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Tuesday, 9 August 1904

The CHAIRMAN - There was no order of leave granted in this case.

Mr REID - I am not discussing the order of leave. My object is to point out that this particular clause is not relevant to the scope of the Bill. If, in this measure, which has been introduced for the purpose of determining the site of- the Seat of Government, we dealt with the question of the kind of Houses of Parliament which should be erected there, or with the expenditure to which their erection should be limited, I should consider such stipulations foreign to . its scope. If these rules are not observed, we can put anything in the world in a Bill. In a measure to determine the Seat of Government, we might introduce a clause which was designed to alter the criminal law. ' Of course the rules of parliamentary procedure are intended to prevent such abuses of legislation. Every Bill is supposed to be confined to the subjects which are relevant to its objects. I consider that this stipulation that the Federal territory shall contain an area of 900 square miles put in the form of an express condition, the effect of which is that we shall have no Capital Site unless that area can be secured, is irrelevant to the scope of the measure. If, with this provision in the

Bill, the Government approached the Government of New South Wales and effected an admirable arrangement for the acquisition of 850 square miles of the best territory of that State, they would be obliged to return to Parliament and ask for its repeal. On the other hand, if we merely express an opinion that the Federal Territory should contain not less than 900 square miles, the Government will not be hampered in that way. I object to the clause in its entirety. I should like our views upon this matter to be put in a form in which they would express our opinion without making use of imperative language. If, instead of the words " and shall contain an area not less than 900 square miles," we provided "and it is desirable that the area of such territory should be not less than 900 square miles " the clause would be absolutely clear as an expression of opinion on the part of the Committee, and theGovernment would know exactly what area we thought should be acquired. In that event, however, if an area of 800 square miles were offered the Government would be free to accept it.

Mr Crouch - If the right honorable member were Prime Minister he would be content with an area of 100 square mites.

Mr REID - What is the use of the honorable and learned member talking of what I would do if I were Prime Minister, when on every occasion that there is a chance of my obtaining that office he votes against me and against his own convictions. I am only one of the humble leaders of the Opposition.

Mr Hutchison - Long may the honorable member remain so.

Mr REID - A number of my best friends say the same, although they are influenced by an opposite motive. If the Committee merely desires to express its opinion in a courteous way it should agree to the amendment which I have suggested.

Mr Higgins - Would the substitution of the word " should " for " shall " do?

Mr REID - It would be an improvement, but would be rather within the category of language which I think unfortunate. The Committee would express its views just as clearly if the amendment which I suggest were made, and the Government would have a much better chance of being liberally dealt with than they would if we approached New South Wales with a club and said, "We shall have 900 square miles of territory." It is only a mere question of verbiage. If we were at the end of our negotiations - if the Commonwealth Government found that they were met in an unfair way, that the response of the Government of New South Wales to their friendly overtures was couched in unreasonable and dictatorial language - then no one would object to their asserting their manhood and independence by employing words of equal strength. But I do not wish dictatorial and domineering language to be introduced at the beginning of what we hope will be friendly negotiations. If I went to the Attorney-General in a friendly way to settle a matter in which he had some voice, I should not begin by saying - "Look here, Mr. Attorney-General, you must give me so and- so." If I did the Attorney-General would reply - " Now, Mr. Reid, do not you think we had better leave fighting to some other time ? Had we not better see if we cannot meet in a friendly way, without using the word ''must ' or ' shall ' " ? Every man of common-sense would say at once if I were to adopt such an attitude - " What sort of a man is he to conduct negotiations when he blunders at the start by insulting the other party"?

Mr Wilks - The use of the word " should " would be better ; it is not so imperative as " shall."

Mr REID - I should not object to the use of the word " should." It would certainly be a vast improvement, for although it is a strong word, it is not dictatorial. A man might say - " It is my opinion, and the area should be 900 square miles " ; but if he said - " It is my opinion, and it shall be 900 squaremiles," he would, in effect, at once introduce the shillelah. This is after all a mere phrase, but I should not take up the time of the Committee in discussing it if I did not think there was something in my objection. We do not wish to expose ourselves to criticism by the use of language which is unnecessary. It is open to us to express our views just as clearly without the use of an ultimatum. The interests involved in the working together of the Commonwealth and a State in a friendly way are surely much greater than are those at issue when two dealers are haggling over a bargain of£50. If hagglers over the smallest . bargains begin their negotiations with courtesy, I think we might well emulate their example in dealing with our national affairs. In this particular case, we are not legislating for the Commonwealth. The use of the word " shall " is perfectly proper when the Commonwealth wishes to impose a law relating to matters within its own jurisdiction ; but in this Bill we are dealing with something different. We are approaching New South Wales in a matter of mutual concern, and with a desire to arrive at a mutually friendly settlement. This is not an enactment, but an expression of opinion as to what we think desirable. A man may hold as firmly as he pleases to h|is opinions without commencing his negotiations in an at all offensive way. I therefore throw out this suggestion to the Government. The clause will be discussed for some little time, and there will be ample opportunity for the Government to think over my proposal. I. should be extremely glad if the Government would even go so far as to introduce the word " should " in place of the word "shall." If that amendment were made, we should give clear expression to our opinion without using language which, to say the least, would be unfriendly, before the merits of the question came to be discussed. As to the substantial point at issue, I am against so large an area as 900 square miles being taken from New South Wales, unless that State itself agrees to give it. If New South Wales were willing to part with 900 square miles of territory, my objection would not be so great; but I should still think that it would be a misfortune for the Commonwealth to become entangled in the control of a larger area of territory than is necessary for the exact purposes of the Federal Capital. That would be a mistake. If we acquired so large an area we should find ourselves in the same position as is Congress in relation to Washington. So far as the people living within the boundaries of the Federal territory are concerned, the Parliament of the United States has to play the part of a municipality; it has to pass municipal laws, as if it were a municipal council. There is no municipal council there.

Mr King O'malley - The territory is under five Commissioners.

Mr REID - But under the direct control of Congress.

Mr King O'Malley - They have no municipal council ; the whole business is run on military lines.

Mr REID - Exactly ; but the Congress of the United States is the legislative body. The Commissioners administer the territory under the Government of the United

States. I doubt the wisdom of the Federal Government entangling itself in matters relating to municipal government.

Mr Batchelor - We should have to do that even if we secured an area of only 1 00 square miles.

Mr REID - The smaller the area the less irksome would be the task.

Mr Batchelor - But the same machinery would be necessary.

Mr Higgins - We have more power to make laws for the Federal territory than has Congress, to make laws for the Federal territory of the United States. Under the Constitution we may give representation to the Federal territory, and make laws relating not merely to municipal matters.

Mr REID - Perhaps so. That would represent a different state of things. I wish to point out that I am not speaking of any voluntary agreement - by mutual agreement the territory piay be as large as we like - but of our view of the matter, subject to the opinion of New South Wales. We must not forget that when the bargain was made it was a bargain for a Federal territory, for one purpose only - a Federal territory, as the home of the Federal Capital. If it had been whispered to the people of New South Wales that under the bargain by which that State agreed to find room for a Federal city we were to obtain room for experiments in land systems - to split up the territory of New South Wales in order that certain views, sound or unsound, might be-

Mr Watson - What sort of experiments could we make in an area of 900 square miles? It is ridiculous to suggest such a thing.

Mr REID - Is it not ridiculous to urge in support of the proposal that an area of 900 square miles shall be acquired that we desire to have room to make experiments in land legislation ?

Mr Watson - I have never suggested anything of the kind ; I have merely supported the acquiring of an area of 900 square miles, because of a belief that we should retain the unearned increment to the Commonwealth. It is not with a view to experimenting that I support the taking over of so large an area.

Mr REID - Quite so ; but the honorable gentleman will understand that such remarks have been made?

Mr Batchelor - By the other side.

Mr REID - I do not say that the Government have expressed such views; but I think that the supporters of the clause as it stands gave it as one of their reasons for suggesting that we should acquire-

Mr Batchelor - 20,000 square miles.

Mr Wilks - Why not make these experiments in British New Guinea?

Mr REID - I think we had better experiment with some of these schemes in British New Guinea. There would be an abundance of room for them, and a certain amount of glory would attach to the work. I wish that the Minister of External Affairs would go to British New Guinea and talk to the savages there about the unearned increment.

Mr Hughes - I propose to go up there and address them on that subject.

Mr REID - Then the honorable and learned gentleman will have a big military force handy. The unearned increment ! That is a rather vague expression, which might be applied to a very large area. We might apply it to the whole of New South Wales.

Mr Watson - It is very small.

Mr REID - It was an argument used in support of the proposal to bury the Capital at Tooma. It is suggested that we shall obtain such an enormous advantage that the further we go from Sydney the better the bargain will be. I know, of course, that the Prime Minister does not suggest anything of the kind. The House may desire to see a large area secured ; but we must not forget that the bargain did not contemplate anything but provision for accommodating the Federal Capital. Nothing beyond that was included in the compact. The moment we enter upon questions as to the unearned increment we may extend the- area in a very indefinite way.

Mr Watson - The increment of value will not extend more than ten or fifteen miles in either direction.

Mr REID - I do not know. That might be an argument for acquiring far more than 100 square miles of territory, especially if the land belonged to some one else. I think the Attorney-General will admit that if the expression in the Constitution, " not less than100 square miles," be submitted to the Court, it will not be held to be so elastic that under it we may take as much more as we please. . I do not think that legal construction is so loose as to allow of that interpretation where the property of another is to be taken. I do not, however, expect the Attorney-General to at once give me an opinion on that question. An area of 100 square miles would be a thoroughly reasonable one for the purposes of the Federal Capital. It is, of course, a mere matter of opinion; I may be absolutely wrong, and those who think that an area of 900 square miles should be acquired may be correct ; but, whatever our opinions may be, the shortest way to secure what we desire, is to begin by treating the person with whom we have to deal in as courteous a way as possible.

Mr Hughes - If we are to acquire an area of only 100 square miles, there will be no occasion to strike out the word " shall," because the Constitution provides that the area " shall " not be less than 100 square miles.

Mr REID - I feel sure that the majority of the Committee is quite against the view that an area of only 100 square miles should be acquired ; but it is unnecessary to use the word " shall."

Mr Hughes - The use of the word would not be considered discourteous.

Mr REID - I have never said that it is discourteous to ask for an area of 900 square miles. All that I say is that when one is asking a man to give him something, it is discourteous to say, "You shall give me such and such a thing." It is proposed to say to New South Wales, " You shall give us 900 square miles of territory."

Mr Hughes - It is proposed to acquire that area.

Mr REID - But a grant is involved.

Mr Batchelor - The area is to be granted or acquired.

Mr REID - The Constitution provides that-

Such territory shall contain - the word " shall " is used there in one sense - an area of not less than 100 square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands - there " shall " is used in another sense - shall be granted to the Commonwealth - that is absolute - without any payment therefor.

Mr Batchelor - Is there an area of 100 square miles of Crown lands or anything like it in the proposed Federal territory ?

Mr REID - There are Crown lands in the proposed Federal area, and whether they comprise an area of 100 square miles or of 900 square miles, they are to be given to the Commonwealth.

Mr Batchelor - But, as a matter of fact, the Crown lands there do not represent anything like 100 square miles.

Mr.REID. - I do not say for a moment that they do. I do not think that we should find an area of 100 square miles of Crown land in any possible site for a Federal Capital; but if there be only one or fifty square miles of Crown land within the territory the land is to be given to us without payment, although it may be the most valuable inthat part of the State. It might consist of a timber or a water reserve, for various reserves are to be found, and they sometimes comprise the best land that is left. If we were asking a man to give us a sheet of note-paper and some envelopes, we should address him in courteous terms; we should not say, "You shall give us a sheet of note-paper and six envelopes." That is an illustration of the point that I desire to emphasize. It is a mere matter of expressing our opinion in a courteous way. I hope that the Government will give effect to the view which I have expressed. It is easy to say "shall." We can all say "shall." But people who begin with " shall " often end differently. Amongst the civilized nations the word "shall" is generally used when negotiations have been broken off. I sincerely hope that the Government will consider the suggestion which I have made, which enables those who believe in having an area of 900 square miles, to express their opinion just as forcibly, though not in mandatory language. Personally, as I have said, I am altogether against the 900 square miles area, but on that point I feel that I am in a minority. I believe that the majority of the Committee is against me.

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