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  ― 18 ―

2. Royal Commission on Sites for Federal Capital.

The Commissioner's Report.

By Commission under the Great Seal of the [then] Colony of New South Wales, dated 14th November, 1899, Mr. Alexander Oliver, M.A., President of the Land Appeal Court, was authorised to make full enquiry “as to the suitability for the seat of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia of such tracts or areas as he might be invited to consider,” and to report the result of such enquiries. The Commissioner, a gentleman of trained legal powers and of large literary experience, made an exhaustive investigation. He received invitations to consider the claims of forty places, of which he personally inspected twenty-three sites; at fourteen of the twenty-three he held public enquiries, and took evidence on oath. He moreover called to his aid expert witnesses on problems of civil engineering and architecture, and, as a result, he published an exhaustive report of his conclusions, with summaries of the evidence and expert testimony. This document, which, while it will be, in all probability, set aside by the Federal Legislature as to its conclusions, must prove of considerable value in any future investigations because of the important facts it furnishes as data, was signed by the Commissioner on 26th October, 1900, the term of enquiry thus covering a period of almost a year. In this report the Commissioner rightly classifies the several suggested sites into three groups: (1) Western; (2) South-Western sites; and (3) Southern sites. As a rational unit of enquiry he assumed the proposed Federal Capital to be a city of 40,000 inhabitants, and put prominently into the front of his investigations the question as to the provision of water-supply for such a city. Another determining factor he held to be ACCESSIBILITY; a third CLIMATIC CONDITIONS; other factors were transportation of coal to the Capital, proximity to deposits of good building stone and to timber forests, and the quality of the soil. Reviewing these factors, and on the evidence before him, the Commissioner declared his judgment was in favour of the site suggested at Bombala-Eden or Southern Monaro sites as prominent among all the Southern sites; that of Canoblas (Orange) among the Western, and that of Yass among the South-Western. The Commissioner's report was ordered by the Legislative Assembly to be printed, on 30th October, and was shortly afterwards made available, with an interesting series of maps, for public information.

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