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Thursday, 3 November 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - I think I have already defined my position fully, but I want to emphasize again that we have got to make haste slowly with regard to the building of the Capital. I want it to be distinctly understood that, in voting for Senator Foster's amendment, I put emphasis on the words "earliest practicable date." Like all members of the Senate, I have no desire, when the time becomes opportune, not to carry out the obligation that Australia has entered into. As I stated when speaking on this matter on the last occasion, when Australia entered into this compact it was only burdened with a debt of £9,000,000 ; it is now burdened with a debt which saddles the community with £60,000,000 of taxation annually. With the markets for our products depressed, is this not a time for honorable senators to stop and think seriously before voting large sums of money for works which can be put aside for the present, at all events? I take very strong exception to the action of the Association in New South Wales that has addressed honorable senators in a "stand and deliver" attitude. Unfortunately, I am not a member of the Association. I am rather, sorry for the Association.

Senator Duncan - The Association does not request anything of the honorable senator. It refers to- the New South Wales representatives, who are members of it.

Senator WILSON - I take exception to being addressed by an outside organization in that manner. The Constitution provides that there shall be six senators representing each of the six different States of Australia, and that they shall act on behalf of the whole Commonwealth.

Senator Keating - What have you to say of the Premiers' Conference?

Senator WILSON - I have not a voice in it, or I would say a lot. I take exception to a great deal that is done in State matters when senators representing the States are completely overlooked. '

Senator Foster - Does not the honorable senator ever get abused 1

Senator WILSON - I would almost be lonely without it. Honorable senators are not carrying out their duty or function if they look at this matter from a parochial stand-point. My friends take exception to my saying that it is a political move, but here is a political organization in New South Wales taking the liberty of addressing senators and telling them what they ought to do. The statement made by me has been justified and amplified by the documents which honorable senators have received.

Senator Duncan - The document merely " advises " the honorable senator. He is misinterpreting it.

Senator Keating - It says that the Nationalist members of New South Wales " demand " certain things.

Senator Duncan - We are " demanding," and we shall keep on " demanding."

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No Government can govern Australia without the support of New South Wales.

Senator WILSON - I am well aware of that. I am very pleased that the community had the foresight to ' provide a Senate. New South Wales is the largest factor in the Commonwealth from the population point of view. I am certain that no representative from any State is anxious to dishonour the compact that was entered into, but exception is taken that the present time is not opportune. Senator Thomas, in his opening speech, said nothing to justify this expenditure now.

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