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Thursday, 27 September 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I beg to second the motion. I should like to point out, in doing so, that if there is a grievance on the part of those who desire to see some action taken, it arises entirely from the assurance of the Government, embodied in the GovernorGeneral's speech at the commencement of the session, that an opportunity would be given for revising the decision previously arrived at. If it is said, as it has been to-day, that a decision has been arrived at, and that therefore .there is nothing more to be done, I reply that that position would have been intelligible, and one could have understood it but for the action of the Government. A decision was arrived at by the Federal Parliament for what it is .worth. But the Government embodied an assurance in the Governor-General's speech at the commencement of the present session that an opportunity would be afforded for Parliament to reconsider that decision.

The complaint of my; honorable friend, Senator Neild, is that that promise has not been redeemed. I am not going to enter into the merits of the matter. 1 do not intend to say where I think the Capital ought to be. I am not going to say, even, that a case has been made out for reopening it. But the Government itself, having voluntarily given a promise to the country that an opportunity would be afforded of further considering the matter, ought either to redeem that pledge or to offer some' substantial reason for departing from it. That is the whole charge which I understand Senator Neild makes, and which I am prepared to indorse. If we are to adhere to the decision previously arrived at, the Government ought not to have embodied the paragraph referred to in the GovernorGeneral's speech. But, having done so, it practically told New South Wales that further action would be taken. Does the Government intend to redeem that pledge, or does it not?

Senator Turley - Does the honorable senator wish the matter to be finally settled?

Senator MILLEN - Strange as it may seem, I do. I can quite understand the position of my honorable friend. He says that Parliament has arrived at a. decision, and that he is not prepared to vary it. Senator Givens has expressed that opinion with a firmness which, if it were manifested by any one else, I should call by another term. But he is in a different position from the Government. He says, " I helped to select Dalgety, and Dalgety it is going to be; notwithstanding the multiplicity of other sites suggested, I am goins to stand by that chosen by the Federal Parliament." But the Government does not take up that position.

Senator Playford - Oh, yes.

Senator MILLEN - The Government voluntarily embodied a statement in the Governor-General's speech, to the effect that the matter would be reconsidered. Surely that was an admission that, in the opinion of the Government, it had not been finally settled.

Senator Givens - I read it that an opportunity would be 'given to Parliament to confirm its decision.

Senator MILLEN - If that decision was arrived at, and as Senator Givens would affirm, was irrevocable, there was no need to confirm it. I am not saying that the Government was right when it inserted that paragraph in the Governor-General's speech. But I do say that, having put it in, New South Wales was practically informed that it was intended to reconsider the subject. Either the Government was honest when it made that promise or it was not. Was it inserted merely for the purpose of creating an impression in the minds of the New South Wales people that the Government would, honestly endeavour to reverse the decision, or was it a, mere empty placard with no honest intention behind it?

Senator Playford - The honorable senator should not get cross.

Senator MILLEN - I am not cross, but I am in a state of being grieved with the Government. Without expressing an opinion as to where the Capital ought to be, or whether the question ought to be reopened, I do say that as the Government made a promise it ought to be redeemed.

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