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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I wish to direct attention to the position which obtains in regard to the Federal Capital. There are some honorable senators who, like myself, desire to see work there pushed ahead, whilst others wish to see it retarded. But the view which I desire to impress upon the Government is that we ought to do one thing or the other. By spending little dribbling sums we are merely wasting money.

Senator Vardon - Let us put off the building of a Capital for ten years.

Senator MILLEN - I am not in favour of postponing that work for ten minuies. But I would rather that not a single penny figured upon these Estimates in connex.on with the Federal Capital than I would see a small sum there like £110.000. 1 pre-, sume that a couple of hundred thousand pounds has already been spent there.

Senator Pearce - No, not unless we include the cost of acquiring land. I do not think that the total expenditure has reached £100,000. The amount which has been expended upon works is £83,000.

Senator MILLEN - But there has been a good deal of other expenditure incurred. One has only to peruse the personal columns in our daily newspapers to see that there is a perfect pilgrimage of officers from the Department of Home Affairs to YassCanberra and back again. As a matter of fact, motor cars are even located at the railway station nearest to the Capital site to enable them to make frequent journeysto and from that site.

Senator Pearce - Is the honorable senator opposed to the use of motor cars as well as of laundries?

Senator MILLEN - Either we mean to go seriously ahead with the building of the Federal Capital, or we do not. If we do, .the way to do it is not to vote small dribbling sums such as £68,000, for the purpose. The expenditure of these small sums means that a generation will elapse before we shall have anything to show for our money. In the meantime, we are losing interest on the sums already expended, and we are sacrificing an equal amount by reason of the time of officials which is wasted in travelling backwards and forwards to the site. Those honorable senators who wish the building of the Capital to be proceeded with without delay, equally with those who desire to see the work at a stand-still, will agree that I am laving down a sound business proposition. At the j. resent rate of progress, we shall be just as far off having a Federal Capital in ten years' time as we are now.

Senator Pearce - No.

Senator MILLEN - How many years will elapse before we shall be within a measurable distance of getting into cur own home ?

Senator Pearce - This money must be spent before the larger amount can be expended.

Senator MILLEN - The same statement was made last year. If these items represent preliminary expenditure which is necessary to enable the Government to embark upon a thorough business undertaking next year, the Minister should outline what is the nature pf that undertaking. The Government evidently think there is something to be done there, because they have found that the Territory can no longer get along without it being placed under the control of " His Excellency." Indeed, the Ministry are much more energetic in making appointments with these high-sounding titles than they are in transacting the business of the country. If we are only going to spend these small amounts, where is the necessity for appointing a Governor for the Federal Territory? Tt is quite possible, I suppose, that in the near future we shall have a Government House there. Indeed, we mav be inundated with invitations to attend Government House balls. Instead of rushing in to create new titles, and to make fresh appointments, the Government would be very much better employed in pushing ahead with the real work which requires to be done in connexion with the Federal Capital.

Senator Vardon - Does not the honorable senator wish to secure a water supply there first?

Senator MILLEN - Yes; but Senator Vardon does not want a water supply, or anything else to be secured there. There are reports in the Department of Home Affairs to-day which suggest that if the Government had really desired it, this Parliament might have met at the Federal Capital after the next election. The officers of that Department have furnished me with a complete justification for saying that work at the Capital might have been pushed forward very much more energetically than it has been.

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