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Thursday, 22 August 1912


Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - In connexion with all big undertakings, it is necessary, before a large expenditure can be embarked upon, to carry out numerous works of a minor character. It would be folly to attempt to carry out the larger works until the preliminary undertakings have been completed. The small works in connexion with the Federal Capital will occupy time, although a great deal of money cannot be expended upon them. I hold in my hand a preliminary sketch of what requires to be done. It reads -

The acquisition of the 85,000 acres in the Federal Territory having been completed, embracing the site upon which the Federal Capital City will stand, the lands traversed by the pipe line to the Cotter River, the dam site and reservoir on the Cotter River, some of the land lying between the City site and Queanbeyan which will be traversed by the railway, the sewage farm, the outfall sewer, the afforestation area, &c. - the Department is now in a position to proceed with a section of the initial works preparatory to the establishment of the City.

Of these works, which it is proposed to undertake during the current financial year, the first is the purchase and erection of a power plant.

Obviously it will take some time before we get that power plant.


Senator Vardon - Has the plan of the City actually been decided upon?


Senator PEARCE - No. But it will be by the time we are ready to do any work on the site. It will take time to secure that power plant, which will be a very essential factor in reducing the cost of all subsequent works.

This plant is for the purpose -df providing power to generate electricity for transmission to any part of the Territory where power is necessary in the construction of these works ; for example, the brick works, the pumping plant at the Cotter River, various machines in the construction of the dam, tunnel, service and pipe-head reservoirs, outfall sewer.

This plant has been designed, and will .be laid down in units, which units represent about 800 kilowatts. The plant will cost about £20,000.

I think I am correct in saying that tenders for the plant have been accepted -

It is also proposed to at once push on to completion the dam at the Cotter River for the conservation of water for domestic and civic purposes. The plans for this work are practically ready, and the site has been decided on. The dam will be about go feet high and will impound sufficient water to meet the requirements of the City for at least one year.

Obviously, until that work has been completed, we cannot proceed with those works which require a water supply.


Senator Givens - That work might have been begun two years ago.


Senator PEARCE - But it was not. It is being commenced now -

A pumping plant will be installed here to lift the water 830 feet to a pipe-head reservoir on Mount Stromlo, which will be placed in hand this year.


Senator Millen - Are all the works mentioned by the Minister covered by this amount? Will £100,000 provide for the whole of them?


Senator PEARCE - That sum does not represent their total cost, but merely the expenditure which it is proposed to incur during the current financial year. Obviously some of these works will extend over a longer period.

Tenders will be invited for the supply of the necessary pipes for the rising main and the service main, which latter will be taken from the pipe-head reservoir at Strom to the service reservoir at Red Hill, which commands the whole of the City area proper.

It is estimated that 90,000,000 (ninety million) bricks will be required for Government buildings and works alone in the Federal Territory, and it is proposed to erect a brick works at an estimated cost of £25,000 with an output of about 15,000,000 (fifteen million) bricks per annum. A suitable clay for brick-making purposes has been found and tested with excellent results at a site close to the City, and it is hoped that bricks will be made and delivered on the site for about 25s. (twenty-five shillings) per thousand.

It is obvious that, whilst we may make the bricks at the Capital, a large quantity of material will have to be brought there. If we are to obtain that material at an economic rate, we shall need a railway to carry it to the Seat of Government. Therefore, one- of the earliest works projected is the linking up of the Capital with one of the main line? of New South Wales.


Senator St Ledger - What do the Government allow for that?


Senator PEARCE - £[25,000. The line will be a short one, covering a distance of only about 7 miles -

It is proposed to at once proceed with the construction of a railway between the Capital City and Queanbeyan - a distance of about seven miles. "This it is estimated will cost about £25,000.

The roads throughout the Territory are now in fair condition, but it is necessary that a certain amount shall be expended to maintain them in that state. Tt is also proposed to proceed with the deviation of the road to the Cotter River from the Capital Site on an easy gradient to be formed and made for heavy traffic. Additional roads will be opened up where necessary, with a view to providing the best means of intercommunication possible between all parts of the Territory.

A further stock of Australian timbers to the extent of some £5,000 will be specially selected for joinery purposes at the City. These timbers will be stored and seasoned on the City site for use as required.

As a joiner myself, I say that that is a very necessary expenditure. and should be undertaken, at an early stage, because, whilst we have plenty of local timbers which are equal to any timbers in the world for joinery purposes, our difficulty is to get seasoned timber. Last year we purchased some timber for this purpose, and the amount on these Estimates is intended to add to our present stock -

A nursery for afforestation purposes has been prepared at "Acton," where trees, plants, and shrubs will be propagated for use where necessary. It is proposed also to utilize an area at Strom, some six miles out of the City, as an afforestation nursery on a much larger scale, it being desirable to have practical demonstration as to those trees which are best suited for the conditions within the Territory.

The surveys of the boundaries of the Territory, the triangulation, classification surveys, surveys of holdings, &c, will be pushed on with all expedition. At the same time the survey for the location of a railway line from Jervis Bay to the Capital is in progress, and will be continued to completion. So far this survey has disclosed no serious engineering difficulties.

That is an outline of the work that is to be commenced under this vote. I say that to spend money on other works before these are put in hand would be merely waste. The proper course is the one that we are taking Whether it should have been commenced earlier or not is another question. The proper way, I maintain, is to carry out the work in such a manner as to make the subsequent work as economical as possible. The designs for the Capital have now been accepted, and a committee is at work to decide as to how much of those designs can be put into effect. By the time the plans are prepared for the Government buildings, the railway, the power plant, and the lighting works will be well in hand, and all things will be ready to proceed further. It will then be for Parliament to push forward with any speed that it desires with the-actual building of the Capital. But it is obvious that this preliminary essential work will take some time. The power plant itself has had to be ordered from England, owing to the fact that no electrical plant of that capacity could be made within the Commonwealth at a reasonable cost. It will take some time for the plant to be supplied. To suggest that we should proceed with building without the power plant, the railway, and the water supply, is not to recommend an economical course of procedure, but one which would entail a waste of money. The document I have read shows that the Government are proceeding expeditiously on economical and sound lines.







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