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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Mr JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) . - I am not quite clear as to what the Minister's intention is with regard to the whole matter. I cannot get it out of my mind that what he proposes to do is to take sections of this plan, which has already received the approval of the best architectural ability in Australia and in the world, and to re-submit it to the Public Works Committee.

Mr Archibald - According to the Act I must take action before the money is expended.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I do not think that the Minister is at all compelled to do that. I think he could readily submit to the Public Works Committee features of these railways which have nothing whatever to do with the plan as a whole.

Mr Archibald - You cannot separate the work.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Are any of us competent to adjudge the place of this railway and those lakes in the whole scheme ? I do not think there is a member of the Public Works Committee who would get up in the House and say that he is competent finally to decide these matters as relating to the whole scheme of Mr. Griffin.

Mr West - I do not think that Mr. Griffin will lose anything by the inquiry.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I hope he will not; but it is possible that he will be lucky if he does not. I believe that the Committee will try to do justice; but is it a fair thing to keep submitting this plan to this, that, and the other Committee, after it has received the unanimous approval of the best ability of the. world? That is the point that I cannot get out of my mind. As to whether this railway ought to cost so much as is stated by the Department is a proper matter of inquiry by the Public Works Committee; but I take it that it is not the function of the Committee to decide whether this railway or the lakes shall be made in a particular place. That is settled as part of the plan, and any alteration may upset the whole scheme. I should like to be clear as to what is in the mind of the Minister in submitting this scheme to the Committee.

Mr West - Ought we not to know whether there is any water for the lakes?

Mr Archibald - Apparently it is not desired to know whether there is any water at all ^

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I take it that Mr. Griffin has satisfied himself in regard to all these points.

Mr Archibald - "Open your mouth and shut your eyes !"

Mr JOSEPH COOK - It is not a question of "open your mouth and shut your eyes " ; it is a question of whether the opinion of the man who made the plan is to be taken in preference to that of the Minister, for instance. The honorable gentleman told us to-day that he instructed Mr. Hobler to sketch out a railway, and, in doing so, to avoid bridges and other works; in a word, the Minister has set himself to get Mr. Hobler to review Mr. Griffin's plan, and to alter it in some particular. Mr. Archibald, the Minister, has said, in contradistinction to Mr. Griffin's proposal, that there shall not be any cuttings - that there shall not be any of this, that, or the other. Upon my word, I do not know whether this is a joke or not; it certainly looks like one, when the Minister says to one of his railway officers, who has never been a town-planner, and never pretended to be one, " Go and upset this plan, and put the railway where Mr. Griffin does not want it >to be." Is 'that the way to get a city planned and built on the most up-to-date principles? If the Minister is going to interfere with the plan, I submit that the House ought seriously to take tb whole matter into consideration. The Minister has told us that he instructed Mr. Hobler to alter this plan of Mr. Griffin, in so far as it relates to railway construction. I am amazed to hear the Minister make the statement that he has taken this step. What does he know about the plan? Just about as much as I do. and that is very little. It would be the last thing I should dream of, to instruct an engineer to interfere in this way with an expert's work.

Mr Archibald - You would not allow the public money to be spent unless you knew how it was to be spent. That is only common sense.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - This " common sense " of the Minister will be the death of him yet. He keeps calling out " common sense" on the least provocation.

Mr KING O'MALLEY (DARWIN, TASMANIA) - What we require is uncommon sense.

Mr Austin Chapman - If you keep calling out a thing often enough, people begin to believe it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Exactly. My point is that there is nothing now to be done at the Capital except to get on with the building. If there are suggestions which are thought to be of advantage, let them be submitted to Mr. Griffin, who, I am sure, will always be ready to consider them. The papers clearly show that the Minister now keeps Mr. Griffin at arm's length, and will not permit him to come nearer.

Mr Archibald - Nonsense!

Mr JOSEPH COOK - The papers show it, sir ! The Minister is treating Mr. Griffin as no man ought to be treated who has come here for the special purpose of seeing a great design faithfully carried out. Mr. Griffin was brought here to overlook the working of his own plan - to study his plan on the spot, and see if any improvements could be made. The object is not to buy a plan all complete and ready from A to Z, for all time to come, but to get the services of a man who has a plan in his mind, and, studying it on the spot, may be able to suggest improvements for the beautification of the city. What the Minister ought to do is to get Mr. Griffin a little nearer to him, because the papers show that Mr. Griffin is not being given a fair deal at the present time. The papers show that Mr.

Griffin has all the work he knows to get the requisite labour to carry out his plans. Only just recently, I believe, his. best man has been taken away from him..

Mr Archibald - I did hot take him. away; he belonged to the AttorneyGeneral.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - The fact remains that this man has gone away.

Mr Archibald - Do not blame me!

Mr JOSEPH COOK - The Minister could have kept him there if he tried.

Mr Archibald - I do not see it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Did you try?

Mr Archibald - I do not see why I should have interfered.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Mr. Griffin'srighthanddraughtsman has been sent away from him, and he has now to hunt for another. Men cannot be trained for work like this in a day or a week or twoMr. Griffin is not getting a fair deal from the Minister. This assistant draughtsman ought to have been retained; and . such treatment is not fair to Mr. Griffin, to the Capital City, or the House, or the country. If I were the Minister, I should get those able, practical officers of his together with Mr. Griffin - I have done tougher jobs than that myself - and see what could be done. The Minister could get Colonel Owen and the others-

Mr Archibald - There is no prejudice on the part of the officers.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - With great respect, I must say that, if the Minister talks like that, I am afraid he knows nothing whatever about the matter.

Mr Archibald - I have no prejudice in the matter. What motive could I have ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I am not suggesting any motive, but I regret that I do suggest a want of appreciation of the real position. I suggest to the Minister that he ought not to lead men on to tinker with this plan, which has been approved, as I have said, by the best architectural ability in the world. Why should people who do not understand it, and do not even pretend to understand it, be asked to suggest features of which Mr. Griffin does not approve, but which, in his opinion, would upset the whole scheme? Mr. Griffin ought to be kept to look after his plan most jealously, and all the engineering ability at our disposal ought to be devoted to helping that gentleman with the greatest cordiality, in order that the $>lan of the city may be put into execution at the earliest possible moment.

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