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COMMON CENTRE,

-?

AUSTRALIAN NATION.

PRIME MINISTER DEFENDSi

CANBERRA.

CANBERRA, May 30.

' Opening the seventh half-yearly v conference of the Australian

Newspaper Proprietors' Associa- tion at the Albert Hall this after- noon, the Prune Minister (Mr. S, M. Bruce) took the delegates into his confidence in regard to the economic factors of national life, but a large part of his speech was devoted to deprecation of at- tempts to belittle the national capital.

Mr. Bruce was welcomed by Mr, Holtz (general manager, Melbourne "Argus"), who said the newspaper controllers thought it fitting that Canberra should be recognised as a national centre.

Mr. Bruce, dealing with this aspect, said the Commonwealth had to have a common focus and centre ot national being. For the purposes of Federa- tion it was essential that there should be some central point of nationhood, suitable to Australia as a nation. The national sentiment was rising, and sooner or later there would have to be a national capital, overriding State boundaries and State prejudices. This, ho thought, was one of the outcomes of the war, which had broken down State limitations.

THE AUSTRALIAN SPIRIT.

He thought it was orte of the best things hi the national life of Austra- lia that this country had the courage lo do a big thing in a big way. There was nothing approaching unification nor against Federation in setting up the Federal capital here. Personally, he believed that many problems would be lifted out of the local into the national arena, and settled in a spirit of amity. Many had said, and they would hear it said, that it was positive madness to set up a capital in the bush, when Australia was labouring under the war burden and great national indebtedness, but was it any use calamity howling? The capi- tal had been bogun, it would go on to completion, and all should recog- nise this lact and work together, with national pride, to set up a city worthy of a great nation. There should be pride in this great adventure, where national greatness and national prob- lems would have their focus and de- velopment beyond any restrictions .of artificial boundaries. It was, there- fore, fitting that the Press should hold their conference here. They could assist in promoting that national spirit, and, indeed, do far more than any politician for good or ill. It was to the Press that they looked for the moulding of public opinion", which the politician could apply. There had been some mistakes, even as in Wash- ington, but they would learn from those mistakes, and rectify them in tlie development of the capital.

PRESS RESPONSIBILITY.

H,o asked them, as the responsible heads of newspapeis, to beware of ill considered expressions of opinion us to Canberra, and to foi m their own conclusions, which, he thought, would bp favourable. Australia, he was of opinion, was at another turning point in her destiny, and what the future would be depended u"on the manner in which public opinion generally now was moulded That was their tre- mendous lesponslbility. Mr. Bruce then went on to stress some of Aus- tralia's peculiar difficulties, its politi- cal problems, particulaily in relation to industrial matteis, and its econo- mic position, which was exceedingly difficult and dangeious, more so than at any time in the past. He was quite suie tho pubho did pot appreciate the seriousness of the economic situation, and presently ho would invite tho Press to set before the public, in simple language, apart from any plat- form utterance, how Australia stood after a thoiough examination by ex- perts.

The delegates to the conference were Mr A C C Holtz ("Argus," Melbourne), chairman, Sn James Fair- fax and Mr. C T. Han is ("Herald," Sydney), Messrs E Kyffyn Thomas ("Register," Adelaide), V Molesworth «?"Guardian," Sydney), W. Dunstant ("Herald," Melbourne), D M'Pherson ("Sun Pictorial," Melbourne), R. Deni- son ("Telegraph," Sydney), H Camp- bell Jones ("Sun," Sydney), C. H Briggs ("Courier," Brisbane), E Edwards ("Telegiaph," Bilsbane), W. H Cummins ("Meicury," Hobart), J E Davidson ("News," Adelaide), and E Selby ("Evening News," Sydney). In the morning the visitois were shown over Parliament House by the Speaker, and toured the city area In the even- ing they were entei tamed at dinner bv the Prime Minister and Sir John 1 Butters (chairman of the Federal Capital Commission). A reception fol I lowed.

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