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Thursday, 25 September 1902

Sir WILLIAM' LYNE (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - I feel that at this late hour'I must move the adjournment of the debate, for the simple reason that in a thin House an attempt is being made to take an advantage of me. I was promised that such an attempt would not be made, and the amendment proposed- is one to which I cannot agree. Only within the last few minutes have- I received information that the amendments would be moved: Honorable members have1 left the Chamber, and .1 may now be in a minority. If the amendments are- persisted* in T must move the adjournment of the- debate, because I cannot accept either. I intended, in- reply; to make some reference to Goulburn- and' Yass, but I may say now that I cannot accept a proposal to include these places in- the same definite way as are other places. Then another amendment is to be moved which, in my estimation will altogether destroy the effect of the motion ; indeed I could not accept the motion passed with such an amendment.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).- I am interested' in listening to-night to the

Minister's direct contradiction of some words he spoke to a reporter of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, in connexion with this very matter.

Sir William Lyne - That is not correct.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The words can he found in the Baily Telegraph report of an interview, in which the Minister, replying to my criticisms, said - "The honorable member forgets that Lake George includes Yass and Goulburn."

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Was the Minister referring to this particular motion 1

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Certainly ; the Minister was referring to the decision of the Cabinet in regard to these five sites. When I criticised his action in inserting Albury in the list and removing Goulburn, his reply was that which I have quoted, but to-night he tells the House that he will not include Goulburn and Yass : that, rather than do so he will move the adjournment of the debate. That is a direct contradiction of the statement made in the interview.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member is quite incorrect.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- I would remind the Minister that the other day in Sydney he pointed out that the Lake George site necessarily included the other sites in its vicinity. If we are not to have the capital in Sydney, Goulburn deserves consideration as a large inland town on the main line. As to Yass, that site has already been reported on by Mr. Oliver, and recommended as one to be considered by Parliament. In view of what the Minister said the other day, I am surprised at the attitude he has now assumed. It is unnecessary for me to dwell further on the matter, because both sites were visited by Members of Parliament, who are well aware of the attendant advantages or disadvantages. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his position, and consent to the addition to the report of any further information which may be forthcoming respecting these sites. ,1 do not wish evidence to be repeated, but only that any fresh information may be taken advantage of . . .

Sir William Lyne - I told the honorable member some time ago that I would take Care to do , what he now suggests, but I do not wish to have these sites included in the way now proposed. I shall take care to see that they are carefully considered.

Mr CONROY - Does the Minister give his assurance that any further evidence available will be taken and added to the report ?

Sir William Lyne - Certainly ; I intend to do that, and I shall so state in my reply on the debate.

Mr A Paterson - Under the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I would ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to persist in the amendment he has suggested. I want all the information I can possibly get, and this amendment is to some extent bound up with the amendment which has just been withdrawn.

Mr Thomson - The Minister could instruct the commissioners to make use of all reliable information.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I intend that to be done.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A report on " general suitability " must include a recommendation of a site.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The suitability of a site is the general configuration of the country as to a variety of points. If the honorable member will withdraw his amendment, I give my word that all the available information shall be obtained, and an instruction' given to see that the information is used as far as possible.

Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) proposed -

That the words "accessibility." "climate." and "general suitability" be omitted.

Sir WILLIAM' LYNE - The honorable member for North Sydney is reasonable in all things, and. I hope he will not persist with this amendment. I can give the honorable member my assurance that all the reliable information already gathered will be availed of.

Mr. THOMSON(North Sydney).- I should not like the Minister placed at a disadvantage by a division being taken tonight, but I do not desire to have any further delay. It is important that care should be taken to have all reliable data placed before the commissioner made available to the committee, but as the Minister has promised to give an instruction to that effect, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) agreed to-

That after the word " such." line 12,' the words " Committee to avail itself of all valuable information already gathered and its " be inserted.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have made two or three promises which I wish to reiterate in replying on the debate to-night. First, I shall deal with the amendment just withdrawn by the honorable member for North Sydney. It is so patent that all available and reliable information existing should, as far as is possible, be made use of by the committee, that I have no hesitation in saying I shall give an instruction to that effect. As to the report of Mr. Oliver, what will probably be done is that the, committee will take the report and invite evidence on points on which they are not satisfied. That, I take it, will be the course adopted right through, and it may possibly result in a saving of time and expense. If the commissioners are satisfied with the report, so far as it goes, no doubt they will accept it, so as not to cover the same ground twice. As to Yass and Goulburn, I said, in submitting the motion to-night, I looked upon Lake George and Yass as to a very large extent bound up one with the other. The water supply for either will practically come from the same place, and an investigation of the supply from the head of the Mumimbidgee to the - Murrumbidgee opposite Yass must take place in order to ascertain what can bc done regarding Lake George. The investigation will practically decide the supply available for Yass as well as for Lake George. If there is any fresh evidence of importance that can be brought forward, I shall instruct the committee to use their best endeavours to obtain it. Goulburn, however, is in a somewhat different position. I 'am not quite sure, from the configuration of the country, whether it is possible to bring water from the same catchment area towards Goulburn, and also Yass and Lake George.

Mr Conroy - I only ask that any fresh evidence may be taken into consideration. -

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have made the promise that if any evidence of a reasonable and serviceable character can be submitted for the consideration of the committee, I shall give instructions for that evidence to be taken. But I do not wish this motion to be hampered by a number of sites, or that the committee shall examine all the sites which were visited by the parliamentary representatives. I must express my thanks to the honorable member for Parramatta for not proceeding with his amendment, and thus preventing ' any further delay in carrying this motion.

Mr Conroy - I understand that the Minister to-night says that Lake George practically includes Goulburn and Yass.


Question, as amended, resolved in the, affirmative.

Resolved- That, with a view to obtain necessary information that will enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to select a site for the seat of Government, a Committee of Experts should be appointed to examine and report upon sites in the following localities : - Albury, Armidale, Bombala, Lake George, Orange (and in consequence of their proximity, Bathurst and Lyndhurst), Tumut, in relation to accessibility, building material, climate, drainage, physical condition and soil, water supply with rainfall, general suitability and such other salient matters as may be approved by the Honorable the Minister of Home Affairs. Such report to be submitted .to the Federal Government on or before the 30th of April next.

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