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Tuesday, 20 October 1903

Mr KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie.) - I sincerely trust that the Committee will strike out the words proposing that the Federal territory should be extended to the Rivers Murray and Murrumbidgee. I am not influenced in this matter by any parochial motives or any motives of concern for the interests of Victoria or New South Wales. I am influenced purely by Australian motives. I cannot perceive the consistency of any honorable member who uses the argument of the right-of-way as a reason why the Federal territory should be extended to any particular river. I believe that the argument founded upon the necessity for a right-of-way should be applied in the selection of a Federal

Capital ; but the right-of-way should be given to the people of more than one or two States. The Federal Capital should be equally open to all the States of the Commonwealth, and in considering the necessity for a right-of-way we should consider not merely the interests of Victoria, but the interests of the other States - of Queensland, South Australia, West Australia, and Tasmania. The argument founded upon the necessity for a rightofway comes very badly indeed from those who have voted for the selection of a site for the Federal Capital in an inland district where there can really be no rightofway.

Mr Watson - We could not vote for a place that has only a right-of-way to recommend it.

Mr KIRWAN - There are many other arguments which might be urged in favour of Bombala, but I am pointing out that the right-of-way argument can be applied with greater force to the selection of Bombala than to the selection of any other site suggested.

Mr Watson - It is the only argument Bombala had.

Mr KIRWAN - Many other arguments in favour of Bombala were very ably urged by the Minister for Defence, the honorable member for Cowper, and other honorable members, and in voting for Bombala I was personally interested in voting for what I believed to be the best site in the whole of Australia.

Mr Watson - That is true of all of us, I hope.

Mr KIRWAN -The reason why I am against this proposal to extend the Federal territory to the Murrumbidgee or Murray Rivers is that we have no information on the point. If both Houses of the Federal Parliament are to decide upon Tumut as the site for the Federal Capital our next step should be to have a thorough investigation as to the territory which should be acquired. We requireinformation as to the area of Crown land that will be available. It is utterly absurd for this House to propose now to define the limits of the Federal territory. It is all very well for the honorable member for Bland, who. is thoroughly acquainted with the country, to express himself in favour of some particular area. But it is not reasonable that he should ask other honorable members, who like myself, know nothing whatever about the country, to vote upon the question without knowledge. In the course of his various speeches the honorable member has brought forward some very good reasons why the Federal territory should be extended to the Murray. Other honorable members made out a strong case for the extension of the territory to the Murrumbidgee. If those honorable members believe that their case is so strong, why are they not prepared to leave the settlement of the question to a commission, and to those who will have eventually to define the Federal territory ? We should not be asked to vote ignorantly upon so important a question. If we are to have the Federal territory extending from the Murrumbidgee to the Murray, and we are to acquire an area of only 1,000 square miles, we shall have a long and narrow strip of country. That is not my idea of what the Federal territory ought to be, nor is it the idea of a majority of members of this House. Several honorable members object to a small area of 100 square miles on that ground, because they say the unearned increment which will accrue to the land adjoining the Federal territory will not benefit the Commonwealth. But that argument will apply with even greater force to a ribbon strip. If we are to have a ribbon strip of territory, extending from the Murray to the Murrumbidgee, the lands bordering it will increase in value, and the very object that a majority of honorable members had in vie w in ad voca ting alarge area w ill be defeated . I trust honorable members will leave this question of defining the boundaries of the Federal territory to be decided by men who will be in possession of all the facts. If there ever was an occasion when we required information, it is in connexion with a matter of this kind. I shall certainly vote with the honorable member for Macquarie in the endeavour to have these words struck out.

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