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Wednesday, 7 May 1930


Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - It seems to me that one of the reasons why Canberra cannot be dealt with on the same economic basis for the purposes of self government as that of other Australian towns is because of its design. I have always been n believer in town planning, and in making proper provision for public utilities of the future.. I believe in making provision in Canberra for parks and open spaces, and for the many scientific, educational and other institutions that may be expected to be located at the National Capital as it develops; but I venture to think that it is a great pity that this city was not designed more on lines suited to Australian conditions and Australian sentiment. It has always seemed extraordinary to me that the designer of the Australian National Capital should have Wen a foreigner. A native and citizen of the United States of America, Mr.

Griffin must have been expected to be naturally lacking in British sentiment and Australian sentiment. I believe he had not seen Australia until after his design had been accepted. It is strange that the Commonwealth should go to the United States of America, not only for its motor cars, pictures, talkies, and slang, but also for a designer for its national capital.


Senator Herbert Hays - I should not class Mr. Griffin as a foreigner.


Senator E B JOHNSTON - I think Americans can be ' regarded as foreigners, at any rate so long as Australians are treated as such in the United States. During the war they were our allies, but ever since that time they have been telling us that they won the war, quite forgetful of the long time they took to make up their minds to participate in the struggle. At any rate our action in having an American design for our capital is inconsistent with the many slogans sounded so often in federal political circles to-day advocating use of Australian brains and Australian manufactures.

The position in Canberra has been accent iia red because successive Australian governments Iia ve refused to permit Australian architects to make necessary modifications of Mr. Griffin's design, even where the latter has been found to be freakish, economically unsound or unsigned to Australian conditions. Canberra is certainly an. example of town planning run mad. The idea of town planning- as I have always understood it is to have proper regard for the requirements of posterity, but as applied in Canberra it seems to me to have been to give the maximum of discomfort and disadvantage to the present, and probably the next two or three, generations.

Canberra has a population of between 6.000 and 7,000 people who are scattered over an area of 25 square miles, an area larger than the cities of Perth or Adelaide. The effect has been to increase tremendously the cost of the usual municipal services, such as water supply, lighting, sewerage, road construction and maintenance. There are half a dozen small settlements or suburbs with separate shopping centres thus preventing the establishment of one good business centre with its resultant trading values, which, under the leasehold system, should have provided a valuable asset to the nation. These separate and scattered suburbs have compelled the residents, in most cases, to live very much further from their work than is the case with residents of large cities like Perth and Adelaide. In the absence of a tramway system the citizens of Canberra are involved in considerable economic losses in travelling to the various government offices. Public servants, who really cannot afford motor cars, are- consequently compelled to purchase them.







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