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Thursday, 27 May 1915

Senator McDOUGALL - Then why the Assistant Minister's long speech ? The motion with which we are dealing makes no reference- to finance. It merely seeks to remedy the delay which has occurred in proceeding with works at the Federal Capital. That delay is rather an expensive one to the Commonwealth. At Canberra, we have a staff of officials, who - if necessary works are not to be promptly undertaken - might with advantage be retransferred to the temporary Seat of Government. The question at issue is not one of water supply or of sewerage at all. There has been a disagreement between the present Minister of Home Affairs and Mr. Griffin. The late Government were dissatisfied with the action of Mr. King O'Malley when Minister of Home Affairs in a previous Labour Government, and consequently they brought Mr. Griffin out to this country. The present Government decline to avail themselves of this officer's special knowledge. It was certainly never intended, when Federation was established, that there should be fourteen years' delay in setting up the Federal Capital. Those who voted for tha Constitution were led to believe that the permanent Seat of Government would be established in New South Wales without delay. Although the Assistant Minister has referred to the "Ma" State, it is obvious that he cannot' do without it. This little "cabbage garden " State cannot do without it. The reasons advanced by the Assistant Minister in opposition to the motion are the weakest that I have ever heard. Evidently he would have us rely upon the Public Works Committee-, which has been appointed for an entirely different purpose. The Committee which Senator Grant desires to inquire into this matter would complete its labours within a few days, and the people would then know what is the reason for the exasperating delay in proceeding with necessary undertakings at the Federal Capital. I believe that Mr. Griffin has a staff of his own. I see him travelling almost every week from one capital to another. The Senate has a right to know what is the position, and if a Committee be appointed as proposed in the motion, its members will go thoroughly into the matter, and give us that knowledge which we require to settle the difficulty.

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