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Tuesday, 9 August 1904

Mr CROUCH (Corio) - I do not understand why a radius of seventeen miles has been decided upon by the Government. As the Minister of Home Affairs has pointed out that the radius proposed will embrace an area of 900 square miles, I desire to know whether the territory comprised within that area has any relation to the 900 square miles mentioned in clause 3 ?

Mr Batchelor - None at all.

Mr CROUCH - I shall vote for the amendment, upon the understanding that I do not subsequently limit myself to that territory. My desire is that the Commonwealth shall possess a port of its own. It was for that reason that I voted for Dalgety.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. WEBSTER(Gwydir).- I move-

That after the word " of," in the words inserted, the word "Welaregang" be inserted.

I do so because of the alteration which has been made in the radius within which the Seat of Government shall be selected. It has now been fixed at seventeen miles. The Tooma and Welaregang sites are identical. The former name has been used by honorable members during this debate, merely because it is that of the township adjacent to the- site, and is better known to honorable members because it is the terminal point of the visits which they paid to that district. I hold that a serious injustice will be done, not only to the people of to-day, but to those of the future, if we do not select the site which is superior, on account of its situation. In spite of all the reports which have been submitted for our consideration - and I have read them very carefully - I claim that the Welaregang site, or one within a radius of seventeenmiles of it, would afford a unique position for the Federal Capital. In discussing" the relative merits of the Tooma and Dalgety sites, I need not recapitulate the statements which I made upon a previous occasion. The climatic conditions obtaining at the two places constitute a most material difference between them. Moreover, the land adjacent to the. Welaregang site is of better quality, and consequently far more productive than is that in the neighbourhood of Dalgety. These two factors have weighed very strongly with me in inducing, me to conclude that the former site is preferable to the latter. Some honorable members affirm that the Commonwealth should possess a port of its own. If it be possible for us to secure a port- and I believe it is very improbable that we can obtain a port in connexion with the Seat of Government in the Southern Monaro district - I hold that no honorable member can express a definite opinion as to the expenditure which will be required to establish it, and to construct a railway to it. In my judgment, the possession of a port is not so essential to the Seat of Government as some honorable members appear to think. I believe that its possession would render the Capital more easy of attack than it would otherwise be.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Whereabouts at Tooma is there a port?

Mr WEBSTER - I am not speaking of a port at Tooma. The honorable member has a habit of misconstruing the remarks of others.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I merely put the question to the honorable member; there was a possibility of misunderstanding.

Mr WEBSTER - If the honorable member were speaking there would be a still greater possibility of misapprehension;

Mr Austin Chapman - Are we to have another general discussion?

Mr WEBSTER - I intend to express my opinions with regard to the relative merits of Tooma and Dalgety, and, if the opportunity offers, to vote for the better of those sites. If the Federal Capital were connected by railway with a port close at hand, which would be open to attack by an enemy, it would be exposed to great danger - to "a danger which would not exist if the Capital were situate at Welaregang. I trust that a realization of the danger of having a port close at hand will deter honorable members from selecting Dalgety as against Tooma. It is also important that consideration should be -given to the climatic conditions of the, several sites. I have made inquiries from relatives and others who have lived in the Monaro district, and havebeen informed by them that the weather there is intensely cold, and that the winds are almost penetrating in their keenness. Surely honorable members are not anxious to select a site at which they could not reasonably reside for several months in the year. That would be the position if the Capital were established at Dalgety.- At Tooma, however, the climate, in both summer and winter, is ideal, and, so far as I am aware, is unequalled by that of any other part of Australia. I trust that honorable members will recognise that we have to considernot our own personal comfort, but the desirableness of selecting a site which will cause the Capital to be attractive to tourists and others. If the Capital were situated in a picturesque spot, many persons would be induced to visit it from time to time, and in that way we should secure, an increased railway revenue which would assist in the payment of interest on the cost of the railway to the Capital, or on the cost of the establishment of the Federal city itself. Tooma has a water supply, which, in its volume, purity, and permanency, is equal to that of Dalgety, and it has so many other essential elements that I feel that I am doing my duty to the State from which I come in recommending that it be selected. I do not wish to labour this question, because I have already dealt fully with the . Tooma site, but I submit the amendment in order that the Committee may have an opportunity to arrive at a decision that will be in the best interests of all.

Mr Crouch - I desire to know, Mr. Chairman, whether the amendment is in order, as I understand that the Welaregang site is not within the South-Eastern District, which the House has selected by ballot. If honorable members turn to the resolution passed on the 27th ultimo, determining the method of selection, they will fmd that it provides that -

.   . A further ballot shall then be taken on the names of the remaining . sites, and the name of the site receiving the majority of votes shall be reported to the House by the Speaker, and such site shall be deemed to be the site preferred by honorable members. . . The House shall thereupon resolve itself into a Committee of the whole on the Bill.

The Standing Orders were suspended, and it seems to me thatwe can work only within the authority of the House, and that the resolution as to the method of procedure is binding.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - On the point of order I submit that the taking of the ballot has been practically a mere waste of time. That ballot had no necessary reference to the Bill, and there is nothing in the resolution to which the honorable and learned member has referredwhich relates to the measure now before us. It is open to the Committee to reverse all that we have done by the process of the ballot. The ballotdid not take place in the House, and does not bind us in any way. A certain method of procedure was adopted, purely for the convenience of honorable members, and the Committee is not bound or limited bv it in any way.

The CHAIRMAN - The point of order raised is that the Committee is bound by the result of the ballot. I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the Committee has no official cognizance of a ballot, and that we are dealing with the Bill now before us in the ordinary way. As the honorable member for Parramatta has said, the Standing Orders were suspended for the convenience of honorable members, and to conserve the time of the House. It will be competent for an honorable member to move any amendment, either on this clause or any other clause of the Bill, provided that it is in accordance with the Standing Orders.

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