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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) .- I move-

1.   That the Senate disagrees with the proposed alterations to the plan of the lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs, as notified in Gazette No. 98 of 20th September, 1927.

2.   That the foregoing resolution be transmitted to the House ofRepresentatives for its concurrence.

As one who has taken a keen interest in the establishment of the Federal Capital, I make a practice of studying the regulations and ordinances - and they are many - which deal either directly or indirectly with the City of Canberra. That, I confess is a tedious and difficult task. Some time ago I endeavored to induce the Ministry to agree to consolidate the various ordinances which have been passed from time to time, but without success. Probably not one member of this Senate has the slightest idea of the number of ordinances and regulations which have been passed, to say nothing of their nature and contents. No one is in a position to say what is the area of the city, because its boundaries are varied from time to time practically at the whim of the Federal Capital Commission or the Minister. Many years of strenuous work elapsed before the decision to establish the Federal Capital in its present magnificent setting was made; and even then the decision was arrived at by a narrow majority. The establishment of a Federal Capital has always been opposed by what is, fortunately, a diminishing number of members in this Parliament. When it was decided to establish a city in the place selected, the Government of the day wisely decided to invite applications throughout the world for the best lay-out of that city. It was recognized then that if the city were not properly designed, heavy expenditure might he incurred in later years in remedying mistakes. It was desired that there should be no repetition of the experience of Sydney, where the authorities have been faced with heavy expenditure in remodelling portions of the city because it was not properly planned in the first instance. Cities like Adelaide and Melbourne, which developed according to well thought-out plans prepared by surveyors, have many advantages over cities which, like Sydney, grew up along the bullock tracks of the early days. In response to the call for designs, a number of schemes came before the judges who were appointed to select the best design. Having considered them all carefully, the judges finally awarded the first prize to the design of Mr. WalterBurley Griffin, of Chicago. Notwithstanding the merits of his design, the opposition to it was so great that at one time it was set aside and a departmental plan substituted. Fortunately, however, public opinion was sufficiently strong to force theauthorities to adhere to Mr. Griffin's plan, which had fairly won the first prize in the world competition. I view any alteration of that plan with suspicion, althoughI admit that in every instance that suspicion may not be well founded. However, I want to be certain that the opposition which once was sufficiently strong to set aside Mr. Griffin's plan is not still operating against the lay-out of the city along the lines suggested by its author. In the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No.98 a notice of a proposed alteration of the lay-out of the City of Canberra, appears. From time to time similar notices have appeared in that publication. There appear to be about 40 departures from the original plan. The Gazette contains a plan of the proposed alteration,on which the particulars are given in what I believe is known as diamond type. The type is so small that it has a. face not more than one-sixteenth of an inch long; the lettering is very fine. The plan itself is only 12 inches long by 9 inches wide. It is quite impossible for any one to ascertain exactly from this what alterations are intended. We ought to have the fullest explanation of what is intended. I notice a proposed alteration at the south-east corner of the city which seems to mo to involve going round a semi-circle instead of in a straight line. The operation seems to be repeated seven or eight times. It may be necessary; I do not know that it is not; but I think we ought to know why it is to be done. We ought to have a larger plan before us. It seems to me to be a good idea to abandon the rectangular method of laying out cities as applied to Melbourne and Adelaide; but . I. am at a loss to understand why, when we have a straight street going t hrough a circle, it should be split up, and portion of the traffic should be compelled to go round a semi-circle. That idea seems to be carried out in a number of places. I suppose there are about 40 alterations shown on the plan. We ought to have an explanation from the Minister of the effect they will have on the Griffin design. I do not know that many people take- a keen interest in the matter; but I am one of those who do, because I realize that once a city is firmly planted it takes an enormous amount of energy, money, and time to effect any alterations. At one time Sydney was laid out by some farseeing wide-visioned man, with all the streets 100 feet wide; but some narrowminded people came along afterwards and said, " This place will never be a city requiring streets of this width." And they cut them down to 50 feet and 60 feet, with the result that hundreds of thousands of pounds have had to be expended to widen them to cope with the traffic increase of Sydney.I should like the Minister to assure me that the Griffin plan will not be seriously interfered with, and that there is no other way of doing what the commission proposes. My purpose in bringing forward the motion was to see what effect the proposed alterations were likely to have on the original plan, as laid out by Mr. Griffin.

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