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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - Two objects are proposed to be served by the clause, and both should be kept in mind. First of all, we have to consider that we are taking the right to acquire lond for public purposes on behalf of the Commonwealth. I think we might assume circumstances in which it would be necessary for us to acquire land in the interest of the Commonwealth against the will of a State. In such circumstances, the interests of the whole must override those of a section, and we must, therefore, have the power to acquire compulsorily any of the lands of a State required in the public interest. We know that in all the States there are certain dedications or reservations in- connexion with public lands which, unless very strong reason to the contrary is shown, should be observed. The States "Parliaments taking necessarily a narrower view as compared with the Commonwealth Parliament have embedded the principle of reservation in particular enactments.1 In the event of circumstances arising in which, for some reason, it would be obviously in the public interest that land should be acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes, and a certain dedication or reservation revoked, the case might be so strong that even the authorities of the State responsible for enacting the dedication or reservation would admit the justice of the claim.

Senator Guthrie - Thev may erect a tobacco factory upon park land.

Senator TRENWITH - That is a highly improbable contingency.

Senator Guthrie - Football.

Senator TRENWITH - Let us assume, for the sake of argument that, in a time of stress or extraordinary circumstances, the best military judgment arrived at the conclusion that the most suitable site in the Commonwealth for a military fort was within the limits of the Adelaide park lands. Suppose that to be incontestibly - proved. Righteous as the dedication of lands for park purposes undoubtedly is, that is not a sufficient justification for jeopardizing the safety of the entire Commonwealth.

Senator Guthrie - No.

Senator TRENWITH - The honorable senator has referred to football, but can any one conceive the possibility of the Commonwealth enacting a law to revoke a dedication of the character mentioned for the sake of providing a football ground?

Senator Guthrie - It has been done in Melbourne.

Senator TRENWITH - It seems to me that the clause is designed to facilitate business! iri an event which may easily arise. Both parties may agree that the best' thing to be done is that which is proposed, but a law may stand in the way. In order to obviate the necessity of a special Act in every instance in which a contingency of that sort arises, we by this Bill intrust the right to take land from a State to our responsible administrators, over whose action Parliament continually keeps control. I think that there is no danger involved in the provision.

Senator Best - The honorable senator misconceives the position. We do not Jo anything of the kind." My contention is that what we should db is to empower our agent - the Governor-General - to do these things.

Senator TRENWITH - It seems to me that the clause empowers the act to be done by the administrators of a State, in conjunction with the administrators of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding, anything in the law of the State to the contrary. It seems to me to give two sets of administrators, on some general principle, the power to come to an agreement. I feel disposed to support the clause. I do not think that it contains anything which is offensive to the States. In all questions of aggregate public interest, we must take to the Commonwealth the right to supersede any section of the community in that connexion.

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