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Tuesday, 19 December 1905


Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) . - It is with very great reluctance that I take part in this debate, because I am obliged to address myself to the question of the Federal Capital Site under adverse conditions, or else to forfeit any opportunity I may have of uttering some, at all events, of the views which should be expressed in this connexion. I had hoped That the discussion would have proceeded for a sufficient time to enable me to extricate myself from the tangle of obligations which are incidental to the closing days of a session, in order that I might giVe consideration to a few aspects of this question which would enable me to deal with them in the manner in which they ought to be dealt with if they be referred to at all. But as both leisure and

Strength have failed me, I can only offer an apology to honorable members for the limitations within which J. shall be confined when treating a. question in which I have always taken the deepest interest, and upon which, it seems to me there still remains something to 'be said. The request has been preferred more than once during the debate, that we should no longer revive the past, or delve into its records, but that from this moment we should begin afresh, "look only at the future, and consider the question of the selection Of a Capital Site upon its bare merits. That would be a. most pleasant course to pursue, if it were possible to take it. But, unfortunately, this subject comes before us associated with recent criticisms of our action - criticisms which render it necessary simply for the purposes of "defence that we should point" out that the accusations levelled against us - one and all of them - can be met by a simple citation of the circumstances which have led up to the present a position. I do not propose to detain the House by attempting to tell that oft-told tale, but it is unfortunate, having regard to the short memories of the public, that the hasty and partisan views presented to them obscure the essential details which go to show that the invidious reflections that are cast upon the Commonwealth Parliament and its Government are. not warranted by the plain facts. Indeed, were I to undertake the task, I should require to occupy no inconsiderable time in disposing of the fictitious and unjustifiable charges that are now accepted as fair statements in this case. We are told that in connexion with the choice of the Capital Site there has been deliberate delay. That statement is absolutely unjustifiable. We are warned that there is opposition to the establishment of any Capital, and that charge, again, with some minor exceptions that do not call for notice, is equally unsupported. It is alleged that the representatives of Victoria are responsible for procrastination in determining the question. That is a statement which, if it be true of any individuals., is not true of the great majority of the representatives which Victoria has or ever had in this Parliament. We are also told that the aim has been to retain Melbourne as the Seat of Government. That certainly has not been the object of the great bulk of the representatives of Victoria, although it may have been the aim of individual Victorians outside. Finally, we are assured that the obstacles that have strewn the path to the choice of the Federal Capital Site have been due to hostility to New South Wales. That charge, I repudiate more absolutely, and with more warmth, than any other. I am not conscious of such' a feeling, either among those who have supported sites that I, myself, have approved, or among those who have opposed them. On the contrary, it appears to me that we have always felt that slander or censure upon the people of New South Wales,, or of any other State, are slanders and censures upon ourselves ; that we are so allied that, just as we claim to share any qualities deemed worthy of honour which they possess, we should resent as a malignant attack upon our own people any such censure as we are supposed to have passed upon the people of New South Wales. Australians are in blood, breeding, manners, habits, traditions., tastes, and aspirations, one people, and it is not possible for us to point the finger of scorn at any section living within the boundaries of any one State, without in the same degree reflecting upon ourselves in common with the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. A simple consideration of the facts will disprove each and every one of the allegations, now so commonly and so lightly made. Had my physical strength and leisure permitted, I should have undertaken to offer to honorable members some of the mass of evidence that goes to support that contention. But my present purpose will be served if I invite honorable members for a few moments to look the facts in the face, putting aside any prepossessions that may exist concerning them ; and endeavouring to view them in something like proper proportion. At present, matters that are perfectly irrelevant have been exalted, and a consideration of the particular question that we have before us to-day has been obscured, I regret to say, by the introduction of a number of points that have no real association with the Capital Site. A detailed reply to these would in itself occupy the whole of the time that I feel warranted in taking up. The Premier of New South Wales, in recently moving certain resolutions, avoided - and this ought to be frankly admitted - personalities of all kinds. He made no attack upon any member of the Federal Parliament, or any individual. Had he excluded' from his criticism his references to a number of matters affecting our relations with his State, some of them trivial in themselves, but all incompletely stated, or wanting in supplementary information, he would have aroused less feeling, and enabled us to concentrate our attention more closely upon matters that are really serious. These irrelevant allegations - allegations which were intended1 to show some prejudice against New South' Wales, some willingness to do an injury to that State, or to treat it unfairly - are numerous and of mixed quality. Some of the causes of complaint have admittedly ceased to exist. They have been removed by the Commonwealth without pressure from outside. And yet these relics are added apparently to swell the sum total, as it seems to me, without any just plea that could be urged in defence of such a course. Some others, such as the charges made with reference to the Customs Department, have been answered by authentic documents, and statements. Others, again, are due to misapprehensions. I do not for one moment suggest that the Premier of New South Wales has wilfully misstated the facts. But in the story which he tells, even of so simple a matter as. the case at law between the Commonwealth and the State, with reference to State imports being dutiable, he conveyed -an entirely erroneous impression.


Mr Higgins - That would apply to all the States.


Mr DEAKIN - The principle does; but his statement of the circumstances connected with the case, which we did not pursue - because, in the meantime, the High Court had been established, and we held that it was the tribunal which should finally determine that question if it thought fit - is, unintentionally, no doubt, of a misleading character. The papers from which I have refreshed my memory, serve to show that this is so. If time permitted, and if it were necessary, at this juncture, to deal with the complaints made against the administration of different Departments in relation to the Government of New South Wales, I have no doubt that I could satisfy not only this House, which may be considered biased, but also the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales itself, that they were due either to misconception or misconstruction, or that they form part of regulations that have to be dealt with by us upon a Federal basis and on Federal principles. Where that course has to be followed, it may at a particular time appear to bear more harshly upon one State than upon another. In a great continent like Australia, with its communities reared, so to speak, under different, policies, and subjected, therefore, in different degrees to the influences of the legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth, that is inevitable. No task would be easier, although it' is one in which I do not desire to engage, than topresent a complete refutation of the incidental, accidental, and unjustifiable charges that have been associated with the main question embodied in the measurenow under consideration. For obvious reasons, I have to brush these aside, with hardly a word of explanation. I am perfectly willing, either this session, if it be possible, or next session, to lay upon> the table of the House particulars in regard to every one of the matters alluded to that will, I venture to say, disclosein no single instance a trace of bias against New South Wales. I am surethat those particulars would not indicateon the part of- the Commonwealth a different manner of dealing with that great State than has been adopted by us in regard to every other State of the Union. At times we have to take action that isnot altogether palatable to the States Governments. It may be that sometime* we take action when it is unnecessary, but in many instances our duty requiresus, in spite of our inclinations, to follow the course which we think necessary togive effect to Federal principles. If that annoys any of the constituent States, no one regrets it more than we do; but that regret would not be a sufficient excusefor our departing from the course that we believe to be marked out by true regard for our duty. May I say that in thisparticular, so far as I am aware, therehas been no alteration in the attitude I have adopted since the first proposals inregard to a Federal Capital were laid' before the Conventions. The personal reference I am now making, is due to thefact that quotations from speeches of my own have been made by the Premier of New South Wales, and others, which I to-day indorse as cordially as when they were uttered. I was always of the opinion that it was necessary that a FederalCapital should be established ; was always convinced that it could not be anappanage to any metropolis, to any city, without injury to the Federal principle and" to Federal legislation. I was equally opposed to any attempt to place it in my own native city of Melbourne, or in any other State Capital. At all times, I was desirous that it should be situated more in the interior than are our capital cities.' I considered that it would thus be typical of our belief that the future of Australia is to be found in its broad lands, of great production, and the free population upon them, to whom we look to found the future Australian nation. I have always felt that a city which would, in course of time, represent the Federal idea, must be free from overshadowing, influences. "It should he apart from the provincial spirit. However simple in its structure, or confined in its area, it should be a Commonwealth city in every respect. I was of opinion that we should have a Capital to which the representatives of the whole of Australia would resort, as to a home of their own, and in which Federal influences should reign supreme. This has been the ideal that I have always cherished, and that. I venture to entertain to this day.


Mr Wilks - Is the honorable and learned gentleman going to keep it up in the clouds, or bring it down to earth?


Mr DEAKIN - When the question of bringing it down to earth arose, I preferred, as did most of us, that the free and untrammelled choice of the Parliament should be exercised in regard to the particular site to be selected. When the original Constitution was altered for the benefit of New South Wales, I. bowed to the decree. In order to win the earlier adhesion of that great State to the Federation, we amended it. Far from making any demur, I accepted the change, and championed it to the best of mv ability. From that time to this I have -never engaged in any effort or put forward any proposal to retard the selection of a -site. A statement of mine as to the possibility of its being chosen within three


Mr Mahon - Which site is Aphrodite?


Mr DEAKIN - I thought that the PostmasterGeneral had been successful in attracting to himself that charming lady, but, apparently, there are still rivals in the field. Then there has been another cause of dissension. It seems, to be the habit of no inconsiderable portion of our people, and of a large portion of our press, to misrepresent Australia, to her prejudice abroad, and to misrepresent Australians to each other. We must always be prepared for -party warfare on questions which have evoked great public feeling ; but even in warfare it is forbidden, among other things, to poison the wells. Unhappily in the undue vehemence of our party struggles upon this question, that injunction has been often lost sight of, so that we have an inflamed condition of the public mind to treat before the pros and cons of the proposition can be. calmly discussed. Ninety per cent, of the difficulties surrounding the choice of a Capital. Site are due to the emotion that has been stirred, partly bv public speakers, but chiefly, by the press. Hence in dealing with the plain facts of the case, we are encompassed with clouds of mosquitoes, whose bites carry malarial poison, so that every scratch becomes, a wound. By degrees, something like a fever crisis has been created, though, it may be but a minor one. Nevertheless, I maintain when the difficulties which have surrounded the settlement of this question come to be weighed by, reasonable men, it will be found that this Parliament does not deserve the animadversions which have been passed upon it. If, in the future, any historian is sufficiently interested to investigate the stages, by which we have arrived at our present position, I think that his verdict will be in our favour. From the time when we first invited .New South Wales to indicate her choice of sites, we have consulted her Governments at every turn, whenever they ought to be consulted, representing, as they did, the public opinion of a great body of electors of the Commonwealth. Due regard has been paid throughout to the rights of that State, and any change in its treatment has come from its own changes, and not from the Commonwealth. We have reached the present situation by a series of actions taken in concert with the Government of New South Wales, with the tacit approval of its Legislature. Therefore, having made a choice under the guidance of the State, and acting on information supplied by it, we must be given special and exceptional reasons before we can agree to its rescission. Surely that is a fair demand? We should not assert that we will not admit a mistake, if evidence of it can, be submitted to us ;. but we are entitled to ask that the demonstration shall be absolute, and such as cannot be resisted by a fair mind. If we have come into contact with the present Government and Parliament of New South Wales, it has been by no choice of our own, but by the natural drift of circumstances since we were associated in this matter at the outset with a Government and a Parliament of that Statewhose views appeared to be in exact harmony with ours as to the course to be taken. After we had gone so far, and had done so much, with the consent of the then Government of New South Wales and its Parliament, and had actually arrived at a choice, any suggestion, or proposal that we ought to retrace our steps, should have been put forward in a different manner. It is to be remembered that the Sydney press is following the well-established rule of all newspapers. Ali of them endeavour to strengthen their hold upon their surroundings, to increase their influence, and to extend their circulation. To no one is it more important than to the Sydney press that the future Federal Capital shall be as near as possible to Sydney, in order that their journals may circulate chiefly in the Capital, and that their influence may be most immediately brought to bear upon its residents and Legislature.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does not the Prime Minister think that the Melbourne press was influenced by the same consideration in its endeavour to retain the Seat of Government in Melbourne?


Mr DEAKIN - I have no doubt that hope operated with them. It operates in all cases. Every newspaper has an ambition to assert itself, to extend its circulation, and to increase its influence. That is common to most individuals ; but the newspapers exercise it partly for themselves, and partly in the interests of the principles they profess. I am not complaining, even if this question has received an exaggerated importance largely because the great newspapers in Sydney have realized the importance of securing the establishment of the Federal Capital in a locality within the range of their influence.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can assure the Minister that a great many people in Sydney would object to the establishment of the Federal Capital in Sydney as Strongly as they have done to the Seat of Government remaining in Melbourne.


Mr DEAKIN - I know that any true Federalist would, and, before the honorable and learned member took his place lightly 'touched upon that point, when enrolling myself among those who desire to keep the Federal Capital beyond the sphere of influence of any State metropolis. We desire to establish a truly Federal city. If a'll the circumstances be taken into account, it will be seen that, the delay in our choice has been unavoidable. New South Wales has a great area. I have already said that it has a great number of sites sufficiently eligible. They all had to be searched for and then examined. It was a difficult task, and it was performed twice over, first by the State, and then by a Commission appointed by the Commonwealth. I do not think that any one can allege that in carrying out those examinations any too much time or care was employed. On the contrary, we are being faced to-day. more than four years afterwards, with a demand that one site, which was perhaps cavalierly or lightly passed over, shall be much more closely examined, with a view to its substitution for that which this Parliament

Kas selected. Now the request - and it comes from all the representatives of New South Wales - is for more delay, for closer examination of the sites. If anything were needed to demonstrate the fact that the responsibility for any delay that has occurred cannot be laid at the door of this Parliament, it is to be found in the attitude of the honorable members referred to. I am not reflecting on that attitude, but assert 'that no accusations of neglect can lie against the Federal Parliament when the representatives of the State most concerned are to be found almost unanimously asking for further postponement, partly on the ground that one or more sites that have already been looked at should be more closely scrutinized.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The position of two of the sites has been altered in regard to . the question of water supply. The construction of the Mumimbidgee River works has brought fresh data to bear.


Mr DEAKIN - But the Commonwealth Parliament cannot fairly be charged with responsibility for that or with' delay at any time in connexion with the establishment of the Capital. Further, this Government cannot be charged with delay. The right honorable member for East Sydney reflected on us because we had submitted this Bill to honorable members at this period of the session, and in this way. He forgot for the moment that when this Government came into office in July last a correspondence was in progress between the Premier of New South Wales and his own Administration which was at once transferred to us by means of a very early communication from the former. Mr. Carruthers first desired to know our attitude with regard to the correspondence of our predecessors, and afterwards preferred a request for a settlement of the legal questions associated with the choice of a site. Now, the honorable gentleman will appreciate, better than any layman can, the many issues suggested bv the clause which the Premiers drafted. It was a very excellent clause, in view of their conflicting feelings at the time; but it is an extremely difficult one for even trained legal minds to interpret with absolute certainty. When, therefore, the Premier of New South Wales suggested that as an accompaniment to our proceedings in connexion with the chosen site, or as a preliminary to the choice of some other site, we should first dispose of the legal doubts that clustered round section 125, he made a proposition that was quite reasonable. He suggested a course that we ought to follow if he exhibited a strong preference for it, as he undoubtedly did. He asked us to assist him in taking such action as would enable the legal questions involved to be determined by the High Court. No sooner was that request preferred than we set to work to devise means by which we could achieve the object desired. Our proposed Bill was submitted to Mr. Carruthers - and surely we thus adopted the most conciliatory and considerate course possible - to enable him to criticise it, so that the Cabinet might reconsider its own handiwork if any suggestions were made by him. Next, instead of dealing with the Bill, he suggested that a conference should be held between the Attorney-General of the State and the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. As has been shown, that conference resulted in an agreement being arrived at as to what could1 be done. The way then seemed clear, but for some reason best known to himself, the Premier of New South Wales abruptly changed the whole line of his conduct.He put aside the Bill and the proposed reference to the High Court, and proposed to revive the whole question upon another basis - to reopen the whole history of the matter, and to consider that apart from legal issues. I do not say that he was not entitled to take that course, but I contend that the right honorable member for East Sydney was not justified in laying at our doors the responsibility for the postponement which has occurred. The session has been occupied in carrying out negotiations, in the whole course of which we have exhibited a cordial desire to accede to the reasonable wishes of New South Wales. When, in a recent speech delivered outside Parliament, the Premier of New South Wales stated that the responsibility for the latest delay rested with us, and that he had been obliged to take sudden action because of our tardiness, he surely forgot that ray last letter to him. was dated 15th November - a month since. To that communication I have received no reply, and, indeed, scarcely expected one. Since that date, as honorable members know, the work which this Government have had to do in this House has been of the most serious character. Our obligations with regard to the public business were crowding in upon us, and it was not possible for us, even though1 we had the strongest desire to deal promptly with the 'question, to introduce this Bill at an earlier moment. The choice did not rest with us. The Premier of New South Wales had no doubt properly caused us to consume the whole of the session in negotiations, in the course of which we pursued him with offers to meet his wishes in any way that we could. While seeking to meet1 him, we were driven on to the last month of the session, with all its work and responsibilities - apart from the struggle in this House, which is fresh in our memories, but which has left us anything but fresh. Surely, then., it -is most unfair to suggest that there has been any delay in bringing forward this Bill. I venture to say that neither the right honorable member for East Sydney nor the Premier of New South Wales has any right to complain because we have been compelled to deal with this Bill in the closing hours of the session. A similar course was pursued in the State. The reason for adopting that course was given, and it appears to be sufficient from the point of view of the New South Wales Government. But our reason was even1 a stronger one. The discussion of the question in this Parliament has been fuller and more direct, and has not been interrupted by any action of the Government. So that, in every respect, we can challenge comparison so far as our methods are concerned with those adopted in dealing with the subject by the resolution passed in New South Wales a few days a,go. I do not wish to indulge in any recriminations, or to make any charges. I am accepting as justifiable the course followed across the border; but, by way of defence of this House and the Government, think I can fairly claim to have established the fact that neither this Parliament, nor the present Government, nor its predecessors, has ever delayed dealing with this question more than the circumstances have rendered necessary. If we are discussing this question just before the prorogation, it is due to our having pursued, out of courtesy and consideration for New South Wales, the line of conduct suggested to and pressed upon us from that State. The- alternative which has been put to us to-day by one or two honorable members, and which they say is presented by the action of the Parliament of New South Wales, is one that I am loth to accept. Yet, as it has been put as a -summary of the actual situation, and as indicating to us the only possible way -of escape from the difficulties surrounding hy I feel bound to make some reference to it. We are told by at least two of the representatives of New South Wales that the position is this: It is admitted that the Commonwealth has a free power of choice, subject, of course, to the Constitution. It is granted that we are entitled to pick our . own site, but it is claimed that it is the function of the State Parliament, not merely to consent or refuse to give effect to that choice, but to make a choice of sites for itself,, and to submit those sites to us. Furthermore, whilst admitting our right of choice,, they declare that they have the authority to tell us how we aire to choose - in other words, that they can choose how we must choose. Of course, this announcement is accompanied by a repudiation of any attempt at dictation on the part of the New South Wales Parliament. We are free to choose, but we are only to be free to choose if we choose what they choose for us. That is the alternative that has been presented to us, and I venture to say that it is one that this Parliament cannot and will not accept. It could not accept it with any regard "for its own dignity, or for the Constitution, and is not to be required to do so, either by anything in the Constitution or out of 'it. We are in one breath censured for not making a choice, and in the next for making one that is not approved. Now the question is, what are we prepared to concede to New South Wales? We were prepared from the first to concede to them the right or privilege to select the sites which we should take into consideration. I do not know that they need be considered to have exhausted that right even now. If they have more sites to suggest, or circumstances in connexion with sites already suggested, which they think should be brought under our consideration, I see no reason; why we should close our ears and refuse to listen, or close Our eyes and refuse to see.


Mr Watson - That is a fair position to take.


Mr DEAKIN - We have to admit that under the complex section of the Constitution to which I have referred, there is a double method of procedure open to us - by grant, or by acquisition. Possibly it was_ the intention of the framers of that section that both methods should be brought into operation before the Capital was finally established. -But, whether that be so or not, the word "grant " is clearly there. The area specified as that to be granted is only a minimum of 100 square miles. A larger territory would be necessary, even for the establishment of a small township, and certainly a greater area would be required for the purposes of a national Capital Site.


Mr Watson - Especially when provision has to be made for the reservations for water supply purposes.


Mr DEAKIN - Consequently, if New South Wales is to make that grant, or to have an opportunity of making the grant, and thus to have a voice with regard to the area of our territory - whether it be the final voice or only a suggestive voice - it appears that the Government and the Parliament of that State have grounds for claiming that they ought to be heard. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that, whilst the location of the Capital in New South Wales may be a concession by that State, it is certainly a concession by the rest of the Commonwealth - by all the other States and by the whole of their people. It is not a gift which New South Wales is making to the Commonwealth without consideration. It is a gift for which it' is believed she will derive a great consideration in the future, quite apart from the compliment which the possession of the Capital conveys to the older State. Consequently we meet the Parliament and Government of New South Wales not merely on the footing which we should hold in making a bargain or in enforcing legal rights, but as fellow citizens of the same country, who are engaged in. a transaction which should be governed by a Federal spirit and by mutual consideration. Although we have act'ed with the advice and assistance of New South Wales and in consonance with the policy of its Government, in making our selection, I do not say that even at this late hour the door has been closed or ought to be closed upon any consideration of the matter, for which sufficient reason can be found. On the contrary, I think it is our duty to make it clear to our fellow citizens in New South Wales that we approach this question in the broadest possible spirit, with a desire to do no injustice to them, and subject only to out overmastering obligation to discharge our duty to the Commonwealth as a whole. Beyond that, I am sure we have no motive that! we cannot avow, and no partisanor other end in view. Subject to ourdutyto the Commonwealth, it would be our privilege and pleasure to recognise and weigh the suggestions and wishes of the Government and Parliament of New South Wales, as representing the people of that State.


Mr Crouch - Then we shall never reach any finality.


Mr DEAKIN - We have already proceeded a long distance on the road towards finality, and consequently the suggestions and proposals of New South Wales must be much stronger than they have previously been, if we are to be asked to retrace our steps. Yet when we have given them every latitude, we must recognise that thedecision of the matter rests with the Commonwealth Parliament. It is to be made upon Commonweath motives. It is for that reason - because we do not for a moment lose sight of our right in that regard - that we ought to listen to anything which may be urged, even at the eleventh hour, provided that it is urged, not as an alternative covering a threat, but as a suggestion coming from reasonable men to reasonable men on a matter which is open to argument. As I have already sai'd. the choice that we have had to make is one which it is difficult to assess. There is no mathematical means by which we can pit site against site in all respects. In the temperate and able speech which he delivered to-day, the hon orable member for Bland alluded to the value of the different factors which have to be taken into account. He put, I think - as we all put - the question of water supply foremost. We regard that factor as of the first importance, not only because water is the element most needed in any interior part of Australia, not only because without it the sanitary conditions of modern life, and many of its pleasures, are impossible; but because in many districts it is possible to find in it the cheapest generator of that motive power, electrical or other, which is now being used more and more all the world over. Niagara itself has been harnessed by tunnels, and is transmitting its motive force for more than 200 miles. It is capable of sending it still further. The possession of a water supply which can be used as a motive power is a most essential factor in the success of any city. Connected with water supply is the consideration of climate. Here differences at once assert themselves which have been very noticeable throughout this discussion. In our selection of a

Capital, our preference often depends upon whether we are thinking of summer or winter conditions*.


Mr Watson - The Seat of Government ought to be both ai summer and a winter city.


Mr DEAKIN - Very fe,w cities are both, or are equally attractive in summer and winter.


Mr Crouch - Melbourne is.


Mr DEAKIN - Melbourne enjoys the doubtful privilege of taking its summer and its winter alternately, in irregular doses all the year round.. It is a happy enough climate for me to live and die in, but from the ideal stand-point it has defects. If the sessions of the Commonwealth Parliament are to be held in summer, we must seek a site with a high elevation, and where' cool breezes prevail.


Mr Watson - We do not want to kill the civil servants in the winter.


Mr DEAKIN - I am afraid we are not thinking entirely of the civil servants. There are public servants who are not styled civil, but who have to be considered. The first question which we have to decide is as between a summer and a winter city. It is noticeable how honorable members are divided into two sections in that regard. Those who would avoid the heat if they could support one site, and those who would avoid the cold if they could support another. Many of those who favour the claims of Dalgety have been governed in their choice by a consideration, not only of an adequate water supply, but by its picturesque surroundings - its, proximity to the greatest mounta'in in Australia. Besides, we believe that, in future, summer sessions will be necessary, and while we are associated with the finances of the States, - as I think we shall always be, indirectly if not directly - it is desirable that the financial year of the Commonwealth should terminate at a time prior to the States Treasurers being called upon to frame their Budgets. That, in practical politics, is a very important matter. It seems, to me that in future we shall require to hold summer sessions, and therefore we should hold them in the coolest spot that we can find. If honorable members can suggest a cooler place than Dalgety, I have not yet had an opportunity of discovering it. For summer sessions, it seems to me to be as good a place as we can hope to obtain. If, on the contrary, we are aiming at winter sessions, I admit that forcible arguments may be employed against what has been termed a " wind swept locality " in the neighbourhood of the snows of Kosciusko, which, however picturesque they may be, would not be admired, perhaps, in June or July. But when we come to consider water supply and climatic conditions, which are expected1 to minister to health, I venture to say that, though other places may equal, we can scarcely find one which will surpass Dalgety. It may not, perhaps, attract those who reside for the greater part of the year in the warm climate of the north, or in the dry, high temperatures of the north-west, but, looking to sanitary conditions generally, I doubt whether Dalgety can be surpassed. With me, the question of accessibility hold's a very much smaller place than it does with the honorable member for Bland and the honorable member for Dalley. In choosing a site, I do not think that we should merely consider ourselves, or the next or the succeeding generation. We must recognise that the Seat of Government will certainly not be more than a small township for many years. I do not know that it will ever be a great city, no matter where we may place it. The question of" its accessibility appears to me to be a minor matter, for the reason that if we carry out the original anticipations of many members of the Federal Convention, the establishment of the' Capital in the interior will be followed by very short but hard sessions. We shall meet for three months, or, at the outside, for four months during the year. Three months ought to suffice, because we shall sit all day, and practically every day, though I hope we shall not sit too late at night.


Mr Watson - Ministers would still require some time to attend to administrative matters.


Mr DEAKIN - Whilst that is so, I think that they will have to bear their burden in the unsatisfactory manner that we have had to bear it during the past few weeks. The Capital which I have in my mind's eye is simply a settlement sufficient to contain in legislators, during the three or four warmer months of the year.


Mr Watson - There will be a good many hundred civil servants there in the course of a few years.


Mr DEAKIN - I doubt it.


Mr Watson - How many are there at present in the central offices in Melbourne ?


Mr DEAKIN - I read the number the other day, and was surprised at its smallness.


Mr Watson - There are over 300.


Mr DEAKIN - I do not think that even the whole of them would be required at the Federal Capital always for a long time to come. One of the greatest objections urged against the establishment of a Federal Capital is the cost that it will involve. In my opinion, the cos.t should be small, and need only be small.


Mr Watson - It will cost less to establish the Seat of Government in a new country district than it would to establish it in Melbourne or Sydney.


Mr DEAKIN -It seems preposterous to contemplate the erection of palatial buildings in any Capital that we may choose. We ought not to beabove accepting the simplest accommodation. I take it that the site will be laid out on the plan of a great city, just as was Washington, which remained for half a century a city of magnificent distances. Without descending to the modesty of wattle and daub, anything that will shelter honorable members from the inclemency of the weather ought to be good enough for us, and anything which will shelter our civil servants during three or four months of the year ought to be sufficient for them.


Mr Watson - Our public servants, will be there for more than three or four months of the year. The administration will have to be carried on there.


Mr DEAKIN - I very much doubt it. Whilst we have such a large body of people in the chief centres of Australia - in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide - we must have not only the necessary public servants resident there, but the central staff, and their chiefs must be prepared to visit them during the recess, in order to keep in touch with the great amount of work which has to be done there. The more I see of the working of Federal institutions, the smaller, I think, is the number of public servants whom it would be necessary to retain all the year in the Federal Capital for many years to come. Of course, I am speaking of our own time. It seems to me that we shall not be able to keep many of them away from the great centres of population.


Mr Watson - They will have to be at the Seat of Government.


Mr DEAKIN - Not in this generation, and perhaps not in the next. I have been led to diverge unnecessarily, yet it may be well for the public to know that at least some of us, when speaking of the Federal Capital, have in mind a magnificent city - on paper, with buildings superb - in design ; but intend that for all the time we can see before us, or for which we can be held responsible, file simplest and plainest accommodation - nothing but the bare necessities toliving there - shall be provided. Such plainness would be advantageous to the Government of the day, as well as to the Parliament inasmuch as there would be no temptation to linger there in order to enjoy Sybaritish luxuries.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable and learned gentleman aware that the Financial Committee insisted on estimating the interest on £3,500,000?


Mr DEAKIN - That may be the outlay by the generation of the generation after the next. I am informed that the central staff consists of only 154 officers.


Mr Watson - Does the list include messengers ?


Mr DEAKIN - Even if it did not, the inclusion would not mean a great addition.


Mr Groom - The figures just referred to do not include all the officers who would be necessary in the various Departments.


Mr DEAKIN - All that the electors will have to consider, when they are asked to authorize the establishment of the Federal Capital, will be a proposal to establish a small and rudimentary settlement that will provide for 200 or 300 public servants,111 Members of the Parliament, such of their families who may chose to go there, and those who supply their wants.


Mr Groom -And the officers of the Parliament.


Mr DEAKIN - They are not very numerous. In these circumstances, the question of expenditure is one for the future. The establishment of the Capital on such a basis as I believe this House would approve, would involve practically no increase on the present cost of housing the Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne. It would, of course, be necessary to incur expenses that may be avoided here, but these would naturally be in respect of so small a number, and for only a part of the year, that after all the cost of moving to the Federal Capital, about which so much apprehension exists in some quarters, would really not be so great as many believe. A fair consideration of the facts shows that there is much misapprehension in this regard. I am perfectly sure that a Spartan-like simplicity will characterize, and ought to characterize, the earlier years, and perhaps the earlier generations of the Federal Capital. The figures handed to me a few moments ago, as to the number of officers on the central staffs of the various Departments, relate, 1 am now informed, to what are described as superior officers. Taking all into account, there would be 344 public servants in the. Capital, that is, exclusive of any who might be attached to the Government Printing Office.


Mr Watson - And apart from the military ?

Mr.DE AKIN.- Are they needed to controlthe Opposition, or for what purpose?


Mr Knox - All this emphasizes the point that there is no necessity for hurry or haste in this matter.


Mr DEAKIN - I do not think there is need for hurry or haste, nor do I think that if we transferred this Parliament as soon as possible to the selected Federal site our action should be so characterized. I do not think that there is any obligation in the bond, so to speak, forcing us to select the Federal Capital now, but there is a strong obligation upon us, as representing Federal constituencies, to go into our Federal household as soon as we can. We are at present depending on generosity, most handsomely extended to us by this State, and also on the generous treatment of other States for the accommodation of Parliament, and of some of our officers. We must remember that we are occupying buildings that are the property of other legislators, and to which, for all I know, they may desire to return. At any rate, it becomes usas guests not to remain longer than necessity requires. I fail to see any reason why we should remain longer than the time required for choosing a site, laying it out properly, procuring a sufficient water supply, and erecting the necessary buildings, which should be of a temporary character.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And which might form the kernel of other buildings.


Mr DEAKIN - That could be done. That is the way in which this great building was constructed. In the first place, the two Chambers were erected, then both were connected with the Queen's Hall. Subsequently, apartments in the basement and the front elevation were added. It is quite possible that our buildings in the Federal Capital could be constructed on the same system, but even that may not be necessary for some years. What is desired on every side is economy, and economy should be observed. The Government have submitted this Bill as affording both the simplest and most conciliatory method of dealing with the question at this stage. We have been reminded that the Parliament of New South Wales passed certain resolutions about a year ago, and that those resolutions were intended to furnish the basis for negotiations with the Commonwealth. But most inadvisedly, as it appears to me, that basis excluded even from consideration the very site which both Houses of this Parliament had already chosen. That was not only an ill omen for the success of the negotiations, but was in itself depriving the approach of the Parliament of New South Wales of that friendliness and fair consideration that we might fairly have expected. Then, again, in connexion with the resolutions carried by the State Parliament only a few days ago, a number of other complaints were introduced, which, as I have said, might easily be disposed of, but which must have inflamed the minds of those who heard them, against the attitude of this Parliament in regard to the question of the Federal Capital. We, on the contrary, when called upon to act, have taken the only course open to us consistent with the previous determination of this Parliament. We have assumed, and feel entitled to assume, that this Legislature has not altered its mind as to the site which should be selected. Moreover, with the exception of the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Government are of opinion that it ought not to be asked to alter its mind. That being so, the Bill submitted proposes to delimit distinctly in metes and bound's the particular territory at Dalgety within which the Federal Capital should be established. We have not endeavouredby this Bill to exercise the full power we possess under the Constitution. We have not raised the question of the authority of the Parliament to proceed on its own motion, and in its own way.On the contrary, we have paved the way. for the exercise by New South Wales of the power which that State undoubtedly possesses, to offer to grant to the Commonwealth such an area within the boundaries set out in the schedule, as it feels justified in transfering. The opinion of the Government has not changed in regard to the position of the site, though we were aware that in introducing the Bill honorable members would have an opportunity to reverse our former decision if they could get a majority to vote with them. If we had gone into another Committee, as the right honorable member for East Sydney suggested, and a resolution were passed adverse to the retention of the present site, we should then have had one site named in an Act of Parliament.,, and another in a resolution of this House. That would have been a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The right honorable member overlooked the fact that in this Bill we have provided a much more effective and direct means of enabling Parliament to express its view. Honor-" able members can, if they choose, strike out Dalgety, and substitute some other sitej. That will be an expeditious; and straightforward way of dealing with the question. The Government wish to main-' tain Dalgety, and merely to delimit the area of the territory, though we are willing to listen to anything that may be said on behalf of the other sites. I have not noticed a great deal of what has been said by the Premier of New South Wales, and by others in that State, because it should not affect us in dealing, with the matter. The resolutions passed by the State Parliament really . amounted to a vote of censure on the representatives of their State in this Parliament - a censure which was absolutely undeserved because those representatives, although differing widely on various subjects, have always urged the settlement of this question, and spared no pains to bring it about. Nothing has been wanting on their part. Having paid that tribute to many who are my opponents, may I say that' I have not permitted my Victorian birth and political relation to sway me in the matter. I was opposed to the choice of Albury, although, for a winter city, that place has many great advantages, and of other sites, because they were open to the objection that they would be under the influence of two capitals instead of one. While accessibility is a consideration, it is of secondary or tertiary importance compared with the necessity that the Federal Capital shall be free from the undue influence of the capital of any of the States. I made that examination of some sites which one having no pretensions to be an expert could make by visiting them and reading the reports of experts, though I had the good fortune to be accompanied by the Treasurer, who, as an explorer and surveyor who has travelled far and donemuch, was well qualified to form a judgment on the matter. I have since seen no reason to alter my, opinion that Dalgety is the best site that has been offered to us. If the Parliament of New South Wales knows of better sites, it has now an opportunity - I think the last - to bring them forward. It is plain from the smallness of the attendance this afternoon that we cannot carry the measure to a division now, because there are members who are absent who, no doubt, would like to address themselves to the question.' Honorable members are justified in speaking on a subject like this, because not only is the measure itself of the utmost importance, but we have now before us, for the first time, resolutions of the Parliament of New South Wales which direct.lv affect the reputation of this Parliament in that State, if not elsewhere also. If there are no honorable members who wish to continue the debate, there is no reason why we should not now divide upon the motion for the second reading.


Mr Kelly - Members have gone away on the understanding that the debate would be adjourned.


Mr DEAKIN - In that case the measure need not be pushed to a division; but I wish to place it on record that the adjournment of the debate will be assented to by the Government, not for any reason of our own, because we know that the numbers are with us, but to convenience honorable members who mav wish to speak. The perusal of the report of this debate will show that the question has been considered by us fairly and without heat, with a desire to meet the views of the citizens of New South Wales, and at the same time consult the interests of the people of the Common wealth. There must always be an unsatisfied minority, but at least we have argued our side of the question temperately and fairly. Mv view is that the choice of the capital should be made definitely, and no later than next session, and that, upon its final determination, this Parliament should take prompt action, in the most economical and inexpensive manner, to make a home for itself within its own territory. The intention if the Premiers' Conference is perfectly plain. As the Attorney-General proved conclusively in his admirable and exhaustive speech last night, the Federal Parliament was given a free choice of sites throughout New South Wales, one small area being excepted. In making that choice due regard should be paid to the wishes of the people of New South Wales so far as they can be ascertained, but, that having been done, this Parliament is clothed with ample power to make its own selection, and to act upon it. It will do that honorably, being moved by Federal motives only, with a desire to do the best both for the citizens of the Commonwealth and the people of New South Wales.

Debate (on motion by Mr. McCay) adjourned.







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