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Tuesday, 5 June 1928

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE - The replies to the honorable member's questions are as follow: -

1.   Yes.

2.   I. am advised by the Federal Capital Commission that this is not so.

3.   See answer to No. -2.

An uneasy feeling exists throughout Australia regarding the administration of the affairs of the Federal Capital by the Federal Capital Commission. It is felt that a good deal of money is being utterly wasted. When honorable members seek information as to what is being done by the Federal Capital Commission, they are supplied with answers that are sometimes untruthful. That is a very serious thing. I know of my personal knowledge that the answers I ave quoted, if not deliberate falsehoods, are at least falsehoods. The streets in the suburb of Forrest were not lighted for the whole of the year 1927; in fact, it was not until the 13th May of this year that any arrangement was made for lighting them. Yet I have in my possession rate notices served upon residents of that suburb charging them, for the year 1927, with a lighting rate of 2d. in the £1 on the unimproved value of their land. I do not blame the Minister. He has to rely upon the answers that he receives from the Federal Capital Commission. But I state unhesitatingly that 1 can provide a dozen sworn declarations showing that rate notices had been served before the reply that I have quoted was given to the honorable member ' for Bourke. I take a very serious view of that happening. The answers supplied by the Federal Capital Commission were untruthful. This Parliament is responsible to the people of Australia for the development of Canberra, and, although we created the. Federal Capital Commission, and gave it extensive powers, we cannot permit it to be above the Federal Parliament. We desire to know what is going on, and I resent strongly the action of the Federal Capital Commission in supplying to honorable members answers of that character. I am positive that, upon investigation, the Minister will find that he has been badly betrayed in this matter, and, if this is so, those to blame should be dealt with accordingly.

Sir Neville Howse - They have been dealt with, as I have already told the honorable member. I have shown him the papers.

Mr McGRATH - I know that an apology has been received; but that is not sufficient. I remember that when the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) was subjected to similar treatment, the then Minister (Brigadier- General Sir Granville Ryrie) dealt drastically with the persons who supplied the misleading information. Last Thursday I told the Minister that the information that he had received was false, and I also informed him that I would bring the fact before the House on the first possible occasion. I am doing so this afternoon, and drawing public attention to the manner in which honorable members are being treated by the Federal Capital Commission when they seek information. It is a very serious position, and I trust that the commissioner concerned, even though he may be a titled person, may be properly dealt with. It must be made apparent to the Federal Capital Commission that when a question is placed upon the noticepaper the answer to it must be true, irrespective of who may be injured or benefited. Every honorable member requires the absolute truth concerning happenings in Canberra, and I have moved this motion as a protest against the way in which questions have been answered by the Federal Capital Commission.

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