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Tuesday, 20 October 1903

Mr WATSON (Bland) - I should be sorry indeed to believe that the honorable member for Dalley was voicing the feeling of the people of New South Wales in regard to this Federal Capital.

Mr Wilks - The honorable member will not get many New South Wales representatives to cheer that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ; but Victorians are cheering it.

Mr WATSON -- 1 do not suppose that many Sydney men will cheer it, but I do not know that Sydney is New South Wales. God help New South Wales if her people are to be animated by any such paltry spirit as that ascribed to them by the honorable member for Dalley. The honorable member has said that New South Wales subscribed to Federation merely because she was offered a paltry material bribe in the gain to be derived from having the Federal Capital within her borders. I refuse to believe that any such motive actuated the people of New South Wales in agreeing to Federation.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a part of the contract.

Mr WATSON - It is because it is a part of the contract that I am as strongly in favour of having the provision carried out as is any other honorable member, but I refuse to believe that it had any material influence in securing a majority of New South Wales votes in favour of the Commonwealth Bill. I was one of those who voted against that Bill on each occasion when it was before the people, but I never heard the argument with respect to the Federal Capital used outside of Sydney. At all events, it had no effect outside of that city. If politicians in New South Wales are irritated by these suggestions, they are irritated by a matter which can have but very small effect so far as the interests of New South Wales are concerned. In the first place , it must be remembered that in the clause carried by this House itis provided that the Capital must not be more than twentyfive miles from Tumut.

Mr Wilks - Why was that condition insisted upon ?

Mr WATSON - To insure that the Federal Capital site should be in the vicinity of Tumut.

Mr Wilks - Is not that a very narrow view for a broad-minded representative to take?

Mr WATSON - I admit that where we are dealing with over suspicious persons it is necessary that we should make it perfectly clear that our intentions are strictly honorable. Therefore, if there are any number of people who assert that by taking the Federal territory as distinguished from the Capital site itself down to the River Murray, we are taking the Federal Capital in the same direction, it is certainly wise to insist upon this restriction fixing the Federal Capital within twenty -five miles from Tumut. At all events, the condition is inserted in the clause, and it is therefore distinctly provided that the Federal Capital shall be within New South Wales territory, and at least thirty miles on the New SouthWales side of the border. I feel that it is not at all unfair on the part of representatives of other States to ask as a concession that there shall be a right of way into the Federal territory and to the Federal Capital independently of any single State. That is not an unfair request to make.

Mr Isaacs - A means of access ?

Mr WATSON - A means of access or a right of way, and so long as that only is asked for I refuse to believe that the people of New South Wales as a body will raise any very great objection to such a concession.

Mr Kirwan - On that ground the honorable member should have voted for Bombala, which has a port.

Mr WATSON - I say that the right of way will be sufficiently attained by access from the Victorian side of the border. It is not necessary to fix the Capital at Bombala to insure a right of way. I do not desire to discuss Bombala, as I have a number of reasons against the selection of that site, which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would not be likely to controvert.

The people of New South Wales certainly do desire that the Capital shall be within the borders of their own State, not with a view to any material gain, but in order that such honour as attaches to the location of the Federal Capital and the Federal territory should be associated with the mother State. That will be secured by the decision arrived at by this House if it is afterwards given effect to in another place. The question of material gain is not one which largely influenced the people of New South Wales. People in New South Wales, in districts bordering upon the Federal territory, will have the benefit, to some extent, of Federal expenditure. When we are dealing with an area of 1,000 square miles, fifty miles by twenty miles, or thirty-two miles, by thirtytwo miles, it must be admitted that the expenditure of a large sum of money in the development of that area, whether by the Federal Government or by private enterprise encouraged by the Federal Government, will confer some benefit upon the surrounding territory of New South Wales. If the Federal Capital be situated near Tumut, even though a means of access from Victoria is given, it will for many years draw all its supplies from Sydney, and will send whatever it has to export in the same direction. From that point of view, Sydney has nothing to lose by this suggestion, and I have every confidence that when the people of New South Wales are appealed to upon this question they will be quite willing to grant the reasonable and just concession asked for by the poople of the more southerly States, that access should be given to the Federal territory from more than one State.

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