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Tuesday, 20 October 1903

Mr SPEAKER - I am not quite sure, but I think that the honorable gentleman is referring to a matter which took place in Committee, and the report from that Committee having been brought before the House he will be quite in order in calling attention to it. He will not be in order, however, in referring to some other matter which took place outside the Committee.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I was referring, Mr. Speaker, to a matter which took place in Committee. I heard the leader of the Opposition declare that whilst he favoured Lyndhurst, his second vote would be for Bombala. I have known the right honorable member on so many occasions to explain away what he has said that I should not lay much stress on any statement but for the fact that I have it set out before me in cold type. I find that according to the Sydney MorningHerald and the

Sydney Daily Telegraph, he said-

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable gentleman not to discuss that matter.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I do not wish to discuss it further than to state that the right honorable gentleman said at Bombala that he was prepared to give one vote for his choice - Lyndhurst ; that he gave that vote, and that he said further-

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable gentleman is not now discussing anything which took place during the Committee stage.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I am going to discuss the right honorable member's vote.

Mr SPEAKER -I think that the Minister is now discussing something which did not take place in this House - that he is discussing, not a vote that was given, but a vote which he thinks ought to have been given. Is that so ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - No, sir. What I desire to say is that on the ballot which took place a few nights ago to determine the site of the seat of government, the leader of the Opposition voted for Lyndhurst, and that I heard him at Bombala say that his second vote would be for Bombala. I am informed that to-night an honorable member who favours the Bombala site was requested to leave the Chamber, in order to pair with the leader of the Opposition as a supporter of the Tumut site. In justice to the leader of the Opposition, I consider that a statement ought to be made as to whether any authority was given to arrange that pair. I refer to this matter only to show honorable members that the vote given to-night cannot be accepted as a true index of the opinion of this House. It Cannot even be claimed that a majority in the House has decided to-night in favour of a particular site. It is a question whether Bombala has not a majority of supporters.

Mr Watson - Give us another vote.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I contend that, although Bombala in fighting against the combination which it has had to meet has not secured a majority, it obtained a majority of No. 1 votes at the first ballot. I wish only to put facts against mere bald assertions. I am told, and I know it to be a fact that, so far as this question is concerned, quite a number of members' votes have been influenced by the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs that no trees are to be found at Bombala. That statement has been spread broadcast all over the country, and if I shall be in order I wish, in reply to it, to read a letter which recently appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. The letter is as follows : -

To the Editor or tile "Herald."

Sir, -I noticed in to-day's issue of the Herald that rauch dissatisfaction is expressed at Bombala over Sir William Lyne having said that wheat or trees would not grow at Bombala. Well, sir, I would much sooner Sir William undertake to clear or grub one acre of some Bombala land than I, for any one who has ever been to Bombala can plainly see how thickly timbered most of the land is ; and as for wheat, Bombala and surrounding districts produced this year some of the finest wheat that any one could wish to see. And taking into consideration that many of the great wheat-growing districts of this State failed to produce wheat at all, owing to the drought, we find Bombala farmers in many cases having a yield of 30 bushels per acre, while the lowest yield per acre was 18 bushels. This wheat was an excellent sample, and included the following varieties : - White Tuscan, White Lammas, Purple Straw, Rattling Jack, and Manitoba. The average .weight per bushel of this year's wheat at Bombala was 64 '5 lb. per measured bushel. The Manitoba was a splendid sample, and surpassing most samples grown in Australia, and the 3'iold per acre of some was from 28 to 30 bushels. Taking these facts into consideration, Bombala people have good grounds to complain about Sir William Lyne's utterances, which I think were uncalled for and not founded on facts.

Sir William Lyne - Who signed that letter ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - It is signed by Mr. J. J. Flynn, of Murrumburrah, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the honorable gentleman's electorate. Besides that, we have the statement made by the members of the Commission appointed by | the Minister for Trade and Customs. He should have every confidence in the members of that Commission. Every other gentleman who has reported with regard to Bombala has testified to the same effect.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister for Defence in order in discussing the relative merits of the two sites % The matter now before the House is the adoption of the report of the Committee.

Mr SPEAKER - The question under discussion is whether the report of the Committee shall or shall not be adopted ; and on that question it is perfectly open for an honorable member to argue that the report should not be adopted, or that it should be returned to- the Committee for further consideration, or any other matter relative to the motion.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it in order todiscuss the sites t

Mr SPEAKER - Undoubtedly ; the report bears directly on the question of Tumut versus Bombala.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - It seems strange that when an advocate for Bombala endeavours to give the House an ounce of fact those opposed to that site endeavour to apply the muzzle. I have not made any statement against any other suggested sites. Surely it is not necessary, in order to support one site to point out the demerits of others. I simply indicate what is to be said in favour of the site which I advocate, and honorable members vote with their eyes open. I have endeavoured to make only such statements as can be borne out by the report of the experts. What I have quoted from the correspondence in the Sydney newspapers can be borneout by the honorable member for Gippsland, who knows that at the present time there is an agitation to open up the great forests in the Bombala district for the purpose of obtaining mining timber. However, I- do not intend to make another speech in favour of the merits of Bombala, but I do ask that the pair recorded in the name of the right honorable member for East Sydney shall be explained. Probably there is a satisfactory explanation to be given. I also desire to point out that if all the supporters of the Bombala site had voted for it to-night the division would have been a very close one indeed.

Mr Watson - Many of the Tumut supporters were away.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - That is all very well. Why were some of the Bombala supporters asked to stand out, when it was understood that there were to be no pairs ? If there were to be pairs why should not the Bombala supporters, who were away, have been paired with Tumut supporters who were away ? It is not fair to Bombala. I think this fact requires some explanation. I also desire to place it on record that with all this pairing there was only a difference of fourteen votes, not between Bombala and any particular site, but between Bombala and all the sites that were opposed to it - and that in a very thin House. It also has to be remembered that in the Senate an absolute majority of members voted for Bombala as their first choice against all other sites.

Sir William Lyne - A majority representing a minority of the people.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - If that be so, is it not the function of the Senate to see that minorities have their rights secured to them? Honorable members may laugh, but the representatives of Tasmania and Western Australia will hold with me when I say that their States are not to be down-trodden, but will insist that their claims shall receive consideration. That is why equal representation in the Senate was given to all the States. But I have only to answer for my own votes and speeches, and there is no occasion for me to question the votes and speeches of other honorable members ; though on so important a question as is now before us, I am justified in thinking that the circumstances require that the pair recorded in the name of the right honorable member for East Sydney shall be explained.

Mr SPEAKER - I understand the honorable gentleman to refer to a vote that was not given. He cannot refer to votes that were not given. If he is discussing a vote that was given, I can permit him to proceed.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I do not intend to take that line of argument, but I think I have shown that the right honorable member for East Sydney made a statement at Bombala which warrants us in believing that he would have voted for Bombala, and we ought to know, if it is possible to know, on what authority he was paired against Bombala. It might also be well that the House should be informed why other honorable members stood out when the division was taken. In conclusion, I say with confidence, that it is impossible for the opponents of Bombala to secure an absolute majority of the House against that particular site, however some honorable members may wish to throw cold water upon it.

Mr Watson - It can easily be done.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I say that it cannot be done, and I make the statement with the fullest confidence, believing that Bombala will lead as the Capital site, when all the other proposed sites have been forgotten.

Mr. SYDNEYSMITH (Macquarie). - I have listened to the remarks of the Minister for Defence with regard to the pair recorded to the leader of the Opposition with a great deal of surprise. I accept the full responsibility for pairing the leader of the Opposition with the honorable member for Flinders. The right honorable member was unable to leave Sydney last evening, and he asked me especially to arrange a pair for him against the Senate's decision with regard to Bombala. Therefore, I fail to see why the Minister for Defence should make any complaint. If he looks at the record of the previous voting he will find that the leader of the Opposition voted for Lyndhurst right through. The Minister for Defence complains of the treatment which Bombala has received ; but what about Lyndhurst ? That site headed the list on every occasion except one, right up to the final vote, and it was only by a combination of the Minister's Bombala friends that Lyndhurst was rejected.

Mr Kingston - How many voted in favour of Lyndhurst?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - On the first ballot the number of votes recorded for Bombala was 16, and there were 14 for Tumut, and 14 for Lyndhurst. On the next ballot there were 21 for Lyndhurst, 16 for Bombala, and 14 for Tumut. On the third ballot there were 23 for Lyndhurst, 17 for Bombala, and 14 for Tumut. On the fourth ballot there was 25 for Lydnhurst 17 for Bombala and 17 for Tumut. On the. fifth ballot, there were 24 for Lyndhurst, 21 for Tumut, and 16 for Bombala. On the next ballot, by a combination of the whole of the Bombalaites who voted in favour of Tumut - although they were just as strongly against .Tumut as against Lyndhurst - Lyndhurst was defeated by 36 votes to 25. Even the Prime Minister, who had been a supporter of Bombala right through, on the fifth and sixth ballots turned round and voted for Tumut - in favour of a site which he did not believe in. It shows the underground engineering that went on in connexion with the various sites. During the course of the debate, reference has been made to the fact that there was a strong combination of the New South "Wales members in favour of Lyndhurst. But the fact is that if the New South "Wales members had voted solidly for Lyndhurst that site would have been chosen. Lyndhurst would have had thirty-two votes as against twenty-nine for Tumut. But no less than seven New South Wales members - namely, the honorable member for Riverina, the Minister for Defence, the honorable member for Richmond, the honorable member for Cowper, the Minister for Trade and Customs, the honorable member for New England, and the honorable member for Bland, voted solidly against Lyndhurst. I cannot understand in the face of these facts any honorable member making the statement that there was a combination of New South "Wales members to secure the selection of Lyndhurst. I am sorry, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that such a combination did not take place, because then I am satisfied that we should have secured a Capital site that in regard to accessibility, climate, and other advantages would have been the best place for the purpose.

Mr Watson - Is the honorable member pleading for delay ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ; but I am showing the advantages of Lyndhurst, as I have a right to do. I do not desire to go into further details now, because I have already had an opportunity of pointing out the merits of the Lyndhurst site.

Mr Crouch - How far was Lyndhurst behind on the first ballot ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was only two votes behind the leading site. I think honorable members will admit that not a word can be said against the votes that were given for Lyndhurst. There was some twisting round with regard to the other sites, but the supporters of Lyndhurst voted solidly in an open and straightforward way. We could have manoeuvred our votes if we had cared to do so ; there is a way of manipulating these matters, and it was quite possible to strengthen the position of Lyndhurst. But we felt it was our duty to give a straightforward honest vote, and no one can reproach us in connexion with it.

Therefore, I regret that the Minister for Defence should have made any statement concerning the pair recorded in the name of the leader of the Opposition in the absence of that right honorable gentleman. I told the Minister for Defence that I had the authority of the leader of the Opposition to pair the latter against the adoption of the Senate's suggestion, and I cannot be blamed for not searching in a graveyard for a pair.

Mr Austin Chapman - And what about the honorable and learned member for Parkes ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I told the Minister for Defence in the most straightforward way that the leader of the Opposition and the honorable and learned member for Parkes were absent, and that I desired pairs for them against the adoption of the Senate's suggestion.

Mr Austin Chapman - Did the honorable member for Macquarie have the authority of the honorable and learned member for Parkes ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I had full authority to pair the right honorable member against the Senate's amendment on the question of site, and I accept the responsibility of the pairs arranged for the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Parkes. I had authority to pair two other honorable members, and an honorable member offered to meet me ; but, owing to the fact that he had not voted on a previous occasion, he asked to be relieved, and, under the circumstances, I withdrew my request. I regret very much that the question of pairs should be brought up in the House ; it is not proper to endeavour to justify a case by introducing such matters. I advocate the Lyndhurst site, because I know that it possesses advantages which cannot be claimed for any other site. I contend that the Government are to blame for all the trouble that has arisen. Who is to blame for the absence of honorable members if not the Government ? Why did the Government not take steps to obtain the necessary information at a time when honorable members were in full attendance? This matter should have been pushed on some months ago ; and it was entirely in the hands of the Government. Of course I admit that honorable members ought to be present, but the Minister for Defence knows very well that a number of gentlemen made arrangements to leave for their constituencies in view of the approaching elections.

Mr Salmon - That is no excuse.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And there is no excuse on the part of the Government for the delay which has taken place. If the Government were serious in the matter - which I question - a settlement ought to have been arrived at weeks ago. The delay has placed honorable members in a most unfortunate position ; but I have no hesitation in saying that Lyndhurst can command the greatest number of No. 1 votes in this House.

Mr. WILKS(Dalley). - In my opinion Lyndhurst would have been a proper Australian selection, but as I cannot obtain my first choice, my second is Tumut. The question is whether we should have decision or delay and uncertainty.

Mr Mauger - Or further inquiry.

Mr WILKS - That only spells delay.

Mr Kingston - It spells intentional delay.

Mr WILKS - I ask Ministers to assume their proper responsibility. No one will "own the child." Bombala is the child of the Minister for Defence, while as yet the Minister for Trade and Customs has not spoken.

Mr Kingston - The Prime Minister has spoken.

Mr WILKS - The Prime Minister all through has advocated negotiation ; and I ask now whether the Government mean business. On two occasions the House has decided on Tumut, and while I should prefer Lyndhurst, I advocate decision and certainty as against delay and uncertainty. I am satisfied, not from hearsay, but from evidence afforded to-day, that Victorian electioneering organizations are already questioning candidates as to whether they are in favour of a " bush capital," and if the matter be postponed until after the elections I am prepared to see the next Parliament contain a strong phalanx of Victorian representatives in favour of further delay. The late Prime Minister, in introducing the subject to Parliament, said that he was pleased that he was now- able to carry out his promise to New South Wales. I trust that the present Prime Minister will see that that promise is duly completed ; and the only way is for the Government to take their proper responsibility. It has been suggested that there can be a conference of managers from each House ; and as we have had enough of the personal equation of Ministers, we now desire a collective voice and collective responsibility with a view to finality. If the Government will assume responsibility the matter will be decided this session ; but if a settlement be postponed, next session will see the return of members for New South Wales pledged to prevent all business until the Capital site shall have been selected. On the other hand Victorians will be returned pledged to delay ; and the result will be, as foreshadowed by the honorable member for Kennedy - a double dissolution, thus involving the whole of the people of Australia in the trouble. That is no wild dream or speculation. In the press of Melbourne there have appeared articles of jubilation at the selection of Bombala by the Senate, not because Bombala is desired as the Federal territory, but because its selection makes for delay and uncertainty. There was open jubilation because it was felt that the House of Representatives would adhere to Tumut, and cause a dead-lock, which would result in the postponement of a settlement. That is a most ignoble position to take up. Victoria is fighting for its own hand, and it will be found that New South Wales will fight as strenuously. It will be found that the New South Wales representatives returned to the next Parliament will not be puny and weak, but will take care not to allow any business to be transacted until this matter of the Federal Capital is settled. I ask the Prime Minister, who has expressed himself as so anxious not to irritate.or annoy the Parliament or the people of New South Wales, to show his bona fides by carrying this matter to completion.

Sir WILLIAMLYNE (Hume- Minister for Trade and Customs). - There has been a good deal of undue heat on the part of leading members of the Opposition. Such heat is entirely unnecessary on this occasion, except it be for the purpose of airing a grievance, or grievances, prior to the elections.

Mr McDonald - That remark cannot be applied to me.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not referring to the honorable member for Kennedy, but to the honorable member for Macquarie, who has expressed the opinion that the Government is absolutely to blame for everything that has happened.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government are to blame for the delay.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - We cannot , expect the honorable member for Macquarie to admit that anything is properly done by the Government. What more could the Government have done ? The first series of proposed resolutions were moved by the late Prime Minister on the 23rd September, and these were carried and sent to the Senate. It is not the fault of the Government that they have not been carried by the Senate.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is due to the neglect of the Government.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The Government cannot dictate to the Senate how it shall vote. Some considerable time' was necessarily occupied, but as soon as possible after the late Prime Minister had resigned, I took charge of the Bill. I do not think that honorable members opposite can complain of delay in this matter so far as the Government are concerned.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not since the proposed resolutions were submitted, but the matter ought to have been considered twelve months ago.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It should have been considered long ago.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for Macquarie, when in another sphere, had a magical way of doing things ; indeed, it took him five years to do nothing. . The present Government have been in office only a short period, and have had a great deal of work to do and have done it. Honorable members opposite blame the Government, not because there is any truth in the charges made, or because such action is considered fair or proper fighting, but because it is deemed to be politic, and useful to the Opposition. However, I do not think that the public agree with the Opposition, who are fighting such a decayed cause that they want something to revive it in the shape of an attack on the Government. The Minister for Defence read a letter from a gentleman named Mr. Flynn, whom I do not know, but who must have been drawing on his imagination. I repeat what I said before, namely, that on the plains of Monaro there are but few trees, in consequence of the bleak blizzard winds from the Kosciusko Ranges.

Mr McDonald - Why do not trees grow on the Darling Downs, where there s the finest country in Australia?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The Darling Downs is very good country, but it is subject to drought very often.

Mr McDonald - There is nothing like it elsewhere in Australia.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have seen the Darling Downs, and a good many other downs, and the honorable member is quite wrong in that. On the question of the course to be taken by the Government, I think it is unreasonable to suggest that the question should at this stage bedealt with as a Government measure. Honorable members on both sides have said that this should not be a party measure. If the Government were to take it up as a Government measure that would at once make it a party measure of the most pronounced kind. Some honorable members have said that the Government did not accept their proper responsibility in the first instance, that they should have made it a Government measure, and should have selected a site, perhaps in defiance of the wish of the House. They have said all along that it is not a party measure, and members of different parties have voted together for different sites. We have agreed that it should be an open question, and it is not fair to expect the Government to make it a party measure.

Mr Thomson - It must become at some stage a Government measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In what position are we now ? We have passed the Bill and sent it to the Senate ; the Senate altered it and sent it back, and surely it will not be contended that the question has now advanced far enough to justify the Government in taking up the cudgels on behalf of the House of Representatives, making a party measure of it, and creating a conflict between the two Houses? The speeches which have been delivered to-night show that the matter is not ripe as a party measure in either one House or the other.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A Government measure is not necessarily a party measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE -The honorable member must know well that this cannot be accepted as a Government measure without being made a party measure, because, if the Government take it up as a Government measure, and are defeated upon it, they must go out of office.

Mr Kingston - Does the honorable gentleman hold that every Government measure is a party measure ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No ; but every important and serious Government measure should be a party measure.

Mr Kingston - Many members of the Opposition are with the Government in this matter.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I wish to say now that the voting which took place in the Senate showed ten for Tumut and nineteen for Bombala. The ten represented 1,682,239 persons in the Commonwealth, whilst the nineteen represented only 1,663,488, or about 20,000 less than the number represented by the ten. When the site was decided in this House, in the first instance, as between Tumut and Lyndhurst, the vote for Tumut represented 1,827,758 persons, whilst the Lyndhurst vote represented only 1,314,754. Tumut has therefore been supported in the votes which have taken place up to the present time by representatives of over half-a-million people of the Commonwealth than any other site ; the numbers being 3,509,997 for Tumut, and 2,948,242 for Bombala.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Whose figures are those ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - They are figures taken from the divisions and votes by an officer in my Department.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are they like the electoral divisions? If so, they are not worth much.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If they are like the electoral divisions they can be relied upon. The honorable member cannot get away from them in that way, because he will have an opportunity to check the figures if he pleases. It is the intention of the Government that this measure when passed by the House of Representatives shall be sent on to the Senate again. I do not think it is quite certain, as has been stated, that the Senate will return the Bill in the form in which they previously returned it to the House of Representatives. I think there is something in the remarks of the honorable member for Bland, when he said that there are honorable senators who do not desire to create a dead-lock in this matter. When it is remembered that there has been a large majority in favour of Tumut in this House on two occasions, honorable senators will consider before they act rashly in a matter of this kind. However that may be, it seems to me that it is our clear duty to send this measure back to the Senate. The Senate may ask for a conference but I must say that I fail to see how any real good could come out of a conference on thesubject. However,' that will be for the Senate to consider when the Bill comes before them again, as it probably will tomorrow. When the Bill is again returned to the House of Representatives, it will be time enough for the Government to decide whether they should make it a Government measure and a party measure or not.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It will become a party measure if it is made a Government measure.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will be the fault of the Government if they make it so. This House does not desire to make it a party question.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If it is made a Government measure honorable members must not forget that a majority of the members of the Government will have to sink their opinions. They do not desire to be called upon to do that, and if they are they will be made subservient to the interests of party, if that would not be making this a Government measure I do not know what would. Some honorable members do not appear to know what a party measure is. If I were the Prime Minister, and a measure of this kind were taken up by my Government,. I should make it a party measure, and stand or fall by it. Once a measure of this, kind is made a Government measure no good can be done with it unless it is also made a party measure. Is a Government in a matter of so much importance as this, to be buffeted about from one side to another, having this and that part of their Bill destroyed ? No Government would submit to anything of the kind.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Every Government is compelled to proceed with a decision of the House to bring it to some maturity.

Mr Fisher - This must be a party measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It will perhaps be a party measure by-and-by ; but it is not one now. It has been once before the Senate and twice before the House of Representatives, and it will go before the other Chamber again. I think the Government can claim to have forced this matter forward more rapidly than some honorable members would have done if they had been in the same position. I altogether repudiate the statements made by honorable members questioning the bona fides of the

Government in this matter. No one can say that I have been backward in dealing with it. From the very onset, from the troublesome time when I had to bear the whole of the attacks made upon me for giving the members of the Federal Parliament an opportunity to visit the various sites, in order to prepare them for a consideration of the question, it cannot be said that I have shown any laxity in my desire to have the Capital site chosen as early as possible. If other measures of grave importance were in hand so that this question could not be taken up at the moment the reports of the Commissioners were received, that may have been unfortunate, but neither I nor the Government was to blame for it. The exPrime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, was very anxious to have this matter settled, and he took the earliest opportunity afforded by the state of business in this House to endeavour to carry the matter through. I think that honorable members ought to be satisfied that the Government will do the best they can to bring this matter to a successful issue. Until the Bill is again dealt with by the Senate, it is quite impossible for us to say exactly what will be done.

Mr Wilks - If the honorable gentleman is fighting a lone hand, he should do what the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs did if he does not get his own way.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I should if it were a party question.

Mr. THOMSON(North Sydney). - I cannot agree with the Minister for Trade and Customs that the methods adopted for dealing with this question have been the best, nor that the speed reached in dealing with it has been as rapid as it might have been. The matter has been gone into previously, and at this time I desire only to point out that the question appears to be getting into a very unsatisfactory position, which I for one do not desire it should get into. I. have no desire to see it brought to the fighting stage when other important business of the Parliament may be constantly interfered with by the introduction of this question, when angry feelings may be aroused, and when Parliament may under stress have to deal with the matter, which may be much better dealt with in the absence of that stress. I desire to reply to the objections of the Minister for Trade and Customs to making this Bill what he calls a party measure, that there must be a stage at which, if the Government are in earnest, it must become a Government measure. The Government are the leaders of this House, and whilst it might have been quite right, and I am not taking objection to it, for the Government to leave to the House in the first instance the selection of the site, after the site was selected by the House and inserted in the measure, I consider that the Government were bound to recognise the decision of the House as one to which they must adhere, and to subsequently deal with the Bill as a Government measure. If not, when are they going to deal with it as a Government measure? We know if this difference of opinion on the subject continues between the two Houses of the Parliament what the result will be. We have it laid down in the Constitution. To declare any joint dissolution the Governor-General has to act, and on whose recommendation is he going to act ?

Sir John Forrest - Not at once.

Mr THOMSON - The right honorable gentleman means that whilst it is not considered a Government measure now it would be considered a Government measure if it were not settled in this Parliament.

Sir John Forrest - The Bill has to be passed twice by the House of Representatives.

Mr Fisher - It does not make any difference under section 57 of the Constitution whether a measure is a Government measure or not.

Mr THOMSON - It does not, except that the Governor-General has to be moved at a certain stage.

Mr Deakin - We have not reached that stage yet.

Mr THOMSON - That I admit; but the Governor-General has to be moved when we have reached that stage and naturally the only persons to move him are the Government because they are his only advisers. This measure must, at some stage, become a Government measure. It ought to have become a Government measure immediately the blank was filled.

Mr Salmon - The honorable member would make the Government a mere committee of the House.

Mr THOMSON - Did any one ask the Government to refer the selection of a site to the House? Of their own motion, Ministers decided to become a portion of the

Committee of the House - we are not complaining of that act - but when the House had given its decision in the manner provided by the Government, the Bill ought to have become a Government measure.

Sir John Forrest - Although, perhaps, all the Ministers had voted against the site selected 1

Mr THOMSON - Certainly . The Government had only one of two courses to adopt - either to accept the responsibility of considering in Cabinet which site they would support, and, although Ministers might differ in opinion, coming to that corporate unanimity to which they have to come in other matters, or to take the position of members of the Committee and accept its choice of a site as the one which they would support.. Every member, I am sure, expected that course to be taken. A complaint has been made of some warmth displayed by representatives of New South Wales. But, I would ask, is it not reasonable that there should be warmth displayed when such charges are levelled against New New South "Wales members as have been made by a portion of the Victorian press ? What did a Melbourne newspaper say recently 1 It said -

There is not a senator who -would trust the trial of a Victorian dog to the impartiality of the New South Wales representatives.

This is a nice statement for the Age to make. It accused the New South Wales members of voting for Lacmalac for one. reason only - that it was the nearest site to Sydney - and then it accused Victorian members of neglecting the interests of the Commonwealth and the State in not voting for Albury, because it was the site nearest to Melbourne - for a Victorian town, as it was described. What did the Age go on to say ? It said -

A divergence of opinion between the two Houses will secure a further opportunity for inquiry, and, above all, for delay. It will be impossible at this late period of the parliamentary session to adjust any disagreement between the two Houses, and this will insure just what ought to happen - that the selection of a Federal Capital shall be left to a future Parliament, one which will take a higher view of its duty in the matter than that which operates with the present New South Wales opposition. In time, when we have broken down the unreasoning jealousy of the mother State, aDd when the Commonwealth is financially in a position to turn its thoughts to the establishment of a Capital city, we may repeal the fettering conditions of the 125th section, and leave Parliament free, as it ought to be, to take the very best site available wherever it may be found.

What does that mean 1 It means that the objection of a portion of the press, which influences public opinion largely in this State, is that the bond shall be departed from - that New South Wales, after giving whatshe agreed to give, after accepting the extra taxation which she objected to accept in the first instance, is to be robbed of what was given to her as a supposed equivalent. I think it is time for New South Wales members to show heat - at any rate it is excusable - when they are subjected to that sort of criticism by one of the strongest opponents of any settlement of the question at this time. Another very astonishing thing is that a number of members who have raised objections to the selection of a site at the present time, because of the expense involved, have voted for the most expensive site in the whole of those submitted to the Commission of Experts, and the site placed last by the Commissioners whom Parliament appointed to advise it. An expenditure of £2,450,000 is attached to Bombala in connexion with the construction of railways.

Mr Kingston - That is if the Commonwealth constructed the railway which iscontemplated by Victoria.

Mr THOMSON - That expenditure is involved whether the railways are constructed by the Commonwealth or by the States.

Mr Salmon - At one time or other.

Mr THOMSON - We cannot see into the future ; but so far each State has refused to construct a railway, and if either saw good reason for its own purposes to do so, no doubt it would have proceeded. The interest on that amount would represent from £S0,000 to £85,000 per year, and there is nothing more certain than that those lineswould not pay working expenses for many years to come. Yet those who on the plea of economy said " delay selecting a site " selected a site which would necessitate by far the heaviest expenditure by the Commonwealth or the States. There is also proposed an expenditure at Eden - which I shall not debit to the site, because it is by no means certain that Eden would be included -of £1,028,000 for the cost of two breakwaters. I do not wish to discuss the merits of the sites - I have not done sohitherto - but I cannot help replying tosome of the statements which have been made by honorable members and which are being made in the press. The Argus also gives a view of this matter, which is not accurate. On the 16th October it said -

The conflict of opinion arose from the difference of numerical representation which New South Wales has in the two Houses. In the House of Representatives, where that State has twenty -six members, their preference for Tumut, as against Bombala, prevails. In the Senate, where each State is represented by six members, the preference of New South Wales loses its controlling power, and Bombala secures a large majority.

That statement is absolutely inaccurate. The two sites chosen have not been selected by New South Wales members at all. New South Wales has been absolutely in the hands of the other States in this choice. In the Senate Bombala had no New South Wales supporters, while in this House Tumut had four New South Wales supporters in the first ballot and three more in the last ballot, making seven in all. So let it not be said in either case that the selection has been due to New South Wales members.

Mr Kingston - They had an equal voting power with every one else.

Mr THOMSON - The newspaper from which I quoted states that the difference in selection is due to the difference in the representation of New South Wales in the two Chambers. There were only seven honorable members who voted in the last ballot for the choice of this Chamber. If those seven members had voted on the other side, it would have led to the selection of another site.

Mr Kingston - If the seven members had given, a vote to Lyndhurst it would have won.

Mr THOMSON - Yes. The scale was turned in favour of Bombala, not by the votes of two or three New South Wales members, but by the votes of the representatives of other States.

Mr Kingston - If New South Wales members had stuck to Lyndhurst it would have won.

Mr THOMSON - Tumut was far more the choice of the twenty-nine representatives of other States than of the seven representatives of New South Wales. I am not objecting to the other States having their full say in the selection of the site, but considering that New South Wales has had so small a voice in the matter, I would appeal to all sections of the House to give some consideration to State feeling, and the least consideration they can give is to do as they have done - to uphold the compromise site which has been selected. But the action of honorable members will not secure the adoption of that site, unless the Government are prepared to accept their responsibility, and I submit that if they do not take that course, it will show that they are not in earnest in their proceedings. I hope that the difficulties and dangers which I foresee may be avoided. The Commonwealth has enough necessary and unavoidable difficulties to face without our adding one which is unnecessary and avoidable, and if we do not arrive at a means of solving this question at an early date it will become a burning question to the Parliament, and will - very unfortunately- interfere with the work that we ought to be performing, and I am afraid with the respect that our proceedings, if properly conducted, ought to command from the people of Australia.

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