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Tuesday, 22 March 1927

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) (Minister for Home and Territories) [8.37]. - Senator Grant has again complained that the commission has not been making available a sufficient number of blocks. I can assure him that it has had in mind the fact that many of those who acquired leases some time ago were not able to comply with the building covenant, and in some cases the leases became subject to forfeiture. The commission, therefore, quite rightly did not make available too great a number of blocks, because it did not want to have any thrown back on its hands.

Senator Elliott - How many blocks in the civic centre have been thrown back on its hands.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - The commission has taken steps to try to prevent that occurring, and has granted an extension of time in which to commence building operations. It is only two years since the commission was appointed. In the interim it has had to prepare the Federal Capital city for the removal of the Commonwealth Parliament. Thus extraordinary activity has had to be displayed, and that has extended to the commercial community. Should it be found necessary to lessen that activity, would it be wise to make blocks available to business people who might expect the present rate of progress to be maintained? The commission wishes to obviate the creation of an unreal prosperity. In the building of other great cities there have been periods of prosperity and of depression. The commission has done its best to maintain a gradual rate of progress, and to prevent any reaction. I do not think that honorable senators quite realize the tremendous task which was set the commission. Work had been proceeding in Canberra for ten or fifteen years. Then the commission was informed that it must prepare the Capital for occupation by the Parliament within two years. I can assure the committee that it has done extraordinarily good. work, notwithstanding the criticism and the hostility it has encountered from certain quarters.

Senator Grant - That is not so.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Does not the honorable senator think that the commission has done good work ?

Senator Grant - Not in this regard.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - In the building of the Capital?

Senator Grant - In the building of Parliament House, certainly.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Let us deal with the upset price that has been placed on the blocks. What has the commission to guide it in arriving at that price, except the sum which has been paid for the leases of adjacent blocks? After all, who is the best judge of what the upset price should be - I, who live in Melbourne, or the commission, that is always at Canberra?

Senator Grant - The people who buy the leases.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Exactly. If those who wish to lease the blocks consider that the price asked is too high they will not do business. I ask honorable senators to try to appreciate the enormous task with which the commission was faced, and the knowledge it must have gained of the value of land in the territory, and ask themselves whether it is not reasonable to suppose that it is capable of fixing a reasonable price for the blocks that are made available?

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