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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Senator KEATING (TASMANIA) - No, it was a permanent annual appropriationof revenue in. respect of the office of the GovernorGeneral. This provision was made, apparently, withthe concurrence of, at any rate, someof the other States, who were to take a like course, and, in the whole, supplement theFederal allowance of£10,000 by another£10,000. In addition, New South Wales put Sydney Government House in the best of order and condition, and set it aside for the GovernorGeneral, taking other quarters for theState Governor. These were the facts at the establishment of the CommonwealthSince then, as I have said. Sydney Government House has been occupied, in conjunction with the Melbourne Government House, as the residence of the Governor-General, on the terms I have stated - terms which wemay call very unsettled. Now we ask, in view of those facts, that the Government shall be empowered to make a definite arrangement with each of the two States for the occupancy of the two Government Houses on the same terms and conditions as heretofore. Those conditions will bedefinitely expressed, and will operate for a. definite term, pending the establishment of the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth ?

Senator Stewart - The Minister does, not mention any State except New South Wales.

Senator KEATING - The only twoStates affected are New South Wales and' Victoria.

Senator Stewart - Why not mention theother States?

Senator KEATING - I do not know that the Governor-General has been residing inany of the other States.

Senator Stewart - Let the GovernorGeneral residethree months in each of the States.

Senator Givens - Is there not a condition of the Constitution which prevents any discrimination between State and State ?

Senator KEATING -. - These are the facts as I have them for presentation to honorable senators. The Bill is intended to enable the Government to continue, on more definite terms, and in an expressed agreement with the two States, the arrangements which have heretofore obtained. I have pointed out the amount of money that will be involved, and I have shown the cost of maintaining residences of the kind in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and New Zealand. As I said, this Bill has been introduced in conformity with the promise made to the Senate last session by my colleague on behalf of the Government, that this Chamber would te afforded an opportunity to consider this matter independently of the general body of Estimates.

Senator Dobson - Does the Minister know, as a fact, that the two States will enter into a.r agreement to continue the same arrangement? "

Senator KEATING - The agreement has been entered into, subject to ratification bv Parliament.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - What are the terms - what is the agreement we have to ratify?

Senator Dobson - Would it not be better to make this a Bill to ratify the agreement, and to put the agreement in a schedule?

Senator KEATING - The agreement is at present a matter of correspondence. The States have undertaken to continue the present arrangement on the terms which have obtained heretofore, and to enter into a formal agreement for that purpose.

Senator Dobson - Under the Bill you could enter into an agreement to pay an enormous rent.

Senator KEATING - Yes, but this agreement has been entered into only so far as correspondence is concerned, subject to ratification by Parliament.

Senator Dobson - If there is an agreement, surely this Bill ought to be one to ratify the agreement?

Senator KEATING - The agreement has not yet been drawn up. I cannot at the moment place my hand on the particular letter, from Mr. Carruthers ; but it is very briefly stated in eight or nine lines that a minute had been drawn up and signed by the Minister of Home Affairs and a representative of the New South Wales Go vernment to the effect that a formal agreement shall be prepared for a tenancy not to exceed five years, on the terms and conditions which have hitherto obtained.

Senator Dobson - What are the terms in regard to repairs ?

Senator KEATING - The Commonwealth Government have to maintain and keep the building and its contents in the present good order and condition.

Senator Dobson - If an unforseen accident, such as a tempest, were to cause any damage, we should have to make that damage good, I presume?

Senator KEATING - I do not know; that would be a term for the agreement to set out. I do not think I can afford honorable senators any further information. As I said before, I think we shall be getting from both States a very excellent bargain, and very generous treatment. We shall be able to maintain the conditions as heretofore, which have apparently given the greatest satisfaction to all concerned. So far as New South Wales is concerned, we shall be maintaining an attitude which, though it seemed inexplicable to me before I had familiarized myself with, all that took place in the early days of Federation, now seems to me calculated to produce the greatest harmony between that State and the Commonwealth, pending the establishment of the permanent Seat df Government.

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