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Thursday, 6 October 1927

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- The proposed vote for the Home and Territories Department furnishes me with an opportunity to refer to a promise that was made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate in reply to questions that I asked regarding the development of the Federal Capital Territory. The answers I regarded as entirely unsatisfactory, particularly in their relation to sales of leases that were made in the Territory in April last. I was informed that 20 leases were then offered for sale, the upset prices ranging from £1,000 to £3,000 in the Civic Centre, and being lower in other centres. Each of those 20 leases was sold, that on- which an upset price of £3,000 had been placed realising £5,100. The lowest upset price in the Civic Centre was £1,000, and the realization was £2,200.

Senator Findley - What is the area of the blocks?

Senator ELLIOTT - They have a 20- ft. frontage with a depth of approximately 108 feet. It must be realized that the sum offered has not to be paid, but that it is adopted as a basis for computing the rental to be charged. The block for which £5,100 was accepted will carry an annual rental of £255. It has been stated that the upset prices placed on the allotments at the 1926 sales were arrived at by expert valuators after a consideration of the prices realized at previous sales. Notwithstanding that fact, those upset prices were practically doubled at the sale. It has actually been contended that the results of the April sale indicated that the blocks then offered amply fulfilled the existing demand. If that is so, why did people pay double the upset prices? It is apparent that the offerings were not in any way commensurate with the demand, and if a greater number of blocks had been available, the upset prices would not have been exceeded. It is obvious that the Federal Capital Commission is adopting a forcing policy just as would a private land-holder who held a monopoly. As a friend of the Territory, I suggest that the Government should obtain the services of outside experts to advise it as to the proper policy to pursue. It is obvious that the Minister accepts without question whatever is placed before him by the commission. One block for a motor service station at Eastlake was offered, the upset price being £2,000. Because of the keen competition for the block the price realized' at auction was £11,300.

Senator J B Hayes - What is the b'ize of the block?

Senator ELLIOTT - I do not know exactly; it is a little larger than the shopping sites at Civic Centre. I do not know how the lessees will be able to pay an annual rental of £568 for that block unless they charge their customers enormous prices. It must be remembered that that amount paid was for the land without buildings. The excessive price realized was due to- only one site in the city being made available for the purpose of a motor service station.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - There are other sites in the Territory on which garages may be erected.

Senator ELLIOTT - At Ainslie there is a motor garage site, but it Avas already occupied at the time of the sale. Intending bidders were given to understand that no further sites for motor service stations would be made available, and thus to obtain the block the present lessees were compelled to pay a price far in excess of the upset.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Has any building been erected on the block ?

Senator ELLIOTT - So far as I know, no building has yet been erected on it.

Senator Crawford - A structure of some kind has been erected there.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Is the block near the railway station ?

Senator ELLIOTT - It is not far from the present railway terminus at Eastlake ; but it should be remembered that eventually the railway station will be situated near the Civic Centre. The only inference that can be drawn from the high prices realized at the sale is that the number of sites offered was not sufficiently large.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [3.44]. - I shall see the Minister for Home and Territories personally, and acquaint him with the position as set out by Senator Elliott.

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