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Thursday, 30 October 1913

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - I do not think it was quite fair on the part of Senator Needham to raise this issue on the item for the Federal Capital. It is quite dear to everybody that the two parties here differ, and differ radically, on the question of day labour versus, contract system. We, on this side, have taken up precisely the same attitude with regard to the contract system as the members of the Opposition have taken up with regard to the other system. Between us, therefore, on a matter of principle,. I am afraid that there is a hopeless gulf, and I do not suppose that either of us can change our view. If Senator Needham chose there is practically not one item in the Schedule which he could not have attacked in a similar way. I do not think it was fair on his part to single out the item for the Federal Capital. More than once he used the phrase " get into recess." That gives me an opportunity to say that I cordially agree with the remarks of Senator Russell about the more than desirability, practically the necessity, for this Government, or, for that matter, any other Government, to formally enunciate a definite scheme with regard to .the building of the Capital. I agree with the honorable senator that we ought not to go on voting year by year, varying sums, that the time has come, even if it had not come before, when we ought to be able to say, "Here is our scheme; it involves an expenditure of so much money; we intend to expend the money over a certain period." I venture to say, on behalf of the Government, that if we do get into recess we will certainly give to that point very earnest consideration, and I think I may give my assurance that if the Government meet Parliament next session we will, with regard to the building of the Capital, come forward with a definite statement as to what we mean. Senator Needham knows that the matter is fixed and certain, as far as we are concerned. I hope that it is irremovable. I trust that he will recognise the position, and will not do anything to sacrifice this expenditure, which must, at any rate, go on for the present.

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