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Thursday, 4 August 1904


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I am aware that this debate must close to-night, and, therefore, I shall occupy only a very few minutes. I do not desire to give a silent vote, because I regard this question as one of great importance to the Commonwealth. The sooner it is settled the better it will be for the Federal Parliament and the community generally. Much time was occupied in the discussion of this matter during last session, when strong feeling was manifested, particularly as between the representatives of New South Wales and Victoria. I hope that on the present occasion none of that feeling will be evinced, though I am afraid that the result of the present discussion will be very much the same as it was then. It appears to me that some of the Victorian members would like to delay the settlement of the question as long as possible, or, failing that, to have the Capital city on the Victorian border. That has evidently been the object aimed at by the Victorian members in both sessions. The 100-miles limit was 'arrived at as a compromise, because there was an unwillingness in both of the States to have the Capital at either Melbourne or Sydney. In agreeing to that compromise, I am sure that no member of the Premiers' Convention thought for- a moment that it was of such a nature as to lead to the establishment of the Federal Capital on the Victorian border. The meaning of it was that the Federal Capital should be established within a reasonable distance of the 100- miles limit from Sydney.


Mr Frazer - How can the honorable member say that?


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I am perfectly satisfied that that was the intention, and it never could have been contemplated that the Capital would be established on the banks of the Murray, or the Snowy River, or on the Australian Alps.


Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Or at Lyndhurst.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Lyndhurst is the proper place for it. I may say that when the question was last before us for settlement, I voted in the first instance for Armidale, and I very- much regret that Armidale is not to-day in the running.


Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - More provincialism.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Armidale would be a most suitable place for the Federal Capital. I expect to be able to convince the honorable member for Capricornia presently, and on Tuesday next I shall certainly claim his vote for Lyndhurst. I voted for that site when the question was last before this Parliament. The speech delivered by the honorable member for Macquarie, in which that honorable member dwelt upon the many advantages which Lyndhurst possesses over all the other sites, and Mr. Wade's report, have confirmed me in the conviction that Lyndr, hurst is the proper place for the Federal Capital. There are two qualifications which should be specially considered in coming to a decision with regard to the Federal Capital site - the climatic conditions, and the possession of an abundant 'supply of good and wholesome water. If there is one consideration of more importance than another in the establishment of a city, great or small, it is that there shall be an abundance of pure water available at all times. In my opinion it has been proved beyond doubt that the district of Lynd- hurst possesses such a supply. It has a further advantage in possessing good soil, as was proved to-night by the honorable member for Canobolas from the figures he quoted, showing a production of wheat, maize, and oats greater than thatof 'Bombala, Dalgety, Tumut, or any of the other areas.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member was not satisfied with generalities ; he gave actual quantities.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member gave quantities, details, and figures for every statement he made. He gave proof beyond the possibility pf dispute. I am aware that many members of the Committee are not prepared to entertain the idea of any site north of Sydney ; but I still say that it would be wise to establish the Federal Capital north of Sydney. Mr. Sawers, then member for New England, placed before this Parliament some very interesting figures, which went to prove that the population of Australia forty years hence will be much greater north than south of Sydney. It would, perhaps, not be out of place if I were to refresh the memories of honorable members with respect to those figures. Mr. Sawers said -

If honorable members draw an imaginary linefrom a few miles south of Sydney, due west, I venture to predict that in 100 years' timethe area of New South Wales north of that particular line and Queensland will contain at least three. fourths of the population of the Commonwealth. That opinion is based not merely upon my own knowledge of the magnificent area in northern New South Wales, and my profound belief in the great future before the State of Queensland, but is backed up by a report presented by a Committee of Statisticians to the Federal Convention on the question of the trend of population. The members of the Committee were unbiased, and their opinions may surely be regarded with some respect. I admit that what they predicted is not likely to happen quite as rapidly as they believed, because they did not take into account the possibility that such an overwhelming and disastrous drought as Australia has passed through recently would seriously retard settlement for a time. What was the opinion of those gentlemen? They reported that in a period of thirty-eight years from the date of their report the population of Australia would be as follows : - New South Wales,8,000,000 ; Queensland, 7,500,000; Victoria, 4,000,000; and South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania combined, 2,500,000.


Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Sheep?


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - No ; white people who I hope will be in Australia at that time. Mr. Sawers went on to say -

I allow a few more years, and I say those gentlemen contemplated that within fifty years the portion of New South Wales north of the line I ask honorable members to draw in imagination, from a little south of Sydney to Broken Hill, and Queensland would contain fully twothirds of the population of the Commonwealth. If. that is a fair estimate, it is shown that the great. State of Queensland will within fifty years have double the population of Victoria. Although honorable members representing Victoria may think Melbourne at present the hub of Australia - and they always do- and that their convenience is of paramount importance, I conceive it to be an unanswerable, argument that the trend of population will inevitably be northwards ; and that Queensland within little more than a generation will contain double the population of the great and thriving State of Victoria. To go further, though honorable members may say that one is romancing, and is looking a little too far ahead, I believe that within 100 years . three-fourths of the population of Australia will be found in the north of New South Wales and in Queensland.

There can be no doubt that the trend of population is to the north.


Sir John Forrest - It has been west during the last year or two.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - It has from Victoria. I aim aware that Victoria has lost a large portion of her population, and that many Victorians have settled in Western Australia, but some, I am afraid, have disappeared altogether.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That does not decrease the northern population.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Quite so. The bulk of the population of the Commonwealth will, in the future, be north of Sydney, and we have a right to, consider what is likely to be the position of the Commonwealth in this respect. In the interests of the future welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, T shalL give a vote for Lyndhurst, and I hope the supporters of that site will be successful this time. Honorable members will probably remember that on the, last occasion Lyndhurst was in the last ballot, and if it had not been that honorable members, who had lost Bombala, voted for Tumut, Lyndhurst would have been the site selected, and the whole question would have been settled by this time.


Sir John Forrest - We should have had to get the Senate to agree to Lyndhurst.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - We could,- perhaps, have brought some influence to bear upon the Senate to induce honorable senators to agree to the decision of the House of Representatives.


Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Honorable members are going in the: right way to hang up the question.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I have no intention of trying to influence the honorable member for Capricornia, or .....7 of the representatives of Queensland. I shall not attempt anything of that kind, but I have no hesitation in saying il-at, in the interests of the large population that will inhabit the immense territory north of Sydney in the near future, every representative from Queensland should vote in favour of Lyndhurst. I desire to say that I do not agree with the proposal of the Government that we should demand an area of 900 square miles.


Mr Batchelor - That will be discussed on the next clause.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I cannot see what possible object the Federal .Parliament can have in deciding that the area of the Federal Territory shall be 900 square miles. In my opinion, 100 square miles would be sufficient, though, if the justification were shown, I should be prepared to consent to the acquisition of an area of 200 square miles. I sincerely hope that the Government of New South Wales will not entertain ' an application for 900 square miles. Even 100 square miles would be a larger area5 than that of the district of Columbia, in which Washington, the Capital of the "United States, is situated. A friend of mine. Captain Russell, who resided in America for some time, and is well acquainted with the country, writing from Brisbane a month or two ago, has given me. the following information, which I will read for the benefit of honorable members: -

The capital of the United States is Washington,, in the district' of Columbia. The district of Columbia is situated in latitude 38 degrees 53 minutes north, and longitude 77 degrees west, on the border line of the two States - West Virginia and Maryland - and the city of Washington, the capital proper, is situated at about the centre of the district. The area of the district of Columbia was originally 100 square miles, but thirty miles were receded to Virginia in 1846, thus leaving the present area seventy square miles. The population of the United States in 1846 was 23,000,000, now about 82,000,000.

The Government of the district of Columbia is vested by Act of Congress, approved-nth June, 1878, in three Commissioners, two of whom are appointed by the President from citizens of the district, having had three years' residence therein immediately preceding their appointment, and confirmed by the Senate. The other ' Commissioner is detailed by the President of the United States from the Corps of Engineers of the United

States Army, and must have lineal rank, or be a captain who . has served . at least fifteen years in the Corps of Engineers of the Army.

The Commissioners appoint the subordinate official service of said Government.

Washington had a municipal government from 1802 to 1871. By : an Act approved 21st February, 1871, Congress provided a territorial form of government for the entire district of Columbia, with a governor, secretary, board of public -Works and council, appointed by the President of the United States, and a House of Delegates, and a delegate in Congress elected by the citizens of the said district.

This form of government was abolished 20th June, 1874, and a temporary government by three Commissioners substituted.

The temporary form of government' was succeeded by the present form of government,1st July, 1878.

Congress makes all laws for the district, but has intrusted to the Commissioners authority to make police regulations, building regulations, plumbing regulations, and other regulations of a municipal nature.

I am very anxious that this question shall be settled, though I fear that the result of its consideration by Parliament will be similar to that which was obtained last session. The honorable member for Kooyong suggested that it might be decided by a Committee, consisting of Supreme Court Judges, and a Judge of the High Court. No doubt all the' information for and against each of the proposed sites has been laid before the , Committee, so that every honorable member must be thoroughly -aware of their advantages and disadvantages. I would therefore suggest . that if we' fail 'to come to a decision next week, a Committee of ten members should be chosen by ballot, six being taken from the House of Representatives, one, for each State, and three from the Senate, and that, in addition the Prime Minister should act as Chairman. I am aware that the Constitution does not provide for the appointment of such a body, but, judging from the experience of last session, I think that the two Houses are not likely to agree as to a suitable site. I hope, however, that my predictions will not be fulfilled, and that the matter will be satisfactorily settled for all time.







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