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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) - I think that eventually this question, if it is to be settled, will have to be referred to a Royal Commission composed of the representatives of Tasmania in this Parliament, because we should then be able to get an impartial selection which would be satisfactory to the Commonwealth. When I entered the Senate there were several sites submitted for the consideration of Parliament. I, in common with, I think, every other senator, understood that those sites had been submitted by New South Wales for inspection, with a view to afterwards making a selection. We were taunted because we were so long in making a selection. The various sites had their supporters. By one of those curious coincidences associated with politics, each representative of New South Wales supported a site in his own district, and those of us who had not an opportunity of visiting the sites had some trouble in coming to a decision. Speaking for the Parliament as a whole, I believe that it made the selection in the interests of the Commonwealth and of New South Wales, and without any feeling of partiality. I, for one, strongly resent the charge recently made by the Premier of New South Wales, and that we were animated by feelings adverse to the State of New South Wales. I voted for Dalgety because it was adjacent to Twofold Bay, and I thought it was desirable to have a seaport in connexion with the Capital. After, being abused from inside Parliament for some time because we dm not immediately select a site, we are now abused from outside Parliament because we have done so. In this matter, New South Wales has not, I think, a leg to stand upon. According to my view, an Act of the State Parliament was not needed in connexion with the submission of the sites. Since the Constitution Act was accepted by New South. Wales, it seems to me that the Government of that State had power, by Executive act, to offer certain sites, and to reserve certain lands for the purpose of a site for the Federal Capi-tal, to be selected by this Parliament. The position now set up, if it is logically carried out, is that the Federal Parliament should have no choice, but should take whatever should be offered by New South Wales. That seems to me to be preposterous. I regret that the honest endeavours which were being made by some representatives of New South Wales to bring about a settlement of this very much vexed question have been frustrated. When I was asked by Mr. Watson if I would be prepared to reconsider my vote on the question, I said : " Certainly ; other tilings being, equal, if we can suit New South Wales we ought to try te do so."

Senator Lt Col Gould - That is all I am asking.

Senator MULCAHY - Yes ; but the honorable senator expects us to be more than human. Are we going to allow a perky little Premier to threaten secession and all sorts 'of nonsense, and not to express any resentment ? The action of Mr. Carruthers in the Parliament of New South Wales has done more mischief than anything else could do. I quite agree with Senator Smith that there is something else behind his action. Why did he not, as a member of the New South Wales Parliament, move in the direction of having Dalgety withdrawn from the areas approved for selection? He did nothing of the kind, and now we are to be abused, and called names, because we happen to have done something of which he, and, possibly, a few of his followers do not approve. It is possible that as the result of his action the Federal Parliament will not reconsider the matter this session. Whether it comes on this session or next session, I shall be prepared to endeavour to placate NewSouth Wales, and, if POSSible, to make a better selection than that which we have already made. But it seems to me that we have done no wrong whatever to New South Wales, and if any grievance exists between the Federation and that State, the fault lies with the State, and not with the Federation.

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