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Thursday, 19 October 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - If I spoke at some length on a previous motion, T propose to address myself to the Senate on the question now under consideration with penitential brevity. I wish, however, to say a word or two on a motion which is apparently assured of being passed by the Senate. We have had - as was to be expected - an assurance that the Government will carry out the resolution in the spirit in which it has been proposed. The phrase which affords a key to the motion, and expresses the real purport of it, is " when practicable." Il is in that spirit that I intend to deal with it. I have risen, therefore, first of all, to point to a matter which is closely associated with that which has now been brought under review. It is this : Before the undertakings to which reference has been made can be carried out, the Government of the Commonwealth, in my judgment, ought to be possessed of the freehold of the land upon which it is proposed to establish both the Federal City and the industrial works referred to. We have to remember that, whatever resumptions may have taken place in one or two areas, so far the great question of land resumption has not been seriously approached. I hope that it is not intended to go on developing the Territory on land owned by private individuals. If that be not the intention, is it not a matter, not merely of common sense, but of justice to the individuals concerned, that that resumption should be effected at once? We have to remember that there is a law upon the statute-book which provides that the Commonwealth shall resume at the value which prevailed two or three years ago.

Senator McGregor - In 1908.

Senator MILLEN - That is three years ago. But no steps to resume have been taken so far. Are we going to wait ten or twenty years before we resume the land, leaving those who hold it at present in the peculiar position that, while they themselves are unable to do anything to develop it - they cannot even sell, because no one will buy while this sword is hanging oyer the properties - the Government, which must ultimately become the purchaser, remains passive, content that, no matter what happens, it can at any time claim that land at the value which obtained in 1908? I do think that that is repugnant to our sense of justice. We have, sooner or later, if the sentiment which prevails in this chamber, and which, I believe, prevails throughout theCommonwealth, is to be maintained - namely, that the Commonwealth shall be the landlord of the Federal Territory; I do not mean merely the sovereign power, but landlord in the sense of being the owner of the fee-simple - to face the question of entering upon a wholesale resumption scheme. If we are not going to do that, I say at once that we ought to repeal the section of the Act to which I have referred. Otherwise we do a gross injustice to the limited number of individuals who happen to have holdings in the Territory. Closely associated with this consideration is the main reason why I think the motion is entitled to support. Every one who has even the slightest knowledge of the A, B, C of land economics, knows exactly how land values are created. As population multiplies and concentrates, and as time brings added numbers to a particular locality, land values go up. Other f actors may temporarily obscure or disturb that process, but it is inevitable that the multiplication of population should cause land values to rise. In this Federal Territory we have to face considerable expenditure. Here is a road opened by which we can make that great undertaking largely sustain its own cost. I venture to say thatmany a syndicate would be quite willing to take this job off the hands of the Federal Government, and say, " We will provide you with all the public buildings you require, if you will allow us to use the opportunities which are open to you in connexion with the appropriation of land values in the Federal Territory." For that reason, I want to see the Commonwealth acquire the land which we are going to develop. That having been done, I wish to see the Commonwealth massing its various enterprises upon the Territory, with a view of securing that added increment - that unearned increment, if honorable senators opposite prefer the term - which will come the moment development commences. There is no quicker way to develop that Territory, when it is entirely ours, than, by commencing those big undertakings which will immediately be followed by large numbers of private individuals, either themselves seeking employment in the undertakings, or, what is much more likely, seeking to act as manufacturers and suppliers to those who will be so employed. It is idle to speculate on what the Commonwealth can hope to gain from the unearned increment which will accrue there. But we know that the area which the Commonwealth will have under its control will be a very considerable one. We know that, year by year, values will rise from a low pastoral value to quite a moderate agricultural one ; and the moment we proceed with the construction of the city, they will rise fromthatstage to city values when land will be sold at per foot. There is a fund upon which the Government can feedby concentrating in the Territory, as faras possible,all the undertakings to which reference has been made.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator is becoming wildly Socialistic all at once.

Senator MILLEN - I am not wildly anything, except when my honorable friend interjects, and thenI become wildly indignant. Except for that,I think Senator Findley is with me when I say that there is the strongest of business reasons for supporting this motion. But, before we can attempt, or ought to attempt, to develop this Territory, or toestablish industries there, we ought to take steps to resume the land that is not at present ours,so that the Commonwealth shall be both landlord and governing authority.

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