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Tuesday, 28 November 1905


Senator GIVENS - I brought forward the argument simply as an illustration to show the petty, small-minded jealousy which isexhibited by Sydney. I have no objection to the Governor-General visiting Sydney in the same way as he visits other cities in the Commonwealth. I think that £585 will be quite sufficient to provide His Excellency with accommodation during his visit to Sydney. Therefore, in order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote " Sydney Government House, £2,585,"by£2,000.

Senator KEATING(Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - It will be recollected that the Government House at Sydney, as well as at Melbourne, was placed1 at the disposal of the Commonwealth. The obligation which was thrown upon the Commonwealth issimply to maintain the houses, and to return them to the States practically in good order and condition.


Senator Mulcahy - Has any permanent arrangement been entered into?


Senator KEATING - An arrangement of some kind was entered into, as may be seen on reference to papers which were laid before the Senate on the 4th August last. These papers disclose that, as far back as August, 1899, correspondence took place between the then Premier of New South Wales and the Premiers of the different Colonies, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was urged by the Premier of New South Wales that, after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the residence of the Governor-General should be in Sydney when the Parliament was not sitting. If I remember correctly, the correspondencediscloses that no objection was then offered to that course being pursued, and that others fell in with the suggestion. When the first GovernorGeneral came out he landed in Sydney, and since that time New South Wales has placed its Government House, rent free, at the disposal of the Commonwealth, so that it may be occupied by the Governor-General whenever possible. It will be remembered that it is not very long since Mr. Carnithers, the Premier of New South Wales, said that the Governor-General did not reside sufficiently long in that State. A count was made of the days on which His Excellency resided in New South Wales during last year, and also in the other States, particularly in Victoria. There is no neces- sity. I think, for me to dwell at any length on the subject.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - In moving his request, Senator Givens referred to me. I wish to assure my honorable friend that his expectation is not misplaced, and that if he presses his request for a division I shall vote with him.

I think, however, that he ought to move a request to leave out the whole of the vote. .


Senator Mulcahy - It is of no use to leave a balance of £585.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - This vote of £2,585 is required for the up-keep of Sydney Government House. Therefore if it be desired to express an opinion with regard to the retention of the house and the up-keep of it by the Commonwealth the proper course is to move a request for the omission of the whole sum, and not merely a portion thereof.


Senator Givens - I am quite willing to adopt that suggestion.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That would be more consistent with the position which my honorable friend1 takes up.


Senator Mulcahy - A portion of the vear has gone by.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Of course part of the expenditure is incurred, and therefore it will be better to move a request for the reduction of the vote.


Senator Givens - I will move a request that the item be reduced by £1,000.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That will be quite sufficient. I wish, without elaborately arguing the matter, to give one reason why I think we ought not to continue this extravagance. I say most emphatically that His Excellency the Governor-General should visit the States as frequently as is possible and convenient for him, and that the most ample, indeed generous, provision should be made for expenditure for that purpose. We do make such provision, and His Excellency has been most praiseworthy - if I may use the expression - in visiting the various States. It is not long since he returned from what I am sure must have been a most instructive visit to Western Australia. I think he has also been in Queensland. I am satisfied that in the discharge of his duties as GovernorGeneral of this great Continent, His Excellency will not be slow in undertaking such visits whenever occasion arises or opportunity offers. But I do say, nevertheless, that it is extravagant to continue a second Government House at the public expense when - I will not say whether justly or not - the country is exclaiming against heavy Commonwealth expenditure. There is no necessity whatever for it. There is no more reason why we should have a second vice-regal palace constantly maintained than that we should have other official residences for His Excellency in Brisbane or in Adelaide. I should be sorry in any way to curtail expenditure that was requisite for maintaining official dignity; but I do not think this expenditure is necessary. What is it for? It is a mere piece of arrant humbug. It is an expensive Foy, maintained principally for the gratification of the vanity of New South Wales. Really we must speak as plainly as we feel. There is no doubt that when this Commonwealth was first inaugurated, and when Lord Hopetoun came here as Governor-General, it was understood that he would land in Sydney, and* that the inaugural ceremonies would take place there. That was done. But subsequently the matter has simply! slid on. The expenditure has been continued, and we are called upon year by year to vote a large sum of money for maintaining a great house in Sydnev - a magnificent dwelling - for the purpose of an occasional occupation, which might -be abundantly and satisfactorily provided for there when required, as 'it is in the other States capitals. Last year the argument which I am now putting was advanced by Senator Keating - when he sat where I am now standing - with all the eloquence which he has at his command. He addressed his remarks to very sympathetic ears.


Senator Trenwith - Is the honorable senator going to tell us what reply he made ? ,


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am. I said last year that I. thoroughly agreed with my honorable friend. I will quote from what he said. I am not doing this simply in the ' ordinary way of bantering my honorable friend by bringing up agains!: him his previous utterances. But really he expressed the views which are in my mind better than I could do. The question then was the voting of £3,000 for Sydney Government House. Senator Keating re~ferred to the details, and questioned whether the expenditure was necessary. He said : -

I believe that at the inception of the Commonwealth it was necessary that Sydney Government House should be used by the Governor-General, who stayed in that city for some time. But since the first and second Governors-General have departed the place has been used as a residence only on odd occasions. The Governor-General, however, visits other States besides the State of New South Wales, and I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to provide him with official residences in those States. Why should one State be singled out for special treatment? The Governor-General must, of course, have a residence in Victoria while the Seat of Government remains in Melbourne. If we maintain a separate establishment for him in New South Wales, we should do the same thing in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, which he intends, I understand, to visit in the near future.

SenatorMulcahy. - Three thousand pounds is more than we pay our Governor in Tasmania.


Senator KEATING - If the money is paid in respect to a Government House used by the State authorities as well as by the Governor-General, I would like to know why similar arrangements are not made in regard to the other States, all of which the Governor-General is expected to visit. Is the Commonwealth committed in perpetuity to the maintenance of a Government House in New South Wales merely for the pleasure of a few people in that State? This seems to be like throwing a sop to Cerberus.

There Senator Keating used the very term thathas been used to-day by Senator Givens. The word must have been burnt into my honorable friend's memory last year. He continued -

We are trying to placate the people of New South Wales who are dissatisfied because the Seat of Government is not fixed in Sydney, and cannot be located within 100 miles of that city.

After dealing with avariety of details, Senator Keating went on to say -

We should take a stand against this expenditure, and determine that there shall be only one GovernorGeneral's establishment, known as the Government House of the Commonwealth, and situated where the Seat of Government is.


Senator Givens - I hope he will take up that stand thisyear.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I am sure that he will.

While the Seat of Government remains temporarily in Victoria, the Commonwealth Government House should be in Melbourne.

That is what I say, not merely as to Government House, but also as to' the High Court. I wish to be consistent. I say that what applies to Government House applies equally to the High Court. Melbourne is the Seat of Government - temporarily it is true, but just as effectively the Seat of Government of this Commonwealth as the Federal Capitalwillbe when it is established. Therefore, I stand for Melbourne, although i , do not belong to this city, and have nothing to do with Victoria. I have no particular sympathy one way or the other in respect of this State. But I maintain that under the Constitution Melbourne is now the Seat of Government ofthis Commonwealth, and it should be the place of residence of the GovernorGeneral, the seat of the High Court not only in name but in fact, and the place for the transaction of Commonwealth business. The reason for that is that where the Seat of Government is situated, there communications may conveniently be made between the Government and the head of the Executive, or in, matters affecting the executive administration of the Court between the Government and the Judiciary. Senator Trenwith. however, wants to know what I said on that occasion. I will tell him.


Senator Trenwith - I know that it was good.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I said -

There is a great deal of force in what the honorable and learned, senator, has said, and a time willprobably soon come when the advisability of continuing to maintain a residence in Sydney for a Governor-General must be considered.

Of course ; that time has come. I went on to say -

The visits of the Governor-General are much less frequent and of shorter duration than those whichhe pays to New South Wales, the present occupant of the office who has been in Australia for only a short time having already resided four months in the Sydney Government House.

Then I went on to refer to the origin of the arrangement, which I have already alluded to. I said-

The first Governor-General was sworn in in Sydney, and the inaugural ceremonies connected with the inception of the Commonwealth took place there, Sydney being at the time de facto though not perhaps de jure the Seat of Government.

Then there were some interjections, to which I need not allude. At any rate,I never hesitated to say what I say now,; that Melbourne being, as lawyers say, de, jure - by right - the Seat of Government, I object to Sydney being in any respect - either in respect of the Judiciary or in respect of the vice-regal residence - the defacto Seat of Government. The sooner we prevent the present practice becoming fixed the better. It is not with me a matter of feeling as between Melbourne and Sydney. I look at it from an ordinary taxpayer's point of view. I consider that the additional expenditure is unnecessary. Therefore, I shall be found voting with my honorable friend, Senator Givens,if he perseveres with his proposed request. No one must suggest thatany honorable senator who votes with himis seeking in any way to interfere with the dignity or the propriety of the expenditure in relation to the Governor-General .


Senator Pearce - Or to reflect upon him in his social capacity.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Certainly not. I say that I have in view simply the interests of the taxpayer, and maintain that the burdens of the Commonwealth should not be added to further than is imperative.







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