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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator GRAY (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I believe that lookerson very often see most of the game. We are sent here as trustees for the people, and, having no personal interest in this matter, we are better able to consider the interests of the people in dealing with it than are honorable members in another place, who are naturally biased in favour of what suit's themselves.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Why not apply the same principle in dealing with the Federal Capital Site?

Senator GRAY - I can dealonly with the matter before the Committee. I hope the Senate will adhere to its first decision, as that will give a guarantee to the electors that their interests in this matter, which are very great, will be considered apart from the personal interests of honorable members in another place. We rely upon Commissioners to a very great extent, because we believe that they will bring an independent! judgment to bear upon the questions submitted to them.

Senator Playford - But we never give up the right to review their . decisions.

Senator GRAY - We do. The Railways Commissioners in Victoria and in New South Wales are given complete control of the railways of those States.

Senator Playford - They are not.

Senator GRAY - This Parliament has already given the Minister of Trade and Customs powers exceeding those conferred upon any Minister in any other part of the world. He has been made the sole arbiter, under the Commerce Bill, in matters affecting the whole of the commercial interests of the Commonwealth, involving exports and imports to the value of millions of pounds. Every thoughtful man must agree that this is a question the settlement of which should be taken out of the hands of those who are personally interested, and placed in the hands of Commissioners, who will be entirely disinterested. I venture to say that if that were not done there is not a member of the other House who, if he "found that his political interests were likely to be prejudiced by a redistribution, would not immediately do his best to get it altered. There would be a scramble on the part of members of the other House to see that their electorates were so partitioned as to best serve their interests, for we cannot regard them as being superior to those selfish instincts which are inherent in human nature. Surely the members of the Senate who have no personal interest in the division of the States should be in a better position to deal with this phase of political life than the members of the other House can be. For that reason, I shall vote to adhere to our amendment, and I hope that the Committee will pay no attention to the threats, direct or indirect, about dropping the Bill, but will, as trustees for the people, do what in their opinion will conduce to the best interests of the Commonwealth.

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