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Thursday, 21 July 1904

Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan) - I should be the last to place any obstacle in the way of an inspection of any site likely to prove suitable. My complaint is that the Government, while urging us. to settle the question of the Federal Capital' are at the same time offering facilities for the examination of new areas. This question has been under consideration for a couple of years, and was fully discussed last session; and, in the face of the decision which was then arrived at, and after all the visits of inspection and the numerous reports which we have received, it is hardly fair to now confront us with a new site.

Mr Batchelor - We are not confronted with a new site.

Sir JOHN FORREST - If further visits of inspection have to take place, it is only reasonable to ask that the final decision be deferred for some time in order that we may be in possession of the fullest information. I cannot understand the Government offering facilities for the examination of fresh sites, and thus complicating the question, in view of their appeals to the House to settle the matter promptly. When the proper, time comes I shall urge that the matter be deferred, and some time allowed to elapse before we are asked to decide.

Mr Batchelor - The right honorable member had better move an amendment on the motion for the second reading.

Sir JOHN FORREST -I do not wish to do anything of the sort; all I desire is thatwe may have reasonable time in which to consider this new phase of the question. The honorable member for Hume knows the district well, and had ample time in which to suggest all the sites he considered suitable; but, although he himself had charge of the Bill last session, and supported the selection of Tumut, or some site within twenty-five miles of Tumut, it is only now at the eleventh hour that Tooma is suggested. Those of us who . have made up our minds as to the site we favour are now asked to reconsider the whole question. I am quite willing to examine this site, or a dozen other sites, so long as we are not "rushed" in Committee, and asked to come to a conclusion in the absence of adequate information. I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Corio that the habit which this House appears to be getting into of sitting only two or three days a week is becoming rather troublesome. For the last three weeks we have not met on Fridays, and sometimes have not sat on Thursdays; and, seeing that we have been five months in session, and have done very little, we should not only sit the full four sitting days, but ought to consider the desirableness of extending the sittings, if that be necessary, to enable the business of the country to be done.

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