Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 29 June 1906

Mr SPEAKER - I must rule that that matter is not within the scope of the Bill.

Mr MCWILLIAMS - We have before us a measure providing for the continued occupation by the Governor-General of two residences. I know that the arrangement was entered into .by the Premiers of the States prior to Federation that, during the recesses of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Governor-General should reside in Sydney until the Federal Capital is built. I think that that arrangement was a wrong one, but feel that we are bound, under the circumstances, to give effect to it, as we should, in our private capacities, recognise a similar obligation. But, are we to continue to provide for two residences after the vexed question of where the Federal Capital shall be situated is settled? Parliament determined upon a site, and, had it not been for the opposition of New South Wales, we should be committed to a choice against which I think there is now a preponderance of opinion in this House. The question is, are we to maintain two residences for the Governor- General so long as Parliament meets in Melbourne, and his official residence is here? I have always opposed the establishment of a bush capital, and I hope that, before the termination of this Parliament, the electors will be given an opportunity to express their opinions on the subject.

Mr Frazer - Apparently the honorable member, although ready to keep the agreement entered into by the Premiers, will not stand by the provision in the Constitution.

Mr McWILLIAMS - There can be no breach of faith if we ask those who accepted the Constitution whether, in the light of fuller knowledge, they will amend it or keep it unaltered. I have always held that the Federal Capital should be located in Sydney. I think that the people of New South Wales have a claim upon the Federation by reason of the agreement entered into between the Premiers of the States that, so long as the Federal Parliament met in Melbourne, the Governor-General should reside in Sydney during the recess. A complaint is being expressed throughout Australia at the present time about the extravagance, or, if honorable members object tothat term, the unusually large expenditure of the Commonwealth. I cannot at present deal in detail with the subject, but I know that every Tasmanian Department taken over by the Commonwealth has become more expensive - in some instances, the increases are very large - and less efficient.

Mr Groom - Many of the Tasmanian officials taken over by the Commonwealth were paid rates of wages which could not be tolerated under Federal conditions.

Mr Tudor - There was absolute sweating there, some officers receiving, only£38 ayear.

Mr McWILLIAMS - That allegation cannot be made in regard to the Defence Department, at any rate, and while the cost of that Department in Tasmania has more than doubled, its effectiveness has been altogether crippled. Throughout those Darts of the Commonwealth which I visit, there is the feeling that the expenditure of the Commonwealth, especially in connexion with ornamental matters, is too great. We should, at the earliest moment possible, settle the Question where the permanent residence of the Governor- General is to be. When it is settled, there should be no other residence provided for him. Parliament will loyally and liberally vote whatever is necessary for the proper upkeep of the Governor-General's establishment, but it would be preposterous to maintain for all time residences in New South Wales, Victoria, and perhaps some of the other States.

Mr Watson - The present residences cannot be retained after the establishment of a permanent residence at the Federal Capital.

Mr McWILLIAMS - No doubt that should be so, but the question arises, is the Governor-General to be compelled to reside permanently at a bush capital, or is he to be provided with residences in Melbourne and Sydney also? Those are points which should be considered at this juncture. We must, of course, in dealing with this matter, keep in view the arrangement of the Premiers to which reference has already been made. I trust that we shall show clearly that we have no intention of maintaining establishments for the Governor-General in Sydney and Melbourne after the Federal Capital is established.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - This Bill is intended to give permanency to the present arrangement.

Mr McWILLIAMS - The measure, if passed in its present form, will support the contentions of those who may urge that the present establishments should be continued. Personally, I hope that the GovernorGeneral will reside in Melbourne until such time as he takes up his permanent residence in Sydney.

Mr Watson - His permanent residence?

Mr McWILLIAMS - Yes. I look forward to an amendment of the Constitution that will permit of that taking place. I trust that this House will have an opportunity of testing thatquestion during this session in order that the electors may be invited to arrive at a decision on the point at the end of theyear.

Mr Watson - The honorable member will not induce many people to vote in favour of putting a lot of money into the pockets of the Sydney landlords.

Mr McWILLIAMS - We shall have to discuss that matter later. In the meantime, I hope that we shall make it perfectly clear that once the Federal Capital is established no further provision shall be made for residences for the GovernorGeneral in either Sydney or Melbourne.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clause agreed to.

Clause 2 -

The Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of the State of Victoria for the use and occupation by the Commonwealth, for a period not exceeding five years, of Government House, Melbourne, as a residence for the Governor-General.

Suggest corrections