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Thursday, 6 May 1915

Mr ARCHIBALD - Oh, yes, we do.

Mr SAMPSON - We have big schemes proposed by one of . the responsible officers, and we do not know whether they have the indorsement of the Minister. Mr. Griffin has proposed the establishment of large lakes covering portion of the Capital Territory, and the utility of those lakes has not been considered by this House.

Mr ARCHIBALD - I am not responsible for Mr. Griffin's ideas.

Mr SAMPSON - The Minister is responsible, seeing that Mr. Griffin has the supervision of the works in the Capital Territory.

Mr Archibald - That is not correct.

Mr SAMPSON - Mr. Griffinhas already stated that it is, and the terms of the agreement with him have been read out. It is the duty of the Minister to say who are the responsible officers on whom he relies for the carrying out of the works in the Territory. We have already a proposal by Mr. Griffin to construct a lake, which would be the largest dam in any part of the world, and would probably cost anything from £5,000,000 to £10,000,000.

Mr Archibald - Am I responsible for that?

Mr SAMPSON - I desire to know where the Minister is fixing the responsibility in connexion with the officers of his Department.

Mr Joseph Cook - Do you say that Mr. Griffin suggests the construction of a lake that would cost from £5,000,000 to £10,000,000?

Mr Archibald - Quite right. It is in the appendix.

Mr Austin Chapman - Is the Minister in favour of it?

Mr Archibald - No.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Do I understand the honorable member to say that this lake will cost anything from £5,000,000 to £10,000,000 ?

Mr SAMPSON - Mr. Griffinsays that the cost will be £1,000,000, but I think it will be nearer £5,000,000.

Mr Webster - Is that what the Works Committee think ?

Mr SAMPSON - The Works Committee have not yet reported on that matter. I am mentioning this as an instance of how the proposals for works in the Territory are assuming enormous proportions, and yet we do not know where to fix the responsibility. We have the Director of Works declaring that he has no say in the construction of these schemes.

Mr Archibald - I thought the responsibility rested on me.

Mr SAMPSON - The responsibility rests finally with the Minister, but we had an officer before the Public Works Committee who complained that they are being ignored by the Minister and the Department in defiance of the express terms of an agreement.

Mr Archibald - The House will hold me responsible.

Mr SAMPSON - We can quite understand that while there is conflict of opinion between the responsible officers of the Department, the people of Australia are not getting value for their money. Up to the present time something like £750,000 has been expended on works in the Capital Territory, and yet there has not been put before Parliament a scheme showing a continuous policy of works for the next few years.

Mr Webster - We have a Works Committee to investigate that subject.

Mr SAMPSON - I understand that, but I say that there is no continuous scheme before us. Before Mr. Griffin's arrival a Departmental Board put forward one scheme, and now we have the Director putting forward another scheme, and we do not know what is the intention of the Government, or whether they are prepared to rely on the advice of Mr. Griffin or that of the other officers of the Department. It is time that the conflict which now exists between Mr. Griffin and the other Departmental officers was terminated, and the Minister should inform the House what are his intentions in that regard.

Mr. AUSTINCHAPMAN (Eden- bers who hail me as the " Capital King " seem not to know their geography. They think the Capital Site is in my electorate. They do not take enough interest in the business of the House to know that the people in the Capital Territory are disfranchised. Nevertheless, I think it my duty to speak up for them at times, because they are old constituents of mine,, and the fact of their not having votesshould not prevent me from standing up for their rights in this chamber. I am entirely in favour of the motion. There ought to be a Commission appointed. I have previously advocated the adoption of a system of management similar to that which is in successful operation in Washington, but I do not agree with those who say that we need architects and theorists on a Commission. We require practical business men, because the management of the Capital Territory is a business proposition. I only wish that I had control of a proposition of the kind, and, with my little business capacity, I would make it pay. The Capital Territory should be made to pay; instead of being a drag on the finances of the country, it could be made into a source of profit. I favour the creation of a Commission with powers similar to those of the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Sydney Harbor Trust, so that it could borrow money and expend it in a profitable way. Will the Minister tell us what he has done in. this matter!? I do not want him to tell us that Mr. Griffin has not this power or that power. The Minister is at the head of a great Department, and he should explain to the House why it is that an officer, speaking on oath, told the Public Works Committee that he had been unjustly treated. It is the Minister's function to show that he really controls this work. At present the people of the country are being fooled. There are foolish people who think that the expenditure on the Federal Territory should cease, and some who think that the site is not yet decided, even though three-quarters of a million pounds has been expended on the Territory. At first I was not in favour of the present Capital Site, but I bowed to the decision of Parliament, and I am prepared to admit now that we have chosen a good site. But the work of creating the Capital is progressing at a snail's pace, and the sooner somebody applies a spur to the Minister the better. It is of no use to say that there is no conflict between Mr. Griffin and the officers of the Department. There is friction, and the Minister ought to be able to tell the House whose is the fault. He ought to be able to tell us that the man or men responsible for the delay in the Capital works will be removed. I do not care who the men are; they should not be allowed to prevent progress. The Minister should have backbone enough to take control of the Department. On previous occasions we have heard talk of the india-rubber stamp period in the Home Affairs Department; has that state of affairs been revived 1 The delay in the Capital works has been astounding, and the expenditure has been extravagant. My constituency surrounds the Capital Territory, and if I consulted my own interests, I would not cavil at the expenditure, because my constituents say it is a good thing to have heavy expenditure there. But I am not afraid to do my public duty, and I Bay that it is a bad thing for the country that money should have been wasted in that or any other place.

Mr Archibald - It is not wasted there.

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