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Tuesday, 2 August 1904

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) - Although ' I should like to see this question expeditiously settled, I do not feel inclined, on so important a matter, to give a silent vote. If I were to consult my own convenience, and that of South Australian members generally, I should not be anxious to have the question settled for a long time to come. It is convenient to South Australian members to be able to visit their homes at the end of each week; but I recognise that a bond, which ought to be carried out, was entered into with New South Wales. It is nothing to me in what part of New South Wales the Federal Territory is situated, further than that I desire to see the site selected which will be most advantageous from every point of view.

It stands to reason that wherever the Federal Capital may be located in New South Wales, the parliamentary representatives from Western Australia, Queensland, and South Australia will have to make their homes there during the session ; they will not be able to visit their respective States each week as at present. Under the circumstances all the talk about short cuts to this place and the other does not influence me. It does not matter to me whether the Federal Capital be 100 miles, 200 miles, or even 300 miles east, west, north, or south, so long as we select the best position. But to-day I heard the honorable member for Parramatta speak of an attempt on the part of honorable members to break the agreement entered into with New South Wales. . So far as the majority of representatives from the different States are concerned, there is not, in my opinion, any such desire or attempt. I do find, however, that there is a desire and an attempt on the part of the representatives of New South Wales to dictate to this Parliament, not only where the territory shall be, but what its limits shall be; and this in spite of the fact that it is clearly laid down in the Constitution that the Commonwealth Parliament is to select territory, and to determine its area. At any rate, I am prepared to carry out the bargain, and I hope that New South Wales will act towards the Commonwealth in the same generous manner that the electors of the Commonwealth have acted towards that State.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - On the argument of .the honorable member, is there anything to prevent the Commonwealth taking the whole of New South Wales ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I want to take only what is proposed by the Government - the small slice of 900 square miles out of an enormous territory.

Mr Reid - The honorable member is too generous !

Mr HUTCHISON - We have been too generous to New South Wales. There was so little Federal spirit amongst many of the people of that State that they had to be treated like spoiled children, and offered a gift to induce them to enter the Federation.

Mr Reid - New South Wales took South Australian wheat for fifty years without placing any duty on it.

Mr HUTCHISON - The right honorable member would not have continued such a policy if he had not thought that New

South Wales reaped the greatest benefit. Why should not South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania have concessions in the same way as New South Wales and Western Australia? However, we are ready to carry out the bargain ; and if New South Wales is not prepared to fulfil her part, then this House will be compelled to do the next best thing. To induce New South Wales to enter the Federation, this Parliament was deprived of its undoubted right to select the Federal Capital in any part of the Commonwealth considered most suitable. But while I do not grumble about the concessions offered to New South Wales and Western Australia, I must take exception to the attitude assumed by the Premier and the Attorney-General Of New South Wales, who, in spite of the clear provisions of the Constitution, desire not only to dictate the extent, but the situation of the territory. I refuse to be a party to tolerating that kind of thing.

Mr Brown - The Premier and the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales were asked to do that by the late Prime Minister.

Mr Reid - And more than once.

Mr HUTCHISON - They have not been asked to do it by this Parliament, which was elected to carry out the Constitution in letter and spirit.

Mr Reid - This Parliament cannot communicate with the New South Wales Government; only the Commonwealth Government can do that.

Mr HUTCHISON - Why should we communicate with the New South Wales Government further than to point out the decision of the Federal Parliament as to the situation and area ? New South Wales will reap all the advantage of having the Federal Territory within her border; at any rate, if the right honorable member for East Sydney had not thought there was an advantage the bargain as to the Federal Capital would never have been made. Whether that bargain be wise or unwise, it has been made, and we must stand by it ; and the right honorable gentleman who had much to do with it ought to see that his State performs its share.

Mr Conroy - Doss the honorable member think that a site on the Upper Murray would give any advantage. to New South Wales ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I wish honorable members had taken the trouble to inspect all the sites. I do not profess to be an expert, but I like to make my own observations, and then obtain the opinion of experts. I had no prejudice in regard to any of the sites, but from what I had heard and read my idea was that Dalgety was the best. I visited the various places, and thought Lyndhurst looked very well. Then, I thought that Orange was magnificent so far as scenery, soil, and climate were concerned, and that Bombala would do. Dalgety, however, I regarded as the best site of all, though I had to admit that the soil there did not 'come up to my expectations. I am glad to say that the expert knowledge' of the right honorable member for Swan more than bears out my opinion in regard to Dalgety. But I should have been disappointed, indeed, had I been asked to cast my vote without an opportunity to visit the Tooma district, which, to my untutored observation at any rate, seems far superior even to Dalgety. The soil, of the Tooma district appears excellent, and the site can be easily made accessible. However, I do not think there is anything in the arguments as to accessibility.

Mr Conroy - Does the honorable member consider that the selection of the Tooma site would confer any advantage on New South Wales ?

Mr HUTCHISON - Undoubtedly.

Mr Conroy - In what way?

Mr HUTCHISON - No matter in what part of New South Wales the Federal Territory is situated, it must be of decided advantage to that State.

Mr Conroy - How is that?

Mr HUTCHISON - Honorable members, particularly those from New South Wales, seem desirous to so hedge round the Federal territory that every penny spent on the carriage of goods or passengers shall go into the coffers of that State. There seems to be a fear that a neighbouring State may also share in the advantage.

Mr Reid - Where otherwise is the advantage to New South Wales?

Mr HUTCHISON - It has been decided that the Capital shall be in New South Wales, and I hope that it will be established at the earliest possible moment. For my part, I shall place no hindrance in the way of the decision of the question within the next few days.

Mr Page - Why should not New South Wales benefit?

Mr Conroy - If the honorable member for Hindmarsh represented Queensland, could he not point to other places even more beautiful than those he has mentioned ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I could tell the honorable and learned member of places in Queensland -and South Australia just as admirably suited for the Federal Capital as any I have seen. That, however, is beside the question ; we do not want the bargain altered. The honorable member for Maranoa has asked why New South Wales should receive any concession.

Mr Page - I ask why she should not benefit ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I do not see why New South Wales should benefit, further than we were willing, as citizens of this great Commonwealth, to approve of the section of the Constitution which enables her to do so. Except for that section she would not have formed part of the union, and I should have been very sorry indeed if New South Wales had remained outside.

Mr Conroy - How can New. South Wales benefit if the Capital Site is placed right away from her centre, and in a part which practically belongs to another State ?

Mr HUTCHISON - Wherever the Federal territory is situated, there will be communication with Sydney and with the other States capitals. New South Wales will necessarily be a considerable gainer. There will be tourists from all parts to visit the Capital. I trust that it is going to be a Capital worth going to see, and an object lesson to the world at large. It ought to be. I also trust that it will be situated in territory that is fit for closer settlement. We should not have merely a small area for purposes of building allotments, but contiguous to the city there should be land available for settlement, so that the maintenance of the Federal Capital and territory will cost nothing to the taxpayers. There is no reason why that should not be so. The honorable member for Parramatta has told us that the principal considerations are centrality, accessibility, and climate. But there are other considerations, which are equally important. We also want to have good soil and a good water supply. Dalgety has a magnificent water supply. Any amateur can see that it has a magnificent background for a Capital. It is an excellent site in many ways. It is a better site than Bombala. But Tooma possesses all the advantages that Dalgety possesses, and over and above it seems to have a surpassingly superior soil.

Mr Austin Chapman - Does the honorable member know what the records of the climate are?

Mr Conroy - Does he know what the height of the site is?

Mr HUTCHISON - The land is supposed to run from 1,100 feet to 1,900 feet above sea level, within a comparatively few miles.

Mr Conroy - Where would the Capital site be?

Mr HUTCHISON - If I had the choosing it would be about Welaregang. At that spot it would be about 1,100 feet above sea level.

Mr Conroy - Does the honorable member know that it is possible to grow tobacco there?

Mr HUTCHISON - I am very glad to hear that, . because if tobacco can be grown there it is a proof that almost anything else will grow, and that it will be possible to grow the fruit and other produce required by the Capital city within a few miles of the site.

Mr Conroy - I mention the growth of tobacco in order to show the heat.

Mr HUTCHISON - The honorable and learned member's object is to show that the climate is bad. But we have a report from Mr. Chesterman, an expert, who says that he has lived for five years in the district; and any expert who has lived for that time in a district is quite competent to tell us what its qualifications are. He says nothing about intense heat, and nothing about intense cold. I went there almost in the depth of winter, and found the climate magnificent. It was warm during the day-time, and extremely cold at night, just as it is at Melbourne, Adelaide, and other places. There is a great deal to be said against going to too cold a country for the purpose of establishing a Seat of Government, especially as we have (representatives from warm climates like Queensland and parts of Western Australia. But I believe that in a cold climate we can grow stronger and more brainy men and women than in hot climates. That is proved from the experience of the highlands of India, Scotland, and other countries. Men and women grown in the highlands are, as a rule, a stronger and superior race from every point of view. It would be wise to have our Capital situated in a cool climate, but not in an extremely cold climate. Nothing has been advanced during this debate to convince me that any suggested site is superior to Tooma. I am sorry that so few members took the trouble to visit that district.

Mr Reid - Who unearthed it?

Mr.HUTCHISON.- Last session the honorable member for Grampians was able to give the House a very great deal of information about Tooma, but other honorable members did not take the trouble to see whether his information could be substantiated.

Mr Reid - If Tumut had not fallen out of the running we should never have heard of Tooma.

Mr HUTCHISON - Possibly. But when I went to Tumut I was very unfavorably impressed with the. district.

Mr Conroy - I assure the honorable member that at Welaregang the heat on some days is just the same as at Tumut.

Mr HUTCHISON - But the point is that we have at Welaregang good soil and a good water supply. It is true that we also have a water supply and a good climate at Tumut. But we must have a territory that can be utilized for closer settlement. I wish the Commonwealth to secure a territory that will yield a revenue sufficient to cover the whole cost of establishing the Capital and developing it.

Mr Conroy - Is the honorable member aware that practical people living there do not think the land worth more than ^3 an acre?

Mr HUTCHISON - I do not care what they think. We shall not have to pay more than the experts say the land is worth. The honorable and learned member knows verywell that where there is no railway communication land, as a rule, is very cheap. What is the value of the land, even at Lyndhurst, where there is a railway right into the heart of the country? The price of land is no guarantee of its value until there is railway communication. No matter how rich land may be, it is practically valueless without railway communication. As a rule, it is only used for growing and fattening stock, when, probably, it would carry hundreds and thousands of families. We shall get railway communication to the Federal territory, so soon as it is acquired by the Commonwealth.

Mr Conroy - Who is going to find the money for the New South Wales Government to construct the railway ?

Mr HUTCHISON - If the New South Wales Government have that wisdom for which I give them credit, they will recognise that in opening up the country, either at Tooma or at Dalgety, they will be entering upon a paying undertaking. I only wish that, in the State to which I belong, we had more country as rich as some of the land I passed through in New South Wales, that has no railway communication. The sooner railway communication is afforded to some of these outlying portions of the country the better it will be for the revenue of the mother State. I deplore the spirit that seems to animate some honorable members in discussing this question. They appear to consider more what their constituents will think of the votes they give than of what future generations will think of the choice we are making. With me it does not weigh in the slightest, degree in whose electorate the site chosen may be. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro suggested the other day that people in his part of the country are accusing some of the members of the party to which I have the honour to belong, of changing their opinions with the change of Government. I would remind him that the Prime Minister favoured Tumut. But Tumut never had any chance of securing a vote from me. I favoured Dalgety while the honorable member was a member of the late Government. I now favour Tooma, because I have seen it since the honorable member ceased to be a member of the Government. I support Tooma simply because I consider that, up to the present time, it is the very best site which I have seen.

Mr Conroy - Does the honorable member think that the selection of Tooma would confer an advantage upon New South Wales ?

Mr HUTCHISON - Most undoubtedly. No matter in what part of New South Wales the Capital is situated, it will confer an advantage upon that State.

Mr Conroy - Let the honorable member look at the map and see whether that is so.

Mr HUTCHISON - The face of the map is going to be considerably altered when we have selected the territory. Does not the honorable and learned member know of parts of New South Wales where, railways have been built, and where the face of the country has, in consequence, been changed in a remarkable manner? That has been our experience in South Australia also. So soon as you build a railway you induce closer settlement. So soon as you have closer settlement you have considerable additions to the revenue, not only through the railways, but through the Customs. But I do not want to go into that subject, which is foreign to the matter under discussion. Without saying more. I trust that honorable members who' have not seen the Tooma site before making up their minds to vote for other sites which they have seen, will either ask the Government to give them an opportunity of seeing Tooma, or obtain all the information thev can possibly get. If that be done, I feel sure that when the matter is put to the vote, those who hitherto voted for other sites will be of the same mind as myself. I am sorry that the right honorable member for East Sydney, who has asked when Tooma was introduced, did not visit that site. When was Dalgety first proposed?

Mr Reid - The first expedition visited Dalgety ; I was there.

Mr HUTCHISON - Although the first expedition visited Dalgety, very little was heard of it last session. It was not voted upon at that time. To-day Dalgety is very strongly in the running as a place likely to be selected, but there is no reason why Tooma should not finally be selected if it is found to be superior.

Mr Austin Chapman - Does tEe honorable member think there is any chance of securing a settlement of the question if Tooma is chosen?

Mr HUTCHISON - Certainly.

Mr Austin Chapman - Does not the honorable member know that the selection of Tooma means postponing the settlement of the question?

Mr HUTCHISON - I do not know anything of the kind. It is just possible that the honorable member would like that to eventuate, if he thought that the EdenMonaro . district would not be in the running.

Mr Austin Chapman - The honorable member has no warrant for saying that.

Mr HUTCHISON - The honorable member asked for an expression of my opinion, and I do not think that it will be found to be very far wrong in this instance. A good deal has been urged to induce honorable members to give the Tooma site more consideration than it has received. It is not the fault of the honorable member for Grampians that it did not receive better consideration. But now that honorable members have heard of its merits, I trust that they will follow my example, and give it their first vote. If it is not selected, I shall be prepared to vote for Dalgety, and even if I am defeated in that vote, so anxious am I that this question shall be settled, that I shall be prepared to. vote for what in my opinion is the most undesirable of the other sites which have, been favoured so far, and that is Lyndhurst. I shall do anything to carry out the bargain which was made with New South Wales.

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