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Thursday, 8 July 1926

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- A gooddeal could be said in support of the points raised by Senator Kings mill. Senator Pearce interjected that the designs of all residences constructed in large municipalities have to be approved by the local authorities. That is true, but it seems that the Federal Capital Commission is altogether too autocratic. There is no appeal from its decisions. Almost every week the courts are dealing with cases in which municipal bodies have attempted to prevent the erection of certain types of buildings, and, in some cases, the by-laws under which action has been taken have been declared ultra vires. The construction of houses for public servants is, I think, covered by paragraph j of section 14 of the principal act. The houses at Canberra are being constructed on leasehold land, and the whole property will ultimately revert to the Commonwealth.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Some are being erected on the hire purchase system.

Senator ELLIOTT - That does not affect the point at issue. The freehold of the land cannot be acquired and the longestlease on which it can be secured is 99years. If the houses were being constructed on freehold land outside the Federal Capital Territory, special legislation might be needed ; but when built for public servants, on land which will ultimately revert to the Commonwealth, the position is covered by paragraph j. Apparently it is intended that the commission shall construct houses for whoevermay require them, and, therefore, an extension of power is necessary.

Senator McLachlan - If the commission has let certain contracts, its action must be validated by legislation.

Senator ELLIOTT - If these houses could be easily disposed of to public servants, probably there would be no difficulty. From what I have heard only five of the 37 designs submitted by the commission are considered to be in any way suitable, and, doubtless, it desires to unload those of an unpopular design on the outside public. From that view-point, it may be necessary to grant the commission more extensive powers even in connexion with the houses already erected.

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