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Tuesday, 14 June 1904

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - The utterances of honorable members on the other side of the House remind me of some utterances which we heard in the last Parliament, and in which, for political purposes, thev attempted to blame the then Government for the delay. If any one was to blame for any delay in regard to the selection of the Federal Capital site, it was not the then Government, but those who delivered repeated and lengthy speeches from the opposition benches.

Mr Wilks - But the honorable gentleman did not bring forward a proposal until the end of the first Parliament.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If honorable members will ascertain how long it has taken in other countries to decide an important question of this character, they will recognise that it would have been an unprecedented thing for the Capital site to be chosen during the term of the first- Parliament. In every other country a number of years elapsed before this important question was decided, especially where there was a great diversity of opinion.

Mr Wilks - Does the honorable gentleman wish to put off its settlement for three or four Parliaments?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I shall not permit the honorable member to put words into my mouth. I do not wish to put off the settlement of the question, and the honorable member knows that any accusation of that kind made against me in a previous Parliament was absolutely untrue. It was honorable members opposite who caused the delay, and not the last Ministry. Hacked up by their morning organs in Sydney, they fanned the flame which had been ignited here deliberately. By political speeches, and for political purposes, they created a feeling of irritation in New South Wales in consequence of an imagined delay. I venture to say that New South Wales is not very anxious to have the Capital established in some of the places which are at present proposed. I think that a very large number of its people at the present time would say - "Let the Capital be er ner in Melbourne or in Sydney, rather than in the place which is proposed by the Senate." I think it is necessary and right for the Government to carry the Seat of Government Bill through the House in a cairn manner, and at the earliest reasonable date. But there is a vast difference between taking that course and putting aside an important, if not the most important, Bill that will be submitted this session. As a Minister, I have always tried to get one Bill out of the way before proceeding with another Bill, and not to mix up the consideration of half-a-dozen Bills at one time.

Mr Wilks - The honorable gentleman did not have any weight with his own Cabinet, because they were always mixing up the Bills.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I feel that there should be no delay. I hope that the High Commissioner Bill is not going to intercept the consideration of that measure

Mr Wilks - It would not be wise to do it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Mr. Wisemight want it.

Mr Wilks - - -That is what I wished to elicit.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think that there is any great hurry for passing the High Commissioner Bill, and I hope that, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has been put through the House, the Seat of Government Bill will be proceeded with. As regards any other sites being considered, I am anxious that a portion of a site - not a new site - that was included in the last Bill should be considered.

Mr Wilks - I see what it is now.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Honorable members will recollect that there was a section of land embodied by description in the Bill which was passed through the Chamber last year as part and parcel of one site which has not been seen. I asked the late Minister of Home Affairs to see it when he was in the neighbourhood, but it was not seen by him, nor was it seen by the then Prime Minister. I have been trying to get that particular part of that area seen, and I wish it to be seen by some, if not all, the members of the House. I presume, from what I heard this evening, that that is what is referred to mainly. If any honorable members will be kind enough to accompany me, I shall take them there at my own cost, if the Government will not pay the expense.

Mr McCay - What place is it?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The Upper Murray. No more legitimate request could be made, but there seems to have been with some honorable members a determined antipathy to visit that part of the site. I am not 'going to submit to the matter remaining in that condition. If a better site were represented to be in existence than any of those which have been seen, it is a paltry thing to say that, because it has not been considered up to the present time, it must not be looked at. This question once settled will be settled for all time, so that it is too important to allow any particular site to be put aside by a wave of the hand. I do not advocate the inspection of any new site, but I advocate, and I am determined to have, the inspection of a site agreed to in this chamber.

Mr Conroy - Would the honorable member support the inspection of the Yass site?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No; I think that Yass is not in it.

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