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Wednesday, 3 August 1904


Mr HENRY WILLIS (ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It applies to me probably as much as to the- honorable member for Newcastle. The honorable member was in favour of Lyndhurst, but he turned a somersault, and discovered that

Tooma was the best site. Now that an election is looming in the distance - and we are told that a dissolution may be expected - other honorable -members are performing the same acrobatic feat, in order that they may gain popularity among their constituents, or secure the approval of the press.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no election looming in the distance, is there ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - If the honorable member reads to-day's newspapers, he will see that some persons think that a general election is not very far off. Why should the Victorian press' be so anxious to prevent a settlement of this question ? Why should they seek to induce members to break faith with New South Wales ? Are they not favouring the selection of Albury, or Tooma, because either of those places would be very much closer to Melbourne than to any other State capital, and because chey would be able to send their newspapers into the Federal city some hours before the daily journals published in Sydney, or any other capital city in the Commonwealth, could be delivered there? That is the chief object held in view by the newspaper proprietors when they urge that matters should be allowed to remain as they are, or endeavour to persuade honorable members to select a site which would not be regarded with favour by the people of New South Wales. They know that whilst they urge the selection of Albury or Tooma, there is no likelihood of the matter being settled, and that, so long as the people of New South Wales are dissatisfied with the choice made, the Seat of Government will remain in Melbourne. Despite the press, however, the representatives of Victoria should demonstrate that it is the intention of the people of that State to keep faith with New South Wales. The Kyabram movement in favour of public economy has been availed of to prejudice the minds of the electors against any expenditure upon the Federal Capital. I ask how it would be possible to establish the Seat of Government anywhere outside of the large centres of population without a large expenditure of public money ? I am prepared to vote any sum that may be required for properly housing the Federal Parliament and Departments, and for laying out the Federal city, in order that the Commonwealth Government may have a suitable home, and I believe that such action will be approved by the common sense of the people.. If a large sum be required it must be expended ; but, at the same time, it would be inadvisable to enter upon any unnecessary outlay. We should, if possible, choose a site in connexion with which only a reasonable-expenditure will be required. Several such places have been offered by New South Wales, and I wish to refer to one or two which I regard as worthy of attention. There are other sites which are not entitled to any consideration whatever. Albury is so close to Victoria that if the Federal Capital were established there New South Wales would be called upon to practically grant to Victoria a large slice of her territory. No concession would be made to New South Wales in regard to the establishment of the Capital within her territory if she were called upon to provide a site embracing an area_ of 100 square miles on the borders of her territory. That would not be in accordance with the spirit of the compromise entered into between the representative of New South Wales and those of the other States. New South Wales was, at first, unwilling to enter the Federation unless the Capital were established at Sydney, but as a compromise it was agreed that, although the Capital city should be in New South Wales territory, it should not be located within 100 miles of the metropolis. I do not think that I am committing any breach of confidence' in stating that at the Premiers' Conference the right honorable member for East Sydney suggested a limit of eighty miles as a fair compromise. But the right honorable member for Balaclava, the then Premier of Victoria, immediately replied that if such a limit were fixed, Moss Vale would become eligible as a site for the Federal city. He said that he could not consent to that, and urged that a limit of 100 miles from Sydney should be fixed. The right honorable member for Balaclava evidently contemplated that the Capital would be established very close to the 100 miles limit, and I think, therefore, that we should only be paying proper regard to the spirit of the compact if we endeavoured to select a site as near as possible to that limit.

An Honorable Member. - Should we' not select the best site that can be found ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I believe that the best site for the Federal Capital might be found at some place immediately outside the 100 miles radius from Sydney. When the people of New South Wales voted at the first referendum, they decided against Federation by a large majority - taking into consideration the statutory number of .votes that had to be polled. They were then opposed to Federation, whereas all the other States were eager to bring it about. It was impossible to form the Union without New South Wales, and the other States asked what she wanted, in order to induce her to join. The mother State then made the very simple request, " Give us the honour of having the Federal Capital within our territory ; that is all we ask." That request was granted, and I now ask honorable members to carry out the compact then made, and agree to the establishment of the Federal Capital as near as possible to the 100 miles radius from Sydney. The people of New South Wales would never approve of Bombala, Tumut, or Albury, and it would be a waste of time to select either of those sites. I heard this matter discussed in. the last Parliament, and I came to the conclusion that notwithstanding the adverse influence that was being exerted by the press, honorable members were disposed to keep faith with New South Wales. I have yet to learn that honorable members will not do what they believe to be fair to the mother State, which entered the Federal union, quite content to trust the people of the Commonwealth through their representatives. A very great moral responsibility rests upon honorable members, and it is their duty to discharge that responsibility. Is it to be said that the other States having induced,the people of New South Wales to join the Federation ; that the first Commonwealth Parliament having, immediately after it had assembled, imposed extra taxation upon them, amounting to £1,000,000 - taxation which was not required for the cost of the ordinary government of that State-


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The amount was nearer 500,000.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The people of New South Wales are willing to bear that burden for the sake of Federal union. There is only one thing which they ask of us. They say, " Give us the Federal Capital at a distance of not more than 100 miles from Sydney." That is a very simple request to make. Notwithstanding the provision contained in the Constitution, honorable members have not exhibited any undue eagerness to get away from Melbourne. Certainly this question has been kept alive, but no attempt was made to decide it until the end of the first Parliament. The responsibility which rests upon honorable members is a real one, and one which should be discharged to the satisfaction of the people of New South Wales. During the course of this debate a great deal has been said concerning the very beautiful sites which are to be found adjacent to Victoria. Personally, I do not think that the Tooma site can possibly be superior to that of Table Top, which is situated close to Albury - a town which is already connected with the various State capitals by rail - and the altitude of which is quite as great as that of Tooma. Table Top is situated a few miles north of Albury, but although it is a very beautiful site indeed, it is an absolutely impossible one because of its distance from Sydney. The Tooma site, which is advocated so ably by the honorable member for Hume, is also a magnificent one. The honorable member for Newcastle has declared that when he visited it he had a perfectly, open mind, but that, after ha vino; seen it. he concluded that no better site exists. I am willing to believe that it is an admirable site. The fact remains, however, Lhat it is situated upon the border of New South Wales, and that it is inaccessible, whereas the Albury site is very accessible. Therefore, I claim that the expenditure which would require to be incurred in establishing the Federal Capital at Alburv would be very much less than that which would be involved in establishing it at Tooma. I would further point out that while the water supply at the latter place might be very excellent, it would be drawn, not from the Murray, but from the Tooma River. A doubt also exists as to whether that supply is as good as it has been represented to be by the honorable member for Hume. While the Tooma site is no doubt. a very excellent one, I do not believe that it is much superior to a hundred other sites which are 1o be found in various parts of New South Wales, and which can be had merely for the asking.


Mr Watkins - Why did not the honorable member inspect the Tooma site ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - That is a very fair question to put, and I think that my reply will be equally fair. I did not visit Tooma because I do not consider that it is just to ask the people of New South Wales to assent to the establishment of the Federal Capital upon the Murray River in that locality. During the early history of the Federal movement, the late Sir Henry Parkes frequently used to speak of the " Federal City." I am inclined to think that he borrowed .that phrase from the late Sir Hercules Robinson, who, upon one occasion, delivered a famous after-dinner' speech in the Albury Town Hall. It is because of that speech, and because Albury was afterwards dubbed the " Federal City" of Australia, that a great deal of prestige has been associated with that particular locality. Personally, I cannot conceive that the Tooma site is very much superior to that of Table Top, which has an altitude of 1,500 feet, and which is situated within ten or fifteen miles of Albury.


Mr Groom - Has the honorable member seen both sites?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I have not.


Mr Groom - The Tooma site is vastly superior.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The site at Albury would not constitute a fair compromise, and therefore cannot be accepted as a settlement of this somewhat vexed question, any more than can the Tooma site. If we want "to obtain a magnificent water supply, there is another site which would, perhaps, prove acceptable to the people of New South Wales. The drainage in that case is from the opposite side of Mount Kosciusko - I refer to the Dalgety site - and it possesses a magnificent supply of the purest of water. In the opinion of geologists Mount Kosciusko is the oldest mountain in the world. From it we can obtain water at a season of the year when streams in many other parts of New South Wales are practically dry. .The fall of the water is such that it might be possible to obtain motive power there at a very small cost indeed - power which would call into being a large manufacturing centre outside of the city area.


Mr Mauger - We should require to impose protective duties before we could secure the establishment of any manufactures.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports declares that to induce the establishment of manufactures we should require to levy heavier protective duties. I would remind him that in America - where the protective tariff is higher than that of the Commonwealth, or than was the old Victorian Tariff - at the town of Niagara, where statutory authority is given, to use the water from the famous falls of that name to the extent of 500,000 horse-power - notwithstanding the statement of the right honorable member for East Sydney to the contrary - manufactures are springing up like mushrooms. All round the town of Niagara upon the United States side of the river, as also upon the Canadian side, manufactures are being established for the purpose of utilizing the water power available, because it is so cheap.Evidently the honorable member has not read the well-known book, "America at Work."


Mr Mauger - Yes, I have.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - If so, the honorable member must have read the article entitled " Niagara in Harness." If he has read that article he must know that at Dalgety the water might be so diverted as to provide a fall quite equal to that obtained at the Falls of Niagara. I would direct his attention to the possibility that the suburbs of the Federal Capital, if it be established on this site, may be converted into very large manufacturing centres, assuming that the waters of the Snowy River be utilized to the fullest extent under the scheme advocated by Mr. Pridham. Dalgety is a magnificent site. It has an easterly aspect, and a water frontage, and if it were selected it would be possible to make an ornamental lake twenty or even forty miles in length. The land adjacent to the site is as good as any to be found within the several areas dealt with in the reports before us. Ihave heard it said that Dalgety comprises fluky country. It may be fluky country, and therefore unsuitable for sheep raising; but we desire to secure not a sheepwalk, but a site for a centre of population. The land could te so drained as to secure as large an area for settlement as is likely to be required. If opposition to the selection of Dalgety be based on the ground that it consists of fluky country, then we must give no consideration to Tooma, because I believe that a similar objection applies to it. The honorable member for Hume will admit that is so.


Sir William Lyne - I do not admit anything of the kind.


Mr Groom - Is the honorable member's assertion based on mere rumour or on a statement contained in one of the reports?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - It is suggested by an honorable member that it was a mere fluke that Tooma was brought under our consideration. I am inclined to think that if it had not been included in the list submitted to us, some other magnificent site in the electorate of Hume - for the honorable member's constituency comprises many such sites - would have been brought forward.

I have no objection to sites in that district being brought under our notice to. provide pleasant week-end excursions for honorable members, but it would not be worthy of the honorable member for Hume to seriously suggest the selection of any of them. The honorable member has a duty to perform for his own State - he owes an even greater duty to New South Wales than do the representatives of other parts of the Commonwealth. The right honorable member for Swan visited a number of sites in the Southern Monaro district, and has given Dalgety his imprimatur, holding that it is the best in the district. The right honorable member has a reputation to back up his opinion. He was the first, to cross Australia from west to east, and furnished reports on the country through which he traversed, pointing out the good and the indifferent land, the extent of the water supply available, and the possibilities of the interior. His reputation as an explorer - as a man of wide experience, possessing a European reputation - is such that his opinion on this question should not be allowed to pass without due consideration. The possibility of utilizing the water power available at Dalgety has been dealt with by the right honorable member in a very convincing way, and Tooma cannot be regarded as in any way comparable with it as a site for the Federal Capital. The water supply of Dalgety is superior to that of Tooma, while the land is equally good ; and as a compromise the selection of Dalgety would be more acceptable to the people of New South Wales. If the distance separating a site from Melbourne and Sydney is to be a factor in the selection, then the journey from Melbourne to Dalgety would not be so great as to give dissatisfaction to even the most fastidious person who might have to undertake it. I should like once more, to impress upon honorable members that- it is necessary that we should make such a selection as will lead the people of New South Wales to consider that we have kept faith with them. We might secure a site adjacent to Goulburn which would be a little more than one hundred miles from Sydney, and the selection of. such a site would give great satisfaction to the people of New South Wales. If we kept faith with them their feeling towards the Federation would be altogether different from what it is. They are a kindhearted people, and while their representatives make a stout fight on their behalf in dealing with every proposal that comes before this House, they are prepared, as soon as they find that they are in a minority, to bow to the majority. In many cases, a majority has been secured against them by the votes of honorable members from a State whose representation is in excess of the population basis, whereas honorable members from New South Wales actually represent the people.


Sir John Forrest - There is not much in that argument.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The right honorable member is one of the representatives of a State who have a smaller proportion of electors behind them than have the representatives of Victoria and New South Wales. That is true of the representatives of Western Australia, both in this House and another place.


Sir John Forrest - It is not the case, so far as this House is concerned.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - With all due respect to the right honorable member, I repeat that it is. No State may have less than five representatives in this House, but on the establishment of Federation, Western Australia was not entitled, from the point of view of population, to that number.


Sir John Forrest - I think that it is now entitled to that number.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The right honorable member admits that Western Australia has only just secured a population which places its representatives on equal terms with those of New South Wales. In the last Parliament, when, as the result of the passing of the Tariff Bill, heavy taxation was levied on New South Wales, Western Australia had not a population entitling it to five representatives; but the people of New South Wales bowed to the decision of the Parliament.


Mr Groom - But the Free Trade Party secured the votes of all the representatives of Western Australia with one or two exceptions.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Let it be remembered that no measure passed by this House may become law until it has been confirmed by another place. The Senate is the States House, and amendments suggested by honorable senators who represent States rather than people were accepted by this House.


Mr Fowler - It is not a fact that the majority of honorable members representing

Western Australia voted to impose taxation on New South Wales, or on any other State in the Union.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - No State can be singled out for special treatment by Act of Parliament ; but in the administration of the Tariff Act it- is found that the taxation imposed by it falls more heavily upon New South Wales than, say, upon . Tasmania. The people of New South Wales pay £1,500,000 more than is sufficient for her requirements -£1,500,000 mote than they ever paid before.


Mr Fowler - Western Australia had nothing to do with that.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - They observe the compact and bear the burden cheerfully - for they have satisfaction in the establishment of the Commonwealth - and we should not be wanting in a sense of our responsibility or in the recognition of what is just and reasonable. We have to remember that, we are at the dawning of a nation, and the very first act demanded of us is that we should do justice to the States which have entered the Union.


Mr McLean - If New South Wales by means of the Commonwealth Tariff Act obtains so much more revenue than she requires, how is it that she has to borrow so much. money to supplement that revenue?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Because she has had many spendthrifts at the head of affairs.


Mr Groom -In what way has NewSouth Wales been treated unfairly ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - If the honorable member wishes me to discuss the Tariff-







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