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Thursday, 22 August 1912


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) .- I have listened carefully to the arguments of the Government as the authors of this proposal ; and, so far as they have any force at all, they can be placed under two heads. The astonishing thing to me is that one of these arguments is such as could have been reasonably expected, not from a radical Labour Government, but from an ultra-Conservative Government. Shortly stated, it is the old Conservative argument that " the time is not yet ripe " - that the Federal Capital might be a splendid place for Commonwealth factories by-and-by, but not yet. lt is said that there is no means of communication, and no water supply ; but if the Government were in earnest, and made a start even now, all the necessary works could be completed by the time the factory was ready. The other argument is that there is not the necessary population, and that in consequence a labour difficulty is to be feared. We are told that it is a great advantage to have such works in centres of population, where labour is at once available; but the town of Bourneville, established by the Cadburys, and the town of Port Sunlight, established by Lever Brothers, are certainly the most successful in the world, and were built far from centres of population. These firms went, as it were, into the wilderness and established ideal settlements, far superior with all their advantages, to any of the slum districts in which factories are usually to be found in the Old Country. Could not the Government have followed that good example, and begun these factories in their own Territory under new conditions, with nothing to undo? It is altogether futile to talk about a labour difficulty. As Senator Rae pointed out, there can be no labour difficulty in a district which is a few hours by rail from Sydney, the most populous city in Australia. I have known places, out in the NeverNever, not only hundreds of miles,, but, in one case, thousands of milesfrom any popular centre, where there was not a soul, and yet within three or four months, great cities have grown up with every modern convenience. If that can be done in the case of gold rushes, and so forth, why cannot it be done by the Government, with all the facilities at their command? If we ask why the people of Geelong are so anxious to have the Woollen Mills there, the answer presents an argument in favour of selecting a site in the Federal area; because the real reason why they are prepared to give the land for nothing, and other concessions, is that the establishment of. a new factory would lead to a large accession of population, and enormously increase the value of privatelyowned land. In such cases as these, it is the landlord who reaps the benefit; and the Government, by establishing the factory there, are presenting to the landlords of Geelong something that they have never earned, and have no right to possess, namely, the unearned increment. It is really the credit and enterprise of the people of Australia that establishes this factory, and any unearned increment ought to be received by the people as a whole, a result which could be brought about by establishing the factory on the middle of land owned by the people. The Labour Government, from whom we had a right to expect better things, have gone out of their way to establish this factory at Geelong, and it was rather ungenerous of the Minister to twit us with the statement that this is the first time that we have taken such drastic action as this. I explained, when I moved the request, that we had on several occasions expressed our opinion most emphatically in this regard, and that the Senate had gone to the length of placing its decision on record that all these Government enterprises should be established in the Federal Capital. It was only when we found our remonstrances were in vain, and were flouted by the Government, that we were compelled to take this drastic action, and if it were not for the fact that some honorable senators do not like to see the Government " put into a hole," the Government would be hopelessly beaten.


Senator McGregor - The honorable senator was never afflicted with that sentiment.


Senator GIVENS - I confess it is not a motive which should influence a representative of the people, who ought to make up his mind what is the right thing to do, and then do it, irrespective of consequences.


Senator McGregor - Does the honorable senator think that we have not done that ?


Senator GIVENS - I am satisfied that the honorable senator, as Minister, has not done so, but rather that he has been subject to those insidious influences which always place the man on the spot at an advantage, as compared with the man at a distance. I do not doubt the ability of the expert as a woollen manufacturer, but I do doubt his ability as a judge of the suitability of a particular place in Australia for carrying on this work. He had been here, so to speak, only twenty minutes, when he issued a report, as if he had known all the conditions, climatic and otherwise, of all the places visited, for the last twenty years, but he could not have sufficient knowledge on which to form a trustworthy judgment. An angel from Heaven could not in such a short time have an acquaintance with the conditions necessary to give an authoritative opinion. For those reasons I intend to call for a division, and 1 hope the majority of honorable senators will be in favour of the national policy of placing national works on national territory.







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