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Friday, 11 November 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - As one of those who put up a pretty strenuous fight against the adoption of Yass- Canberra as the site for the Federal Capital, I recognise - that site having been selected, much against my will, and in spite of my strenuous opposition - that it -was necessary for the Government to bring in a Bill of this kind. I do not propose to cavil at the measure in any way, nor do I complain because the Government have introduced it. It was essential that they should do so before the Territory was finally taken over.

Senator O'Keefe - Should there not be another fight on this occasion ?

Senator GIVENS - We put up a pretty stiff fight before, but we were defeated, and I, for one, accept that defeat. I did my very best to prevent the selection of Canberra, which I considered to be an unsuitable site. But Parliament having thought differently, I, in common with other citizens of Australia, whose views were rejected, am now compelled to bow to the decision. There is, however, just one point that I want to bring under the notice of the Minister. When we had before us another Bill dealing with another Territory a few days ago, we were told that because it was a Territory it dropped automatically under the control of the Department of External Affairs - that, so to speak, it could not help itself. Here is another Bill of exactly the same kind with regard to a Territory. Yet we find that it is under the control of the Minister of Home' Affairs, whose representative in the Senate has introduced it. This is the first time that I ever knew that a matter could drop automatically into the control of one Department, and that a Minister representing another Department could take control of it. The form of this Bill proves my contention with regard to the Northern Territory to have been correct. Of course, I quite recognise that the Minister of Home Affairs is the proper Minister to take charge of the Federal Territory.

Senator McGregor - The difference between the two classes of Territory was explained on that occasion.

Senator GIVENS - The difference was not possible of explanation, though the honorable senator attempted to cloud the issue by a lot of specious sophistries.

Senator Barker - The one is bad territory, and the other is not.

Senator GIVENS - That explanation may do as well as another, but neither explanation will hold water; and I regret to say that there is very little water to hold at Yass-Canberra ! This being merely a tentative measure, I do not think that there is any need to subject its clauses to a close scrutiny, or to cavil very much at them. I believe that the Government are adopting such Acts of New South Wales as are necessary to give them authority to administer the Territory in a proper manner. There is only one other point to which I wish to draw attention. It is provided in the schedule that certain Acts of New South Wales shall not apply to the Territory. Of course, none of the New South Wales Acts will apply to the Territory after we have provided our own laws in every respect, but in the meantime the New South Wales Acts are to have a general application, with the exception of those specified. Amongst the Acts which are not to apply are all Acts imposing rates, taxes, or duties, " except so far as they impose duties on the estates of deceased persons." I fail to understand the reason for that exception. I recognise that if any person died within the Territory, while it remained a portion of New South Wales, and while the person was a citizen of New South Wales, he would, in all fairness, be subject to the same probate and death duties as any other citizen of the State, and that New South Wales would have the right to collect and receive those duties. If they were not duly paid, the Commonwealth should, of course, give the Government of the State facilities for collecting them. But in the case of a person dying within the Territory after it is taken over by the Commonwealth, I say that New South Wales has no right to collect death or probate duties any more than it has the right to collect duties on the estate of a person resident in Timbuctoo. Therefore, I fail to see the reason for this exception. Probably, there is a good explanation, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give us one in Committee. If has been said, I believe, that the State of New South Wales should collect the duties within the Territory, and hand them over to the Commonwealth, less the cost of collection. But I say that we should not permit anything of the sort. We should not accept a law of New South Wales imposing duties on any citizen within the Territory without full consideration by this Parliament. If this Parliament, in its wisdom, chooses to impose duties on Commonwealth citizens in Commonwealth territory, it can do so. But until this Parliament has decided that such a mode of taxation shall be adopted we should not impose the duties by a measure of this sort. Therefore, I hope the Minister will be able to furnish us with information that will satisfy the Senate. That is all that I have to say on the Bill at this stage. I offer no opposition to it. As I have said, we put up a good fight against the selection of Yass-Canberra. We were defeated, much to my regret, and also, I may add, in my belief, much to the regret of the Honorary Minister, even though he voted for the selection, and to the regret of many other honorable senators. But, having been defeated, we have to bow to the decision of the majority, and make the best of a very bad bargain.

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