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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) (Minister for Home and Territories) [10.31] . - In regard to the case of Colonel Leane, which has been brought forward by Senator Elliott, I would inform the Senate that the Norfolk Island Commission was appointed on the motion of an honorable member of another place. The commissioner visited the island, took evidence and furnished a report. When that report was presented to the Government, Colonel Leane was about to leave Norfolk Island for Melbourne. On his arrival here a copy of the report was handed to him, and he was asked to make his comments upon it. The Cabinet then considered the report, together with Colonel Leane's comments upon it, and came to the decision announced. According to a paragraph in the press to-day Colonel Leane has publicly stated that he informed the Minister that he intended to vindicate himself in the courts, and in these circumstances I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of the case at this juncture. It is true that Colonel Leane has informed me of his intention to institute court proceedings, and therefore the matter is morally sub judice.

Senator Elliott - The Minister has quite made up his mind to terminate Colonel Leane's services?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - The matter was submitted to Cabinet, and Cabinet so decided.

The honorable senator also referred to an officer at Rabaul who has not received the increments to which he considers he is entitled. I remind the honorable senator that all such increments have to be recommended by a superior officer who has a knowledge of the official's capabilities. If annual increments which are to be paid on the recommendation of the Administrator are not received we can only assume that the officer is not entitled to them. It is impossible, of course, for the Minister controlling the department to have a full knowledge of the work performed by every official in the Northern Territory, Papua, New Guinea, Canberra, and Norfolk Island.

Senator Elliott - Has this officer the right to' appeal?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.If he performs his work satisfactorily he will doubtless receive an increase on the recommendation of the Administrator.

Senator Elliott - He cannot appeal to the Public Service Board?


Senator Elliott - Is the Minister prepared to give this officer the right to appeal to that board?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW He is not under the Public Service Board.

Senator Elliott - Therefore the Administrator is the sole judge?


Senator Elliottalso dealt with the subject of building leases in the civic centre at Canberra. I was absent in Sydney when the answer supplied by the commission to his question was given. I do not know ' that the answer given in the Senate to the honorable senator's question conflicts with a statement said to have been made by an officer of the Lands Department. The questions submitted by Senator Elliott were forwarded to the Federal Capital Commission, which stated that no additional blocks would be made available, because sufficient bricks could not be obtained to allow buildings to he erected on these sites.

Senator Elliott - That was not stated in the answer as supplied in this Chamber.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - The full and somewhat lengthy reply received from the commission was furnished in a condensed form in answer to the honorable senator's question. Two months hence the second kiln at the brickworks will be in operation, when further supplies of bricks will be available. Further sites will then be allotted.

Senator Elliott - Has the Minister any comment to make on the answers submitted to the questions I asked to-day?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.I wrote a personal letter to the chairman of the commission in regard to the honorable senator's statement as to the use of Roman tiles on buildings in the civic centre, and received the reply which I gave in the Senate to-day. The chairman informs me that tenders were called for the erection of two buildings on blocks with a 20-ft. frontage, for which the price was £1,648 each. Senator Elliott now says that that price does not include the bricks. That fact is not mentioned in the chairman's letter. I cannot say if the commission was aware of that fact, but I am sure that Senator Elliott will agree with me that the chairman would not intentionally mislead me. No doubt, in reply to inquiries, he was informed that these tenders had been received ; but the fact that the bricks were to be supplied by the persons inviting the tenders may not have been mentioned to him. I think it is generally admitted that the commission is doing good work. I visited Canberrarecently and was surprised to see the progress mads since it has been in control. We should not forget the great difficulty and high pressure under which the commission is working in order to provide the necessary accommodation by the time Parliament assembles at Canberra next year.

Senator Elliott - Does the Minister approve of Roman tiles being brought from Melbourne when satisfactory tiles are being manufactured on the spot?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.The honorable senator will admit that the roofing must be in harmony with the style of architecture decided upon. The extra cost involved by the use of Roman tiles in this instance is only £35 on each building. Senator Elliott also said that certain persons who had purchased leases at Canberra two years ago were now demanding a premium on the prices at which they purchased. Can any one find fault with that?

Senator Elliott - No one would object to that if further building blocks were made available by the commission. The present system enables speculators to ask for a premium.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.Building blocks are available for those who desire them ; but if too many were made available prices would decrease.

Senator Elliott - That is not the concern of the department.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - As the Government has spent very large sums in improving the Capital it is entitledto some return in the form of increased land values.

Senior Elliott. -The land cost the Government £4 an acre. Is not a return of £4.000 an acre sufficient?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.The Government is certainly entitled to some return on its heavy expenditure. . I think the honorable senatorsaid that the unimproved value of the land was £4 an acre, but he surely does not expect city land to be sold at the price paid for it as a sheep walk.

Senator Elliott - When the upset of £4,000 is secured the commission should be ready to sell any quantity.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.Yes. but if too much land was made available the price would decrease. Further blocks will be made available when the demand arises.

Senator McHugh - How is the demand ascertained ?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - . By inquiries as to the number of blocks wanted. The commission has no desire to unduly inflate prices, because it is anxious to encourage building. If prices increase the commission will obtain the advantage when the land is re-appraised. At the moment I cannot say how the commission arrives at the upset prices. The chairman of the commission is ably assisted by his fellow members, Sir John Harrison who has had extensive experience in the building trade, and Mr. Gorman, a capable land valuer. Sir John Harrison gives a good deal of his time to the work of the commission, and is rendering excellent service.

Senator Elliott - Will the Minister obtain a definite statement from the commission as to the style of buildings they require to be erected in the civic centre ?

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.The honorable senator has been objecting because, he says, a particular style of architecture is insisted upon. Now he asks that a definite type be fixed.

Senator Elliott - I objected only to thefacade.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.A few days ago the honorable senator said that only buildings of a certain type could be erected.

Senator Elliott - I objected to the facade.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Yesterday the honorable senator objected to the type of building which the commission requires to be erected, and to-day he is asking for a definite statement from the commission as to the style of building it requires.

Senator Elliott - That is a misrepresentation of. the facts, and the Minister knows it.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.The honorable senator will pardon me, but I do not. He is very well aware that a definite style of building was provided for before he made any complaint in this Chamber.

Senator Elliott - A definite style of building only as to the facade. I actually produced a photograph of the facade.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Surely the honorable senator realizes that the facade shows the design of the building !

The CHAIRMAN - The Minister has exhausted his time.

Senator H.HAYS (Tasmania) 1 10.48]. - It is regrettable to find complaints being made of the way in which operations have been carried out at Canberra since they have been under the control of the Federal Capital Commission. I have no intention of discussing the merits of the case which has been submitted by Senator Elliott. He has taken a keen interest in the matter for the last two or three weeks, and it has been the subject of considerable debate in this Chamber.

Senator Thompson - Is he not personally interested?

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