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Tuesday, 28 November 1905

Senator GIVENS (QUEENSLAND) - The sum of , £2,585 which is required for Sydney Government House affords an opportunity to save some money, and, after the able speech in the direction of economy to which we have just listened from Senator Symon, I expect to get his support if I move a request for a reduction of the vote. I do not see any reason why the Commonwealth should contribute £2,585 a year towards the maintenance of a separate establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney. If it is just to make this provision in the case of Sydney, it would be equally just to spend a similar sum in providing a separate establishment for His Excellency in Perth, Hobart, Adelaide, and Brisbane. This vote is purely a sop, intended to satisfy the absurd, small-minded jealousy of Sydney. This is not a New South Wales matter at all. Sydney is always crying out that the Commonwealth is treating New. South Wales unjustly. But here the Commonwealth is going out of its way to expend £2,585 in order to keep up a separate establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney. I object to this expenditure, because, in my opinion, it is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. We are certainly' discriminating between State and State if we maintain a separate establishment for the Governor-General in one State other than the Seat of Government, and not in all the others. I know that New South Wales does not make any unjust or undue demand upon the Commonwealth. It is the city of Sydney that is continually doing that. What is the chief object attained by the expenditure of this vote in Sydney. His Excellency and Lady Northcote will be resident in Sydney for about six months in the year, and, by reason of their official positions, will be the leaders of society, and give society functions. Society people will warm or sun themselves in the smiles of their viceregal Excellencies, will put their knees under the vice-regal table. and will enjoy all the pleasure and kudos which are to be got out of being present at viceregal functions. But where will the taxpayers of New South Wales come in? They will pay the money and provide the feasts, but they will not by any chance put their knees under the vice-regal table. It is a wasteful and extravagant expenditure which we are asked to sanction. The proper place for the official residence of the Governer-General is Melbourne, because, for the time being, it 5s the Seat of Government. Ultimately, of course, his official residence will be at the Federal Capital. When it is established, shall we be expected to maintain a separate establishment for His Excellency in Melbourne and Sydney, while we ignore other States capitals? It would be ridiculous to single out two States to be favoured in that way. Perhaps I may be allowed, to say here that it isSydney which is preventing the Commonwealth from establishing the Seat of Government in the place chosen by this Parliament. Why should we go' out of our way to placate Sydney ? We are prepared to carry out the terms of the Constitution at the earliest possible moment. We are prepared to do everything we possibly can to carry out the bargain which was made with New South Wales, but Sydney, under the pretence that she is acting in the interests of that State, is continually blocking us.

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