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Tuesday, 14 June 1904

Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - I also trust that the Seat of Government Bill will be proceeded with as soon as possible. In fact, in my opinion, it ought to have been dealt with sooner, because it is a measure which may have to be sent, back to the Senate if there is a disagreement between the two Houses. I presume it will not take this House very long to deal with it. If we know that it is to be proceeded with in a week's time, all honorable members can be present. I presume that the debate will not occupy quite so long as the previous debate did. On the previous occasion, I believe that the Bill was brought forward in the afternoon, and the debate finished at 11.30 o'clock in the evening. Then we were discussing many sites. On the present occasion we shall have to discuss only one or two. There is no doubt about it, that the fact that this question has not been proceeded with, has caused a considerable amount of heartburning in New South Wales.

Mr Watson - The honorable member cannot blame the present Government.

Mr CONROY - I should blame them if they were not prepared to proceed immediately with the measure.

Mr Batchelor - It was made the first Government Bill in the Senate.

Mr CONROY - But was it left with the Senate with no idea of proceeding further with it?

Mr Watson - It is before this House now.

Mr CONROY - The question we are discussing is as to when it shall come before this House to be dealt with. If we have an assurance from the Prime Minister that it will be dealt with in a week's time, that will not be unreasonable. Otherwise it might be brought forward at once. If many honorable members from New South Wales were of my opinion, they would not allow any other business to be brought forward in this House until the Seat of Government Bill had been dealt with. Indeed, I think that it would result in an absolute saving of time to bring it forward at once. I know that a great amount of feeling exists in New South Wales on the subject. In fact, I venture to say that if much mme dissatisfaction is caused in reference to the Federal union, there will not be any Federal union to continue. I will guarantee that if the incoming Premier of New South Wales were to put it to the vote in New South Wales, by an overwhelming majority the people would refuse to stay in the union. I am sorry to have to say that, because I believe in Federation. I regret that the feeling in New South Wales is so strong; and anything we can do to assuage it, and show that this .House is determined to carry out the contract, we ought to do. It will result in very much lessening the present irritation. Personally, I have never believed that the Capital will be of any material advantage to New South Wales, and I confess that I cannot regard the question in the same light as some people do.

Mr Spence - Then why worry about it?

Mr CONROY - Because I cannot help recognising the importance that is attached to the matter by the majority of the people of New South Wale's. It is immaterial what I happen to think on the question while that feeling exists; and so long as the Seat of Government Bill is delayed, a large amount of irritation will exist, which, in my opinion, would otherwise die down. The Bill has now been passed by the Senate, and there is no reason why it should not come before us. The reason why I ask for the Bill to be brought forward immediately is that if this House does not agree to the proposals of the Senate, it may have to go back to that House, and the measure may be dodging between the two Houses for some time. There is, therefore, all the more reason for pushing on with it at once. Honorable members from New South Wales will agree with me 'that the settlement of the question will do much to allay the feeling that exists in that State.

Sir William Lyne - They would rather not have the question settled than see the Capital fixed at Bombala.

Mr CONROY - The people of New South Wales will realize if we settle the question that that State is not being unfairly treated in this matter.

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