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Thursday, 28 July 1904

Mr LONSDALE - He may have been there for two or three days, but that is quite immaterial. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat recently travelled over the country which would be traversed by the railway that would be required if this site were selected, and subsequently in an interview with a newspaper reporter, he is alleged to have stated that it would be. a very long time before any such line were constructed. I am disposed to agree with him. But whether rightly or wrongly, the fact remains that the Federal Convention agreed that the Capital site should be located not less than 100 miles from Sydney.

Mr Glynn - Not the Convention.

Mr LONSDALE - That provision was inserted in the draft Constitution, which was agreed to at a Premiers' Conference, and was subsequently indorsed by the people of Australia. Consequently it is a part of the bond. New South Wales was induced to enter the Federation under that arrangement, and no honorable man will desire to depart from it. I claim that, unless the site which we select is within a reasonable distance of the 100-miles limit, we shall commit a breach of the bond.

Mr Frazer - No.

Mr LONSDALE - Then why did not the framers of the Constitution declare that the Capital should not be located within 150 miles of Sydney? Undoubtedly the idea was that whilst it should be outside the 100-miles limit, it should be as near to that limit as possible.

Mr Frazer - That is the Sydney interpretation.

Mr LONSDALE - It is the interpretation which any lawyer will place upon that provision. The intention was that New South Wales should be offered the Capital as a bribe to enter the Federation.

Mr Watkins - If a site were selected at Armidale, it would not be close to the 100-miles limit.

Mr LONSDALE - I have never uttered a word in advocacy of the selection of Armidale, so that the 'honorable member's interjection does not fit.

Mr Frazer - How many times did the honorable member see the Lyndhurst site before he pledged himself to support it?

Mr LONSDALE - I never saw it.

Mr Frazer - The honorable member was Sydney " on the blind."

Mr LONSDALE - I told my constituents that if, after seeing the Lyndhurst site, I was satisfied with it, I should advocate its selection, because it was the nearest to the 100-miles limit imposed by the Constitution. The construction of a line from Werris Creek to Wellington would, bring Lyndhurst very much nearer to Brisbane than it is to-day. Similarly the railway which will eventually be constructed from Broken Hill to Lobar will improve the accessibility of that, site from South Australia. Moreover, the population of the mainland is trending northward.

Mr Watkins - That . is why I think that Armidale will become the centre of population.

Mr LONSDALE - It may become the centre of population in fifty years' time. I should support the selection of the Armidale site, if it had any possible chance of being chosen, but, realizing that it has not, I am not so foolish as to waste my time by arguing in its favour. During the past forty years the population of Queensland has increased ten times over, whilst t'hat of Victoria has only doubled. During the worst year experienced by the northern State, her increase of population was larger than was that of Victoria. These facts show conclusively that population is trending northwards. In such circumstances I claim that we shall be acting wisely by selecting Lyndhurst. I chiefly rose to show how utterly absurd is the position taken up by the right honorable member for Swan when it is compared with the criticism of the late Mr. Oliver. That gentleman states -

In the matter of accessibility Albury is about twice as far from Sydney as from Melbourne, and is on the bank of the boundary river between the two States of Victoria and New South Wales. With the commercial consummation of Federation, Albury and the Federal Capital of the Commonwealth, if located there*, must be dominated by the nearer State and its metropolis for all commercial purposes, for trade would then necessarily be governed by the conditions of cheaper and shorter access to the best market. If there had been no such compromise of the rival claims of New South Wales and Victoria as is contained in the 125th section of the Commonwealth Act, the last objection could not, I think, have been fairly raised against the aspirations of Albury ; but, in view of that section, which declares that the Seat of Government shall be in the State of New South Wales, but distant, not less than 100 miles from Sydney, it would hardly be reasonable to comply with the 100 miles limit in a way that might result in a site being accepted which, while technically and topographically within- New South Wales, and so complying with the literal requirements of the section, would be within the commercial sphere of influence of a border State to such a degree as to make the statutory direction as to location, in effect, almost nugatory.

Any one who will study the Constitution must realize the truth of those statements.

Mr Brown - That objection also applies to the most recently discovered site.-

Mr LONSDALE - It applies to all of the sites. I maintain that the Federal Capital should be located nearer to the capital of New South Wales than to that of Victoria.

Mr Tudor - Lyndhurst is much nearer to Sydney than is Albury to Melbourne.

Mr LONSDALE - That is quite right. Under the Constitution the Federal Capital should be much nearer to Sydney. That was the understanding which was arrived at. New South Wales has never acted in a . selfish manner where the other States were concerned. She gave them free access to her markets, and in every way has shown herself the most unselfish of the States. In this matter, therefore, I claim that she should be treated in the same spirit. I opposed the Federal Constitution, because of its provincial character. I admit freely that the provision which it contains relating to the establishment of the Federal Capital is a provincial one. Nevertheless, it was inserted in the Bill, and it is now a part of the Federal bond. It was the bribe which was offered to NewSouth Wales to join the union. Ths people of Australia having accepted that measure, should respect its provisions. Had we secured a national measure, I should not have cared where the Federal Capital was established, so long as the conditions laid down in that Statute were obeyed. 1 shall support the Lyndhurst site, upon thu ground that the Federal Capital should bc located as near as possible to the 100- miles limit.

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