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Tuesday, 12 December 1905


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - Since I have been a member of the Federal Parliament, I have found honorable members of both Houses exceedingly anxious to give effect to the section of the Constitution providing for the fixing of the Capital site. All the members of this Parliament to whom I have spoken, or whom I have heard speaking on the matter, have expressed a desire that the site should be fixed as soon as possible, in the way most advantageous and most satisfactory to the Commonwealth. I have personally been exceedingly anxious that as little delay as possible shall take place in the settlement of the question, because I believe the Federal Parliament should have a home of its own. I am one of those who believe that it is not a good thing to have the political capital of the Commonwealth identical with the commercial capital of any State. I am opposed to the Seat of Government remaining so long in Melbourne, just as I should be opposed to its remaining for any length of time in Sydney. I believe that most of the legislation of this Parliament, by reason of the fact that it has sat in Melbourne, has been unduly coloured by Victorian commercial and political feelings and exigencies. I believe that just the same kind of difficulty would have occurred if the Seat of Government had been located in Sydney. That being so, I have been exceedingly anxious, and prepared to do anything within my power, consistent with the interest of the Commonwealth to have this question settled as soon as possible. I believe that I have expressed in this way the feeling of the majority of the members of the Senate. But it is net the Senate or the Federal Parliament that is responsible for the delay. It is New South Wales, or perhaps I should rather say that it is Sydney. I have no wish to refer in detail to the various sites offered to us, but it was felt that the selection of a site in the Monaro district would be acceptable to New South. Wales. In fact. Dalgety was one of the sites most favoured by those appointed to inquire into the matter bv the New South Wales Government. We, therefore, had every reason to believe that our selection of that site would be agreeable to the people of New South Wales. But what has been the result? New South 'Wales, instead of loyally accepting the decision of the Parliament in carrying out the provision of the Constitution, has thrown every possible difficulty in the way. We have been refused every facility to settle the Capital at Dalgety, where we decided it should be. Now, we have Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, breaking out into a tirade of abuse against the Government and

Parliament of the Commonwealth for doing exactly what the Constitution provides should be done, and for selecting a site which was. offered to us with the full approval of the then Government of New South Wales: I fail to see how any one can contend that the Federal Parliament or Government have in any way deserved such abuse. It appears to me that Mr. Carruthers adopted the well-known legal maxim. and, having no case, decided to abuse the other side. No impartial man will contend that he has a vestige of a case to put before the public. I have no interest in Melbourne or in Victoria, any more than in Sydney or in New South Wales, and I

Can, therefore, consider' this question quite impartially. As a matter of fact, the site favoured by Mr. Carruthers would suit Queenslanders better than that which has been chosen by the Federal Parliament.


Senator Clemons - Which site does he favour ?


Senator GIVENS - I think that Lyndhurst is. the site which he most favours. He bas entered into a tirade of abuse against this Parliament which no public man in, Australia occupying a similar position would have descended to. If we look at the history of the controversy for some little time past, it mav throw some light upon the attitude of Mr. Carruthers. It should be remembered that twelve months ago this gentleman was. apparently anxious for nothing so much as for some means of referring this vexed question to the High Court. He approached the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth time after time, begging and praying of him to do something which would enable the New South Wales Government to appeal to the High Court. Now that the Commonwealth Government propose to do something which .will enable the New South Wales. Premier to adopt the course which he professed himself so anxious to adopt, Mr. Carruthers squeals like a pig stuck in a gate. In my opinion, this shows that the Premier of New South Wales has not desired a definite settlement of the matter. It appears to me that he had desired something else: that New South Wales should be allowed to settle the question, and that this Parliament should abrogate the functions with which it has been intrusted by the people of New South Wales, under the Constitution. It appears to me that Mr. Carruthers has desired that he should be allowed to gain some little temporary kudos by settling this question for the people of Australia. It will be time enough for him to settle questions for the people of Australia when they give him a mandate to do so. It is possible that he may have some ulterior motive. He might desire, for instance, to distract public attention from his own misdeeds, by diverting it to the alleged misdeeds of the Commonwealth Parliament. That is not an uncommon course for public men to adopt, and, in view of recent revelations in New South Wales, it does, not require a very strong effort of the imagination to suppose that something of that kind may be the matter with Mr. Carruthers. I believe that Dalgety is a good site for the Federal Capital. I have taken the trouble to read the reports on the various sites, have visited most of them, and have tried to get at the facts, and Dalgety appears, to me to be one of the best sites that could be selected, not only in the interest of the Commonwealth, but also in the interest of New South Wales. I believe that the establishment of the Federal Capital there would practically add a new province to New South Wales, as well as to the Commonwealth. If Dalgety and the district around it were opened up, as it would be by the establishment of the Federal Capital" there, it would, in the next twenty-five or thirty years, probably be supporting a population of 250,000 instead of being a sheep-walk,' as it is at the present time. Most of the district consists of good country, and it has access to what would be an important new port for the great State of New South Wales. However, we know that the people of Sydney desire to drag everything to Sydney. In the mind of Mr. Carruthers, this is not a New South Wales question but purely a Sydney question. Everything must gravitate towards Sydney. All the railways of the State radiate from Sydney, and the people of that city desire that everything shall be dragged to Sydney for the benefit of Sydney merchants and property-owners, and Sydney interests generally, in the interests of New South Wales,' it would be an excellent thing, if another port w.ere opened in that State, and Twofold Bay, the natural port for Dalgety could, I understand, be made a very fine port. I believe that its development would add greatly to the wealth of New South Wales without doing any undue harm to the port of Sydney.


Senator Lt Col Gould - There is a big range of mountains to be climbed in order to reach the back country.


Senator GIVENS - We have surmounted higher mountains with a railway in North Queensland, and surely if the small population of Queensland can build railways of that sort the Commonwealth could build any railway thai might be necessary to provide communication' between the Federal Capital and the port of Eden? For these reasons, I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament, notwithstanding the squealing of Mr. Carruthers^ would do well to adhere to the decision they have already arrived at. For my part, I may say that if any course can be adopted by this Parliament, without any undue loss of dignity, and without backing down to Mr. Carruthers, which will help forward an early solution of the question, and provide the Commonwealth with an equally satisfactory site for its Federal Capital, I shall be prepared to reconsider my decision. I admit that I should have been more ready to reconsider it if Mr. Carruthers had not indulged in his tirade of abuse, but I shall not allow anything that he has said to influence any action of mine.


Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - His gun is not loaded, anyhow.


Senator GIVENS - I believe that if he thought it was, he would be frightened to put it to his shoulder and fire it off.


Senator Lt Col Gould - The honorable senator thinks that it might kick too much ?


Senator GIVENS - It might possibly have the effect of kicking him out of power. Senator Pulsford has done good- service in bringing the matter up for consideration, as the Senate is thus given an opportunity to inform Mr. Carruthers of its opinion on the matter. I believe that when that gentleman is seized with the fact that his action is likely to be detrimental to the attainment of the views he has professed he will be sorry that he spoke in the manner he did.







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