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Wednesday, 12 October 1921


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I desire in the first place to thank the Government for permitting me to submit to-night the motion standing in my name. On some two or three occasions, in order to suit the convenience of the Government, I gave way at the request of the Minister when I could have gone on with the motion. I move: -

That in the opinion of this Senate, His Majesty's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth should, after the prorogation of the present Session of this Parliament, advise His Excellency the Governor-General to summon the next Session to be held at Canberra, the Federal Capital.

About twenty years ago, when the Federal Constitution was accepted, a contract was entered into between New South Wales and the people of Australia that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales territory. I mention this because there are some who are inclined to forget that such a contract was entered into. I feel that I can speak on behalf of the people of New South Wales in this matter, and say that they are disappointed at its non-fulfilment.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not say exasperated ?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am extremely moderate, and I wish to put the matter as moderately as I can. There are some people who have not forgotten the con- tract, who know it exists, and who yet are opposed to. the transfer of the Seat of Government to the Federal Capital. The loudest opposition comes from Victoria, and particularly from Melbourne, and we are entitled to ask whether the opposition is based on patriotic grounds, or whether consciously or unconsciously the opponents of the transfer to Canberra are actuated by some selfish motives. We may reasonably inquire whether those people are afraid of losing a certain amount of prestige, or perhaps a certain amount of financial support, through the Seat of Government being removed from Melbourne.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Or another seat in the House of Representatives.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot see how going to Canberra would affect the representation. I a3k whether they are actuated by patriotic grounds or by the question of the personal convenience of members and officials. It has been stated openly and publicly by members of this Parliament from Victoria, some of whom represent Victorian constituencies to-day, that they would not be able to go to Canberra because it would so interfere with their arrangements that they would either have to give up their business, or cease to be members of the Federal Parliament. It has been affirmed that in their case they would prefer to sever their connexion with the Parliament. Some three or four .months ago the Hon. James Page, whose death sent the Parliament into mourning, submitted a motion' in the other House practically similar to the one I have just moved, and, within two or three days of the motion being presented, a leading article appeared in one' of the principal metropolitan newspapers of Melbourne. I quite ad'mit that a leading article in a newspaper may be only the private opinion of the person who writes it, or it may reflect only the opinion of the proprietor of the paper, but 1 think we may assume that when such an article is written, either for or against a cause prominently before the minds of the public, the strongest possible arguments available to the writer for or against the question will be employed. The leading newspapers are wealthy organizations, and they are able to obtain the services of the ablest writers on the particular questions dealt with.

If we take the arguments used by the Age newspaper, which' is one of the ablest, and certainly one of the bitterest, opponents of the transfer of the Federal Parliament to Canberra, I presume we shall be covering the strongest objections which can be raised to the proposal. It is stated in the article referred to that it is very desirable that those who object to the transfer should give full force to their objections. So I take it that in this article we have the full force of the objections raised to the Federal Capital being established at Canberra. It is a long article, which one may f airly say embodies those arguments. To begin with, we are told that there are difficulties in the way, apart from the cruelties it would inflict upon members. I might be permitted to pause one moment here, because this is the first time to my knowledge since Federation - and I have been a member of Parliament since the inception of Federation - that a single word has been raised in this particular newspaper as to any inconvenience that might be occasioned to members. Always, until this time, when anything has been proposed for the convenience of members, it has been denounced by the Age as extravagant.. Now, for the first time, this newspaper speaks very tenderly of the cruelty and inconvenience that might 'arise through members being transferred to Canberra.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can you say that it is further from Melbourne to Canberra than from Sydney to Melbourne ?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not so. I was, naturally, struck with the tender anxiety of the writer of this article, and being a little cynical myself I asked, "Why this sudden conversion?"

My chief object to-night will be to try to persuade the Senate to fix some particular date on which we shall transfer the Parliament to Canberra. It is extremely interesting to read the - history of the transfer of the capital in America from Philadelphia to Washington. The history of that movement shows how analogous to the position in Australia are the circumstances under which Washington was built. In the first place every objection was raised against leaving the place which was. then the Seat of Government to go into new, virgin, and neutral territory. Vested interests played their part, just as they are doing in Australia to-day. State jealousies were at work in the same way. At last an American senator submitted a motion practically similar to the one I have moved this evening, except that it did not deal with His Majesty's Ministers. The senator simply moved that the President of theSenateshould summon that body to meet atWashington. Certain articles were written in the press of America' at the time dealing with the cruelty of leaving the flesh-pots of Philadelphia in order to go into the wilderness of the Potomac. In fact, I am not quite sure that there was not a certain amount of plagiarism in the article which appeared in the Age on 13th April. This is what was published in an American article -

In. the last year of the century, Congress moved, bag and baggage, to its future municipal home. What it found there did not excite any very great enthusiasm. The surface of the so-called city was covered with scrub oaks, and the. shrubbery which flourishes in marshy places, of which there were only too many near the Capitol. The largest avenue (Pennsylvania) was in reality a morass covered with alder bushes. Streets were an unknown luxury. The solitary sidewalk, between the Capitol and the Treasury, was improvised of chips hewn from the public buildings, and the sharp fragments lacerated both the feet and the feelings of pedestrians. The Capitol, White House, Treasury, and War Department buildings were in process of erection or just completed, but there were no other buildings of size or importance, not even hotels. The disgusted members were obliged to lodge at Georgetown and to go thither by stages over very bad roads. The contrast was the more unhappy as many members had grown attached to the comforts and refinements of Philadelphia, which at that time boasted 50,000 inhabitants. In the end, however, this barrenness bore good fruit. The very obvious defects before their eyes made all men, whatever their previous theories on the subject, more favorably inclined to render the city at least habitable, if not elegant.

The Americans did that. . If we were called upon to move to Canberra tomorrow we would not have to put up with the inconveniences that the members of Parliament in America had to put up with. In proof of that statement, I have here the first report of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee, which, I think, has been laid on the table of this Chamber. There are some interesting things in that report, and one of them I would like to read. There has been a certain amount of work done at Canberra, and in regard to this the report says -

The. proportion of works unsatisfactory - but, in a measure, useful - is small. The actual capital loss on unsatisfactory works, in' the opinion of the Committee, does not exceed 1 per cent, of the capital outlay thereon.

That, to my mind, is very satisfactory. I happened to be in another House when, strange to say, a Minister of the Crown at that time denounced some of our officials for the work done at Canberra. A Royal Commission was appointed, and some remarks of that Commission were not flattering to those who did the work. Some people had an idea that there had been a great deal of extravagance at the Capital, and I think it only right to read what this Commission, which was appointed by the Government, said.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Were not some members of that Commission sitting in judgment on their own work ?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There were two. The Commission consisted of Mr. John Sulman, Consulting Architect; Mr. E. M. DeBurgh, Chief Engineer for Water Supply and Sewerage, Department of Public Works, New South Wales; Mr. Herbert E. Ross, Architect; Colonel P. T. Owen, Director-General of Works, Commonwealth Works and Railways; and Mr. J. T. H. Goodwin, Commonwealth Surveyor-General. This report has been signed by the five members, so that three persons outside of Government officials have been good enough to indorse it. I have just read what the Americans had to put up with on going to Washington. We, on the other hand, find by this report that already -

An adequate and satisfactory water supply has been provided, including a weir and reservoir on the Cotter River impounding 380,000,000 gallons; an electrically-operated pumping station; 31/4 miles of rising pipe mains; pipe-head reservoir at Mr Stromlo (3,000,000 gallons capacity) ; 61/2 miles of gravitation pipe main toRed Hill; and a reservoir atRed Hill (3,000,000 gallons capacity). Special attention is invited to the attached detailed reports(vide Appendix " C. ") adopted by the Committee, and already submitted with its Fourth Interim Report, of 21st April, 1921. In this report it is shown that the selection of the CotterRiver as a source of supply for the Capital has insured an ample and pure water supply, and that the works carried out in connexion with the pumping scheme are amply sufficient to meet the requirements of the Capital for many years to come, whilst facilities exist for the construction of other works for enormously increasing the supply . . .

Brickworks, with up-to-date equipment, have been built, and the manufacture of highquality bricks established on sound economic lines, which can be extended to meet future demands. The construction of concrete pipes has also been satisfactorily developed, and investigations have been made into the local sources of supply of other essential materials ...

Railway connexion with the New South Wales ' system at Queanbeyan has been . effected and extended in the form of a constructional tramway, crossing the Molonglo River on a timber bridge, into the site for initial development, thus facilitating access and the transport of materials.

Engineering workshops are available to maintain a large stock of construction plant, and joinery works have also been set up.

A good deal of useful and satisfactory work has been done at Canberra in comparison with the work done at Washington before the senators and members of the House of Representatives of America went there. There are many more conveniences, and generally Canberra offers far greater advantages than did Washington. We have rattling good roads throughout the Federal Capital, water, a sewerage system, and electric light. There is Queanbeyan within 8 miles, and Goulburn and Yass within motoring distance, and we have motors and trains running right into the Capital. None of these things was possessed by the Americans when they went to Washing- ton. I noticed in a newspaper the statement that in one of the State Parliaments of America there is a blind chaplain who every day travels 35 miles there and 35 miles back, in order to attend the meetings of that Parliament to read prayers. We have a great many conveniences that the American members had not. History does not tell us whether the American legislators broke down under the many great inconveniences they had toput up with. I suppose that if they had done so, we would have been told of it. Washington to-day is testimony to the patriotism of the American legislators, who were prepared, in order to fulfil the Federal compact, to put up with the incidental inconveniences. I take it that we are not of softer clay or feebler fibre than the representatives of America. I have lingered a little bit over the question of the inconveniences that would accrue to members. I would be very sorry if the writer of the article in the Age should feel that we were having to put up with a great deal of inconvenience and hardship. As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) indicated just now, it would not be any greater inconvenience for New South Wales members to go to Canberra than to come to Melbourne.


Senator Wilson - Would it be any greater convenience?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Personally, perhaps it would, but that is not the question. This is a matter of keeping a contract with the people, regardless of whether it is convenient or inconvenient to us personally.


Senator Wilson - If the people made the contract, I suppose the people can breakit.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course they can. The people of New South Wales have entered into a contract with the people of Australia. They ask it to be redeemed. They ask it to be dealt with, not merely as the Germans dealt with a " scrap of paper." They are asking . us to honour the contract we entered into.


Senator Elliott - Was there any time fixed for its performance?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - A promissory note was given in which no time was stated. I ask whether honorable men should not deal with a promissory note within a reasonable time? Are we to say that because a promissory note has been given and no time has been fixed the people need not honour it?


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The absence of a time limit does not justify repudiation.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course not. Twenty years have already gone by, and the promise has not yet been redeemed. In the Age article we are told that a contract was entered into between the people of Australia and the people of New South Wales, and they say that "No honest man would endeavour to break that contract." I am very glad indeed to know that a newspaper which has been so bitterly opposed to the transfer to Canberra has stated in a leading article that no honest man would endeavour to prevent the contract being honoured. We are glad of that admission. It is something to help us along the way. But there are some objections to the transfer. We are told that we ought not to go at the present time, because of the financial stringency of the market.- I take it that this argument is being voiced by a number of people.


Senator Elliott - There is a £2,000,000 deficit.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have a surplus of £3,000,000. There are people who say we ought, as honest men, to go some time or other, but that now is not the time. The Age goes on to say, " Oan any honest man, inside or outside of Par- 'liament, say that now is the time?" I have no hesitation in saying, even at the risk of being called a dishonest man, that now is the best possible time, even from the money stand-point, to go to Canberra. We ought to have gone years ago, when it would have been better from a financial stand-point than it is now.


Senator de Largie - It would be a good time now to sell property in Melbourne.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not talking of property in Melbourne. It would have been better to have gone years ago, because it would have cost us less to transfer. By every day that we delay we are adding to the cost of moving. Therefore, the sooner we can get there the better it will be from a financial standpoint. The continued expansion of the activities of- Parliament increases the cost of removal- every day. The longer Parliament stays here, the greater will be the activities associated with it. In this Budget there is a new Department created - the Department of Public Health. Immediately you increase the activities of government,, you must have buildings to put the officers, in, and you have either to rent or build them. If the time comP3 when you have to transfer the activities of government, the greater the number of them the greater the cost of the transfer. Consequently, I have no hesitation in saying that now is the best time, even from the financial stand-point, to move to Canberra. We could have had a better time in the past, but no time will be better in the future. We have a great asset in the Federal Territory - an asset of land that is not being utilized. Immediately we go to Canberra the land will bring in a revenue. There is a revenue being brought in now from the land we have resumed, and. it is paying for its cost already. If we started to create a city, people would go there ' and would build, land values would increase, as they do everywhere -else, and an annual revenue would be derived. 'Instead of this being done, that asset is lying idle. Every day that we delay we are actually losing money. The Government could readily get a private company to put up all the buildings required if it were given the land.


Senator Wilson - I should look for that company.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would not. The land at Canberra is a good asset, and I should not be prepared to part with it. If Senator Wilson had shares in a paying mine, he would not be inclined to hand them over to some one else. I do not suggest that, at the present time, costly buildings should be erected at Canberra, such as might be considered suitable for the National Capital of a people numbering 50,000,-000 or 100,000,000. The population of Australia is little more than 5,000,000, so that marble palaces are notrequired at Canberra ; bub we should have buildings there, it may be of a temporary character, but suitable for our purposes. It is a matter of indifference whether legislation is passed in a tent or in a marble building.- I venture to say that the mother who has to pay more for boots for her children because Parliament has imposed a duty on boots, is not concerned as to whether the duty was imposed in a tent or in a marble palace.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator thinks that it would be equally welcome to- her.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that she - would prefer to have the duty repealed in a tent, to having it imposed in a marble building.

I am glad to find that the Federal Capital Advisory Committee do not, in their report, advocate the present erection of permanent buildings for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra. They say -

The erection of permanent buildings should be deferred until later stages of the city's development. .The Parliament and Administrative buildings in the first stage should be of a temporary character

I quite: agree with that. I am sure that the people of New South Wales do not desire that the Commonwealth shall spend a' lot of money at the present time in erecting costly buildings at Canberra.

They will be satisfied if the transfer of the Seat of Government is made, even though their Federal representatives should be called upon to put up with some of the inconveniences of pioneers. I gave notice of my intention- to submit this motion some three or four months ago. It may now be 'impossible to erect the necessary temporary buildings in time to enable Parliament to be summoned at Canberra, when it meets after the next adjournment, unless the recess decided upon should be a long one.- I should personally be prepared to give the Government a recess sufficiently long to enable that to be done. I do not hesitate to say that, within twelve months, all the work really necessary for the transfer of- the Seat of Government to Canberra could be done. In connexion with one of the exhibitions held in America, the people of. that country, within twelve months, erected a hotel that housed 20,000 people.


Senator Elliott - At what cost.?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I' do not know the cost, but I know the time within which the building was erected.


Senator Keating - Did not Ministers inform, the honorable senator that, according to the estimates of their advisers, it would take three years to complete the transfer ?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is according to the plans proposed by the Federal Advisory Committee.


Senator Keating - Was not that a special estimate obtained at the instance of Sir George Fuller, when Minister for Home Affairs?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, there appears to have been some misunderstanding in connexion with this matter. I was present with Sir George Fuller at a public meeting at Katoomba, some little time ago, at which a motion was proposed urging the transfer of the seat of the Government to Canberra. He made a statement at that meeting that, when he was Minister for Home Affairs, he had plans drawn up which would have enabled the transfer to be made in twelve months. I said that I was very pleased to hear his statement, and that when I returned to Melbourne I would ask for those plans. I haveasked for them and have been told that they are not in the office of the Department. I have wired to Sir George Fuller telling him what has happened, and I shall get his reply later. It may be that I: misunderstood what he said. But we all know that if people are determined to do anything it can be done. There is one general present who is a member of the Senate, and he could tell honorable senators what was done under pressure in time of war.


Senator Elliott - We are still recovering from the effects of that.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - One of our generals told me the other day that our engineers built railways, and that marvellous works were completed within a very limited time during the war. Honorable senators have heard of Mr. Kirkpatrick, a very prominent architect of New South Wales', who built the Commonwealth Bank, which every one who sees it will admit is a great credit to all concerned in its erection. I was speaking of it recently to Mr. A. E. Box, who was secretary to the High Commissioner some years ago, and who has travelled around the world, and he mentioned that, with the exception of one in New York, he knew of no bank building in any other part of the world to compare with the Commonwealth Bank. When I put a question to- Mr. Kirkpatrick on the subject he told me that if he were given a free hand he could put up the buildings necessary for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra within twelve months. I admit that he could not do so if he were to be hampered by the Public Works Committee, and we must abolish inquiry by the Public Works Committee so far as these buildings at Canberra are concerned-. There is a good deal to be said in favour of doing so. Surely the work of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee is not to be criticised by the Public Works Committee.


Senator Keating - The Public Works Committee must, inquire into all works estimated to cost over £25,000.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We can abolish that . provision so far as works necessary for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra are concerned. Mr. Kirkpatrick told me that he could build everything necessary for the transfer of this Parliament to Canberra within twelve months, and I have mentioned the fact that a hotel accommodating 20,000 people was built in the United States of America within that time. The whole population of Canberra will not amount to 20,000 for a number of years to come. If we cannot do what has been done in other countries in the matter of building there must be something wrong with our engineers and contractors. Senator Elliott will agree that our soldiers compared favorably with the soldiers of Europe, our cricketers have humbled the Englishmen on the cricket field, and, if given a free hand, our architects, engineers, and builders cannot do what similar men have done elsewhere, let us introduce some people into this country who will be able to do it. Do not let us limit our immigrants to rural workers, but let us introduce also people who will be able to help us to build up a nation. Unless Parliament is prepared to give them a free hand and to tell them that it is necessary that they should do the work required within a certain limit of time, we cannot blame our officials if they do not carry out the work in the time required. I was much struck some years ago in learning from, a Queensland representative, I think it was Mr. Fisher, that when Sir Thomas Mcllwraith was Premier of Queensland he wanted the military Estimates cut down. He gave his officialsa certain time in which to carry out the reductions he required. At the end of a fortnight or three weeks, they came to him and said that they regretted very much that they were unable to cut down the Estimates. He then said, " Very well, gentlemen, I give you another fortyeight hours, and if you cannot do so within that time, other officers will be appointed who will do what I require of you." At the end of the forty-eight hours the Estimates were cut down in the way desired by the Queensland- Premier.


Senator Foster - How much more rapidly could they write them up as the honorable senator desires?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The point I desire bo make is that if we want this done it can be done. -

I do not desire to take up time arguing the necessity for our going to Canberra. That is not a question for this Parliament to decide. It has already been decided by the people of this country, and the decision is a part of the Federal agreement. Honorable senators representing Western Australia will remember that when the Federal Convention was taking place there was nothing in the draft Constitution about building a railway from east to west. When the State Premiers of that day met they decided amongst themselves that if Western

Australia came into the Federation that railway should be built. That was not an agreement between the people of the different States of Australia, but an arrangement arrived at between the Premiers of the various States. Still I venture to say that it had a great deal to do with the construction of the railway, and had an important influence in the Senate and in another place iri inducing members of this Parliament to decide upon its construction. The New South Wales people honoured that part of the Federal bond. We are losing about £500,000 a year on that railway, and the people of New South Wales have to bear nearly half of that loss. If a bond entered into in that way by representatives of the people was honoured, there is all the more reason why a bond entered into between the people of the different States themselves should be given effect. I think that there are no people who should "be more ready to honour this bond than the people of Victoria. When the Conference of State Premiers to which I referred took place, and Mr. (after Sir George) Reid was anxious that the Federal Capital should be established in Sydney, that proposal was objected to by Sir George Turner. A compromise was arrived at, at the request of the late Sir George Turner, as a result of which the Capital must be at least 100 miles from Sydney. Consequently, Victorians should be the very last people to raise any outcry about a "bush Capital," because, as I have shown, this provision was inserted in the Constitution at the instigation of the then Premier of this State. We all admit, of course, that we have been very generously treated by the Victorian Government and the Victorian people. For twenty yearswe have had the use of this building rent free, and a residence for the Governor-General has been placed at our disposal free of interest on capital cost.


Senator Wilson -. - Fancy running aAvay from something that costs us nothing !


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Well, some people are prepared to honour a contract rather than evade it.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And do not care to impose indefinitely on the generosity of others.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is so. We have been treated Avith great generosity by the Victorian Government and the people of this State. Whenever any temporary assistance has been required by any of our Departments, it has always readily been made available by the Victorian Government. For- that we are exceedingly grateful.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you not think that some legislative advantage would follow the removal of the Capital to Canberra?


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do, .and I intend to refer to that matter before I resume my seat. The removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra will mean something more than merely the convenience of the members of this Parliament. I hold strongly to the view that our legislation cannot be truly national in character until Ave are in a position to legislate in a Territory of our own, and free from the influences of a great city.

The people of New South Wales feel that they are justly entitled to the fulfilment of the contract. It has been said, of course, that many people of New South Wales are indifferent on the point, but "this is not true. I have quoted the opinions of the Melbourne Age. Perhaps I anay be permitted to allow a leading Sydney newspaper to voice the sentiments of New South Wales on the subject -

Wo are, in fact, impressing the marshalling of the very provincial forces to escape which the provision was made that the Federal Parliament should sit in a territory of its own, remote from .the selfish ambitions and greedy interests of a big city.

That applies to Sydney as well as to Melbourne.

If New South Wales is to be swindled out of the Federal Capital and the Constitution smashed, let us know where we stand. Let us at least have don© with the elaborate humbug that is going on.

In appealing to honorable senators to support my motion, I recognise that, however willing tho Ministry may be to expedite the transfer to Canberra, they are powerless unless Parliament is behind thom. But I cannot help feeling, and I am speaking as moderately as I can on *his matter, that we were not treated fairly by the Nationalist party, at least so far as two members of the Ministry are concerned, when the last test vote was taken, in another Chamber, because two Ministers of the Crown failed to record their votes.


Senator Wilson - Their conscience pricked them, I suppose.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then they should have resigned from the Ministry, instead of scurrying away and not voting on this issue. To my mind, it is unfair for members of a Ministry not to take their full share of any responsibility. I leave it at that. We are entitled to expect the Ministry to be united and to be solidly behind us in this matter, because it is part and parcel of the Government policy. The Ministry are responsible for the Estimates, in which certain provision is made for the transfer to Canberra, and we have a right to expect that every member of the Government shall vote for the proposal. Every New South Wales member, whether Nationalist or Labour, has voted every time for the transfer of Parliament to Canberra. In Victoria every member of the Labour party also supported the proposal, which, as I have shown, was opposed by certain Nationalists and two Victorian members of the Ministry in another place. As a member of the Nationalist party, and anxious that it should succeed at the next election, I am concerned that people may ask why it is that while members of one party are pre- pared to honour the contract, there is hesitancy on the part of certain members of another party.

The Age article, to which I have already referred, goes on to say that there are dangers to Democracy if the. Federal Parliament is transferred to Canberra, owing to a weakened representation. All I can say is that there will be no weakened representation from New South Wales. It is quite possible that one or two distinguished representatives of Victoria, rather than sacrifice their business interests in order to go, would retire from the Parliament; but it does not by any means follow that, taking Australia as a whole, there would be any weakened representation at Canberra. The article suggests, also, that without the effective exercise of public opinion there will be an aggravation of machine government, and a wider separation of the Administration from the people. If that is true, then we have no right to go to Canberra to-morrow, or the day after, or, indeed, at any time. However, I shall not argue that question to-night. When Federation was an accomplished fact, the late Sir Edward Barton, whose name stands high in Australia and throughout the civilized world, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, Sir George Turner, Mr. R. E. O'Connor, Sir William Lyne, Mr. B. R. Wise, and Sir George Reid, all were of the opinion that the Capital should hot be in some great city, but rather that it should be removed from ally such influences. With all due respect to the writer of the Age article, I think I can safely rest upon the opinion of these distinguished leaders in the Federal movement. I also note that the opinion of the A ge is not shared by many other journals throughout the Commonwealth. For instance, the Kalgoorlie Miner states! -

The policy of "magnificent construction works " as a necessary preliminary to occupation, has simply played into the hands of those who wanted, and still want, to keep the Seat of the Federal Parliament and Government in Melbourne .till the last possible moment.

If a resolution is carried in both Federal Houses that the next Parliament meet in Canberra, even if the buildings for accommodating it as its dignity demands are still innubibus, it is difficult to see how it can be disregarded. No Government, however reluctant, could wriggle its way past such a direct mandate. Therefore it is profoundly to be hoped that such a resolution may be carried. But it is certain to be bitterly fought by selfish and' unscrupulous Melbourne influences, indeed by Victorian influences.


Senator Russell - Why make the censure so wide? You know this objection to the transfer is only a sectional movement in Victoria.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yet it caused two Ministers of the Crown to evade their responsibility in a test vote. I know, of course, that, irrespective of those views the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has always voted for the transfer. He has always been a staunch friend of the Canberra scheme.


Senator Russell - And so are all good Victorians. Do not blame us for the views of the daily press.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am sure Senator Russell will always be ready to help us to get to Canberra as soon as possible. I know it may be impossible for Parliament to meet at Canberra in the time stated in my motion, and, therefore, I would not stress the motion to breaking point by demanding that we meet there next session; but I think that-


Senator Crawford - Make it in the " sweet by-and-by."


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; I will not do that. I think we are entitled to have a definite date fixed for the meeting of the Federal Parliament at Canberra. If we do this - and it was done in America - then the Seat of Government will be removed to the Federal Capital on that date. Already we have a large number of conveniences there. It is near to Goulburn, Queanbeyan, and within motoring distance of Yass. We do not want elaborate buildings. Even some of the items mentioned in the report to which I have referred may, I thirds, be- cut down. For instance, there is the provision, £3,000 for taking the Prime Minister, the President, and Mr. Speaker across. I think it is possible to do that for less than £3,000. Therefore, we might save a little' on that and upon other items. When the contract was honorably entered into twenty years ago, the people of New South Wales did not ask for a time limit. They trusted to 'the honour of the people of Australia, as represented in this Parliament, and I am loath to believe otherwise than that the people's representatives here are anxious to honour the bond as. soon as possible.







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