Early Canberra

May 10, 1912 'The Great City, Federal Ministry's  Scheme

The Queanbeyan Age 10 May 1912





The original proposal to run up temporary buildings at the Federal Capital site for the accommodation of Parliament and administrative officers has been abandoned at the instance of the Minister for Home Affairs, in favor of a policy of steady progression with permanent works. The Home Affairs Department has produced at the direction of the minister, a scheme under which a minimum period of eight years had been proposed for the completion of the work.


Work has been divided into four stages.


·         The first deals with transport of materials and power, embracing the construction of country roads, a railway from the Queanbeyan brickworks and lime kilns and the producing of timber.

·         The second relates to hydraulic engineering works outside the city areas.

·         Works within the city area in preparatory to the occupation will constitute the third phase.

·         The fourth stage completes the constructional works covering the establishment of gas works on the Queanbeyan River weir, on the Molonglo River, the erection of Houses of Parliament, public buildings and offices, and the completion of city roads.


A number of these matters depend on the nature of the design accepted for laying out of the Capital. The board appointed to report on the designs will probably have their recommendations ready in a few days, the selection now been narrowed down to five competitors. But most of the other projects will have to be provided for on whatever plan the city is laid out. The sequence of works, together with the approximate periods of duration is as follows:-

·         First Year: Timber getting (five months); construction of brickworks (12 months); installation of first power unit (12 months). Owing to the difficulty in securing land for the brickworks, that project is held up for present. Roughly estimated 30 million bricks will be required for public works, that project is held up for the present.  Other works, however, have been put in hand, power plant being installed; building of the military college proceeding.

·         Second Year: Lime kilns (three months); pipeline (18 months); roads (six months); storm water (13 months); timber storage, second instalment (six months); road making scheme (already begun) and construction of small deviations making access to the Capital site

·         Third year: Main sewers (28 months); outfall and irrigation works (18 months); power plant, further instalment (12 months); street tunnels for city services (13 months); Cotter weir (25 months); sewerage of outside districts (32 months); service reservoirs (12 months); provision for baths, sanitary arrangements (six months); Queanbeyan weir (19 months); electric distribution and power (17 months); Commonwealth officers first instalment (18 months).

·         Fourth Year: Gas works (14 months); administrative officers, including Military Depot, Government Printing Office, Prime Minister’s and members offices, law courts, police court, gaols, Governor-General’s residence, educational establishments, post office, central railway station, observatory, town hall, meteorological and science hall (51 months); railway (13 months).

·         Fifth Year: Commencement of the building of Parliament House. Competitive designs will probably be called for. After a selection has been decided upon arrangements will be made for carrying out such portion of this design as may be considered sufficient for immediate requirements. Roughly three years are set down as a fair period to get the first portion of the place in order for Parliament to meet in.

·         The sixth, seventh and eight years will be occupied with the completion of works.


Everything will depend on the amount of money available. On this point, the Minister for Home Affairs and his officers are silent. The expenditure on a very low estimate should be:

First year, £21,500; second £167,000; third £244,000; fourth £466,000; fifth £395,000; sixth £345,000; seventh £260,000; eighth £101,500.


The whole scheme will increase as time goes on employing at the busiest period about 2,500 men. These, with their families should constitute about 10,000 persons. By the time the city is ready for official occupation there should be a water supply and sanitary and other provisions for a population of twenty to thirty thousand persons.