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Thursday, 4 August 1904

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) - Of all the questions upon which we are empowered to legislate under the Constitution, that which is now engaging our attention is one of the most important. It was embodied in our charter of Government by -our eminent constitution builders, upon the understanding that as scon as this Parliament was in a position to deal with the question, it should receive careful consideration. As head of the first Commonwealth Government, Sir Edmund Barton distinctly promised in his pre-election addresses, and also in the Governor-General's speech at the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament, that it should be given early attention. Before that promise could be redeemed, however, a considerable amount of work had to be undertaken, in order to place honorable members in possession of information which was essential to enable them to arrive at a just decision regarding the particular site which should be selected. Consequently, no attempt was made to deal with the matter, until towards the close of the first Parliament. Even then the information which was supplied to honorable members was very incomplete. As a matter of fact, official reports relating to various sites were still being received whilst the Seat of Government Bill was under consideration. Moreover, the time which was then at the disposal of honorable members was very limited. Those who took part in the discussion of that Bill were urged to compress their addresses within the narrowest possible limits. They were assured by Ministers that anything in the nature of an exhaustive debate of the measure must inevitably lead to the question being shelved. As we are all aware, the attempt to determine a site upon that occasion proved fruitless, owing to a difference between the choice of this House and that of the other Chamber. Since then we have had the advantage of being furnished with additional information concerning the different sites, and upon the present occasion we are not pressed for time as we were previously. I am bound to admit that during the present discussion some very excellent speeches have been made. In accordance with the decision of the House, we are now invited to select the Federal Territory rather than a site for the Federal Capital. The choice of a site is being made the peg upon which to hang the debate in respect of the territory. The most eligible areas have been narrowed down to three - namely, the Western, Southern, and South Eastern Districts. With the exception of what is contained in the report which was compiled at the instance of the Government of New South Wales by the late Mr. Oliver, honorable members have little or no informaation relating to the question of territory. That was one of the points upon which I joined issue with the Barton and Deakin Governments in dealing with this matter. When the Capital Sites Commission was appointed, I understood that the scope of its inquiry would extend, not only to the sites submitted, but to the suitability of the territory surrounding them. I was under the impression that the information to be supplied by them would be as complete as possible. Under instructions issued by the Government of- the day, however, that Commission limited its investigation practically to a site of 4,000 acres. Outside of that area it sought information only as regards the possibility of supplying the population of the future Capital with water. We are, therefore, called upon to deal with the question of the Federal Territory, lacking a considerable amount of information which would be of immense value to us in enabling us to arrive at a just determination. Of course I recognise that the present Government is not responsible for that absence of information. It was obliged to take up this question at the point at which it had been left by its predecessors. To me it seems extraordinary that the members of the late Government, who were responsible for the investigation of the Capital Sites Commission being conducted in the way that it was, should now turn a complete somersault, and be consumed with a desire to select territory in the first place, and to make the choice of a site a matter for subsequent consideration. How they have come to arrive at this position I fail to understand.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We shall have to decide the site also.

Mr BROWN - As I am reminded by the honorable member for North Sydney, we shall also be invited to decide the site. But we are, first of all, invited to decide upon the territory, and we are asked to select that territory on information that relates to sites only. I contend that we should be placed in possession of further information, for the purpose of selecting the territory. The question of the site is for after consideration. Before dealing with the territories, or sites within those territories, I should like to say a word upon the constitutional aspect of the question, particularly as it relates to the interests of New South Wales. It is a matter upon which, even in this House, there is considerable difference of opinion. Some honorable members hold that as the Constitution provides that the site must be within the territory of New South Wales, no obligation is imposed upon Parliament beyond placing the site within that State. They urge that the particular portion of the State' in which the site is located is of no importance. In fact, several honorable members have expressed the opinion that in the interests of the Commonwealth the site should not be within the territory of New South Wales, as we understand it, but upon the border, so that New South Wales territory will actually be taken for site purposes, whilst the people living within it will have access to another State entirely independent of New South Wales. The question of how this position was arrived at is very interesting. The Constitution itself provides, in section 125, that the Seat of Government shall be in the State of New South Wales, and shall be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney ; and it goes on to say that the Parliament shall sit in Melbourne until it meets at the Seat of Government. In order to understand the position thoroughly, honorable members must carry their minds back to the discussion which took place in connexion with the framing of the Constitution, particularly in those stages that led to its adoption by the peoples of the different States. The principle which animated the Convention was not merely that of devising a perfect instrument of Government theoretically, and making it workable practically, but there was also introduced the Question of what concessions the different States should secure for themselves, or what disadvantages they would suffer under this new form of Government, as compared with the State form of Government that had previously existed; what were the powers which they surrendered, and what effect those powers had upon their industrial life; and to what extent they could make terms with their fellow States, which would compensate them for losses, fancied or otherwise, in other respects. I think it can be fairly claimed that New South Wales, through her representatives - particularly through her Federal leader, Sir Edmund Barton - faced this question from the wider standpoint of the interests of the whole Commonwealth. The people of that State were not disposed to subordinate principles which they considered essential to the proper working of the Constitution, to mere questions of particular advantage to their own State. But when terms of this character were being forced upon their consideration by the other States, and special conditions were being secured by them, it became necessary - in order to secure the co-operation of the people of that State, without which the Constitution could not be adopted and Federation consummated - for the members of the Convention representing New South Wales to show their people that in making these concessions to the other States, they were not giving away the whole of the interests of their own State. One natural condition was that the Senate should represent the States as States, one State being one electorate for that particular purpose, so that senators should not represent sections of the people, but the whole State. Queensland had special interests at stake. There was a divergence of conditions and interests as between Southern Queensland, Central Queensland, and Northern Queensland. Apparently her representatives, who were engaged in framing the Constitution, desired that these interests should be specially considered. The Constitution builders had to depart from their ideal to this extent - that Queensland received the right, if she chose, not to elect her senators for the whole State as one electorate, but to divide her State into three sections for that purpose. That was one concession which Queensland received. I do not say that it was an improper one. but it was . a departure from the ideal of the framers of the Constitution for the purpose of meeting State needs. Then again Tasmania recognised that in so far as her revenue was so largely derived from Customs and Excise, in handing over those methods of taxation to Federal control she was depriving her Government of a source of revenue that was' essential in the conduct of her administration.

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! Are the honorable member's remarks to be connected with the question of the Capital sites ?

Mr BROWN - Yes; I am showing that because of those concessions that were made to other States New South Wales was justified in asking for a concession with respect to the Capital. Tasmania obtained the insertion in the Constitution of the section which became known afterwards as the Braddon section. Then, again, South Australia wished to have the rivers - particularly those running through Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales, and meeting in her territory, per medium of the Murray - to be preserved for navigation purposes. That question affected such vital interests' in more than one State with regard to the development of territories by means of irrigation that it led to almost a dead-lock in the Convention. It seemed likely at one time that if South Australia insisted upon her own interests in this respect, the Convention would come to naught.

Mr Batchelor - South Australia neither asked for nor received any concession whatever from the Convention.

Mr BROWN - This matter was fought out by her representatives so strongly, and was resisted to such an extent by the New South Wales representatives, that on more than one occasion those representatives were prepared to pack up their carpet bags and leave before any result was arrived at. However, despite the strong protests of the representatives of New South Wales, and to a lesser degree of those of Victoria, a condition, was inserted that secured special consideration for the interests of South Australia.

The CHAIRMAN - I must draw the attention of the honorable member to the fact that he is not really discussing the matter which is now under the purview of the Committee. He is going into the question of the right of New South Wales to have the Capital site within her territory. That is not under consideration at all. What we now have to discuss is the suitabilitv of the various areas which have been submitted for the consideration of the Committee. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to that question.

Mr BROWN - But, sir, during the course of the debate the constitutional side of the question has been raised, and the New South Wales representatives have been charged with being provincial, and so forth, in asking that the terms of the Constitution should be adhered to.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member was really discussing the action, not of this Parliament, but of the Convention, and that is going outside the question before the Chair. We are not now debating the action of the Convention.

Mr BROWN - I am not discussing the action of the Convention.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is discussing the reason why certain concessions were made by the Convention at the instance of the representatives of certain States. The remarks which the honorable member says have been made by other honorable members in regard to the action of the New South Wales members were merely incidental, and were not pursued at considerable length.

Mr BROWN - I have practically concluded my references to this point. I do not wish to transgress the rules, and am prepared to bow to your decision.

The CHAIRMAN - I think the honorable member will find that the subject is quite wide enough as it is.

Mr BROWN - I" am aware that it is a fairly wide question, but, as these points had been dealt with, I was simply showing what were the concessions made to the different States. The concession made to Western Australia was, of course, the provision with regard to Customs duties, and the understanding as to the Transcontinental Railway. If I am in order, I wish to deal with the questions which have been put to the Committee - that the Capital site must be in such a position that, whilst the territory is within New South Wales, there must be egress to a State independent of New South Wales, either by reason of the site abutting upon the territory of the other State or bv reason of the fact that the territory will embrace a Federal harbor. Those questions have been raised at considerable length, and I wish to reply to the remarks which have been made concerning them.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member will be quite in order in doing so.

Mr BROWN - In the first place, when this matter was being dealt with in our State

Parliament, Mr. Reid, as Premier, asked for permission to negotiate with the Premiers of the other States. I was one of the few members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales who voted against the proposal to remit this question of the Federal Capital Site to the State Premiers, and, therefore, I cannot be charged with having any prejudice. In my opinion, there were other issues so important that they ought not to be overshadowed by any consideration of this particular State concession. In pleading for the interests of the State which I represent, I only urge that any special concessions granted under the Constitution shall be carried out, not only in letter, but in spirit. Victoria, for instance, insists not only that the Federal Parliament shall meet in Melbourne, but that all the functions of the Executive Government shall be discharged in that city. And Victoria is quite within her rights in so insisting.

Mr Crouch - How has Victoria insisted ?

Mr BROWN - Shortly after the Federal Parliament met in Melbourne, the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, paid a visit to Sydney on Commonwealth business, and a suspicion immediately arose that the intention was to discharge the functions of government in that city. Thereupon a great furore was raised by the Victorian press, which demanded that the spirit of the Constitution should be observed. When the Commonwealth Government decided to rent some small offices in Sydney for Federal purposes, even that course was resented in Victoria.

Mr Ronald - The press is not the people.

Mr BROWN - But the representatives, of Victoria in this Parliament would have resented any such idea had they not been satisfied there was no intention to remove the administrative government. There is no doubt that Victoria is quite right in insisting on the spirit of the compromise or bargain being observed.

Mr Crouch - The Governor-General spends most of his time in Sydney.

Mr BROWN - Only a small fraction of the Governor-General's time is spent in Sydney. While Victorians insist on the compact being carried out in spirit as well as in letter, they ought to extend fair and reasonable consideration to the sister State of New South Wales. It must not be thought for a moment that to fix the Capital site on the border would be to carry out the compact in full ; and, as justifying that opinion, let me read an extract from Messrs. Quick and Garran's valuable work on the Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth. At page 219 we read that the Premiers of the various States, in Conference, reported -

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; 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. o

I draw honorable members' attention to the words " at a reasonable distance from that city," as showing the opinion of the Premiers who revised the Constitution, and who were responsible for the alteration which fixed the roo-miles limit. This document was issued by the Premiers, -not to the people of New South Wales for their guidance and information, but to the people of the whole Commonwealth, who were subsequently asked to indorse the Constitution as altered.

Mr Kelly - And they indorsed the Constitution by largely increased majorities.

Mr BROWN - Can it be contended that a site selected on the border, hundreds of miles distant, and most difficult of access, as the Tooma site is, is within " reasonable distance of Sydney " ? Could the selection of such a site be said to comply with the spirit which underlies the agreement entered into at the Premiers' Conference? I am supported in my present attitude by some of the leading men who took part in that Conference. The right honorable member for Balaclava, in one of his addresses, said -

We, in this Colony, have made a contract with New South Wales, and we are not going back on it.

When, in the last Parliament, the right honorable member for Balaclava was asked to vote for a border site, which had considerable support from the press and representatives of Victoria, he refused to do so, and gave his voice in favour of the Tumut-Lacmalac site. To the honour and credit of that right honorable member, let it be said that he was the only member of the then Government who viewed the question from that liberal stand-point.

Mr Kelly - The right honorable member knew the feeling of the Premiers' Conference.

Mr BROWN - That is so, seeing that he was one of those instrumental in bringing about the agreement then arrived at. The Cabinet, when the voting on the sites took place, contained two representatives of New South Wales, but the right honorable member for Balaclava was the only member of the Ministry prepared to vote in favour of Tumut, as against a border site.

Mr Crouch - Does the honorable member say that Tumut is within a " reasonable distance " of Sydney ?

Mr BROWN - Tumut is within a much more reasonable distance from Sydney than is Albury, Tooma, Bombala, or Dalgety. Sir Alexander Peacock, when occupying the important position of Premier of Victoria, is reported to have thus expressed himself in an interview with a representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph -

Albury is too near to Melbourne, you know - a province of Melbourne. You might as well have the Capital in Victoria as at Albury. .Oh, no ; this is a serious business ; Albury is impossible - we admit it.

Those utterances were largely instrumental in leading the people of New South Wales to suppose that, all things being equal, a site within a reasonable distance beyond the 100-miles limit, would not be excluded from the consideration of this House. While honorable members are willing to. select a site in New South Wales, because the Constitution compels them to do so, they do not appear to be prepared to fix on a place within a reasonable distance of Sydney, but would rather locate the Capital on the border, either west or east of the mountains or of the Snowy River.

Mr Crouch - Two Victorian members voted for Albury ; why not say so ?

Mr BROWN - Some honorable members afterwards transferred' their votes. There was not a Victorian member who voted for a site further north than Tumut. Some honorable members view the Constitution as though it not only provided that the Capital site should not be within 100. miles of Sydney, but also that it must not be more than fifty miles from the River Murray or the Victorian border. , That is the position to which I take exception, as not being in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution or fair to the interests of the State which I represent.

Mr Kelly - These honorable members desire New South Wales to provide the land, and to receive no benefit in return.

Mr BROWN - If New South Wales is expected to hand over a big area, it is only reasonable to suppose that she anticipates to derive some benefit. But if a border site be selected, any benefit there may be will be divided between New South Wales and Victoria. The fact of the matter is that the natural conditions in New South Wales, in point of distance and accessibility, are such that her borderlands are practically Victorian. What I want to impress on honorable members is that in pressing for the selection of a site which is not on the border, I am asking for nothing unfair. The disadvantages of sites not on the border may be more than compensated for by advantages which border sites do not possess; and, all things being equal, there is no unreasonableness in the position I am advancing. As I have said before, it is not enough to observe the mere letter of the law; the spirit of the law is its very essence. The words of the Premiers who met in conference indicate the spirit of the Constitution, and its words clearly mean that if a suitable site can be secured within a reasonable distance from Sydney, that site should at least receive fair consideration at our hands. I have been greatly disappointed with the attitude 'assumed on this question by some "of the representatives of Victoria. Arrangements were made to enable honorable members to visit the different sites suggested that they might make themselves personally acquainted with them-; but I regret to say that, whilst amongst the visiting parties the other States have been amply represented, honorable members representing Victorian constituencies' have not availed themselves of these .opportunities to the extent that might have been expected, and as the visits were extended northwards, and into the interior of New South Wales, the number of Victorian members joining in these visits of inspection became less. This has not been very promising, but I trust that Victorian representatives will not deny just treatment to the mother State in this matter. I am encouraged to view the situation more hopefully after the address I heard from the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who represents a Victorian constituency. In his able address, that honorable and learned member viewed the question, not from a provincial, but from a comprehensive national stand-point. He was prepared to admit that New South Wales had some claims to consideration which ought not to be ignored. One subject to which the honorable and learned member referred is worthy of the special attention of the Committee, and that is the amount of expenditure involved on the sites under review. I am aware that the honorable and learned member has been twitted with Kyabramism, because he has endeavoured to view this question from the economic stand-point, and because he suggested the selection of the site which would involve the Commonwealth in the least expense. Without any suggestion of cheese-paring, it must be admitted that the honorable and learned member has raised a very important question, which must" be fully considered in justice to the people not of any particular State but of the whole Commonwealth, because thev will be expected to find the ' money for the establishment and equipment of the Federal Capital. If one suitable site involves less expense than does another, that should certainly have some weight with honorable ' members in its selection. The question of expense has a very important bearing on this matter. There are those who would appear to dissociate Federal interests from State interests. Because the Federal, authority is charged with the carrying out of a certain work, some people think that the States are not affected. But the Federal Parliament has to govern the same people as the States Parliaments, and the burden of unnecessary extravagance on the p.\rt of the Federal Parliament must fall upon the people of the States, in just the same way as if the extravagance had been committed by the States Parliaments. It must not be forgotten that the people of the various States will have to foot the bill for all expenses in connexion with the Federal Capita). For this reason honorable members should closely consider the cost to the people of the Commonwealth of establishing the Capital at a particular site. As against an expenditure of millions, a few snowcapped mountains, or what honorable members may deem to be beautiful scenery, should not count. The various States are to-day,in connection with the pioneering work which they have had to undertake, carrying a burden of something like ^222,000,000. A handful of people, numbering some 4,000,000, has to bear a burden of £222. 000,000 of public debt already incurred, and honorable members should be very careful before they do anything which will add to that burden. It is our duty, not only to see that the people of the Commonwealth get full value for the money to be expended in connexion with the Federal Capital, but also to see that no further addition shall be made to their enormous burden of debt. This, with a little consideration may be avoided. Honorable members can verify the figures I propose to quote from the official reports before them. I should say that for the Tumut district I am compelled to take the Lacmalac site as the basis of my comparison, because I have detailed information for the purpose of the comparison with respect to that site only. Of course, with respect to the newer sites submitted for our consideration, there is no information upon these points before us. But we know that they will not be cheaper, but very much dearer, than the Lacmalac site. On turning to the Commissioners' report I find that the expenditure estimated for Bombala, and including the railways, resumption of catchment area, resumption of city site, and water supply amounts to no less than £11,000,000. It is estimated that the actual expenditure necessary to give reasonable access to that site would be about £3,000,000, and the projected expenditure on railways necessary for a complete connexion with the site is estimated to amount tra another £8,000.000. I should say that the estimate of £3,000,000 includes harbor accommodation on the lower scale indicated in Mr. Oliver's supplementary report, and not on the more extensive scale set out in his original report. The estimate of £1.1,000,000 is for what would be required to make the Bombala site reasonably accessible from the chief cities of the Commonwealth - to bring the Capital into touch with the whole of the people. With respect to Tumut, the actual expenditure necessary is stated at £1,515,000, and the expenditure upon prospective railway extension' £7,522,000, bringing the grand total, in round numbers, up to £9,000,000. The muchdespised site of Lyndhurst has railway communication already provided so far as Sydney and Melbourne are concerned, and so far as Brisbane is concerned to a lesser legree. So that the actual expenditure in connexion with that site, which would be largely in connexion with water supply, as provided in Mr. Pridham's estimate, and the resumption of catchment and city areas, is estimated at £456,000. The expenditure necessary to complete the railways projected, as indicated in the Commissioners' report, would amount to £7,352,000. So that the cost of completing the wide scheme for Lyndhurst outlined by the expert Commissioners appointed by the Government would amount to £7,800,000. This is the comparison of estimated probable expenditure - for Lyndhurst, £7.800,000 ; for Tumut-. £9,047,000 ; and for Bombala, £11,029,000. Millions are easily said, but these figures should have some weight in determining the selection of the site for the Federal Capital. If, in making a selection of a site, other things being equal, or nearly equal, we can secure what we require at a much less expenditure at one place than would be involved at other places, the necessity for avoiding an undue burden upon the people of the Commonwealth should not be overlooked.

Mr Crouch - What about the expense of bringing water 100 miles?

Mr BROWN - I am not aware of any proposal to bring water a distance of 100 miles. I should like to point out that the estimates of expenditure to which I have referred, are estimates based on the probable cost of the resumption of the Capital site and catchment area, ' securing access, and water supply, and it must not be forgotten that the expenditure necessary to provide the buildings which we would associate with a city of this character, and which must necessarily be expensive, will be an additional charge upon the people of the Commonwealth I now desire to deal with the question of territory. We have to look to the reports upon the sites for the information necessary to guide us to a conclusion with regard to the territories. In other words, we have to adopt some particular site as a peg upon which to hang our territorial arguments. A great, change has taken place since the last Parliament dealt with this matter. The sites most favoured then were Lyndhurst, Lacmalac, and Bombala. Now, judging from the opinions expressed by honorable members, it would seem that two of these sites have been displaced. I cannot regard this change as due to the altered personnel of the House, and I am, therefore, forced to the conclusion that it has been brought about by the more complete information that has been placed at the disposal of honorable members. Owing largely to the inquiries and valuable report made by the right honorable member for Swan, Bombala has been displaced by Dalgety, which on the former occasion did not secure a single vote. Then, in respect to the sites in the southern district, Lacmalac, which was boomed last session, has had to give way to a new site, which had not previously been seriously considered. Therefore, the only site that has retained its old position is Lyndhurst. I regret that the further investigations, which have been made since we last discussed this subject, in respect to the southern and southeastern districts, have not been fully extended to the sites available in the western district. I have been surprised at the prejudice manifested by some honorable members. For instance, one honorable member, referring to Lyndhurst, described the country as very inferior, and devoid of vegetation, and stated that even the rabbits- to be found there were in a starving condition. I fancy that that honorable member must have worn coloured glasses when he travelled through the district. In contrasting the merits of the various sites, I shall endeavour to avoid following the honorable member's example. I have had the pleasure of visiting all the sites that have been brought prominently under notice. Whilst I regard some of them as having stronger claims than others, I do not think that any one can be said to be unworthy. We should not make a great mistake if we selected any one of them. The preliminary investigations were so complete that we were safeguarded against being called upon to discuss the merits of any really inferior site. New South Wales is not so poverty-stricken in respect to her territory that she cannot find a site for the Federal Capital possessing all the chief requisites for such a city. Some honorable members, myself amongst them, consider that a rich territory is one of the most important essentials. I hold that it would be impossible to build up or to maintain the Federal city entirely upon Federal expenditure, and that if we are to attract to the Seat of Government a population of, say, 30,000 or 50,000, a large proportion of those who live in our territory must be able to sustain themselves upon the land. Moreover, if it is contemplated that the Federal Territory shall embrace a large area in order that the revenue derived and the profits accruing from the unearned increment may be applied to the improvement of the Capital, we must acquire land that will be suitable for agricultural purposes. It is true that many of our cities owe their existence to the fact that gold or some other mineral has been discovered in their vicinity. We know of many instances in which towns containing a population of perhaps as many as 30,000 have been established as the result of the discovery of alluvial gold-fields, and that as soon as the diggings have been exhausted the population has gradually decreased, and nothing more than a nucleus has remained. Agricultural development has afterwards taken place in the neighbourhood, and prosperity has been, at least, ito some extent,- restored. This statement would fairly outline the history of many cities in the Commonwealth, and it is sufficient to show that a large proportion of the people who settle within the Federal Territory must maintain themselves on the land. Unless we can secure good land in the immediate vicinity of the Federal city, we cannot look forward to any appreciable growth of population. Some honorable members regard the acquirement of a rich territory as a secondary consideration, and an ample water supply has first place in their estimation. Others, of an artistic or poetic temperament, attach the greatest importance to the beauty of the scenery in the vicinity of the Capital. So long as there are towering snow-clad mountains in the background they care little or nothing whether the site itself is suitable for building purposes or whether the surrounding territory is one that will support a reasonably large population. The considerations indicated by no less an authority than the present Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, Sir Samuel Griffith, should, in my view, have greatest weight with us. That eminent Judge has contributed very largely to the development of the Federal idea, and to the building up of the Commonwealth. He took part in the first Conference, of which the late Sir Henry Parkes, the statesman of whom New South Wales is so proud, was a member.lie largely assisted to lay the foundations of the Constitution, which was ultimately adopted by the Federal Convention, and the traces of his master-hand are everywhere to be seen throughout its fabric. He was, in my opinion, deservedly rewarded by his appointment to the position of first Chief Justice of Australia, and the Commonwealth did honour to itself by that appointment. In 1886, before the subject had consolidated to anything like a concrete proposal, he wrote a paper entitled. " Notes on Australian Federation," in which, speaking of the Federal Capital, he said1 that it

Should be central, easily accessible, not unduly exposed to the risks of war or invasion, and its climate should not be such as to render it an undesirable place to live in.

We shall not go very far wrong if we consider the question before us from those points of view. Dealing first with the feature of centrality, I think that any honorable member who looks at the maps which have been placed before us, and reads the recommendations of the Commission appointed by the Barton Government to inquire into the matter, must come to the conclusion that, having regard to railway communication, present and prospective, Lyndhurst is much more central than any of the other sites. The Lyndhurst territory is situated on the main western line from Sydney to Bourke, and the branch which proceeds to Condobolin. It is also on the line which connects the Western system with the Southern. The Southern line, as honorable members know, is the great railway thoroughfare from Adelaide, through Melbourne and Sydney, to Brisbane. Moreover, it is now proposed by the New South Wales Government to construct a railway from Wellington to Werris Creek, not with a view to improve the communication with a proposed Federal Capital site, but to develop the country which such a line would traverse, and to connect the western and northern railway ' systems. When that line is made, Lyndhurst will be much nearer to Brisbane than it is now, and it is already nearer to that city than is any of the other proposed sites. Parliamentary sanction has also been given to the construction of a. railway from Cobar to Wilcannia. I understand that that line has been commenced, and that it is proposed to extend it to Broken Hill. When that is done, there will be direct communication between Lyndhurst and Adelaide, and. if the transcontinental line, of which the right honorable member for Swan is so able and strenuous an advocate, is constructed, Lyndhurst will be in direct communication with Perth also. Furthermore, it has been suggested, as within the scope of future extension, that a second transcontinental line may be made from Bourke to Port Darwin. As honorable members are aware, the railway system of Queensland differs greatly from those of her sister States, inasmuch as, while the railways of Victoria practically all converge on Melbourne, and those of New South Wales on Sydnev, Queensland, in addition to her coastal line, has three inland lines which feed three separate ports.

The suggested railway of which I have spoken would connect these lines, that is, the line from Brisbane to Cunnamulla, the line from Rockhampton to Longreach, and the line from Townsville to Winton. Such a railway would open up a vast area of rich pastoral country. The districts through which it would pass are noted for their great cattle carrying capacity. Although, within the past few years, the herds have been decimated by the drought which afflicted Queensland, as well as New South Wales and Victoria, the district will do in the future what it has done in the past. It has in the past largely supplied the meat markets of the southern States, and, in years to come, will do so to a still greater degree, and will, of course, be the great source of supply for the Federal Capital. The question of present accessibility, however, was dealt with so ably by the honorable and learned member for Wannon the other night that there is no need to again .quote the . figures which he gave, or to do more than refer honorable members to the information on the subject available in the reports of experts. It is evident, however, that taking into consideration the present location of population, Lyndhurst is much more central than any other site under consideration. Moreover, it has been proved that the centre of the present population of the Commonwealth is considerably north of any of the border sites, and is constantly trending northwards. Mr. Coghlan, whose estimate is a very conservative one,- puts the probable annual increase of our population at 2^40 per cent., and is of opinion that thirty years hence, of all the sites Lyndhurst will be the nearest to the centre of population. The probability is that when Australia has become largely populated, the centre will be still nearer to the Armidale site; but as that site is not now under consideration, we must give the more weight to the fact that of the present sites Lyndhurst will be the nearest to the centre. Sir Samuel Griffith regards as the next essential that the Capital shall not be exposed to the risks of war. No one will challenge the statement that, with the exception of Tooma, Lyndhurst is more completely protected from invasion than any of the sites. Both Lyndhurst and Tooma lie west of the great dividing range, which extends like an immense barrier between the sea coast and the interior. That range was pierced only after the country had been settled for many years, and at the present time there are only two or three places in which it is crossed by a railway. The Lithgow Zigzag, while giving communication between Sydney and the Lyndhurst territory, could be defended by a very small body of men against an almost untold host. That is a condition which does not apply to the Monaro sites. Whilst it is true that those sites are situated on a high tableland, they are very much more vulnerable than is the Lyndhurst site. If we are to establish a Capital of this character, it should be representative of the wealth and influence of the Commonwealth. It will be the home of all that the people of the Federation hold dear. It will contain all the historical documents of the Commonwealth. It will be the centre from which the functions of government will be discharged, and from which its banking and commercial transactions will extend throughout the whole of Australia. Consequently we must see that whilst it is reasonably accessible to the centres of population, it also offers facilities for defence against a hostile force. I claim that the western district conforms more nearly to the ideal conditions which have been laid down by that great authority, Sir Samuel Griffith, .than does any other site, and would best lend itself to the mobilization of the Commonwealth Defence Forces. In my earlier remarks I made some reference to the question of accessibility. Let me now examine the merits of the rival sites from that stand-point. According to the report of the Capital Sites Commissioners the cost of providing an efficient water supply at Bombala- a supply drawn from the Delegate River - would be, roughly speaking, .£531,000. If the supply were drawn from the Snowy River, its cost would be ,£617,000. The resumption of the catchment area would involve an expenditure of £121,000, and that of the city site of £24,000. Unfortunately, the Bombala district labours under a very great disadvantage in respect of railway communication. I believe that it is deserving of more consideration in this respect than it has hitherto received. At the same time I do not think that it is the rich district which some of its advocates would lead us to believe. As far as I am able to judge each of the rival districts possesses distinct characteristics. For example, the western area is largely composed of rich, volcanic, high lands. A feature of that district is that the soil on the top of the hills is as rich as is that in the valleys. Those honorable members > who visited the Orange site will recollect seeing potatoes under -cultivation there right at the summit of the ridges, plainly indicating that the land along those ridges was very rich. As a matter of fact, the sides of Canobolas itself are cultivated for a very considerable elevation. Indeed, the hills and rolling downs of the western district are famed throughout New South Wales for their productiveness. The Tumut district is distinguished by high hills and deep valleys. The latter are exceedingly rich, some of them being of a semi-tropical nature. The Tumut valley is famed for the growth of the finest leaf tobacco, and the best maize produced in New South Wales. The area of rich land, however, is not very extensive. I hold in my hand a report upon this very subject by Mr. Chesterman, in which he points out the extent of very rich, and of medium country, which is contained in the Tumut district. He says -

The extent of alluvial land in the valley of the Tumut was some years ago estimated as follows : - Tumut River (including the Goobaragandra from four miles below Brungle to Talbingo), 14,860; Brungle Creek, 600; Killimicat Creek, 500; Bombowlee Creek, 600; Gilmore Creek, Soo. Total, 17,360 acres.

That is the estimate furnished by this officer, who is well acquainted with the entire district. He goes on to quote the following paragraph, from a report prepared by Mr. Gilliat, in 1891 : -

The above-mentioned report estimates the extent of arable upland at 100,000 acres. This, of course, will vary according to the limit adopted. The area remaining may be classed as pasture land, better adapted to sheep than large stock. Some of it is very inferior, while in other places sheep thrive well.

Later on he quotes an extract from the report of a local Committee, the members of which would not be likely to underestimate the area of rich land within that district. The report states -

The area within a radius of twenty miles of the proposed site is composed of 170,000 acres of rich chocolate-colored volcanic soil, and 30,000 acres of rich alluvial flats (much of which ha' been cultivated for fifty years, with little or no deterioration), whilst the more elevated portions afford splendid grazing country for sheep right to the mountain-tops.

The soil upon the hills there is not so rich as is that of the western district, because it is largely subjected to weather conditions. The much-talked-of Tooma site, upon the. Upper Murray, also comprises rich narrow valleys with high uplands, which are not calculated to support an agricultural popu- lation. The Bombala area, , extending from the Snowy River to the Victorian border, consists largely of undulating country with frequent granite outcrops. It is fairly good grazing country, and parts of it are of a rich volcanic nature ; there is not, however, a very great extent of it. Towards Bombala itself, the valleys become deeper, and a greater area of rich soil is to be found there. These constitute the highly-cultivated parts of the district. When we recollect, however, that this country was occupied sixty years ago and before the western district was opened up, that about£1, 000,000 has been expended in an effort to develop it, with very little success, it is at once patent that some very great natural disadvantages must confront the settlers there. On the other hand, the people in the western district originally had to contend with the barrier of the Blue Mountains. Teams had to laboriously drag their loads over that range. It was only after considerable development had taken place in that district that the Government of New South Wales undertook the great engineering feat of constructing a railway across the Blue Mountains. To put the matter tersely, the railway did not develop the western district, but the western district developed the railway. That fact discloses a material difference between this site and its rivals, and one to which I would invite the attention of the Committee. The cost of connecting Cooma and Bombala by rail, according to the report of the Capital Sites Commissioners, would be £337,000, whilst that of constructing a line from Bombala to Bairnsdale is estimated at £1,181,000. I notice that the surveyors, who have since examined this site, have not departed from that estimate. From Bondi to Eden the cost would be £931,000. These are necessary lines, if the site which I have mentioned is to be chosen. One of the arguments in favour of the Capital being located there, is based on the cheap water carriage to Eden. If that is to be of any advantage, there must be railway connexion with the Capital. That railway would be perhaps as expensive a bit of work as any of the lines that have been mentioned. Then, again, there must be connexion between Cooma and Bombala, in order to give railway communication with Sydney ; and if Victoria is to be satisfied with that connexion, it will mean a great detour round by Goulburn. But, assuming that Victoria will want to get as direct a connexion as possible, it will be necessary to construct the BombalaBairnsdale line, which will, on the estimate to which I have referred, cost £1,181,000. So that in these railways will be involved an expenditure of £2,449,000.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then there is £1, 02 8,000 for the port.

Mr BROWN - Yes; with respect to the port - it is called a harbor by courtesy - if it is to be made of any value, the expenditure will be considerable. A human-made harbor has never yet been a success.

Mr Batchelor - What about Fremantle?

Mr BROWN - I say nothing of Fremantle; but New South Wales has tried the experiment of making harbors on' the east coast, and practically the money might as well have been thrown into the sea. It is a most expensive work to undertake. But if a harbor that could stand could be constructed, there might be a justification for it. Engineers, however, have not been able to construct harbor works on the east coast of New South Wales that could stand against the varying influences of the currents, tides, and storms that obtain there. If the harbor is to be a success, Mr. Oliver states, on the authority of Mr. Darling - who had charge of the New South Wales harbors at that time - that an expenditure of£1,028,000 would be required to construct the breakwaters, to say nothing of the wharfs and other facilities necessary for shipping. But suppose we take the lower estimate of Mr. Oliver, produced in his criticism of the Commissioners' report. It is an estimate furnished by Mr. G. H. Halligan, an officer of the Works Department of New South Wales. He showed that a small breakwater, at a cost of £150.000, would give harbor accommodation of less than a mile. The actual area being 0.8 of a square mile. The depth would be about four fathoms. He also indicates that for a further expenditure of £450,000, four and a half square miles of harbor accommodation might be provided, and that it would also be necessary to meet the shipping requirements to expend about £30,000 upon jetties, and so forth, or a minimum of harbor accommodation. But this is not the only expenditure which the Commonwealth would be called upon to incur. The very position of the harbor, and the uses to which it wouJd be put, would necessitate its being fortified. We know, from our experience in Melbourne and Sydney, what enormous sums of money can be sunk in providing means of defence for harbors on anything like a reasonable scale. That item has not been considered in the preparation of the estimates to which I have alluded.

Mr Kelly - There is an additional item - we should have to subsidize the shipping companies heavily to get them to allow their vessels to go there.

Mr BROWN - That may be the case, as there is considerable danger in navigating that coast. I do not know whether the ship-owners would require ' subsidies, but they certainly would require the money which I have mentioned to be spent upon the harbor, to make the accommodation for their vessels reasonable. Even then our experience shows us that Ave could not guarantee to make the harbor absolutely safe. The necessary expenditure on account of the harbor on the lowest scale would be £180,000, which makes the actual expenditure £3,000,000, in order Co give reasonable means of access to Bombala or Dalgety. If the harbor is to be of the character indicated by Mr. Darley, who reported upon it, another £1.000.000 will have to be expended. The Federal Capital Commission shows that Other railways will have to be constructed, and they estimate that their cost - that is, to give further facilities to connect the Capital with Adelaide and with the north - would be £7,000,000. So that the total expenditure, in order to make Bombala or Dalgety anything like reasonably accessible for the purposes of the Federal Capital, and to provide a port, and a water supply for a population of 50,000 people, would be no less than £11,022,680. With regard to Tumut, the water supply is reasonably cheap. I wish to indicate that in dealing with the Tumut site, I have to take the figures for the Lacmalac site as the basis of my estimate. The Lacmalac site is the only one for which we have any data. It is the cheapest site in the district, with the exception of Gadara. At Tumut the water supply would' cost £200,280. The resumption of the catchment area would cost £180. The city site would cost £25,000. Railway extension, six and a half miles,, would cost £50,000. If the connexion be made with Victoria - and we have every reason to believe that that connexion is held by a large number of honorable members to be essential - upon the Victorian estimate the line would cost £1,240,000. In addition, it would cost £6,000 to construct a bridge over the Murray. I am simply giving the lowest estimate, furnished by the Victorian railway engineers. But the other evening, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who is a practical man in connexion with surveying, stated that he had thoroughly examined the country, and had arrived at the conclusion that, instead of its being possible to construct that line for £8.500 a mile - which is the basis upon which I make this calculation - it would cost nearer £20,000 a mile to build the line from Tumut to the Victorian border. I can quite understand, from the little acquaintance I have with that country, and from its precipitous character, that it certainly would cost a very large sum to give it the benefit of railway connexion. The actual expenditure on this site would be £1,515.000 on the lowest estimate; but if the testimony of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is of any value, the cost would be considerably more. But I do not think that the line can be constructed more cheaply than according to the Victorian estimate ; and that means that, in order to give facilities for communication, an actual expenditure of £1,515,000 will-be necessary. According to the expert Commissioners, £7,532,183 is required for projected railways, making a total of £9,047,71.9 ' for means of communication, water supply, resumption and catchment area. A railway is suggested from Warwick to Brisbane.

Sir John Forrest - Oh !

Mr BROWN - The right ' honorable member takes exception to that statement ; but it must be remembered that I am quoting the same authorities in connexion with all the sites.

Mr Tudor - That is a new line?

Mr BROWN - It is a new line in order to get through communication; and the Wellington to Werris Creek line and the transcontinental line are included in the estimate. According to the reports, a water supply at Lyndhurst for a population of 50,000 people means an expenditure of £427,000; the resumption of catchment area, £160,100; city site, £20,000; or a total of £607,000. The actual expenditure contemplated at Bombala, on the basis indicated, . is £3;oo6,68o; and at Tumut the expenditure is £1,515,460, if the line be taken down to the Murray and across into Victoria as proposed in last Parliament. Honorable members will see . how these figures compare with an actual expenditure of £607,000 at Lyndhurst. Before a single pound is spent on buildings at Bombala, there must be an expenditure of over £3,000,000 in order to give reasonable accessibility.

Sir John Forrest - All that is wanted is a railway of thirty miles from Cooma to Dalgety.

Mr.BROWN. - If the right honorable member is of opinion that a railway from Cooma to Dalgety will satisfy the Commonwealth, what becomes of the great argument as to the necessity for a port? Of what good is a port without connecting railways? Would Victorian members be satisfied to journey right round by Albury and Goulburn ? There is no doubt that if the Capital site be fixed at Bombala, the Victorian people will be asked to incur an expenditure of over £1,000,000 in order to provide reasonable means of communication. That is the estimate made by the expert Commissioners. I am not a Kyabramite to the extent of believing that all expenditure should be cut down to the narrowest limits; . but such great divergence between the estimates ought to have some weight with us in selecting a site. These are not my own figures, but the figures of the expert Commissioners, with the exception of those relating to the harbor, which were supplied by MrOliver. And we must not forget that these figures are placed before us for the purpose of guiding and assisting us in arriving at a decision. If honorable members will turn to page 51 of the Commissioners' report, they will find that, in order to provide prospective railway facilities at Lyndhurst, there must be a total expenditure of £7,353,414. That includes a railway from Wellington to Werris Creek, at £514,576 ; from Warwick to Brisbane, £631,500; from Cobar to South Australia, £1,117,338, and the transcontinental line, costing £5,090,183.

Sir John Forrest - That is a million and a quarter too much for the transcontinental line.

Mr BROWN - I am quoting the report of the expert Commissioners.

Sir John Forrest - According to the latest report, the estimate is £4,050,000.

Mr BROWN - I do not know whether the right honorable member has later reports than have been given to the House.

Sir John Forrest - The engineers have reported since then.

Mr BROWN - Well, let- us reduce the estimate by £1,000,000. In respect of the projected lines, the total cost at Bombala is estimated at £10,000,000; at Tumut, £8,000,000; and Lyndhurst, £6,000,000. According to the expert Commissioners, 288 miles of railway on the Bombala site would cost £2,449,500; while the Lyndhurst extension, of 475 miles, is estimated to cost £1,633,914. The Lyndhurst extension would bring Queensland nearer, by the Werris Creek extension, and would shorten the distance to Adelaide, by the Cobar-Wilcannia and Broken Hill extensions. Those extensions are under the consideration of the State Legislature of New South Wales, quite apart from any considerations of a Federal Capital. The Cobar-Wilcannia line was authorized by . the last Parliament in New South Wales, and the Weiris Creek extension has been under the consideration of the Public Works Committee ; so that both have reached a progressive stage. One condition laid down as essential in a Federal Capital by Sir Samuel Griffith is a suitable climate, and in this connexion, altitude has a very important bearing. When the Tumut site was selected by the last Parliament, the right honorable member for Swan succeeded in. having fixed a minimum altitude of 1,500 feet, below which he considered it would be unwise to locate the Capital.

Mr Skene - That "knocked out" some of the sites.

Mr BROWN - It "knocked out" Lacmalac, Gadara, and Tumut.

Mr Kelly - And Tooma, also.

Mr BROWN - That is so, if Tooma is to be considered a factor. Lyndhurst has an elevation of 2,280 feet; Orange, 2,880 feet; Bathurst, 2,200 feet, or an average for the western sites of 2,453. At Bombala itself the elevation . is 2,400; at Dalgety, 2,650; at Delegete, 2,550; it Coolringdon, 3,000 feet; or an average for the four sites in that district of 2/400 feet. ' Tumut town site has an elevation of 1,000 feet; Gadara, 1,050 feet; Lacmal'ac, 1,050 feet; Ellerslie, 1,300 feet; Mundongo, 1,250 feet. These four sites are under the minimum fixed by the righthonorable member for Swan, the average being 1,150 feet. When we get into the higher country we find that the elevation of Table Top is 2,000 feet; Batlow, 2,550 feet; Wyangle, 1,650 feet; Red Hill and Bondo, 2,500 feet; Toomarrama, 2,350 feet, or an average of 2,210 feet. Now we come to Welaregang. Mr. Chesterman, in his report, gives the average elevation of this site at approximately1,100 feet. If the right honorable member for Swan is still of the opinion he expressed in the last Parliament-

Sir John Forrest - I am.

Mr BROWN - And if the members of the Ministry to which he belonged are still of the same opinion, this Tooma site has no show.

Mr Knox - If the honorable member is correct the map must be wrong.

Mr BROWN - But I am going by Mr. Chesterman's report, and as that is only a few days old, I presume that the gentleman who made it secured the most uptodate information.

Mr Kelly - That country was only explored quite recently.

Mr BROWN - the first expedition from this Parliament visited it only about three weeks ago. I have no desire to be unduly severe in my criticism of other honorable members, but I must say that the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Hume, with respect to this particular site, is most extraordinary when compared with the attitude which the honorable gentleman has adopted with respect to other sites. When this Tooma site was brought forward by the honorable member for Grampians in the last Parliament the honorable member asked the Government to remit it to the expert Commissioners for report. I know that the honorable member strongly im- pressed upon the Minister of Home Affairs at the time the necessity for extending the inquiry of the Commission to that particular site. He spoke to me on the subject, and I told him that I was opposed to all the sites on the border, but that if the Government intended to include Albury I saw no reason why this site at Tooma should, not be included aimongst those on which a report was to be made. It is neither more nor less a border site than is Albury. Why the honorable member for Hume, who previously objected to this site because it was too near the border, should have given his first preferential vote for Albury is a paradox which I cannot pretend to understand.

Mr Kelly - Does the honorable member for Hume now intend to vote for Tumut ?

Mr BROWN - I do not know how the honorable gentleman inlands to vote now. The question of temperature is a very im portant one, and in this connexion I shall not confine myself to the information supplied by the report of the expert Commissioners ; I have also before me the information contained in the very severe, caustic, and, to some extent, deserved, criticism of the Commission's report by the late Mr. Oliver. The figures he quotes are: For Bombala, highest104.1 degrees, lowest 15.3 degrees, and the mean annual shade temperature, 54.3 degrees. For Dalgety, he says that no official records are available, but the expert Commissioners in their special report, at page 2, give these figures for that site; Highest temperature 104 degrees, lowest 14 degrees, mean from 70 degrees to 80 degrees.For Lyndhurst, the figures given are: Mean annual shade temperature 52.2 degrees, highest 98.4 degrees, and lowest 15.4 degrees. For Tumut: Mean annual shade temperature 62 degrees, highest 106 degrees, and lowest 27 degrees. It will be seen that in the matter of temperature the western site shows to very considerable advantage. I wish now to, deal with the question of productivity, and I shall then conclude what I have to say. The expert Commissioners in their report had to consider whether the sites could afford reasonable support , for , a population of 50,000. It will be seen that in their report they give an estimate of the acreage under cultivation, and the productiveness at each of the different sites. They take for Bombala the counties of Auckland and Wellesley, and they give the average atea under cultivation for eight years preceding March, 1903, for the Bombala territory at 12,513 acres, and for Dalgety 33,329 acres, or a total for the district of 45.742 acres. At Tumut the area under cultivation was included in the counties of Buccleuch and Wynyard, and js stated at 33,329 acres. Coming to the western sites, the area under cultivation at Lyndhurst is given at 179,303 acres. I should like the honorable member who told us that Lyndhurst was in a third-rate agricultural district to explain how it is that there were 179,000 acres under cultivation in that district, whilst in the districts which he preferred to it, Tumut and Bombala, there were only 33,000 acres and 45,000 acres respectively under cultivation. In the case of the latter sites the acreage given covers the whole of the sites within the territories mentioned, but . the acreage given for Lyndhurst covers but a small portion of the western territory suggested. We have now to consider the fifty miles radius, and the land under cultivation at Orange was 147,259 acres, and at Bathurst 119,488 acres. So that if we consider Lyndhurst, as including these three sites, there were there 446,050 acres under cultivation. The honorable member who, in the face of that, will say that, it is a poor agricultural district must consider that the men who work the land, and who should be the best judges of farming conditions, are fools. In view of the figures I have given, it must be clear that the contention against the productivity of the western district cannot survive the hard test of facts. When in Sydney same little time ago, I asked the Statistical Department to supply me with last year's figures of production for these districts. The figures referred to in the Commissioners' report were brought up only to 1903. I asked that I should be supplied with figures brought up to 1904 showing' the area under cultivation, and the produce taken from the different sites. From the return supplied to me, I find that Bombala last year produced 42,149 bushels of wheat, and Dalgety 51,317 bushels, or a total of 93,466 bushels for the district. Of maize Bombala produced 274,803 bushels, and Dalgety nil. Of oats Bombala produced 16,009 bushels, and Dalgety 31,014, or a total of 47,023 bushels for the district. The Monaro sites last year produced 93,466 bushels of wheat, 274,803 bushels maize, and 47,023 bushels of oats'. I find that Tumut produced 261,483 bushels wheat, 229,975 bushels maize, and 20,987 bushels of oats. Lyndhurst produced 2,852,859 bushels of wheat, 157,243 bushels of maize, 207,599 bushels of oats. Orange produced 1,408,366 bushels of wheat, 120,496 bushels of maize, and 185,4^ bushels of ' oats. Bathurst produced 1,146,525 bushels of wheat, 93,450 bushels of maize, and 165,047 bushels of oats. The total production of' the western sites was : - Wheat, 5,407,750 bushels; maize, 371,189 bushels; and oats, 558,058 bushels. I ask honorable members if, on the actual facts, they think there is any comparison between the productiveness of' the districts surrounding these three sites. 1 have given the produce of the sites' districts, but it should not be forgotten that Lyndhurst commands the great wheat territory to the west of the particular sites at that place,, and the railway goes through Lyndhurst territory, which carries the wheat from those districts to the Sydney market for export. In New

South Wales we have only 1,500,000 acres under wheat, and yet last year we produced something like 27,000,000 bushels. According to our statisticians we have 20,000,000 acres of land in New South Wales fit for wheat cultivation, and most of it is on the slopes of the western tableland. For convenience, the statisticians divide the State into districts, in making their estimates of wheat production. The highest is the central western district, which is under the dominance of the western sites, and the southern - western, a considerable part of which is under the dominance of the central western sites. The railway, carrying the products from those districts, runs through this central western territory, extending from Orange via Wellington, and Narramine to Nyngan ; from Orange to Molong, Forbes, Parkes, and Condobolin, and a small area on the southern line, embracing Grenfell. On the central- western slopes, which are supplied with railway communication, there were produced last year 7,743,000 bushels, and on the southernwestern slopes 8,798,000 bushels.. The southern border of the central-western slopes is the Lachlan River, and the railway to 1Forbes and Condobolin draws traffic from a considerable area to the south of that river, so that part of the southernwestern slopes, including the counties of Gipps, Forbes, and part of Bland, would furnish supplies for the Federal Territory. Coming now to the question of water supply : If Lyndhurst has been attacked on one point more than on another, it is in regard to this matter. An anonymous communication, signed by one who term? himself "A resident of Carcoar-Garland," and purports to speak from personal knowledge, has been printed in the Bombala Times. In it the statement is made that the water in the district is highly mineralized, and, therefore, unfit for city purposes. I am surprised that any sensible man should give weight to an anonymous communication of that description in preference to the reports of experts. The Capital Sites Commission investigated the matter thoroughly, and they say nothing about the water there being impregnated bv deleterious mineral matter. If, in their opinion, the water in the district was unfit for human use, or to any extent affected by the presence of mineral substances, it would have been their duty to inform us of the fact. Some honorable members have asked why a special analysis of the Lyndhurst water has not been made. But I would point out that analyses of the water at Orange and Bathurst, both of which places are near to Lyndhurst and derive their water supply from practically the same source, have been made. I have tried to ascertain from those who have resided for a long time in the Lyndhurst district, and are well acquainted with it, what modicum of truth lies in the statement to which I have referred, and I have been informed' that the only foundation for it is the fact that a small creek to the south-west of the site, which empties itself into the Belabula River, runs through some limestone country. That creek, however, is not within the proposed catchment area. If honorable members are not satisfied with the reports which we have already obtained from experts, why not have a special analysis of the Lyndhurst water? It has been further stated that the creeks in the district are often dry; butto those who hold the opinion that the water supply there is not permanent, I commend the report of Mr. Pridham, the report of the Commissioners, and, lastly, the report of the right honorable member for Swan, who recently visited the place. If they read those reports they will find that a supply sufficient for 100,000 persons can be brought to the proposed city site by gravitation. The Lyndhurst site is the only one which can be so supplied. Both the Tumut and the Dalgety supplies would have to be obtained by pumping.

Mr Crouch - No; Dalgety would have a gravitation supply.

Mr BROWN - Well, the Bombala supply would have to be pumped. In my opinion, the Government made a wise choice in selecting Mr. Stewart, of South Australia, to deal with Jthe question of water supply. I was in Orange while" he was making his investigations, and I know that he gave his personal attention to the whole matter.- He did not regard the reports of other officers as sufficient, but travelled over the site himself, took his own measurements, and worked out his own estimates. Of course, he had the assistance of Mr. Pridham in checking his calculations. The Commission visited the district when it was suffering from the severest drought ever known since its settlement by white people, and when it showed to greatest disadvantage. Furthermore, for the purposes of their estimate, they took the minimum run-off. . The estimate given, however, is not entirely theirs, but one based upon supplementary estimates of expert officers in the employment of the Government of New South Wales. They do not say that there is no water at Lyndhurst. On the contrary, they say that the catchment area there would, under the most unfavourable conditions, provide a supply sufficient for a city of 100,000 inhabitants, while Mr. Wade says that at a reasonable expenditure a supply can be provided sufficient for the purposes of extensive irrigation, and to meet the requirements of an additional' population of 200,000, or in all 300,000 persons. The right honorable member for Swan referred to the river Lachlan as a stream that could not be regarded as perennial. My acquaintance with that river dates back to a period long prior to that of the visit paid by the right honorable gentleman, tor I was born in the Lachlan valley.

Sir John Forrest - I only quoted the honorable member for Hume. He said the river was dry when he was there - I had not seen it.

Mr BROWN - The right honorable gentleman did not quote a very good authority.

Mr Crouch - Does the honorable member say that the Lachlan contains pure, drinkable water ?

Mr BROWN - Yes. The towns of Forbes, Condobolin,- and Cowra draw their supplies from the Lachlan. That river, in common with most inland rivers, overflows its banks in times of heavy flood, and I have known the low -lying land along the Lachlan valley to be submerged for a distance of twenty miles, on either side of the river bed. The Lachlan basin was described bv some of the early explorers as an inland sea. Very considerable losses are entailed upon farmers and stock-owners by these' inundations. I have seen whole flocks of sheep washed away in a night.

Mr Batchelor - There have been lakes in Australia in places which are now occupied by considerable sandhills, the change having been brought about within three or four years.

Mr BROWN - That does not apply to the country of which I am speaking. The proposal which has been mentioned to lock the river Lachlan and impound a large quantity of water, has been made with a two-fold object. It is intended, first of all, to prevent the land on the lower reaches of the Lachlan from being inundated at times of heavy flood, and secondly, to impound a sufficient quantity of water to enable the river to be maintained at normal level during the drier periods of the year, and to provide for the requirements of irrigationists along the banks of .the stream. The drought of 1902 was the severest ever experienced in that part of the country. It was the worst that I have ever known, and my recollection extends as far back as 1865. In the midst of the drought, the river, instead of being the sand-bed that has been represented, contained a supply of water sufficient to meet the requirements of several large irrigation plants. One station proprietor, at a point about twenty-one miles below Forbes, fed seventy-five sheep per acre throughout the drought, by irrigating land on the banks of the Lachlan with water drawn from the river, and below that point, as far as Cowra, a considerable number of large irrigation plants were kept going continuously. I admit that the large quantities of water drawn off from the river in this way, and impounded in dams that were constructed on the upper part of the stream, caused the river to run dry lower down, but the supply of water was not exhausted for a length pf fully 100 miles. Therefore, the Lachlan could not be truthfully described as dry, and unreliable as a source of water supply.

Mr Crouch - Did the honorable member say that some of the land carried seventy-five sheep to the acre during the drought.

Mr BROWN - Yes. I am speaking of a well authenticated case. The operations were carried out under the supervision of an officer of the Agricultural Department of New South Wales, with a view to demonstrate the advantages of irrigation, and the honorable member may, if he chooses, obtain further particulars by -consulting the official reports from which my information is derived. I do not come here to tell fairy tales, because the facts are sufficient to enable me to establish the claims of Lyndhurst. What did Mr. Wade say with respect to catchment area in connexion with the gravitation scheme mentioned by the Commissioners ? He- said -

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.

Mr. Wade,who is the Chief Engineer of Water Conservation in New South

Wales, pointed out that the Commissioners were well within the mark when they said that 100,000 people could be supplied. Then, dealing with the supplementary scheme, he said -

In addition to these gravitation sources, the Federal Royal Commission suggested the Lachlan River as an additional source of supply by pumping from the storage proposed for irrigation purposes by the State, at Wyangala. It was suggested that a supply for an additional 203,000 could be obtained. . . The Wyangala storage, if carried out to the fullest extent of the proposals for irrigation purposes, will store seventy-eight thousand million gallons,, and be capable of supplying 135 million gallons per day throughout the driest succession of years experienced on the Lachlan, such as 1901-2.

Mr. Wadehas adopted a very safe basis for his calculations, and there need be no fear that his estimates will not be realized. I wish to say that, as the result of my own experience and observation, from the point of view of productiveness, and of the possibility of founding a city from its own latent resources, no site submitted for our consideration can compare with the western sites. I think I have amply demonstrated that, by showing the very wide margin which exists between them and other sites so far as productiveness and the areas under cultivation are concerned. That is an item which is worthy of very serious consideration. 'From the stand-point of splendid panoramic country, the Orange site stands unrivalled. On the other hand, for scenic beauty, in the shape of high snow-capped mountains, Tooma probably excels all others, whilst Dalgety undoubtedly would furnish the best water supply. But I would point out that we are not called upon to select a site simply on account of its water supply, or because it is within seventeen or thirty miles of snow-capped mountains. It must possess other qualifications. On the grounds of centrality, accessibility, general climatic conditions, altitude, facilities for defence, and of a reasonable water supply, I think I have shown, that the western site is at least deserving of very serious consideration at the hands of honorable members. I trust that the Committee will not say that because this site happens to be only seven hours distant by rail from Sydney, and eleven hours' journey from Melbourne, it should not be considered. I claim that the spirit of the Constitution, as well as its letter, should be respected. I trust that we shall make a selection which will justify our wisdom, not only to the present generation, but to the generations to come.

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