2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. ROBINSON presented a petition from the President, Vice-President, and the Executive of the Central Council of Employers of Australia, praying that the Australian Industries Preservation Bill might be referred to a Select Committee.
Petition received and read.
.- In this morning’s Age appears an article headed “ Other Officers.” It begins-
There is reason to believe that Colonel Robertson very strongly objects to the unauthorized and unwarranted use made of his name by Mr. Page in Parliament yesterday. Not only is Colonel Robertson a personalfriend of Colonel Hoad’s, but he is above all things desirous that his last few years of service shall be free from any exploitation of his name by anti-Australian politicians- or by any one else.
Were these unreasonable questions to ask the Minister? -
Is Colonel Robertson shortly retiring from the command of the Second Infantry Brigade; and, if so, when?
What reason does he give for retiring?
Is he retiring because he objects to a proposed new appointment?
It seems to me that those questions were absolutely reasonable. At all events, there is nothing unwarrantable in them. If I cannot ask questions of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence without my action being termed unwarrantable, the sooner the affairs of the Defence Forces are left to the officers to be dealt with as they like, the better. The article continues -
With regard to General Hutton’s adverse confidential report on Colonel Hoad
I ask the House to pay particular attention to this passage, because yesterday, when I asked the question -
Did General Hutton leave on record an unfavorable report of the abilities of Colonel Hoad ; and what was such report ? the Minister’s reply, although the question was a reasonable one, and could easily have been answered in the affirmative or the negative, was that the report was confidential. If itwas confidential, and therefore, not to be seen by honorable members, how did the Age arrive at the conclusion that it was an adverse report?
– How did the honorable member get the information? I suppose that the Age got it in the same way as he did.
– I will say in a moment how I got it. This newspaper article not only lies, but it slanders innocent men. It says that
One of five persons, the names of all of whom are known to the Minister of Defence, and one, at least, of whom is a Victorian politician, can alone have given to Mr. Page the contents of the ex-General Officer Commanding’s biased report.
If the Age got from the Minister himself, as it says here that it did, its information that there was a confidential report, why was it permitted to know that the report was adverse to Colonel Hoad, while that information was withheld from the House? I got my information from the Age newspaper when Major-General Hutton was leaving Australia ; but, knowing the wilful misrepresentations and lies published in that newspaper, I was not sure that its information was correct, and therefore questioned the Minister upon the subject. His reply was that the report was confidential.
– How the honorable member wallops his Joss !
– Who is my Joss?
– The Age.
– The honorable member had one insane moment in his life when he called the Age my Joss. I do not know a Victorian Member of Parliament who is an officer, and no Victorian Member of Parliament has ever given me information about the Defence Forces. The only information I have was obtained from the Age, and this morning that newspaper shows that the report in questionhas not been treated as confidential, because, although the House has not been allowed to know the nature of its contents, a representative of that newspaper must have been allowed to see it. I should not have referred to this matter had the article merely concerned myself ; I do so because it was a cruel thing for the writer to suggest that five men know a certain secret, one of whom must have given it to me, and to indicate a Victorian politician as the person most likely to have done so. He is evidently not under the aegis of the Age, or that would not have been written of him.
– The Age wishes to run our Defence Forces just as it runs the Victorian Parliament.
– There can be no doubt as to what the Age wishes to do. This article is a wilful misrepresentation of facts.
– I thought that yesterday we had exhausted our list of grievances, but, apparently, the debate which took place then created some,and I wish, therefore, in justice to the leader of the Labour Party, to make a personal explanation regarding a statement of mine then. Yesterday, when criticising the Government for appointing Commissioners for the investigation of certain proposals with a view to seeing if they could be nationalized, I said -
We are told by the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Northern Melbourne, and the leader of the Labour Party that there is no power in the Constitution to nationalize these industries. It is one of the complaints to-day of the leader of the Labour Party that he cannot get the Prime Minister to say whether he will help them to get the power to nationalize one or two of these monopolies.
I also quoted from a speech delivered by the honorable member for Bland at Crow’s Nest.
– The speech was delivered, not at Crows Nest, but at Millerstreet, North Sydney.
– The passage which I quoted, and upon which I based my strictures, was this -
Mr. Deakin’s programme at present was in a state of transition, if, indeed, it existed at all. That being so, the Labour Party had a right to be informed as to Mr. Deakin’s intentions before it entered into any agreement. The party had had no clear statement on this matter from Mr. Deakin. Mr. Deakin had declared that the question of Socialism was one for the States, and that before the Federal Parliament could deal with it there would have to be an alteration in the Constitution. Under these circumstances it was fair to ask Mr. Deakin whether he would alter the Constitution in order to make it possible to nationalize one or more existing monopolies.
I assumed from that passage that the honorable member had subscribed to the authoritative judgment of two of the AttorneysGeneral of the Commonwealth.
– Of three of them. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne gave the same opinion before he became Attorney-General.
– At any rate, he gave a very emphatic expression of his opinion the other evening.
– I expressed no opinion upon the matter.
– I now understand that to be the case. I was wrong in assuming from the honorable member’s speech that he thinks with the Prime Minister and others that this Parliament has not the power to nationalize Commonwealth industries. While making this explanation, in justice to the honorable member, I should like to add that, in my opinion, nine out of every ten persons reading the passage which i quoted would infer from it that he subscribed to the opinion which he was criticising.
asked the Acting Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is it true that the Branch Post Office at the Fremantle Town Hall has been closed; if so, what reason is given by the Department for depriving the public of this convenience, and upon whose recommendation was the action taken ?
– The Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Perth, has furnished the following information: -
The Branch Post Office at Fremantle Town Hall has not been closed ; the only alteration made is that telegrams handed in to the Town Hall since the 16th May, 1906, are collected every fifteen minutes by special messenger on bicycle from the Fremantle office, and transmitted therefrom instead of from the Town Hall office. This arrangement is considered to afford more expeditious despatch than previously obtained, and was theresult of a recommendation made by the senior inspector.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
When the Appropriation Bill came before the Senate last year, dissatisfaction was expressed that provision was made for the upkeep of two residences for the Governor-General. It was then pointed out that the Senate was not afforded a fair opportunity of considering the advisability of providing two residences for the Governor-General. The Minister then promised that a Bill would be introduced during the next session in such a form as to enable both Houses to. deal specifically with the question of maintaining a residence for the Governor- General in Sydney, and in order to permit of the fullest and freest discussion, the Bill takes its present form. Honorable members will see that it is merely an enabling measure. It provides that the Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Government of the State of Victoria for the use and occupation by the Commonwealth for a period not exceeding five years of Government House, Melbourne, as a residence for the Governor-General, and that he may also make a similar arrangement with respect to Government House, Sydney. So far as Victoria is concerned, an agreement has practically been approved of for the continuance of the occupation of Government House, Melbourne, an the terms hitherto existing. No rent is to be paid, but the Commonwealth are liable for upkeep and maintenance, and at the expiration of the agreement the residence and the articles therein contained are to be handed over to the State authorities in the same good order and condition as when taken over from the State. So far as New South Wales is concerned, the original agreement has expired, and after the end of this year we shall be merely, as it were, tenants on sufferance. An appropriation has been made covering the expenditure up to the end of the financial year, and since then temporary provision has been made in Supply, pending further arrangement.
– Can the Minister tell us the cost of the upkeep and maintenance of the Governor- General’s residence in Melbourne ?
– I shall furnish that information presently. We desired to enter into negotiations, subject to the approval of Parliament, with a view to continuing in occupation of Government House, Sydney, on the same terms as formerly. The Premier of New South Wales then pointed out to us that the tenancy of the residence now occupied by the State Governor was about to expire, and that it would be necessary to make fresh arrangements for the accommodation of His Excellency. They asked that an agreement should be entered into - subject, of course, to the ratification of Parliament - for a certain definite term. Five years is suggested in the Bill because it is confidently hoped that bv the end of that time some definite steps will have been taken to establish the Federal Capital. The Premier of New South Wales asked for an assurance that an agreement would be entered into for a certain definite term, which would justify the New South Wales Government in acquiring a residence for the State Governor. That seems to us to be a most reasonable request. We must remember that in connexion with both these Government Houses the States concerned have been treating us with the greatest generosity. We have had handed over to us these magnificent buildings, without being called upon to pay a single penny in the way of rent. All that we are required to do is to maintain them, and to hand them over practically in the same order of preservation that they were in when we received them. When, f herefore, the Commonwealth was established, we found ourselves in possession of Government House, Melbourne, and Government House, Sydney. At a Conference of States Premiers, held before Federation was established, it was agreed by a majority that two residences should be provided for the Governor-General - that during the sittings of Parliament the Governor-General should reside in Melbourne and that during the recess he should reside in Sydney.
– What does the Minister mean by a majority pf the Premiers - can he give their names?
– I am using the expression contained in a telegram forwarded bv the honorable member for Gippsland, who was then Premier of Victoria, to the Premier of New South Wales. He said -
Referring to your telegram of the 8th May . . the majority agree to residence of the Governor-General New South’ Wales during recess, but consider that he should visit other Colonies.
– Has the Minister any record of the proceedings of that Conference ?
– No; that telegram is the only official record of the decision that we have. On the strength of the representations that were made, and the agreement arrived at before Federation, .communications took place with the Imperial Government, and the proposal of the States was acquiesced in. The people of New South Wales justly and fairly believed that these proposals would be carried out, and on the strength of that parliamentary action was taken.
– New South Wales spent a large sum of money.
– Yes. New South Wales spent a very large sum of money, and I think that they behaved in a spirit that was well worthy of the Federation. They made the most liberal provision for the celebration of the inauguration of the Commonwealth, in a manner befitting the occasion. We entered into an agreement with the States Governments of New South Wales and Victoria that we should continue in occupation- of their respective Government Houses for a period of three years, with a right of renewal for a further period of two years1 - in other words, for a term of five years altogether. Of course, it was provided that we should be liable for the maintenance and upkeep of the houses, and hand them over at the expiration of the term in good order and condition.
– Is the Minister able to say whether any fixed term was agreed upon in the first instance?
– Yes. The term of three years, with a right of renewal for a further two years. The terms of that agreement were to- be embodied in a draft lease, which took some time in preparation, and is in existence to-day. We are now holding these properties upon the original terms, with the exception that, as regards the State of Victoria, we have practically agreed to continue in occupation of Government House, Melbourne, for an indefinite period, subject to twelve months’ notice of termination on either side. That agreement was practically concluded at the close of last year, and a copy was immediately transmitted to New South Wales. At the same time, a discussion took place in the Senate, and a desire was expressed that the two residences should foe dealt with separately. On the strength of that debate, and the promise made to the Senate, negotiations had to be again opened up with New South Wales, and it was then agreed that we should submit to Parliament a Bill which would enable us to make a contract for a period of five years.
– At whose suggestion is the term fixed?
– At the suggestion of the State of New South Wales. It was pointed out that the New South Wales Government desired to enter into a new arrangement to provide a residence for the State Governor, and naturally they wished “ the Commonwealth authorities to give them some guarantee that they would continue in the occupation of Government House, Sydney, for a term, because, if this Parliament refused at any time to make the necessary appropriation they might have the two establishments thrown upon their hands.
– The Government contemplates entering into an agreement for a definite period with the Government of New South Wales?
– We contemplate entering into an agreement for five years. The arrangement with Victoria is subject to twelve months’ notice on either side. Of course, it may be that the Premier of New South Wales will assent to the same conditions.
– Has he not done so up till now?
– What is asked for is that the Commonwealth shall enter into an arrangement for a period of five years, and for the reason which I have given. That reason seems to me fair and reasonable.
– Does the New South Wales Premier ask the Commonwealth Government to defray the cost of providing another residence for its State Governor?
– No; the State Government provide that. All that we are asked to do, and all that we propose, is to continue the existing lease upon exactly the same terms as have hitherto operated. We are not asking this Parliament to appropriate a single additional penny of expenditure for the upkeep of these two viceregal establishments. We shall not ask for an increase in the amount of the appropriation when the Estimates are under review. Honorable members will doubtless recollect that some time ago a discussion took place in this House as to what constituted a fair and reasonable amount to allow for the maintenance and upkeep of t?he two establishments occupied by the Governor-General. Accordingly a return was prepared in which it was shown that £5,500 was absolutely the bed-rock expenditure. It was pointed out that that estimate had been made in the absence of any experience other than that provided by the short period during which the Commonwealth had been in occupation of the two Government Houses, but it was believed that their maintenance could be provided for upon that basis. Ever since then the expenditure has been kept down absolutely to bed-rock, and it has been found, with the exercise of care and economy, that the amount indicated will very nearly cover all necessary demands. Of course, there are certain amounts for non-recurring expenditure - expenditure due to the fact that we are required to keep the buildings and their contents in good order and condition. But in some instances we have been able to provide for the upkeep of the fabrics themselves out of the sum appropriated for maintenance.
– The Minister has not yet told us what is the respective cost of the upkeep of the two Government Houses?
– I have said that .£5.500 is considered the bed-rock expenditure for the upkeep of both establishments.
– The amount °f £s>15° was suggested.
– But £5,500 was the sum agreed to as the minimum. It was stated that that was the lowest possible expenditure which could be incurred for the maintenance of the establishments.
– Does that represent the cost of the upkeep of each ?
– No; it represents the cost of the upkeep of both. If the honorable member will turn to the Estimates he will see that the total expenditure last year was £5,868, so that we have kept very closely to bed-rock. As I have already pointed out, a certain amount must be provided for non-recurring expenditure for which we are liable, because we are bound to hand over the buildings in good order and condition, and to replace certain things which are liable to wear and tear. If honorable members will refer to the past expenditure by the States they will find, in some instances, that the amounts which they have appropriated for. the upkeep of their Government Houses are in excess of the sum I have mentioned. We are not asking for any additional expenditure in pursuance of the agreement embodied in this Bill. We are simply continuing the existing arrangement, and there will be_ no expense incurred under it other than that of which we have had experience during the past five years. We ask the House to agree to the Bill, because we think that it is a just thing that we should provide for the upkeep of two Government Houses, one in Sydney, and the other in Melbourne.
– At whose request has this arrangement been made?
– The Premier of Victoria requested the Commonwealth Government to consider the question of whether it should not pay rent for the accommodation provided in Melbourne for the GovernorGeneral j but since then, he has practically concluded an agreement with us under which no rent shall be charged, and we shall continue in possession of the Melbourne establishment just as we have done hitherto. I think that the States are treating us generously in this matter, and I ask the House to give us the authority to carry out the agreements contemplated bv the Bill.
– I am glad to hear the statement which has been made by the Minister in regard to this matter. 1 should have liked him/ to say, during his speech - perhaps I should have suggested it - that at no distant date - I mean this session - the question of the Federal Capital Site will receive some attention at the hands of the Government.
– It is receiving attention now, and it will be submitted as soon as possible to the House.
– I am glad to have that assurance. Meantime, it strikes me that the proposal made in this Bill is a fair arrangement upon both sides. The New South Wales authorities have to provide a residence for Sir Harry Rawson, the State Governor, and I understand that they are desirous of entering into a five years’ tenure of a house with that end in view. It is only reasonable, therefore, that they should ask the Commonwealth Government to occupy the vice-regal establishment in Sydney, which the State Governor is vacating, for a similar term. I suppose that the Government are following some precedent in the matter of the phraseology which is employed in this Bill. In it, I notice that they take power - it strikes me as sounding, rather strange - to permit the Go vernor-General to make an arrangement with the State Governor..
– In that we are only following, the official means of communication.
– Of course, everybody understands that the GovernorGeneral means his responsible Ministers, but I did. not know that this form of phraseology entered into the question of securing of a place wherein the GovernorGeneral might live.
– It means that he must obtain executive authority.
– It is language to which one is not accustomed in our Acts of Parliament, and it shows the way in which constitutional law operates from the top to the bottom of our industrial and social order. I take it from what the Minister has said that the Government propose to enter into an indefinite agreement with the Government of Victoria, so far as the occupation of the Melbourne Government House is concerned, subject to twelve months’ notice upon either side. With respect to the vice-regal establishment in New South Wales, the Government propose, at the request of the Premier of that State, to enter into an agreement’ for a definite term.
– The Victorian Government may ask for the same agreement as we contemplate making with New South Wales. We are only placing the Governments! of the two States upon the same footing.
– I think that the attitude which is assumed, both by the Government of New South Wales and that of Victoria, is an eminently fair and reasonable one. There has been some criticism levelled against the recent action of the Victorian Premier in making a claim for rent for the occupation of Melbourne Government House.
– It was not the claim for rent that was objectionable, but the remarks which accompanied it.
– It strikes me that a mistake was made in this matter at “the very outset of Federation, and this fact shows the inadvisability of allowing sentimental considerations to enter into affairs of plain business. For my part, I believe it would have been better if, at the advent of Federation, we had entered into an agreement with the Government of New South Wales, under which we should have paid for everything which that Government did to place at our disposal accommodation forthe Governor-General. We should thus have put the matter upon a business basis. However, sentimental considerations were permitted to creep in, and we accepted the hospitality proffered by the Government of Victoria at the time. The result was that matters were not considered in that sharp business way in which ordinary transactions are considered. Thus it comes about that later proposals of a more strictly business character have been made, accompanied by language which gives rise to some amount of irritation. I say again that I think the Commonwealth Government ought to be under no obligation to any State of a pecuniary character. So far from that being the case, we ought studiously to avoid any such relations. We have supreme control and command of the purse of the Commonwealth, and the Government is supposed to be supreme within the limits of our Constitution. Therefore it seems to me that we ought to operate our powers independently of any outside authority, and without reference to any sentimental considerations whatever. We ought to be self-contained in every way, not only as to the place where we shall meet, but as to the payments we shall make for the privileges that we enjoy, and for every other aspect of our constitutional working. Consequently I make no complaint in respect of the proposals which are made by the Government, and which amount to this : that we simply propose to pay our way in relation to the matter of vice-regal accommodation. I do not see why the Commonwealth Government should not pay its rent just as freely and unrestrictedly as the commonest and poorest labourer in Australia has perforce to do.
– The Bill’ does not propose that we shall pay a rental.
– It amounts pretty much to the same thing. The Bill proposes that we shall make a definite arrangement with the States Governments in regard to the housing of our GovernorGeneral - an arrangement involving expenditure, if not actual rental.
– The upkeep of the two vice-regal establishments is pretty expensive.
– I suppose that it is alittle expensive from one standpoint, but, judged from the proper relation in which these things ought to be viewed, it strikes me that it is very reasonable.
– It is very small.
– I should say that it is small. It is as small, or smaller, perhaps, than the expenditure upon any other establishment of the kind in the whole Empire.
– The honorable member misunderstands me. I was referring to the difference between the upkeep of Government House by the Commonwealth and that of the establishment occupied by the State Governor.
– I do not know what the arrangements are in respect of the accommodation provided for the State Governor. If the upkeep and rent together were included I should imagine that they would amount to quite as much expenditure as we are under an obligation to incur here. However, I do not intend to offer the slightest opposition to the Bill. I think it is an eminently fair one. My hope is that we shall soon secure a local habitation of our own, so that we may terminate this dual relationship with the various States, and have one GovernorGeneral’s residence at the permanent Seat of Government - -in the place which this Parliament will decide, I hope, very speedily, and with satisfaction to all concerned. I understand that the Government are moving in this matter at the instance of the Government of New South Wales, and that other reasons press them to ask for a definite agreement of this kind to be concluded.
– The Bill affords one of the strongest arguments which could be advanced for the immediate settlement of the Capital Site question. If we had that question settled we might then agree upon one permanent residence for the Governor-General, instead of having a residence in both New South Wales and Victoria. There has been a good deal of trouble over this matter ever since it originated. In the first instance, when the Governor-General came to reside in Melbourne, there was a feeling in New South Wales that he ought to reside there too. That led up to the creation of a second establishment.
– The Minister has just said that it was arranged before that time.
– At all events, when the Governor-General’s Establishment Bill was under consideration, we heard a good deal of talk about the matter.
– The question was raised on the 1 st May, 1900.
– When the Federation of the Colonies was being considered one of the strong arguments which were advanced in favour of the proposal was that the establishments of the State Governors would be reduced, thus saving expense to the local taxpayers, and that the Governor-General’s establishment would practically be the only big item of expenditure in this connexion. But we have already added two vice-regal residences to the former number. It appears to me that, sooner or later, even after we get the Federal Capital established, this will lead up to the provision of a third residence for the Governor-General, because the moment we get into the Federal Capital it will be argued that that is not a place fitted for His Excellency to reside permanently in. In the circumstances, I. do not see how, after this Bill is passed, we can get out of allowing him to retain the residences in New South Wales and Victoria.
– He would want to go to the seaside in the summer.
– Admitting that, he would much prefer New South Wales to Victoria. It strikes me that we are going to increase the expenditure, and have three residences for the Governor-General instead of one, ultimately - that is, when we get the Federal Capital. A few years ago there was a good deal of talk in the House concerning the expenditure in connexion with his establishment, and it decidedly refused to vote£8,000 a year for its upkeep. The expenditure, however, has gradually crept up. If we take the maintenance expenditure together with the general upkeep of£5,000 which was promised at that time, we find that it gets very near to the£8,000 which ‘the House refused to vote.
– It is down nearly to £5,500.
– That is less the maintenance of the building.
– Of course, the maintenance of the building was not included in the original estimate.
– The honorable member forParramatta also referred to a step, which I agree with him, should have been taken up in the first instance by the Commonwealth. If we are going to rent or use any State buildings, we should pay for them, and thus know exactly where we are. Until we adopt that plan, I do not think we shall be able to readily realize what the expenditure of the Commonwealth is going to be.
Mr. SKENE (Grampians [11.20].- I am glad to know that there is a general approval of the agreement which has been made, and which, I think, is a very liberal one. A remark fell from the deputy leader of the Opposition with regard to the Premier of Victoria having asked for rent for Government House here. I know nothing more about the matter than what I have read in the press. I noticed that Mr. Bent made a statement that that action was taken through an arrangement entered into between himself and the Premier of New South Wales, that they should each ask for rent for the occupation of the local Government House.
– He has corrected that since.
– Was that corrected?
– In this way, that it was for all the expenditure on Government Houses.
– I do not know anything about that matter from Mr. Bent, or anyone else. I am a Victorian, and would not like to see an aspersion cast on our Premier.
– I intended to cast no aspersion upon him.
– Exactly. But I understood the honorable member to imply that Mr. Bent was acting in a churlish sort of way.
– The deputy leader rather supported him.
-Yes; but that was on a general principle. From the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta, it would appear as if the Premier of Victoria, simply of his own volition, had been less generous in renewing the arrangementthan had been the Premier of New South Wales.
– I did not suggest that.
– But the press did.
– From the press, I understand Mr. Bent to have said that he and the Premier of New South Wales had agreed that they both would ask for rent for Government House, that Mr. Bent put forward some sort of request or said that he would, and that then Mr. Carruthers did not carry out the arrangement. The Minister of Home Affairs referred to a conference in Sydney. I wish to ask him if he knows whether the matter was proposed there in any shape, whether there is a record of anything being done then.
– I did not refer to the Conference of Premiers in Sydney. I said that there was an arrangement amongst the Premiers, and I read a telegram of 12th May, 1900, from Mr. McLean, in which he referred to the majority of the Premiers agreeing to the proposal.
– I thought that the Minister was referring to the Conference of Premiers in Sydney, where Mr. Bent says that they entered into some sort of an arrangement.
– No, I was referring to the telegram of 12th May, 1900.
– Quite so. As the matter has been mentioned here, I wish to put it on record that, as far as I understand the position, from what Mr. Bent has said, he was under the impression that he was carrying through an arrangement made with the Premier of New South Wales, and that probably the latter did not put forward a claim, because of the reception with which Mr. Bent’s proposal met. I only wish, in justice to the Premier of Victoria, to put the matter in that light.
.- I feel disposed to-day to congratulate the Government upon taking steps to place upon a sound basis the position of the Commonwealth in relation to the States. With the deputy leader of the Opposition, I quite agree that it is very likely to be much more satisfactory to both contracting parties if we determine by the Bill the exact relations which are to exist between the States and the Commonwealth. Up to the present time New South Wales and Victoria have treated the Commonwealth most generously. If we are to have a GovernorGeneral - and theredoes not appear to be any doubt’ on that point - we should take the responsibility of housing him.
– In how many States ?
– Thatis a point to which I am coming. We should do a fair thing in making arrangements for the housing of the Governor-General, and above all, we should express at this particular juncture the Commonwealth’s voice. My acquaintance with public opinion of Australia leads me to thinkthat it is to the effect that the popular expectation in pre-Federal days in regard to public expenditure is not being realized. Most of the electors of Australia did undoubtedly believe that with the consummation of Federation there would be a decrease in the expenditure on the establishments of the State Governors, and that then the Commonwealth new expenditure would not be felt. The Commonwealth has been in existence for five years, and although we have been receiving exceptional treatment from the States, the cost of the Governor-General is, roughly speaking, £16,000 per year, and none of the State Governors has been dispensed with.
– Have not their salaries been reduced?
– Yes, in the case of Queensland and Victoria.
– And further reductions are now proposed in some States.
– Certainly the reduction has not been in anything like proportion to the expenditure which has been incurred from having an additional Governor and two additional vice-regal establishments.
– Does the honorable member want a fresh residence for the GovernorGeneral ?
– I think that the time has arrived when we should definitely state that there shall be only one residence for the Governor-General, and that he shall stay there.
– In the Federal Capital, the honorable members means.
– I am in favour of having the Federal Capital established upon the chosen site at the earliest possible date. I am in favour of getting on with the building of the Federal city. I anticipate that the establishment of the GovernorGeneral will be erected there. Until such time as it has been definitely decided to go on with the construction of the Federal city, the expenditure upon the Governor-General’s establishment should be reduced to the lowest possible amount. If there was a promise given by the Premiers when they met in conference some years ago, and communicated to New South Wales by Mr. McLean, then Premier of Victoria, that for a number of months in each year the Governor-General should reside in New South Wales, that promise has been redeemed. It was not meant that the arrangement was to continue for ever. I think that it is the duty of the House now to state definitely that the GovernorGeneral shall reside permanently in either New South Wales or Victoria.
Mr. Wilson__ He must reside in Victoria in order to see the Government.
– I think that whilst the Parliament meets in Victoria that State should be chosen for His Excellency’s residence. I do not wish to traduce in any fashion the excellent treatment which has been accorded to the Federation by New South Wales, but I think it is necessary for the Commonwealth to embrace this opportunity of reducing the expenditure in connexion with the Governor-General’s establishment by at least .£3,000 a year.
– How much would it save?
– It will save ,£3,000 a year. The amount appropriated was £5,868.
– That was spent last year upon both Government Houses.
– According to the Minister’s speech it is anticipated that the expenditure will be reduced1 this year.
– £5,500 is bed rock.
– Supposing that the expenditure amounts to that sum, the residence in Sydney will cost the Commonwealth over £2,750.
– The upkeep of Sydney Government House is about £2,585.
– That is what would be saved.
– It is a very desirable amount to save. In view of the accusation of . extravagance which is thrown at the Commonwealth, and which, in very many cases, I do not admit to be well-founded, I see no reason why we should lay ourselves open to be charged with extravagance by agreeing to incur this additional expenditure for another term. We are assured by the Minister that New South Wales is in this position - that during this month the Government will have to make provision for housing its Governor.
– No, during this year.
– If it is this year, that is better from our point of view than this month. A convenient opportunity is afforded to convenience New South Wales, and to save that State a sum which, I suppose, amounts to £3,000 or £4,000 a year for the rent and upkeep of a Governor’s establishment. Does any honorable member know what rent New South Wales is actually paying for the Government House occupied bv the State Governor?
– I am surprised to hear that an establishment in keeping with the dignity of the State has been obtained for that sum. Even if the saving on rent will be only £500 a year, New South Wales should be enabled to make it; whilst at the same time the Commonwealth will be able to save ‘about £3,000 per annum. I am not prepared to say whether or not New South Wales desires to save money, but judging from a communication received by the Federal Government a little while ago, I should imagine that the State is pretty short of funds.
– Evidently she is not short of funds, because her Government makes this offer.
– In the communication to which I refer, it was suggested by the New South Wales Government that the Federal members should start to look for a new Federal Capital Site, and in a postscript it was courteously intimated that they were invited to bring their own sandwiches. It was like an invitation to attend a Lord Mayor’s banquet, with an intimation that the guests were to take their own food and wine. It appeared to me, from that invitation, that New South Wales desires to save money. Here is an opportunity for her to do so. I am also strongly of opinion that we have arrived at a stage in our national history when no special privileges should be accorded to any particular State. We ought not to perpetuate a system whereby the Governor-General is expected to live in different States at different portions of the year.
– We might as well buy him a perambulator.
– It would no doubt be a convenient means of transport. The time is opportune for us to decide that the GovernorGeneral shall reside in Victoria while the Parliament meets here, and shall accompany the Parliament to the Federal city as soon as it is constructed. When the Bill gets into Committee, I shall take the opportunity of inviting honorable members to vote against clause 3.
– The honorable member and I will get no more invitations from the Governor-General if we take the course suggested.
– I suppose that would not trouble either of us very much. The question ought to be dealt with apart from such considerations.
.- I agree with much that has been said by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. In the first place, I wish to say that the title of this Bill strikes me as being rather too imposing. Instead of “ Governor-General’s residences,” I would rather see the word “ residence “ used- I hope that the time will soon arrive, when we shall have one residence only for the Governor-General. The people of Australia, who have neither the opportunity nor the desire to attend Government House functions, but who have to pay the bill for the up-keep of various official establishments, ought to be considered. They thought that on the consummation of Federation the expenses of the States upon Governors would be greatly diminished. I hoped that the office of State Governor would be abolished, and that the various Chief Justices would act as Lieutenant-Governors. The present cost is very great. In some of the States the Governor is provided with two residences, one in the city and one in the country. In addition to that we now have the GovernorGeneral provided with two residences, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. I certainly have no desire to see Sydnev brought down to the level of a fishing village. If we are to have the Governor-General residing there, he certainly should occupy a residence appropriate to the dignity of his office. Government House, Sydney, occupies the most beautiful site on God’s earth. I can quite understand Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth entertaining similar opinions .with regard to the GovernorGeneral residing in them. But it is not our duty to provide a perambulating system of residences for the Governor-General/ The present situation affords an additional reason why we should hasten the ultimate decision with regard to the Federal capital. When we do finally establish a Commonwealth residence for the Governor-General, I think that the Commonwealth should maintain one establishment in the Federal city, and should not be called upon to incur the expense of keeping up a second residence. The Governor-General’s private residence, if he wishes to have one in the country, should be a charge on his own income. This Bill provides for the occupation of Government House, Sydney, for five years. I suggest that a provision should be inserted enabling the agreement to be terminated on twelve months’ notice by either side.
– That would not give the State Government a definite term.
– It is a mere matter of convenience. If the Federal capital were established within five years, we should have to continue to maintain the Government Houses in the States when we did not require them.
– It would be difficult to impose that condition when we are getting the houses for nothing.
– It is not difficult, because the very condition I suggest exists to-day in regard to the occupation of Government House, Melbourne. Of course, if I were acting only in the interests of Sydney, I should be willing to let this five year provision stand. But I do not wish to see anything unfair done. It is rather annoying to pick up one of the daily newspapers and find a cavilling between the State Premiers and the Commonwealth Prime Minister as to whether we should pay rent for Government House. I take the view that as a matter of justice the Commonwealth Government should pay its way, and it s’hould certainly reimburse the State Governments for out-of-Docket expenditure. But at the same time, the occupation by the Commonwealth of the Go:vernment Houses at Melbourne and Sydney does not involve the two States in additional expenditure. The Commonwealth provides for the up-keep of these establishments, which amounts in itself to a very large rent. Indeed, the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales have made an economical arrangement by allowing the Governor-General to occupy the official residences in Melbourne and Sydney whilst they pay rent for cheaper establishments for their own Governors. The general public are not concerned as to the residences of the State Governors and the Governor-General. Thev are not part of the social world of which the GovernorGeneral is the pivot. The masses of the people do not care what is done in this matter, so long as they are not involved in unnecessary expense. At the same time they do not desire to see a State placed in an unfair position. The arrangement made some years ago with regard to Sydney Government House was considered to be a compliment and an act of justice to the mother State. That was simply a setoff against! the arrangement that Melbourne should be the seat of Government until the capital city was occupied. But thetaxpayers are not concerned in this arrangement, and must look with horror on the piling up of expenses.
.- I think this is a fitting juncture for a reminder from the Federal Parliament to the States Parliaments, and to the people of the States, that They have failed to carry out the understanding which, at the time when federation was about to be consum- . mated, was, I think, almost universal. It was very generally understood that as soon as a Governor-General of the Commonwealth was in existence in Australia, the States Governors should be represented by some permanent officials of each State rather than by an imported gentleman who would be expected to keep up a petty vice-regal establishment, such as seems to have been the rule in all the States up to the present time. If the Federal Parliament be accused of extravagance in any direction, I think we may fairly retort on the States Parliaments that in this respect they are not only extravagant, but are continuing a totally useless and unnecessary formality in respect of these little vice-regal courts. It seems to me to be the height of absurdity that in the city of Melbourne we should have two vice-regal establishments. I am quite sure that the vast majority of the people, if they had an opportunity to express an opinion in a direct fashion on this particular issue, would speak without hesitation as to the advisability and, indeed, the necessity, of abolishing these States vice-regal courts. It it were absolutely necessaryfor the welfare and happiness of a certain section of the people of Australia that they should occasionally tread a vice-regal carpet, or that a still more select few should put their feet under vice-regal mahogany, that might be accomplished by arranging that the GovernorGeneral should visit the various States for a short period in each year, and in that way afford those people an opportunity to gratify their social ambition. I feel that the Federal Parliament should’ enter a strong protest against the continuance of these States vice-regal courts. It was distinctly understood that they should be abolished as the result of federation. We now have had federation in existence for five years, and, beyond a reduction in the salaries of some of the States Governors, nothing more effectual has been accomplished. I am informed by the honorable member for Kennedy that there was a re quest from a late Secretary of State for the Colonies that the status of these States Governors should not be altered or reduced.
– Such a request was made in the case of Queensland at any rate.
– That may be so, but I think that in a matter of this kind the voice of the people of Australia should be supreme. Whilst we are always ready to listen to suggestions from the Colonial Office, they should be very well grounded indeed, and I am not aware that very cogent reasons have been adduced by any one for the continuance of the States viceregal courts. But in any case, I think it is the duty of this Parliament to remind the States Parliaments that there is a very useful reform possible of achievement in this direction, and that, apart altogether from the saving of expense, the present position is one which makes us almost a laughing stock of people elsewhere. We can very well dispense with many of these little vice-regal courts throughout Australia. I think that we should be quite content with one Governor-General’s establishment.
– Suppose honorable members begin in Western Australia, to show us how it would work.
– The remarks I am making are as applicable to Western Australia as to the other States. I hope they will be taken notice of there, and that the people of that State will act upon them.
– I think it is likely that they will begin to do so, and early, too.
– It is a matter on which, I think, honorable members had. better go easy.
– I am quite sure that the people of Western Australia are as practical and as sensible as are those of the other States.
– They are more practical, judging by the members they send here.
– If they have the opportunity they will speedily take steps in the direction I have indicated. I speak to-daysimply in order to remind the people of the States that they have given enough latitude to their States Parliaments in this respect, and- should now insist that the members of those Parliaments should put an end to what, to my mind, is an absurdity.
– Whilst the remarks of the honorable member for Perth are very cogent as applied to the States, they cannot affect our dealing with the measure before us.
– I merely thought this a proper opportunity to remind the people of the States of their dutv.
– I quite understand that the honorable member availed himself of that opportunity. No doubt, there might and should be some reduction of gubernatorial expenditure in the States, as a consequence of the establishment of Federation. As regards some remarks which have been made, and especially by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, as to the non-necessity for two Government Houses, I would point out that it is not altogether a question of necessity. It is a question of agreement and engagement. As the Minister has shown, prior to (the consummation of Federation, an agreement was come to that the first GovernorGeneral should have an establishment in Melbourne during the sessions of Parliament, and that in the recess he should reside in Sydney.
– Would the honorable member say that this Parliament should, for all time, act on the suggestion of the Premiers responsible for that arrangement.
– I should not for a moment say that, but I do say that, we should be bound by that arrangement, and act upon it until the Federal Capital is established, and the- GovernorGeneral’s permanent residence placed there,, and the sooner that is accomplished, the better I shall . be pleased. Amongst the papers dealing with this subject, there is a telegram which was sent to England, from the Premiers who weremet in Melbourne, at the time the delegation to the British Government from Australia were in England. That telegram is to the following effect : -
Majority agree to residence of GovernorGeneral in New South Wales during recess, but consider that he should visit other Colonies.
– Was not that from Victoria only ?
– It waa from a majority of the Premiers. The names are given subsequently in the papers of the States, which constituted the majority referred to, and they were, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria. Thev all agreed to that, and the decision was communicated to the Imperial authorities. There is amongst the papers a Telegram from Mr. Chamberlain, acknowledging the receipt of the telegram I have read, and in connexion with it. The first GovernorGeneral left for Australia with instructions in accordance with that decision. It was under these conditions that the occupation of two houses was arranged for, and as has been admitted, the two States who provide those houses, have been liberal, at any rate, to the Commonwealth. Having secured that arrangement, they have sought to make it as economical as’ possible to the Commonwealth. I therefore think that there is something more than mere utility or necessity to be considered. This arrangement has been made, and it should be carried out, until either of the States interested foregoes its claim, or the Federal Capital is established, and the Governor-General’s residence is fixed there. So much for the reason why two Government Houses are kept up.
– They are asking for a five years’ lease now,, under a new arrangement.
– Personally, I shall be very glad if the Minister is able to make arrangements bv which the lease- proposed can be terminated in a shorter period.
– They should recognise that the original term has expired.
– That is the term of the first arrangement, with regard to the leasing of the Government Houses, but that does not affect the undertaking agreed to. The honorable member is referring only to the agreement with respect to the leasing of these particular buildings.
– The Bill provides that the term of the lease is not to exceed five years.
– That is so; but the honorable member for Capricornia appears to be under the impression that the leases of certain buildings having expired, the arrangement with respect to the residence of the Governor-General in Victoria and New South Wales has also expired.
– We are asked to make a new arrangement now.
– That is. only with respect to the leases of particular buildings. It has nothing to do with the undertaking that the Governor-General should spend the recess, or part of it, in Sydney. That arrangement has not terminated, and nothing we do should terminate it, until the Federal Capital is established.
Of course, the original leases of particular buildings have terminated, and the Minister is in this measure dealing with the renewal Of those leases. I shall be very pleased if he can make arrangements under which, if desirable, these leases may be terminable upon notice before the expiration of five years. Even though that were arranged, we could scarcely expect the Capital to be selected this session.
– We have selected it.
– I should have said that it would not be erected and completed, as the honorable member knows it would have to be if the GovernorGeneral is to reside there. We can scarcely expect that the Governor-General will have his permanent residence established in the Federal Capital in less than five years.
– I (have seen a township run up in two months.
– I am afraid that if the honorable member had to occupy the parliamentary buildings in that town, he would complain that, he was obliged to occupy ian unsanitary , unwholesome, and altogether uninhabitable place. I know something of the cost of upkeep of these houses, and can support the Minister in what he has said. It is quite true that the lowest estimate, cutting everything to the bone, was given by a previous Government as to the ordinary outlay in maintaining these Government Houses.
– In 1902.
– That was in 1902, before we had much experience, and £5.500 was named as the amount. That, of course, did not include exceptional expenditure, such as the painting of the houses all over, which must be done at intervals. The regular expense of upkeep was estimated at £5,500 a year. Of course, honorable members are aware that that amount has teen considerably exceeded. When I occupied the position of Minister of Home Affairs, I recognised that .the expenditure should, if possible, be kept down to the estimate of probable outlay that’ had been supplied. With the assistance of the officers of the Department, I endeavoured to keep down the expenditure on these Government Houses, with the result that it was reduced to, I think, about £5,800
– In 1894-5, the expenditure was £5,800. This year we hone that we will have succeeded in cutting it down to £5,5°°-
– It was brought down to something very near the estimate, with the object of submitting a vote of £5,500 for the following year, and I think the Estimates were so prepared. The Minister says that he is following that course, and hopes, apart from exceptional outlay, to bring down the expenditure to £5,500. How, then, can the Federal Parliament be charged with extravagance if it maintains the two Government Houses with that expenditure? What do we find is the cost of maintaining the States Government Houses? In New South Wales there are two Government Houses provided for the State Governor, one in the country and the other in the citY of Svdney, at a cost of £12,368.
– Still, according to the honorable member for Cowper, they pay only £500 a year for rent.
– The rent does not include the expenses of upkeep. They maintain the ground and premises themselves.
– Is there any real necessity for having a residence for the GovernorGeneral in Svdney? The agreement of the Premiers is not binding upon us.
– I think that any honorable undertaking of the kind into which they entered is binding on us. They were then acting for Australia, and the arrangement into which they entered was recognised by the British Government. I think that the honorable member would, in his private capacity, consider himself bound1 by a similar arrangement. One way in which a termination can be put to the agreement is by getting into the Federal Capita] as soon as possible, and I have no doubt that he will assist us to do so.
– To get to Dalgety, certainly
– The Victorian Government maintains two residences for the State Governor at a cost of £8,732, while the Queensland Government expends £7,132, and the New Zealand Government £7,000, on Governors’ residences. Therefore, I do- not think that the Commonwealth is justly chargeable with extravagance in this matter.
– The States charge it with extravagance.
– It is easy . to make the charge, but difficult to support it.
– It would be much easier to make a similar charge against the States.
– On these figures a similar charge against the States would be much more accurate.
– Against some of the Spates.
– Whilst charges of reckless extravagance are made against the Commonwealth, it is only in very few cases that evidence can be obtained 10 support them, and, generally, when the means of comparison are available, the Commonwealth expenditure is seen to be much less than that of the States. I do not object to the action of the Premier of Victoria in asking for rent for the Victorian Government House, and the buildings which we occupy though I object to the remarks with which his request was accompanied, and if we paid attention to them it would show that we consider that we have outstayed our welcome in Melbourne.
– He did not speak officially.
– Everything that he says when speaking about matters coming within the scope of his official duties is official. Of course, I know that we cannot pay attention to those remarks, because, in the generous .offer of a continuance of the arrangement, we have what amounts to their withdrawal. As to the statement of the honorable member for Grampians that the Premier of Victoria has charged the Premier of New South Wales with a breach of an agreement regarding the Government Houses-
– I did not know that there was an agreement, but I believe that there was some sort! of understanding.
– There was an understanding on another matter at the Conference, and if the honorable member reads the subsequent remarks of the Premier of Victoria I think he will find that what he referred to was an understanding to charge, not for the occupation of the Government Houses, but for services rendered bv State officers to the Commonwealth. Tt has been said by some of the States Premiers that the services rendered by the States officers to. the Commonwealth and not charged for are more valuable than those rendered to the States bv Commonwealth officers, and not charged for. I would suggest to the Minister of Home Affairs that he should have a statement prepared showing the value of both sets of services.
– I have such a statement prepared.
– I shall be very pleased to see it. In my_ opinion, the services rendered to the States by Commonwealth officers and not charged for are much more valuable than those rendered to the Commonwealth by States officers and not charged for. I think that the Premier of Victoria had in mind the arrangement to charge for services rendered by the States to the Commonwealth, and that the Premier of New South Wales did not regard the occupation of the Government Houses as coming within those services. There was merely a misunderstanding, and I think no intention of misrepresenting the position on the part of the Premier of Victoria. I am pleased that the generosity which has characterized the Victorian offer from the first is to be continued. As the guests of Victoria, we recognise its generosity in offering to the Commonwealth not only Government House, but these parliamentary buildings. 1 shall support the Bill.
.- I think that this is an occasion when the question of establishing a permanent residence for the Governor-General should be discussed, perhaps not extensively, but so that the opinions of honorable members may be obtained on the subject generally. I hold with those who take the view that we should decide now how many establishments should be provided for the GovernorGeneral.
– I must rule that that matter is not within the scope of the Bill.
– We have before us a measure providing for the continued occupation by the Governor-General of two residences. I know that the arrangement was entered into .by the Premiers of the States prior to Federation that, during the recesses of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Governor-General should reside in Sydney until the Federal Capital is built. I think that that arrangement was a wrong one, but feel that we are bound, under the circumstances, to give effect to it, as we should, in our private capacities, recognise a similar obligation. But, are we to continue to provide for two residences after the vexed question of where the Federal Capital shall be situated is settled? Parliament determined upon a site, and, had it not been for the opposition of New South Wales, we should be committed to a choice against which I think there is now a preponderance of opinion in this House. The question is, are we to maintain two residences for the Governor- General so long as Parliament meets in Melbourne, and his official residence is here? I have always opposed the establishment of a bush capital, and I hope that, before the termination of this Parliament, the electors will be given an opportunity to express their opinions on the subject.
– Apparently the honorable member, although ready to keep the agreement entered into by the Premiers, will not stand by the provision in the Constitution.
– There can be no breach of faith if we ask those who accepted the Constitution whether, in the light of fuller knowledge, they will amend it or keep it unaltered. I have always held that the Federal Capital should be located in Sydney. I think that the people of New South Wales have a claim upon the Federation by reason of the agreement entered into between the Premiers of the States that, so long as the Federal Parliament met in Melbourne, the Governor-General should reside in Sydney during the recess. A complaint is being expressed throughout Australia at the present time about the extravagance, or, if honorable members object tothat term, the unusually large expenditure of the Commonwealth. I cannot at present deal in detail with the subject, but I know that every Tasmanian Department taken over by the Commonwealth has become more expensive - in some instances, the increases are very large - and less efficient.
– Many of the Tasmanian officials taken over by the Commonwealth were paid rates of wages which could not be tolerated under Federal conditions.
– There was absolute sweating there, some officers receiving, only£38 ayear.
– That allegation cannot be made in regard to the Defence Department, at any rate, and while the cost of that Department in Tasmania has more than doubled, its effectiveness has been altogether crippled. Throughout those Darts of the Commonwealth which I visit, there is the feeling that the expenditure of the Commonwealth, especially in connexion with ornamental matters, is too great. We should, at the earliest moment possible, settle the Question where the permanent residence of the Governor- General is to be. When it is settled, there should be no other residence provided for him. Parliament will loyally and liberally vote whatever is necessary for the proper upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishment, but it would be preposterous to maintain for all time residences in New South Wales, Victoria, and perhaps some of the other States.
– The present residences cannot be retained after the establishment of a permanent residence at the Federal Capital.
– No doubt that should be so, but the question arises, is the Governor-General to be compelled to reside permanently at a bush capital, or is he to be provided with residences in Melbourne and Sydney also? Those are points which should be considered at this juncture. We must, of course, in dealing with this matter, keep in view the arrangement of the Premiers to which reference has already been made. I trust that we shall show clearly that we have no intention of maintaining establishments for the Governor-General in Sydney and Melbourne after the Federal Capital is established.
– This Bill is intended to give permanency to the present arrangement.
– The measure, if passed in its present form, will support the contentions of those who may urge that the present establishments should be continued. Personally, I hope that the GovernorGeneral will reside in Melbourne until such time as he takes up his permanent residence in Sydney.
– His permanent residence?
– Yes. I look forward to an amendment of the Constitution that will permit of that taking place. I trust that this House will have an opportunity of testing thatquestion during this session in order that the electors may be invited to arrive at a decision on the point at the end of theyear.
– The honorable member will not induce many people to vote in favour of putting a lot of money into the pockets of the Sydney landlords.
– We shall have to discuss that matter later. In the meantime, I hope that we shall make it perfectly clear that once the Federal Capital is established no further provision shall be made for residences for the GovernorGeneral in either Sydney or Melbourne.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of the State of Victoria for the use and occupation by the Commonwealth, for a period not exceeding five years, of Government House, Melbourne, as a residence for the Governor-General.
– I move -
That the words “or until the Federal City is constructed “ be inserted after the word “ years,” line 4.
I desire to provide that as soon as the Federal Capital is constructed, and accommodation is provided for His Excellency the Governor- General, we shall not be called upon to keep up the present establishments in Sydney and Melbourne. If the Bill were passed in its present form strong claims might be entered for the continued maintenance of these residences. I do not see how the amendment could possibly hamper the Government ; but, on the other hand, I think that it will clearly indicate the intentions of this Parliament.
– I would ask the honorable member not to press his amendment. My desire is to enter into an arrangement with the States Governments for as short a period as possible consistent with the provision of residences for the Governor-General in Melbourne and Sydney. It is now suggested that we should have alternate agreements with each of the States, one being for a period of fiveyears. and the other extending until the Federal city is established. As I have already pointed out, it will be necessary for the New South Wales Government to make arrangements for the accommodation of the State Governor, and they reasonably ask that we shall enter into occupation of Government House, Sydney, for a fixed term so that they may arrange to lease a residence for the State Governor for a similar period.
– The Minister knows that provision will have to be made for the accommodation of the Governor-General elsewhere than at the Federal Capital for a period of at least five years.
– Then there is no necessity for the amendment. We know that even if we were able forthwith to secure the site forthe Federal Capital, a considerable time would be occupied in laying out the Federal City, and in working out the whole scheme. It seems to me, therefore, that the amendment would be merely a placard, and would serve no useful purpose.
– Would it not indicate the intention of Parliament to give up the residences for the Governor-General in Melbourne and Sydney after provisionhas been made for him at the Federal Capital ?
– The mere insertion of the amendment would not indicate that. Our intention all through has been merely to provide temporary residences in Sydney and Melbourne. No one has ever expressed the opinion that these residences should be maintained permanently. The amendment would not in any sense be binding.
– Then what is the objection to it?
– It would be absolutely purposeless, and would not accomplish what the honorable member desires.
– I trust that the honorable member will press his amendment. We all know that if the FederalCapital Site were finally selected, and the work of establishing the Federal City were pushed on with all possible speed, it would not be possible to provide accommodation for the GovernorGeneral at the permanent Seat of Government before five yearshad elapsed. I think that the more consideration that is given to the various matters connected with the laying out of the Federal City during the next few years, the better it will be for us in the future.
– That could be carried too far.
– But the honorable member for Bland does not expect that the Governor-General would be able to reside at the Federal Capital before five years has elapsed?
– Not at all.
– That being the case, the amendment may very well be inserted with the object of safeguarding us against the impression that it was passed with the deliberate intention of providing permanent residences in Sydney and Melbourne.
– I think that the limitation to five years would prevent that.
– I am afraid not, because considerable differences of opinion exist as to the agreements already entered into with New South Wales and Victoria.
The only consideration which induces me to vote in favour of maintaining a residence for the Governor-General in Sydney, as well as in Melbourne, is the deliberate arrangement that was entered into by the Premiers, including the Premier of Tasmania, which, I think, we are in honour bound to carry out. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the period of five years from being extended.
– That could only be done with the express authority of Parliament.
– We know that every step taken in connexion with this matter is used as an argument why we should proceed further. If the amendment be adopted, it will clearly express to any future Parliament the intention of this House that the residences in Melbourne and Sydney should not be maintained after provision has been made for the accommodation of the Governor-General at the Federal Capital. When that stage has been reached, neither Victoria nor New South Wales will have any claim in regard to the Governor-General other than could be put forward by the other States.
– The amendment might have the effect of carrying the arrangement over a period longer than five years - we might make an agreement extending over ten years.
– If this measure is necessary, another Bill will have to be introduced five years hence, provided that the Federal Capital has not been established. The amendment can do no harm, but, on the other hand, will show that we do not, in any shape or form, countenance the maintenance of residences for the GovernorGeneral in Melbourne or Sydney after the establishment of the Federal Capital.
.- I hope that we shall be able to adopt an amendment that will achieve the object of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Honorable members contend that an agreement has been entered into by which it is necessary for us to maintain two residences for the Governor-General, and I am afraid that unless an amendment such as that indicated is inserted in the clause, we shall be called upon to continue the present arrangement, even after the Federal Capital has been established. The principal obstacles in the way of a settlement of the Federal Capital question are being presented by the representatives of New South Wales, particu larly by the members of the State Parliament. If they had been reasonable in their attitude, we should not have been under the necessity of dealing with a measure of this kind. I think that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie might go a step further and propose that clause 3 should be struck out altogether, with a view to enacting that the Governor-General shall reside at the Seat of Government.
– We must stick to our agreement.
– That would mean that the Governor- General would have to reside in Melbourne during the whole of the time, and not go to Sydney at all.
– I desire that the GovernorGeneral should reside at the Seat of Government for the time being. I am not speaking of this matter from the Victorian stand-point. I have always maintained the same attitude in regard to it. We were promised that with the advent of Federation the offices of the States Governors would be abolished. The very persons who are to-day denouncing us for the expenditure incurred in the maintenance of these vice-regal establishments are themselves extravagant. I trust that the honorable member will adhere to his amendment, and that the House will decide that the Governor-General shall occupy only one Government House.
– I should like to point out to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie - I do not pretend to be an expert in grammatical construction - that his amendment, if carried, would possibly permit of the extension of the term that is specified in the Bill.
– It would give the Government that right.
– Speaking upon the question of whether any limitation should be imposed beyond what is implied in the Bill, may I point out that action is now being taken by the Government, because of local arrangements which are being entered into in the States chiefly concerned. But let us assume that within three years the Federal Capital were set up in New South Wales. The Governor-General would then be compelled to leave his present residence in Sydney, and to live at the Seat of Government, but it would not effect any saving to the State Government, because they would already have leased a residence for the State Governor.
– Twelve months’ notice would cover that.
– That is not provided for.
– I understand that it is to be provided for.
– The Bill is drafted in its present form, because Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, desires to lease a residence for the State Governor for a period of years. No doubt some arrangement could be made later on, but lest it could not, it would bew ell to leave the hand’s of the Government free, because if the New South Wales authorities had entered into an arrangement, the adoption of the amendment would have the effect of increasing instead of lessening, the expenditure that would be incurred. From whatever stand-point the honorable member’s proposal may be regarded, its acceptance would undoubtedly mean an increased instead of a diminished expenditure.
– It would not.
– It would. Suppose that within three years the Seat of Government were established in New South Wales. That would require the GovernorGeneral to immediately vacate Government House, Sydney, for the purpose of residing in the Federal Capital.
– I think that we can overcome the difficulty if the honorable member will permit my colleague to make a statement.
. -I understand that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie does not desire in any way to restrict the power of the Government to enter into an agreement withthe New South Wales authorities, or to unduly extend the duration of the arrangement specified in the Bill. He merely wishes it to be understood that the measure is intended to provide only for the temporary residence of the Governor- General pending the establishment of the Federal Capital. That is an attitude with which the Committee will agree. The Bill is merely a tentative measure for the purpose of providing the Governor-General with a residence until such time as the Federal Capital has been erected. I think it will meet his view if, in the preamble of the Bill, before the words “ Be it enacted “ we insert the words “ for the purpose of providing residences for the Governor-General, pending the establishment of a Federal Capital.”
.- The suggestion of the Minister of Home
Affairs accords with my own views, and, with the concurrence of the Committee, I should like to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That before the words “ Be it enacted “ the following words be inserted : - “ For the purpose of providing residences for the GovernorGeneral, pending the establishmentof the Federal Capital.”
– I hope that Ishall not be regarded as having any desire other than to make the best possible arrangement in connexion with this matter. At the same time, I wish to put before the Minister a suppositious case. Assuming that within three years the Federal Capital were established 120 miles distant from Sydney, would the Governor-General be compelled to forsake bis residence in Sydney and to. reside at the Seat of Government before the agreement had terminated?
– This Bill would not compel the Governor-General to live anywhere.
– The preamble itself contains a limitation.
– That would not affect the matter in the slightest degree.
– Parliament would decide that question by the simple process of either voting or refusing to vote supplies for the maintenance of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment in Sydney.
– I only wish to obviate the necessity for expenditure being incurred in two places for a short term of, say, two years.
Amendment agreed to.
Preamble, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through all its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This measure is one which has been before the House upon several occasions. It has also been before the Senate. Its object is well known to honorable members. It is being re-introduced in the form in which it appeared upon a former occasion. Its object is not to authorize the construction of the Transcontinental .Railway, but simply to provide for an appropriation of £20,000 to enable proper surveys to be made, which will put the House in possession, of information that is absolutely essential to enable it to express a sound judgment upon that very import/ant undertaking. The Bill provides that the Minister may cause a survey to be made of a route to connect by rail Kalgoorlie in Western Australia with Port Augusta in South Australia. It then goes on to authorize the expenditure of the necessary sum of money. In 1904 the Bill passed this House by a considerable majority. It has received the sanction of every party in this Chamber, so far as it is possible for a party to be represented by executive authority. Originally introduced by the first Deakin Government, it was. afterwards taken up by the Watson Ministry, -and when the Reid-McLean Government were in office they advanced it through its remaining stages, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The measure was discussed in that Chamber in 1904, and again last year. Upon the last occasion the Senate resolved to the effect that the Bill should not be proceeded with “until South Australia had given parliamentary sanction to the construction of the line through its territory. Since then we have communicated with the South Australian Government upon the matter, and have received the following reply from Mr. Price, the Premier of that State : - Sir,
In reply to your letter of the 7th instant, respecting the. proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, I have the honor to refer von to my telegram of 1st March last, and to say that this Government has no objection to the survey as therein notified, but cannot undertake to consider a Bill for .submission tj Parliament in the absence of information as to the route and terminal points of the railway.
That is to say that, so far as South Australia is concerned, she is not hostile to this Bill. In fact, I believe that the people of that State favour the construction of the Transcontinental Railway. The only point with them is that they do not care to commit themselves to any scheme until they know the route that is to be followed, and possibly the cost of the construction of trie proposed line. That is the very information which, under this Bill, we are asking the House to give us authority to ob tain. We hold that the building of the Transcontinental Railway is a great national work, which is worthy of the attention of this House, and which ought to be regarded from a Federal stand-point. It is an undertaking which ought not to be rejected until honorable members have been afforded an opportunity of arriving at a sound judgment upon it. It has often been asserted that the line is intended merely to benefit Western Australia. That is not the way in which we ought to regard a great national undertaking. We should approach it from a Federal stand-point. We should also regard it from an historical stand-point, with a view to ascertain the reasons why this Bill now becomes before the House for consideration. I am free to admit that, when I first considered this project, I was inclined to take up a critical attitude in respect to it. But I felt that inherently it appealed to one’s Federal instinct as being the right thing to do. Since the proposal was brought before the House, I have had the advantage of visiting Western Australia, going through- the country to be traversed by the line as far as it was possible to go by rail, and consulting with the people of the State on the project. I, as a representative of Queensland, desired to look at the question from the Western Australian stand-point, in order to be able to give a judgment fairly and honestly according to the facts. I feel absolutely confident that the people of Western Australia are only claiming that which from a Federal standpoint is a fair and reasonable thing to accord to them. In Western Australia I made some inquiries, and I found that when the State was asked to consider the important question of whether she would enter the great Australian union, certain aspects were submitted for her consideration. Separated as she virtually was from the eastern States by a sea journey, and developing her own territory, she almost seemed to be complete within herself as a centre of government. On the face of things, as far as economic conditions were concerned, there did not appear to be any special reason for inducing Western Australia to join the Union from any material advantage she was likely to gain. But of course, from the national and defence points of view, there were many reasons to actuate her in- taking that step. As far as I can see, after looking closely into the question, there was no State which -gave a more patriotic decision than Western Australia did when she decided to throw in her lot with the others, and form a great Australian nation under the Crown. From the stand-point of the people of Western Australia, undoubtedly one of the chief advantages which they would gain from joining the union was that they would get railway connexion with the other States. The temporary advantage of the expenditure of a little money does not appear to have been the motive which actuated them. Unless we have commercial means of communication, unless we have means by which people can move freely from State to State, no real Federation has been accomplished. The idea in establishing the Federation was to obtain freedom of commerce and intercourse amongst the peoples in the union. It is true that the people of Western Australia had communication bv sea with the eastern States, but that is only one of the avenues of trade and commerce, and in times of war it would be most seriously affected. The people of Western Australia say, “ Just as you have a telegraphic system! extending all over Australia, and forming, as it were, a nerve system for the whole of the union, so it is necessary to have arteries and veins, so that the life blood of the nation may pass freely through them. We are not one whole people until every part of Australia is linked together by commercial highways.” They are only making to us a fair and reasonable appeal from the Federal point of view when they press this claim very strongly upon us. During our visit they asked, “ What is our position at the present time? We are absolutely isolated. We are practically just as much an island as is New Zealand. There is no more organic connexion between the eastern States and our State at the present time than there is between Australia and New Zealand. There is a vast area of land connecting us, it is true, and if you will only construct a railway across that country vOl. will give us that link or bond which will enable us to become real members of the great Australian union.” When we are forming an Australian nation we cannot overlook these considerations. We cannot simply regard this proposal) as a mere expenditure of public money, and say, “ Oh, it means that Queensland will have to contribute £2,000 or £3,000 towards the outlay ; that will .not benefit us, and therefore we ought not to assent to the proposal.” Again, from the New South Wales stand-point, a similar argument should not be used.
What we have to consider are the facts placed before, the people of Western Australia when they contemplated joining the Union. When it is sought to establish a federation there are many things which cannot be included in the legal bond or contract. Even this morning, what attitude did we take up in respect to the Governor-‘General’s residences? The House acted in a Federal spirit in this matter. When it came to deal with the claim of the great State of New South Wales, we did not argue that because it was not mentioned in the Constitution, therefore we should not honour the promise that was made. The attitude which honorable members took up this morning in agreeing to the Bill to provide a residence for the Governor-General in New South Wales, was simply this: We realize that when the proposal to establish the Commonwealth was made, there were certain moral hopes or promises which were held out to the people, and that they are just as much matters of national honour as is anything which could have been put in the written bond. If these hopes and aspirations were held out to any portion of the Commonwealth, it behoves us, as a nation, to do our best to honour them. We have passed from the six States stage, let us hope, into the Australian stage, and do not desire to have the feeling engendered in the mind of any portion of the Commonwealth that it is not receiving justice at the hands of the majority. And the more remote a State is from the Seat of Government, the more jealous we ought to be in guarding its position, and seeing that whatever hopes it has which are based on any substantial ground, shall be honored. Any one who takes up the records can realize that leading Australians who communicated with, and spoke in, Western Australia, as leaders of the Federal movement, would be more or less regarded in the nature of holding out fair promises which might be expected to be honoured by the people when the Federal Parliament was established. The people of Western Australia, relying absolutely and fully upon these promises, entered into an indissoluble agreement. They tied their hands absolutely when they decided to become for all time members of a great Australian Federation. We must;, therefore, treat’ them with that justice and that spirit of fairness and equity to which they are entitled under the conditions. To-day, we are not asking the House to’ go so far as to sanction the construction of this railway. All we are asked by the State to do to-day is to obtain that amount of information which will enable the House to come to a sound judgment, so that, even if the House in its wisdom should see fit to reject the scheme, the rejection will not result from the operation of an anti-Federal spirit, but simply from the exigencies of the case. That is the position which we ask the House to consider. . If it refuses to pass the Bill, it will be practically closing, its eyes to the facts. It will be absolutely refusing to grant to Western Australia even the courtesy of an investigation of its claim.
– Let them pay for the survey.
– Was that the way in which the honorable member was met today ? When honorable members were asked to agree that a Governor-General’s residence should be established in Sydney, did they say, “Let them pay for it”? When it was decided that the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales, did the people in Victoria say-
– That is in. the bond.
– Then the honorable member “who poses in the House as an ange) of purity and charity asked us to keep the letter of the bond, but in this matter, he doss not ask us to act in a Federal spirit. From what I know of him I am perfectly assured that there is inherent in him a sense of justice. I believe that when he realizes the fact that the people of Western Australia had beer, encouraged by the promises of those in authority-
– Bv whom?
– By leaders who, in a sense, spoke with authority.
– The leader of the Opposition was one of them.
– That is so.
– We have only statements made ‘by individuals.
– There were statements made bv the honorable member for Adeilaide, when Premier of South Australia, by a subsequent Premier of the State, by Sir Josiah Symon, and I think by the present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– And bv the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– The late Prime Minister, when he was recently over in Western Australia, and investigated the claim on the spot, was so thoroughly satisfied that he was of the opinion that all we should do was simply to draw a straight line from point to point, and order the railway to be constructed.
– But the statement was made years after the Federation was accomplished.
– And now the Treasurer says that the leader of the Opposition did not work for it.
– My honorable colleague I am sure never made any such statement as that.
– I understand that the Treasurer has complained.
– He is thoroughly ungrateful.
– I am perfectly sure that honorable members will judge the case on its merits, and not in the light of statements which may be bandied to and fro.
– We do.
– I ask honorable members to pass the Bill in order to enable a proper investigation to be made.
– Postpone the consideration of the Bill for fifty years, and we may consider the proposal.
– Western Australia has done everything which it possibly could in order to treat the Commonwealth in a generous spirit in carrying out its work. After Federation was accomplished in 1901, the State, at its own expense, caused special inquiries to be instituted ir. order to give its people the fullest possible information. Special reports were made by Mr. O’Connor, one of the finest engineers whom I think Australia has even seen, and whose works will stand through all time as an eloquent testimony to his great engineering capacity and skill. I refer particularly to the magnificent work which he did in Fremantle Harbor, and to that, perhaps, still greater work, the designing and execution of the Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie water scheme. These two schemes alone mark Mr. O’Connor out as a man whose word is worth considering. According to the report which he made to the Government of Western Australia in 1901, he estimated that the construction of the railway would cost about .£4,400.000. That estimate was subsequently confirmed’ by the reports of engineers who were appointed bv the Commonwealth to investigate the matter, when thev estimated the cost at about £4,500,000, and anticipate, after ten years, it will realize a profit of £18,000. It will be seen, therefore, that Western Australia was eager to appoint competent persons who should fearlessly investigate the merits of the project, and make a proper report in order to put us in possession of all the facts. The State also obtained a further report from Mr. Muir, who went over the route of the line as far as it was possible to do.
– Has the Minister ever read the Treasurer’s report of his ride over the route of the line ? Read what he says about the country.
– I wish that the honorable member would read it.
– I have read it. The right honorable member searched the country for water, and thanked God when he got a bucketful.
– Mr. Muir made a full report. Western Australia, therefore, has treated the Federation fairly. She sent her own officers to thoroughly investigate the country, as far as thev could, and placed the House in possession of extremely valuable information in the shape of their reports. In addition to that, her Parliament passed an Act giving the consent of the. State to the. survey of the line. The preamble to the Act ought to be borne in mind by this Parliament, because it voices honestly and fairly the hopes and aspirations of the people of the State. It reads as follows : -
Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia, being desirous of securing closer union and the benefits of mutual protection and defence, and being desirous also of enjoying the advantages of freedom of trade, commerce, and reciprocal intercourse, have, by thi Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, fo, med one Federal and indissoluble Commonwealth . And whereas, in furtherance of these objects, power has been conferred upon the Parliament of the Commonwealth to make laws for the construction and extension of railways in any State with the consent of such State : And whereas, on the faith of the early construction of a railway to connect the western and eastern portions of the Commonwealth, by means whereof they could enjoy the full benefits of such union, the people of Western Australia did agree to the said Constitution, and to form part of the Commonwealth : And whereas, to enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to execute and maintain those essential provisions of the Constitution which were intended to confirm the people of this portion of the Commonwealth in that assurance of protection and defence, and the advantages of postal and commercial intercourse, and of freedom of trade by land and bv sea, which are enjoyed by members of the Commonwealth elsewhere, it is desirable to authorize such Parliament to construct a radway as aforesaid : Now, therefore, be it enacted, &c.
– Incidentally, I might mention that the whole distance from Fremantle to Adelaide is 1,746 miles. Already there has been constructed a railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie 387 miles, and another line from Adelaide to Port Augusta 259 miles, leaving a distance of 1,100 miles to complete the transcontinental scheme. The engineers have reported in favour of a gauge of 4 ft. 8^ in., and the State of Western Australia has undertaken, if the Commonwealth builds the connecting line, to extend the gauge on the railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie.
– Western Australia has undertaken to make the gauge on that line conform to whatever gauge is adopted by the Commonwealth.
– Yes, Western Australia is prepared1 to incur that extra expense to meet the requirements of. the Australian Parliament. When this question was under consideration by this Parliament on a former occasion, the House desired to have the lands reserved for twenty-five’ miles on each side of the line, in order that it might not be alienated.. To meet us in that respect, Western Australia, on the 26th October, 1904, passed resolutions reserving the land in question. In addition to that, Western Australia has shown faith in the line by an undertaking she has given, dated 18th May, 1904, to the effect that, for ten years, if the line is not paying, she will bear a share of the loss. The Western Australian Premier announced that decision in the following telegram : -
On condition that Commonwealth is allowed a free hand as to route and gauge of railway, this State will be prepared for ten years after line constructed to bear a share of any loss in excess of our contribution on a population basis. It would be premature . to fix exact proportion we are- prepared to pay at this stage, but I am confident that it will be liberal, and satisfy the Federal Parliament of our sincerity in this connexion, and our belief that the work will soon be a directly paying one.
Western Australia even went so far as to hold out inducements to South Australia in the way of indemnifying that State against loss. I may further announce that, through the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the- State Premier has been asked whether, in case the survey was authorized, the State Parliament would do anything in the way of fitting out a prospecting party to accompany the surveyors. The following telegram has been received from the Premier of Western Australia on that point: -
In response to wire from Representative Frazer asking if Government could see way clear to announce that Government prospecting party would accompany survey party test either side route proposed transcontinental railway for mineral deposits, have replied stating Government would be willing to assist on lines indicated his wire.
That telegram shows that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who has ever kept in view the interests of his own State, but who, at the same time, has always taken a Federal view of other matters, has secured from the Western Australian Government an assurance that full advantage will be taken of the survey from the prospecting point of view. Western Australia is not acting in this manner from any purely selfish stand-point. She is, I am’ satisfied, looking at the matter from a Federal point of view, and desires to afford us every opportunity of ascertaining whether we are justified in doing what it is proposed to do. I have now shown the steps that have been taken in this matter, and I think it is hardly necessary for -me to elaborate the points at issue to any great extent. I may, however, remark that, in my opinion, the Western Australian people are entitled to this railway for several good reasons. The first is on account of the Federal aspect of the question. From an Australian stand-point - leaving the special Western Australian interests out of consideration altogether - I think the survey ought to be made. Secondly, from the point of view of defence, the line ought to be constructed. If honorable members take the trouble to look at the report obtained from the military authorities in 1903, they will find that Major-General Hutton put this aspect of the case very strongly. He states in his minute on the subject -
The contemplated extension of railway communication between Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Port Augusta in South Australia, is, from a strategical and military point of view, of unquestionable value. The isolation of Western Australia, without direct land communication with the other five States of Australia, will, in time of war, cause a general feeling of insecurity. Under the existing circumstances, Western Australia, for purposes of co-operative military assistance from the other States, is as far distant from direct means of reinforcement as New Zealand is from the Eastern States of Australia.
In order, however, to correctly view the present construction of the railway in question as an important factor in the defence of the Cpm- monwealth, it will be well to consider the special importance of Western Australia in the eyas of foreign powers, and the description of attack to which Australia is subject, and to meet which intercommunication between the States by land must be regarded as of paramount value.
Then he goes on -
The potential wealth of the gold-fields and the vast extent of valuable and unoccupied land in the territories of Western Australia render the acquisition of that portion of the Australian continent a most valuable prize to foreign nations. The strategical situation, moreover, of Western Australia, dominating, as it does, the southern side of the Indian Ocean, and the converging trade routes from the West, must be considered as of the greatest importance to British and Australian interests.
In addition to that, the right honorable member for Swan has placed a memorandum on the papers embodying an extract from a report from Major-General Edwards, then commanding the British troops in Hong Kong. This report was furnished to Governor Sir W. C. F. Robinson. Major-General Edwards states -
No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless its distant parts are connected with the more populous colonies in the south and east of the continent. If an enemy was established in either Western Australia or at Port Darwin, you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is, therefore, a menace to the rest of Australia……. The interests of the whole continent, therefore, demand that the railways to connect Port Darwin and Western Australia with the other colonies should be made as soon as possible.
The military authorities whom I have quoted, considering the question absolutely from a national stand-point, give, in my opinion, excellent reasons why we ought, at all events, to survey the route of the proposed railway. At this stage I am not asking that the construction of any line shall be proceeded with. I am simply asking that the matter shall be properly investigated.
– We have to consider the expense as well.
– Exactly; we are asking for an investigation to enable us to determine whether the expense is justifiable.
– The present estimateis too high.
– Hear, hear.
– The engineers, in their report, tell us that they- have erred on the side of caution, so that there may be no mistake about it. An investigation of the route may prove that the cost of constructing the line will be much less than has been supposed. Even, however, if an honorable member were inclined to oppose the construction of the railway, that would be no reason for resisting an investigation of the route. It is not a question of one State against another State. It is merely a question of whether there shall be a fair investigation of what is asked by Western Australia on the merits of the proposal.
– The honorable gentleman said this morning that there was a Federal bond which, must be observed.
– I certainly said that we had to look at the matter from a Federal stand-point, and I say so still. Inducements were held out to Western Australia to enter the Federation, and she was assured that the railway would be constructed. If honorable members would go to Western Australia and investigate this matter impartially, ascertaining the views of the people, as I myself have done, as far as I could in the time that I could spare for the purpose, they would find that the promised construction of this railway was a distinct factor in inducing the electors to accept theFederal Constitution ; just as in New South Wales the people were induced to accept the Federal Constitution on the undertaking that the Federal Capital would be located in that State. The only difference is that in the one case the bond was embodied in a written contract, and in the other there was an understanding.
– Who had power to pledge the Commonwealth in that way?
– No one actually had that power, and in the same way no one. had power to give a pledge to New South Wales that a second residence for the GovernorGeneral would be provided in New South Wales.
– Responsible men raised the point in Western Australia.
– Exactly, and it is essential, at the beginning of our national life, that we should give no just cause of complaint to any large body of our people who have entered into the Federal agreement under the belief that they were to be treated by the Federal Parliament in a certain manner.
– Victoria passed a Bill with the object of getting something for some of her citizens under the belief that the Commonwealth would pay the expense.
– And that measure was carried out. Every provision of it has been carried out.
– But at the expense of Victoria.
– Yes, because, as a matter of law, that was all that Victoria asked. She never asked that the money should be paid by the rest of the Commonwealth.
– Why should not the cost of this survey be borne by the States of Western Australia and South Australia?
– Because it is a matter of national concern; and therefore I am sure that the honorable member for Wentworth will repeat the vote which he gave on a previous occasion in favour of the second reading of this measure. Another reason that can be advanced is that the line will open up new country. A misapprehension prevails as to the character of the country that would be traversed by the line. Mr. Muir, who has to some extent investigated the route, reports emphatically on this point. I will quote what he says about part of it -
I was led to believe, prior to starting this trip, that the country to be traversed consisted almost entirely of a desert, composed of sandhills and spinifex flats. This impression proved, however, to be perfectly erroneous, unless a waterless tract of country, though well-grassed and timbered, can be called a desert.
– Is that in agreement with the book written by the right honorable member for Swan?
– It is an extract from a report by Mr. Muir, who made his investigations on the spot. He goes on -
To the north, near the 31st parallel of latitude, the country is more open In fact, from the South Australian border for 250 miles in a westerly direction, it is one large open plain of limestone formation, fairly well grassed throughout.
Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have seen in Australia, and, with water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for - it is admittedly adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end.
Mr.Kennedy. - If the country is so magnificent, why is it not settled?
– -One of the reasons is that there is no proper railway communication, and another is that the country is too far from the seaboard. .
– Is there not equally good country far from the seaboard in the other States ?
– No doubt there is ; but perhaps the honorable member will allow me to answer one question at a time. Mr. Muir says with regard to the water supply
Apart from the facilities that would be afforded to railway construction, and the maintenance of the railway service when completed, by artesian water being struck on this waterless tract of country, it would be of incalculable profit to the State in another direction. At present there are millions of acres of splendid pastoral land lying idle in this portion of the State, solely because water has not been conserved. Once let it be known that artesian water has been discovered, and what is now nothing better than a waste would be transformed in a very short space of time, into one of the most important stock-raising centres of our State.
A report was obtained from Mr. Castilla upon the possibilities of the water supply. I will quote the last paragraph from it. It was published in Western Australia on the 19th July, 1904. Mr. Castilla says -
In the course of my duties, I examined over 10,000,000 acres of country, well fitted, given water for pastoral settlement. Our bores have demonstrated that water exists, and I think that there is a very much greater area available.
These are reports from men who are competent to judge, and they show that the country is not such a desert as it is stated to be. They certainly justify us in asking that a proper investigation of the route of the proposed railway should be made, not only for reasons of defence, but also because there is a possibility of the opening up of valuable country. When the country is examined it is quite possible that valuable mineral deposits will be revealed. If the line be constructed, we shall secure better postal communication between the States at each end of it ; the cost of maintaining telegraphic communication between the Eastern States and Western Australia will be reduced, seeing that a telegraph line erected along the railway could be looked after with less expense; better means of communication will be provided between the States for the travelling public, and trade and commerce will be promoted and! extended. The returns we have of the progress and development of Western Australia show that when the engineers hold out a prospect of increased trade, as the result of the construction of the proposed line, we may have every confidence that their reports are justified. The State of Western Australia has a wonderful record. It has yielded to d’ate no less than £67,739,016 in gold. There is a large increase taking place in the numbers of stock depastured in the State. In cattle alone the increase has been from 199,793 m 1896 to 561,490 in 1904. As regards land settlement, Western Australia has splendid returns to show. In 1897 there were 31,489 acres under wheat, and in 1905 the area under wheat was 182,080 acres. The total area of land devoted to agriculture in 1897 was 111,738 acres, and it had increased in 1905 to 327,391 acres. In 1896 the value of the deposits in the Government Savings Bank in Western Australia amounted to £460,611, and in ‘1905 to £2,207,296. The export and import trade of the State grew from £8,143,783 in 1896 to £16,272,528 in 1905. The population of the State in 1896 was 122,696, and in 1906 it had increased to 250,207. These returns show continual progress and advancement. Every addition to the population of the State means greater development of the territory and a better prospect of the proposed railway becoming a paying line. With every addition to the population in Western Australia there is an increased obligation upon us to afford the people there all the facilities for communication with the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth that are possessed bv I he people of the other States.
– Why not let the State, if it has such possibilities, make this line?
– The State of Western Australia is quite prepared to do all it can in the matter.
– We could only build the railway into the middle of the desert which has been spoken of.
– If the construction of the line were a State matter, two States would be concerned in it; but it is not merely a matter of State, but of national concern. In putting these facts before honorable members, I am not asking them to commit themselves .at this stage to the construction of the proposed line. The; people of Western Australia claim that certain inducements were held out to them to join the Federation, and that it is now a fair and reasonable thing to ask for the investigation for which this Bill makes provision. The Government are asking the House to view the matter from an Australian stand-point - to realize that each State is entitled to consideration, and that, where necessary works rise out of purely State into national importance, the Federal Parliament should give them the consideration to which they are entitled. In this case that consideration can only be afforded by granting the survey for which provision is made in this Bill. I appeal to the House to approach the question in a generous.and Federal spirit. It is not desirable that in any part of the Commonwealth there should exist a feeling that the people are not being fairly dealt with, whether it be Western Australia or any other State. It is only by the House approaching these great questions in a national spirit that we can create the feeling of mutual goodwill among the States which will make us a people not merely one in bond, but one in Federal sentiment and spirit.
.- I have never been very hopeful regarding the prospects of this line. On the contrary, I have always been very doubtful whether a thorough investigation of the proposed route, and the country on either side, would result in justifying the very large expenditure which must be involved in the construction of the line. At the same time, I do feel that Western Australia has strong claims upon our sympathy. In the first place, that State is a part of Federated Australia, and is labouring under very serious disadvantage in being cut off from the rest of the Commonwealth by a very large stretch of uninhabited country. We must remember that Western Australia has been largely peopled from the Eastern States. She is an excellent customer for the products of those States, and the trade with Western Australia Has been an exceedingly profitable one for the rest of the Commonwealth, especially for Victoria and New South Wales. It seems to me that Western Australia is not asking anything unreasonable in urging that the Commonwealth as a whole shall test the question of whether this line can be justified on its merits. It is premature at this stage to speculate whether the line should ultimately be constructed. We cannot discuss that question intelligently until we have made a thorough investigation of the proposed route. I understand that it is intended not only to make a trial survey of the route, but to enlist the services of Western Australia and South Australia for the exploration of the country for a considerable distance on either side, and to prospect for water, minerals, and’ other resources which it may possess. From all we hear, there can be no doubt that there is a good deal of country alone the route which might profitably’ be used for settlement if a proper water supply and a reasonable outlet for the products of the land were provided. These are questions which require to be set at rest. Even if we put the Federal aspect aside, though’ in my opinion it is of the greatest importance, because it is from the Federal stand-point that Western Australia has the strongest claims upon us, it seems to me that in spending ^20,000 .on this survey, we shall be returning to Western. Australia but a very small modicum of the profit we derive from our trade with that State. I am therefore quite prepared to vote for the trial survey in order that the resources of the country may be thoroughly tested. But I impress upon the Minister that the Government must be careful that the expense incurred under this Bill, if it be passed, shall not exceed the amount we vote. It is possible to incur almost an: expense on the survey of a railway route. What is known as a flying survey can be carried out at a very small cost. We could have a reasonable trial survey at a cost which would be moderate, though greater than that of a flying survey. There might also be a permanent survey, but that is not to be thought of at this stage.
– We shall not spend more than the amount provided for in the Bill.
– It appears to me that if the. Government are careful to keep the expenditure within the limit of jf.20,000 honorable members will be treating Western Australia in a rather churlish fashion if they refuse to spend that comparatively small sum to ascertain whether the construction of the proposed line can be justified on its merits. In voting for a trial survey, I wish it . to be distinctly understood that I do not commit myself in any way to the ultimate construction of the line. I say this the more emphatically because of some remarks attributed to the right honorable Treasurer. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman made these remarks in one of his genial after-dinner speeches, but I have read somewhere that he said he would consider that those honorable members who voted for the survey were committed to the building of the line.
– No ; I was misreported. I have never said that, and I do not even think it.
– It should be distinctly understood at this stage that in voting for a thorough investigation we are not in any way committing ourselves to the very large expenditure which must be involved in the construction of the line.
– I quite agree with that.
– With that understanding, it is certainly my intention to vote for the Bill. I hope to see it pass. While I ha ve very little hope of ultimate success, no one will be more pleased than I if the exploration of the country and the survey prove that the construction of the line can be justified on its merits. When we have all the information before us will be the proper time to consider the further question of whether the Commonwealth should’ undertake its construction, and, if so, on what terms and conditions. Those are matters which must be left to a -future date, and, in the meantime, I intend to support this Bill.
– I rise to protest most emphatically against the waste of money which will be involved in the proposed survey of this line. Ever since the Federal Parliament has been- in existence, the construction of this railway has been a pet project of the present Treasurer, and I presume, also, of other honorable members representing Western Australian constituencies. I well remember that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in the first Parliament, who was one of the ablest men. who ever came from Western Australia, and who had a thorough knowledge of this project, was emphatically against it until, first of all, the existing “State railways were connected1 with Esperance Bay.
– -Probably that is why Kalgoorlie recognised that gentleman’s merit.
– All I can say is that the people of Kalgoorlie made a very bad exchange.
– The electors of Kalgoorlie should be the best judges of that.
– I am giving only my independent’ testimony on the point. It must not be forgotten that each State in the Federation must bear on a -per capita basis its share of the cost of every new scheme agreed to by this Parliament, and involving the expenditure of money. It appears to me that until the per capita arrangement is applied in other directions as well as to new expenditure, it is hardly fair to saddle the smaller States with additional expense. The history of all such surveys will, no doubt, be repeated in this case, and once we have passed this Bill we shall have presented to us such” a glowing report that we shall be forthwith asked to vote money or float a loan, for the construction of the railway.
– This is the thin end of the wedge.
– There is no doubt that it is. We find that representatives of the larger States are only too happy at all times. to permit the smaller States to come in and share on the per capita basis the cost of works from which they will derive no benefit. We do not find the same reckless prodigality exhibited when suggestions are made that in the near future the distribution of Federal revenue should be carried out on the same basis. Last session I was particularly struck with a speech delivered by the honorable member for Mernda, in which the honorable member was good enough to propose that the Braddon “ blot “ should be done away with, and that a per capita distribution of revenue should take place - that the revenues of the four principal States should be pooled per capita on the one side and the revenues of the smaller States should be pooled in the same way on the other. In making that suggestion, the honorable member entirely overlooked the provisions of the Constitution for which he is such a stickler.
– I did not make that suggestion.
– The honorable .member must excuse me, he did. I read his statement. The Constitution prevents any such per capita arrangement as that suggested by the honorable member last session. So long as the larger States show themselves unwilling, to deal liberally with the smaller States, I shall conceive it to be my duty, in the interests of the latter, to resist expenditure from which they will derive no benefit.
– I have been challenged with not possessing a sense of justice, and, therefore, I wish to say a few words on this proposal to put myself in the right j because I bc-‘ lie;e in absolute justice, so far as that is possible, in the management of human affairs. We have been told that we should authorize the survey of the proposed line because the people of Western Australia were promised that, if they agreed to Federation, a railway would be built to connect Western Australia with the Eastern States. I know that one of the objections raised in New South Wales to the Constitution Bill was that, if it were passed, pressure would be brought to bear on the Commonwealth Government to build such a line, and, if provision had been made in the Constitution for the construction of that line, the Bill would have received, more opposition than it did.
– It would have gone through flying just the same.
– In New South Wales it did not go through flying, and I do not think that it would have gone through at all bad such a provision been contained in it. It has been said that the people of Western Australia stand in the same position in regard to the construction of the proposed railway as that in which the people of New South Wales stand in regard to the location of the Federal Capital ; but, whereas it is expressly provided in the Constitution that the Federal Capital shall be located in the mother State, there is no similar provision regarding the Western Australian railway.
– There is nothing in the Constitution requiring the maintenance of a residence in Sydney for the GovernorGeneral.
– That is another matter. I did not take part in the discussion of the Governor-General’s Residences Bill, and, personally, would not care much if he were not provided with a residence in Sydney. There is, however, no parallel between the position of the Western Australians in reference to the proposed railway and that of the people of New South Wales in reference to the Capital Site question. If Western Australia was brought into Federation upon the promise that this railway would be made, that promise was given behind the backs of the people of the other States, and their votes were obtained for the Constitution by means of a deception. I voted for the survey of a route last session after a good deal of thought, but with not much enthusiasm.
– Is that because the honorable member’s party happened to be in power then?
– Surely the honorable member does not propose to reverse his vote now?
– I am older and more experienced than I was then, and every man, as he gains greater wisdom, is entitled to make use of it. If I voted wrongly on one occasion, there is no reason why I should not reverse my vote on the first opportunity. I did not vote for this survey without conditions. Those conditions have been fulfilled in some respects, but not entirely, and I shall require their embodiment in the Bill before I vote for it again, because I cannot accept the promise made last session.
– What conditions are they?
– The chief condition is that the land on both sides of the line shall be reserved for a distance of twentyfive miles back from it.
– It has already been reserved in Western Australia.
– I do not think that the Commonwealth should incur expenditure to benefit South Australia and Western Australia only ; but I shall vote for the Bill if I am assured by responsible persons that South Australia, as well as Western Australia, will make this reservation.
– The honorable member is insisting upon an impracticable condition.
– Is it fair to the other States that the Commonwealth should pay money to improve the value of land in South Australia and Western Australia, and get no return ?
– The Commonwealth improves the value of land in a New South Wales township when it erects a post-office there.
– It does the same thing when it erects a post-office in Western Australia. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth has put up very few post-offices in New South Wales, because the State Government had done really too much in that direction prior to Federation. If I had my way, the added value given to land by improvements of this kind would be returned by means of a land value tax.
– A Federal land tax?
– No. I would not vote for a proposal like that of the leader of the Labour Party, which I consider outrageous. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill unless the condition to which I have referred is fulfilled. We were told last session that both Western Australia and South Australia would comply with the conditions which were laid down.
– South Australia is not at all “ sweet “ on the project.
– If the Commonwealth enhances the value of land in those States by expenditure shared in by all the States, it is rot too much to require the reservation of land along the route to enable it to obtain a return of that value.
– Would the honorable member have the New South Wales Parliament adopt such a rule?
– Yes. I have for years advocated that principle. It is out- rageous that private persons should pocket the increased value given to land by Government expenditure.
– Does the honorable member believe in a betterment tax?
– No. I do not think that a betterment tax could be imposed in this instance ; but it is reasonable to ask for the reservation of which I have spoken, so that the Commonwealth may obtain a return for its expenditure.
– Does the honorable member believe in land nationalization?
– No. I think that the quicker the States get rid of their land, the better it will be, so long as they receive a return for their expenditure upon it. There is no doubt that the land through which the line would pass would become much more valuable, and I think that the Commonwealth would have a perfect right to avail itself of any advantage that might accrue in that respect. I shall certainly vote against the second reading of the Bill, unless we are absolutely assured that the land through which the line would pass will be reserved.
– The Minister asked us to consider this question from an’ Australian stand-point, and it is from that point of view that I desire to discuss it. On this occasion it suited the Minister to quote the opinion of Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, but in other instances that officer’s views have not been received with much favour by hon- 01 able members on the Government benches. I think it is quite possible that within the next century there may be a reasonable demand for the construction of the proposed railway.
– Has the honorable member read Major-General Hutton ‘s statements with regard to the importance of the line from a military stand-point?
– Yes; but I do not intend to discuss that aspect of the matter; I leave that to the honorable member. I wish to enter my protest against even a survey of the proposed line being made. At the present stage in our history I do not think that such a work is justifiable. The Minister contended that the construction of a railway would contribute largely to the development of the vast unsettled area that lies between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, but I should like to point out that Western . Australia and South Aus tralia should do a great deal more than they have done up to the present in the way of developing their territories before they ask us to incur an expenditure such as that now contemplated.
– Western Australia is spending large sums of money in that direction:
– Then she is only doing her duty. We have no evidence that the country through which the line would pass holds out such prospects as the Minister would have us believe. The reports of those who have travelled through it, and particularly the report of the Treasurer, who has written a very interesting description of his experiences, show that the lives of those who took part in the expeditions were in constant danger owing to the want of water.
– Bores have been put down recently, and water has been struck.
– Notwithstanding that, all the’ reports available to us confirm what the Treasurer told us as to the character of the country when he passed through it. For the greater part of the distance between Fort Augusta and Kalgoorlie no water of any consequence has been discovered, and we know that the rainfall is very small indeed.’
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I gather that from the reports.
– That applies to only about 400 miles of the distance.
– The Treasurer speaks of 400 miles as if it were nothing, but his report shows that it was no small matter for him to cover that distance. It was a matter of life and death to him and his party’. However, all these matters are secondary considerations. What we have to consider is whether the railway would prove of sufficient value to the whole of Australia - leaving out of consideration Western Australia, or any other individual State - to justify its construction at the present moment.
– That question can be answered in the affirmative.
– That would be proved one way or the other by the survey.
– I do not think it would.
– At least we should^ get all the information we can on the subject.
– I do not think we should be justified in spending /even the amount proposed in making the survey. I contend that up to the present time we have nothing before us to indicate that the line would prove of any special value, or that any appreciable development would result from its construction. Therefore, I shall vote against the Bill. I believe that some time during the next century it may prove desirable to make the survey, and that, probably, during the succeeding century the construction of the line will be justified. At present, however, we should not be warranted in taking any action in that direction. The Minister told us that there was every prospect of valuable minerals being found. We are all very glad that such valuable mineral discoveries have been made in Western Australia, and we acknowledge that they have proved of inestimable advantage to the whole of the Commonwealth. In view of the magnificent work that has been done by the pioneers of the Western Australian goldfields, I am quite certain that if there had been any minerals of value in the territory lying between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta they would have been brought to light long before this.
– The Western Australian Government intend to equip a prospecting party that will travel with the survey party and search the country for minerals.
– The Western Australian Government might very well equip their prospecting party, and send it out beforehand, so that information might be obtained which would assist us very materially in coming to a conclusion. In the absence of reliable supplies of water, the pastoral value of the country is very small.
– Bores are now being put down.
– Yes, no doubt ; but how are the people who take up the country for pastoral purposes to put down bores ? Are they to take their flocks and herds into the country before the water is found?
– -Herds have already been taken through the country.
– Only under very exceptional conditions. We know that rain falls very seldom, and that the absence of water is the great difficulty in the way of settlement. The district is now uninhabited, and I believe that for many years to come it will continue to be so - that, in fact, it will be found to be uninhabitable. I should like to apply to this tract of country words which have been used in regard to another portion of Australia -
Curse the railway, curse the track,
Cur.se a’.l the way there, and all the way back,
Curse the flies, and curse the weather,
And cur.se the desert altogether.
.- I hope that the House will not pass this Bill. I feel sure that £20,000. will not be sufficient to defray the cost of the survey of a line extending for 1,100 miles through extraordinarily difficult country. Expert engineers, like Sir William Zeal, who have had an experience extending over a lifetime, say that the survey would be more likely to ‘ cost between .£50,000 and £60,000 than £20,000. Therefore, if we passed the measure, we should probably be called upon to sanction fresh drafts upon the Treasury next year.
– The sum has been fixed by the engineers themselves.
– Then when the ‘survey had been completed, demands would be made for the construction of the line. This Bill is only the first step towards the construction of the line, to which I am entirely opposed1. I have here copies of some reports issued by the Government of Western Australia, from which I have obtained information which satisfies , me that we should not rush into this expenditure at the present time. The Treasurer, when speaking at the Premiers’ Conference, at which he endeavoured to make provision in the Constitution for the construction of the railway, estimated that it would cost £2,500.000. Since that time, the esti- mates have grown enormously.
– The proceedings of that Conference were not reported.
– The Treasurer made that statement to the Conference and to the press.
– Whence did the honorable and learned member obtain his information ?
– From the records. The late Mr. O’Connor, when he was EngineerinChief for Western Australia, estimated that the proposed line would cost £4.400,000.
– That was for a wide-gauge line.
– I am perfectly aware of that. Whilst we are on the gauge question, I would point out that if a line were constructed from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie upon the 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge, the present railway from Port Augusta to Terowie, which is only 3 ft. 6 in. in gauge, .would have to be reconstructed, and the Commonwealth would probably be asked to bear a portion of the cost. Then, again, the Western Australian Government would probably ask us to assist them to widen the gauge of the present line from Kalgoorlie to Perth. I would also point out that the present line from Terowie to Adelaide is on the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. Mr. Muir, Inspector of Engineering Surveys in Western Australia, also made a report, in which be estimated that the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to the South Australian border - a little more than half the total length - would cost £1.730,000. Therefore, we may assume that, according to his estimate, the proposed new line would cost for the whole distance, £3,500,000. A committee of railway experts, which met in Melbourne during the term of the first Federal Parliament, drew up a report which was presented to the House by the then Minister of Home Affairs. Their estimate was £4,500.000. Thus we have three estimates by persons who were apparently favorable to the construction of the line, varying from £3,500,000 to £4.500,000. Other experts have expressed the opinion that the line would cost considerably more.
– And some of then think that it would cost less.
– I should .like to know who they are. The estimate of the Inter-State railways experts did not include the cost of providing a water supply-
– Oh, no.
– I say that their report states that the cost of providing a water supply has’ been omitted from their calculations. Now, what would be the probable cost of insuring an adequate’ water supply? The sum may run from anything up to £750,000,
Sir John Forrest.~I do not think they said that; if so, I should like to see it.
– Their report was laid upon the table of the House on the 24th July, 1903. Mr. O’Connor, in his report, estimates the cost of providing a water supply at £594,000.
– That is far too much in the light of our present knowledge.
- Mr. John Muir estimated that between Kalgoorlie and the South Australian border, a distance nf 475 miles, or less than half that of the total length of the line, the cost of providing a water supply would be £183,000. If we double that estimate, so as to insure a water supply over the whole distance which the railway would traverse, the expenditure would be, approximately, £400,000.
– But the whole of that country is not so badly off for water.
– L am quite aware of that. But the fact remains that it is country possessing a very low rainfall.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that of Fowler’s Bay, where there are numerous farms ?
– It is true that there are one of two good spots on the route, but practically the whole of the country that would be traversed by the line has a very low rainfall. Here is Mr. Muir’s report upon the subject-
I am quite satisfied that the country we have been exploring is almost, if not quite, waterless. The natives evidently obtain their water supply from the mallee and other roots, numerous heaps of which are to be seen lying about, and a blackfellow will not, I believe, have recourse to these roots if he can obtain water within anything like a reasonable distance.
That is a pretty strong declaration to make. He further says, upon page 8 of his report -
As will be seen by my general remarks, the proposed railway would traverse about 475 miles of country in this State, which is, to all intents and purposes, waterless. Of this length, for the first 100 miles water can be conserved in tanks, using the granite and ironstone ridges in the localities as a means of catchment. But for the remaining 373 miles, in the lime-stone country, the porous nature of the soil precludes any hope of being able to conserve surface supplies.
– We could cement tanks.
– That would cost a very, large sum of money. Mr. Muir goes on to show that it might be necessary to put down bores. These would cost £60,000 for a certain pol tion of the whole distance. There is no warrant for assuming that artesian water can be found.
– He is in favour of putting down bores.
– I know that he is. I am analyzing the evidence of those gentlemen who are favorable to the line, with a view to showing that even upon their statements it is an undertaking which we should be very chary of sanctioning for many years to come’. Further. I find from the testimony of these gentlemen the very grave doubt exists as to whether a line can be constructed at anything like a reasonable cost, and whether a water supply can be obtained.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that the cost of a. water supply is not included in the estimate of £4, 500,000? .
– I am under the impression that it is not.
– It is included, as will be seen by reference to the schedule.
– I was in error upon that point, for which I am sorry. Leaving that item out of consideration, I still say that the cost of constructing the projected railway would be . £4,250,000, exclusive of the amount that would be involved in insuring a water supply. Now we all know that the expenditure which would be incurred in providing a water supply is necessarily a matter of conjecture. Here are two men who have had tobetter facilities for judging of the cost’ of providing a water supply than have the engineers-
– Mr. Muir went over the country .
– I am aware of that. His testimony is that to insure a water supply between Kalgoorlie and the South Australian border, which is less than half the total length of the line, an expenditure would have to be incurred of £183,000.
– After seeing Mr. Muir’s report, the engineers reduced their estimate by £500,000.
Mr.ROBINSON.- Mr. Muir’s report was written to put the project in the most favorable light.
– That is not correct.
– The engineers of all the States reported upon it.
– Their report assumes that the working expenses of this line, which would traverse a more or less waterless country, would represent about 55 per cent, of the revenue accruing from it, notwithstanding that in Western Australia the proportion of the working expenses of the railways to the total revenue derived therefrom is nearer 80 per cent. In, other words the engineers claim that the working expenses of this particular line would be very much less than those of far more favorably-situated railways.
– The honorable and learned member must bear in mind that it would practically traverse very level country.
– But there are other things to be considered. For instance, there is the cost of stacking coal along the route, the repairs which would require to be undertaken, and the maintenance of the line. The cost of all these things, having in view the difficulty that would be experienced in getting men to live in the country through which the line would pass, would be very heavy indeed. Further, the engineers have reduced the allowance for contingencies by, a very substantial amount.
– Has the honorable and learned member seen a copy of Mr. Gwenneth’s report?
– I have not. I do not say that there are no reports favorable to the construction of the line, but I do say that the reports generally present sufficient evidence to make us very chary about sanctioning the undertaking.
– It seems to be a question of which Prime Minister will put the measure through Parliament.
– I venture to say that had a division upon this Bill been taken within six weeks after the assembling of the present’ Parliament, it would have received very short shrift indeed. It was owing to the necessity which Governments were under to maintain friendly relations with the five powerful representatives ‘from Western Australia, that the measure was included in so many Ministerial programmes.
– All the leading men in this Parliament are committed to it.
– The honorable member is quite correct.
– They were committed to it long before we had Federation.
– Unfortunately, they have been committed to it one by one. I do not think that even my honorable friend, who is such an enthusiastic and excellent supporter of this line, will deny the accuracy of my. statement that, had a division been taken on the Bill within six weeks after the meeting of this Parliament, it would never have got beyond this Chamber.
– Oh, yes it would, because the right honorable member for East Sydney wanted to get into office even then.
– The line has ob-. tained a factitious support by reason of the frequent changes of Government which have taken place. Now that it seems unlikely that another change will take place before the general election, the present seems an opportune time to deal effectively with the Bill. Our constituents know that if we are committed to the proposal which it contains, and if £20,000 proves insufficient to complete the survey, we shall have to vote an additional sum to see it through. We cannot carry the survey to the borders of South Australia and then abandon the work.
– The Government say that they will not spend more than £20,000.
– Other surveyors declare that the undertaking, will cost £50,000 or £60,000. Does the Treasurer wish me to believe that if the expenditure of £20,000 suffices only for half the survey, the Government will not complete it? Does he mean to suggest that he would vote against any further expenditure? The fact is that when once we put our hand to the proposed survey, we shall have to undertake the construction of the line. I do not believe in the building of the railway, and therefore I shall not vote for the survey of a route. I hope that our brethren in ‘ another place will maintain the firm attitude that they took up on this measure last session. If they do, they will save the country an expenditure of £20,000 - possibly much more - and postpone for a considerable period the project of building this so-called transcontinental railway.
– I have practically nothing fresh to say upon this Bill, except that the Minister in charge of it has designated the construction of the proposed railway as a “ national work.” I have heard many definitions of a national work, but in Victoria such works have usually involved the State in a dead loss. Even the most ardent supporters of the Bill cannot find any justification for their action. It is strange indeed that the survey of a route should be proposed before the sanction of one of the States through which the line would pass has been obtained. I pointed out last session that the South Australian Government has refused point blank to assent to the construction of a railway through its territory until the route which it would follow has been determined.
– South Australia is willing that the survey should be undertaken.
– Of course. That work would cost her nothing,. Similarly, Western Australia is willing to agree to the construction of the proposed railway, because it would cost her nothing.
– It would cost the people of that State just as much per head as it would the people of Victoria.
– It would cost them as much per head, but in the sum total the amount they would contribute would be very small. The estimate of those who have been asked to report upon the proposed line is that its construction would involve an outlay of £5,000,000.
– Of about £3,700,000.
– Of course, the opinion of the Treasurer is entitled to far more consideration than is that of the experts. I do not question that for a moment the report of the engineers to whom the matter was referred. It is signed by Mr. Deane, of New South Wales, Mr. Pagan, of Queensland, Mr. Moncrieff, of South Australia, Mr. Kernot, of Victoria, and Mr. Palmer, of Western Australia, who estimate the cost of construction at just a shade over £5,000,000.
– That is not the last report.
– Of course it is not. As that estimate would alarm honorable members who were advocating the construction of the railway, the authorities wanted a lower estimate, in order to induce people to come in and give their support.
– Does the honorable member think this fair?
– I should assume .that it is fair.
– What influence had we with the engineers? None at all. Did we try to exercise any influence?
– I asked for the latest’ information on the subject, and in reply I received this report, dated March, 1903.
– They went to look at the country themselves.
– Who looked at the country ?
– Various engineers.
– I suppose they have not returned yet.
– After seeing the land they reduced their estimate bv half -a-mil lion.
– Allowing full credit to the engineers for that reduction, I think it must be admitted by all those who have taken an interest in large undertakings of this kind, that, generally speaking, the estimate of cost is exceeded bv the actual expenditure. My experience has been that in nearly every instance the estimate of the cost of a work involving a large expenditure has been exceeded. What I have been at a loss to understand is the fact that this socalled magnificent pastoral country, situated, as it is, within a reasonable distance of a market, and abutting on the seaboard, is practically unstocked to-day.
– Because there is no s u r fs.cc water,
– We are told that investigation has proved that there is a water supply. But what does it amount to ? After putting down a bore for over 2,000 feet, a supply of 70,000 gallons per day was obtained. Will any man in his right mind say that any stock-owner or person interested in stock would go out and stock country where there was a rainfall of less than 5 inches a year? Will any one say that country in which, after putting down a bore for over 2,000 feet, a supply of 70,000 gallons of brackish water per day is obtained is pastoral country ?
– It is fit for the purposes of stock.
– Of course it is; but how much stock will Ite kept there?
– What is the honorable member’s authority for saying that the rainfall is less, than 5 inches a year ?
– My authority is a map, and I presume that the meteorologists of Western Australia had something to do with its compilation.
– I have it from men who have lived in the country for years that the rainfall is over 15 inches per annum.
– It is a strange thing that men who have been asked to report upon this country say that the aborigines keep off it for a considerable portion of the year.
– The rainfall is not conserved.
– It is all very well for the honorable member to say that there is a rainfall of 15 inches per year, but there is no official record to support the statement. It would be better, in the first place, to prove that the records are wrong than to contradict them.
– Even these reports show that the line will earn a profit in the course of a few years.
– Of course, on paper it is easy to prove anything. In their estimates of traffic the engineers take the produce landed at Fremantle, and say how much the return will amount to. Then they go on to say that they do not take credit for the whole of this traffic.
– From which report is the honorable member quoting?
– I am quoting from paragraph 8 of the report, dated March, 1903. They say -
We have been furnished with particulars showing passenger and stock movements at the’ port of Fremantle, which we have carefully considered, and we have taken a. portion only of these as a basis for our revenue’ estimate, which is ^205,860.
– There is a later report than that.
– I do not know that it would throw much more light upon the subject, and I do not think that the honorable member could get any better authorities than those whose report I am quoting from.
If, when the line has been opened for traffic for ten years the population of Western Australia is double the present number - and many authorities anticipate a greater progress than this - the revenue also will be probably doubled. Further investigation of the sources of expected revenue would probably lead to our being able to increase these estimates.
Can it enter into the mind of any man who has had anything to do with the movement of produce where water and land carriage are available that there is the slightest possibility of a single pound of produce being carried from the Eastern States to Western Australia by rail when there is the option of water carriage?
– They would have to bring it 400 odd miles.
– Perishable produce to any quantity would be sent to the goldfields.
– The perishable produce would be out of the reach of the wage-earners on the gold-fields.
– I do not think that the honorable member knows the geography of the country.
– I do not know everything, but I shall be able to speak a little more clearly if the Treasurer will permit me to express myself in my own way. As a proof of the accuracy of my observation, let me quote the experience that we have had where railways exist. Take, for instance, the movements of stock, cattle, or sheep from Queensland to the sout’hern ports of Victoria, when there is- a market for them here. Will any man connected with the business attempt for one moment to send stock here by rail ? Some years ago I had some experience in the business, when it would have been profitable to send stock from Queensland to Victoria in times of scarcity, but we found that the railway rates were really prohibitive. Taking even the special rate quoted - and it was a great reduction on the ordinary rate - stock could be carried by boat for practically a third less. Assuming Adelaide to be the port of shipment, and that the railway was made right through to Kalgoorlie. I venture to say that there would not be any possibility of the men engaged in the business attempting to send stock by rail when they would have the option 6f sending it by boat.
– Still we think that thev would send it.
– Here is the experience that we ‘have every day—
– And every, one else thinks so too.
– Is the honorable member talking of the question of carrying stock into the gold-fields of Western Australia?
– I can conceive that the honorable member for Moira has great difficulty in making his speech. If honorable members who are interjecting so frequently would reserve their remarks until they speak ii? reply, it would be much more in accordance with the rules of the House.
– I have no objection to the interjections, except when they tend to prevent me from conveying my impressions in my own way. Take the same conditions with regard to produce carried over a short or long distance. In Victoria we have on our sea-board railways in competition with water carriage. Take a point on our railways such as Sale. We find that owing to the peculiar conditions which prevail, and the charges for water carriage, consignors’ can send goods from Melbourne by boat to Sale, and get them carried back 30 to 40 miles to the 100-mile limit on the railway - that is, towards Melbourne - at a cheaper rate than they can get them carried 100 miles by railway. We know that it is the height of absurdity for men when making estimates as to the maintenance of this line to think that there is a possibility of there being practically any return from the carriage of goods or stock from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie. But if this is such a wonderfully good thing, what surprises me is that the people of Western Australia, with their great enterprise, do not keep it to themselves. In ordinary life when a friend comes to a man with “ a good thing,” possibly the best plan to adopt is to knock him down at once. We are told by the representatives of Western Australia that this railway will be a really good thing for the Commonwealth. I have never known either a State or an individual not to have the first of a good thing. We have had the opinions of the military authorities with regard to the necessity of this railway for defence purposes.
– The honorable member will not quote them.
– On a previous occasion I quoted from the report of .these authorities, who simply say that it is the height of absurdity -to think that the line is necessary for defence purposes under existing conditions. Looking a little further ahead, no sane- man will say that it would be the mail route of the future from Australia to the old world.
– I will.
– Of course, the right honorable member will.
– But I am not sane though, according to the honorable member.
– The right honorable member has his eyes fixed upon one little spot on the western coast. Looking to the future, the mail route will be via the north of Australia.
– Through foreign country.
– There is no more risk of our mails getting on to foreign country in sending them via Port Darwin than there is in sending them via Fremantle, and the route would .be much more direct. The chief obstacle in the way of this Bill is that one of the States most materially concerned has refused to assent to the construction of the railway.
– South Australia has. not refused her assent to the project.
– South Australia was asked to give her assent, and the official papers show that it was refused.
– It is only postponed.
– Up to the present time, according to the official papers, South Australia has refused her consent to the construction of a railway to Western Australia. She gives reasons for her refusal, but whether they are correct or not is not for me to determine. I may assume that there are reasons which have influenced the Government in coming to ite present determination. What is the authority for fixing the estimate at £20,000?
– The advice of the engineers.
– I have not seen any report from engineers intimating what the cost would probably be. But I have seen it in print, on the authority, not only of railway surveyors, but of engineers of construction, that nothing less than £80,000 will cover the cost.
– Who are they ?
– Senator Styles is one.
– Is he a surveyor? He was a contractor, I think.
– He has been both, and I am prepared to take his estimate in preference to that of a layman.
– I have surveyed’ more country than Senator Styles, I think.
– “If we are to have a survey which will be of any use whatever, we must have an idea as to what it is likely to cost. I know that in Victoria we have, as a matter of fact, spent something like half-a-million sterling on surveys of railways that there is no hope whatever of constructing for generations to come. What is more, when the permanent surveys are made, it is almost invariably found that the estimates made on flying surveys are misleading. I feel sure that if the Government embarks upon this proposal the same result will follow. It is a peculiar thing that every Government which has held office in the Commonwealth has felt it to be incumbent upon it to include this survey in its pla’tform as a national work.
– It shows that there is no prejudice against it on the part of Governments.
– I do not know that it is a matter of prejudice; it is rather a matter of policy. One honorable member who was formerly in favour of the survey has seen fit to alter his mind, and I think that, on reflection, it is possible that others will realize that they have been under a misapprehension. Before the House comes to a determination on the second reading, I trust that the Minister will, furnish us with the authority on which he has come to the conclusion that £20,000 will complete the survey.
– The £20,000 is an estimate based upon the advice of the engineers of the States.
– Where is their report?
– The estimate is not .contained in any report, but it was arrived at upon their advice.
– I have a vivid impression of what’ has occurred, particularly in Victoria. as the result of flying, surveys. They cost a good deal of money, but, with the exception of furnishing information as to the character of the .country traversed, they are practically of no value as to what the actual cost of construction will be.
– This is very easycountry. There are 400 miles of level plain.
– We have many miles of level plain country in Victoria and New South Wales, and when a strong wind blows, the rails are covered with sand.
– The honorable member’s vision is limited to Victoria. This is limestone plain country.
– It may be that I take a circumscribed view of the matter, but we have no reliable data on which to base an estimate of the cost of construction. In Victoria we have spent considerable sums of money on flying surveys, but when subsequently the permanent surveys have been made, the estimates have been more than doubled. I do not feel that I am warranted in changing the opinions -which I have held from the outset. I have looked into the facts, and have come to the conclusion that under existing circumstances, I am hot justified in voting; for a Bill which will ultimately involve the expenditure of at least ,£5,000, 000.
– Did not the honorable member vote for the expenditure of £20,000 for the upkeep of. New Guinea? That sum is voted every year for that purpose, but this Bill only requires £20,000 to be spent once.
– I voted for the expenditure of ,£20,000 to secure New Guinea as part and parcel of the Commonwealth and of the Empire. That was a matter of national importance. But I do not admit that- the proposed railway is of national importance; and if it is, I see no reason why it should not be built as all the other railways of Australia have been built, by the States concerned. We are entitled to more information from the Government than we have had. We ought at least to know upon what data the engineers base their estimate that £”20,000 will be sufficient for the survey
.- The first consideration which weighs with me in approaching this question is the undoubted fact that the Government, during the recess - urgently, no doubt, as it applied itself to this subject - has not been able to carry out a recommendation made by the Senate on this measure last session. The Bill, as the House knows, was shelved in the Senate bv means of the following amendment : -
That all words after “be” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ not further considered until evidence that the Parliament of South Australia has formally consented to the Commonwealth constructing that portion of the proposed railway which would be in South Australian territory has been laid on the table of the Senate.”
The Minister has not been able to tell the House that he has received the agreement of the Parliament of South Australia in this regard. That is the first consideration which affects me in approaching the measure, for we should be very careful, before we come into conflict with another place on a question which vitally concerns States rights. Until the expressed desire of the Senate in this particular .has been met in the way required, it is idle for this House to go ahead with the Bill. There is not the slightest doubt that the Senate will adhere to the decision previously given.
– Is the honorable member always prepared to “climb down” to the Senate ?
– I am always prepared, when the Senate asks- for a reasonable thing, to see what can be done to meet its wishes. What the Senate has asked is only reasonable, as I shall endeavour to show later on. The Minister, in introducing the measure, told us that we must not look upon this scheme merely from the point of view of the money involved. From the point of view of any one who wishes to see this measure pass, his injunction was a particularly wise one.
– The honorable member did not say this last session.
– I spoke in exactly the same sense, and with the same object in view.
– And then the honorable member voted for the second reading of the Bill?
– No doubt my action should be a warning to any one who wants to meet the supporters of this Bill half way.
When the Bill was formerly before the House, I explained carefully’ that I would go to the length of voting for the second reading on the chance of having included in the measure, in Committee, a provision safeguarding the taxpayers of the Commonwealth as a whole. Those honorable members who are now so generous in trying to trip me up, should recollect that all honorable members were led into believing that if they voted for the survey thev would not be committing themselves to “the railway. I, however, certainly think that they are committing themselves to the railway.
– Because the Treasurer, in Adelaide, in December last, just after this House had passed the Survey Bill, spoke as follows: -
He was quite satisfied that the proposal for the construction of the line would be received just as well as that for the survey.
The Treasurer went on -
Otherwise it would be improper for honorable members to have voted as they had for an expenditure of ,£20,000, as that would then have been so much waste money.
– Who said that?
– The present Treasurer.
– What newspaper was that published in?
– In an Adelaide newspaper.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I am afraid we frequently misunderstand the right honorable gentleman. I believe, for instance, that the right honorable gentleman has some doubt as to what be has said on the progressive land tax question.
– I would not be so foolish as to say that a person voting for the survey must vote for the line when the information supplied by the survey might be against its construction.
– I shall read the reference again for the right honorable gentleman, and if he denies all responsibility for it I shall accept his assurance.
– In what is it contained - a pamphlet.
– I am reading from Hansard.
– Does the honorable member think that I would say anything so foolish as that?
– This is what the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said : -
He was quite satisfied that the proposal for thi- construction of the line would be received just as well as that for the survey. Otherwise it would be improper for honorable members to have voted as they had for an expenditure of ^20,000, as that would then have been so much waste money.
– An enemy said that.
– A newspaper, which I presume did not wish to harm the right honorable gentleman, reported that he said it.
– I would not be so foolish as to say that we want a survey for information, and then that those who vote to secure that- information are committed to the construction of the line.
– I accept the right honorable gentleman’s assurance that he did not say that, or anything like it, but I suggest to honorable members that that is the very argument which the right honorable gentleman will use if we are foolish enough to pass the Bill for this survey, and he desires afterwards to have the line constructed.
– The honorable member should quote from me, and not. from some one else.
– The right honorable gentleman is anxious that I should go on quoting from him. I think I shall do so, in order to let honorable members know the nature of the country which this line is. to traverse. We have had the Minister ,of Home Affairs explaining to us to-day what a perfect paradise this country is supposed to be.
– A “ paradise lost.”
– I am afraid that, as the honorable and learned member suggests, it is a paradise lost. We are in the singularly fortunate position of having unbiased evidence from the Treasurer of the Commonwealth on this very question. The right honorable gentleman did some exploration of Western Australia, and I propose to quote from his account of it.
– This is most unfair.
– It is perfectly fair. 1 hope the honorable member will quote what I said fully.
– It is a somewhat lengthy volume, and I have no wish to detain the House, by reading the whole of it. I remind honorable members that the Treasurer, who did splendid work in the West, wrote an unbiased and disinterested account of his great journey, and this is what he says about the land which this afternoon has been reported to be flowing with milk and honey. The first quotation I make from the right honorable gentleman’s book will be found at page 99.
– How many years old is the reference?
– The honorable member for Coolgardie now wishes us to believe that the whole nature of this country has changed in the last thirty-six years !
Mr.- Mahon. - Climates change.
– The honorable member does not doubt any more than do honorable members generally that the Treasurer was telling the truth on this occasion.
– It would take a miracle to change the honorable member.
– Nature was changed when Moses struck the rock.
– I think we shall strike a rock somewhere.
– The honorable memberwill strike a snag before he is finished.
– Honorable members, apparently, do not wish to hear the quota. tions I desire to make. The Treasurer states in his book -
Started at dawn and .travelled in a southerly direction for nine miles, when we found a rock water hole, containing one -gallon, and had breakfast. Continuing for four miles we reached the cliffs, which fell perpendicularly into the sea, and although grand in the extreme, were terrible to gaze from.
– That is not the place.
– I ask honorable members to listen very carefully to this.
– That is before I had seen the country at the beginning of the trip, before I came to this country.
– This is what the right honorable gentleman says -
After looking very cautiously over the precipice, we all ran back, quite terror-stricken by the dreadful -view.
This is the paradise whose beauties we have heard described. The right honorable gentleman goes on to say that his party rested next day in camp, and he continues -
Intend making preparations to-morrow foi starting on Tuesday morning, and attempt to reach the water shown on Mr. Eyre’.s track in longitude 126 deg. 24 min. east 150 miles distant, by carrying 30 gallons of water with us, and walking in turns, so as to have the horses tj carry the water. Intend allowing each man one quart, and each hor.se two quarts per day. Feel very anxious as to the result, as it will take five or six days ; but it is the only resource left. ‘ “ The only resource left “ in a paradise flowing with milk and honey ! I. make another quotation from the right honorable gentleman’s diary of a few days later.
– That is getting towards the pla:e.
– That is, getting better?
– I should like to explain that we were not near Eucla then.
– Order !
– We were 200 miles from Eucla then.
– Order ! The right honorable member can speak later.
– The right honorable gentleman says that the party were getting to a much better part of the country at this particular time, and I find that he made the following statement about it in his book -
Made an early start, steering north-east, and at one mi!e found a rock water-hole, containing 15 gallons, which we gave the tired, thirsty horses, and, continuing chiefly through dense mallee thickets, with a few grassy flats intervening, for 22 miles, found another rock waterhole holding about 10 gallons -
This is the well-watered country of which we hear now !
– Where did ‘that water come from?
– From where the honorable member is going to some day, I hope. The Treasurer goes on to say - which we also gave the horses, and after travelling one mile from it camped on a large grassy flat without water for the horses. Our horses are still very thirsty, and have yet 70 miles to go before reaching the water in’ longitude 126 deg. 24 min. east. . Am very thankful for finding the little water to-day ; if we had none our situation would be somewhat perilous, and some of the horses would probably show signs of distress to-morrow.
This is still more of the paradise ! I do not wish to detain the House with further quotations1 from the right honorable gentleman on this country.
– It is worth reading.
– I think it is quite worth reading, but we shall have many opportunities to read it before this measure is finally passed.
– I shall show the honorable member my final opinion of the country if he will hand me the book.
– I hope the Treasurer will do so. I have given ‘the right honorable gentleman’s opinion of some of the country to be traversed by this line.
– Had the right honorable gentleman any idea of putting a railway through it then ?
– The right honorable gentleman had considerable difficulty in getting “himself through, and he was not then thinking of a railway.
– The honorable member will read the paragraph I have indicated for him, if he wishes to be fair.
– This is ‘the paragraph to which the right honorable gentleman refers me -
The portion most suited for settlement is all that between longitude 126 deg. 12 min. east, and 129 deg. 12 min. east -
The country I have just been describing from the right honorable gentleman’s notes is between those two meridians.
– Will the honorable member read on?
– The passage continues - near Eucla Harbor, or in other words the country to the north of the Hampton Range, the country north of the range being most beautifully grassed, and I believe abundance of water could be procured anywhere under the range by sinking 20 or 30 feet. There is also under the same range a narrow strip of fine grassy country for the whole length of the range, namely, about 160 miles.
– The right honorable gentleman showed great foresight in putting that in, did he not?
– There seems to be a good deal of Yes-No about this book.
– I accept absolutely the ‘ right honorable gentleman’s statement that this is the very best of the country traversed by the party, but I remind him that he is speaking of the country between 126 deg. and 129 deg., in referring to which, in another part of this same luminous book, he describes this absolutely wretched condition of affairs -
Intend making preparations to-morrow for starting on Tuesday morning and attempt to reach the water shown on Mr. Eyre’s track in longitude 126 deg. 24 min. east.
– The honorable member has got back to where he started’ from.
– I do not wish to go over that old ground again, and I do not expect the Treasurer does either. Here is a quotation which refers to the country between 126 deg. and 129 deg. east -
Am very thankful finding the little water today, for if we had none our situation would be somewhat perilous, and some of the horses would probably show signs of distress to-morrow.
– The honorable member read that before.
– The right honorable gentleman said that I did not read the correct part. He asked me to refer tohis description of the country between 126 deg. and 129 deg., and I find that is the very part of the country which I have been reading about. Without being unfair in any particular to the right honorable gentleman, I think we can safely say that his opinion about this country as a whole is about as uncertain as are his opinions upon the land tax question.
– He did not see it from a motor car.
– I think I heard a sound like a shot from behind a hedge. There is no reason why there should be any illfeeling about a matter of this kind. We are all here to represent the views of our constituents. The honorable member for Coolgardie, I know, is a gentleman, and all praise to him for it, who feels very strongly upon all subjects in which he is interested; but he should not object to give the same latitude toother honorable members which he would like to be given to himself.
– I am not restricting the honorable member, surely.
– No, but the honorable gentleman was, I think, showing a little heat just now. It is better that we should put this matter on a sound basis. I suggest to the Government that, having heard these extracts from the descriptions given by the Treasurer, they might consider whether the debate mightnot now be reasonably adjourned, with a view to the further consideration of the measure on Tuesday. What are we committed to if we pass this Bill? It is true that it is only to provide for a survey, but I feel that the Treasurer would have been quite right in saying that we shall be taking a wrong course of action in passing a Bill to provide for the survey if we are not prepared, subsequently, to indorse the verdict of the experts invited to conduct it. That appears to me to be a reasonable contention.
– If the honorable member looks at a motor car, is that any guarantee that he will buy it?
– I would not pay an expert to examine a motor car if I were determined not to buy one. and the people’s representatives in this House should not act more foolishly in the transaction of public affairs than they would in private life. We must consider now the ultimate as well as the immediate results: of passing this measure. If the proposed survey is made, Parliament will probably be committed to an expenditure of from £4,000,000 to £5,000,000 for the construction of a railway. We shall thus be forced to initiate an era of borrowing, and to compete with the States in the London money market. All the members of the Labour Party, including the representatives of Western Australia, and many other members of the House, have announced themselves as opposed to Commonwealth borrowing, and I understand that it is a plank in the platform of that party that there shall be no borrowing by the Commonwealth.
– I believe in borrowing for reproductive purposes.
– The plank of the Labour Party is no Commonwealth borrowing, without any qualifications. However, as I understand that there is a desire to adjourn now, I ask permission to resume my remarks on Tuesday next.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Report of the Royal Commission upon the Ocean Shipping Service.
Money Orders, regulation 4, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 40.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I complained last night that the regulations necessary for the administration of the Trade Marks Act have not yet been published, although the Act was passed seven months ago. I should like to know, seeing that the employers are able to take advantage of the provisions relating to trade marks, when the employes will be able to take advantage of the trade union label provisions ?
– The regulations were passed to-day, and will be published in to-night’s Gazette.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060629_reps_2_31/>.