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Thursday, 22 August 1912


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . -In regard to the item " Woollen Mills -Acquisition of site and construction of building - towards cost, £8,000," I wish to offer a few observations. It is very curious that a Government who quite recently declared that Yass-Canberra was a most desirable site for the Federal Capital, who affirmed that it possessed an abundant supply of water, and who forced their recommendation down the throats of a majority of their own supporters, should have to send a man all over Australia to find a suitable site for our woollen mills. Fancy Victoria, New South Wales, or South Australia, after deciding to establish a Government factory of any kind, despatching a representative round Australia in search of a suitable site outside their own territories. The thing . is absolutely ridiculous. Yet that is what the

Government have done. They have sent Mr. Smail all over the Commonwealth for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for these mills. Of course, he was despatched to the Federal Territory.


Senator Pearce - He was sent there first.


Senator GIVENS - But the Government "Laving decided that that Territory was good enough for all our requirements, why was that course necessary ? I have no sympathy with the two-penny-halfpenny parochial feeling which is rampant in Australia. We have, one member scheming against another member to get every possible concession and advantage for his district. We have districts rivalling each other in their cadging propensities. We have their representatives going round looking for this, that, and the other work to be established by the Federal Government in particular localities. We have State showing jealousy of State; and we have always the miserable squabble raised by the Melbourne newspapers that because such-and-such a thing has been done in Sydney the same sort of thing ought to be done in Melbourne. The rest of Australia does not seem to count at all. The only parts of the country that are treated as important are Sydney and Melbourne. The whole business is ridiculous. The consideration first and last, the consideration all the time, should be Australia. If Yass-Canberra is good enough to be selected as a site for the Capital of the Commonwealth, surely it ought to be good enough as a site for our various industrial activities ; and if it is not good enough for them, undoubtedly it is not good enough for the Federal Capital. "


Senator Fraser - The Federal Capital would be far better in Sydney, no doubt.


Senator GIVENS - Whatever the opinions of other honorable senators may be, I have never held the view that either Sydney or Melbourne is a proper place for the Capital of the Commonwealth. I have always voiced the idea, rightly or wrongly, that it is a bad thing, to have the political Capital of the country identical with one of its chief commercial centres. For that reason I entirely approved of the provision in the Constitution that required the Capital of the Commonwealth to be somewhere outside any capital city of a State. When the expert, Mr. Smail, went round looking at various suggested sites for the Woollen Mills, he visiter! Yass-Canberra. I should like to put on record a few things that he said on the subject -

My first visit was to Yass-Canberra, the site of the Federal city, embracing from Queanbeyan to the junction of the Cotter Ri vCr with the Mumimbidgee, Duntroon, and Acton. Although the climatic conditions are not up to my idea of the requirements, it would be quite wrong to say that a woollen factory could not be established there, because, with the development of the city, it is certain to have factories of all descriptions, and, no doubt, conditions will then prevail whereby cloth manufacture could be fairly successfully accomplished.

He said that by-and-by, as the Capital City is developed, industries may be established there. But how are you going to develop a city unless you have some industries in it? How are you going to have a considerable population there unless you have remunerative employment for the people to pursue? If we had begun by putting our Harness Factory, our Clothing Factory, our Cordite Factory, and our Small Arms Factory there, we should have had a fairly large population at YassCanberra al ready.


Senator Fraser - Where should we get the men to go there?


Senator GIVENS - Within my own experience I have seen places that were once a wilderness - where there was not a house within a hundred miles - with a population of 30,000 or 40,000 people within the short space of two or three months.


Senator Rae - People always follow where there is work.


Senator GIVENS - Of course they do. Mr. Smail goes on to say -

However, I can only report on the conditions existing at the present time, and I have no hesitation in saying that the idea of establishing a factory there is a long way in advance of the economic conditions that must prevail for its successful establishment.

When are those economic conditions going to prevail if we never make a start? How can they prevail if we leave the place a wilderness? When are we going to have the necessary economic conditions there if we do not attract population? Mr. Smail goes on -

There is no definite lay-out plan of the city, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population, in fact, everything is against the establishment of an isolated factory.

If there is no definite lay-out plan, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population, whose fault is that? It is the fault of the Government, which has had two years in which to do things, and has done practically nothing. We could have had an ample water supply there within two years. All the plans were laid out. Everything was ready -for carrying out drainage works. Everything was ready for the immediate initiation of an efficient water supply - provided sufficient water was obtainable there, and the Ministry assured us that it was when they asked us to accept the site.


Senator McGregor - How could we do all those things when we could hardly get a vote of £2,000 passed a couple of years ago to start work ?


Senator Millen - The Government did not spend all that was voted.


Senator GIVENS - They have never come to Parliament asking for money which has not been granted for the purposes of the Capital.


Senator McGregor - We had to sit up all night sometimes to get it.


Senator GIVENS - What is the honorable senator here for, except to carry on the business of the country, even at some little inconvenience to himself sometimes? What is he paid for? Later on this evening he will be asking the Senate to adjourn for five or six weeks. Yet he objects once in a way to sitting up late to obtain money for the purposes of the Capital, to be established on a site the superb quali- ties ot which he lauded so highly a few years ago. Mr. Smail's statement about the Yass-Canberra site not being suitable for the establishment of a woollen mill may be attributed to the fact that the Government have done nothing to render the place habitable for any one. In consequence of that, he had to go all round Australia looking for a place. But what does Mr. Smail say about Geelong, which has been selected? -

This town is admirably suited for the manufacture of woollen goods, having a constantly flowing river of comparatively soft water, natural drainage for mill effluent into the river, a good industrial population.

Let us examine that statement. What are the advantages claimed for Geelong? It is said to have a good supply of water, and natural drainage for mill effluent into the river. At one time we dealt with a site in which there is the best river in Australia ; yet this Government turned it clown. They would not look at it, because it did not suit the State Rights or -Frights party.


Senator Pearce - Parliament turned it -down.


Senator GIVENS - At whose invitation ? At the invitation of this Govern ment, who did all they knew to force the Yass-Canberra site on Parliament. I repeat that we had a site available in which all those conditions were to be had, upon which Mr. Smail places such high value. They were all available to a superlative degree. Another advantage which Mr. Smail claimed for Geelong is that it is - comparatively near the principal wool markets, well placed for railway and shipping, and a good centre for distribution.

We produce wool of the finest quality all over Australia, and it is available all over Australia.


Senator Fraser - But we have hot wool markets everywhere.


Senator GIVENS - How is it that people in England, the greatest cloth manufacturing country in the world, can come here to buy wool, take it back to Great Britain, and successfully produce cloth, whilst Mr. Smail cannot successfully start a woollen mill if he has to travel 20 miles for his wool? He must be alongside the market, whilst the most successful people in thf world can travel 14,000 miles to buy wool, and still make a success of it.


Senator Rae - France, Germany, and the United States of America do the same.


Senator GIVENS - Not only England, but France, Germany, and other countries that have made a success of woollen manufactures, can send buyers to Australia to purchase our wool, and make manufacturing a success, and yet Mr. Smail wishes us to believe that it is essential that this factory should be established close to a wool market in order that manufacturing may be conducted as economically as possible. The contention is ridiculous ! Looking at this as a business proposition, is there a single individual who, having land of his own available, and wanting to start a factory, would not put it on his own property,, even if the conditions were not perfectly ideal, rather than buy land elsewhere and enhance the value of the property of somebody else?


Senator Blakey - The Government have not to buy land at Geelong.


Senator GIVENS - I am not forgetting that part of the case. Would any man consent to enhance the value of the land of another fellow, whilst leaving his own a barren wilderness? We must remember that if this factory is going to be successful, a large number of hands will be employed. Those hands will have people depending upon them. The employment of them will call into being a number of shops, and exchange agencies of various kinds, to supply their wants. I venture to say that a really successful woollen mill will call into existence an extra population of some. to, 000 people. For those 10,000 people we shall have to pay 25s. per head to the State in which they live. So that the establishment of this factory elsewhere than in the Federal Territory will simply have the effect of enhancing the value of the property of private individuals, whilst the Commonwealth will have the privilege of paying 25s. per head, on account of the employes, to the State in which they reside. The whole position is ridiculous. Meanwhile we are going to allow our own Territory to remain a barren wilderness. It must continue to remain one unless we turn it to profitable use. One of the profitable uses to which it might be applied is for carrying on the industrial activities of the Commonwealth. But if the Government are going to try to placate one State with a sop in the way of a Commonwealth factory, we shall have other States demanding similar concessions. We shall have a continuous rivalry amongst the States and districts, as well as amongst the representatives of those districts, who will "barrack" for one favour after another. In the meantime the interests of Australia can go hang all the time. I am utterly opposed to a policy of that kind, and intend to take pretty drastic action on the present occasion to express my opinion about it. This is the only remedy that is left to us. Time after time honorable senators have voiced their opinion that the industrial activities of this Commonwealth should be established within the Federal Territory. We have little enough of our own to establish anywhere. Why should we be looking round to establish industries elsewhere than in our own Territory? We have previously expressed our opinion emphatically by placing a resolution on record affirming that Federal factories should be established within the Federal Territory. If the Government turn a deaf ear to our repeatedlyexpressed and emphatic declarations of opinion, there is only one, course open to us. The action that I propose to take on the present occasion, with a view of marking our disapproval, is to move, as I now do -

That the item, " Woollen mills - Acquisition of site and construction of building - Towards cost, £8,000," be reduced by £1.







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