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1. The Federal Capital and Territory.

The Claims of Bathurst.

By “Price Warung.”

It is not contended that in the remarks that follow the whole case is presented which it is possible to make out for the choice of Bathurst as the Federal Capital or some spot in its immediate vicinity as the site for the Capital City. Other and subordinate considerations remain to be discussed, and the whole series of arguments will have to be stated before the full force and validity of Bathurst's position can be understood. But, admittedly imperfect though it is, the following statement is submitted as a cogent and unanswerable plea for its selection by the Federal Parliament as the seat of Government of the Commonwealth.

The Principal Desiderata

of a Federal Capital, as defined by Sir Samuel Griffith, Chief Justice of Queensland, in his “Notes on Federation, are:


With regard to the Commonwealth at large, these considerations must be determined in favour of any place before it can have the least pretension to be regarded as a desirable site; it must be central, it must be healthy and subject to agreeable climatic conditions, it must be either impregnable or capable of being made so at a minimum of cost to the nation.

But these are not all the points which demand attention, inasmuch as the claims of any site must be weighed also with reference to New South Wales only. Such other considerations are:




And other considerations to be taken account of are:


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Let us see how Bathurst, Bathurst district, and the people of the district stand with relation to the whole of these points.


Whatever may be the progress of Australia under Federation in settlement and wealth, and whatever its growth in population, it is certain that the centre of gravity, so to speak, for the whole Commonwealth for the first hundred years of national existence will be in some spot not far removed from Bathurst. At present, as a recent calculation has shown, nineteen-twentieths of the whole population of Continental Australia, with Tasmania, occupy an area, the geometric centre of which would fall within an hour's railway communication from Batnurst railway station. When it is seen that the area in question embraces the whole of New South Wales, of Victoria, of Tasmania, and the most populous portions of South Australia and Queensland, it also appears that Bathurst is situated so near to the exact centre that for all practical purposes of communication and transit it can be declared the central point of the populated territory which the Commonwealth would control were it established forthwith. During the next two or three generations it is exceedingly unlikely that there can be any concurrance of circumstances that will shift the point of centrality west of New South Wales borders, for though settlement must inevitably spread through great tracts of country as yet in their prairie state, yet it cannot overtake within a century the preponderance already gained in population by the southern, eastern, and western provinces. If the west, then, cannot gain upon the south, east, and north in population, it is impossible that it can reduce to any appreciable extent the ratio of disparity now existing between the two sections of Australia in point of social development, monetary status, and industrial expansion. To-day Bathurst stands at almost the mathematical centre of the provinces that have federated, whether they are viewed with respect to populousness, or to the mass of their wealth, industry, and culture. There is nothing to indicate that her position as the hundred-year-old Capital of the Commonwealth would be any more than fractionally altered, relation being had to the same classes of facts aud to normal conditions of development. In the future she will remain as she is in the present: Central.


Because she is central, she is by the very nature of things, accessible from all quarters of the compass. It would seem indeed as if Nature had provided in Bathurst a site for the Federation. Trade and commerce, and agriculture and pastoral settlement, have so ramified from her, and through her and her neighbourhood, that her lines of communication and traffic with the inland

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centres on the one hand and with the metropolis on the other, are not arbitrary and artificial, but have been framed in accordance with that sound law of material growth and prosperity: “Follow natural conditions.” Sooner or later trade and passenger traffic force the adoption of “short cuts,” and it is singular to perceive how the necessities of the internal development of this State, and of the commercial relations existing between Queensland and Victoria, have either compelled or are compelling the adoption of such routes and methods of inter-communication as pass by or converge upon Bathurst and its neighbourhood. Already there is a demand for more rapid transit for passengers and mails between Bathurst and Sydney, and between Bathurst and Melbourne, and that demand will become insistent long before the Federal Capital can be established. Place the seat of Government in Bathurst or vicinity, and Sydney will be brought within four hours' distance, and the journey between Melbourne and the Federal Capital, via Harden, will be correspondingly expedited. Representatives for the Federal Legislature, and people who have to transact business with the various departments of the Government must flock to the Capital from all parts of the Commonwealth. Where—due regard being had to all comers, to travellers from the North, South, East, and West—is there a spot entitled to challenge comparison with Bathurst in this particular of ease of access? on which point the New South Wales Commissioner justly lays stress!


Of other main things to be desired in connection with the Federal Capital we proceed to consider the quality of salubrity and climatic agreeableness. Bathurst is central and accessible. But what are the climatic conditions which govern life in her homes? Are they such as render mere existence a burden or a pleasure? Are they favourable to general health, to convalescence after illness, and to longevity? Here again the answers are not derived from impressions and inferences, but are supplied by facts as clear and unmistakable as are the data referring to Bathurst's centrality and accessibleness of situation. Bathurst's mean temperature is 56 degrees, and her height above sea level 2150 feet. She has, of course, her hot days and her boisterous and inclement days; but the variations of temperature are seldom extreme and unreasonable, and, unlike the experiences of other places, are so far from being dangerous and depressing that the constitutionally weak sooner recuperate than under similar temperature conditions elsewhere. It is within the experience of almost every medical man in Australia that invalids can live and recover soundness of health through residence in Bathurst who have abandoned hope after residence in the sanitoria of the other colonies, and of the southern portions of

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New South Wales. The district indeed has secured, thanks to the health-giving attribntes of its site, its scenic surroundings, and its atmosphere, a more than Australian renown. According to Fagge's “Principles,” one of the most recent and authoritative of medical works, Bathurst is given first place among the health resorts in the Southern Hemisphere for cases of chest disease requiring the purest atmosphere. Finally, the longevity of her residents makes the town and district phenomenal in New South Wales. It has a long list of centenarians, nonogenarians, and octogenarians—men and women who lived and worked in the vicinity for fifty, or sixty, or seventy years; while the city to-day numbers among her people scores of persons who have seen the allotted threescore and ten of mortal existence, and still are hearty and hale, and these have been resident for many years. If the Federal Parliament has to meet for summer and autumn sessions, then there are numerous less desirable places than Bathurst, even among so called summer resorts, in which to pass the hot season, and if the winter and spring months witness the assembling of the Legislature, then the conditions that make for health, comfort, and enjoyment, are more readily to be obtained in Bathurst than in any other place that is putting forth claims to be chosen as the site for the Capital. In legislating for a nation, it is of the highest degree of importance that the men engaged in the work shall live in circumstances favourable to the maintenance of a high standard of health; for it is apparent to every reflecting person that legislation performed by men irritated and depressed by unhygienic surroundings must be crude and imperfect compared with that proceeding from men whose mental powers are not prejudiced by physical illness or discomfort.


The capital of a nation is almost invariably the objective of attack to its enemies; and it is well within the bounds of possibility that from Australia's alliance with the mother country, the first great war in which England is engaged will lead to attack by flying squadrons on Australian cities and coastal towns. If the Capital be near to the seaboard, then its liability to danger will be enormously increased, and will prove a source of extreme anxiety to the Federal authorities. The commonest motives of prudence dictate the policy of placing the Capital of the Federation inland. Now Bathurst is protected by the natural fortresses of the Blue Mountains from inimical expeditions starting from the coast to the westward and southward, while the advantages of her central position designate her as the Arsenal of the Interior. When the railways projected and in progress are constructed, military forces can be converged upon her from the north, and south, and west without risk of interference with her communications from an external enemy. So, too, should necessity arise from the rapid transmission of troops from, say, Victoria

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to Queensland or vice versa. Complete the designed railways, and mobilization of the whole military strength of the Commonwealth, at any given spot from the north to the Victorian coast, would be possible, assuming the efficiency of military organisation, within three days. With the Capital placed in some spot contiguous to the Great Southern Line of Railway, it cannot be safely predicted that operations of the kind could be conducted with the same probability of immunity. Between Goulburn and the metropolis it would be possible for a small body of an enemy landing on the eastern seaboard to cut the rail communication in half-a-dozen places, and to retire unmolested, effecting its purpose and its return to the coast within twenty-four hours. A similar danger would menace the northern railway at three or four spots. No like risk would threaten the lines of communication which would converge upon and would ramify from Bathurst. To reach Bathurst direct from the coast would necessitate a foe conquering mountain passes which could be rendered impregnable at small cost; to reach it from the northward or southward would require an invading force of such overwhelming strength that it would require a combination of the military, naval, and commercial-marine forces of the three greatest European powers to effect its transport; for no one power alone, the exigencies of a general war being considered, could contemplate with possibility of success the seizure of the Federal Capital, if it were placed at Bathurst. While the Federal Capital remained untaken, Australia could never be subjugated, and Bathurst could be made absolutely impregnable at a cost to the national exchequer less by millions than would be required for the defence of any spot that has to depend for its safety of communication upon the intregity of the great southern trunk line of railway. A collateral issue of defence is that concerned with coal supply. Create the Capital at Bathurst, her coal supply, and that for her great inland communications, would be furnished by Lithgow, the defence ofthe coal mines of which place would form part of the scheme for the protection of the Capital. Place the Federal City in such a position that it must depend upon the perfect maintenance of the railways to the northward or southward, the interruption of these lines would deprive the Capital, in the matter of coal supply, of one of her main sources of power. With respect to defence, as with respect to situation and sanative characteristics, it can be fearlessly asserted Bathurst presents a claim at once comprehensive and irrefutable.— (See note as to the Bombala-Eden case).

The Capital, and Trade with Sydney.

Passing from the consideration of the principal “things to be desired” in connection with the site for the Capital City, which must be determined by arguments originating in the necessities of the Commonwealth at large, we come to the discussion of points which

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more particularly affect New South Wales in this question of choice of a Federal territory. It is conceivable that a spot may suggest itself as a suitable site regarded solely from the point of view of the Commonwealth, the selection of which might yet radically injure the mother province. New South Wales makes a sacrifice of territory in order to endow the Federal Government with a home, and it is too much to ask that in addition, her trade and social interests shall suffer. With the Capital on the border of New South Wales and Victoria the natural source of trade supplies for its population would not be Sydney, but Melbourne. At Bombala, it would still be Melbourne for many years, with the additional certainty that a new port would be created at Twofold Bay before long, to serve the Capital, but to add to the provincial expenditure of New South Wales, while diverting trade from Sydney. For it must be perceived that while the trade of the Capital, if situated at Bombala, which would pass through Twofold Bay, would not in any sense be monopolised by New South Wales, it must inevitably follow that the port would have to be improved at the cost exclusively of this province. With the Capital at Bathurst, there is no possibility of similar direct or indirect loss being inflicted on Sydney. Sydney must ever be the importing and supplying port, not alone for Bathurst, but for the greater portion of the Western Division that cannot have its wants met by the river trade. The erection of the Capital in the West, and its organisation with all its machinery of political, administrative and industrial life, would mean a large certain addition to Sydney trade, and it is not by any means certain that were the Capital situated elsewhere than in the West, the metropolis of this province would secure an equal increment to its volume of business. With the settlement of the Capital at Bathurst there would be a stimulus to the enterprise and industry of the whole West. The Western Division, indeed, would prove a contributing area to the commerce of the Capital—would form, so to speak, “its back country.” No place to the southward of Sydney has a like proximity to an extent of country, the trade of which it could ensure should contribute to the prosperity of Sydney as a port and distributing centre. This is an argument that must appeal to Sydney merchants and importers. The Capital in the West will stimulate settlement, consumption, and trade, almost the whole volume of increased business adding to Sydney's profit and importance; the Capital in the South would lead, in the case of Albury and Bombala, to the diversion of trade from New South Wales, and if it be at Goulburn, there is behind that town no vast body of settlers and consumers, commanding an enormous area of land in course of settlement to be stimulated to increased activity and production. IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEST LIES THE KEY TO THE FUTURE PROSPERITY OF THE MOTHER PROVINCE.

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The Capital, and Social Relations with Sydney.

The Capital of the Federation will be a centre of social and fashionable activities, as Washington has proved to the United States. In Bathurst or its neighbourhood there are already in existence all the agencies of complete civilised life. These would expand naturally and gradually to the needs of the life of a Federal Capital. The legislature, from its introductory sitting, would not be meeting in a crudely organised town, but in a city where it could be accommodated with ease and dignity, and would not have to spend the years it is waiting for the erection of the Capital in paltry surroundings, such as was the fate of the early Congress meeting in Washington. The Judiciary and the department of administration could also be accommodated during the same intermediate period; and fitting housing for the Governor-General could also be readily obtained. More than one of the many noble mansions in the vicinity of Bathurst would be at the disposal of that high officer. Now the relation of these facts to the social life of Sydney is easily seen. There would be no breach of continuity or identity between the social arrangements which now so contribute to the business prosperity of Sydney and to its prominence as a centre of “light and leading.” while on the southward at Bombala and Albury the whole character of the society of the Capital would have interests and sympathies remote from Sydney, if not antagonistic to it. Again, Bathurst is on the direct line of route for the thousands of visitors who annually visit Sydney to make a stay in the Blue Mountain townships, and the trip to the Jenolan Caves. These would almost all pass on to the Federal City as a mere matter of curiosity, and pleasure seeking, and Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, and the Capital would be insensibly grouped together as identical in scenic interest. On the other hand, visitors from the southern provinces to the Capital, were it to the southward, would require to be under special inducement to visit the Harbour, the Mountains, or the Caves. Their visit would probably terminate at the Capital, and Sydney and the mountain region would be deprived of that advertisement and that substantial gain, which would accrue were the Capital at the Western City or in its vicinity.

The Capital and new States.

Cognate considerations with respect to new states which may be formed out of New South Wales territory must present themselves to the contemplation of Sydney merchants and its people generally. It is inevitable that in a generation or so, at least two new States will be carved out of the mother province: one to the west; the other that of the Riverina. With the Capital in the West, it would still be the link and meeting point of the

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new Western State interests and those of the great Eastern seaport. But, if some other place be chosen, it is within the bounds of probability that the Capital of the new State would be so situated that it would prove a contributory to the aggrandisement of Adelaide. With Bathurst as the Federal Capital, it would naturally act as a converging centre for all Western interests for the period which will elapse before a new State is created. Lines of trade and connections of business will be formed in that time which cannot be uprooted even if there were the desire to do so; and these would, of course, be in large measure subserving also the interests of Sydney seaboard. Free the West from that centripetal force which would cause it naturally to concentrate on Bathurst as the Federal Capital, and there would be no strong gravitation of interest towards Sydney. It is more than likely the tendency will be towards Adelaide. Again, we repeat that far-sighted policy will take into account the obvious deduction from the facts, geographical and industrial, of Western life and settlement, that IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEST LIES THE KEY TO THE FUTURE PROSPERITY OF THE MOTHER PROVINCE, AND ITS METROPOLIS. With Bathurst as the Capital, Sydney and New South Wales as a whole could contemplate the severance of territory in the West for the purpose of forming a new State with equanimity.

The Possibility of Legal Difficulty.

In the choice of any site for the Capital, it must be borne in mind that the Federal territory will in its relation to the States in general be a neutral power. Immediately governed by the Executive, it must, in all its bearings, have a position of neutrality and impartiality in the conflict of state interets—that is, if the true spirit of Federal institutions be allowed to sway, as it should do, the organization of the Union. Consequently, in the choice of a Capital City, care must be taken that the very fact of that choice will not complicate and confuse Federal interests and the relation of the Federation and the States. Now, the settlement of the Rivers question will prove one of the main difficulties in the adjustment of State interests. The final decision will be one for the Federal Judiciary, in other words, for one of the departments of the Federal Government. But the Federal Judiciary is peculiarly an appanage of the Federal Territory, and thus, if the Federal Capital be situated on one of the great rivers, the rights to the waters of which are, sooner or later, bound to be brought to issue in the Federal Judiciary, the Federal territory would be at once a party to a cause, and a judge in it. Suppose Albury, for instance, were chosen as the Federal City. Then there would be three parties to any dispute as to the riparian rights over Murray headwaters, namely, New South Wales, Victoria, and the Territory

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itself. Very patently the choice of Albury would thus most seriously defeat the intent and design of the chief of the Federal Institutions, the Executive and the Judiciary; and the principal function of the latter—to hold the balance evenly between State and State, and Federal Government and States, would be destroyed at the outset. No such certainty—not even the possibility —of legal difficulty can arise in connection with the definition of Bathurst and its vicinity as the Federal Territory.

The Question of Federal Sympathy.

In the nationalisation of any territory for the purposes of the Federation, most unquestionably a factor to which full value should be attached is the present and past relation of the people of the district to the whole Federal movement. Submitted to this test, there is no place in the whole of Australia that can make the same emphatic and satisfactory response as Bathurst. It was, as we have already said, the energies, and the money, and the public spirit of Bathurst men that took the question of Federation when it was virtually a dead issue and gave it new and vigorous vitality by the People's Federal Convention held in the city in 1896. Moreover, by the very method pursued by Bathurst in the organisation of that Convention, it placed the Federal movement in such a position that the people of the several provinces became the propelling and guiding agents, and not the politicians. The force of the impulse communicated by Bathurst has never been lost. On the contrary, the impulse has gained volume and potency till, at each successive stage of the movement, the popular voice has become more plainly the determining power. Before the People's Convention, the movement was one for the politicians to juggle with—to use or not for the ends of personal ambition as they pleased. That body made the issue the dominant one of Australasian politics, and to it, and to it alone, is ascribed, even by the very politicians whom it compelled to march along with it, the resurrection and the revivification of the Federal Ideal. To the magnificent service thus rendered to the cause of national unity, there is no parellel in the records of other communities. The Bathurst people thus have proved their Federal sympathy in a way and a degree to which no other of the towns competing for the distinction of the Federal territory can approximate. Bathurst proved its loyalty to the Federal principle when to be federal was to be deemed to be erratic and to be the target for derision; and it has the gratification of knowing that other centres which were foremost in ridiculing the preliminaries of the Federal Convention, are now loudly professing the Federal feeling whose mere existence they laughed to scorn four years ago.