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Thursday, 29 July 1920

Mr MARR - We often hear that the electors are above Parliament. Honorable members admit that at least one day in every three years, but I should like to say that I made definite pledges to my constituents in connexion- with these matters, and I intend to adhere to those pledges. The erection of the Federal Capital is not a matter bv which New South Wales is going to benefit. It, is Australia that will benefit bv the building of the Capital. The great war through which we have passed was brought about because one nation refused to honor a treaty it had made, and treated it as a scrap of paper. If the Commonwealth Parliament is going to treat the agreement made with the people of Australia, and not merely with the people of New South Wales, to establish the Federal Capital as a scrap of paper, my voice will be raised against it. I do not say that Canberra is the best place for the Federal Capital, but that is a matter that has already been decided by the Australian Parliament.

Mr Brennan - Will the building of the Capital reduce the cost of living ?

Mr MARR - It will reduce the cost of government to the people of Australia. We are now paying £80,000 a year in interest on money that has already been expended at Canberra.

Mr Brennan - How long will it take the Federal Capital to become selfsupporting?

Mr MARR - It will become selfsupporting almost immediately. We are at the present time paying in the shape of rent for buildings in Melbourne to hou=e Commonwealth officials approximately £30,000 a year.

Mr Jowett - Does the honorable member imagine that that amount would be saved by transferring the Seat of Government to Canberra 1

Mr MARR - No, but that amount would represent interest on a capital expenditure sufficient for the erection of buildings in the Federal Territory where, it should not be forgotten the Commonwealth owns 900 square miles of country. A most important feature of this question is that we can never expect to inculcate an Australian sentiment in the minds of our people unless the Federal Parliament is removed from the influence of the parochialism of any city. I should like honorable members to have been associated for a number of years with the men of the Australian Imperial Force. No matter from what State they came they were always Australians, and not Victorian, New South Welshmen or men of any other State. It was most galling for members of the Australian Imperial Force upon their return from the Avar to find, when they got to Melbourne, that the people of this city, were jealous of Sydney, and to find, when they got to Sydney, that the people of that city were jealous of Melbourne. I do not hold a brief for Sydney any more than for Melbourne, and I should not personally give a vote to transfer the Seat of Government to Sydney. The same influences that are at work in Melbourne to-day would be at work in Sydney if the Seat of Government were transferred to that city. I repeat that when we come to consider the Estimates of the Department concerned I shall move that they be reduced by £1 as a protest against the omission from this Supply Bill of a vote sufficient to make a start with the buildings necessary at the Federal Capital. If we are to start building the Federal Capital we must have workmen to carry out the work, and it would never do to send workmen there at the present time and expect them to put up with hovels or to be accommodated in a concentration camp. We should make provision for decently housing the necessary workmen and their families at Canberra. If we gave them an assurance of, say, five years' work I have no doubt that many would be prepared to settle down there comfortably, and land could be leased to them. The capital value of land in the Territory would, as a consequence, go up immediately. Although we have 900 square miles of country in the Federal Territory, the income derived from that area at the present time is a very insignificant amount.

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