Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 3 August 1904

Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - I regret that this question has apparently been approached by some honorable members without a due acquaintance with the Constitution, and, perhaps, also without a full knowledge of the compact entered into at the time the Constitution Bill was submitted to a referendum. When the first Bill was presented to the people of Australia, no condition was made with regard to the Capital.

Mr Poynton - And yet the people of New South Wales voted in favour of the Bill.

Mr CONROY - Yes ; but not to the extent of the statutory majority. We must suppose that the condition imposed by the Parliament of New South Wales had the approval of the whole of the people. I quite admit that legislation has been passed in this Parliament which does not represent the will of the people; but if the honorable member were in favour of such legislation, he would contend that it was legislation by the people for the people, and, therefore, we must apply the same rule to the Federal referendum. In order to induce the people of New South Wales to accept the Constitution Bill, a proposal was made- that the Capital should be located in that 'State. It is true that local jealousies prevented the Premiers from fixing upon Sydney, which, as the oldest capital city in Australia, should have been selected. From my point of view, the question should have been left open ; but we can deal only with the facts now presented to us. There is no doubt that a great many people in New South Wales thought that the Seat of Government should have been established at Sydney, and I am rather inclined to think that if the question had been submitted to the whole of the people of Australia, that site would have been chosen. However, we are now called upon to select a site in New South Wales, but distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney. I should like to draw attention to the wording of section 125 of the Constitution, which shows what was in the minds of the Premiers of the States who met in conference. I contend that the clear impression was that the Capital would be located at Sydney unless some limitation were imposed, and that, in order to prevent Sydney from being chosen, it was stipulated that the Capital city should be situated not less than 100 miles from that place. If any idea had been entertained that the Capital might be located on the border of New South Wales the section would have been differently worded, and would probably have contained a provision that the Capital should be situated within the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than 100 miles from the border of New South Wales and Victoria. It was clearly considered that an advantage would be conferred on New South Wales, because provision was made that such portion of the Federal territory as might consist of Crown land should be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment whatever.

Mr Skene - That was in consideration of the Capital being established in New South Wales.

Mr CONROY - That was in consideration of the State of New South Wales receiving some advantage from the establishment of the Federal Capital within its territory.

Mr Skene - That is a different interpretation.

Mr CONROY - In order to show that it was supposed that an advantage would be conferred on New South Wales. I would point out that it was further provided that, in return for the concession which New South Wales was to receive, the Parliament should sit at Melbourne until it met at the Seat of Government. Why were these two concessions made by New South Wales, unless it was thought that the Capital Site would be chosen as near as possible to Sydney, outside of the 100-miles limit ? I think that if we look at the provision in the proper spirit, we shall recognise that that was the idea and intention of those who drafted the section.

Mr McLean - Does not the honorable and learned member, think that it would have been better to establish the Federal Capital at Sydney rather than at some place beyond the 100-miles limit?

Mr CONROY - My own opinion is that it would have been infinitely better to establish the permanent Seat of Government at either Sydney or Melbourne. These two cities are undoubtedly destined to become the greatest commercial centres in Australia, and I do not approve of a Federal Capital being created merely as a place of meeting for Members of Parliament. However, honorable members do not accept that view, and I do not think it is necessary to argue the matter.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have to abide by the Constitution.

Mr CONROY - Exactly ; we are bound by the Constitution, and we cannot, except at considerable difficulty, secure its amendment. It is very questionable whether it would be worth our while to incur the clangers to which we should be exposed if we were to attempt to amend the Constitution in order to secure the adoption of Sydney as the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth. We are not called upon to discuss that question at present, because w5 are preceding to act in conformity with the Constitution. In return for the concession to New South Wales regarding the Capital, it was agreed that the Parliament should meet, as it has been meeting, at Melbourne, and that all the Crown lands within the Federal territory should be granted by the New South Wales Government free of charge, and it is obvious that it was intended that if any advantage could be given to New South Wales by the selection of the Capital site, within her borders, then only such a site should, be selected as would confer that advantage upon her. It may be that the advantage will not be a very valuable one. Some honorable members assert . that wherever the Federal Capital may be situated no advantage will be conferred upon New South Wales. That, however, is hardly the question. The point is whether, in the opinion of the people of New South Wales, any advantage would be conferred upon them. As they have agreed to pay the price, and are already paying part of that price, they are now asking that in the selection of the site the advantage of locality shall, as far as possible, be conferred upon ham. 7 Viewed from this standpoint, the selection of a site, such as Tooma, which, by the shortest means of communication, is situated 430 miles from Sydney, as against only 270 miles ffrom Melbourne, would, in the minds of the great majority of the people of New South Wales, involve a violation of the spirit of the compact. .

Mr Skene - The honorable and learned member's figures are wrong. We should have to go round by Cootamundra if we were proceeding from Melbourne.

Mr CONROY - Oh, no ; persons travelling from Melbourne to Tooma would go by way of Tallangatta. A coach journey would be involved in either case. Even if railways were constructed to bridge the sixty miles from Tallangatta to Tooma, and the fifty-eight miles from Germanton to Tooma, the distances would still be 430 miles from Sydney, and 280 miles from Melbourne.

Mr Skene - Tooma is 368 miles from Melbourne by way of Cootamundra and Tumut.

Mr CONROY - But, surely, it is not to be supposed that persons travelling from Melbourne would proceed by rail 100 miles up and 100 miles back again, because a coach journey would have to be undertaken even if the roundabout route were selected. I am taking into consideration the existing lines of railway and the practicable routes by which the mails are now conveyed, and there is a great deal to be said in favour of that system of measurement. If the honorable member had ever been through that country he would know-

Mr Skene - How far is it from Sydney to Tumut?

Mr CONROY - It is about 330 miles.

Mr Skene - The exact distance is 322 -miles.

Mr CONROY - Speaking of this question, Mr. Chesterman says -

The Yass-Tumut-Welaregang loop line would bring the present suggested site within, approximately, 341 miles of Sydney, while the BowningColacGadaraWelaregang loop would bring it within, approximately, 360 miles of Sydney.

I have no hesitation in affirming that a railway could not be constructed through that country under £25.000 per mile. If a line were built direct from Yass to Tumut, through that country, its cost would not be less than £50,000 per mile.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Such a railway would be practically impossible.

Mr CONROY - Yes. I was engaged In surveying that district for some time, so that I know what I am speaking about. When I mention that surveying work costs 100 per cent, more than the ordinary scale of fees in that country, although it is lightly timbered, and simply because it is so precipitous anfl hilly, honorable members will understand- its character. Consequently, I put railway construction quite out of the question. . Nobody who has ever been through that country will imagine that it is practicable to build a railway through it without tunnelling pretty well the whole distance. It is scarcely necessary, therefore, to discuss the matter from that standpoint. I ask those honorable members who are anxious to see effect given to the spirit of the Constitution, to regard it from that stand-point. If any advantage is to be gained by New South Wales from having the Capital established in her midst, that advantage should be conceded as some return for the Parliament having met in Melbourne during the past three years. Whilst I admit that the site upon the Upper Murray is one of the most picturesque which can be found, and that some of the land surrounding it is very rich, I still think that honorable members who speak lightly of the work of constructing a railway from Tumut to Tooma, have not considered the real difficulties to be encountered. I would merely point out that if a line were built from a point situated ten miles to the northern side of Tumut, up the Gilmore Creek, and then down again, it would be running practically the whole time upon an old volcanic range. At one time, no doubt, there was a considerable area of that country, but it has been washed away, so that to-day only the remains of the old volcanic range exist. Starting from an altitude of 1,000 feet, it would be necessary for any railway which might be built to rise to a height of 3,270 feet.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable and learned member satisfied that that is the altitude ?

Mr CONROY - I am accepting the statement of Mr. Chesterman. When I was asked some question, in regard to this matter last session, I said that the altitude was about 3,000 feet. Mr. Chesterman, however, declares that the height of the gap above sea- level is 3,270 feet. That altitude was taken by means of an aneroid, and would probably be within 10 feet of the exact height. I repeat that if a railway were constructed it would require to rise 2,000 feet in the short distance of twenty-five miles, and to fall again to the same extent upon the other side. When I tell the Committee that the country to be traversed is all of a volcanic nature - that it is practically a narrow range - honorable members will understand that the work would present difficulties which, whilst not insuperable to an engineer, would involve such an enormous expenditure as would practically place it outside the region of probability-

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would it not be always a slow line?

Mr CONROY - I am bound to say that on account of the cuttings and short curves which would be necessary - certainly it would be impossible to have more than ten chains curves - it would be . a very slow line to travel upon, and a very expensive one to construct. Speaking generally, I do not "think that such a line could be built for less than the estimated cost of constructing a railway upon the Victorian side. I know that some time ago a rough survey was made of a railway seventy miles in length, starting from Tallangatta, and that its cost was set down at £13,000 per mile.

Mr Skene - I was informed recently by the Railway Department that it could now be constructed for £6,000 per mile.

Mr CONROY - If that be so. all I can say is that it is an extremely moderate estimate. Personally, I would prefer to accept the figures which were given in the first instance, because, moderate as is the original estimate in connexion with a railway, our experience , is that it is invariably exceeded by the actual expenditure.

Mr Kennedy - The honorable member is referring to the estimate of 1884, which is known as our " boom ". estimate. It has since been reduced by 50 per cent.

Mr CONROY - Of course the honorable member knows that country very well, whereas it is many years since I passed through it. Nevertheless, . I think that such a railway would be fairly expensive. Even if it could be built for £13,000 per mile I am confident that a" line upon the other side could not be' constructed for less than double that amount.

Mr Skene - To which railway, on the other side, does the honorable and learned member refer?

Mr CONROY - To the line from Gadara Gap viâ the Gilmore Valley, thence round the range by Laurel Hill.

Mr Skene - Would that line cost more to construct than the other ?

M r . CO NROY. - Undoubtedly .

Mr Kennedy - One horse will draw 15 cwt. in a team from Tumut to Tumberumba.

Mr CONROY - The fact remains that, within a' distance of twenty-five miles, the railway would require to rise 2.000 feet, and to fall again. If the honorable member can overcome that difficulty I will enter into a partnership with him, and we shall be able to revolutionize the carrying trade of the world.

Mr Skene - There is a railway over the Alps in Switzerland.

Mr CONROY - What was the expenditure per mile upon its construction? I presume that the honorable member does not say that this line could be constructed without tunnelling?

Mr Skene - I should tunnel wherever the gradient rendered it necessary to do so.

Mr CONROY - I do not say that it is impossible to construct this railway. All I contend is that it is impracticable, because of the expenditure that would be incurred, and because of the small traffic which it would carry.

Mr Skene - I do not agree with the honorable and learned member.

Mr CONROY - The honorable member will find scarcely any engineer in New South Wales or Victoria to agree with him. I would further point out that if this Parliament decides to acquire any area along the border of Victoria, or any other State, it will be doing something which section 123 of the Constitution clearly prohibits it from doing. That section provides -

The Parliament of the Commonwealth may, with the consent of the Parliament of a State and the approval of the majority of the electors of a State, voting upon the question, increase, diminish or otherwise alter the limits of the State upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed on, and ma}', with the like consent, make provision respecting the effect and operation of any increase or diminution, or alteration of territory in relation to any State affected.

It will thus be seen that it was never contemplated that any alteration should be effected in the boundaries of a State. In any case, we could not do what has' been suggested without first getting the consent of the Parliament of New South Wales ; and, secondly, the approval of its people. Nearly twelve months ago I pointed this out !o the House when a proposal was submitted to extend the Federal territory from the Mumimbidgee to the Murray. The more I have considered the matter since, the more confirmed have I become in my opinion. Last night the honorable member for South Sydney also pointed out the effect of that provision. We can only overcome that section by refusing to extend our boundary to the Murray-

Mr Skene - By making a chain road between.

Mr CONROY - As the honorable member says, by making a chain road between. If we did anything of that character, we should conclusively show that we were violating the spirit of the Constitution. If we left a strip of land between the Victorian border and the Federal territory, it would clearly demonstrate that we were contravening the spirit of the Constitution.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we left such a strip of land, it would be urged that the

Federal territory was hemmed in by NewSouth Wales.

Mr CONROY - I am certain that it is beyond our power to alter the limits of any State. The Constitution distinctly declares that we cannot increase the area of a- State.

Mr Crouch - Neither can we diminish it.

Mr CONROY - If we touched the boundary we should also diminish the limits of the State.

Mr McLean - Even if we selected a sit? in the centre of the State we should alter its limits.

Mr CONROY - I am sure that if the honorable member consults members of the legal profession he will find that my statement is well founded- I have no doubt that the High Court would place this interpretation on the provision. The wording of section 123 is so clear that it cannot be avoided. It was for that reason that it did not appear to me that we ought to enter into the question of the selection of Tooma as fully as we otherwise might have done. A certain price has been paid by New South Wales to secure the alvantage of having the Capital within its boundaries.

Mr Batchelor - A certain price?

Mr CONROY - Yes; the price paid was that the Parliament should meet at Melbourne until the establishment of the Federal Capital.

Mr McLean - Victoria has paid £70,000 for that privilege.

Mr CONROY - I do not propose to discuss that question, because I have from the first held that such a provision should not have been placed in the bond. It is in the Constitution, however, and we have to deal with things as they are. We must recognise the compact, not as we, in the light of the fuller experience of to-day, would have made it, but as agreed to "by the two great contracting parties. I ask that it should be as far as possible carried out. In my opinion, Tooma is not an accessible site, and many years must elapse before it will be connected with the railway system of the State. Accessibility is one of the chief factors to be considered in making a selection, and the only reason why I do not place Dalgety first in the list in this respect is that, while some honorable members say that it will be connected with the Victorian railway system by a railway line running from Bairnsdale, it' does not seem to me that such a railway is within the realm of practicable work.

Mr Poynton - Why put accessibility first?

Mr CONROY - I deem it to be the first consideration, and shall give my reasons for that belief. If the Capital be not established in a readily accessible position the whole of the correspondence of the Commonwealth will be delayed sometimes for half-a-day, or more. Are we to subject the people to this disability, merely because honorable members have a love of the artistic, and are anxious to be able, on leaving Parliament House after their day's labour, to survey some beauty spot in the neighbourhood? We are not to make a selection from a purely artistic point of view. Art arises only when a nation has reached a high stage of civilization, and our first consideration should be the interests of the great bulk of the people.

Mr Poynton - Are we to legislate for the convenience of legislators, or for tha convenience of the people ?

Mr CONROY - We certainly ought not to study the mere convenience of honorable members. I for one have no desire to consider the interests of legislators by voting for the selection of a site merely because it would be a pleasant, pretty, and comfortable place in which to reside. My idea of a Legislature is that it should be composed of a body of men who meet together for the purposes of business. If they can carry on the business of the country, and, at the same time, devote a certain degree of attention to artistic surroundings, well and good ; but mere beauty of surroundings should not be the main factor in the determination of this question. One of the reasons why I have a liking for Dalgety is that it is fairly accessible, and that 'if it were selected, New South Wales would have no serious cause of complaint, because she would be called upon to construct only a very short line, forming part of a railway of which the State Parliament has already practically approved. The selection of that site would therefore not be open to the same objection as would attach to the choosing of one ' of the other suggested sites which the New South Wales Parliament has never even thought of connecting with the railway system of the State. If we consider Dalgety from the point of view of water supply, it unquestionably stands before Tooma, or any other site. No doubt Tooma possesses a fairly good water supply* but its climate is practically the same as that of Table Top, a site which has already been rejected by this House.

Mr Kennedy - Who says that it is the same?

Mr CONROY - I do, and the honorable member knows that my statement is correct.

Mr Kennedy - It is eighty miles nearer the snow line.

Mr CONROY - Its elevation is somewhat less than that of Table Top. Albury is situated in a valley, and Welaregang is just at the entrance to it. I may tell the honorable member that maize and pumpkins and tobacco will grow fairly well in the valley. Tumut is also a place at which tobacco might be grown, but at certain seasons the climate is not that which one would select as the most desirable. I pointed this out when the matter was under consideration last session, but my remarks were not treated as being worthy of that attention which I thought they ought to receive. Subsequently a number of honorable members visited Tumut, and on that occasion found the weather so hot rthat most of them have since told me that my description of it was a perfectly fair one. We know that that one visit caused a number of honorable members to change their opinion as to the suitability of that site. If honorable members visit Welaregang, or any part of the Upper Murray district, they will find that the valley is very close during the summer season. I spent some time in the district, and found no difference between the climate there and that of Tumut. The mountains are nearer Welaregang than Tumut, but both places are situated in a valley, and during the summer it is very' close.

Mr Austin Chapman - One trip to Welaregang would have the same effect on honorable members as the inspection of Tumut had upon those who formed the parliamentary party.

Mr CONROY - They will find it extremely close at night. That was my experience, although I slept in a tent.

Mr Page - The same statement would apply to Melbourne.

Mr CONROY - In some respects that is so.

Mr Poynton - It would certainly be true of Sydney.

Mr CONROY - Quite so; I should not have mentioned the point but for the fact that a number of honorable members visited Welaregang at the most favorable time of the year.

Mr Fowler - It was raining during our inspection; there was not much pleasure about the trip.

Mr CONROY - I have referred to the climate at Tooma, it has been suggested that it is perfect.

Mr Batchelor - There is not much wrong with any of the sites, so far as climate is concerned.

Mr CONROY - I confess that, had there been a ready means of communition with Dalgety, I should have been disposed to favour its selection, although I should have thought that in choosing it we might, perhaps, be going a little beyond the spirit of the bond.

Mr Batchelor - It is only thirty miles from Cooma.

Mr CONROY - Yes. The construction of a line to Dalgety has, I have already mentioned, been approved by the State Parliament; but when the bend was entered into it was never imagined that New South Wales would be called upon to construct a railway line to the Federal Capital. No exception could be taken on that ground, however, to the selection of Dalgety, because I feel satisfied that a r ail way will be constructed to it as part of a scheme to eventually connect Bombala with the State railway system. Therefore the objection which I have to the selection of Tooma does not apply to Dalgety. But, in spite of the last-named site being preeminent in the matter of water supply, I think that it labours uncier other disabilities which debar its selection. Honorable members coming from Victoria to the Federal Capital would have, for scores of years, to travel on the main line as far as Goulburn, and then to travel by the branch line to Cooma.

Sir John Forrest - Not for scores of vears.

Mr CONROY - I am afraid that would be the case. I do not think that if Dalgety were selected a railway line would be constructed, in our time, from Bairnsdale over the mountains to the Federal Capital.

Mr Page - What would be the cost of such a lire?

Mr CONROY - Over £20,000 permile.

Sir John Forrest - I should like to have a contract to make it at that rate.

Mr CONROY - I could make such . a contract pay, provided that I should not be called upon to run any engines over the line.

Mr Page - Does not the honorable member think that £20,000 a mile would be quite sufficient to cover the cost?

Mr CONROY - Many railways have cost double that amount per mile. I think it would be cheaper in the long run to pay even more than £20,000 a mile for the construction of the line, in order to secure a thoroughly reliable one. If the line were well built, a saving would be effected both in speed and haulage.

Mr Batchelor - What is the greatest height over which a railway line from Bairnsdale would have to be carried?

Mr CONROY - It is not so much one height, as a succession of rises, that would have to be surmounted, whilst- the small rivers running down to the coast would also have to be bridged. If Lyndhurst were selected, no expense would be incurred in the matter of railway construction, and that in itself is a very important factor. I agree with the right honorable member for Swan, who said that the climate of Lyndhurst was probably better than that of any of the other sites.

Sir John Forrest - I do not think I said that. I said that they were about equal.

Mr CONROY - Then I will take it at that. I would draw the attention of honorable members, who are anxious to secure closer settlement in the Federal territory, to the fact that the area of good land in the neighbourhood of Lyndhurst is certainly greater than in the vicinity of Dalgety.

Mr Kennedy - Is there any good land around Dalgety?*

Mr CONROY - Some of the land in the neighbourhood is good.

Mr Kennedy - A few garden patches.

Mr Austin Chapman - There are two stations in the district, which comprise 100,000 acres of good land. Are they garden patches?

Mr CONROY - It has been pointed out that, so far as good land is concerned, a greater area can be obtained here than at any of the other sites. The report of the right honorable member for Swan was an extremely fair one, that gentleman appearing to be absolutely free from prejudice or bias. There is another reason why Lyndhurst may be very favorably considered. I think that the right honorable member for Swan will agree that at Lyndhurst there could be obtained a far better water supply than would appear from the reports. The supply has been put at the low estimate of 8 per cent., but this was only calculated on the rainfall of Lyndhurst itself. On the true catchment area, above Lynd hurst, the rainfall, I should say, is nearly 10 inches more than at the township. The estimate of 8 per cent, is, in my opinion, extremely moderate, in view of the allowance of 32 per cent. at Yan. Yean, and 50 per cent. at Prospect. I am informed, however, thai the rain gauges are not numerous enough to afford a thoroughly accurate record; and,., therefore,. I would place the estimate al half, or 25 per cent., which should give an enormously increased number of gallons over the estimates which have been supplied. It seems to me that, under the circumstances, Lyndhurst offers many advantages in the matter of climate, accessibility, and good soil; and I do not know what further advantages are required. I cannot say that I agree with honorable members who favour Tooma simply because of the picturesqueness of the locality. If honorable members wish to have merely a pleasure resort, it would be far better for them to advocate that site merely on that ground, and not attempt to show that it is a place suitable for the transaction of parliamentary business.

Mr Carpenter - That is only one of the claims on behalf of Tooma.

Mr CONROY - But in all other respects Tooma seems to fall behind the other sites. It certainly is hot very accessible

Mr Carpenter - It can be approached up the Murray Valley quite easily.

Mr CONROY - I have already dealt with that aspect of the suitability of the Tooma -site. Under the circumstances, there appear to be only Dalgety and Lyndhurst from which we may make a choice. The Federal Capital ought to be on the main railway line between Sydney and Melbourne - it should be as accessible as possible. Although Melbourne presents all the attractions of a city, we do not find that members of the Commonwealth Par liament make their homes here.

Mr Tudor - What site does the honorable and learned member regard as the best ?

Mr CONROY - I have just said that the Federal Capital ought to be on the main line; but, as the question has been put to me, I may say that, in my opinion, a site near Lake George could, at a moderate expense, have been made suitable.

Mr Page - What about Yass?

Mr CONROY - That site is also on the main line, and Mr. Oliver, after careful consideration, placed it first in his estimation.

Mr Page - Then why does the honorable and learned member not advocate Yass ?

Mr CONROY - Because, Yass happens to be in my electorate, and were I to advocate it, honorable members might think that I was particularly interested. I have drawn attention to .the advantages of Yass, and we have the reports of the Commissioners; and it is not for me to attempt to unduly influence honorable members. There is no doubt that, failing Dalgety or Lyndhurst, we might fall back on a place like Yass, which is within easy reach of ihe two great Capital cities, and is a place where the mails can be delivered every day without delay. This matter of mail delivery is most important. There will be a large amount of business at the Federal Capital, owing to the concentration of public offices; and there ought to be no more delay than is actually necessary in the delivery of the mails. Even in. Melbourne we find complaints on this . score ; but to go to a place where there might be further delay would only be to create another cause of dissatisfaction. Once the Capital is chosen, difficulties of the nature I am now indicating could not be removed. If it is necessary to have a picturesque site, we might go to Lake George, a site which, as I have already said, could be made acceptable at a very moderate expenditure. In addition, Lake George would have the advantage of a harbor like Jervis Bay, which is the best on the whole coast of Australia, with the exception of Port Jackson. For these reasons, if there is any difficulty, some compromise might be arranged ; and, even at this late stage, we ought to bear in mind that accessibility is the main consideration. Parliament will meet at the Federal Capital for the purpose of very serious business, and it would be wrong to make the selection with regard merely to picturesqueness. We must first consider accessibility and centrality ; and having these assured, we ought to select the most pleasant spot available. It is unfortunate that when honorable members visited Lake George there had been a very severe drought throughout Australia, and the lake was dry ; but similar conditions had not prevailed since the years 1837-9, when a drought of similar magnitude occurred. So far as I can learn, though I do not commit myself to this statement, there is a feasible scheme for conveying water into Lake George, and thus prevent a recurrence of the drying up.

Mr Fisher - That is a very difficult question to determine.

Mr CONROY - In the meantime, we might easily get a report, and thus place honorable members in a much better position to decide than they are in at present in ' regard to, say, Tooma.

Mr Fisher - The greatest engineers have been mistaken on such points.

Mr CONROY - It is a matter of levels. I have been assured that the levels taken are absolutely correct, and it has been reported by our own . Commissioners that a gravitation water supply could be arranged to feed the lake. That, however, is a point on which I do not wish to dwell too much. What I desire to emphasize is that in our eagerness for the picturesque or the artistic, we are getting away from the useful. If honorable members are not disposed to spend the whole of their time in Melbourne, it would be even more difficult to induce them to stay in a place where there are not the advantages of a city. For many years the Federal Capital must be very little more than a village. We must bear in mind that the Constitution distinctly shows that whatever State advantage may attach to the determination of this question should be conferred on New South Wales; and the fact that as a price of Federation New South Wales was asked to give up the claims of the capital city of the mother State to be the place of meeting of the first Federal Parliament, alone shows that every consideration should be given to that State. If we exclude Yass and Lake George, we have Dalgety and Lyndhurst left; but I trust that, even at this late stage, the two former sites will receive consideration.

Suggest corrections