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Tuesday, 26 July 1904

Mr McLEAN (Gippsland) - I think it is to be regretted that, the suggestion made by you, Mr. Speaker, was not adopted, because we are now dealing with two distinct questions. ' With regard to the method of voting to be followed, honorable members must have been impressed with the imperfections of the system adopted on the former occasion. We all know that votes were manipulated to a very large extent, and that the process was an easy one. I much .prefer the method proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, because, although under it manipulation of votes may be possible, it will be much more difficult than under the system formerly followed. I am strongly in favour of the proposal of the Government that a vote shall be taken in regard to the districts within which the Federal territory shall be located. It would be a great mistake to tie us down to any particular spot at this stage. We must remember that upon the last occasion a large majority of honorable members voted in favour of a particular locality, which is now almost universally condemned as unsuitable. We may repeat that mistake if we again vote under similar conditions. In voting for a district, we can look at its general situation, and take into consideration its centrality with regard to the various States ; its physical characteristics, climate, water supply, railway and other facilities, and all those other conditions which should weigh with us, apart from the selection of the actual spot upon which the Capital is to be built. It has been urged that if there were two sites in one district, one strongly favoured, and the other such that no one would choose it, honorable members might vote against the good site for fear that the bad one might be selected. We must, however, rely upon the exercise of common sense and reason in the selection of a site for the Capital within a given area, and I do not think that any fears of the kind indicated need be entertained. At this stage we should merely select a certain district, and leave the question of choosing a particular site for further consideration.

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