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Tuesday, 9 August 1904

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) -- I think there is a great deal more in the contention that we should approach the New South

Wales authorities in this matter in a diplomatic way than some honorable members appear to imagine. I was quite in agreement with the policy of the late Government - who, unfortunately, did not have sufficient back-bone to stand by their policy - that the Seat of Government Bill should fix a certain site, and that the question of the territory should be dealt with by sub sequent legislation, which should be the outcome of negotiations between the Common, wealth Government and the Government of New South Wales, and which should be based on information with respect to the territory proposed to be acquired, which at present we do not possess. We may deal with this matter in a reasonable, diplomatic way, or in an offensive way, and it must not be forgotten that the people of New South Wales are inclined to be a little sensitive on this subject. I remember that on the last occasion, when this matter was dealt with by this Parliament, and when, against the policy of the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the area proposed to be acquired was stated in the Bill, the Government, the leader of the Opposition, and a large number of honorable members at once committed themselves to an attitude of hostility to the proposal. That was due largely to the way in which it was put. I ask honorable members, on this occasion, to be guided by the experience we have gained in that connexion. The late See Government, in New South Wales, was, if anything, over-friendly to the Federal Government. That is to be accounted for by the fact that it was, to some extent, a Government which had been brought into power by the honorable member for Hume, who was at first the Minister in charge of this measure. So careful were the members of the See Government not to in any way infringe upon the authority of the Federal Government, but on the contrary to consider their wishes in this matter, that although Sir John See was asked to move in the direction of suggesting "a site himself, he resolutely refused to do so, and left the selection entirely to the Federal Government. But as soon as word was sent to New South Wales that this Parliament was asking for a much larger territory than that mentioned in the Constitution, Sir John See, on the very limited information at his disposal, felt compelled to take a hostile stand at once, and the debate which ensued in the State Parliament was decidedly hostile to the Federal proposal, and largely because it was misunderstood. We do not wish to have any misunderstanding with the State Government on this matter. I wish to say that, in supporting the amendment submitted by the leader of the Opposition, I am not opposed to the larger area asked for. My view is that we should adopt the diplomatic method of dealing with this business. In order to prevent friction, and to have it settled as amicably as possible, we should meet the State authorities reasonably. The experience we gained in the last Parliament should teach us that to make anything in the nature of a demand upon New South Wales is not the most diplomatic way in which to secure the concession for which we are seeking. I hope that the Government will agree to the amendment, as it will in some way tone down the request we are making.

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