Decentralisation Motion on June 19, 2017
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) Canberra was established to be the Commonwealth seat of Government, administration and policy support;
(b) more than 60 per cent of the Australian Public Service is located outside of Canberra, serving the needs of communities around Australia; and
(c) the proposed relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from Canberra to Armidale demonstrates the adverse impact of the Government's ad hoc decentralisation decisions on the Canberra community and economy and effective and efficient government; and
(2) calls on the Government to:
(a) commit to a cost-benefit analysis of its proposed decentralisation strategy and make the outcome of that analysis available to the public;
(b) agree that:
(i) decisions regarding decentralisation should only be made subject to an open and transparent public consultation process and take into account the outcome of a cost benefit analysis; and
(ii) any decentralisation of Government agencies is based on a demonstrated net benefit to the nation and does not come at the expense of the Canberra community and economy and effective and efficient government; and
(c) protect the Sir Robert Menzies vision of Canberra as the Commonwealth seat of Government, administration and policy support and a 'worthy capital' that Australians can admire and respect.
In The Government and the People—1939-41, Sir Paul Hasluck exposed the administrative heartache and headache caused by the dispersal of the Commonwealth Public Service, saying it 'wasted time and money, fretted men and hampered understanding, delayed decisions and led to conflict and duplication.' It was for this reason that the founder of the modern Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies set about concentrating the Public Service here in Canberra, deeming it better for the 'country as a whole'.
That said, Sir Robert Menzies was not an early adopter when it came to the idea of Canberra: I cannot honestly say that I liked Canberra very much; it was to me a place of exile; but I soon began to realize that the decision had been taken, that Canberra was and would continue to be the capital of the nation, and that it was therefore imperative to make it a worthy capital; something that the Australian people would come to admire and respect; something that would be a focal point for national pride and sentiment. Once I had converted myself to this faith, I became an apostle … And his 'interest, and effectiveness, in the development of the national capital was later for him a source of special pride.'
What a pity the Liberals and Nationals have no sense and understanding of history. What a pity the Liberals and Nationals have no respect for the legacy and vision of Sir Robert Menzies. And what a pity the Liberals and Nationals have no understanding of the Constitution, which says: The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory … granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth … and shall be in the State of New South Wales and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.