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Tuesday, 14 June 1904

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Like others who are very ready to attack, the honorable member for Hume is exceedingly tender when he receives a thrust in return. So far from his statement that members of the Opposition delayed the settlement of the Capital sites question being correct, he should remember that when a similar statement was made last Parliament, it was found by measuring the columns of Hansard that the debates to which reference was made were contributed to as largely by the then Ministerial supporters as by the members of the Opposition. Further than that, his new proposal that another site should be examined is a reflection upon the Ministry of which he was a member, and upon himself as Minister of Home Affairs, because he never brought that site before Parliament.

Sir William Lyne - It was put in the Bill by Parliament. The honorable member's statement is not correct, and he knows it.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall not trouble to ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark, because I do not attach the slightest importance to his contradictions. That site was not included among those which were to be inspected, but was introduced by means of an amendment ' proposed by a Victorian representative.

Sir William Lyne - Hear. hear.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was after the inspection had taken place.

Sir William Lyne - No, it was not.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is wrong again. The amendment was moved when the discussion took place in the House, after the first inspection had been made.

Sir William Lyne - No inspection had taken place up to that time.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable member shows me that I am wrong, I shall publicly withdraw ray statement. The fact that the site was not in cluded among those to be inspected in the first instance, was a reflection upon the Government, in which the honorable member for Hume held a portfolio. I do not blame the Government for the delay whichhas taken place, because we could not expect them to bring forward the Seat of Government Bill any sooner. It was the first measure dealt with in the Senate, and we have the Prime .Minister's assurance that it shall be proceeded with immediately after the Bill now before us has been disposed of. I am not asking that it shall be interposed before the Arbitration Bill has been passed, but as the consideration of that measure will probably be completed by us within a week's time, and as the Prime Minister has promised to give us a week's notice before the Seat of Government Bill is dealt with, we should soon hear something about it. Certainly no other Bill should be interposed. I do not wish to say anything that would awaken the susceptibilities of the representatives of other States, but I would impress upon the Government that it is important to New South Wales and to the House that the matter should be settled. Any undue delay will certainly induce irritation, which would be a matter of regret to all honorable members who desire to see the Federal compact fairly and honestly carried out, and the work of the Parliament conducted as it should be.

Mf.WATSON (Bland- Treasurer).- I am glad that some honorable members recognise that no fault is to be found with the Government in respect of their treatment of this question. All the members of the Ministry are anxious that the Capital site question shall be pushed forward, not merely from the stand-point of New South Wales,, but from 'that of all Australia. We believe that it is a national question ; that we should, in the first place, keep faith with the people of New South Wales with regard to the terms of the Constitution, and, in the second place, remove the Parliament as soon as may be from any centre where Inter-State jealousies may be aroused, to the spot which will be the home of the Federal Parliament for all time. I cannot trace the origin of the report alluded to by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, with respect to another Bill being interposed before the Seat of Government Bill is dealt with. I have heard of no such suggestion, and have given utterance to no sentiment that would lead to such an impression. Whether or not the honorable member has put forward his statement as a feeler I do not know. I am afraid that he is rather prone to that kind of thing. I can say definitely, as I have said before, that the next Bill to be considered after the Arbitration Bill has been dealt with, will be the measure relating to the Capital sites. As to the statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that only one day was occupied by the last Parliament in discussing the Seat of Government Bill, I can assure him that four days were- thus spent. That would represent the sittings . of the House for at least a week. Therefore, I hardly feel justified in consenting to the suggestion that the measure should be interposed during the discussion of the Arbitration Bill. It must be remembered that the Government came into office in connexion with the Arbitration Bill, and that we announced when putting our programme forward that that measure would first be dealt with by us, whilst the Senate were engaged upon the Seat of Government Bill. Therefore, I think that \ve are justified in asking the House to push forward the consideration of the Arbitration Bill, and in pointing out that the surest way to secure the early consideration of the Seat of Government Bill will be to assist the Government to a reasonable degree in disposing of the measure now before us.

Mr Mcwilliams - Then we should not have the Government amendments in time.

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