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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I think it would, perhaps, be better to adopt as far as possible, in the proposed amendment the wording of section 125 of the Constitution, which deals with the determination of the Seat of Government by .the Parliament. I suggest that Senator Clemons, instead of saying, " Except Crown lands required for the Federal Capital site," might use words to the following effect, " Except the territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth." As I said, I think that this proposal ought to be submitted in a new clause, or, at any rate, in a new paragraph of this clause.

Senator Clemons - I have no desire to interfere in this matter ; and, therefore, I suggest that the clause be postponed in order that the Parliamentary Draftsman may have an opportunity to express what is our intention.

Senator KEATING - I have no objection.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales) [9.25]. - I do not think that this Bill ought to deal in any way with the acquisition of land for the Federal Capital site. If it were considered desirable by the Parliament to establish the Seat of Government on private lands, the Government would be enabled by means of the Bill to fix on the site forthe Federal territory. The land thus selected might be the very best; but a matter of such paramount importance should be determined by a separate Bill, and not left to Executive action, even though the latter had to be subsequently confirmed by Parliament. A Bill of this character is intended to provide for the resumption of land for the purpose of post-offices, customhouses, light-houses, defence buildings, and so forth, and not to acquire or deal in any way with land appertaining to the Federal Capital site. If Parliament determined to fix the Capital on. land already alienated, surely it would never be said that it was proper to come to the determination by virtue of the Bill before us. If the territory selected consisted partly of Crown lands, and partly of private lands, the Commonwealth would be placed in the position that, while under the Bill they could resume the whole of the private lands, they could noi, by virtue of the same measure, resume the Crown lands, and there would have to be a separate Act of Parliament in regard to the latter. If Parliament declined to take up the Crown lands, then we should be in the absurd position of having acquired a large area of private land, and not being in possession of the Crown land. I am sure that Senator Keating himself, when he introduced the Bill, never dreamt that it would be made applicable in any respect to the Federal Capital. Under the Bill, an attempt might be made to do in an indirect way what ought to be done in a direct and straightforward way. If the clause be postponed, I suggest' that it be submitted with amendments which will show clearly that the Bill is not intended to deal in any way with the important question of the Capital site. I offer this suggestion in perfect good faith, and I am sure that Ministers will see sound reason why the suggestion I have made should be acted upon.

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