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Thursday, 11 November 1948


Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .- I congratulate the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) upon the introduction of this measure. Honorable members have stressed the undemocratic nature of the system which exists in Canberra to-day. Prom 1927 until the outbreak of "World War II., governments of the political complexion of honorable members opposite were in control of the planning of Canberra, and of its administration, and for Opposition members to stress now that this Government'3 measure of self-government for the National Capita] is not adequate does not excuse the fact that they gave to this city no form of self-government at all. The defects of the administration of Canberra to-day are a legacy to the present Minister from the past. The Minister was taken to task by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) because he had not done anything to modify the Canberra plan. I point out, however, that the Minister is the only one of a succession of Ministers who has attempted to vary the original plan to meet the needs of the Canberra community, particularly with the object of providing improved shopping facilities. The member for the Australian Capital Territory will not have the same voting power as other members of the Parliament. It is necessary to understand that, in order to give the member for the Australian Capital Territory full voting power, an alteration of the Constitution would have to be approved by the people of Australia. The Commonwealth is a federation of six States, and the Constitution sets out how those States are to be represented in the Parliament. When the Constitution was framed, it was not contemplated that territories controlled by the Commonwealth would ever be represented by members whose votes would be able to disturb the balance of the voting power of the six States in the National Parliament. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and the honorable member for Henty, were in agreement in one respect: they stressed the need 'for civil self-government in Canberra. The honorable member for EdenMonaro pointed out how vast is the expenditure of national revenue in Canberra 'above the revenue contributed by the people of Canberra. According to the Estimates for 1948-49, the revenue from all sources hi the Australian Capital Territory is expected to be £500,000 for the year. The vote for the Territory this year is £909,000, in addition to which capital works undertaken by the Commonwealth in the Territory are expected to cost another £2,256,000. Thus, expenditure in the Territory will be nearly seven times as great as the revenue raised in the Territory, and that is the impediment to the granting of civil selfgovernment. The present difficulty can be traced to a defect in the original plan for the building of Canberra. This is the National Capital, but it is also a city in which people must live. It would have been better if the plan had provided in the beginning for a governmental centre, with government buildings which would be the responsibility of the National Parliament. Outside that, there should have been a residential area which would enjoy civil self-government. Under the present system, it is difficult to differentiate between governmental and civic needs. Some weeks ago, I made a statement about services and shopping facilities in Canberra, and it earned me more publicity than any speech I ever made in this .Parliament. Even that august institution, the joint campaign committee of the private banks, took notice of the statement, [n a recent circular issued to bank clerks, it stated that a .socialist member of Parliament had discovered that socialism was defective, and that he had found it particularly defective in Canberra. In my statement, I referred to bread and milk, which are not socialistically produced in Canberra. I also referred to shopping facilities, and they are not under public control, either. However, I am not concerned with the distortion of what I said. I am concerned with the functions of the member for the Australian Capital Territory, who will have to consider problems which have arisen in Canberra. The most serious of these has to do with something which is the very reverse of socialism. It is the existence in this city of private monopolies. I congratulate the Minister for the Interior on his intention to provide more shops in Canberra. I hope that it -will be made a condition of the lease of those shops that the lessees shall have no connexion with any existing business in Canberra ; or, better still, that the shops, when constructed, shall be leased to the Canberra Co-operative Society. It 19 interesting to examine how closely various businesses are linked in Canberra. I criticized shopping facilities, and my remarks evoked a hysterical response from the Canberra Times. I have since discovered that one of the firms which I criticized owns a block of 3,000 shares in the company which publishes the Canberra Times, so that the voice of the journal was not the voice of an independent person who disagreed with me. but the voice of a servant defending his master's products. There is much interlocking of business interests in Canberra, and no real competition. 3 hope that steps will be taken to check the monopolistic trend in Canberra business undertakings.

The member for the Australian Capital Territory, if he does not enter the Parliament by courtesy of some existing business interests which might finance his campaign, with the support of the Canberra Times, will 'be a valuable acquisition, a valuable stimulus to the Government, and a help to the Minister for the Interior in the development of Canberra. This bill will remove a grave injustice. The people of Canberra are at last to have a voice in the Parliament. I hope that, when electing their member. they will make sure that he is independent of the private business monopolies which have grown up in the Territory. I congratulate the Minister for the Interior upon having introduced this measure which, though a simple one, is likely to have widespread repercussions.







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