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Wednesday, 13 June 1928


Mr NELSON (Northern Territory) . - The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) would yoke the people of Australia with a kind of foreign justice. He quoted extensively from the presidential address of the president of a foreign nation, but he made no reference to the demand of the people of Canberra for ordinary British justice.


Mr Bayley - The people of America originated the term, "No taxation without representation."


Mr NELSON - We are dealing today not with Washington, but with Canberra, but we should follow the accepted principles of British justice. The honorable member would have us believe that because the whole of the members of the Federal Parliament are interested in the development of the Federal Capital City, the residents of that city should be satisfied. I remind him that "what is everybody's business is nobody's business." The people of the Federal Capital Territory are justified in demanding representation in this Parliament; they demand only their inherent birthright. If honorable members were private citizens of this city, they would be in the forefront of the agitation for representation. It has been said that the time is not yet opportune for the granting of the franchise to the people of this Territory. I say that the time is never opportune for the disfranchisement of Australian citizens. Yet that is what has happened to the residents of Canberra. That the state of affairs that has arisen was foreseen by the framers of the Constitution, there is little doubt. The Constitution provides that Tasmania, with her small population shall have the same representation in the Senate as is enjoyed by New South Wales with a population of over 2,000,000 persons. Section 7 of the Constitution, dealing with the Senate, provides that -

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, there shall be six senators for each original State. The Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for each State, but so that equal representation of the several original States shall be maintained and that no original State shall have less than six senators.

That clearly shows that there was to be no discrimination between States in the matter of their representation in the

Senate. The Constitution also provided that in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth New South Wales was to have 23 representatives in the House of Representatives. Victoria 20, Queensland 8, South Australia 6, and Tasmania 5, while in the event of Western Australia joining the federation, that State was to have 5 representatives in this House. Section 27 of the Constitution provides that Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of members of the House of Representatives. That clearly shows that the framers of the Constitution anticipated that Parliament should have full discretionary power in this matter. Chapter 6 of the Constitution, dealing with new States, makes clear the position in regard to the territories of the Commonwealth. Section 122 provides that-

The Parliament may make laws for the govern ment of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth and may allow the representation of such i territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

It is therefore clear that in this matter we are not , faced with constitutional difficulties. The question for us to decide is whether it is right that representation shall be given to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory. Will any honorable member say that 8,000 or 10,000 people should be denied representation in this Parliament? A fundamental principle of British justice is that there shall be no taxation without representation. The Government, therefore, must either give the people of Canberra representation in Parliament, or exempt them from taxation. The Government doubtless has no desire to exempt the residents of the Territory from the payment of taxes, nor do I think that the people themselves desire to shirk their obligations in that connexion. I, therefore hope that this Parliament will preserve to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory their inherent birthright, and grant them the representation they desire.







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