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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator BLAKEY (Victoria) .- Although I did not agree with the selection of Yass-Canberra, I think' it is necessary for us to proceed in this matter in an uptodate and business-like manner. I am not complaining of the Government at all, because I recognise that £110,000 will go a long way towards initiating the various works which are essential for a Capital such as we desire to establish. In refuting statements which have been made by some honorable senators, I wish to put on record a few figures showing that, from the standpoint of finance, the Federal Capital, established, as I think, in not the best site, will not be the white elephant which some of its opponents would lead the country to believe. According to an official statement I have received from the Minister of Home Affairs, the expenditure up to date on the Federal Capital has been a little over £99,000, which, of course, covers the cost of surveys, &c. The amount paid by the Commonwealth Government for the rental of buildings in Melbourne for public offices which will eventually be transferred to the Federal Capital, is a little over £9.000 per annum. The amount of rental received from properties acquired by the Commonwealth in the Federal Territory, and now leased, is £4,800 per annum. Yet Senator Sayers says that we are getting no return, no interest on the expenditure which we have incurred.

Senator Millen - Does the official return show how much we are paying for officers' expenses and other outgoings ?

Senator BLAKEY - No. *If we are paying in Melbourne a total rental of £9,000 a year for buildings which will eventually he transferred to the Federal Capital, that, capitalized at 5 per cent., would mean £180.000; whereas, accord-, ing to (his return, we have only spent in the. Federal Capital Territory £99,000. The rental of £4,800 from the leased lands, capitalized at 5 per cent., would mean1 £96.000. Yass-Canberra is, I repeat, not the best site that could have been chosen ; but I am prepared to loyally abide by the decision of both Houses. It is necessary that this amount should be appropriated for works and buildings. We cannot dillydally with the building of the Federal Capital. Either we must make the best job we can of an unsuitable site, or we must do nothing. The Government are to be commended upon grasping the nettle firmly with the hand and going on with the construction of the works which are essential. I am glad to have had this opportunity of placing on record these few facts to show that all the money which has been spent there has not been placed in one great sink, but that some of it has remained on the surface and we are getting some return.

Senator Sayers - That is from the land which the Commonwealth got from New South Wales for nothing.

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