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Tuesday, 26 August 1902

Mr FOWLER (Perth) - In listening to this debate, the one point which has struck me is that those who support the Government proposal urge that as it does not constitute a very great lapse from the path of economy, we might very well sanction it, especially as we have the assurance that the mistake will not be repeated. I cannot accept any such excuse for a departure from what, to my mind, involves a very important principle, namely, that theGovernor-General's residence shall be established at the seat of Government. I do not concede that any other arrangement was ever intended by the people of Australia when they expressed themselves as willing to join the

Commonwealth. As far as Western Australia is concerned, it comes with a great deal of surprise to myself and others to discover that proposals were made of such a definite nature as those which have been placed before Parliament in regard to the establishment of the Governor-General in Sydney. I have to ask myself only one or two simple questions in order to arrive at a decision upon this matter. The first is, "Do the people of New South Wales as a whole really demand that His Excellency should spend a portion of his time in their capital?" I cannotfindanyevidencethattheydo. Neither can I discover that the people of Sydney, as a whole, are anxious that that course should be followed. Then I have to ask myself whether, if the question were put to him, any Governor-General would prefer to remain in any one city during a portion of the year, and to spend the balance of his time in another? I can understand that he would be naturally anxious to visit different parts of the Commonwealth, but I feel certain that he would emphatically declare that he would be better circumstanced if he were required to maintain only one ViceRegal establishment. Therefore, I fail to discover that any useful purpose will be served by the adoption of the Government proposal. We have heard a great deal about the maintenance of a federal spirit requiring the proposed arrangement. But would not the maintenance of that spirit cover similar proposals with regard to the other States ? If we are to provide two residences for the Governor-General, why should we not provide six ? No reason has been alleged why we should be restricted to two. Of course we are told that Sydney and Melbourne are the two populous cities of the Commonwealth. If the claim of a State to have the GovernorGeneral residing there is to depend upon its population, surely all the States are entitled, in greater or lesser degree, to that privilege, though, perhaps, in the case of a sparsely populated State, like Western Australia, we might have to be content with having the Governor-General's court dress sent over to us now and again. We hope that the Governor-General will visit us occasionally, and that the members of this Parliament will come, too. But we shall not worry very much if no special expenditure is voted to provide for his or their accommodation, and if they come they will experience no inconvenience because of that fact. I do not see my way to support the proposal of the Government, because I have heard no good reasons for voting against that economical administration which it is claimed is part of the federal policy, and which, I am sorry to sa}*, has not been so much in evidence since this Parliament met as I think it should have been.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia).The honorable member for Perth says that no good reasons have been advanced why a residence for the Governor-General should be provided in Sydney. To my mind very strong reasons have been urged why he should be provided with a residence there, but the trouble is that those reasons apply with almost equal force to all the other cities of Australia. It has been said, for instance, that Sydney is a very nice place to live in, and lias a very fine climate ; but there are many hundreds of thousands of square miles of country in Australia which enjoy just as good a climate. I suppose it may be assumed that Parliament will sit in Melbourne during the winter, and be in recess during the summer, and that the Governor-General will, during the session, reside in Melbourne. But would it be humane to freeze him in Melbourne during the winter, and to boil him in Sydney in the summer? It has also been urged by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs and others that the GovernorGeneral should reside in Sydney' because of the strong anti-federal spirit there.

Mr McCay - As a sort of soothing syrup?

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