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Thursday, 30 October 1913

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I find no fault with the amount set down in these Estimates for the works necessary for building the Capital. I recognise that the people of Australia entered into a compact, when they voted for the Constitution Bill, that there should be a Capital for the Commonwealth, and that it should be in New South Wales. This Parliament, in its wisdom, decided on a certain place for the Capita], and if it has come to the opinion that the site is a suitable one, and that a Capital is an essential to the Commonwealth, I believe in a city being built as speedily as possible. I do not agree with some people in different parts of Australia that it is an unbusiness-like proposition. If a company were floated to-morrow on the Stock Exchange, and it was put forward as a business proposition, I would put my last shilling into the proposition, because I realize that it would be a highly profitable enterprise within a very short period. We must not forget that we obtained an immense area of Crown lands from New South Wales. We must not blind ourselves, either, to the fact that, as soon as the building of the Capital is proceeded with, and Government establishments are erected, there will be a fairly large population there, and that immediately the land values will rise. There will be a demand on the part of different folk to embark in businesses. With the increase in population, the erection of the buildings, and the fact that Parliament will assemble there, a very substantial revenue will be derived from the leasehold lands, and the longer we delay building the Capital, the longer we shall deny ourselves a substantial source of revenue. That is by the way. I want to be absolutely clear on this point: That Mr. Griffin is to be solely responsible for the laying-out and planning of the Capital. I want to be clear, also, as to whether he is to be intrusted wholly with the architectural designing of all the Government buildings, and that the Government are not going to give an opportunity to any Australian architect in respect of any of the buildings which are to be erected. If that is the purport of the agreement, we ought to know it. I have not one word to say about Mr. Griffin. I believe that his qualifications are excellent, and that he is a man with a wide range of experience. We all know that he won the first prize for a design of the Capital. At the same time, I think that there are in Australia a number of architects highly qualified to do some of the work that will be required in connexion with the city. As an Australian, I am not narrow or restricted in my vision in the least; I am essentially a cosmopolitan. At the same time, I believe that there are Australians who know Australian conditions, and the tastes and desires of the people, who are as well qualified to do some of the work as is Mr. Griffin. I wish to know whether they are to be denied an opportunity of doing any of the work that has been laid down for that gentleman ?

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