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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

Mr DEAKIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - That is the way in which the evidence at present commends itself to me, and I take it that other honorable members are in the same position. I have not asked myself, nor do I propose to do so, the question which site should be preferred, if I regarded the interests of only the State to which I belong ; nor have I sought to forget the fact that, nut only the great State within whose territory the Capital requires to be placed, but every State in the Commonwealth is entitled to be considered in this regard.

Mr Thomson - That has all been dealt with.

Mr DEAKIN - I venture to say that those who have come to the House with formed opinions, unless derived from personal inspection of the sites, must feel as I do. Although I was perfectly willing, in order that a choice might be made, to know the district in which the Capital should be selected only from the information put before the House in the reports submitted to us, still I could not but feel, as I still feel, that there was lacking that full and adequate knowledge of the precise spot within it on which the Capital should be established that we may yet hope to obtain.

Mr Higgins - Will information be collected in the meantime?

Mr DEAKIN - That will follow as a matter of course. The fact that this Bill is to be laid aside is merely a legislative incident. It does not affect the administrative side of the question. Whatever may be the means adopted, the Government propose to continue inquiries as to those sites which are evidently the most preferred, and have been most highly recommended.

Mr McCay - And the country between them ?

Mr DEAKIN - I do not wish to impose any conditions. To use such an expression might imply too large and general a search to be productive of much good. No long period can elapse before the meeting of the new Parliament, and when it does meet, it will have before it a report of what the Government has undertaken. It will be able to say whether the Government, in the inquiries which it will pursue from this time forward without more interruption than is rendered absolutely necessary by reason of the elections, are following right and reasonable lines to arrive at a settlement of this vexed question, or whether any other or further step should be taken. It is the conviction of every one of us that it is a menace and an injury to legislation to leave the question in its present unsettled state. The sooner it is dealt with the better it will be for every State and for both branches of the Legislalature. Its removal from the arena of politics will be of the greatest advantage to the transaction of business. The persistent inquiry and consideration which we have hitherto given to this question will not be desisted from in the future until a final, and I hope early, conclusion has been arrived at.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not very definite. Is the debate closed, Mr. Speaker1

Mr SPEAKER - Yes. The Minister spoke in reply.

Mr Fisher - Surely the Minister's reply cannot close the debate when there is an amendment before the House. He must be taken to have spoken to the amendment.

Mr SPEAKER - The Standing Orders provide that when the mover of a motion has replied no further debate shall take place, either upon the motion or upon any amendment of it, and, of course, no further amendment can be moved.

Amendment negatived.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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