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Thursday, 28 July 1904

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The request of the honorable member for Hume shows the extraordinary position at which we have arrived in connexion with this question. The site at Tooma has apparently been known to the honorable member for Hume for many years, and yet the honorable member has in this House supported and advocated as the best available sites other places in his electorate.

Sir William Lyne - That is absolutely incorrect. I gave good reasons why I did not submit this site, and it is very unfair of the honorable member to make that statement.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All I can say is that any reasons which the honorable member for Hume had fbr not submitting the Tooma site in the past must exist today.

Sir William Lyne - No; they do not.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it any nearer to Sydney or further from the border to-day?

Sir William Lyne - It is nearer to Sydney than are other sites which are under consideration.


Sir William Lyne - It is nearer to Sydney than is Bombala or Dalgety, if you take a straight line.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We cannot fly like the crows.

Mr Austin Chapman - It is not nearer to Sydney in a direct line than is Dalgety.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It may or may not be ; but what I wish to point out is that its principal recommendation is the view of Kosciusko and the Snowy Mountains.

Sir William Lyne - Not at all - the extent of land, the class of land, its adaptability as a building site, and the water supply.

Mr Austin Chapman - That is what the honorable member said about Tumut.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All those conditions can be secured at other sites. There are a number of other places in New South Wales from which it is possible to get a view of the Snowy Mountains and Mount Kosciusko, and I wish to know whether those places are to be excluded from consideration, or whether we are to have another expedition for the examination of them. Whilst various sites have been subjected to very critical examination by expert officers, and that critical examination has in many cases altered the first estimate of particular sites, we are asked to judge of this further site without any such report or examination. The honorable member for Hume asks for certain particulars, which he wishes to obtain, and not for the particulars which have been placed before us with respect -to other sites. In my opinion, we must either say that this Upper Murray site is not within consideration, or that a report must be obtained upon it such as has been obtained concerning the other sites; and that means further delay.

Mr Batchelor - Is the honorable member prepared to say that the Tooma site is not within consideration?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - From my point of view it is not, and for the very good reason that I do not think its selection would fulfil the conditions of the compact made with New South Wales. It would be going away to the border of that State for the express purpose, apparently, of selecting a site which would practically be the site of another State.

Mr Batchelor - Would not the same remark apply to Bombala?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not to the same extent, but to some extent it would. The Upper Murray site is ineligible on the ground I have stated ; but I am not urging that now, as I have no desire to criticise the site as such.

Mr Frazer - May I gather from the honorable member's statement that he would oppose it no matter what the nature of the report upon it might be?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What right has the honorable member to question me upon that point now ? I am not at present criticising the sites.

Mr Lonsdale - The honorable member for Kalgoorlie was pledged on the platform to one of the sites when he had never seen any of them.

Mr McColl - Some honorable members are bound hand and foot.

Sir William Lyne - They are shackled.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable member for Echuca referring to me?

Mr. McColl.- No j to those who are interjecting.

Mr Lonsdale - We are quite as free asthe honorable member is.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am only pointing out the position into which we are getting. Either we have to decide on the information which we now have, or if there is to be a further examination made, it should be as thorough as it was in connexion with other sites. Which course is to be taken, I do not know. The mere getting of information that a supporter of a site wants, and excluding - of course, not intentionally - a lot of information that we have obtained about other sites, is a very , partial way of dealing with the question.

Sir WILLIAMLYNE (Hume).- The honorable member for North Sydney has, I think, been very unfair to me. To-day I looked through the report of Mr. Chester-' man, who knows the country very well, and compared it with the plans with which it was accompanied. I found that, as regards the Tooma River, Pound Creek, which is really a large river, Tumberumba Creek, and Manners Creek, he has given the elevations at certain points, and referred to the gauge of water, showing that even from those creeks and rivers an ample supply , could be obtained - in fact, as large as the supply that could be placed on any site that I have seen. But, in addition to that, he says -

I have endeavoured to obtain from the New South Wales Works Department some information concerning the altitude and discharge of the river at the Murray Gates, but apparently none is obtainable. However, a river such as this is, draining a precipitous slope of the Snowy Mountains, must necessarily carry away an enormous body of water, particularly considering the rapid nature of the catchment where it comes off the higher mountains.

In water supply the Upper Murray is particularly well favoured (as its position would naturally lead one to expect) for the main rivers before mentioned receive innumerable smaller perennial streams, many of which are more or less snow fed at their sources. In the suggested Tooma River gravitation scheme, which in all probability would prove the cheapest and most effective, this report has dealt with only one source of supply, for, without special examination, the subject cannot be more fully enlarged on. For a like reason it is impossible to submit definite information concerning water power, although, as before mentioned, I would expect to find great possibilities in the Swampy Plain River.

If honorable members will take notice, at about fifteen or twenty miles above this proposed site, the Upper Murray is divided into two rivers, one called the Swampy Plain River, and the other the Indi River. The reference in the quotation is to the point at which the two rivers join. Mr. Chesterman says he tried to get from the Public Works Department the information as to altitude - he has got most of the information as to flow of water in certain seasons - and that he was unable to obtain it. And then at another point, to which I referred, the Murray Gates, he was unable to ascertain the altitude. All I asked was that, if it was possible, he should be instructed to get that information.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not the honorable member say, in regard to other sites, when we had more information about them than is given there, that there should be a Commission appointed to examine them?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Most decidedly; and if there were the opportunity there would be ample justification for appointing experts to examine this part of the country. All I asked - I thought it was a very simple request, to which no one. would object - was that certain information should be obtained in regard to two particular parts where an immense volume- of water comes down. The right honorable member for Swan- spoke to me the other day about the altitude of various spots on the Murray.

Sir John Forrest - No.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If the right honorable member did not, other honorable members did. The information would be made much more complete by ascertaining the altitudes at those places where I believe the greatest volume of snow-fed water that it is possible to obtain in Australia can be obtained. It is scarcely fair that every moment a word is said about this site an honorable member who represents Lyndhurst, as the leader of the Opposition did, should make a vicious protest against getting any information.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that we want more information.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I know that it is possible to obtain this information before this debate is closed, and if it does not bear out what I anticipate, so much the worse will it be for the site. But I cannot understand honorable members objecting to the information being obtained. I have been attacked for not having submitted this site before. I said most distinctly that the originator of Tooma being submitted as a site was the honorable member for Grampians. I did not go into this matter last session as I might have done, for the one reason that if a site well within the boundaries of New South Wales was selected, I should be very pleased ; but we are now considering sites a long way from Sydney.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They were being considered before, as the honorable member knows.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Why should any honorable member object to further information being obtained?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that we want more information.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is not a nice thing for honorable members to try to prevent information about a place from being obtained, This place may not have a chance of being selected, but if it. is proposed to go further south than this locality to look for a site-

Sir John Forrest - They were all mentioned.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - This site was proposed . by the honorable member for Grampians, when he sought to get the territory extended from Tumut down to the Murray. The only reason why I . did not deal further with the proposal at the time was that the area came down to the Victorian border. I know that the people of Sydney - I do not know about the people of New South Wales - raised a considerable objection to the site being taken so far south. I have always felt that the spirit of section 125 of the Constitution was to have the Capital as fairly as possible in New South Wales. I thought, therefore, on the last occasion,, and I believe that it influenced many honorable members, that a half-way place, in the shape of beautiful Tumut, was a very good compromise. However, that need not be discussed at the present time. I hope that honorable members will not object to the Minister of Home Affairs, in- strutting Mr. Chesterman to go up theriver to these places and obtain this information.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Hume has. given the best of all reasons why there should be no more paltering with regard to the Tooma site. He has told us that originally - when he was in his saner Federal moments - he believed that this site was entirely out of the running.

Sir William Lyne - I did not say anything of the kind.

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