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Thursday, 8 July 1915

Mr ARCHIBALD (Hindmarsh) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time. I do not think there is any necessity to say very much in support of this motion. The measure is a very small one, and will, I think, receive the support of honorable members on both sides of the House. It has already received the approval of the Senate, and is drafted in conformity with the legislation passed by the Parliament of New South Wales. The subjectmatter of the Bill is familiar to honorable members who have been in this Parliament for a number of years, and to all persons who take a keen interest in public affairs. It is not surprising that, shortly after the creation of this Federal Parliament, there was a feeling amongst members, and amongst the community at large, that a Capital City should be created in Federal Territory, to be gradually built up by votes of Parliament from time to time. This is in no sense a party question; the establishment of the Federal Capital is the accepted policy of the King's Government in Australia, and one Cabinet after another has dealt with the project. Contemporaneous with the discussion of the creation of a Federal Territory and a Capital City the opinion was expressed that the National Capital should be served by a national port. Obviously in carrying out the duties that were intrusted to us under the. Federal Constitution it was necessary that we should look at the proposed site of the Federal Capital from the point of view of the future possibilities' of a port. As honorable members will understand, owing to the position of the Capital Territory itself, attention had to be turned in another direction, and after somewhat extended ' negotiations the Federal port of Jervis Bay was created. An Act which was assented to on the 20th February, 1915, was passed by the New South Wales Parliament, providing for the surrender to the Commonwealth of the Territory at Jervis Bay. It was provided that the agreement respecting the surrender of the land would not be binding until parliamentary action had been taken by both State and Commonwealth. The Bill which is now before this House provides in a corresponding way for the acceptance of the Territory referred to in the New South Wales Act. May I point out to honorable members that the Act which was passed by the New South Wales Parliament may be made immediately operative by proclamation ? What I am now asking the House to do is to pass this Bill giving the Federal Government power to accept this Territory from the Government of New South Wales unon the proclamation being issued. Similar action was taken when the land at the Federal Capital Territory was surrendered by the State, and accepted by the Commonwealth. The Royal Australian Naval College is situated within the area referred to in this Bill, and in due course other buildings, such as dockyards, &c, will be constructed within the Territory, which will come under the provisions of the Commonwealth laws, such as the Commonwealth Arbitration Act and other measures. The date upon which the acceptance of this 'Territory will operate will be fixed by proclamation, which will be made at the earliest possible moment. In the concluding section of the Bill will be found a provision under the Lands Acquisition Act designed to prevent private individuals from obtaining any advantage in the way of unearned increment. I do not know that there is much more to be said on the subject. I have brought down a map showing the disposition of the Territory, and I may explain that on this map the area over which the State has agreed to grant to the Commonwealth sovereign rights is shown by pink border; the area transferred under the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 is coloured blue; the area purchased from the State - about 5,000 acres - is coloured pink ; land acquired from private owners - Gazette No. 34. 1st May, 1915 - is coloured green; land excised from Mr. Beale's inferior lease is coloured purple ; and land ' held by Mr. Octavius Charles Beale, under inferior land lease No. 155, is coloured brown. The total area of the Territory involved is about 15,000 acres. I would like to explain by way of anticipating any criticism that may come in this direction that, though I have seen references suggesting that Mr. Beale was a man engaged in speculation, and that he had obtained land at Jervis Bay in the hope of getting some benefit out of it, because Jervis Bay was likely to become Federal Territory, the fact is that this land was acquired by Mr. Beale long before the Commonwealth had any idea of acquiring laud at Jervis Bay.

Mr Groom - He has only a few acres there.

Mr ARCHIBALD - That is so; his holding is not very great, but I think it is only fair that I should anticipate any criticism in this- direction by stating what is a well-known fact, so far as the Department is concerned, regarding Mr. Beale's holding.

Mr Burns - What is the population of the Territory you intend to take overt

Mr Groom - I think most of the men there are employed building the Naval College. As far as I know there is nobody else.

Mr Burns - There are no farmers there ?

Mr ARCHIBALD - I do not know that there are any original settlers there. There may be; but when I visited the Territory I did not come across any. Practically the whole population is engaged on work in connexion with the Naval College, and upon the other works that are being carried on there. I do not know that it is necessary for me to make any further remarks on the matter. The Bill is not one upon which honorable members can go very far wrong. It refers to purely a business deal. The Government and Parliament of New South Wales, after some negotiations, agreed to transfer this Territory to the Commonwealth, and the Territory may be transferred as soon as the Government of New South Wales issue the necessary proclamation. All we have to do is to pass this Bill enabling the Territory to be accepted. I have no doubt that the Bill will receive that cordial support that any measure of this character deserves.

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