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Thursday, 28 July 1904

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - New South Wales asked for a certain concession, and it was granted, but a certain number of honorable members are now endeavouring to prevent her from deriving the advantage of it.

Mr Poynton - The provision with regard to the Capital site should never have been inserted in the Constitution.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My honorable friend will admit that the Premiers met and agreed that the Federal Capital should be situated in New South Wales. In order to meet the strong objection urged by the Victorian Premier against the Capital being located at Sydney, a stipulation was made that it should not be established within 100 miles of that city. In consideration of the benefit which it was believed would be derived from the establishment of the Capital within New South Wales territory, that State agreed, at the instance of the other States, to grant 64,000 acres of land for the purposes of the site, if that area of Crown lands happened to be embraced within the site selected.

Mr Batchelor - I never heard it put in that form ' before.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was put in that form to the electors of New South Wales, and if it had not been thus submitted, the Constitution Bill would never have been passed. Perhaps that would have been a good thing for me, because I lost my seat, owing to the strong opposition I expressed towards that measure. I knew that 7 was risking my seat, but I did not stop to consider my own interests, because I think that a man who is afraid to express his honest opinion has no right to take part in public life. However, I was the first Federal representative sent into this Parliament for that electorate.

Mr Poynton - New South Wales agreed to join the union without any condition with regard to the Capital site.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It did nothing of the kind. In the first instance, a certain majority was required in favour of the Bill, but that was not secured. The amended Bill was afterwards submitted, and, in view of the advantages which it was thought would be derived by New South Wales from the establishment of the Federal Capital within that State, the public agreed to accept the Constitution.

Mr Ewing - Do not the people of New South Wales wish to see a suitable site chosen ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, and I shall be able to show honorable members that the most suitable site is to be found at Lyndhurst. I intend to say something with regard to the action of the honorable member for Hume, who has gone out of his way to question the truth of a statement made by me as to his action with respect to Lyndhurst. I prefer to deal with that matter when the honorable member is present. I shall show honorable members how unfairly Lyndhurst was treated bv the honorable member when he was Minister of

Home Affairs, and subsequently. The great majority of the people of New South Wales fully believed that a site would be chosen for the Federal Capital as near as possible to the 100-mile limit. I admit that no such provision was made in the Constitution, but, as many honorable members know, that was undoubtedly the impression in the minds of the electors. New South Wales entered into a compact which she is perfectly prepared to carry out. No attempt has been made by her to repudiate it. That State has fulfilled its obligation under the compact by accepting the Constitution, and it now asks this Parliament to perform its part. When the honorable member for Hume was Minister of Home Affairs-

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Where is he? I suppose that he is getting in some of his fine work somewhere.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not object to the honorable member putting in his fine work, but it is very difficult to understand what site he really does favour.

Mr Batchelor - It is very easy to understand what sites he does not favour.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not so sure about that. I can show, by reference to Hansard, that, in moving the second reading of the Seat of Government Bill, the honorable member for Hume distinctly stated that the Orange site was a splendid one. Last evening the Committee decided to limit the western site to an area within a radius of fifty miles of Lyndhurst. I claim that we should have acted wisely had we accepted the proposal of the Government, and decided, in the first instance, to select the site of the Capital, and afterwards the Federal territory.

Mr Ewing - We can achieve the same result before we have completed our consideration of the Bill.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Where is the utility of this discussion if, at a later stage, the same ground is to be traversed again? However, the fact remains that we have been debarred from voting for the most eligible site in the first instance. Last night the honorable member for Hume declared that Lyndhurst was included in the list of eligible sites merely as an act of courtesy to me, and that it had no right to be considered at all. I might remind the honorable member that during the last Parliament the highest number of votes was recorded in favour of Lyndhurst. I' am sure that no such consideration as he suggests weighed with honorable members in the determination of this important question. By interjection last evening I pointed out that the honorable member for Hume had not treated the Lyndhurst site fairly. He denied the truth of my statement, for which he was called to order. Under these circumstances, I may be pardoned if I recapitulate what' actually occurred in connexion with the consideration of this question during the first Parliament. On that occasion, it will be remembered that a disagreement occurred between the two Houses.

Mr Austin Chapman - The site which the honorable member advocates was knocked out.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; the Lyndhurst site commanded a larger number of votes than did that of Bombala. This Chamber, I repeat, disagreed with, the Senate's selection of the Bombala site. When the other Chamber took our amendment into consideration, I discovered that a nice little intrigue was in progress. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has admitted that if I had not come upon the scene, it is possible that an arrangement would have been entered into by which the Bill would have included the Tumut and Bombala sites? and would have excluded Lyndhurst from consideration. To the credit of the Senate, be it said, its members refused to be a party to that little game of bluff, and consequently the selection of the Capital site was left in abeyance. At a later stage, in reply to a question by me, the Prime Minister stated that a site, which possessed such undeniable advantages as Lyndhurst, could not be overlooked. He admitted that it was not necessary for any further surveys to be made in connexion with that site.

Mr Webster - Because the expenditure was not warranted.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My honorable friend may take that view if he chooses.

Mr Austin Chapman - The honorable member has accused "the honorable member for Hume of intrigue. Is he now prepared to prove his statement?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Last night the honorable member for Hume declared that he had not been a party to anything that was unfair. Let me tell the House what occurred in connexion with one of the Parliamentary visits of inspection to the Capital sites during the last Parliament. Some trouble had occurred in connexion with railway arrangements, and, as a result, I was asked to try to arrange with the

New South Wales Railway Commissioners to provide us with special trains to all the sites, free of charge. I saw the Treasurer of that State, Mr. Waddell, and he agreed to place at our disposal a special train for the purpose of visiting the Tumut, Bombala, and Lyndhurst sites, via the nearest railway stations. It was arranged that the honorable member for Hume should conduct a party over the Tumut site during Friday and Saturday. That was the compact which was entered into; but after the honorable member had reached Tumut, he endeavoured to detain the party over the Sunday, although he knew perfectly well that it had been previously agreed that honorable members should leave Sydney for Lyndhurst that night, so that they might arrive at Bathurst upon the following morning. When he returned to Sydney the honorable member for Hume rang up certain Government officials upon the telephone, and inquired what would be the cost of a special train from Bathurst to Lyndhurst. He was informed that it would be about 7 s. per mile.

Sir William Lyne - No.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member was told that the cost of an ordinary special was so much per mile.

Sir William Lyne - No.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If t'he honorable member thinks I am in error, he will have an opportunity later on to correct my statement. I received the following telegram from the honorable member for Canobolas, who was then at Cootamundra: -

Lyne . objects Lyndhurst arrangements; proposes run party to "Blayney; thence Lyndhurst, back to catch return train Sydney.

The honorable member for Hume endeavoured to make it impossible for the party to visit Bathurst and Orange in order to see the sites by daylight. He said that he objected to the cost of running a special train, but he had no objection to provide one to carry honorable members to Tumut.

Mr Austin Chapman - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in stating that the honorable member for Hume endeavoured to prevent honorable members from inspecting a site in accordance with arrangements made by his Department, when that statement is denied ?

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