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Friday, 30 July 1920

Mr MAXWELL (Fawkner) .-- Since T last had the pleasure of addressing honorable members, I have had the privilege of travelling a little in Northern Queensland. I also saw something of New South Wales and lower Queensland, and wherever I was I took the opportunity of entering into conversation with all sorts and conditions of men and women, with a view to seeing how far Federal matters interest the citizens of the Commonwealth, especially in regard to the question of the removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra. The impression left on my mind was that there is not the slightest interest taken in this matter, outside a narrow circle of interested people. Were I convinced that it is the wish of the citizens of Australia, who will be called upon to pay the piper, that the Seat of Government should be transferred to Canberra I would undoubtedly vote for it, but I am satisfied that the people of Australia, staggering under a tremendous debt, are not desirous of adding to that financial obligation and are perfectly content to wait for the transference of the Capital until some more favorable season. Generally speaking, I believe that the way in which we comport ourselves in this House, and the time we waste over trivialities, as we have been doing to-day, are to a large extent responsible for the lack of interest shown in Federal matters. The boat in which I was travelling was delayed at Townsville for an hour or two, and I had the opportunity of walking about the town. As I was anxious to gain some in. formation about some of the trees I -spoke to an intelligent-looking middle-aged man who was passing, and put some questions to him. Afterwards I got into conversation with 'him about Federal matters, and said, " By the way, who is the Federal member for Townsville?" He said, " I think he is a man named Dooley." I said, "-I am perfectly certain it is not Mr. Dooley, because there is no Mr. 'Dooley in the Federal House." Then he thought for a little while, and said, "If it is not Dooley I believe it is Ryan." I replied, " lt is not Ryan. There is only one Ryan, and he is the member for West Sydney." The man scratched his head, and then said, "If it is not Dooley, and -is not Ryan, I do not know who our member is." That is about the extent of the interest taken in Federal matters by the people in those remote districts. There is a feeling among them that the Federal Parliament neglects their interests. It would not matter to them where the Federal Capital was situated so long as they got decent legislation.

Mr Tudor - Does the honorable member think that the fact that they do not know their representative's name amounts to much? Does he believe that 2 per cent, of the people in Victoria know who represent them in the Legislative Council?

Mr MAXWELL - In answer to my friend, I am sorry to say that I believe it is only too true that very little interest is taken in Federal matters outside certain circles. And this House is very largely responsible for that lack of interest. People, generally, are becoming so absolutely sick of the way in which it deals with business matters that they do not care practically who are elected to represent them or where their representatives sit.

Mr Watkins - The honorable member ought to be the last man in the House to make that statement.

Mr MAXWELL - I am saying what I believe. When we, as business men, act and deal in a common-sense and businesslike way with the matters that come before us the people will begin to take an interest in what we do. So long as we fritter away our time and waste it upon trivialities, they will not care a snap of the fingers 'what happens.

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