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Tuesday, 28 November 1905

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) - Senator Croft has called attention to an item of £1,000 for expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the Federal Capital, and has made some remarks in reference to New South Wales with which I do not agree. I do not think that either side has shown quite that degree of good sense and moderation in approaching the subject which it ought to have shown. When, the Seat of Government Bill was under consideration, I thought that a wrong course was being adopted". The question naturally 'arose whether we were entitled to ride rough-shod over New South Wales, and by Act to choose any portion of that State which we might think fit, for instance, her most valuable mineral area, say, a* Broken Hill, or her most valuable pastoral area somewhere else. Without expressing any opinion on that subject, which honorable senators will see is a very serious one as between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, it has always been my view that we should have approached its consideration by resolution. We should have dealt with New South Wales on the basis of negotiations and resolutions in the two Houses before we passed a Bill in which it will be recollected we had great difficulty - I think it was done in the Senate - in moderating the word " shall " into the word "should," so as, if possible, to tone down, the very peremptory way in which the provision was originally framed.

Senator Walker - That was done in the other House bv the Right Hon. G. H. Reid

Senator Best - It was a very anomalous word to use.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Yes. it was, but of course the intention was not so much to conform to the. strict rules of grammar as to make New South Wales feel that there was no desire to ride roughshod over her. I do not think that the remark of my honorable friend Senator Croft in regard to New South Wales was quite wise ; and as far as possible we ought to assist the Government to get out of the present tangle. But we should have some explanation with regard to the extraordinary position of two of the items. Last year we voted £;?. 500. The expenditure was 0,645. This vear we, are asked to vote £1,000. What for? Of course, no one can tell. The /It, 000 does not swell the Estimates very greatly. But there is also set down ^8,562 for The conveyance of Members of Parliament and others.

Senator Keating - That is for the ordinary railway fares of Members of Parlia-ment.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - T was not aware that that was so. The £1,000 is apparently the equivalent of the £1,645 expended last year. But it is hoped that no such expenditure will be incurred.

Senator Keating - I do not think that £20 has been spent since the beginning of the financial vear.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Unless there is a prospect of spending the money, it is a pity that so much should be voted. As to the amount for valuations, that surely cannot mean any general valuation of properties taken over. I do not understand that there has been , any valuation of transferred properties up to the present. Then with regard to the establishment of the statistical bureau. Although I agree that such a bureau ought to be established, we ought to be careful that there is no duplication. We ought to be informed whether there is a definite scheme in existence in regard to it.

Senator WALKER(New South Wales)'. - I should like to take this opportunity to say that I regret that there has been some Unwise correspondence in the newspapers with regard to the conveyance of Members of Parliament by train". I travel backwards and forwards from Melbourne to Sydney frequently, and can testify that I have always been well treated by the railway authorities. I bear this testimony willingly. I see no reason for the correspondence in regard to one Member of Parliament not being able to obtain a sleeping berth through his late arrival on the railway platform. No people could be more considerate than are the railway authorities. I also object to Members of Parliament being designated " dead-heads." The Commonwealth pays £60 per annum to each State for each member that it sends to the Commonwealth Parliament. I wish it to go forth that we are not " dead-heads " in the ordinary sense of the word.

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