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Wednesday, 30 April 1930

Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - I take it that we are all deeply interested in the welfare of the residents of this Capital city. Speaking for myself, I have constantly endeavoured, by consultation with the residents at every opportunity, to ascertain their wishes, and form an opinion as to the best system of local administration to adopt. In the first place we had control by a commission, and, when it was decided that the third Commissioner should be elected by the residents they were merely offered a sop. When the first election was held, the third Commissioner was assured of a chilly, if not a hostile, reception from the other Commissioners. To my mind it does not matter very much whether the ordinance is disallowed or left alone. But, if we disallowed it, what would the alternative be? I submit that the proposed advisory council represents a step in the direction of giving the residents of Canberra a voice in their local affairs. This is not as easy a problem as it appears to be at first glance. My desire is that the residents of Canberra should also have a voice in the government of Australia, but the granting of that privilege is a long way off yet. I see no objection to the appointment of the advisory council. It possibly would not take us any further towards the goal of local self-government ; but I submit that it would prove of some value. In running my battalion, I need all the advice that I can obtain, and so I consult my adjutant, my company commanders and my bombing officers. I can get it only from my trusted subordinates. Therefore, I submit that the advisory council, as proposed to be constituted, must prove useful. The three Government nominees are residents of the Territory, and they are naturally intensely interested in the government of Canberra. Though they must be loyal to their Ministers, and probably would have to give way to some extent, their advice would be of value. It may be claimed that the three elected members would have practically no power, but, being in close touch with the residents their contributions to discussions in the council as to how certain things should be done would be useful. The Leader of the Government nearly lost my vote on this matter owing to some of his bombastic threats, which I certainly resented.

Senator McLachlan - Who will govern Canberra in the meantime?

Senator SAMPSON - The Minister. If the honorable senator will cast his memory back three years or so, he will recall that certain members, mostly on the Opposition side, regularly bombarded the Government with questions, some of which related to quite trivial matters, with regard to Canberra. If we do not allow steam, to be blown off at the meetings of a body such as the advisory council, that experience will be repeated.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Did not those questions nearly all relate to matters of municipal government?

Senator SAMPSON - Undoubtedly. There is, nevertheless, some meat on the bone that is offered, and, since the proposal is of some, value, I shall not oppose the 'ordinance.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ogden) adjourned.

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