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Wednesday, 27 July 1904

Mr EWING (Richmond) - The honorable member for Kennedy was perfectly right when he stated that there is a tendency on the part of honorable members in dealing with this matter to follow the public opinion of the electorates and of the States which they represent. There are greater a'nd nobler purposes to be served. I interjected when the honorable member was speaking that we might leave the question to be settled by the King. A similar trouble arose in Canada, and it was suggested that some one absolutely trustworthy should be left to decide the matter. Eventually the selection was intrusted to the Queen. In connexion with the selection of the Federal Capital of the United States George Washington was empowered within certain limitations to select the site. It was decided that it should be situated on the Potomac, but otherwise he was allowed to exercise his choice. I do not know of any man in Australia who stands in a position similar to that formerly occupied by Washington- in the United States; but there is something in the view of the honorable member that some person not locally interested and trustworthy, and with opportunities to obtain the fullest and best information, should decide the question. I do not suggest that honorable members are not competent to deal with the matter - possibly some of them are a little too competent. I think that it is highly probable - and I say this with a full sense of my responsibility, and with a knowledge that the sentiment is not popular in New South Wales - that the best site for the Federal Capital may probably be found in the great drainage- centre of Australia, upon the Upper Murray, near Mount Kosciusko. A number of reliable men who have seen that district - I have not been there myself - tell me that in no part of Australia have they ever witnessed such a glorious panorama.


Mr EWING - I am perfectly sure that no considerations, with regard to abundance of water supply or magnificence of scenery would cause the honorable member to vote for any other than a western site. It is only natural that those honorable members who represent western constituencies should vote for a western site, and that those whose constituents are in the southern part of New South Wales should vote for a site in that part of the State. I know what electors are, and what human nature is. It is of no use setting high ideals against material interests. Considerations of material advantage will be paramount, and honorable members are not likely to fly in the face of their constituents. Almost every constituency labours under the hallucination that the right site is to be found within its' own boundaries, and local bias plays a most important part. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro tells us that in his district natural beauties abound. He tells us of the place -

Where the Snowy wanders through corn and vines and flowers,

To where Kosciusko lifts to heaven her diadem of towers.

The honorable member for Eden-Monaro no doubt speaks honestly, although he is probably strongly affected by local bias.

Now, what does the honorable member for Hume say with regard to the Bombala site ? His description of that site reads like a page from Nansen's Farthest North. It could have applied to the great lone land beyond the Saskatchewan, where the only things to be seen are an occasional moose or a Cree Indian. The honorable member told us that ho sounds were heard near Dalgety except when the west wind blew, and the howls of the dingoes were wafted over the snow. The Capital should unquestionably be situated in a spot possessing great natural beauties. Some honorable members' ideas of natural beauty are embodied in the book which has been circulated by the advocates of the Lyndhurst site. But I cannot imagine anything more prosaic or more commonplace than the features there presented. Anthony Trollope stated that we were so proud of Sydney Harbor that it might be supposed we had dug it out ourselves. Notwithstanding the way in which people laugh at us, we are proud of Port Jackson, which is the most beautiful harbor in the world. It is worthy of all that has been said of it, and must make the most favorable impression upon visitors who make their first landing in Australia upon its shores. Any man who has a heart above that of a wombat, or has any conception of what he owes to his country, must wish that when the railway train sweeps into the Federal Capital the passengers conveyed by it shall have presented to them a view that cannot be equalled in any other part of the Commonwealth. Such a view is, I believe, to be found upon the Upper Murray. Upon the question of water supply, I would urge that we should not contemplate only a supply of water sufficient for our baths, or for watering our gardens or parks, but should also consider the part which water will play in beautifying the landscape. Water in itself may not be a thing of beauty, but it has a relieving effect when combined with other physical features, and tends to perfect the scheme of beauty. There is no other part of Australia likely to be chosen which has .streams running all the year round, and which are at their fullest in the summer time, when water is most wanted. Not only from the spectacular stand-point, but also from the utilitarian point of view, we should seek a site in connexion with which we shall have a supply of water ample for all domestic purposes, and also for generating electricity and sup plying power in other forms. We should also hold in view the aid which water will render in providing means of recreation for the population of a Capital. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, the compact entered into with regard to the 100-mile limit has eliminated from our choice many of the great beauty-spots upon the New South Wales coastline. I know that in that State it is not popular to advocate the selection of a site near the Vic- torian border. But I do so - as I explained this afternoon - upon the broadest ground, and knowing that it is in opposition to the temporary feeling of my own State. But what is that temporary feeling in comparison with a proper appreciation of this subject ? In years to come, when our children and children's children visit this site they will realize that their fathers were above provincialism, and that they were prepared to choose the best site, even though it was situated far away from Sydney, and- near the Victorian border. Our compact here to-night is to do the best we can for the Commonwealth as a whole. Believing, as I do, that a suitable site may exist within fifty miles of the Murray River, where the water comes from the snow-clad ranges, and where the best spectacular result produced by the magnificent handiwork of nature is to be found, -I must vote for that site. I should like honorable members to recollect one great fact in connexion with beauty. Men may make a pretty site by means of parks and buildings, but nature alone can make a magnificent site. We might form a pretty place at Lyndhurst, or in many other parts of New South Wales, but unless nature has done her best all the beauty which we can impart to any site in the shape of parks, and buildings will never elevate our Capital to the position which it should occupy. I wish- that it were possible for honorable members to visit this site. I wish that the representatives of New South Wales could see it. If the Welaregang site is as 'good as it is alleged to be, we ought to know more about it, because, after all, we have not sufficient information in detail. This is a topic upon which a person might talk at very great length. In connexion with this matter we have a special responsibility. If the Welaregang site is as good as it is represented to be, I implore the House to wait another fortnight, and to give honorable members an opportunity of visiting it. If the representatives of New South Wales then de-' clare that it is not a worthy site, I shall have nothing further to say. I wish that, before to-morrow, the Prime Minister would think over this matter. Does he not see the difficulty in which we are placed? Although I believe that the Welaregang site is not deficient, either in regard to its water supply or building area, still, no man is in a position to finally pin his faith, to a particular - spot without possessing an absolute knowledge of it in detail. We must select a site, not by way of compromise, but on account of its magnificence- - a site which Australia will regard as a worthy one. If Welaregang be that site, I ask the Government to give us an opportunity of converting the representatives of New South Wales to the views which I have expressed.

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