I have not made any statement upon my own ipse dixit. I have merely quoted figures which can be verified by reference to the official statistics of New South Wales.
– What is the average rainfall at Dalgety ?
– It is good, and the water supply there, apart from the rainfall, is unrivalled. The Snowy River is fed by the highest mountain peak in New South Wales - I refer to Kosciusko. ‘ The best water supply there is available during the driest portion of the year, because if is then that the sun melts the snow upon the mountains, and causes it to flow down the river. Now let us contrast the advantages offered by Dalgety from the stand-point of its accessibility to the sea with those which are offered by Yass-Canberra. The statement has been frequently made that the Australian auxiliary squadron always proceeds to Jervis Bay for the purpose of indulging in gun practice. But why do the vessels of the squadron visit that place? Because it is practically an open roadstead in which their guns can be fired without the slightest clanger. I admit that Jervis Bay is a line bay, but it is not a good harbor. Nobody can suggest that Port Phillip itself - apart from the bays which indent its shores - is a good harbor for vessels. In times of storm, it does not even offer tc ships a safe anchorage. At such times, a violent sea is raised within it, and only quite recently, as a result of the stormy conditions which obtained, one of the big White Star liners actually broke from her moorings at the Railway Pier at Port Melbourne. If such conditions apply to Port Phillip, they must also apply to an open roadstead like that of Jervis Bay. On the other hand, Dalgety has a port of its own - that of Twofold Bay - which, with a very moderate expenditure, could be made one of the safest and most easily accessible harbors on the coast of Australia.
– Forty-five years ago, when I was aboard the Hellespont, that vessel was driven before a great storm, and compelled to take refuge in Jervis Bay.
– I do not understand the point of the honorable senator’s interjection, but perhaps there is no point in it. I repeat that with a very moderate expenditure upon it, Twofold Bay could be made a good harbor, and it could also be made to serve the requirements of a large tract of country which up to the present time has not been adequately served.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the luncheon adjournment I was discussing the question of the rainfall in the Canberra district. Some pretty warm interjections and- contradictions were made, and I believe that some honorable senators understood me to say that the New South Wales official returns showed that the Canberra district had an average rainfall of only 11 inches per annum. If I’ said that, I made a mistake. I did not intend to say so. What I hope I said was that the lowest record for Canberra, taken over one year, showed that the total rainfall was 11 inches. That was in the year 1902. It must be apparent to anybody who considers the subject, that a city is dependent upon its rainfall for its water supply. The supply of water to a city is and must always be governed by its lowest rainfall in any one year. You cannot afford to wait for the nextyear or the year after to level up the average to your requirements; nor can you afford to go in for ‘any large storage scheme if the best results are to be obtained. The first es sential in the interest of health and sanitation is a full and free supply of the purest water; and it is impossible to obtain a pure supply from a storage source. You must have water which has freshly fallen from the heavens, and which flows free and limpid down the streams. That is the only kind of water supply that is suitable. Consequently, a city supply is necessarily governed by the lowest rainfall which can be expected in that particular locality. Having almost the whole of New South Wales at our disposal, it would ill become this Parliament to select nearly the worst site in that State. That, is a very strong statement, but I intend to prove it from figures supplied by the New South Wales Government in their Statistical Register. Another point raised this morning concerned a statement of mine as to the rainfall at ‘Canberra being lower than that of any place in New South Wales, with the exception of Broken Hill. That statement is true in a sense, though I find on further inquiry, and on a fresh examination of the facts, that it requires modification. But the only modification required is this. - that the rainfall at Canberra is lower than that of any place in New South Wales with the exception of the country of which Broken Hill is typical.
– That statement is just as incorrect as the honorable senator’s previous statement.
– If the honorable senator wishes me to do so, I will quote the whole of the figures and put them into Hansard, so that the public may judge.
– I assure the honorable senator that I do not want that; but he will admit that I have drawn attention to one error in his remarks.
– The honorable senator has drawn attention to a statement which required a modification, which I have freely made, and if he can show me how my amended statement is wrong I willfreely correct that. On pages 731 and 732 of the Statistical Register of NewSouth Wales for 1907 and previous years, will be found records of rainfall at variousstations. It is a comparative statement. This rainfall includes the dew, so that it is fairly comprehensive. I find that for the purposes of this record New SouthWales is divided into groups of districts - the North Coast district, the Hunter and Manning district, the Metropolitan district, the South Coast, the northern tableland, the central tableland, the southern tableland, the north-western slope, the central western slope, the south-western slope, the north-western plain, the central western plain, Riverina, and the western division. Apart from the far western districts, there were eighty stations from which observations were taken for the years 1902-3-4-5-6 and 7. Of all those stations, comprising three-fifths of New South Wales, in the dry year of 1902 Queanfceyan,which was the station nearest to the suggested site, had the lowest rainfall. To find a lower rainfall one has to go to the far western, district of New South Wales, of which Broken Hill is a typical place. The only places which had a lower rainfall in that year than Queanbeyan were two in the north-western plains, one in the central western plain, three in the Riverina district, and ten in the far western division. I shall quote the. figures from 1903 to 1907 inclusive. The year 1902 was the driest year. In that year the Canberra district had the lowest rainfall in New South Wales, with the exception of the far western districts.
– There was no rainfall at all in pretty well the whole of Queensland that year.
– Whilst the Canberra district only had 11 inches the Dalgety district, as shown by the record at Boinbala, had a rainfall of 26 inches.
– The whole of Gippsland had a heavy tainfall that year, and so had Colac and Camperdown.
– These facts showthat compared with every other place in New South Wales possible for a Capital Site Canberra had the worst rainfall.
– No, one portion of the district.
– That is quite true, but take the other portion - Yass, which is on the other side of the suggested Capital. There the rainfall was only 13 inches.
– The rainfall at Canberra averages 25 inches.
– It does not average anything of the sort.
– Yes it does.
– The honorable senator cannot get away from that fact.
– I repeat that out of the eighty stations to which I have drawn attention, Queanbeyan had the lowest rainfall of any place in New South Wales except the western district.
– In the year 1902?
– No, I am. now taking an average of years. The average rainfall in Queanbeyan, extending over a series of years, is 23 inches ; in Yass 25 inches.
– In South Australia if we get a rainfall of 20 inches we consider that it is extra good.
– At Oodnadatta they would consider 8 inches in a year a fine rainfall. But we are talking about New South Wales, and I want to know why we should deliberately choose the worst place - the place which has the lowest rainfall in the whole available country, with the exception of the far west district.
– If there is enough, why worry about the matter?
– Why choose the worst place?
– We think it is the best place.
– The honorable senator cannot think that Canberra has the best rainfall.
– Decidedly it has not.
– I am considering the matter from a particular point of view just now, and I repeat that Parliament is about deliberately to choose the worst available place in New South Wales, because no one expects the Capital to be put in the far western district.
– The honorable senator evidently does not think much of my judgment.
– I have to take the facts as I find them, and the facts are that the Canberra district had the iworst average rainfall of the whole of the eighty stations mentioned in this return for the years which I have mentioned.
– The Federal Capital will never be an- immense city.
– The honorable senator cannot do better than look up the predictions which were made concerning Washington 100 years ago, when the United States had about the same population as we have to-day.
– The American people did not say that the whole district was , a God-forsaken place, as the honorable senator has described Canberra as being.
– I am taking the official figures.
– I suppose the honorable senator would regard 25 inches as a good rainfall.
– It is not equal to the record on the Darling Downs, where, however, the rainfall is not supposed to be particularly good. Yet the average is 29 inches at Toowoomba., and 26 inches at Warwick at the other end of the Downs. With regard to’ another aspect of the question, I have a particular fancy for the Dalgety country, because the selection of it as a site for’ the Federal Capital would have the effect of opening up one of the empty spaces of Australia, namely, the north-eastern district of Victoria and the south-eastern district of New South Wales. It would open up a very large tract of good and fertile country, as well as a large area of medium and average country capable of supporting a very large population if it were properly developed. In my opinion, there is nothing which would give such a stimulus to the settlement of people in that country as the putting down of the Federal Capital in the middle of it. It would be equal to adding a new province to Australia. ‘ It would be reasonable to expect that (within the next twenty years the district would carry a quarter of a million or three hundred thousand people. Surely we want to open up those empty spaces which are capable of close settlement: Again, by placing the FederalCapital at Dalgety, we should open a direct route to markets by constructing a railway to Twofold Bay. Probably one of the reasons why Sydney is so strenuously against Dalgety is that the people of that city fear that if the Federal Capital were placed there the result would be to divert a good deal of the trade that now goes to Sydney.
– There is no fear of that sort. .
– The Sydney people are afraid of many things which they need not fear.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator entitled to raise the question of another site for the Federal Capital apart from that proposed by the Bill based upon the agreement that has been made?
– References to the subject -were allowed in the Senate, and 1 do not feel inclined to disallow them now.
– I am not aware that a point of order was raised in the Senate.
– I have had an opportunity of discussing the matter with the President.
– What has that to do with the Committee?
– I rule now that Senator Givens is not out of order.
– I do not propose to delay the Committee much longer. ‘I have mentioned the reasons which I think should weigh . with the Committee in preferring Dalgety to Yass-Canberra. I believe that extraneous interests should not be allowed to influence honorable senators in their selection. If honorable senators representing Queensland ‘consulted their own convenience, they would vote for the site nearest to their own State. As Dalgety is further from Queensland than is YassCanberra, I can claim that I am not considering the question from a selfish point of view. I advocate the selection of Dalgety from the national point of view. Its selection would lead to the settlement and development of a large area of country that is now comparatively speaking a wilderness, and it would open up new trade routes, which would be of advantage to the whole of Australia. The Dalgety site is better fitted than is the Yass-Canberra site for the foundation “of a great city, as at Dalgety the people of the Federal Capital would have ready and cheap access to means for meeting all their requirements, including, especially, an abundance of water for domestic and civic purposes, and for the generation of power and light. I hope that honorable members will pause before they make their final selection, and that instead of selecting Yass-Canberra they will return again to their first love and select Dalgety.
– In supporting the amendment, I should like to say that some honorable senators appear to have overcome the disposition displayed hitherto during the present session to delay the settlement of any question, and now desire that in connexion with this measure we should proceed with undue haste. I wish again to emphasize my opposition to what, if it is carried out, will, in my opinion, come to be regarded as one of the most evil deeds recorded in the history of this Parliament.We are being asked to take over a considerable area of land that has been proved by experience to be utterly useless to the people of New South Wales. I believe it is offered to us now only because the people of that State desire-
– To get rid of it?
– Exactly, to be rid of what they regard as an incubus. There is a desire at the same time to prevent the selection of a site for the Federal Capital which, if itwere selected, would in a few years entirely change the position of industrial affairs in New South Wales. I have no wish to injure the people of Sydney, or to do anything opposed to the interests of that city, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that if Dalgety were selected as the site of the Federal Capital, it would soon become the great centre of industry for the whole of Australia. The Yass-Canberra district is useless for agricultural purposes.
– I should like to have1,000 acres at Canberra.
- Senator W. Russell seems to be under the impression that we are selecting a Federal Capital site with a view to the Cultivation of cabbage gardens and wheat paddocks. The Commonwealth Parliament has no such idea in view in the establishment of the Federal Capital. It is not proposed that we should take over- an area of country for farming purposes. That is the very last thing that the Commonwealth Parliament would do. However, as Senator W. Russell has seen in the Yass-Canberra district, a patch of moderately good agricultural country, the question is solved for him, and he believes that that is the place where the Federal Capital should be established. Senators Lynch and Givens have referred to an adequate water supply for the future Federal Capital as a matter of first importance. It is proposed under this Bill that we should select a site where, taking the most favorable view of it, the water supply available will be insufficient for other than domestic purposes. We are asked at the same time to reject a site which would afford the most economical industrial facilities that could be provided in any part of the Commonwealth. That cannot be denied. In passing this measure, therefore, honorable senators should remember that they are deliberately adopting a course which will for all time place the people who will live within the FederalTerritory under considerable disability.They will be rendering it impossible for this Parliament to choose a site which would carry millions of people, which would afford facilities for economical industrial development, and which nature indicates as the best that could be selected for the purpose in the interests of the people of Australia.
– The selection of Yass-Canberra will indicate the wisdom of the present Parliament.
– In my opinion the selection of Yass-Canberra will hereafter be referred to as proof of the imbecility of those responsible for it. I shall support the amendment.
– I do not wish to repeat anything that has already been said. But I wish to set myself right with the Minister in charge of the Bill. The honorable senator disputed my statement on the second reading that the various conclusions arrived at by those who have submitted reports on this question for our guidance, left us in a state of bewilderment. If the Minister will refer to page 15 of the pamphlet containing the debate in the New South Wales Parliament on this subject, he will find that Premier Wade is reported to have said -
Mr. De Burgh supplies these figures in his report : Taking the main supply of the Cotter at the rate of 100 gallons per head per day it would supply by gravitation 590,000 people.
Mr. De Burgh, in a later report, says that the Cotter River supply would meet the requirements of 250,000 people, and the Advisory Board appointed by the Commonwealth authorities, advises that the Cotter supply would be sufficient for only 200,000, and that if the intention were to utilize the supply for the generation of power, as well as for domestic and civic purposes, it would be equal to the requirements of only 50,000 people. I feel that honorable senators, in selecting the YassCanberra site, will be inflicting serious hardship upon the people who will have to live in the future Federal Capital, and will involve them in unreasonable expense in developing it, and in providing it with an adequate water supply. This, I believe, is the last opportunity we shall have of recording our protest against a proposal to establish the Federal Capital on what appears to me to be the most unsuitable site that could be selected for the purpose. There is no doubt that the Yass-Canberra site is not to be compared with Dalgety, Bombala, Tumut, or Tooma. I should like to ask honorable senators on this side who have changed their minds, why they have paid no attention to the advice given them by the four experts appointed by the Federal Government. Those gentlemen have said that the Cotter River, which is the principal source of the water supply for the Yass-Canberra site, would afford, a supply for domestic purposes and the generation of power equal to the requirements of only 50,000 people. I feel that the Federal Parliament will be guilty of a most foolish, I shall not say a criminal act, if it decides to establish) the Federal Capital on the most unsuitable site for the purpose. Take, for instance, the opinion of Senator Vardon. I understand that, he is now favorable to the Canberra site, but he told honorable senators here that he was not satisfied about the sufficiency oof water supply in the Cotter River. He went to the district with an unbiased mind to judge the possibilities of the area in regard to that all-important essential to a city, and he returned with a very reasonable doubt that the Cotter River would not be equal to supplying the requirements of the Federal Capital. Yet he intends to-day to vote for the selection of a site which he has admitted quite frankly has a doubtful water supply for a city.
– I cannot put my casual observation against the expert opinion.
– The expert opinion is right enough up to a certain point. If we had an assurance that the Federal Capital would never contain one soul more than 50,000 persons I should vote for the measure, but believing that it will contain very many more than that number, I feel compelled by economical and sanitary reasons to vote against the selection of Canberra. Senator Vardon has assured us that he doubts the sufficiency of the water supply- Being in Western Australia at the time. I had not an opportunity of visiting Canberra, but I feel sure that if honorable senators really understood the import of voting for the site they would, even at this eleventh hour, change their minds and secure a better site, with an unlimited quantity of water, as well as an unlimited quantity of power. The Snowy River has a flow of 600 cubic feet per second; but, according to gaugings taken in the early part of last year, the Cotter had a flow of only 60 cubic feet. I regret the way in which some honorable senators have changed their minds on this vital subject. There are some measures which, if carried, might not be attended with fatal consequences, but in placing this measure in the statute-book honorable senators will be taking a step which cannot possibly be retracted, and placing the Federal Capital in a situation which cannot be changed. I appeal to Senator W. Russell, who was more influenced in the selection of this site by the appearance of the country than anything else.
– I expressed what I thoroughly believe. I have no axe to grind.
– If the honorable senator had looked through the reports he would have found that thousands upon thousands of acres are worth only 5s. per acre. Surely that is evidence that whilst he was visiting the Yass-Canberra site he did not take into consideration the quality of the land in the whole of the area. Otherwise he would have discovered, as the report issued by the authority of the Lands Department shows, that in the Cotter catchment alone over 80, or nearly 90, per cent, of the land is worth from only 2s. od. to 5S per acre.
– That will give a supply of pure water.
– It will furnish a pure water supply for the reason that there are only fifty settlers on the catchment area. If there were no alternative site in New South Wales I should vote for the measure, but believing that we have an alternative site in Dalgety I consider that honorable ‘senators are about to commit almost a criminal act in selecting a site on an area with such a questionable rainfall. Certainly it will not furnish enough water to supply the demands of a very large city, such as we hope the Capital to be in the future. We have the precedent of Washington to guide us. A little over a century ago the site of Washington, on the banks of the Potomac River, was occupied by only a few Dutch farmers, but to-day it carries a population of nearly 300,000 persons. Have we any reason to suppose that the population of the Commonwealth, which is now in the neighbourhood of 4,500,000, or just about the same number as America had a century ago, will not amount to as many millions in the future as are now to be found in the United States ? As the vacant areas of the Commonwealth are filled with settlers, so will the population of the Federal Capital approach to that of Washington at present. I wonder to what extent a stream corresponding with the Cotter Creek would supply Wash- ington with water? The Board of Advice, which was composed mostly of New South Welshmen, who cannot be supposed to be biased in favour of or against the site, told this Parliament that the Cotter Creek is only equal to meeting the requirements of 50,000 persons as regards water supply and motive power. Have the Little Australians who have changed their minds any reason to believe that this continent will not have in the future a population of 80,000,060 persons? When the site of Washington was selected in the early part of the nineteenth century, America had a population very little more than that of Australia at present, but in the course of time it has increased to over 80,000,000 persons. In point of fertility, resources, and area Australia is not far behind America, and is there any reason to suppose that, at the end of a century, our population will fall far short of the present population of the United States?
– At our present rate of progress we shall not have a population of more than 1.2, 000, 000.
– The honorable senator talks in a pessimistic strain about the possibilities of Australia. Although it is barely more than a century ago since it was discovered, its population is now as large as was the population of the United States’ when it was discovered 250 years ago. Why is the honorable senator shutting his eyes to the facts of history? As regards the gaining of population, we have progressed more rapidly than has the United States. The honorable senator has displayed an ignorance of the subject which amazes me. We have no reason to doubt that in the future we shall have a very material increase in our population ; it may become almost equal to that of the United States at present. Settlement will proceed on our vacant areas, and is it unreasonable to suppose that the Federal Capital will ultimately obtain a population proportionately as large as that of Washington? I submit that this final act of national folly should not be undertaken without giving a due regard to the consequences of it. If the selection of this site could be changed at the will or the whim of the next Parliament we might excuse those honorable senators who appear to take a light view of their duty ; but as I have already pointed out, it is proposed to bind posterity in such a way that they will come to be regarded as men who were either influenced by base or unworthy motives, or had not a true sense of their duty. If honorable senators appreciate the responsibility of their position they will select a site which will be more suitable, even to the immediate needs of the Commonwealth, and at the same time show some consideration for the population of the future. I intend to resist the passage of the Bill at every stage, because I believe that the majority of the Senate are engaged in a stupendous act of national folly, which will recoil upon their heads and cause future generations’ to point at them as mei> who were not endowed with sufficient common sense to look ahead ten years, much less 100 years, when we may expect a large population in the Federal Capital.
– That is very rough.
– When I recollect how some honorable senators have twisted and turned on this all-important issue, and are about to take a step which cannot possibly be retraced, I cannot but speak strongly.
.- Like Senator Lynch, I am extremely anxious to prevent, if possible, the passage of the Bill. I also feel that future generations will have very serious cause for regret if it should become law, and the Federal City should be established on the Yass-Canberra site.
– The’ honorable senator has been reading the Age.
– I, as a rule,’ read the morning papers of this city wherever I am, because I want to keep in touch with those events which are important and of interest, not only to myself, but to the State to which I belong. If it is true, as I know it is, that the Age is extremely anxious that Dalgety should be selected as the site of the Federal Capital, it and I are, for once at any rate, of the same opinion. I believe that that opinion is held by the great majority of the. citizens of the’ Commonwealth.
– I believe that if a poll were taken to-morrow in regard to Yass-Canberra or Dalgety a majority of two or three to one would be pronounced’ in favour of the latter site. Why should” not the views of the people of Australia be obtained upon this question? But apparently the interests of only one State of the Union are to be considered.
– The interests of Vic toria ?
– And the people of New South Wales have not been consulted upon the matter.
– No. Action is being taken simply in deference to the opinions held by those who comprise the Cabinet of that State, backed up as they ave by two powerful Sydney newspapers. That circumstance alone explains the reason underlying the undue haste which has been exhibited in the matter of the establishment of the Federal Capital. Are the people of Australia dissatisfied because the Seat of Government is temporarily in Victoria ?
– Most decidedly.
– Most decidedly they are not. They believe that justice is being done to the interests of Australia notwithstanding that the Commonwealth Parliament is meeting in Melbourne. Since the present Government assumed office greater activity has been manifested in regard to the establishment of the Federal Capital than has been manifested since the inception of this Parliament. Why ? Because the influence of New South Wales in the present Cabinet is all powerful. As a result of that influence the Government wish to unduly hasten the establishment of the Federal Capital. What will the passing of this measure mean? it will mean - assuming that the Government remain in power for any long period, which I sincerely hope they will not, because they have not a majority of the electors of Australia behind them - -
– Does the honorable senator know that ?
– I have a pretty good idea of the opinions of the people in regard to the Government and their supporters. If the Government continue in office I venture to say that they will leave no stone unturned to expedite the erection of buildings at the Federal Capital site.
– They will not do that. They merely wish to get the limits of the Federal territory defined.
– When once those limits have been defined, I venture, to say that the influence of New South Wales will lie unceasingly exerted with a view to expediting the laying out of the Federal city. Why? Because it will be so contiguous to Sydney. In these days of rapid communication we know that the use of the monorail
– And of the aeroplane.
– We cannot fail to recognise that science has conquered the air by means of flying’ machines, and that even by the adoption of the mono-rail upon land, it is possible that trains may travel at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour. Thus distance is rapidly being annihilated. We know that within a very short time experimental flights between our capital cities will be attempted by enterprising men, and in Sydney next month ah exhibition is to be held of flying machines which have been produced by Australian inventors. By using the mono-rail it is probable that the distance between Yass-Canberra and Sydney would be covered, within a couple of hours or within three hours at most. How can it be urged that there would be a national atmosphere about a capital which would be so close to Sydney? There could be no such atmosphere. The interests of Sydney would be dominant all the time, whereas a” Federal Capital upon the banks of the Snowy River would possess a national atmosphere. The proposal to establish the Seat of Government within the YassCanberra area is only an eleventh-hour proposition. Three or four years ago the claims of that area, were not seriously considered. As a matter of fact, amongst the earlier reports submitted for our information in reference to eligible sites, the YassCanberra district was never mentioned. If it be such a remarkable place - if it possesses all the advantages that its advocates claim for it - it is remarkable that it was not discovered until two or three years ago. But the moment it was discovered all sorts of influences were brought to bear with a view to inducing members of this Parliament to change the opinions which they had previously expressed in regard to Dalgety. The change of front which has been made by some honorable senators is truly remarkable. If their former speeches are turned up in Hansard, and their reasons for voting for the selection of Dalgety are analyzed, the electors will want to know what has brought about their altered attitude. It seems to me that they are prepared to change their views at any moment, so long as certain persons choose to exercise an influence over them. But the members of the Opposition in the Senate have been consistent in their hostility towards the Yass-Canberra site, and equally consistent in their support of the site which was originally chosen. We believe that the selection of Dalgety would be indorsed by an immense majority of the electors of Australia if the latter were afforded an opportunity of registering their opinions upon it. The mere fact that the members of the Opposition constitute a minority in the Senate is no reason why we should not exercise all the powers that we possess to prevent the passing of this Bill. If there be any honorable senators who have not yet made up their minds how. they will vote upon the proposal of Senator Givens they ought to give very close and serious consideration to the official reports which have been published from time to time, and which express varying opinions in regard to the water supply that is available within the Yass-Canberra area. Nothing has impressed me with the utter unsuitability of that aTea more than has the fact that experts, who are quite unbiased, have submitted to this Parliament varying reports in regard to the water supply to be obtained there.
– They have affirmed that it will supply the requirements of from a million inhabitants to 50,000.
– Exactly. But apart from the varying views which have been expressed by these scientific gentlemen, we know perfectly well what the water schemes at Yass-Canberra would cost as compared with the scheme which it would be necessary to undertake at Dalgety. There is an immense gulf between the cost of the schemes which it would be necessary to undertake as between the two sites. The cost of the Dalgety scheme would be infinitesimal as compared with the expenditure upon those which would be requisite at Yass-Canberra. We have been told that the land in the Dalgety district is not altogether suitable for cultivation. It was that consideration which in a measure determined the vote of Senator W. Russell on a former occasion - a vote which prevented for all time the possibility of a truly national site being chosen.
– That statement is nol correct.
– It is a fact that the honorable senator’s vote upon a former occasion settled for all time the chance of Dalgety being chosen as the Federal Capital site.
– I am proud of the vote which I recorded.
– I am not. I think that the honorable senator committed a national folly, and that in years to come his vote will be regarded as one which inflicted immense harm upon Australia. This is not a question which can be lightly dealt with. Although many honorable senators may not live to see the magnificent edifice in which the future National Parliament will assemble-
– I hope that I shall do so.
– I hope that the honorable senator may do so, but I am afraid that he will not, because it must be many years before that building can be erected. When it has been erected and the people are afforded an opportunity of instituting a comparison between the merits of the Yass-Canberra site and those of the site which was defeated by the vote recorded by Senator W. Russell upon a former occasion, his name will frequently be in evidence.
– Does the honorable senator want to advertise me or does he wish to advertise himself in the Age ?
– That interjection is prompted by mere childishness.
– How about the Sydney Morning Herald!
– The Age has nothing whatever to do with the views which I am expressing. I am dealing with a site for a national city, in which the National Parliament will sit for years to come; and I say that Senator W.- Russell gave a vote mainly because he paid, a visit to the Dalgety district when the weather was windy. The elements were not altogether to his liking. He occupied an inconvenient seat in an out-of-date coach. His hat blew off. He was inconvenienced in many ways. Consequently, he came to the conclusion that Dalgety was an unsuitable site.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should refer in such terms to the reasons why another honorable senator gave a certain vote.
– Am I not in order in discussing the proposed site?
– I do not think that the remarks which the honorable senator has been making are relevant.
- Senator W. Russell gave as his reason for voting against Dalgety, and in favour of Yass-Canberra, that the latter district was more suitable for cultivation. But are we looking at this question from an agricultural stand-point? Is the Capital city a place where we hope to grow big pumpkins, carrots, and tomatoes? Or is it to be a model city where we hope to have manufactures and industries, and all up-to-date conveniences? We ought to look at this matter comprehensively. There is no site which we could choose which offers such advantages as does Dalgety in the matter of water supply and electric power. What the result of the coming division will be, I am not in a position to say ; but, at any rate, I am glad that we have an opportunity of placing in Hansard definitely, and for all time, the views and votes of honorable senators, so that the public may judge as to the consistency which has been manifested in reference to this matter by the representatives of the people in both Houses of the National Parliament. Although we may be defeated on this occasion, we can, at all events, congratulate ourselves on taking advantage of the opportunity of delaying the passage of a measure which may be introduced at a later stage when powers are sought to be given to the Federal Parliament in relation to this matter.
– I have refrained from speaking on this question up to the present time. Most of the Victorians, indeed, have been remarkably quiet, probably because it has seemed to us that poor old Victoria has been unfairly saddled with responsibility for all the delay that has occurred in reference to the settlement of the Capital site question. But, apart from being a Victorian, I may lay claims to being an Australian : and I have always been a firm believer in the establishment of a Federal Capital in which tha Parliament of Australia might meet and transact the business of the country. I should like to observe once more that, although I support Dalgety now, it was not my ‘first love. The question, however, is one of a choice of alternatives. We have to choose between Yass-Canberra and Dalgety. When we consider the claims of the latter place, we have to note this remarkable position.: In all the statements which have been made against Dalgety, only one argument has been brought froward, and that is that the wind blew rather severely on the occasion when certain honorable senators visited the site. Some seem to fear that if Dalgety were chosen, the health of future legislators would suffer severely. But when I went on a tour to Yass-Canberra, I met a local medical practitioner from Queanbeyan, and. on asking him about the climate, he said, “ Yes, it is a very nice day, but you should be here when the wind blows from the east.” I have come to the conclusion that there is very little to choose between the two rival places in regard to wind, which undoubtedly blows strongly in both places. I regret very much, however, that the wind was so severe at Dalgety that it had the effect of changing the vote of Senator W. Russell. I freely acknowledge that there were reasons for his dissatisfaction on the day when he visited Dalgety. But the fact of the matter is that the wind was so high that it was impossible for any man in a reasonable frame of mind to believe that that was the normal condition of any part of Australia.
– They told us that it was only a mild gale.
– I met every person in Dalgety whom Senator Sayers met, and every one of them told me that the day was an extraordinary one. They asked us to postpone our visit to the Capital site until the next day. Something has been said by Senator W. Russell concerning agricultural possibilities. I wish to remark on that subject that my honorable friend had no opportunity of observing the possibilities on three sides of the Dalgety site. He saw nothing of the land between Buckley’s Crossing and the seaboard. He saw none of the country between Dalgety and the Victorian border. He saw nothing between Mount Kosciusko and the Dalgety site. The only agricultural country upon which he had an opportunity of forming a judgment was that unfortunate part which lies between Cooma and Dalgety, which every one admits to be poor land. I believe that every person competent to form an opinion, who has seen the country between Dalgety and the Victorian border, has pronounced it to be of excellent quality, and they are quite satisfied that if a railway were built from Sydney to Dalgety, and thence on to Victoria, the effect would be to open up and develop a country capable of supporting an immense population. Any one who has tried to realize how the Dalgety district could be developed by means of electric traction between the proposed Federal site and the seaboard, must necessarily get rid of the conception which I am afraid many honorable senators entertain, that the Federal Seat of Government would be merely a village where a few legislators and officials would meet to transact their business. I know of no reason why the Federal city, if placed at Dalgety, should not become one of the principal cities in Australia. There is abundant water, and means of generating electric power, which could be used to run those industries which we hope to see established. It is because 1 believe these things to be possible, that I refuse to joint with those who have advocated the adoption of Yass-Canberra. Personally, I have never given a pledge to the electors of Victoria in regard to the Capital site. Prior to my entering the Federal Parliament, Dalgety had been unanimously accepted by the Senate; and, during my election campaign, there was no doubt in the minds of the people that the question had been determined. Consequently, although I spoke at a hundred meetings, I was never asked a. single question regarding the Federal Capital, nor did I refer to it. But what was the position when I entered this Parliament ? It was impossible to move about any part of this building without encountering a section of the New South Wales representatives - an influential and energetic section, too - who were continually referring to the question. They had in hand x scheme to upset what had been unanimously agreed to by the Senate. Now, I have no objection to the New South Wales representatives endeavouring to secure a site in keeping with the opinion of the New South Wales people - or rather the opinion of the New South Wales press; because I know how helpful the press is to them at election times. But what puzzles me is, why some Victorian representatives have seen fit to change their opinions on this subject. I should like to know their justification for so doing. I know of no justification, beyond the fact that they have dragged down into the region of party politics a question which, above all others, should have been treated as a national one. We cannot blame those New South Wales representatives who have energetically worked for the substitution of YassCanberra for Dalgety, and who have used their influence to induce other members of this Parliament to change their votes. But this change of attitude on the part of others seems to me to be sufficient justification for my saying, not on Victorian, but on Australian grounds, that I intend to use every method that is within my power, so long as there is even a faint hope of having Dalgety selected. I have the same right to take these steps in the interest of what I believe to be the best site, as other honorable senators have to take steps in the interest of what I believe to be the worst site now under consideration. I wish to say, in regard to a comparison thati has been made, that, after all, the distance between Yass-Canberra and Dalgety is something less than 100 miles. Changes of climate and conditions may take place at Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, but no one will contend that they are likely to be so great as to render one site very good and . the other very bad, or to make it possible to live in the one place and undesirable to live in the other. But when we come to consider the really essential requirements for the establishment and development of an important city, and the maintenance and comfort of a big population, the YassCanberra site cannot be compared with the Dalgety site. I have no wish at this stage to enter upon detailed comparisons, which have, perhaps, already been drawn out a little too long. Neither Yass-Canberra nor Dalgety is, in my opinion, the best site by a long way that could be selected in Australia. But of the two, I believe that on all grounds Dalgety is infinitely superior to Yass-Canberra. Peculiar methods’ have been adopted in the past by certain hon-. orable senators to change the selection of this Parliament from Dalgety to YassCanberra, and I am prepared to do anything that I may to induce this Parliament to revert to its first choice.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Givens’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Census and Statistics Act 1905. - Regulation relating to the Utilization of Statistical Information for State Purposes. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 121.
Papua - Ordinances of 1909 -
No. 4. - Customs Duties Amending.
No. r2. - Customs Amendment.
Old-age Pensions - Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Public Service Inspector, Western Australia - Telegraph Service, Tasmania.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Vice-President of the Executiver Council two cases which concern the behaviour of Mr. Green, the Commonwealth Public Service Inspector in Western Australia. It is very . disagreeable for me to have to bring these cases before the Senate, but I feel it to be my public duty to do so, because, by virtue of his position - and he fills various positions besides that of Public Service Inspector - Mr. Green is regarded by the public of Western Australia as the representative of the Federal Government in that State. He is applied to for information of various kinds. In addition to being Public Service Inspector, he is charged with the administration of the Oldage Pensions Act. Other representatives of Western Australia, as well as myself, have already directed attention to his treatment of persons applying for old-age pensions. I have here a letter from an old man whom I know personally to be very respectable. His name is Thomas C. Williams, and his address is 471 Hay-street, West Subiaco, Western Australia. He is married to a woman who is somewhat younger than himself. By reason of age and infirmity he is qualified to apply for an old-age pension. He has reached an age when he can work no longer, and he made application for an old-age pension.
– What is his age?
– He was born in 1836, and is now 73 years of age. I need not read the whole of his letter, but amongst other things he says -
On Thursday, July 1st, I applied for an old-age pension at the office in St. George’sterrace, with the usual papers and documents. I was told to come again, when I got a notice to do so. I have waited ever since, fourteen weeks, and appeared on Monday, nth of this month, October. I put in my certificate of birth, and baptism 1836, genuine; also marriage certificate May nth,1881, Sydney, signed E. G. Ward, Registrar-General, New South Wales; also rent books, bank books, and many other documents which proved I have been in and out of Australia over 50 years, and this last 30 years never out of the Commonwealth.
He goes on to give his life’s history, which I shall not read, and he further says -
Both Mr. Green and Mr. Fairbank appeared to be inclined to grant me a pension, when Green said - “Where do you get food?” I said - “ I am living on my wife this two years, since I have been ill and helpless. I am 73 years old. I have never been charged with a crime, also never been locked up in my life for any charge,” and this Green said - “You ought to be ashamed of yourself to live on your wife. I cannot give you a pension. Next please.” Police Doctor Trethowan gave me a certificate that through old age and infirmities T was unable to do any work. Green read it, and I left. ,
I am sure it was not the intention of Parliament when we passed the Old-age Pensions Act that the fact that a man had a wife who was able to support herself should render him ineligible to receive an old-age pension.
– What are the wife’s means in this case?
– I believe that this man’s wife has some means.
– And ran work also.
– Yes. I am not going to comment on the letter ; but I ask the Minister to look into the case. I have now to deal with another case, in which the conduct of the same public officer is involved. I have here a letter from the Amalgamated Society of Engineers^ dated 15th October, 1909. It is as follows -
On the 7th instant I wrote to the Commonwealth Public Service Inspector asking if he could inform me if a deputy registrar has been appointed under the Federal Arbitration Act for the State of Western Australia, to which I received the enclosed reply.
My committee instructed me to forward this to you that you may have some idea of how Federal matters are not administered in Western Australia. It appears absurd that the repre- sentative of the Commonwealth Government in this State cannot answer a simple question like the above.
You may make what use you like of this letter.
With good wishes and fraternal greetings,
I remain, yours faithfully,
The letter to which Mr. Barker refers reads as follows -
Public Service Inspector, 323 St. George’s Terrace,
In reply to your communication of the 7th instant, I have the honour to inform you that I am unable to give you any information in connexion with the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, and would refer you to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, Melbourne.
Commonwealth Public Service Inspector for Western Australia.
– The Public Service Inspector was not asked to give an opinion, but to inform the secretary to the Amalgamated Society of Engineers if a deputy registrar for Western Australia had been appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The former knows very well that a deputy registrar has been appointed, namely, an officer of the Supreme Court.
– If he does not, he pught to know.
-Yes, and I feel pretty certain that he does know.
– By whom was he appointed ?
– By the AttorneyGeneral. Perhaps the Minister, as a Sydney man”, does not realize the position, because that city is very well looked after in these matters. I want my honorable friend to realize that in Western Australia the Public Service Inspector is the only representative of the Commonwealth to whom any person can apply ; and we want people to feel that the Commonwealth really has a representative there In each State, except New South Wales and Victoria, the Public Service Inspector has numerous duties of this kind- to perform. The Electoral Office is under him. He is a kind of general factotum for the Commonwealth, as he ought to be. I venture to say that if Mr. Green had simply rung up the officers of the Supreme Court on the telephone he would have got the desired information. Certainly, if the latter did not possess the information, he could have obtained it from the office boy. But instead of making a few inquiries he told Mr. Barker to write to Melbourne and find out the position. I have no complaint to make about Mr. Green, who, to some extent, has been a personal friend. But the frequent occurrence of these things is most annoying, and is calculated to bring Federation into disrepute. In Western Australia there are plenty of persons who are only too anxious to hold up these things as proof of how badly the Commonwealth manages the people’s affairs. I am anxious not to give the anti-Federalists an opportunity lor hurling taunts against the Federation. I think that Mr. Green ought to be brought to book and dealt with. I have brought forward this matter, not out of a spirit of vindictiveness, but because I feel that Mr. Green has acted very unwisely and wrongly.
.- I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will not think that, in bringing forward this matter, we desire to reflect upon himself, or the administration of the Government. I feel sure that Senator Pearce had no such idea in his mind. Ministers must depend very much upon their officers, and to hold a Government responsible for the manner in which a public officer carried out his duties would under some circumstances be hardly fair. I do not think that the complaint of Senator Pearce can be construed in that light. I should be very sorry to see any Government fail to grasp a complaint of this kind when it is submitted in a proper spirit. As Senator Pearce has said, if a public officer is allowed to conduct himself towards the public as Mr. Green is said to have done, it will bring the administration of the Government into discredit.
– Is the honorable senator sure that he has so acted?
– Before the honorable senator brings the matter forward he should make an inquiry on the other side.
– We have received a letter written and signed by the man who applied to Mr. Green for certain information.
– Yes, but the honorable senator should get those on the other side to make an inquiry into the matter.
– What are we asking for now but an inquiry regarding the matter? Apparently the honorable senator seems to think that nothing should be said against a public officer, and that of necessity the public must be wrong.
– No, but the honorable senator should hear both sides before he makes the matter public. He is bringing before the Senate only one side of the question.
– If there- is another side of the question an opportunity is now given to the Government to call upon the officer to furnish an explanation. We are not making a complaint against the Government, but merely stating that we have good evidence that Mr. Green has not been doing what he should have done, and has not been acquainted with work with which he should have been acquainted, and asking that the necessary inquiry should be made. Concerning the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act, I have a suggestion to make to the Government in all friendliness. They cannot be expected to have the full control of the working of the Act from Melbourne. Western Australia is too far away to admit of the working of the Act conveniently or expeditiously from this centre. I suggest that the Government should send to that State an officer to see how the Act is being administered. I believe that if Mr. Allen could be spared to go there and secure the administration of the Act, as I believe he is anxious to see it administered, and apparently as he has been successful in getting it administered in other States, a great deal of the present trouble could be overcome. Mr. Green has either too much to do, or is not an officer who will administer the Act successfully. I do not wish to be unfair to that gentleman, and I have never had much cause to complain of him. But if we find that an officer is not fit for certain work, if it is felt or known that he is not in sympathy with it, it should be intrusted to one more suitable. Unless that is done the representatives of the State will continue to be harassed by every mail with a sheaf of letters on this one question. Since it was last discussed here i have received further complaints of the same kind. I laid them before Mr. Allen, who agreed with me that the Act has not been administered as it” should have been. I hold that the only way in which satisfaction can be secured is by sending that gentleman to the West to look into the whole work of administering the law.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the
Executive Council if he is now in a position to tell me whether any steps have yetbeen taken by the Post and Telegraph Department to put Tasmania, in regard totelegraphic communication throughout the week, on the same footing as the other five States ?
– Of course, every honorable senatormust be the judge as to what matters arefil and proper ones to bring before theSenate. But I would invite Senator Pearce and others to consider whether it is always necessary to occupy its attentionwith matters which, I think, in the first instance might be more advantageously brought under the notice of the Ministerscontrolling the departments concerned. Senators Pearce and de Largie have stated, so far as I understood them, that they brought forward this particular matter with aview to asking for an inquiry. If that is so, it seems strange that the demand for an inquiry should come simultaneously with the assertion that the Public Service Inspector in Western Australia ought to be brought to book. What we have had today have been purely ex parte statements. I regret that there should be statements made which would almost seem to suggest that an offence had been proved, and that a time for punishment had arrived.
– I said that if the facts were as stated in the letter the officer ought to be dealt with.
– Not according to my note of the honorable senator’s words.
– As regards the complaint of the Union, I think that he ought to be brought to book.
– So far as I could follow the two letters, there was nothing to show that the answer read by the honorable senator was the answer to the question asked in the original letter.
– Oh, yes, there was.
– In the best of good faith the secretary may have written to the officer for one piece of information and received an answer, but he may have given to Senator Pearce a slightly different version of what transpired. I know nothing about fhe facts. All I can say is that, as the honorable senator has mentioned them, I shall do what I think he might have done more advantageously, and that is bring them under the notice of the Minister.
– That has been done in other cases.
– If representations to a Department are made without avail, then is the time when the Senate might be appealed to for the purpose of not merely ventilating a grievance, but, if possible, having it put right. With regard to Senator Keating’s inquiry, I have received the following information -
With reference to the question of keeping the Tasmanian cables open on Sundays so that communications with Hobart could be maintained in the same way as the other State capitals, regarding which remarks were made in Parliament by Senator Keating, I have the honour, by direction of the Postmaster-General to inform you inquiries have now been completed, and the reports submitted indicate that the cost of keeping the cables in question open on Sundays as on ordinary days (9 a.*m. to midnight) would bc £244 185. id. per annum, and that the estimated additional revenue is ^45 per annum. Under the circumstances, il is not considered necessary to keep the Tasmanian cables open for business on Sundays as on ordinary days.
– On what is that estimate based?
– I can show my honorable friend the figures if he likes to look through the papers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091022_senate_3_53/>.