Resource Sheet 6

The debate on the site for the capital

Edward Braddon, Tasmania

Nature has fixed upon Hobart as the capital. Everything points to it or some other place in Tasmania as the capital… honourable members who aspire to seats in the Federal Parliament will be making no sacrifice of health or personal comfort.

George Turner, Victoria

We undoubtedly have in this colony of Victoria a place which is well suited, by nature and by what has been done for it, for the federal capital. We possess buildings well adapted to the purpose, and we have a climate unrivalled for changes in any part of the Australian colonies… I propose to insert before the words "in Sydney" the words "St. Kilda".

Mr Symon, South Australia

There is a place in South Australia that is ideally fitted—and in this I am perfectly serious—for the federal capital, and that is Mount Gambier. It is unequalled for climate, for beauty of scenery, for everything that would tend to make life pleasant and agreeable.

Dr Cockburn, South Australia

I should like to point out that, from the geographical point of view, the centre of gravity of Australia lies at one definite point… Adelaide, which is situated on the water-way that is the most important water-way of access to the centre of the continent… Judging from our debates, what has proved to be the most important part of Australia? Undoubtedly the River Murray. On these grounds, I should like to put in a claim first of all on behalf of Adelaide, and failing that for some city situated on the River Murray.

Mr Lynne, New South Wales

… [T]he arguments are in favour of having the federal capital in New South Wales. I have heard that Sydney is a likely place of attack. The same objection operates against the selection of Melbourne, and to an even greater extent against Hobart. All these places would be easily open to attack in case of war. We have, as every one knows, many sites where the climate is good, which are suitable in regard to position, and which possess all the qualities that are requisite to make any one of them an ideal spot for the federal capital. I venture also to think that the position of New South Wales, if at any future time Queensland comes into the Federation, makes her the more suitable colony to contain the federal capital.

Mr Howe, South Australia

I choose to designate New South Wales as the mother colony… I say that we should consider the position of the mother colony. She has natural resources, I believe, far and away, according to her area, beyond those of any of the other colonies existing at the present time.

The National Australasian Federal Convention, Melbourne Session, January–February 1898.