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Tuesday, 9 August 1904


Mr BATCHELOR - Up to this stage the Government have treated the Bill as an open question. But the Government do not treat the matter of area as an open question by any means. They are in favour of acquiring an area of 900 square miles, as proposed in the Bill.


Mr Wilks - Do they want a model territory or a model Capital?


Mr BATCHELOR - If the honorable member will curtail his impatience he will hear what we want. There has never been any desire on the part of this Government to start a new territory or a new State. An area of 900 square miles would make a very poor sort of territory or State for Australia. One could ride through that extent of country on a bicycle, or in a motor-car, in a little over an hour. The honorable member for Wentworth would probably get through it in less than that time.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And without a fine.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do I understand the honorable gentleman to say that the Government will insist upon this area?


Mr BATCHELOR - It is not an open question, as theother provisions of the Bill were.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But do they insist upon 900 square miles?


Mr BATCHELOR - The honorable member is surely misunderstanding me intentionally. I say that the Government do not treat this as an open question. The Government treated the question as to where the Seat of Government should be entirely as an open one.


Mr Austin Chapman - TheGovernment divided to conquer, but on this question they unite to conquer.


Mr BATCHELOR - Now, we unite to conquer. The Government consider that not less than the 900 square miles should be taken. When I say " taken," I mean that that area should be selected - should be comprised within territory to be acquired by or granted to the Commonwealth Government for the establishment of the Seat of Government. The right honorable member for East Sydney stated that this measure was declaratory ; that it was not an enacting measure. Of course that is true. It does not really enact anything. It is a direct expression of the opinion of the Committee, and an instruction to the Government. It is a basis of negotiation on which the Government must take action.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It ought to have been expressed in a resolution not in an Act of Parliament.


Mr BATCHELOR - That consideration is immaterial now.


Mr Isaacs - It is quite right in the form of a Bill.


Mr BATCHELOR - It is an instruction to the Government to negotiate for 900 square miles.


Mr Reid - Not to negotiate ; it says that we must have it. They cannot take less.


Mr BATCHELOR - Of course, the Government cannot come to a final agreement, in any case.


Mr Wilks - It is a declaration at the point of a revolver to New South Wales.


Mr BATCHELOR - It is nothing of the kind. This Parliament will ultimately have to decide upon the area to be acquired.


Mr Reid - Oh, no; surely the Government will give New South Wales a word about an acre or so.


Mr BATCHELOR - Did not the right honorable member hear me say " ultimately " ? We cannot delegate our powers to the New South Wales Parliament, and this Parliament cannot delegate its powers altogether to the Government.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is this Bill for?


Mr BATCHELOR - It is a starting point for negotiations with New South Wales, in which this House lays down in no uncertain terms the area which it thinks desirable.


Mr Reid - The Bill does not say " desirable."


Mr BATCHELOR - Is not any resolution of this House, or any measure that we pass, an expression of the opinion of the House ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a Bill to " determine " the Seat of Government.


Mr BATCHELOR - Yes ; it is a Bill to determine where the ' Seat of Government shall be; and within that Bill to determine the site, we also say that the territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth shall contain an area of not less than 900 square miles. As far as the language of the measure goes - that is to say so far as concerns the objection that it is altogether too mandatory to use the word "shall"- the Government really do not feel very strongly on the point.


Mr Isaacs - What other word could we use if we wish to enact?


Mr BATCHELOR - We cannot directly enact by this measure.


Mr Isaacs - But we do enact. We cannot take the land, but we enact the will of this Parliament that the territory shall consist of such an area.


Mr BATCHELOR - Yes; that is the light in which the matter has been regarded throughout.


Mr Isaacs - The Government cannot alter a word of the Bill when it is- passed.


Mr BATCHELOR - I do not think it matters greatly whether the word " shall " or the word " should " is used.


Mr Johnson - The Constitution says that the Parliament shall determine " the Seat of Government," but not the territory.


Mr BATCHELOR - All that we are able to do is to say that we wish to obtain 900 square miles for the purposes of the Seat of Government, and we do not de sire to adopt any method of placing our views before the Government of New South Wales that may be considered by them to be unnecessarily offensive.


Mr Isaacs - Do the Government say , that the Bill might read that the Seat of Government " should be " at Dalgety ?


Mr BATCHELOR - Certainly not.


Mr Isaacs - Why not?


Mr BATCHELOR - The Seat of Government " shall be " at Dalgety.


Mr Isaacs - Why is not that as offensive as the other phrase?


Mr Johnson - Because the Constitution gives us the power to determine the Seat of Government ; but it does not give us the power to say that we shall have 900 square miles.


Mr BATCHELOR - As a matter of fact, as I have said, I do not think it matters very much whether we use the term " shall " or "should " in this Bill, so long as it is recognised that it is an instruction to the Government to negotiate on these lines for 900 square miles. The word cannot make any difference, because the terms which the Government will adopt in approaching New South Wales will be precisely the same in either case.


Mr Reid - Then the Government will be more polite than their masters. Why should we not be as polite as the Government are going to.be?


Mr BATCHELOR - This question was debated at some length on the occasion when the Seat of Government Bill was under consideration during the last Parliament. A vote was taken on this very point - whether the word " shall " or the word " should " should be used; and I find that a majority of eighteen decided in favour of the word " should," which was substituted for " shall."


Mr Crouch - Then, why did the Government use the word "shall " in this Bill?


Mr BATCHELOR - The measure came down from the Senate in this form. I might point out that amongst those who voted in favour of the word " should," were the Prime Minister and several honorable members who are now sitting on this side of the Chamber. Consequently, the word " shall " was eliminated as being too mandatory. In my opinion, the chief reason for adopting the word " should " as against " shall " is that it is more likely to lead to an early satisfactory result. Because there has been, and appears to be, on the part of New South. Wales, an idea that this Commonwealth Parliament is anxious - to adopt an expression which has been used in some quarters - to plunder New South Wales of a portion of her territory.


Mr Wilks - The representative of the Government in the Senate last session asked for 20,000 square miles.


Mr BATCHELOR - That honorable gentleman stated this session that he was still in favour of 20,000 square miles, but that does -not prove that this Parliament, or this Government, are in favour of asking for 20,000 square miles.


Mr Kelly - Did not this Bill originate with Senator McGregor?


Mr BATCHELOR - The honorable member knows perfectly well who introduced the Bill in the Senate.


Mr Wilks - That statement was enough to frighten New South Wales.


Mr BATCHELOR - The honorable member knows that no such request was made by this Parliament, or this Government, nor was it made by any section of this House. Because one member of the Senate-


Mr Wilks - The representative of the Government.


Mr BATCHELOR - He was not the representative of the Government then. The Government was not in existence at that time. I want to say a few words as to the reason why a larger area is suggested. It has been stated that this provision will deprive New South Wales of a large part of her territory. In speaking on the second reading of "the Bill I said that 900 square miles was only the size of a moderate sheep or cattle run. I say again that it is nothing more than that. Nine hundred square miles is thirty miles by thirty. It is by no means a large extent of territory. New South Wales, during periods of her history, has parted with very much more extensive areas. ' The State of Victoria was a portion of New South' Wales at one time. It is nearly 90,000 square miles in extent. Queensland was also a portion of New South Wales. It is 600,000 square miles in extent. There is more outcry over the 900 square miles that it is now proposed to take jointly, on behalf of all the States, including New South Wales, than there was over the cession of 600,000 square miles when .the State of Queensland- was formed.


Mr Johnson - The outcry is about the demand for the area.


Mr Spence - The outcry is only amongst a few politicians, and is raised for party purposes.


Mr BATCHELOR - It has been said that New South Wales will suffer a very great deprivation. It was pointed out during the second-reading debate that the unimproved value of the alienated land within a radius of seventeen miles of Dalgety is .£352,000. The value of the land with improvements is ,£460,200.


Mr Ewing - What is the value of the Crown land?


Mr BATCHELOR - 1 do not know, but we can be pretty certain that the value of the Crown land will be very much less than the value of the alienated land. Those are the valuations for taxation purposes. What really will be the effect of the Commonwealth taking over this territory? The Crown lands not now in occupation will be handed over as a free gift to the Commonwealth, but really all that New South Wales will part with is the jurisdiction over this territory.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the revenue from taxation.


Mr BATCHELOR - The power of taxation j but against the revenue from taxation there is expenditure to be considered, ' and the honorable member must see that the corollary to the power of taxation is the expenditure of the public funds of New South Wales on roads, bridges, school houses, and other such Government works.


Mr Lonsdale - It is very great just there.


Mr Watson - It is considerably more than the revenue.


Mr BATCHELOR - The revenue must be precious little, because within this area there are only 3,586 people altogether. We have had some talk about a population of

40,000.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was for a larger area.


Mr Watson - For the same area - 900 square miles.


Mr BATCHELOR - We could take in Bombala, and .the population of the territory would then only reach 7,000.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I point out that under clause 2 there is a larger area defined - 150 miles long.


Mr BATCHELOR - Mr. Carrutherswas speaking of the proposal to take an area of 900 square miles. It was never proposed in the Senate, or anywhere else, that the area to be acquired should be larger than that. A certain area is defined in clause 2, as it came down to us, but the honorable member is aware that the area proposed to be taken is only some 900 square miles within the area defined by that clause. I repeat that the only effect that will follow the taking over of this territory by the Commonwealth is that the authority having jurisdiction over it will be changed from the New South Wales Parliament to the Commonwealth Parliament. We shall have to pay the cost of government, and we shall receive the revenue from taxation, such as it is. Undoubtedly for some considerable time the Government expenditure will far exceed the revenue derived from the territory. The object of the proposal, of course, is simply that, as the Commonwealth Parliament, representing the people of Australia, will have to pay whatever expenditure is incurred in governing this territory, any increased value which may be considered unearned increment should be retained by the Commonwealth.


Mr Liddell - Why should not the Government of New South Wales get it?


Mr BATCHELOR - Why should 'the people of Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia contribute to enrich the few land-holders who live in this district? - Can the honorable member give any reason which will justify us in increasing the value of the holdings, of the people living there now by Commonwealth; expenditure? If we can retain the enhanced value due to Commonwealth expenditure for the people of the Commonwealth" we should do so.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Whatever the area decided upon may be the land-owners adjoining will benefit from Commonwealth expenditure.


Mr BATCHELOR - They will, to some extent ; but the contention is that we should take a reasonable area. The real question between honorable members opposite and other honorable members is as to where we should draw the line, and we propose to draw the line where we think we are justified in drawing- it from the experience of great cities such as the Federal city may become. No one, at all events, can say that it will not become a large centre of population.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do the Government propose to include Twofold Bay in the Federal" territory ?


Mr BATCHELOR - The Government make no such proposal. What we say is that the sphere of influence of the Federal city, if it should become a large city - and that is one of the possibilities of the future - is likely to extend over a certain area. We say further that we have a right to retain for the Commonwealth any enhanced value of the land due to the influence of the Federal city. It is useless to say that we should have an area of 5,000 square miles for that purpose, because the sphere of influence of the Federal city could not appreciably extend so far. But we know that in the case of Melbourne and Sydney this sphere of influence can and does extend to a much greater distance than thirty miles from the General Post Office in either of those cities. The 'proposal is not submitted in order to carry out experiments in the nationalization of the land, or anything of the sort. It was put forward by Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Min,ister, as an absolutely business proposal, and supported strongly by Sir William McMillan, who was acting-leader of the Opposition at the time.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That the territory should be 900 square miles in extent?


Mr BATCHELOR - No, the idea of the non-alienation of land and the retention of the unearned increment.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Sir William McMillan said it would make an interesting experiment in land nationalization.


Mr BATCHELOR - That is not quite what the honorable gentleman said. I looked up and quoted what he said when speaking on the second reading of the Bill.


Mr McColl - The Minister said just now that the Commonwealth would exercise jurisdiction over this territory; do the Government propose to dispossess the present private owners?


Mr BATCHELOR - The land will be acquired by the Federal Parliament.


Mr McColl - And will change owners.


Mr BATCHELOR - Of course, there will be a change in the ownership of the land. Those who are now Crown lessees will, after the land has been taken over by the Commonwealth, be still Crown lessees, but lessees of the Commonwealth, and not of the New South Wales Government; whilst, so far as private owners are concerned, they will hold their land from the Commonwealth.


Mr Ewing - But the Commonwealth Government will buy them out?


Mr BATCHELOR - Yes, and we shall give them the absolute value of their land.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What need is there to put that in this Bill?


Mr BATCHELOR - We are not putting that in this Bill. We are not, in this Bill, laying down any system of land tenure. We do not here say that the land shall not be sold, or anything of the kind. All that we propose to say here is that a certain area shall be acquired as Federal territory, and that it shall be large enough to take in what we consider will be the sphere of influence of Federal expenditure on the Capital.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government insist, I understand, that the area shall be 900 square miles in extent ?


Mr BATCHELOR - The Government do insist upon that. But we do not propose to go to the New South Wales Government and say, " We insist upon 900 square miles." We desire, if possible, to come to an agreement with the New South Wales Government, and we have no reason to believe that they will not agree to the proposal we make. What is proposed cannot be held to be a disadvantage to New South Wales, nor will it be any disadvantage to the people resident, within the territory. There will be a change of jurisdiction and Government in respect to the territory, and that is practically all the effect that the taking over of this land by the Commonwealth will have.


Mr McWilliams - But, instead of remaining owners, the existing owners of land within the territory will become lessees of the Commonwealth Government?


Mr BATCHELOR - That is a question to be decided afterwards, when the policy governing land tenure is adopted.


Mr Watson - But we are not going to allow private ownership to continue in the heart of the Capital city.


Mr BATCHELOR - Of course not, but we are not now threshing out the details of the system of ownership to be adopted. I hope that the Committee will adhere to the area proposed by the Government. The question whether we should use the word " shall " or " should " does not appear to me to be of special importance.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta). - I refrained from saying anything in moving the amendment, because I thought there would be but little debate. In the first place, I am very much interested in hearing the Minister say that this matter of the area of the Federal territory is not to be an open question, as other provisions of the Bill and other parts of the procedure have been. But when the honorable member makes a distinction of that kind, I wish he would be a little more explicit, and would tell the Committee just what he does mean. Are we to understand that if an area other than that proposed by the Government is carried by the Committee the Government will refuse to go on with the Bill?


Mr Watson -No.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That would be the general acceptation of such a declaration as has been made.


Mr Watson - We have said that it has been an open question with Ministers, as to some provisions of the Bill. They have voted against each other in the matter of the selection of the site, for example; but this matter of the area is a Government question.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But, so far as Ministerial responsibility is concerned, it is still to be an open question?


Mr Watson - Not at all. It is a Ministerial question. We are in agreement upon it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are we to understand that the Committee may do as they please, and that the intention only is that the Ministry shall vote together on this matter.


Mr Watson - Certainly.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I understand the position. I look upon this matter in the light of the genesis of the whole proceeding in another place. I put the statements made use of in arguing the question in another place alongside the very attenuated statements which have been made by Ministers in this Chamber. When this question had its rise in another Chamber, under the control of the Government, and certainly without any effort on their part to check or curb the extravagant language there indulged in -


Mr Batchelor - The Bill of last year provided for an area of 1,000 square miles.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was acknowledged that the original intention was to make socialistic experiments.


Mr Watson - On900squaremiles? I gave the honorable member credit for more intelligence.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the Prime Minister would be more patient, and refrain from interjection, he would hear what I have to say.


Mr Watson - There is no proposal by the Government for anylarger area.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can say that a member of the Labour Party in another place proposed an area the sides of which would be seventy-five miles long, and he changed that subsequently to an area containing 5,000 square miles. His idea was, and he made no secret of it, to give the various States an object lesson, not only in land nationalization, but also in the nationalization of industries.


Mr Batchelor - The honorable member is only knocking down a straw.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman may fine it down as he pleases, but he is aware that it was intended that a social experiment should be undertaken, and that that was the root of the whole proposal.


Mr Batchelor - That is 'utter nonsense.


Mr Watson - On 900 square miles?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister has said that the Government desire to retain the unearned increment', or to get as much of it as possible, for the citizens of the Commonwealth.


Mr Watson - I should say so, and so would any other patriotic man.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is not that a social experiment?


Mr Watson - Not of the nature at which the honorable member is hinting.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman is too impatient to listen to me. I say that he is anxious to make a social experiment, and I think I do the honorable gentleman no injustice in saying that.


Mr Watson - I say that there is no social experiment in the retention of the freehold of the land.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is an experiment as applied to a whole country.


Mr Watson - The Government, of which the honorable member was a member, carried -that through in New South Wales, and I helped them.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; not in the same way.


Mr Watson - In a more wholesale fashion.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have no objection to what the honorable gentleman is proposing to do ; but I see no .reason for enlarging the area beyond what is prescribed in the Constitution.


Mr Watson - It is not beyond what is prescribed £>y the Constitution.


The CHAIRMAN - Interjections are becoming rather too frequent. I suggest to the honorable member for Parramatta that he should not adopt the interrogative form of speech, and I ask Ministers not to interrupt the honorable member.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am only anxious for information, and I should like to address some more interrogations to Ministers. I want to know what is the intention of the Government in connexion with this matter; they have not yet explained. If the two Houses reach agreement, will the Bill be sent on in the ordinary, way for the approval of the Governor-General? If so, I should like to know what the position of the Government will then be, as negotiators with the New South Wales Government? Can the Commonwealth Government say to the New South Wales Government, " We want to negotiate with you as to the area of the Federal Capital," and at the same' time, say, " Here are our limitations, hard and fast, under the seal of the Governor-General " ? How can the Commonwealth Government begin to negotiate in a matter which has already been determined by the; Parliament ?


Mr Isaacs - Are the Government to have no limitations?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes; and I think those limitations should have been prescribed in a series of resolutions affirming the opinion of this House.


Mr Isaacs - Where is the difference?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The difference is that we " determine " an area, and immediately instruct the Government to set about altering that area. Otherwise, where is the object of the negotiations?


Mr Groom - If we fixed the area byresolution, would the position not be the same?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The difficulty I see is that here is a Bill to determine the Seat of Government ; and I take it that when the act of determination is complete, the transaction is complete, so far as we are concerned. ^ Yet we are told that Mininster, at that' point, must begin to reopen the matter which we have just deter mined. The whole proceeding seems to my mind, if I may say so without offence, to be just a little absurd. The proper course would have been to get an expression of opinion as clear and definite as we chose ---but still only an expression of opinion - from each of the two Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, land when those expressions of opinion had been brought into agreement, to begin the negotiations. The Commonwealth Government will look very strange if, after we have determined the Seat of Government and its size, they have to begin to negotiate with an entirely different body for the purpose of settling these very matters. This clause seems to me to be entirely unnecessary; but if we do perpetrate this legislative absurdity - for I can call it nothing else - we had better stick to the terms of the Constitution. The amendment simply re-enacts the language of the Constitution, to which no exception can be taken. But when 900 square miles, or 5,000 square miles as has been suggested, or a square, each side of which is seventy-five miles long, is put forward as the irreducible area-


Mr Batchelor - It has not been said that the territory should be a square, each side of which should be seventy-five miles long.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But that was suggested in another place. I remind honorable members that the proposal to have an area of 5,000 square miles was only defeated by fourteen votes against ten - an almost equal division. We should, therefore, meet the other Chamber with a simple expression of our opinion that the terms of the Constitution ought to be adhered to, at any rate in this period of negotiation. It is time to fix our ultimate determination after the negotiations have been completed, and when New South Wales has had, as she is entitled to have, and as the Constitution contemplates she shall have, some voice as to the location and size of the Federal territory.







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