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

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) - The honorable member for Moira and the honorable member who preceded him devoted themselves earnestly - and, I think it will 'be admitted, forcefully - to the task of showing the Committee the reasons which led them to advocate the particular site which both of them with singular unanimity urged honorable members to support. But it seems to me that they overlooked the most important fact, which I think really ought to commend itself - to us more than any other fact at the present juncture. That is that we are now fulfilling an obligation which the Commonwealth incurred towards New South Wales when that State joined in the Federal compact some years ago. What is the history of this affair? Why is it that at the present time we are confined to New South Wales territory in the selection of a Federal Capital site? The Federal compact was felt by the people of New South Wales to expose them to a very serious risk, to which the other States were not exposed. The fiscal question was considered to be of immense importance. That point may not commend itself to other honorable members, but the fact certainly remains that the people of New South Wales attached paramount importance to the fiscal question, and the risk of sacrificing their fiscal autonomy was so serious as to make them pause before entering that union of the six colonies which every one in Australia desired to see consummated.

Mr Mauger - As a matter of fact, they did not pause; .there was a majority in favour of the Commonwealth Bill at the first referendum.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports and some others have thrown a great deal of vituperative eloquence at the State from which I have the honour to come, because she saw fit to take what was, in my opinion, a very prudent step with regard to the first referendum. Her Parliament practically enacted that a majority of 10,000 votes must be recorded in favour of the Commonwealth Bill before it could reasonably be said to receive the support of the people of New South Wales. Mr. Tudor. - I think the stipulation was that there should be 80,000 votes recorded for the Bill.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member is quite right ; but, with the votes polled, a majority of 10,000 would be a fair equivalent.

As a matter of fact, I do not think that that was a serious condition to impose, and honorable members will agree with me when they consider it. It was not unreasonable that a State with a population of 1,300,000 should have to have 80,000 votes recorded in favour of a change in her whole Constitution.

Mr Batchelor - How many electors were there in New South Wales?

Mr KELLY - I suppose there were considerably over 250,000.

Mr Robinson - There were over 300,000 electors; we had 250,000 in Victoria,

Mr KELLY - Speaking from memory," there were, I think, between 250,000 and 300,000 voters; and surely the Minister of Home Affairs does not think 80,000 votes out of 300,000 too large a percentage.

Mr Batchelor - I am not thinking about the matter at all.

Mr KELLY - Then I am sorry that the honorable gentleman in charge Of the Bill is doing no thinking about it.

Mr McColl - The Minister means only with regard to that particular part.

Mr KELLY - Then, I withdraw.

Mr Austin Chapman - The minimum provision was looked upon as a breach of faith.

Mr Mauger - It was a dodge.

Mr KELLY - It was a very prudent step.

The CHAIRMAN - We are not now discussing the question of the minimum required in New South Wales before the Commonwealth Bill could be adopted. The question before the Committee is the selection of a suitable site.

Mr KELLY - I am showing that New South Wales did not at first accept the Commonwealth Bill, because she felt that its acceptance would expose her to the risk of disadvantage.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member was giving his reasons for approving of the action of those who were responsible for the imposition of the minimum.

Mr KELLY - I regret that by replying to interjections I have been led to trespass, but now that the Chairman has directed my attention to it, I will desist. There is no doubt, at any rate, that on the occasion of the first referendum in New South Wales, it was strongly felt bv those who were in a position to know - by the leaders of opinion - that the Federal Capital question was, in the opinion of the people, of the utmost importance. It was felt that the Premier of New South Wales should be intrusted with the mandate of consulting with the Premiers of the other States, in order to see whether they could arrive at some sort of compromise. The Premiers met in Melbourne. As every one knows, the Premier and the people of New South Wales would naturally have preferred to have' the Capital fixed in Sydney, which was the centre of the State.

Mr Mauger - But not the centre of the Commonwealth.

Mr KELLY - It was, however, felt by the Conference of Premiers, that New South Wales was not entitled to that unique privilege. Ultimately it was. agreed that New South Wales was to have the Capital within her borders, but that it should be shorn of much of its advantage, from the State point of view. The Conference passed the following resolution: -

It is considered that the fixing of the site of the Capital is a question which might well be left to the Parliament to decide.

Mr Mauger - Hear, hear.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports need not applaud until he has heard the whole resolution.

Mr Mauger - I was applauding the sentiment underlying the resolution.


But in view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers have modified the clause, so that while the Capital cannot be fixed at Sydney, or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales, at a reasonable distance from that city.

The people of New South Wales knew what that resolution was when they accepted the Commonwealth Bill. They read it in its broader meaning.

Mr Wilks - They read it in every way they could.

Mr KELLY - And it is now attempted by some honorable members to read it in any way they can. But I think that the people of the other States will be in favour of fulfilling to the utmost limit the bond entered into between New South Wales and the other States of the Commonwealth. Such being the case, I feel convinced that even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will try to meet us half way.

Mr Mauger - I will go all the way. I would not repudiate a letter of the bond.

Mr KELLY - I also trust that the honorable member will seek to do what I am sure his constituents would be anxious that he should do - to honour the spirit, as well as the letter, of the bond.

Mr Mauger - I am sure that my constituents, in this matter, would do what I should like them to do.

Mr KELLY - I hope that the honorable member and others will endeavour to carry out this obligation to its fullest extent, and not seek to take a technical advantage of a deed, which, being made between States which were relations, was drawn not too definitely. Such being the resolution which was carried by the Premiers' Conference, it was only natural that the people of New South Wales reckoned that the Capital would be established somewhere, as the resolution says, within " a reasonable distance '*' of their capital city. In view of. the fact that New South Wales took that view, and that on the strength of it she entered into the Federal partnership, I hold that the question of the locality of the Federal city is one in which New South Wales is peculiarly interested - in which she is interested more than the rest of the Commonwealth. But there is another question, namely, that of the expense incurred in building the Capital, and in making it accessible. I hold that the matter of expense is a Federal question, in which all the States are equally interested. The people of New South Wales having entered into this partnership, their worst fears with regard to the fiscal question were realized. As the result of it her taxation has been increased by £1,500,000 per annum.

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I do not think that the question of the Tariff has anything to do with this matter.

Sir John Forrest - The people of New South Wales could have reduced their taxation in other ways.

Mr KELLY - I want to show that since New South Wales has incurred this increased taxation, she is now more than ever entitled to that consideration which she expected when she joined the Union. It is very significant that whereas the taxation of New South Wales has been increased, taxation throughout the rest of Australia - with the exception of Western Australia - has not been increased. I do not think that any State is better pleased than is New South Wales that the other States have not also suffered increases, but still the fact remains that taxation in New South Wales has been considerably augmented. It is now said that the State Parliament could have reduced the amount of taxation. But the only direct taxation which they could have diminished was to the amount of half-a-mil- lion. As a consequence of this heavy increased Customs and Excise taxation, the people of New South Wales now feel that they are bearing the whole cost of Federation. There is not the slightest doubt about that.

Mr Batchelor - It is an utter absurdity.

Mr KELLY - The New South Wales Customs revenue in 1901 amounted, to less than £2,000,000. In 1903 it amounted to nearly £3,500.000. In other words, there was an increase of slightly more than £j:, 500,000. In Victoria the result of Federation has meant a decrease in taxation from this channel of £71,000; and in Queensland a decrease of £238,000.

The CHAIRMAN - Has this anything to do with the matter under discussion?

Mr KELLY - Tt shows the reasons for the spirit in which this question is regarded by the New South Wales people.

The CHAIRMAN - I am sorry to have to rule that it has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.

Mr KELLY - Can I raise a point of order upon that issue? I am showing reasons for the bitter feeling prevailing amongst the New South Wales people - a feeling which in itself should necessitate our honouring the bond to the fullest extent.

Mr Carpenter - What have we to do with their feelings in regard to this question ?

Mr KELLY - I think that the feelings of the New South Wales people form the most important Federal question at the present time. I- was giving what I considered to be a pertinent illustration, but if the Chairman rules that it is out of order I will bow to his decision. Our duty obviously is to render to New South Wales a fulfilment of 'the obligation which induced her to enter the Federation. To render that obligation we ought not to choose a site that will be of no benefit to her, but a site which will satisfy the people of New South Wales that the Commonwealth Parliament is endeavouring to honour the obligations entered into in their liberal and true sense. I propose to consider the different sites from a double aspect t- that of location, which is the serious aspect from the New South Wales point of view ; and that of expense, which is the Federal aspect. Considered in the light of those two aspects, it seems to me that the Welaregang site is altogether out of the running. The benefits that would accrue to New South Wales from the location of the Capital at Welaregang are absolutely nil.

Mr Carpenter - Is that the honorable member's stand-point?

Mr KELLY - No, not altogether. As I have explained, I am considering the matter from two stand-points. I know that honorable members from Western Australia are very airy in their views about expense ; but I can assure the honorable member that it is necessary to consider the various sites from the point of view of expenditure. I am dividing the aspects of the matter into two - the view which the people of New South Wales might reasonably take, and that which the people of the Commonwealth as a whole might reasonably take. The first is the question of locality, which is peculiarly of State interest; and the second has relation to expense, in which the whole Commonwealth is directly interested. I hold that on the first of these two points the Welaregang site is altogether out of the running. It is inaccessible from the point of view of New South Wales. It is on the border of that State. It is a place which would draw all its supplies from a neighbouring State. In this I an: merely putting the New South Wales point of view. I do not expect some of the members from other States to attach more importance to the point than they are predisposed to do, having regard to the interests they represent. The State of New South Wales would derive no advantage whatever from the establishment of the Federal Capital at Welaregang. As a matter of fact, its establishment there would place that State in a worse position than that in which she is at present, because it must not be forgotten that New South Wales must supply all the Crown lands free, and forego all taxation on the alienated lands. The establishment of the Capital at Welaregang would therefore render the fulfilment of an obligation, from which New South Wales expected to derive an advantage, only a new means of irritating the people of that State ; it would mean a 'fresh sacrifice, and a new source of unfederal feeling. At present New South Wales is in a state of unrest, because the settlement of this question has been delayed for some years. It is now our duty, not only to at once secure its settlement, but to allay the irritation that exists. In Welaregang we have a site which is distinctly unsatisfactory to the mother State, and one about which we practically know nothing. It has not been surveyed, and we are being asked to take a leap in the dark which may afterwards expose this Parliament to the ridicule of the civilized world. We . have before us an extremely scratchy report on the Tooma district. That is not the fault of its author, because he was asked, without making a survey or examination of the district, to sit down in his office and furnish Parliament with a report on which we are supposed to decide for all time the Federal Capital of Australia. In this connexion I may say that I am very much surprised at the attitude assumed by the- honorable member fo: Perth. That honorable member told the Committee that he intended to vote for the Welaregang site, because that would mean deferring the question for a further period. He explained .that if we decided upon Tooma the Senate would not agree to our choice, and that would probably mean the relegation of the question to a session of Parliament - might I say - five or six years hence, until within the fifty-mile radius suggested by the honorable member for Hume a site might be discovered possessing all the advantages which are now claimed for- the Welaregang site.

Mr Batchelor - To what site is the honorable member referring? To the Lyndhurst site ?

Mr KELLY - The Minister of Home Affairs would appear to be confusing the places. For his information I may say that Welaregang is a place on the Upper Murray near' the border between New South Wales and Victoria.

Mr Batchelor - Which is the site, the choice of which is likely to delay the decision of the question?

Mr KELLY - - -I was referring to the attitude assumed by the honorable member for Perth, who told the Committee that he intended' to vote for Tooma, because he knew that another place would not accept that site, and consequently the settlement of the question would be delayed pending an examination of the scenic beauties and other advantages of the district.

Mr Batchelor - The honorable member must . have meant Lyndhurst, not Welaregang.

Mr KELLY - I presumed that the honorable member meant Welaregang, because he said Welaregang, but if the Minister of Home Affairs assures me that his followers do not mean what they say, I must bow to his superior knowledge of them. In connexion with the Tooma site, we are told, amongst other things, that the district is undoubtedly well watered. We were told this afternoon by the honorable member for Moira that the Dalgety site is not well watered. I might remind honorable members that when the Commissioners inspected the Bombala site they thought there would be no difficulty whatever in securing a gravitation water supply, because they saw some thirteen streams descending from the hills in its vicinity.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did they say thirteen? That is a very unlucky number.

Mr KELLY - It is; but this was at Bombala.

Mr Austin Chapman - The honorable member for Macquarie wishes he had one of the streams at Lyndhurst.

Mr KELLY - Although they assumed that there would be no difficulty in providing the Bombala site with a gravitation supply, when they came to make a closer examination of the country they found that they could not supply water to a city of any size at the Bombala site without pumping. With respect to the Tooma site, we have the same report that it is a wellwatered district, but when it is examined closely honorable members may find that in order to supply the Tooma site with water it may be necessary to pump it from the Murray. The officer who furnishes us with a report about Tooma says -

Looking at the watershed of the Murray River, with the object of ascertaining what gravitation schemes for water supply are available, it would appear that the upper parts of the Mannus and Tumberumba Creek could be utilized, and also Paddy's River, above the Falls - all draining into the Tooma River. Settlement and mining interests on the heads of these streams might, however, prove objectionable, and, moreover, I think a much more effective supply can be drawn from the main branch of the Tooma River itself.

I wish to be perfectly fair to this site, and I therefore admit that the honorable' member for Moira told us this afternoon that a gravitation scheme might be secured from the Tooma River, above its junction with these two streams, which, according to this report, are impregnated with dangerous ingredients. The honorable member, however, forgot to tell us that the point to which he refers is twenty-two miles from the proposed site of the Capital city; that there is no estimtite of the cost of such a scheme before the Committee; and that fifteen or twenty miles of piping might mean an expense which the Federal Parliament would not be prepared to sanction, if the whole of the facts and figures were before it. This officer also says -

It would be very difficult at this stage to attempt a definite determination of the actual population it would be likely to supply.

Surely a statement of that sort from a responsible officer should make honorable members pause before deciding in favour of the Tooma site 1 He goes on to state the expense of constructing the railway lines that would be necessary to connect the Tooma site with the railway systems already in existence. He mentions three surveyed lines from the Victorian side, and his estimate of their cost, without building the bridge across the Murray necessary to complete the connexion, and without rolling-stock, would be respectively £620,000, £703,000, and £861,000.

Mr Robinson - And it would . cost manv thousands more to bridge the Murray.

Mr KELLY - On the other side, with respect to the railway necessary to connect with the Tumut line, this gentleman, in his report, says -

Between Tumut and the Victorian border I believe a practicable, though hilly, route is obtainable, but between Tumut and Yass I understand a flying inspection disclosed some difficulties.

This is the very favorable report of which we have been told concerning the line between Welaregang and Tumut !

Mr Kennedy - Yass does not come between Welaregang and Tumut.

Mr KELLY - The surveyor, after making this report, takes this particular view of what he speaks of as a " practicable route."

Mr Kennedy - That is for a shorter route between Sydney and Tumut than the railway now existing.

Mr KELLY - No; the surveyor's proposal is one to connect Welaregang with Tumut.

Mr Kennedy - No; to get a more direct route from Sydney.

Mr KELLY - We should not want a more direct route than that.

Mr Kennedy - The honorable' member will find that Yass is between Tumut and Sydney, and not between Tumut and Welaregang.

Mr KELLY - I am now speaking of the more economical route, to which the surveyor refers as the only practicable route.

Mr Kennedy - Not the most economical, but the more direct route.

Mr KELLY - He says that he believes that the route between Tumut and the Victorian border is practicable, though hilly. He does not say that it is practicable, because he knows nothing definite about it. We have had Royal Commissioners inspecting the other sites, and special surveyors making contour surveys of them, but we are asked to accept this site in the dark, unless we adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Perth, and vote for it in order to shelve the whole question for a further period. I do not think that honorable members will take that view, because I believe they are prepared to settle the question now, knowing that sufficient time has already been wasted in deciding this matter. I think I have now shown that not only from the New South Wa.les point of view of locality, but also from the Federal point of view of expense and accessibility, this Tooma site is absolutely out of the running. I have now a word or two to say about the Dalgety site. It holds a distinctly stronger position than does the Welaregang site. Whilst the Tooma site would require a large expenditure to connect it with either Sydney or Melbourne, the Dalgety site is more or less accessible from Sydney, and railway communication between it and Sydney would be completed by a short extension to Dalgety of the line from Goulburn to Cooma. Consequently, from the point of view-

Mr Batchelor - Of Sydney.

Mr KELLY - I am sorry that the Minister should be so prejudiced against Sydney. I hope that the honorable gentleman will bear with me, as I am considering the question from both points of view.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the Minister's view? He does not appear to have any on this matter.

Mr KELLY - Yes, I think the Minister has made up his mind.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why does not the Minister of Home Affairs tell us what it is?

Mr KELLY - The honorable gentleman is in charge of the Bill, and must assume an impartial attitude. I have been accused of taking an entirely provincial view when I say that Dalgety is more accessible to Sydney than is Welaregang. I look upon Sydney as the heart of the State of New South Wales, and I have tried to make it clear that I am regarding the question from the point of view of the State of New South Wales, as well as from the point of view of the Commonwealth, since they are both parties to the compact. I say that the question of locality is of supreme importance to the State of NewSouth Wales, whilst the question of expense is of Federal importance. I have, I think, proved that Welaregang is barred on both these considerations. I am now endeavouring to show that from the point of view of locality alone, Dalgety is superior to Welaregang. From the point of view of expense it is also preferable to that site, and it has this further advantage that it has been surveyed, reported on, and subjected to criticism, to which we have had no time, so far, to subject the Tooma site. However, when compared with Lyndhurst, I hold that the Dalgety site must give place.

Mr Austin Chapman - Nonsense !

Mr KELLY - The honorable member for Eden-Monaro nib doubt thinks that I should have stopped at the previous sentence, but the people of New South Wales desire that the Lyndhurst site should be chosen out of the three I have mentioned. If we take the State point of view only into consideration. Lyndhurst should receive our unanimous support. There is still the Federal point of view to be considered - the question of expense and accessibility. On that consideration, I maintain that Lyndhurst again has first place, because, for one thing, it is situated on a main line of railway already completed. At the present time Lyndhurst is equally accessible by rail from Melbourne and Sydney, and when the New South Wales railways are continued from Cobar, through Wilcannia, to Broken Hill, and from Wellington to Werris Creek, without expense to the Commonwealth - because we have it on the authority of the honorable member for Hume that they ' will be constructed by the Government of the State solely for the development of its own territory - the site will be in direct communication with Adelaide and Brisbane as Veil. Lyndhurst will then be really the heart of the railway systems of Australia, and the most accessible of all the sites.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is marvellous to me that any Western Australian should be in favour of any other site.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member for Moira this afternoon made a great point of the alleged want of water in the Lyndhurst district; but he surely cannot have read the official report furnished by' Mr. Wade, the Chief Engineer for Water Conservation in New South Wales, and the officer whose capacity was so admitted that he was intrusted by the Government of that State with the work of reporting on irrigation in the United States. Mr. Wade, in a report based upon that of the Capital Sites Commission, and his own personal and intimate knowledge of the district, says -

The Federal Royal Commission appointed to report on the proposed sites for the Seat of Government considered that the Coombing Rivulet of eighty square miles catchment area, together with the Flyn's Creek, of eighteen square miles catchment area, were capable of supplying by gravitation a population of 54,000 people, at an average consumption at the rate of 100 gallons per head per diem.

They also mentioned that the Cadiangullong Creek, with a catchment area of fourteen and a half square miles, and Brown's Creek, with a catchment area of forty-seven square miles, were capable' of supplying by gravitation an additional population of 35,000 people on a similar basis of consumption, or, in all, a total by gravitation of 89,000 people.

I am personally acquainted with all of these catchments, and am in accord with the Commissioners in their views as to basis of run off, and consider that, by amplifying the storage, a population in round numbers of 100,000 people could be supplied with 100 gallons per head per diem.

The consumption of Melbourne is about 58½ gallons per diem per head of the population, while that of Sydney is about 43 gallons, and of London, speaking from memory, less than 40 gallons, so that the estimated available supply at Lyndhurst is calculated at, per head, about twice that provided for Melbourne, more than twice that provided for Sydney, and still greater proportionately than that of London. In addition to what can be obtained from a gravitation scheme, provision can be made for a pumping scheme.

Mr Kennedy - At what cost?

Mr KELLY - Since the gravitation scheme would give such a liberal supply for a population of 100,000 people, it is hardly necessary to take the pumping scheme into consideration, beyond mentioning it as a possible augmentation of the other. The cost of supplying the city by gravitation would be about 7.5d. per 1,000 gallons.

Mr Kennedy - That is exclusive of reticulation.

Mr KELLY - Yes. The cost of reticulation would bring the price of water up to10d. or1s. per 1,000 gallons, whereas in Melbourne it costs1s. 6d. per 1,000 gallons. Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that that rate provides a sinking fund which would pay off the whole cost of the work within twenty-eight years.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And there would be a supply of 126,000,000 gallons a day for irrigation purposes.

Mr KELLY - Yes. In view of these facts, which have been placed before honorable members on the authority of the Chief Engineer for Water Conservation in New South Wales, it was distinctly ungenerous of the honorable member for Moira to say that if the Lyndhurst site is chosen, the people living in the Capital may occasionally suffer from droughts.

Mr Kennedy - I quoted from the Commissioners' report. They say that the creeks were dry at the time they visited the place.

Mr KELLY - The city of Sydney, which has a population of over 500,000, depends for its water supply on a stormwater catchment area.

Mr Kennedy - The rainfall on that area is more than 15 inches per annum.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The average rainfall at Lyndhurst is 29.54 inches per annum.

Mr KELLY - Yes; and . that is probably a higher rainfall than is enjoyed on the Camden catchment, because it is just inside the coastal range, and between it is the dividing range.

Mr Austin Chapman - Mr. Pridham puts the aggregate cost of the Lyndhurst water supply at over £2,000,000.

Mr KELLY - Even that is nothing like so much as it would cost to connect Dalgety with the Gippsland line at Bairnsdale.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the total capital cost of Mr. Wade's scheme?

Mr KELLY - £581.000, which is less than it would cost to connect Tooma with the Victorian railway system, and about onefifth of what it would cost to connect Dalgety with Bairnsdale. From the Federal point of view, Lyndhurst is quite the best of the proposed sites. The people of New South Wales place great importance upon the immediate settlement of this question. The feeling in that State - I do not now go into the question of whether it is justifiable - is that she has been tricked into the Federation for a consideration which is now being withheld from her. I am sure that honorable members are eager to honour the constitutional obligation to New South Wales, and if they could realize that if some of the proposed sites were chosen the people of that State would not regard it as an honouring of that obligation, because no benefit to them would result, they would act differently. If. after a delay of so many years has occurred, such a site is chosen, the feeling of irritation and discontent now smouldering in the mother State may burst out into a flame of indignation which would be prejudicial to the State, to the Commonwealth, and dangerous to the Union, which we are all bound to uphold.

Suggest corrections