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Thursday, 21 July 1904

Mr SKENE (Grampians) - I take the full responsibility, not only for having pressed this site on the attention of the House last session, but also for having asked the honorable member for Hume to arrange the proposed party of inspection. When the sites were being considered on the first occasion, I suggested that Tooma should be inspected along with Tumut, and Dalgety along with Bombala; but the Minister said that my suggestion was not practicable. Nevertheless, Dalgety was inspected, though Tooma did not receive a visit.

Sir John Forrest - The reason was that the House had decided on a site within twentv-five miles of Tumut.

Mr SKENE - That may be so. Having heard of the Tooma site from men in whom I have thorough confidence, I considered it was a place which ought to be inspected. An inspection I have made, and further information received only strengthens that opinion. I agree with the right honorable member for Swan that it would be well to have a more detailed report on the district before we go into Committee on the Seat of Government Bill. The report by Mr. Chesterman is certainly a very good one; but the Government would, only be doing justice to themselves if they called for more details. Personally, although I voted for the Tumut site last session, I should not do so again, unless the Tooma site were included. In the absence of any adverse report, I shall feel it my duty to vote for that part of the country in which Tooma is situated as against any other area which I have seen, or of which I have neard. I presume we all agree that we should first select a certain area, within which the site of the Federal Capital shall be situated.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we go off the track like that, there aremany sites nearer Sydney which we may have to examine.

Mr SKENE - I do not know of any more suitable site nearer Sydney ; I had pretty well in my own mind exhausted the sites before I voted for Tumut.

Mr Conroy - The country at Tooma has been settled for forty years, and has scarcely made anv advance in that time.

Mr SKENE - I can only say that three years ago, in connexion with some starving stock on the Murrumbidgee-

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the merits of any site.

Mr SKENE - I think the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is wrong in saying that this district has not advanced. The country there is magnificent ; certainly much better than on any proposed area which I have seen or of which I have heard.

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