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Tuesday, 22 March 1927


Senator FOLL (Queensland) .- Complaints have been made that the Federal Capital Commission has not made available a sufficient number of business sites ; but, in my opinion, it is better that an insufficient number of such sites be thrown open than that too many should be offered. Throughout the Commonwealth there are many people who are looking to Canberra with a view to establishing businesses there. The commissioners who know the existing conditions at the Federal Capital are better able to estimate its progress during the next 25 or 30 years than are the members of the general public. They are the best judges of the number of leases of business sites that should be offered for sale.

We all know how shop property at times depreciates in suburban areas because the supply has exceeded the demand. If, as Senator Grant suggested, the commission offered 1,000 business sites, the chances are that, in the course of a few years, a number of leases would revert to it, and we should have the spectacle of isolated empty, or partially constructed business premises, instead of uniformity in development, which the commission is endeavouring to ensure. The commission being on the spot is in the best position to estimate the probable requirements of the Federal Capital, and we may rest assured that when the first auction sale of leases was held the number offered was believed to be sufficient for the time being. Since then the population at Canberra has increased, and to meet the expected increase in business turnover, the commission is now offering twelve more retail business sites in the civic centre. Senator Grant was most unfair in his criticism of the commission. We all know that he has taken a personal interest in the development of the Capital; but it is a pity that he should have made a statement that the commission has deliberately done everything in its power to check the progress of the city.


Senator Grant - I was referring to the small number of building sites made available.


Senator FOLL - Then the honorable senator is making an irresponsible statement, for which there is not the slightest foundation.


Senator Grant - I was referring particularly to the number of leases that have been offered from time to time.


Senator FOLL - If Senator Grant were fair, he would acknowledge that the commission is faced with an extremely difficult task, and that it has carried out its work in an eminently satisfactory manner.

Senatorcox. - The three men appointed were the ablest to be found in Australia.


Senator FOLL - It is generally admitted that the Government selected the three men most suited for the position, so it ill becomes Senator Grant to make damaging statements such as one might expect from some irresponsible person. His criticism receives the fullest publicity, and is not likely to benefit the Federal Capital, or to act as an incentive to the commissioners in the proper discharge of their duties. A few weeks ago I visited the Federal Capital, and was much impressed with the progress made since my previous visit a year or two ago. On every hand there was evidence that the commissioners were carrying out their work in a thoroughly efficient manner. As to the number of business sites to be offered shortly, the onus is on Senator Grant to show that sufficient provision is not being made. The upset price fixed is in itself not conclusive evidence that the number is below requirements. In the absence of any evidence, I do not intend to accept the statement made by Senator Grant that the commission, assisted by the Min ister is deliberately endeavouring to delay the development of the Federal Capital. Senator Grant's criticism gives an entirely false impression of what is being done there by the commission.







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