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Thursday, 30 October 1913

Senator BLAKEY (Victoria) .- I do not wish to resurrect the question of the Federal Capital, but I cannot give a silent vote on the amount which is allocated in these Estimates towards the cost of its establishment. I am speaking in a non-party manner. In my opinion, that is too large a sum to vote on these Estimates. I feel sure that some honorable senators on the other side concur in that opinion, because I have a very vivid recollection of reading in the daily press, prior to the 31st May, that the Labour Government were abused on many platforms for the so-called lavish expenditure and waste of public money on the Federal Capital. It was called a " bush " Capital, a "desert" Capital, and other abusive names. If it was wrong for the Labour Government to spend about £147,000 last year, it must be doubly wrong for the present Government to expend this year £285,000. I protest against the expenditure of such a large sum, because I think that the time is not ripe for launching out on that lavish scale.

Senator McGregor - That is a good Conservative "gag."

Senator BLAKEY - I am conservative so far as the building of the Federal Capital is concerned. I am so conservative that, if 1 had my way, a Capital would not be built at Yass-Canberra, Dalgety, or any other place in Australia for fifty years.

Senator Mullan - Where would you propose to have the Capital?

Senator BLAKEY - In Melbourne - the hub of the universe. I rose to object to the expenditure of £285,000 this year, because I think there is a certain amount of hypocrisy on the part of some members of this Parliament, and some members of the present Government, in voting for the expenditure of £285,000, seeing that they bitterly opposed the expenditure last year of a sum , not approaching that amount. I do not wish to speak in a parochial spirit. I am not opposed to the Canberra site at the present time, although I was opposed to it when it was undergoing the fire of selection. I recognise that the Parliament has decided - and, in my opinion, the question has been settled for all time - that the Capital shall be established at Canberra, but I sincerely believe that £285,000 is too much to expend this year.

Senator Millen - What was the amount provided on the last Estimates?

Senator BLAKEY - I understand that it was £147,000.

Senator Millen - You supported that item, did you not?

Senator BLAKEY - No.

Senator Millen - You did not vote against it?

Senator BLAKEY - At every opportunity I have protested against any expenditure at Yass-Canberra. Irrespective of what party or Government the proposal emanates from, I shall always protest against what I think is an undue and unnecessary expenditure on the building of a Capital forty or fifty years before its time.

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