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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - I desire to say a few words in opposition to the motion. It is dis appointing that even one member of this chamber is prepared to revert to the freehold system of land tenure in the federal Capital Territory. I hope that Senator Elliott stands alone in that respect. The decision of Parliament concerning land tenure in the Territory is set out in section 9 of the Seat of Government Administration Act of 1910, in the following terms : -

No Crown lands in the Territory shall be sold or disposed of for any estate of freehold, except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this act.

I feel certain that this provision was not inserted in the Constitution, itself because the framers of that instrument were convinced that the people were so strongly in favour of it that it was unnecessary to set it down in block and white It was realized that a leasehold policy would make the Federal Territory, and particularly the capital itself, a most profitable Government investment. In reply to a question that 1 asked recently, I was informed that the total rents now received by the Federal Capital Commission from lands in the Territory amounted to approximately £500,000 per annum. Senator Elliott would like to reverse the land policy and institute a system of freehold. The Treasurer told us not long ago that, notwithstanding the adoption of a freehold system of land tenure throughout the Commonwealth, 48 per cent. of the people were unable to secure homes of their own. Senator Elliott would prefer to see them living in houses belonging to others and paying high' rents to the owners. He has made some of the most absurd statements ever uttered in this chamber. He has been most unfortunate in his remarks about Canberra. When he tried to obtain the lease of a particular city area, he found that somebody else had secured it, and he was forced to pay a bonus of £1,100 to the original lessee for a block with, I think, an 80-foot frontage. His remarks about the system of laud tenure at Yallourn and Wonthaggi were beside the point. He contended that £100 should be set aside with respect to each block allotted, so that in 100 years the'' sum of £40,000,000,000 would have accumulated, and with that money, he said, the whole of Canberra could be repurchased., I cannot understand his proposal, and T am glad to know that the Minister docs not approve of it. For many years England was the home of freehold, and it has proved a complete failure there. A book entitled The Landandthe Landless, by George Cadbury junr. and Tom Bryan, M.A., shows that, in 1883, 37,13:1,50s acres, comprising England and Wales, were held by 973,011 persons. Therefore, the millions of England have no land of their own. That is an infamous condition, and one that Senator Elliott would like to see reproduced in the Commonwealth. Wherever the freehold principle has been applied, it has cither drive, the people off the land, or forced them to pay heavy rents to the land-owners. The founders of Canberra did not contemplate that, land speculators would carry on their nefarious operations here, lt was believed that the increment in value would belong to the people. We are told that an Englishman's home is his castle; but a more mischievous statement was never made.. Englishmen are allowed to remain in that country only if they pay their rent regularly. I hope that this reactionary mid mischevious proposal will be defeated.

Question resolved in the negative.

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