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Wednesday, 30 April 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - This matter is not as simple as the Leader of the Opposition would have us believe. It is not a question of whether it is or is not a party matter or of whether the right honorable gentleman has consulted honorable senators opposite before submitting it to the Senate. The motion submitted by him is a direct and deliberate challenge to this Government, and a challenge "which the Government accepts. The present Administration was not responsible for the statutes under which the Federal Capital is controlled. The act under which we are administering the affairs of the Federal Territory was passed by a government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member, and that Ministry imposed upon this and all subsequent Governments the responsibility of governing the Federal Territory by ordinance or by amending the existing legislation. Section 12 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act reads - .

Until the Parliament makes other provision for the government of the Territory, the Governor-General may make ordinances having the force of law in the Territory.

Senator Payne - No one objects to that.

Senator DALY - Of course not. No real objections have been voiced against this ordinance in the Senate to-day. A good deal has been said concerning householders being deprived of the right of planting roses or otherwise laying out their gardens in the way they desire. Senator Lynch might have gone further and have said that they are not permitted to keep fowls in their back yards unless they agree to keep the level of the fowl house roofs below the height of the fences. This Government was not responsible for the act which is at present in operation, and cannot amend it until Parliament is prepared to devote the necessary time to a general discussion on the control of the Federal Capital. What was the position with respect to the Federal Territory which confronted us when we came into power ? The Federal Capital had already been established and millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money had been spent on it. General depression and 'financial stringency were facing the country to a greater extent than had ever been experienced in the history of the Commonwealth, and in order to avoid unnecessary expenditure we decided to abolish the Federal Capital Commission, which Senator Lynch has described as a most expensive luxury.

Senator Sir George Pearce - This Government did not abolish the Commission.

Senator DALY - Not as originally constituted, but it is attempting to save £50,000 a year in the administration of the Territory, and it will achieve its purpose if the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues are prepared to support the Government. This motion, if carried, will prevent the Ministry from obtaining the very best advice possible for the future administration of the Federal Capital Territory. It has been alleged that under this proposal the people of Canberra will be denied some system of local government and we are told that provision should be made for the appointment of a municipal council. I invite honorable senators to consider the position in which the Government found itself when it took office. Huge expenditure had been incurred in the establishment of the Capital City. The Federal Capital Commission, in its original form, had gone and action had to be taken to insure continuity of developmental activities on a satisfactory financial basis ; hut there was not sufficient time to prepare the necessary legislative measures to guard against the mistakes made by the previous Administration. This ordinance does not mean the establishment of a body to govern Canberra at all.

Senator McLachlan - We all agree on that point, and we are asking the Government to establish an effective system of local government.

Senator DALY - The honorable senator was a member of the previous Administration for three years, during which time nothing wa3 done.

Senator McLachlan - There was an efficient system of control when this Government took office.

Senator DALY - And this Government is seeking economy without sacrificing efficiency. The system of control in operation when we took office was responsible for the many evils in administration to which Senator Lynch referred just now - such matters as restrictions with regard to the planting of rose trees, and the erection of fowl houses. This Government, I repeat, was not responsible for that state of affairs. This ordinance is not intended to be the last word in the government of Canberra. All it purports to do is to make possible the appointment of an advisory council.

Senator Lynch - For what term will that body function?

Senator DALY - During the continuance of this ordinance.

Senator Lynch - How long will that be?

Senator DALY - That will depend on a number of factors, including the measure of support given to the Government, which stands for the principle of government of the people by the people.

Senator Ogden - This ordinance is a queer way of showing it.

Senator DALY - It is apparent that Senator Ogden has not taken the trouble to study the document. The Government proposes to establish, not an administrative council, but. an advisory body. One would infer from the remarks of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable senators opposite that the Government is seeking the appointment of an administrative body, to consist of the civic administrator, three departmental heads, and three elected representatives of the people. That is not intended. The ordinance does not purport to give to the people of Canberra any measure of purely local government.

Senator Ogden - Why not?

Senator DALY - The honorable senator, who was a member of the previous Government, knows as well as I do that the time is not ripe for the appointment of a municipal council in Canberra. This afternoon my colleague, Senator Barnes, pointed out that the residents of Canberra contributed only 6.8 .per cent, of the total revenue required to carry out developmental works here, and honorable senators opposite suggested that consideration had not been given to the revenue from rents. But rents have nothing to do with rates. The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition also sought to compare Canberra and other towns similar in size, and the municipality of Albury was mentioned. But that comparison is not a fair one. The Albury Municipal Council raises all the revenue which it expends, whereas the people of Canberra contribute only 6.S per cent, of the total revenue required, the balance being found by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. This Government is determined, in the interests of the nation, to maintain control over all avenues of expenditure, and this ordinance is a step in that direction.

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