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Thursday, 9 November 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I hope to be able to satisfy Senator St. Ledger, who seems to be thirsting for information concerning the Federal Capital. I do not think the honorable senator can fairly say, however many sins he may lay to the charge of the present Government, that we have adopted other than a straightforward course in connexion with this question. Any one who looks back over the history of the Federal Capital contest must, if he does us justice, admit that we have gone straight concerning it. As to when the Federal Parliament will be able to sit at Yass-Canberra, that event must, of course, be a few years ahead. There 13 a method by which we could sit there within twelve months - namely, by erecting temporary buildings and offices. But that would be a costly and unsatisfactory method of procedure. It would be costly in the sense that these temporary buildings would only be used while permanent buildings were in course of construction, and consequently the money spent upon them would be thrown away. It would be costly in another sense, because wherever the temporary buildings were put they would in all probability interfere with the carrying out of the plans for the erection of the permanent Capital. The Department of Home Affairs has proceeded about this business in an orderly fashion. During the past year the Department has been engaged in the preparation of projects, and in the execution of many necessary works. If we are to have a city worthy of the name, we must necessarily lay our plans carefully. Accordingly, competition has been invited, as a result of which we hope to get the aid of some of the best minds in the world to assist us in laying out the city. In the meantime, a considerable proportion of the present vote is to enable preparations to be made for the erection of the necessary public buildings whenever the laid out city is completed. The money is also for the purpose of making tunnels for a proper sewerage system, because it is the intention of the Government, acting upon expert advice,_ to lay down a sewerage system forthwith, so that we may not be compelled to rip up the streets after the city has been built. I have before me a list of the works in contemplation, showing what is proposed to be spent.

The following are the initial major works which are awaiting preliminary votes by Parliament before they can be put in hand during 1911-12 (subject -to land acquisition).

The approximate estimates of total costs are given for works; the larger items will extend over two or more years. The amount which can be expended on each item before 30th June, 1912, will in some cases depend on acquisition of land and other factors.


The foregoing is for works only; it does not include lands, surveys, or other administrative expenditure.

The works that will be gone on with include roads, timber storage, power plant, water supply, gauging of the Cotter, Molonglo, and Queanbeyan Rivers, brickworks, Observatory, Administration offices, and a bridge over the Molonglo River. I have a statement here setting out in detail all that is to be done in connexion with these various items, but it is unnecessary that I should read it to honorable senators. From what I have said it will be seen that the Government are in earnest in their desire to press on with the building of the Federal Capital. To spend money on actual buildings, until we have the plans of the city before us, would be to put the cart before the horse. We are doing, and propose to continue to do, all essential preparatory work in order that necessary materials may be available when we are ready to begin the actual building of the city.

Senator Givens - When "are the competitive designs to be sent in?

Senator PEARCE - They will be due next vear. I have shewn that the Government are doing all that can be done prior to the actual building of the Capital. As soon as the plans of the city are adopted we shall have brickworks, water supply, and power supply so far advanced that a real start can be made with the building of the Capital.

Senator Walker - Has any date been fixed for the receipt of the plans ?

Senator PEARCE - Yes ; January,


Senator de Largie - Can the Minister inform the Committee whether the architects' strike has been declared off yet?

Senator PEARCE - I think that will be all right. Senator Chataway received my statement that the plans must be in by January, 1912, with derisive laughter, but I do not know why he should have doneso.

Senator Chataway - When will tlie Government decide to build?

Senator PEARCE - Immediately the plans are available, and there is no reason to anticipate that there will be any extreme delay in the matter.

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