Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 29 July 1904

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) - I offer no objection to the proposal made by the honorable member for Macquarie, although I think that by yielding to it we might create a rather dangerous precedent. No charge has been made against Mr. Wade, and, so far as I am aware, there is no very special reason why he should be called. I understand that the honorable member for Macquarie takes serious . exception to one or two interjections, in reference to the water supply of Lyndhurst, which were made last night whilst he was speaking in Committee.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Something very much more serious than interjections.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Then the honorable member ought to say what it is.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member will not be in order in referring to another debate.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was my difficulty.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I know that Mr. Wade is a first-class engineer, but I ask whether it is desirable that we should call to the Bar of the House only a gentleman who has furnished a report favorable to the selection of a certain site.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know anything about his views in that respect. That statement is hardlv fair.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The reports supplied by Mr. Wade are favorable to the selection of a certain site.


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - He has expressed a very favorable opinion in regard to the water supply of Lyndhurst.

Mr Kelly - An honest opinion.

Mr Watson - That goes without saying.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I do not accept the honorable member for Wentworth as an authority on this subject.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Wade has also favorablv reported on Tumut.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - He has made a favorable report on Lyndhurst, and for that reason the honorable member for Macquarie proposes that he shall be examined. I have no. objection to the adoption of that course, because I am satisfied that Mr. Wade would not make a report in favour of any site unless he were convinced that it was right to do so. If we are going to question the value of the various reports which have been submitted1 to us, we ought to examine not only Mr. Wade, but Mr. Pridham, Mr. Bloomfield,, and other gentlemen having equally high reputations. Surely we are not going to cast a slur on the high officials who have furnished us with reports? The honorable member for Macquarie, telegraphed to the Government of New South Wales to secure the attendance of Mr. Wade in Melbourne, and, knowing that that gentleman is prepared to speak in favour of the selection of Lyndhurst, he desires that he shall be called. Is Mr. Wade to be singled out as the one engineer to give evidence at the Bar of the House? I should like to drawattention to the fact' that the New South Wales Engineering Department has been responsible for some terrific blunders in connexion with water supply. Every one in New South Wales is aware that some one in that Department must be held responsible for serious mistakes in connexion with the water supplies of Bathurst, Orange,

Goulburn, and Armidale. I do not say it was Mr. Wade, but if we are to discuss the relative merits of engineers, we should have some information as to who was responsible for those schemes.

Mr Watson - Mr. Wade has only recently become Chief Engineer.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) -It is a very unfair way in which to try to damage a public officer's reputation.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN -If we are to decide this question by bringing men to the Bar of the House, we should bring a number of men, because it is a well-known fact . that in ' connexion with the schemes for water supply for the places I have mentioned, most glowing reports were issued, by the Department in New South Wales, as to what the rainfall would be, what the conservation would be, and we really had in respect to those schemes much the same story as we were told last night. The places to which I refer have had water supplies provided for them on the authority of some engineer in New South Wales, and in every case they have proved dismal failures. At Orange, where we are told there is such an enormous catchment area for a water supply, the people of the little town had to be put on half supply in the summer before last. The mistakes in these cases should be inquired into, and we should know who was responsible for them. It would be a calamity to us if we were guided by the report of engineers who are incompetent. I do not doubt the figures which were given to us last night, but we want something more than figures; we should have facts.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some honorable members do not want the facts.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I have not the . slightest objection to hear them, but if we are to have an officer sent here specially by. the New South 'Wales Government to make, at the Bar of this House, certain statements regarding a particular site, we should also have an opinion from other' officers with regard to other sites, and we should saddle the responsibility for the mistakes made in New South Wales in this connexion on the right shoulders. I do not believe that Mr. Wade would make such mistakes, but I refuse to allow the honorable member for Macquarie to inferentially saddle engineers who have reported favorably of sites other than Lyndhurst with that responsibility. If Mr. Wade is to be brought to the Bar of the House. Mr. Pridham and other men with as good a reputation as his should also be heard. From Mr. Pridham's report there is grave doubt as to what can be done at Lyndhurst. There is no running water there, and the suggestions as to what can be done there in the way of water supply are all dependent on conditions and circumstances. . If the intention is to pit one public officer against another, they should all be given fair play. The honorable member for Macquarie cast some reflection upon the Commission appointed by the honorable member for Hume, only because that Commission did not supply him with as good a report on Lyndhurst as he could get from Mr. Wade's figures. The last thing we should try to do in this House is to pit one public officer against another. If I do not agree that what Mr. Wade has done is right, that is no reason why I should try to cast the slightest doubt upon his ability or his honesty. No one who knows Mr. Wade would think of doing so ; but he should not be brought here as a kind of special pleader for one site. That would put Mr. Wade in a very false position. The very fact that the honorable member for Macquarie telegraphed to

I have this officer brought here should be enough" to induce honorable members to hesitate before they agree to what has been proposed. We were told by the honorable member that Mr. Wade reported that at Lyndhurst there is not only a sufficient water supply for the Federal City, but that there could be procured 135,000,000 gallons a day for irrigation purposes. All I can say is that many of us who could not get even a drink of cold water there, would be very glad to get such information from Mr. Wade. I am disposed to think that there is one good reason why that gentleman should be brought to the Bar of the House. He has just returned from America, and the honorable member for Barrier is under the impression that the report quoted must be upon the Mississippi, and not upon Lyndhurst, and I think it is well that that should be cleared up. I am quite certain that any report by Mr. ' Wade would . be an honest one. In my opinion, he is a very competent engineer, but if he' is to be brought before the Bar of the House' as the special pleader for a particular site, in _ justice to other sites, we should also ' have here some of the engineers who have told us that' unless we- are prepared to spend millions, it will be almost a matter of impossibility to get a water supply at Lyndhurst. We might get water to the moon, if we spent enough money. If Mr. Wade is to be brought to the Bar of the House, another telegram should be sent to Sydney to some other engineer, whose reputation is just as good as is Mr. Wade's, and who will tell us that unless we go to the expenditure of millions there is a risk that at Lyndhurst we should have more whisky than water.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has told us that he has not the slightest objection to Mr. Wade appearing at the Bar of the House, and he has further said that he believes that gentleman to be a competent engineer, who would give an honest opinion. If that be so, may I ask what we should gain by questioning Mr. Wade as to the engineering failures that have occurred at different places in New South Wales in connexion with small water supplies.

Mr Austin Chapman - He might give us some information in respect to them.

Suggest corrections