Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 20 July 1904

Mr SPEAKER - I suggest to the Minister and to the House that we should at this stage, as the Standing Orders require, discuss only the second reading of the Bill, and that the best mode of balloting to be adopted should be discussed on a separate motion, between the passing of the second reading and the consideration of the measure in Committee.

Mr BATCHELOR - I merely desire to indicate now that it is the wish of the Government that the method of selection adopted shall be that which seems likely to give the best and fairest results. I need not go further into the matter now. I have mentioned it to show that the Government are not wedded to any particular scheme.

Mr Mcwilliams - Can the honorable gentleman inform the House as to the means of communication between the various sites and the capitals of the States ?

Mr BATCHELOR - That information is contained in the printed reports.

Mr SPEAKER - I think that it is a detail which may be left to the Committee discussion.

Mr BATCHELOR - Yes ; but . with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say that, in compliance with the request of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, I have had a return prepared, showing the actual time which should be occupied, under present conditions of railway and coach service, in reaching each of the various sites from Melbourne and Sydney. The information has not been printed, but there are a dozen copies available for the perusal of honorable members.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think it should be printed. The information is most important.

Mr BATCHELOR - It can be printed, if honorable members so desire. In conclusion, I wish to express the hope that, in choosing the site of the Federal Capital, no personal, party, or parochial considerations will have influence. The question is absolutely a non-party one, and the site, when chosen, will stand, either as a monument to the sagacity of the members of this Parliament, or as a permanent proof of our incapacity. We may fairly hope, therefore, to obtain such a choice as will reflect credit upon us.

Mr SPEAKER -I wish to intimate to the House that, as the Minister of Home Affairs has not in any way referred to the comparative merits of the respective sites, and as I have understood from his speech that a later opportunity will be given for such a discussion, I propose, with the concurrence of honorable members, to rule against their discussion now. Mr. WILSON (Corangamite). - I move-

That all the words after "That" be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof, the follow, ing words : - " in the opinion of this House it is inexpedient that a selection of the site for the Federal Capital be proceeded with at the present time, and' that with a view to securing greater freedom of choice in the future, steps should be taken to alter the Constitution by striking out the words 1 and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney ' in the 125th section of the Constitution, and to add the words ' or Sydney ' after ' Melbourne ' in the same section. "

The Minister of Home Affairs attacked my amendment before I had an opportunity to move it, but I recognise that he had a perfect right to say what he has said, and I am indebted to him for one or two admissions which, it seems to me, should strengthen my arguments in its favour. He told the House' that the delay which has taken place in connexion with the choosing of a site has not been altogether disadvantageous, and, in point of fact, has produced manyl advantages. I may fairly contend, therefore, considering the great importance of the question to Australia, that further delay will be advantageous. We have heard a great deal of the compact in the Constitution in regard to this matter. I take it that the spirit of that compact is that the Federal Capital shall be placed in New South Wales, and my amendment recognises that compact. It provides, not only that the Federal Capital shall be situated in New South Wales, but that after three years, and as soon as the necessary arrangements can hi made, the provisional capital shall be removed from Melbourne to Sydney. I hope thus to allay most of the irritation which has been caused in New South Wales by the delay which has occurred in settling the

Federal Capital question, and I expect to have, on the conclusion of my remarks, the solid support of all the representatives of that State. I have no parochial feeling in this matter, and no desire to press the claims of the State in which I was bom before those of the mother State.

Sir John Quick - Apparently the honorable member is ready to give them away.

Suggest corrections