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Friday, 29 June 1906

Mr FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) .- I feel disposed to-day to congratulate the Government upon taking steps to place upon a sound basis the position of the Commonwealth in relation to the States. With the deputy leader of the Opposition, I quite agree that it is very likely to be much more satisfactory to both contracting parties if we determine by the Bill the exact relations which are to exist between the States and the Commonwealth. Up to the present time New South Wales and Victoria have treated the Commonwealth most generously. If we are to have a GovernorGeneral - and theredoes not appear to be any doubt' on that point - we should take the responsibility of housing him.

Mr Henry Willis - In how many States ?

Mr FRAZER - Thatis a point to which I am coming. We should do a fair thing in making arrangements for the housing of the Governor-General, and above all, we should express at this particular juncture the Commonwealth's voice. My acquaintance with public opinion of Australia leads me to thinkthat it is to the effect that the popular expectation in pre-Federal days in regard to public expenditure is not being realized. Most of the electors of Australia did undoubtedly believe that with the consummation of Federation there would be a decrease in the expenditure on the establishments of the State Governors, and that then the Commonwealth new expenditure would not be felt. The Commonwealth has been in existence for five years, and although we have been receiving exceptional treatment from the States, the cost of the Governor-General is, roughly speaking, £16,000 per year, and none of the State Governors has been dispensed with.

Mr Wilson - Have not their salaries been reduced?

Mr Skene - Yes, in the case of Queensland and Victoria.

Mr Deakin - And further reductions are now proposed in some States.

Mr FRAZER - Certainly the reduction has not been in anything like proportion to the expenditure which has been incurred from having an additional Governor and two additional vice-regal establishments.

Mr Wilks - Does the honorable member want a fresh residence for the GovernorGeneral ?

Mr FRAZER - I think that the time has arrived when we should definitely state that there shall be only one residence for the Governor-General, and that he shall stay there.

Mr Wilks - In the Federal Capital, the honorable members means.

Mr FRAZER - I am in favour of having the Federal Capital established upon the chosen site at the earliest possible date. I am in favour of getting on with the building of the Federal city. I anticipate that the establishment of the GovernorGeneral will be erected there. Until such time as it has been definitely decided to go on with the construction of the Federal city, the expenditure upon the Governor-General's establishment should be reduced to the lowest possible amount. If there was a promise given by the Premiers when they met in conference some years ago, and communicated to New South Wales by Mr. McLean, then Premier of Victoria, that for a number of months in each year the Governor-General should reside in New South Wales, that promise has been redeemed. It was not meant that the arrangement was to continue for ever. I think that it is the duty of the House now to state definitely that the GovernorGeneral shall reside permanently in either New South Wales or Victoria.

Mr. Wilson__He must reside in Victoria in order to see the Government.

Mr FRAZER - I think that whilst the Parliament meets in Victoria that State should be chosen for His Excellency's residence. I do not wish to traduce in any fashion the excellent treatment which has been accorded to the Federation by New South Wales, but I think it is necessary for the Commonwealth to embrace this opportunity of reducing the expenditure in connexion with the Governor-General's establishment by at least .£3,000 a year.

Mr Skene - How much would it save?

Mr FRAZER - It will save ,£3,000 a year. The amount appropriated was £5,868.

Mr Groom - That was spent last year upon both Government Houses.

Mr FRAZER - According to the Minister's speech it is anticipated that the expenditure will be reduced1 this year.

Mr Groom - £5,500 is bed rock.

Mr FRAZER - Supposing that the expenditure amounts to that sum, the residence in Sydney will cost the Commonwealth over £2,750.

Mr Groom - The upkeep of Sydney Government House is about £2,585.

Mr Skene - That is what would be saved.

Mr FRAZER - It is a very desirable amount to save. In view of the accusation of . extravagance which is thrown at the Commonwealth, and which, in very many cases, I do not admit to be well-founded, I see no reason why we should lay ourselves open to be charged with extravagance by agreeing to incur this additional expenditure for another term. We are assured by the Minister that New South Wales is in this position - that during this month the Government will have to make provision for housing its Governor.

Mr Groom - No, during this year.

Mr FRAZER - If it is this year, that is better from our point of view than this month. A convenient opportunity is afforded to convenience New South Wales, and to save that State a sum which, I suppose, amounts to £3,000 or £4,000 a year for the rent and upkeep of a Governor's establishment. Does any honorable member know what rent New South Wales is actually paying for the Government House occupied bv the State Governor?

Mr Lee - £500.

Mr FRAZER - I am surprised to hear that an establishment in keeping with the dignity of the State has been obtained for that sum. Even if the saving on rent will be only £500 a year, New South Wales should be enabled to make it; whilst at the same time the Commonwealth will be able to save 'about £3,000 per annum. I am not prepared to say whether or not New South Wales desires to save money, but judging from a communication received by the Federal Government a little while ago, I should imagine that the State is pretty short of funds.

Mr Skene - Evidently she is not short of funds, because her Government makes this offer.

Mr FRAZER - In the communication to which I refer, it was suggested by the New South Wales Government that the Federal members should start to look for a new Federal Capital Site, and in a postscript it was courteously intimated that they were invited to bring their own sandwiches. It was like an invitation to attend a Lord Mayor's banquet, with an intimation that the guests were to take their own food and wine. It appeared to me, from that invitation, that New South Wales desires to save money. Here is an opportunity for her to do so. I am also strongly of opinion that we have arrived at a stage in our national history when no special privileges should be accorded to any particular State. We ought not to perpetuate a system whereby the Governor-General is expected to live in different States at different portions of the year.

Mr Wilks - We might as well buy him a perambulator.

Mr FRAZER - It would no doubt be a convenient means of transport. The time is opportune for us to decide that the GovernorGeneral shall reside in Victoria while the Parliament meets here, and shall accompany the Parliament to the Federal city as soon as it is constructed. When the Bill gets into Committee, I shall take the opportunity of inviting honorable members to vote against clause 3.

Mr Wilks - The honorable member and I will get no more invitations from the Governor-General if we take the course suggested.

Mr FRAZER - I suppose that would not trouble either of us very much. The question ought to be dealt with apart from such considerations.

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