Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 26 July 1904

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) - I am at a loss to understand the arguments submitted against the Government proposal that a vote shall be taken, not on sites, but on districts. It is easy for the honorable member who has just resumed his seat to say that we should vote only in respect of individual sites. He forgets that on a previous occasion he made a stirring and brilliant speech in favour of Orange, and that subsequently, as the result of a clever arrangement with the honorable member for Macquarie, the sites in the western district were narrowed down to one, and no vote was given for Orange.

Mr Brown - I voted for Orange as long as it was in the running.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I should have said that only one voted for Orange. It is inconsistent for those who have winnowed down the sites in the district which they favour to one, to urge that the House, should be called upon to vote for individual sites. What is the reason for this; contention? It is evidently desired that the various sites shall be voted on separately, in order that the supporters of thesite in the western district may succeed.I was at first disposed to think that the.Government were taking a rather big responsibility in placing Tumut and Tooma in the one district, because on measuring the distances shown on the map I found that Tooma was. nearly as close to Dalgety as it is to Tumut.

Mr Reid - Let it be bracketed with the two sites in the honorable member's district, and then he will have a strong team.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - To my mind, it would have been fairer had Tooma been placed in a separate district. Under the present proposal, we are asked to vote on the question of its selection, although it has not been subjected to that close scrutiny which in the case of some of the other proposed sites proved so disastrous. Seeing that we shall have to discuss the merits of each site, it is somewhat strange that not only eleven sites which have been already reported on - and which have been killed by those reports - should be placed in one district, but that two other sites should be included in it, and that we should be refused information asked for in respect of them, lest they, too, might be put out of the running by the official reports, I do not wish at this stage to further discuss the relative merits of the various sites. I have simply referred to these matters in order to show why I was at first disposed to oppose the Government proposal. It seems to me that if we are to select one of these districts, it would be better, instead of calling them the southern, south-eastern, and western districts, and so forth, to call them by the names by which we know them best. They should be known as the Lyndhurst district, the Bombala district, the Tumut district, and the Murray, or the Upper Murray, district. If it is necessary that the site on the western side of the mountains should have all the chances of selection proposed to be afforded it, let us settle the question by voting on the Tumut district, the Monaro district, and the" Lyndhurst district. That would give the honorable member who objects to the Government proposal a fair OPportunity to carry out his wishes. Those who. like him, still think that Orange is the best site, would, under that system, be able to vote for Orange, as being covered by the Lyndhurst district.

Mr Brown - That is all I desire.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - If the Government proposal be adopted, that ought to be conceded. I think it would be better, however, to deal with this question as we should with an ordinary Bill. A Bill setting forth the selection made by another place has- been sent down to us, and it already covers one of the districts - the south-eastern - on. which the Government propose .to taKe a vote. Let us pit the southern or Tumut district against the western or Lyndhurst district, and having decided by a vote of the House which of the two has the greater number, of supporters, pit the successful one against the district named in the Bill. That would be a reasonable and simple course to pursue, and would be fair to all parties. We should thus avoid the trouble involved in taking a ballot, and be enabled to secure all that we desire.

Mr Reid - What about Dalgety?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The Bill already covers Dalgety.

Mr Reid - We do not wish to have it under the thimble in that way ; we wish to have a vote on it. After Lyndhurst, I am in favour of One of the sites in the honorable member's district.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - It is useless for the honorable member for Macquarie to attempt to work in a proposal of that kind. There was a strong expression of opinion in favour of Dalgety in another place.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Let us have a vote on Dalgety.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - It is all very well for the honorable member to say that.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But under the honorable member's proposal we should not have a vote on Dalgety.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - We should. I am prepared to accept the Bill as it has come down to us from another place. It covers Dalgety and Twofold Bay as being within a fifty-mile radius. As we are to select not a site but a district, I favour the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Objection has been taken that under it votes might be manipulated, but no one has yet shown how any manipulation of votes could make the worst results achieved by it any different from the best results that could be secured by following the Government scheme. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has distinctly proved that his method would simply lead to the pitting of one site against another, and that we should thus be able to deal with the relative value of each. If that system were adopted it would prevent arrangements being made to anything like the extent that would be possible under the Government proposal, and, therefore, I am strongly in favour of it. It would also place on record the opinion of every member in regard to this question. Every vote would be known. An. honorable member would vote No. i for the site which, he preferred, No. 2 for that which he considered to be the next best site, and so on, and we should arrive at a conclusion by one ballot instead of being compelled to have a number, as was the case on a former occasion. I hope that we shall not go to a vote without defining in some way the term " southern district." That district includes Albury and Tabletop, and surely the honorable member for Hume, with thirteen sites in the vicinity of Tumut, has no desire to bring those two into the running. Let us define the area in the three districts, and give them some such distinct and familiar names as I have suggested. I do not propose to move any amendment in that direction, because, if I did, the honorable member for Hume, and the honorable member for Macquarie, would probably be disposed to oppose it; but I throw out the suggestion that such an amendment should be moved.

Sir William Lyne - I should not object. I think that in each case there should be a certain radius fixed.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Very well. It is only fair that we should deal with this question by selecting a district. We have the south-eastern and the southern district, and Lyndhurst is practically a district. One of the representatives of the western district, the honorable . member for Canobolas, wishes to record his vote for the selection of the Lyndhurst district, and why should he be deprived of the right to do so? We should have just as much right if the honorable member for Macquarie insisted on his proposal, to vote on the selection of Orange as on the selection of Lyndhurst. This House has already put Lyndhurst out of court, and it is only out of courtesy to the honorable member for Macquarie, and because of his indefatigable log-rolling, that it has again been placed in the list from which a selection is to be made.

An Honorable Member. - Not logrolling.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I mean logrolling outside this House.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member has done a good deal of that lately.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Before the amendment is dealt with, I should like the Government to " consider my suggestion. Three districts are supposed to be in the running, and one is named in the Bill. Let iis pit the two districts not named in the measure against each other, and then pit that which is victorious against the district named in the Bill. I call upon honorable members to show that any unfair result would follow the adoption of that course. If we adopted it we should," in my opinion, arrive at a fair result. I trust that we shall be able to select a district, and, indeed, I think we must do so. I doubt whether it would not be good policy to stand to a territory until such time as the Commonwealth Government are able to enter into negotiations with New South Wales in regard- to this matter. If we selected a territory it would cover the site that we desired ; and in the light of further information we might even be able to select a better site than would be chosen, if we dealt with the matter straight away. I am strongly in favour of selecting a territory. If we selected the Monaro territory, we should cover the proposal contained in the Bill as sent down by the Senate, and by securing a broad area should be able to choose the most desirable site in the interests of the people.

Mr. SYDNEYSMITH (Macquarie).I have been somewhat amused by the statement made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, that Lyndhurst has been included in the list from which a selection is to be made, really as a matter of courtesy to me. I join issue with him, and would point out that when we dealt with the matter last session, Lyndhurst topped'the poll on the first three or four ballots, and was defeated by only a very small' majority on the final ballot. I know that the honorable member for Hume attempted in a most peculiar way to prevent the claims of Lyndhurst being considered by the House.

Mr Reid - Bad as he is, I do not think he would do that.

Suggest corrections