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Thursday, 9 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I wish to refer to the item " Federal Capital, at Canberra," towards the cost of establishing which we are informed £33,957 is a re-vote, and £66,043 is required for new service, thus making a total of £100,000. It is some time ago - I do not like to think how long - since we determined the site of the permanent Seat of Government, and if my memory serves me accurately, we have on more than one occasion voted money for works in connexion with that site. I wish to ask the Government when they anticipate we shall get to the Federal Capital? To vote money in this fashion year afteryear is either a political intrigue or more or less of a political farce.

Senator Chataway - The honorable senator is out of order.

Senator ST LEDGER - I am not accusing any honorable senator of being a political intriguer. But the whole thing seems to be a sort of political farce. This Parliament is committed to the Federal Capital site at Canberra. It has entered into a compact with the New South Wales Government, and the money which has already been expended upon that site would not have been voted but for the idea that we were to establish ourselves there as soon as possible. Honorable senators who hail from Queensland, which is the most distant State, are the most disinterested in this matter. Seeing that the buildings at the Federal Capital site are under the control of the most brilliant genius on earth, he ought surely to be able to inform his colleagues of the approximate date when we may expect to get to the future Seat of Government.

Senator Chataway - Does the honorable senator consider Josiah Thomas the greatest genius on earth ?

Senator ST LEDGER - I did not know that there was a member of the Ministry who disputed that title with the Minister of Home Affairs I remember reading some time ago in the newspapers how a certain gentleman was going to buy up half of Sydney on behalf of the Commonwealth. When he was brought to book over that matter he told those who resented his action, that they knew nothing whilst he knew everything. It is about time we were supplied with information to show whether the Government are sincere in regard to this vote. Inasmuch as the works are being controlled by the greatest genius on earth, surely Ministers will be able to give us a definite statement as to when the Capital is likely to be finished, and when

Parliament will be able to sit there. The vote is mounting up year by year, but it does not appear to me that the Government axe determined that the Seat of Government shall be removed within a measurable distance of time. When Parliament selected Yass-Canberra, that choice was made with the idea that we should soon be able to sit in the Capital city. B ut we know what has been going on in the meantime. Neither Sydney nor Melbourne has yet abandoned the hope that the' Federal Capital may be permanently located in one or other of those cities. Pressure is being brought to bear through the newspapers and other public channels with a view of securing a reconsideration of the question. Owing to political wire-pulling, the whole matter may be reopened. If that is to he done, let us know at once. I do not know that there is a subject more likely to give rise to political intrigue - for which the Government are largely responsible - than this.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Intrigue where?

Senator ST LEDGER - All over Australia.

Senator Needham - I rise to order. Is Senator St. Ledger in order in using the word "intrigue" concerning the Government? That word is significant of logrolling. The word " stupid " has been ruled out of order, and I think that " intrigue " is equally objectionable.

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