3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Colonel FOXTON presented a petition from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, praying that the vessels carrying out the new mail contract be a’sked to call at the principal port of each State ; that that port be specified, and that Brisbane be such n port; that provision be made for cold storage for perishable produce and other merchandise, and equal facilities for taking advantage of it given to each State ; and that Queensland be not called upon to pay more than her proper proportion of any subsidy granted by the Commonwealth.
Petition received and read.
IMPERIAL DEFENCE COMMITTEE’S REPORT.
Mr. KELLY. - Towards the end of last year two Committees, presided over by Major-General Hoad and BrigadierGeneral Gordon respectively, considered the recommendations of the Imperial Defence Committee, so far as the land defence of Australia is concerned, and reported upon them. Has the Minister of Defence considered those reports, and, if so, has he taken action in regard to them? If he has taken such action, I should like’ to know whether he has accepted the recommendations of his officers in place of those of the Imperial Defence Committee, and, if so, to what extent ?
Mr. EWING. - The three reports referred to have been considered, and where Hie recommendations! can be assimilated they will be acted upon. Differences of opinion will be adjusted as much as possible, and, in the course of a month or two, the Parliament will be informed of what is proposed to be done.
MAIL SERVICE TO EUROPE.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - Is the PostmasterGeneral in a position to give the House information respecting the intentions of the Government about requiring the provision of cool storage for the carriage of perishable produce in the vessels running under the proposed new mail contract ? ‘ If he is not able to insert in the conditions of tender one expressly requiring the provision of such accommodation, will he place -Himself in communication with the Governments of the States with a view to arriving at an understanding whereby that may be brought about ?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - The honorable and learned member was good enough to inform me that he would ask this question. The representations which have already been made by honorable members on this subject have been put before the Prime Minister, and I am advised by him that he has. communicated with the Premiers of the States, practically repeating views which were expressed by him in April, 1906, when he asked their co-operation and assistance. He desires that they will consult the exporters of the States which they represent, with a view to ascertaining what cold storage space is required, so that the best arrangements possible may be made by cooperation between the States and the Commonwealth. The Premiers have been asked to reply to this communication as soon as possible, so that the information desired may be in our hands when the tenders which are being advertised for are sent in. In the conditions of tender advertised by the honorable members for Denison and Coolgardie when Postmasters-General, it was specified that cold storage space should be provided ; but no response was obtained, two tenders only being received ; one from the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and rh-» other from Messrs. Scott, Fell, and Company. Consequently, when tenders were again invited, the conditions were made , very wide. and, in fact, tenderers were practically allowed to state their conditions, though, of course, they were bound to accept those relating to the employment of white labour, the payment of a deposit, and. the giving of a bond. When tenders were last received, the Prime Minister communicated with the Premiers of the States on Iiic subject of providing cold storage space, with results that were not very satisfactory. “However, there now seems to be a desire on the part of the States to co-operate with the Commonwealth in this matter Our only wish is to do the best we can for the community. All who have had experience in connexion with shipping know that any contractor must provide cold storage space.
Mr. Page. - Will that be made a condition of the acceptance of the tender?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - Other things being reasonably equal, we shall give preference to tenderers who undertake to provide cold storage space, and similarly we shall give preference to those who offer to call at the largest number of ports. Hut we must consider the financial aspect of the question. If we made the acceptance of a large number of conditions essential, the prices asked for the service we require would probably stagger honorable members. It is the wish of the Government to meet the convenience of the people of the Commonwealth by providing for cold storage space, and for the calling of the steamers at as many ports as possible. The present circumstances are different from those which prevailed when tenders were last invited. It was then said, for instance, that if the mail steamers called at Brisbane, an additional vessel would be required in the fleet undertaking the service; but, in the light of what has happened recently, we shall probably be able to get a satisfactory tender embodying the offer to call at Brisbane. The conditions of tender now advertised are as wide as the ocean.
Sir John Quick. - They are too wide.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - They cannot be too wide. We desire to get the greatest amount of competition.
Sir John Quick. - Why does not the Government tell the p’robable tenderers exactly what they desire?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- We have done so.
Sir John Quick. - The Government has not told them that cold storage is desired.
Mr. SPEAKER. - Such a speech as is now being required by the numerous interjections* of honorable members is not allowed by the Standing Orders. The honorable member who asks a question may not express an opinion, nor can the Minister who answers it do so.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, though I could give many other reasons why the conditions of tender are as advertised. I shall simply add that it is the desire of the Government - as I am sure it is of every honorable member - to afford every facility to our exporters, and to give every State equal consideration in regard to the fixing of ports of call. Parliament will have an opportunity to discuss the whole subject when a motion for the ratification of the tenders is moved.
Mr. Joseph Cook. - Does the PostmasterGeneral see any objection to asking for alternate tenders for a service with and without the facilities named?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- Tenders have already been advertised for ; but tenderers may make whatever offers they please. Every one knows that the tenderers will provide cold storage. No company could contract at a price which we could afford to pay to carry mails only.
Mr. WYNNE. - I should like to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the need for calling for alternate tenders. I have been informed by a leading exporter of colonial produce that the mail steamers do not now provide sufficient cold storage accommodation, and that exporters have to rely largely on tramp steamers to take their produce to England. Moreover 60 per cent, of the butter sent from Australia does not arrive in proper time for the markets. Our exportation of butter amounts to 33,800 tons, or 1,352,000 boxes.
Mr. Thomas. - Is this a question or a speech ?
Mr. SPEAKER. - The Standing Orders of the House bind me, as well as honorable members generally, it being my duty to see that they are not transgressed. Now, in regard to the putting of questions asking for information, standing order No. 93 provides that -
In putting any such question no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question, while standing order No. 94, relating to the answering of any question requires that a member shall not debate the matter to which it refers. I shall be glad, therefore, if honorable members will ask for information without expressing opinions, and if Ministers will reply directly to the questions asked without taking notice of interjections which may lead them to transgress the rules of debate.
Mr. Wynne. - I regard the question as of so much importance that I wish to move the adjournment of the House to discuss it.
Mr. SPEAKER. - If the honorable member will put the terms of his motion into writing, 1 will see that he has an opportunity to move it when questions without notice have been asked, and notices of motion have been given.
Mr. PAGE. - In view of the statement of the Postmaster-General that no firm would dream of tendering for the mail contract without offering to provide the necessary cold storage accommodation, I desire to ask him whether there is anything contained in the contract conditions making it imperative that such accommodation shall be provided?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- There is not, but it is well known that cold storage accommodation is provided on the present line of mail steamers, and that in the past some tenderers have undertaken to make similar provision, although there was no obligation upon them to do so. Even in connexion with the Vancouver service, cold storage accommodation .is provided, and if is well understood that preference will be given to the tenders subscribing to that condition.
Mr. KNOX. - Is the Postmaster-General aware that the States Governments desire that he should embrace the present opportunity to secure in the new mail contract distinct provision for ample cold storage accommodation, and that they are prepared to accept the financial responsibility incurred in giving effect to such a condition ?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. -I am aware that the Minister in charge of the Agricultural Department in Victoria has made a statement in reference to the matter, and, as I have already indicated, the Prime Minister has to-day asked the Premiers of the six States what cold storage accommodation their exporters require, so that we may know exactly what the States want and what they are prepared to do.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has obtained the information which he promised to secure, relative to the charges for long distance telephoning in other countries and the rates of wages paid by private companies to their employes ?
– I am obtaining the information which the honorable member seeks, and I hope to be able to supply it to-morrow.
– I desire to. ask the Acting Prime Minister if he can yet explain to the House why there has been such a long delay in instituting legal proceedings against Messrs. Harris, Scarf and Company, of Adelaide, in connexion with alleged Customs frauds?
– I think that a similar question was asked by the honorable member a day or two ago. Before the question was asked I had forwarded the papers in connexion with this matter to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I understand that those papers are now in the hands of counsel, with instructions to proceed against the firm in question so far as the law will allow us to do so.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has noticed in the newspapers the splendid out- , come in the House of Commons division of his own and the Prime Minister’s advocacy of preferential trade, and whether he intends to take any further action in the matter ?
– I really do not know to what the honorable and learned member refers. When he makes his question intelligible I shall be very glad to answer it.
– In 1904, when the Prime Minister submitted a series of resolutions, in effect declaring that the integrity of the Empire depended upon the granting of preferential treatment to our imports into the United Kingdom, I tabled an amendment to the effect that the integrity of the Empire in no way depended upon preferential fiscal treatment being accorded to those imports. The result was that the general resolutions were shelved, and the House was afforded no opportunity of coming to a decision upon the question. I now desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the House of Commons yesterday passed a resolution almost in the terms of the amendment which I submitted, declaring that the integrity of the Empire does not depend upon preferential fiscal treatment being accorded to our imports into Great Britain, he will revive the proposals of the Government?
– The matter to which the honorable and learned member refers is rather an important one. I cannot, at the moment, recall the whole of the circumstances connected with what happened a year or two ago. I should like the honorable and learned member to give notice of his question, and I shall then be very glad to answer it.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Minutes of the proceedings pf the Colonial Conference held in London, 1907.
Report of a Conference between Representatives of the United Kingdom, the Common.wealth and New Zealand on Merchant Shipping Legislation.
Memorandum, including report of the Conference of State agricultural experts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, and report of the Queensland Agricultural Department, together with other information on the subject of bounties.
Report by the Director of Mines, Papua, on the Astrolabe copper-field.
Report of the resolutions, proceedings, and debates of the Premiers’ Conference held in Brisbane in May, 1907.
Ordered to be printed.
Report of a Conference on Wireless Telegraphy.
Notification of the acquisition of land at Young, New South Wales, for postal purposes.
Mail Contract Tenders : Cold Storage.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The necessity of inserting in the conditions of the mail contract a condition that cold storage accommodation be provided.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I regret having to adopt this course, but it seems to me that in dealing with the question of the new mail con tract the Government have not sufficiently considered the interests of the producers. In this connexion, I have been advised by « one of the leading exporters of butter, who says -
While we, as business men, do not anticipate for one moment that any line of steamers tendering for the mail contract will enter into the business without providing some cool storage accommodation, it is a fact that the mail steamers now catering for the trade are insufficiently provided, resulting in very great loss to the dairy industry in particular, through irregular and late arrivals of, roughly, 60 per cent, of our butter. The space available outside mail steamer accommodation is at present little better than “ tramp “ class. It is my opinion, and also that of all in the trade competent to judge, that the minimum available refrigerated space in the mail steamers should be 1,500 tons, accommodating roughly fifty to sixty thousand boxes of butter. During the past season the shipments of butter from Australia to the United Kingdom totalled 33,800 tons, or 1,352,000 boxes. This will give you an idea of the magnitude of the industry, which, with a continuance of our average rainfall, will expand considerably. The value of the butter shipments to the United Kingdom for last season can be set down at £3,500,000.
The following resolution was passed by the Butter Export Committee -
The Butter Export Committee views with surprise and concern the omission from the conditions of the proposed new mail contract of any stipulation for the provision of refrigerated space or the carriage of perishable produce in any new steamers, and strongly urges the Federal Government to insert such provision in the best interests of the producers of_ Australia.
This is a matter which does not affect Victoria, New South Wales, or, indeed, any particular State.
– Does the three and a half million pounds of which the honorable member spoke represent value or weight?
– It represents value. That amount I would point out is likely to increase. Seeing that we have an exportable product of that value requiring cold storage accommodation, it seems to me that the Government will be ignoring the interests of the producers if they do not insist upon the mail steamers providing sufficient space to carry it. As our shipments of butter are likely to increase, it is not fair that our producers should be left to the mercy of a “ tramp “ service, instead of being able to avail themselves of a regular line of mail steamers. Last season, owing to insufficient cold storage accommodation the losses sustained by our butter exporters amounted to many thousands of pounds - as much as 2d. per lb. loss was incurred in some instances - owing to a glutted market’ in London. If we can insure weekly shipments of 50,000 01 60,000 boxes of butter by these mail steamers the market in England will be regularly supplied, and our producers will enjoy even prices. The Government ought to see the necessity for providing this accommodation.
– Is not the honorable member advocating a form of Socialism?
– No; it is not Socialism, but common sense.
– Whether it be Socialism or common sense, we have to consider the men whom we have placed upon the land. They must be afforded an opportunity to live, and it is the duty of the Government to assist them in this connexion. It does not matter where I or any other honorable member may sit in this House, it is our bounden duty to aid the producers. The Government ought certainly to insist upon the insertion of the condition which I have mentioned in the new mail contract, and the fact that they have not done so shows that they have not looked far enough ahead. 1 shall not say any more, but I would impress upon the Ministry the necessity of providing this cold storage accommodation.
.- The honorable member for Balaclava, having submitted this motion, I have great pleasure in supporting it, although I did not intend to move the adjournment of the House to-day, in view of the explanation which has been made by the PostmasterGeneral. But as the motion has been presented, I propose to put before honorable members a few facts in justification of the attitude which I adopted last week. I believe that I was partly instrumental in inducing the honorable member for Denison - when he was Postmaster- General in 1903 - to insert cold storage conditions in the tenders for which he then called for the new mail service. The same remark is applicable to the tenders which were invited by the honorable member for Coolgardie, who occupied the position of PostmasterGeneral in the Labour Administration, .in July, 1904. I think that those Ministers were perfectly justified in including in the mail contract, conditions other than those for the carriage of mails. It is the duty of the Government to make the best con.tract they can on behalf of the community for the carriage of perishable products. Irrespective of whether or not such an action be regarded as Socialism, I am prepared to support it. As a matter of fact,
I think it is the legitimate function of the Government to make a contract of this kind, especially when it does not necessarily result in the contract price being enhanced, or in any sacrifice on the part of the community. Honorable members will recollect that although the tender of the Orient Steam Navigation Company, in 1904, was for £ 70,000, as against ,£7 5,000, the amount of the subsidy previously paid to them, Mr. Anderson, the manager of the company, informed the then’ Prime Minister - the honorable member for South Sydney - that neither the proposal to include Brisbane as a port of call for the mail steamers, nor the provision as to increased cold storage accommodation, entered into the calculations upon which their tender was based. Consequently, I fail to see how any particular argument can be urged against this proposition on the ground of Socialism. Mr. Anderson asserted that the provision for cold storage accommodation did not result in any enhanced price for the contract. I appeal to the honorable member for South Sydney to say whether the report of the interview with him which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 7th May, 1904, is not substantially correct ? I fail to see any justification for the contention that the mere insertion in the tender of a condition as to cold storage accommodation is extraneous or foreign to a mail contract.
– Why limit it to perishable products?
– Because that is a. special kind ‘of produce, for which it may be necessary to provide special accommodation. Trade in other produce may be open to the competition of the whole world, but we must have special accommodation for perishable products. Instead of thiscondition embarrassing or loading a mail contract, it would have the opposite effect. The Postmaster-General would find that he occupied a position of advantage in being able to inform tenderers that he was able to guarantee them certain freight of this kind, and the tendency of the .condition I am suggesting should be to reduce rather than to increase the contract price for the carriage of our mails. The Victorian Butter Commission recently recommended that the various States should combine in guaranteeing- certain lines of steamers at least ,£300,000 per annum ins respect of freights for the carriage of butter alone. If the Postmaster-General, ir» inviting tenders for the carriage of our oversea mails, were able to inform the shipping world that he could guarantee f reights to that extent, what a favorable position he would occupy. How can it be said that this stipulation would prejudice or embarrass a contract for the carriage of mails? As a matter of fact, Mr. Anderson’s statement to the honorable member for South Sydney shows that a provision for cold storage does not in any way embarrass an agreement for the carriage of mails. I believe that the States from the first have been willing, and, in fact, anxious to cooperate with the Federal Government; but they cannot take the lead. It remains for the Federal Government to take the initial step. At the Hobart Conference, held in February, 1905, the following resolution, which shows how the States Premiers regard this question, was agreed to -
That this Conference strongly recommends the Commonwealth Government in arranging any postal contracts, to see that ample cold storage accommodation is provided in the steamer engaged, in order that the producing interests shall be encouraged and fostered; and the State Premiers undertake to do their best to offer substantial inducement in the way of freight.
– Will the honorable and learned member say who induced the Conference to pass that resolution ?
– I believe that it was passed as the result of representations by the Ministers of Agriculture of the several States, and that it received the concurrence, not only of the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for East Sydney, but of Mr. McLean, then Minister of Trade and Customs, and the honorable member for North Sydney, who at that time held office as Minister of Home Affairs. In October, 1905, the PostmasterGeneral submitted to this House a motion for the ratification of the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company for the carriage of our mails for the sum of £120,000 per annum. At that time the Orient Steam Navigation Company was not in a position to offer special cold storage accommodation. There was practically a crisis in respect of the carriage of our mails. The Government found themselves forced to accept the company’s tender, whilst the various States Governments were driven into making independent contracts with a number of other steamship companies. In the same year the Victorian Butter Export Committee were able to arrange with the White Star, Aberdeen, and Lund lines of steamers contracts for the carriage of butter atd. per lb., or exactly one-half of the rate charged by the mail steamship companies. Those contracts had a currency of three years, and the result was that when in 1906 the Prime Minister wrote to the State Government asking for the co-operation to which the Postmaster-General has referred, he found that they were hampered and tied down by these agreements, and were not in a position to accept the offer of the Federal Government. The offer made by the Prime Minister was a wise, judicious, and statesmanlike one, but the explanation of the attitude taken up by the Victorian Government is that they were not then able to cooperate and to guarantee freights under a Commonwealth contract since they had entered into an independent one extending over a term of three years. Now, however, we find that the circumstances are entirely different. It appears that in consequence of the irregular arrival in London of various steamers voyaging by way of the Cape it was decided to cancel the contracts which the Victorian Government had made with the owners for the carriage of butter, so that the way is clear for the making of fresh arrangements. The States Governments are now free to co-operate heartily and cordially with the Federal Government. That is why I have taken action in this matter. I was surprised to find last week that the conditions of tender contained no reference to the question of cold storage. As those conditions now stand, the Government offer a huge premium exclusively in respect of accelerated speed, but having regard to the splendid facilities for cable communication which exists in these days, I fail to see why that is necessary. In these times, a delay of two or three days in the delivery of our oversea letters is not of so much importance as is the cheap and safe carriage of our goods, wares, and merchandise.
– Is that the honorable and learned member’s opinion of what a contract for the carriage of mails should be?
– It is the opinion not only of myself, but of many engaged in commerce, that the cheap carriage of our merchandise is of more importance than is an accelerated mail service. I believe that the cost of securing a reduction of one day in the time occupied in conveying our oversea mails would be at least £10,000 per annum. There is no justification for giving such undue prominence to the question of accelerated speed. If we agreed to permit the contract time to be determined by normal conditions, and, without endeavouring to secure its reduction, gave prominence to the provision of cold storage on our mail steamers, we should benefit the producers and tend to increase the prosperity of the country far more than we should by simply securing a reduction of one or two days in the voyage home. I think, that the PostmasterGeneral will find, upon consideration, that the course I suggest would result in much good to the Commonwealth. In dealing with this subject, I have always endeavoured not to embarrass the honorable gentleman. My object has been rather to keep his attention concentrated upon the immense importance of this question. I have taken an interest in it for many years, and have been deeply grieved by the failure of the Minister to give prominence in the conditions to the question of cold storage. I hope that it is not too late to insert a supplementary provision providing that tenderers are required to state specifically what accommodation they are prepared to offer for the carriage of perishable produce. That condition would be sufficiently wide and general to avoid any embarrassment. I do not wish the Minister to go into such details as were set out in the conditions sought to be imposed by the honorable member for Denison when Postmaster-General, or by the honorable member for Coolgardie when he occupied that office.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that we could make such a contract without the cooperation of the States?
– I do not think the Government could do so, and I would not ask them to attempt to make such a contract in the absence of State cooperation. I am in a position to say, however, that if the Government can see their way to insert in the conditions of tender the supplementary condition which I have indicated, they will be able to secure that cooperation. I have before me a letter from Mr. Swinburne, the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, which I shall lay on the table, and from which I shall read only one extract to show that I have some authority for my statement. Writing to me, Mr. Swinburne said -
I am quite certain that if the Federal authori. ties inserted a condition in the new tenders, requesting contractors to state the cool store space to be made available, and what extra subsidy would be necessary over and above the required mail subsidy for such service, the States would be only too willing to guarantee the subsidy ; but until we know what it is to be it is most difficult to offer guarantees.
In that letter we have an offer of a guarantee.
Mr. -Kelly. - Would the other States make the same offer?
– I have no doubt that Mr. Swinburne would be able to secure the co-operation of the other States on the same lines. I hope that the explanation which the Postmaster-General gave a little time since - that he and the Prime Minister intended to place themselves in communication with the States Governments, with a view to securing their co-operation-
– Why do we require their co-operation?
– In order to be able to guarantee certain freights to tenderers.
– But could we guarantee a specified amount ?
- Mr. Swinburne says that it could be done, and he gives us full particulars.
– The honorable and learned member says that he has studied this question. May I ask, what action he proposes we should take in order to bring about the result he desires ? Sir JOHN QUICK.- My contention is that, as the result of the co-operation of the States, the Minister would be able to inform tenderers that he could give them a guarantee in respect, say, of butter freights alone, representing ^300,000 a year. An inducement would thus be offered for the service of a new line of steamers, which would be able to commence operations with a guarantee of an established trade, instead of being called upon to start without any previous arrangement for their success as a business undertaking.
.- I may say that I have listened with pleasure to this discussion, which I think is the outcome of the curt and almost insolent refusal on the part of the Postmaster-General to comply with my request that the conditions of contract- should be submitted for the consideration of the House. When I inquired some time ago whether the honorable gentleman would be prepared to lay the conditions of contract on the table of the House, in order that they might be discussed before tenders were invited, he replied very curtly “ No.” In these- circumstances, therefore, I am glad to hear honorable members opposite asking that the Government should make some special arrangement for the producers. It seems to me that they are inviting the Ministry to take a step along the path of Socialism. Why should arrangements be made only for the producers? In dealing with this question, why should we not consider the community as a whole? If we inserted in the conditions of contract provisions relating to the carriage of frozen produce, it would be manifestly unjust to call upon the Postal Department to bear any increased cost consequent upon that stipulation. It should not be called upon to pay one penny more than is actually demanded for the carriage of our mails. Any increased charge in respect of the provision of cold storage should be borne by some other Department. We have been told by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that he has had a letter from Mr. Swinburne, of the Victorian Government, stating that if conditions of the kind referred to, which mean more than the mere carriage of mails, entail extra cost, the States will be prepared to meet that cost. That, however, is only a statement by Mr. Swinburne himself ; and at the Premiers’ Conference, I understand, the feeling was that the States were not prepared to go that length. The honorable and learned member “for Bendigo stated that the Postmaster-General, in calling for tenders, would be in a position to guaranty £300,000 worth of freight of perishable products for conveyance to Europe. But the Postmaster-General is not in a position to give any such guarantee, for the reason that producers wish to send their produce to England weekly, and not only fortnightly. It would be impossible to keep all the butter waiting in order to meet a fortnightly service; and there is not the slightest doubt that the tender, in this connexion, would have to be on a weekly basis.
– The principal contractor could sub-let to other lines of steamers.
– Then it is suggested that if freight amounting to .£300,000 be guaranteed, the contractor may sub-let to the extent of half that amount ; the principal contractor is to be called upon to build vessels to carry £300,000 worth of perishable products, and yet his first step, must be to sub-let £150,000 worth to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. In dealing with this question, we have to face the necessity for a weekly service. The report of the Royal Commission, which dealt with this question, pointed out that what is wanted is regularity of communication. When the Commission was sitting, the producers were trying the experiment of utilizing tramp vessels; but I am glad to say that the experiment failed - glad because we are thus driven to the conclusion that the only solution of the difficulty is for the Commonwealth to run boats of its own once a fortnight.
– It will be a mighty poor outlook if we have to depend on that solution !
– Commonwealth mail steamers are the only way in which to carry on this service properly. If it be a fact, as the honorable and learned memfor Bendigo has said, that the Federal Government can guarantee a private company. £300,000 worth of freight, why should that guarantee not be given in connexion with Commonwealth boats? Surely if the producers are prepared to guarantee freight to that amount, they could give the same guarantee to the Commonwealth ? Such a guarantee would represent a great step towards making a Commonwealth line of boats pay. I venture to say - unless, of course, we inaugurate a line of Commonwealth steamers - that immediately we cease to deal with a mail contract proper, the question will be found to bristle with difficulties. I do not see why the freights should be limited to butter; and when the contract ceases to be one for postal matters exclusively, the representatives of Queensland are perfectly justified in saying that’ any boats engaged must make Brisbane a port of call. I understand the PostmasterGeneral to say that the vessels under the contract must be docked in Australia.
– The Postmaster-General was not very strong on that point.
– I thought he was ; but if that be made a condition, then the contract ceases to be a postal contract only, and the representatives of Brisbane are justified in making the claim I have indicated. Indeed, I may say that if the con.tract in this way ceases to be a postal contract, I shall support the contention of the Queensland members that the mail boats shall call at Brisbane.
– And also Tasmania.
– And Tasmania also, because we have fruit to consider, as well ‘ as butter.
– Why not wheat?
– Why not lead? Why should the producers of lead not have their product carried to England at a cheaper rate? Then, again, if such conditions are inserted in the tender, the question arises as to how much space is to be allowed to the various States. All the perishable products of Australia cannot be carried in a mail boat once a week; the surplus must go by other boats. I am hoping that, however big the mail steamers may be ‘ - even if they be as magnificent as those which the Postmaster-General told us the Laing Syndicate were going to build - they will not prove large enough to carry all the. products from- this country. Western Australia is beginning to send fruit to England, and the question will have to be considered as to how much space must be reserved for that State, and also, of course, for Queensland, Tasmania, and so on. This is a phase of the question which bristles with difficulties. In the case of butter, it is easy enough to make contracts some time in advance ; but it will be a very difficult matter for the fruit-growers to say how much space they would be prepared to guarantee. If we, as a people, have not the pluck, the energy, or the money to run our own vessels, private enterprise should be allowed to run these mail steamers in its own way. In South Australia the fruit-growers, probably two or three months before the season, are asked by the ‘Orient Steam Navigation Company to notify how much space they desire to have reserved; but the growers, of course, do not know what the result of the season may be. If, under the circumstances, they reserve a certain amount of space, they have to pay for it, even though it be not used ; and that, of course, is only fair and just to the shipping company. The consequence is that the fruit-growers may hold back until thev know definitely what quantity is for export, and then they may find that the producers of Victoria, New South Wales, or some other State, have taken up the whole of the available space. If we, as a Parliament, go beyond the strict lines of a postal contract, all these matters must be considered. I am very glad that the matter has been discussed this afternoon, though I regret that thu Postmaster-General did not agree to the suggestion that the conditions of tender should be laid on the table, so that we might discuss them from beginning to end, for, doubtless, there are matters, besides the mere carrying of perishable produce, to be considered. I can only repeat that I am delighted that this question has been raised by, a section of honorable members who, on the public platform, when standing for Parliament, claimed to be antiSocialists. As these gentlemen in the Opposition corner are advocating what is an instalment of Socialism, I am justified in coming, to the conclusion that it is a phase which does not interfere with the “sanctity of the home,” the “marriage tie,” or the “cardinal principles of Christianity.”
– It has been said that a Parliament is never so well occupied as when listening to a member who has made a subject all his own. There can be no question that the honorable member for Barrier has given a great amount of attention and much ability to the consideration of this question. But the honorable member will forgive me for adding that in the process he has, apparently, allowed his logic to choke him. For instance, we hear to-day that if there are not to be Commonwealth steamers, as a socialistic concern, private enterprise should be permitted to do as it chooses. That seems to me an absurd position to take up. Neither course is the proper one - the middle course, as in most cases, is the correct course, particularly in regard to the carriage of mails. How the honorable member arrives at the conclusion that a contract between the Government and a private company for the carriage of mails - a contract, on the part of the private company, solely concerned with the earning of profit, which profit they say is spoliation and robbery-
– Who grudges the private company a profit? “They” is very indefinite.
– We have been told that private enterprise is private robbery.
– Who says so?
– A number of the honorable member’s followers say so.
– That is very indefinite.
– The honorable member’s followers have said so repeatedly on the platform.
– Point to one.
– I am not sure that the honorable member himself has not gone very near to making a statement of the sort.
– Mav I say that that is absolutely incorrect? Give me che time and place.
– I do not desire to labour this aspect of the question.
– “ No case - abuse the other side.”
– I have only fifteen minutes in which to. deal with this matter, and I must ask honorable members not to interject. I deprecate the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that, to make sure of obtaining sufficient refrigerated space, we should, if need be, sacrifice something in the way of speed. Considering our isolation in respect to other parts of the world, speedy ocean communication is of the utmost consequence to us. We need both speed and sufficient cargo space.
– We cannot have both.
– I think that we can. I have yet to learn that, if we stipulate for the employment of boats of a certain size, we must be content with a less speed. We can get both speed and size; it is merely a matter of contract and of payment. I think that the larger the boats stipulated for, the more likely are we to obtain speedy transport of our mails. It is obvious that the price which we pay for the carriage of our mails is hardly sufficient to cover the cost of the coal consumed by the vessels carrying out the contract., But stipulations as to the size of the steamers which shall be employed occur in all contracts for the conveyance of mails across the ocean. Therefore we should aim at obtaining both speedy communication and large cargo space. The Minister asks how are we to get the cold storage accommodation that we require. My answer is that we have simply to demand it, and to pay for it. I should like to know why the provision for refrigerated space should be made to depend upon the giving of guarantees by the States for the filling of that space. Why should the mail steamers be exempt from ordinary commercial competition ?
– Has any recognised shipping company asked for such a guarantee ?
– The Orient Steam Navigation Company asked for, and is being paid, a subsidy of £26,000 by the ‘ State of Queensland.
– The shipping companies may be expected to ask for guarantees when they see that we are so inclined to give them. In my opinion, the mail companies should take their chances with other shipping companies in competing for cargo. All we need do is to stipulate for the employment of large vessels providing sufficient cold storage for perishable produce, leaving it to the enterprise of the mail company to secure cargoes from our producers, lt is the essence of weaknessin the Ministry not to dare to move hand or foot without consulting the States to obtain from them guarantees for the filling of any cold, storage space provided. If the necessary space is provided, the ordinary competition of commercial life will result in its being used; and the sooner action is taken in this matter, the better.
.- However high the standard set by those who commence discussions of this kind, they inevitably degenerate into attacks on the Labour Party by members of the Opposition. For instance, the deputy leader of the Opposition has just alleged that members of the Labour Party have referred to legitimate profit as robbery, but when challenged to give a specific instance in support of that statement, all he could saywas that some one outside is reported to have made it.
– The honorable member for Yarra made a statement of that kind the other night.
– If so, it was probably made jocularly, with a view to enliven the proceedings ; but he is not present now to answer for himself. Undoubtedly he could refer to specific instances in which the profits which have been made have been gained by the robbery of employes. As a matter of fact, the report of the Victorian Butter Commission made it plain that a band of robbers and thieves was defrauding the farmers of this country of their hard won earnings. The debate now proceeding is in part the result of that report. The members of the Labour Party desire that producers shall get the full result of their labours. We wish the butter producers to get all that they earn. At the present time, there are large commercial concerns in this city which are trying to take from producers a share of their earnings, and that sort of thing will continue until the Commonwealth and the States effectually protect those who cannot protect themselves. Coming to another matter of importance, when the last contract was under discussion, and the representatives of Queensland were desirous that the mail steamers should call at Brisbane, the representatives of Victoria and New South
Wales were prepared with many reasons why no subsidy should be paid, or effort made, by this Parliament to gain that end. The argument used was that nothing was being paid to induce the mail company to send its steamers to Melbourne and Sydney; that, without the subsidy, the steamers would call at those ports for cargo. The representatives of Queensland, on the other hand, said that if the contract were one for the carriage of mails only, they would not be justified in urging that the steamers should go on to Brisbane, and they were told that it was a contract for the conveyance of mails only. Now, when the Government are advertising for tenders for what is undoubtedly purely a mail service, it is told that -cold storage accommodation must be required of the contractor. For whose benefit? For the benefit of the producers of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales.
– Why not for the benefit of Queensland as well ?
– This is the first time that the honorable and learned member has made that suggestion.
– Yes. The representatives of the southern States are making progress, and this is largely due to the efforts of the Commission presided over by the honorable member for Barrier. In my opinion, the real remedy for the complaints that we hear is the owning and controlling of a line of mail steamers by the Commonwealth. The leader of the Opposition smiles at that statement, but he will probably live to see such a line established, and to become one of its most ardent supporters. Under the Queensland Railways Act, the Commissioner has power to, provide for the transport of butter from any place in’ Queensland to any port of the world, shipping either by a privately-owned steamer or by one owned by the State. That power has existed for many years, and has been used to a slight extent. Would it be a disastrous thing for the producers if it were extended, and produce were carried under State supervision from any part of the Commonwealth not only on the railways, but oversea? Such an arrangement would reduce the commission charges, substituting one charge for many. Goods might be lodged at the nearest post office, and transported for one charge to any part of the world. The opposition to a proposal of this kind comes largely from the fraternity which fattens on the commissions it extorts from producers. Such persons are always the most hostile to socialistic schemes for the benefit of the people on the land. To-day, the representatives of Queensland find that those who were narrow-minded in respect to the mail service have become broadminded, because they find that their interests are likely to be prejudiced. They are now ready to shake the Commonwealth to its foundations if their States are not given privileges which they would not give to the State of Queensland, although an equal contributor to the subsidy.
.- You, Mr. Speaker, can hardly be expected to remember all the speeches which you hear in this chamber, and, therefore, I wish to remind you that when this matter was last under discussion there were those who fought against it, I, myself, being opposed to the payment of a subsidy or subvention of any kind. I saw no reason why the community at large should be taxed for the benefit of the commercial classes, to provide them with speedier communication with foreign correspondents. To-day, however, we find the producers asking for privileges. If the Postmaster-General makes every condition which has been suggested an essential one, we are not far from a State-owned service. Those on this side of the House have to-day shown themselves to be individualistic Socialists, while those to whom they are opposed are socialistic individuals. If I called the mover of the adjournment a Socialist, he would charge me with slander, but this afternoon he makes his appearance as an individualistic Socialist. He wishes the Commonwealth to take steps to. make certain arrangements for the carriage of perishable goods for the benefit of producers. The honorable member for Barrier, who is a Socialist, goes further, and advocates the establishment of a service owned and run by the Commonwealth. To that I am opposed, just as I am opposed to the granting of a subsidy or the payment of a subvention. In the early days, it may have been necessary to try to induce steamers to come here by offering subsidies, but, in my opinion, it is not necessary to do so now. I am glad that the secrecy which has surrounded this matter has come to an. end. For a long time, the press could not obtain information from the PostmasterGeneral in regard to the proposed terms of contract. He was always ready to refer interviewers to the Treasurer, ab- solutely surrendering his Ministerial responsibility. The whole business has been a very awkward one, but it has been very badly managed. As claims have been made on behalf of the producers of the country, I have a claim to put in on behalf of the industrials whom I represent. If the producers are to be specially considered, my constituents should be considered by our requiring the mail vessels to dock in Australia. The honorable member took up that attitude with a view to showing the ludicrous position occupied’ by the Ministry of the day, which posed as a protectionist Ministry. Upon that occasion I was twitted with a desire to injure the commercial classes. But I venture to say that if we pay a subsidy to our mail contractors in the interests of the commercial classes, and if we make special provision in the interests of the producers, the matter should not end there. We should go further and provide that the docking of those vessels shall be done in the Government docks of the Commonwealth.
– Are there any docks capable of accommodating them in the honorable member’s constituency ?
– Some honorable members seem to think that there are no docks in the Commonwealth of sufficient size to allow of these vessels being repaired there. But to my knowledge there are at least two docks which are capable of accommodating even larger ships. They are not in my constituency, but they can be seen from it. Some honorable members seem to be out: for “loot,” and I, therefore, do not hesitate to put forward this claim on behalf of the artisan classes. Only to-day the Postmaster-General, in replying to a question, declared that if special provision for cold storage accommodation were inserted in the tenders for the new contract, the Government would have to seriously consider the financial aspect of the matter. If the Government grant the request preferred by the honorable member for Balaclava they must be prepared to pay a very large sum of money to further the interests of our producers. I was returned to this House not to advance the interests of- any particular class, and I unhesitatingly assert that if it be a fair thing to assist our producers or commercial classes a good many honorable members will have te reconsider their position in regard to where such a policy shall stop. A subsidy of £125,000 annually is equivalent to a charge of 5 per cent, upon an expenditure of £2,500,000. For such an outlay, I affirm, that at least five vessels of the type requisite to carry our mails could be purchased. An annual subsidy of £125,000, with the assistance which the contractors would receive from New Zealand, would provide them with a very fair interest upon their outlay.
– What assistance do they receive from New Zealand?
– The New Zealand Government pay poundage rates- for the carriage of their mails. Altogether the contractors would receive a subsidy of about £140,000 per annum. I hope that in future there will be less secrecy observed by the Government in connexion with our mail contracts than has been the case hitherto.
– The deputy-leader of the Opposition has urged that the Postmaster -General should insist upon cold storage accommodation being provided, and then risk the supply of the produce necessary to occupy that space. I have always understood that honorable members opposite were the business men of the House, and that the members of the Socialistic Party had no conception of the first principles of business. Yet the honorable member for Parramatta, who is the real leader of the Opposition, has asked the Government to provide ample cold storage accommodation upon our mail steamers- irrespective of whether or not those vessels obtain the requisite amount of produce to carry to London. What, I ask, would we think of a banker who provided seven times as much money for a dull season as he provided for a brilliant season? We should dismiss him because of his utter lack of business knowledge.
– Many banks in the Rocky Mountains are conducted upon those principles.
– I am prepared to pit the American business men against any men in the world, even against the honorable member for Wentworth. I desire to ask whether I shall be in order in submitting an amendment? If so, I wish to add the following words to the motion -
That rabbits, eggs, fowls, butter, wool, tallow, hides, and all produce- be carried by the Federal Government in Federal steamers.
I quite recognise that we have now arrived at the parting of the ways, and I want the business section of this House, who belong to the Labour Party, to take charge of our mail service, and to run it upon business principles. I ask honorable members if they have forgotten the odour which rose from the butter bonus “ boodleiers,” - an odour which was wafted across the ocean to London, and which killed some people at thirty yards when it turned a corner there? I am glad to learn that the Government have decided to act on my suggestion to erect a Commonwealth building in London. Whilst they are doing that, why should they not erect a proper building containing cellars wherein Australian producers can store their butter? One honorable member has informed us that great shipments of butter have reached London when the market was glutted. Why should we not provide our own cellars wherein we can store our butter until the market is a favorable one? It seems to me that we ought to establish an economic school to teach our people the first principles of business. I desire to know whether I can now move the amendment to which I have referred.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the motion before the Chair is “ That the House do now adjourn,” and the suggestion which he makes would not be in order as an amendment upon that motion.
, - I think that the whole of the trouble which has arisen in connexion with our mail contract is due to the absolute want of business tact exhibited by the Government. There is no doubt that a huge blunder was committed in letting the last contract to a body of irresponsible persons, who, upon the face of things, merely desired to obtain a concession from this Parliament for the purpose of hawking it around London in the hope of making something out of it. So long as we give these privileges to syndicate mongers, so long shall we have a repetition of the trouble which we have recently experienced. I maintain that there is not the slightest necessity for us to provide any guarantee whatever in regard to refrigerated space. The perishable produce carried from Australia is by far the most remunerative portion of the cargoes which leave our shores for the old world. The moment we allow the States to interfere in what are essentially Federal functions, that moment shall we engender friction similar to that which has been engendered when the Federation has overstepped its. constitutional bounds, and attempted to interfere with States rights. Let each authority remain supreme in its own domain. Our mail service is essentially a Federal matter, and consequently the further we keep away from State complications in> connexion with it the better. I contend that had the guarantee offered by the Victorian Government in connexion with the recent mail contract been accepted, ar very serious injury would have been inflicted upon some of the other States, because the export of one State is not that of another. I was very .glad to hear the honorable member for Wide Bay draw attention to what occurred in this Chamber when the mail contract was last under consideration. He pointed out that some of the States were being unfairly treated by reason of the fact that the mail steamers, did not call at their principal ports, notwithstanding that those States had to contribute their lull share of the subsidy. If we are now to enter into a contract which is something more than a mail contract, I maintain that Tasmania and Queensland have a right to demand that the mail steamers shall call there. Personally, I do not think it will be. possible to simultaneously secure a large cold storage capacity, and an accelerated speed. Everybody who knows anything about shipping, recognises that we must sacrifice carrying, capacity when we seek to obtain an accelerated speed.
– Which’ is the more valuable ?
– I think that a saving of three or four days in the carriage of our mails is an infinitesimal matter as. compared with the satisfactory carriage of our perishable products. Where one person would gain a material advantage by reducing the period of the voyage between Australia and England, many thousands, would be indirectly benefited by being enabled to regularly land their produce in a satisfactory condition upon the markets of the world. The whole of the present trouble has arisen from the unsatisfactory way in which this mail contract has been dealt with. If the Postmaster-General would invite tenders for a mail service in a plain, straightforward fashion, insisting upon certain cold storage accommodation being provided, there would not be the slightest necessity to obtain any guarantee whatever. At the present time, the little State of Tasmania, with only a handful of inhabitants, is paying between £70,000 and £100,000 annually in freight charges only. Between £14,000 and £15,000 was paid in this way to the last fruit boat which left that State. Five or six companies are only too willing to enter into direct competition in order to obtain that trade. If the Government make a straightforward contract compelling the contractors to provide cold storage an end will be put to underground engineering and syndicatemongering. There is no necessity for anything of the kind. Let us have a businesslike arrangement. We should either provide for a mail service, at an accelerated speed, to cease at Adelaide, or arrange for a combined cargo and mail service in which the contributing States shall equally participate. I would remind honorable members that the moment we permit certain States to step in and give a guarantee we shall do a direct injustice to the smaller ones. Under a -per capita system they would pay less than the larger States would be required to contribute, and consequently would be entitled to a smaller proportion of the cold storage accommodation available. As a matter of fact, however, the State having the largest population does not invariably require the greatest space. During eight or ten weeks in every year Tasmania’s cold storage requirements are greater than could be supplied by the mail steamers. Next season we shall probably ship 600,000 or 700,000 bushels of apples, and the whole of the cold storage space available on the mail steamers leaving Tasmania during a period of eight or ten weeks will be required for the carriage of this perishable produce. For the rest of the year Tasmania would make no such demand, but if all the States were to insist upon having allotted to them the full share of cold storage to which they were entitled by reason of their contribution to the joint guarantee the smaller ones would certainly suffer. This trouble would be avoided if the Federal Government took full control, and there ought certainly to be no conflict of authority. It would be better, even at this late hour, for the Government to withdraw the conditions of tender already published, and issue new conditions, showing clearly what we desire. If that course were adopted the steam-ship companies, without any guarantee by the States, would be able to come into fair competition in tendering for the service. But we cannot hope to secure fair competition between those really desirous of undertaking this work unless we put before them the exact nature of the work that we call upon them to perform. I hope that, if we are to have a combined cargo and mail contract, the Government, and the majority of honorable members, will not take up the attitude which they assumed last year ; and that the States that are called upon to contribute to the cost of this service will all be allowed to participate fairly in the advantages derived from it.
,- - I take no exception to the action of the honorable and learned member for Balaclava in moving the adjournment of the House to call attention to this matter, since I hold it is well that the views of honorable members should be plainly stated, and the whole question threshed out. Some of the speeches that have been delivered this afternoon have thrown a new light on the situation. We find, for example, that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo now desires to convert the contract into one for a trade service, and holds the view that no benefits are likely to accrue from an accelerated mail service. He knows very well, however, that no one contract could provide for the carriage of all the perishable produce shipped from Australia. The honorable and learned member has endeavoured to take the Ministry to task on the ‘ground that it has ignored the interests of the producers. Had he looked into this question as carefully as he would have us believe, he would be aware that the interests of the producers have not been neglected by us. He referred to the position taken up by the leader of the Opposition when, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, he attended the Hobart Conference in 1905, and in all fairness, he ought also to have brought before honorable members the steps taken, by the present Prime Minister at the Conference of Premiers held in Sydney last year. Why did the honorable and learned member remain silent about the action taken at that Conference?
– I referred to the action taken by the Prime Minister.
– If the honorable and learned member will turn to the official report of the proceedings of the Conference of Premiers, held at Sydney, in
April, 1906, he will find the following statement by the Prime Minister -
Now, turning to another subject. As you are aware, we are calling for tenders for mail contracts, which are purely postal contracts so far, and which are returnable next month. The postal service is put first, but any additional facilities which tenderers can offer will be taken into account. It has been suggested more than once whether it is not possible for you, as States, discussing the matter among yourselves, to arrive at an agreement, so that we could take up the whole of the cold storage, accommodation of the mail steamers, if not foi the whole year, at all events for the full extent of the Australian season.
The Prime Minister proceeded to give good reasons for the position taken up by him, and pointed out the difficulties in the way of Commonwealth action without State cooperation. Towards the close of his speech, he replied to a number of interjections, and in answer to Mr. Denham, who inquired -
Is it likely to be a lower freight than that which now prevails on mail steamers? he is reported to have said -
I hope so. Of course we have drawn these tenders so widely that we will get very differing tenders indeed, and it is very hard to say now which on the whole would be the one to be preferred ; but we wish, if we can, to make a strong feature of this cold storage.
Why did not the honorable and learned member for Bendigo quote that statement?
– I did refer to it.
– The honorable and learned member would have the House believe that the Government has been ignoring the interests of the producers, but we find that his statement in that regard will not bear examination. It has been said that the States are anxious to cooperate. I believe that they are. But what happened when the Prime Minister returned to Melbourne after taking part in the Sydney Conference? As a matter of fact, on the 20th April, 1906, he addressed the following circular to the States Premiers -
Sir, - I have the honour to invite your attention to the proposal put forward by me at the recent meeting of the Conference of State Premiers, to the effect that the Agricultural Departments of the States should be urged to immediately communicate with the exporters of perishable products, or others interested in ‘ them, in order that we might arrange to guarantee either the whole or a certain proportion of the cold storage accommodation which will be provided by the steamers to be employed in the mail service between Australia and Great Britain.
The matter is one of considerable urgency, as the Postmaste’r-General expects to receive the tenders for the mail service next month. Unless some early intimation is received through the
State Government of the wishes of the producers it will not be possible to make this a condition of the contract with the successful tenderers, and an unique opportunity may belost for making most favorable conditions for an Australian export of trade of products for which the quickest possible transport is desired.
Under the circumstances may I ask that you will give instructions for the matter to b.econsidered at the earliest possible date, both as to the quantity to be shipp_ed and the rates to be obtained.
Surely no one can deny that that was a plain straightforward letter. It shows that my honorable and learned leader did not wait for action to be taken by the States Governments, but immediately on his return from the Conference, sought to ascertain clearly and unmistakably what was desired.
– What do the Government wish the States to do?
– The Prime Minister showed very clearly, by his circular to the Premiers, that he desired the States Governments t’o explain in what way we could help them, and to indicate what provision we should make. As the honorable member for Darwin has said, we should find ourselves in a very awkward position if, after guaranteeing freights to the value of £300,000 per annum, we discovered that independent contracts had been made by the States Governments. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has told us that in 1905 the Victorian Government entered into an independent arrangement with “several steam-ship companies for the carriage of butter to England, and if, notwithstanding action on the part of the Federal Government to secure ample cold storage accommodation on out mail steamers, separate tenders were again entered into in this way, we should occupy a very sorry position. We might find that instead of being called upon to pay £150,000 or £’175,000 per annum, we should have to give twice as much for our service. Let me put before the House the replies received from some of the States Premiers. The Premier of Tasmania, for instance, replied -
Referring to your circular communication P.M. 06/1559 and 1659, dated the 20th. and 30th April respectively, concerning the provision of cold storage accommodation on mail steamers and vessels trading to the United Kingdom, I have the honour to inform you that meetings of those interested in this matter were arranged for the purpose of ascertaining the views of the producers and exporters. The result demonstrated that, while fully recognising the spirit which prompted the suggestions put forward by you, it was undesirable to disturb the satisfactory arrangements which exist as far as the producers of this State are concerned. It was pointed out that the successful development of this branch of our export trade was largely due .to private enterprise and the regulation by the Federal Government of the trading facilities would not create any improvement in the present conditions. In these circumstances, I regret that my Government cannot co-operate in the direction desired by you.
What was the attitude taken up by the Pre. mier of Queensland? I find that he asked the exporters and producers for certain particulars for his guidance, and had forwarded to him the following motion, moved at a conference of producers and exporters, held in Brisbane, in May, 1906 - “ That it is not desirable to pledge ourselves at present in the manner proposed by Mr. Deakin, to ship our produce by one line of boats, thus creating a monopoly.”
After discussion this motion was withdrawn on the understanding that another Conference would be convened by the Chief Secretary within a month, and that in the meantime the several associations concerned give the matter full consideration.
That was the decision of a conference of producers held in Queensland. Here is a statement made by the Aberdeen Chilling and Freezing Company Limited, pf Aberdeen, New South Wales -
It is utterly impossible for shippers of meat, &c, to book freights several months ahead, except for small parcels under contract, and no one would ever think of booking years ahead. We certainly think that the Commonwealth Government will make a great mistake if it takes up all the frozen space in the mail steamers. It will be a good thing certainly for the steam-ship companies, as they would be paid whether they carried frozen goods or not. It is a great pity that the Commonwealth Government will not keep itself to the business it was formed for, and not be always worrying business men.
The statement continues -
We have this farcical Commerce Act, and Other Acts the Federal Government has thrust upon us, and these we think are quite enough without any interference with our shipping arrangements.
And then by way of a sort of postscript, the writer added -
If the Postmaster-General would attend properly to his mails he has quite enough to do without waiting to help (?) us to fix up our meat freights.
If time permitted, I could quote from many other statements put before the Government. Here is an extract from a letter received from the Premier of Victoria -
This Government regrets it does not see its way to guarantee to fill a certain quantity of space, especially as nothing definite can be arranged with the meat and other exporters.
– By whom was that letter signed ?
– By Mr. Thomas Bent. The Chamber of Commerce, Newcastle, in a very temperate and businesslike letter, wrote -
It is quite impossible for exporters of certain products to say in advance what quantities they will be shipping during the season, and consequently what storage space they will require, and it is believed that any attempt to carry out the proposal in question will result either in loss to the Government if more space is reserved than is required, or confusion and dislocation of the business arrangements of exporters if the space taken up is insufficient.
Then again, we received from Mr. Kidston, Premier of Queensland, the following communication -
Adverting to previous correspondence on the subject of the Conference which was held here by Queensland exporters relative to the question of securing cold storage, space on Europeanbound steamers, I have the honour to append hereto resolutions which have been arrived at on the subject by the said Conference : -
The letters are business-like; and although I shall not quote them all, I shall lay them on the table. The letter .from Western Australia says that it is impossible to furnish the quantity of produce likely to be exported. I shall not read all the communications; but, if anything, they show that, although there may be unanimity now, there was no unanimity then. It was most desirable that the Government should ascertain the opinions of the States Governments before it was determined that preference should be given to tenderers who offered to provide refrigerated space. As I have previously pointed out, the conditions have been made as wide as possible. I wish to state again emphatically, so that there may be no mistake, that preference will be given to tenderers who do offer refrigerated space. I have in my hand a letter addressed by the Acting Prime Minister to the States Premiers as follows -
I have the honour to invite your attention to the fact that this Government has recently called. for tenders for a mail service between Australia and Great Britain. Copies of the conditions are forwarded herewith.
As the result of the experience gained in connexion with the tenders invited in 1903 and 1904, no special conditions have been stipulated with respect to the provision of cold storage, but as, in view of the opportunity afforded under clause 5 . to submit provisions in addition to those directly specified, it is beyond doubt that tenderers will supply vessels with refrigerated space, the Postmaster-General is desirous of being placed in a position to include in the contract conditions for the employment of that space on the most advantageous terms to the exporters of Australia.
It has been announced that, other things being equal, preference will be given to the tender providing for calling at a principal port in the greatest number of States, and my colleague is prepared, should offers in other respects similar be received, to select that in which tenderers are prepared to furnish the largest amount of cold storage at the lowest rates.
In dealing with this matter, it will beof great advantage to know to what extent exporters are prepared to use the refrigerated space available, as it is obvious if a definite assurance could be given for a fixed quantity that better terms might be procured than otherwise. I have now to request that you will, through your Agricultural Department, immediately communicate to this end with exporters of perishable produce, and will let me know whether any, and, if so, what assurance can be offered to the tenderers as to the amount of such space to be taken up, and at what rates.
May I point out that the present is an exceptional occasion for procuring material advantages for producers of exporting commodities, and urge that your Government should give most favorable consideration to this suggestion.
As tenders close on the 3rd September, it will be desirable for the matter to be dealt with as speedily as possible.
– What is the date of that letter?
– It is dated this morning. When the honorable and learned member for Bendigo interviewed me yesterday, I told him that I had recommended the Acting Prime Minister to send this communication; and yet the honorable and learned member apparently desires to make it appear, by his question, that this letter is a thought of to-day. It is very easy to prophesy after the event. Honorable members have contended that a huge blunder was made on the part of the Government in dealing with am irresponsible person ; but when the contract which was cancelled was before the House, did any honorable member utter one word of doubt ? When the names of the firms interested were published in the newspapers the public generally regarded them as a strong combination, the names being those of firms well respected in the financial world. Unfortunately, that contract failed ; and honorable members now find it very easy to offer criticism. Honorable members have objected to the secrecy which they say has been observed. But this is a business proposition; and I ask any honorable member whether he would, in his own business, disclose every action on his part to the other side. The idea is absurd. The conditions of the contract were laid upon the table, and honorable members discussed them at length before ratifying them. I take no exception to these “ pin pricks,” beyond saying that if I, as PostmasterGeneral, am asked a question, and I think that in the interests of the country an answer should not be given, I shall not give an answer. I think I have made it very clear that the Government have made provision for cold storage, desirous as they are of considering the interests of the exporter. As to altering the conditions now, time is the essence of the contract, and it would not be desirable to make changes at the present stage. Those who will tender know that, all other things being equal, preference will be given to those who show their intention to provide cold storage. That is the best course for the Government to take under the circumstances.
.- I happened to be a visitor last July in the gallery of this House, and I heard the deputy leader of the Opposition challenge the wisdom of the Government, when the latter decided to accept , £25,000 as sufficient security for the fulfilment of the mail contract. That is an answer to the statement made by the Postmaster-General just now as to any expression of doubt. I have the honour to be the representative of one of the largest dairying and butter producing constituencies; and I have just returned from my constituency, crowned, I venture to say, with honour, and carrying the scalp of the Age newspaper. I am glad to hear the Postmaster-General say that the Government are taking the necessary steps to safeguard the interests of the producers. If there is one matter about which Parliament should be especially considerate, it is the welfare of the producers on the land. According to the letter which the Postmaster-General has just read, the Government are evidently endeavouring to secure the best interests of the producers by co-operating with the various States Governments.. I do not know that it would be wise to give a guarantee of freight; indeed, I do not think that that is necessary. I think, however, that we might give the contracting company a very good assurance that the necessary freights will be forthcoming, and that preference will be given to their vessels. We might thus secure the carriage of our mails, not for a larger sum, but for a lesser sum than under other circumstances. The more inducements we can offer to the contracting com-‘ pany the better it will be for the community, while, as I say, the cost of the carriage of the mails will be reduced. I deprecate the opinion expressed by an honorable member on the other side that one Department of State is antagonistic to another. The Post and Telegraph Department should be in very close touch with the other Departments ; as in other business concerns, the interests of one Department are indissolubly wrapped up with the interests of the other, and what makes for the welfare of one makes for the welfare of all. I do not desire to occupy any length of time, but I must say that in connexion with the mail contract, any step that the Government can take which will have the effect of securing the placing of our primary products at regular intervals on the London market, should be regarded as one of the most important considerations to which they can devote their attention.
.- I should like to say a word or two in reference to the closing statements of the PostmasterGeneral. The honorable gentleman must not think that, because nothing was said, there was not an opinion on the part of honorable members that the late contract was a speculation. There was a general feeling that nothing should be done to embarrass the Government. We all hoped that the proposed contract would come to something ; but knowing what I do of mail contracts, I could not, from the first, regard it as a business proposition. However, it would have been unpatriotic on my part if, to further any view of my own, I had done anything to embarrass the Government in endeavouring to have the contract carried out. The Minister of Trade and Customs the other night used an expression which showed that while in England he had found out all about the matter, because he said that if he had had his way he would have ,put’ an end to the contract at once. At any rate, the honorable gentleman came to see the true inwardness of the business, as, indeed, did a great many others. From the first, that contract was too good to be true - it was a fairy tale - and it was a great pity that the Commonwealth Government were fooled so long. Any other Government might, perhaps, have been fooled in the same way - I only say that it is a pity for Australia that the. Government were fooled for so many months after their eyes had been opened. I cannot see that there is any difficulty in the way of calling for alternative tenders. I strongly object to anything being done or any conditions being imposed, with which all the tenderers are not made acquainted. What is the use of a letter or minute written by the Acting Prime Minister to the States Governments? Every man who is going to tender ought to start on terms of actual equality ; otherwise there will be all sorts of imputations of bad faith levelled against the Government. These contracts are no light thing, but are entered into, by some people, with a proper sense of responsibility. I hope the Government will take care that a man who fulfils all the published conditions, and puts in a good tender, may not be told, “Oh, some one else has received a letter, which, although it has nothing to do with the terms of contract, has turned the scale against you.” All those who tender ought to know what is in the mind of the Government. Have the tenderers been told that preference will be given on the lines laid down by the Postmaster-General?
– Of course; that has been published to the world.
– In what form?
– How do we publish anything to the world?
– Is it in the specifications?
– Then it may be in every place but the one place’ in which it ought to bc. There is only one way of dealing with business men; when we ask for a business offer every man who responds should be placed in a position to know the terms of the contract. One contractor may run round the Government offices, and get a lot of information, while another may trust to the specifications, and, perhaps, never hear of such a communication as that to which reference has been made. I am not speaking from a party point nf view. We have had the name of Australia dragged in the mire quite enough over this mail contract question. Everything that is in the mind of the Government in connexion with the tenders should be given just as full publicity as was given to the specifications. Why should the notices of tender not have appended to them the statement made this afternoon? It would not be expensive to carry out the suggestion; I object to a method of calling for tenders which, to say the least, is not businesslike.
.- I am glad to observe on the part of some members an anxiety which they have not previously shown, to forward the interests of the producers of Australia. While listening to the speeches I have been wondering as to what is to be the actual benefit to the producers if a condition of the mail contract be the provision of refrigerated space. One would think that there was at the present time an absolute insufficiency of refrigerated space in which to carry the produce of the dairy farmer to England and other parts of the world. As a matter of fact, there is any quantity of refrigerated space available to-day - quite sufficient to carry all our produce. If there is to be any result, from the producers’ point of view, in connexion with the mail contract - if all we hear is not for the purpose of humbugging the butter producers by the pretence that honorable members have their interest at heart - those honorable members should ask the Postmaster-General to go one step fur-, say and fix the rate of freight. Of what use is it merely to ask for the provision of this space, seeing that there is already sufficient space available, unless the Government is going to require that produce ‘ shall be carried at lower rates than are now charged?
– The time allowed for this debate under the Standing Orders has now expired.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I understand that in my absence the honorable and learned member for Flinders interjected that last week I stated that all’ private enterprise was robbery. That! is absolutely untrue.
– I ask the honorable member not to put the matter in that way.
– Then I will say that it is absolutely incorrect. According to the Hansard report, the honorable member for Indi interjected, when I was speaking, that we should have a newspaper of our own, and I replied -
So we would have if we had the money necessary for the venture - if we had some of the money which has been extorted from the workers.
I asked the Principal Parliamentary Reporter for the proof slip of my speech, to see if my words had been altered in any way, and I find that they have not been altered. I have never said that all private enterprise is robbery, though I hold that some sorts of private enterprise are robbery. No doubt every member in the Opposition corner will admit that the evidence given before the Victorian Butter Commission showed the existence of practices amounting to absolute robbery.
Debate interrupted. Business of the day called on.
– The Standing Orders plainly require the calling on of Orders of the Day two hours after the meeting of the House, but, in regard to the answering of questions upon notice, no doubt the usual course will be followed, and replies will be given later in the day, when opportunity offers.
In Committee: (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message resumed from 16th July, vide page 561) :
Motion (by Mr. GROOM) again proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of money be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western- Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
– It seemed to be the desire of honorable members last night to have practically a second-reading discussion at this stage, and therefore progress was reported before any decision was come to in connexion with the motion. We are asking the Committee to affirm the expediency of making the appropriation recommended by the message of the Governor-General for defraying the cost of the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta. This is not the first time that the proposal has been before honorable members. I am glad to say that the House of Representatives, moved by the Federal spirit, has on more than one occasion passed, by a large majority, a Bill providing for the survey.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman intend to cast a reflec tion on the Senate?
– No; I merely say that I am glad that the House of Representatives has recognised the Federal spirit of the proposal. There is ample material before honorable members on which to come to a conclusion. The message only recommends the appropriation of money to defray the cost of a survey to ascertain the nature of the country, the difficulties of the route, the probable expense of construction, and other information requisite to a determination as to the advisability of making the proposed railway. The passing of the Bill which will be introduced to provide for this appropriation will not commit honorable members to the construction of the line, though my own opinion is that the survey will show that it is highly desirable to proceed with the work. All that is asked at this stage is that money shall be appropriated to obtain the information necessary to enable us to decide what shall be done in this matter. As there are present honorable gentlemen who were not members of the last Parliament, I shall briefly refer to the material available to the Committee for forming an opinion in regard to this proposal. In 1 90 1, the Government of Western Australia authorized its Engineer-in-Chief for Railways, the late Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, to make a report on the proposed work. Mr. O’Connor was a man of the highest engineering capacity, whose works are monuments to his genius. He designed the magnificent water supply which has diverted a stream of fresh water, almost like the flow of a river, to the goldfields of the western State.
– Was not that the Treasurer’s work?
– The Treasurer had the statesmanlike grasp of affairs necessary to see the need for the work,, and the courage to give practical result to the ideas and plans of the engineer who designed it. Another great work carried out by Mr. O’Connor was the opening of the port of Fremantle. Previously no vessels of any size could enter the Swan River; but now the port has been made one of the best in Australia. Therefore the Government of Western Australia was not intrusting this work to a novice. The inquiries which were made were those of a man who had skill, experience, and knowledge to bring to bear on the problems confronting him. Mr. O’Connor’s report was laid on the table of this House on the 16th July, 1 90 1. He estimated that the total cost of the railway would be £4,400,000 ; but I shall not bother the Committee with the details of his estimate, because a later estimate has been made. Then Mr. John Muir, civil engineer, and inspector of engineering surveys, made a preliminary personal examination of the country between Kalgoorlie and Eucla. His report was laid on the table of the Senate on the 5 thi March, 1902.
– He said that the country which he traversed was the finest pastoral country which he had seen.
– I find in his report this statement -
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 admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end.
– Then, why does the Go>vernment of Western Australia offer to lease that land at 10s. per 1,000 acres?
– The statement which I have read goes far to disprove the sweeping assertions which we have heard about the poorness of this country.
– Mr. Muir does not say that there is a good water supply.
– The honorable member will be able to criticise his report presently. Mr. Muir deals also with the question of construction. Then Mr. Castilla- made’ a report, which, on the 20th October, 1904, was ordered by the Senate to be printed. He dealt with the possibilities of obtaining a water supply, and wrote optimistically. The Commonwealth Government, however, thought it desirable to obtain an official .report on its own account, and, therefore, Messrs. Henry Deane, William Pagan, A. B. Moncrieff, Maurice E. Kernot, and C. S. R. Palmer, the Engineersin -Chief of the railway services of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia respectively, met in Conference. They were asked to report upon -
The probable expenditure in construction; the probable annual revenue after construction ; and for ten years after; the probable annual expenditure in working the line, and its maintenance; the route recommended; the gauge proposed ; the probable time which would be occupied in its construction; the probable present and prospective effect of such railway, if constructed; the advisability of constructing the proposed railway, and any other matters in con. nexion with the scheme which the Conference considers should be brought under notice.
– Have those reports been received ?
– Yes ; there are three reports, the first dated 12th March, the second 13th May, and the third 27th July, 1903. The engineers whom I ‘have named visited Kalgoorlie. They then went round to Eucla, and travelled inland from there.
– They went further on than Kalgoorlie.
– Yes. They thus did all that they could to make themselves acquainted with the local conditions. They had the assistance, as far as it could be obtained, of all competent authorities in South Australia and Western Australia. They made exhaustive inquiries into the matter. They spent a considerable amount of time in their investigations, and then presented their reports. Their first estimate of the cost of constructing the railway was roughly about £5,000,000. Subsequently they obtained further information, revised it, and finally arrived at the conclusion that the cost of constructing the line would be about £4,559,000.
– That was their estimate of its cost of construction and equipment ?
– Yes. They estimated that upon the opening of the line the revenue received would be £205,860, that the working expenses would be £114,400, that interest at 3½ per cent, would represent £159,566, or a total of £273,966, which would leave a deficiency of £68,106.
– Per annum?
– No. These experts estimated that that loss would be gradually reduced during the first ten years after the line had been opened to traffic. They assumed, of course, that Western Australia would continue to progress in the same ratio that it has hitherto done.
– That progress has not been sustained. Only 7,000 were added to the population of that State last year.
– That, we hope, is merely a temporary set-back.
– Of course, there are fluctuations.
– Exactly. Nevertheless we recognise that the normal condition of the States is one of progress, and that re mark applies especially to Western Australia, where the possibilities in connexion with agriculture, mining, and fruitgrowing are unbounded.
– Upon what increase of population is the estimate based?
– I can give the honorable and learned member the exact figures presently.
– The engineers drew particular attention to the fact that if the population of Western Australia did not continue to increase in the same proportion, their estimates would not be realized.
– Reference to the Monthly Statistical Abstract of January, 1903, published in Western Australia, will show chat during the period from 1894 to 1902, the population increased approximately two and a half times, the general revenue increased five times, the railway revenue eleven times, post and telegraph receipts five times, and the Savings Banks deposits three and a half times. The engineers say that the present population of Western Australia - if that State continues to progress in the same ratio that it has hitherto done - will be doubled within ten years from the opening of the railway. Ten years after the line has been constructed, they estimate that the revenue which will be derived from it will be £411,720, the working expenses £210,000, interest upon the original capital, plus 15 per cent, for improvements, at3½ per cent, £183,501, or a total of £393,501.The net profit over and above working expenses would thus be £18,219. Upon the assumption that the normal progress of Western Australia will continue, these men, who are accustomed to the working of railway systems, and who base their estimates not upon mere theory, are of opinion that within ten years from the opening of the railway, it would yield a profit of £18,219. I do not wish to enter into the matter more fully. Honorable members have an opportunity of perusing these reports for themselves. A study of these documents will, I am sure, convince them that the scheme, instead of being merely a theoretical one, is a practical one, and one capable of conferring a great deal of good upon the Commonwealth. There are several reasons why I think this undertaking should be carried out. The first is that until thetranscontinental railway is constructed, Western Australia is practically entitled to say that it is out of the Federation, so far as trade and commerce and facilities of intercourse are concerned. We have to consider that from the stand-point of sea travel it is almost as isolated as is New Zealand. It is practically in the position of an island State. Before Federation was accomplished, rightly or wrongly, representations were made to the people of Western Australia by the leaders of the Federal movement in the eastern States that the great advantage which Western Australia would secure from joining the Union would be the construction of this trans-continental line. That, I have reason to believe, from inquiries which I have conducted personally, and from the continuous expression of opinion in Western Australia, was a controlling factor with many of the electors of that State when they voted for Federation. It may be urged that there is nothing in the Constitution which justifies us in declaring that this work must be carried out. That is admitted, but what we have to do - especially at the beginning of our Federal history, when we desire to consolidate the people of this Continent into one harmonious whole - is to loyally give effect to those aspirations, which were properly encouraged by the leaders of the Federal movement, and which induced our citizens to join the Union. We cannot set aside sentimental considerations. I do not say that they should be a dominating factor, but at least they ought to be carefully considered and not heedlessly rejected. As far as trade and commerce are concerned, the people of the West are absolutely dependent on oversea ships. Western Australia is the only State which is not connected with the eastern States by rail, and for the purposes of trade and commerce, I am of opinion that it ought to be so connected. I wish honorable members to realize that a portion of this trans-continental railway has already been constructed. The distance from Fremantle to Adelaide is 1,746 m’iles. On the Western Australian side, the line has already been extended to Kalgoorlie, a distance of 387 miles, while on the South Australian side, it at present reaches from Adelaide to Port Augusta, a distance of 259 miles.
– The latter line runs north ?
– Yes, but it can be connected with the transcontinental line. That is the scheme proposed by the engineers.
– I think that South Australia regards the other scheme as the better one.
– That is a matter which can be discussed later. If the survey be authorized, the exact route which shall be followed has aftei wards to be determined. These two lines, I repeat, can be utilized, so that 646 miles of railway have already been constructed, leaving about 1,100 miles still to be built. The engineers recommend very strongly that the gauge adopted should be 4 ft. 8 J in., and are of opinion that the work of construction would occupy about four years.
– At the present time we are merely asked to vote money for the carrying out of a survey.
– That is so. I have now given a resume of what has occurred, showing honorable members where we stand at the present time. All these inquiries have been made. The financial aspect of the proposal has been carefully considered. Of course, if existing conditions change, it may be necessary for the engineers to revise their estimates. But viewed in the light of their reports, the scheme appears to be a practicable one.
– How much moneydoes the Government propose to set apart for the survey
– The sum of £25,000.
– Is that intended to cover the cost of searching for water?
– That amount will suffice for a complete survey being made. It was fixed with the approval of the engineers.
– Does it merely provide for an ordinary railway survey, or is it intended to cover the search for a water supply?
– It includes the cost of making an investigation for obtaining a water supply for the purposes of the railway. Of course, it does not involve an elaborate investigation into the question of a water supply for the purposes of land settlement.
– Are there any particulars available as to how the money is to be allocated?
-No. The sum of £25,000 was fixed after consultation generally with the engineer some two or three years ago.
– The Western Australian Government are now engaged in boring for water upon the proposed route.
– I understand that that is so. The Western Australian
Government have been doing all that they possibly can to further this particular project. The Parliament of that State has already passed a Bill authorizing us to construct the railway. The Government have given an undertaking that if the railway be constructed upon the 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge, they will widen the existing line from Kalgoorlie to Perth, so as to obviate any break of gauge, and will even duplicate that line if necessary. They have further offered, during the first ten years after the opening of the line, to defray any loss which may be incurred upon their portion of the railway, instead of allowing it to be borne by the Commonwealth as a whole. They have even gone to the extent of offering to guarantee South Australia against loss Upon the undertaking. I may also mention that, at the instigation of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, they have arranged to equip a prospecting party to accompany the surveyors in order that prospecting for mining purposes may be carried on concurrently with the survey.
– They will undertake a geological survey, I suppose?
– The party will be equipped for the purpose of searching for minerals. The Parliament of Western Australia has also passed resolutions permanently setting aside 25 miles upon either side of the railway, to prevent the land being taken up for speculative purposes. Consequently that State has done all that it possibly can to facilitate the construction of this national work. . I have already pointed out that there are strong Federal reasons- why this survey should be authorized. One of these is that we desire to make th’e people of Western Australia realize that they are in commercial communication with the eastern States. The construction of the line could also be supported from the point of view that it would afford us increased postal facilities. It would mean, for instance, a more rapid delivery of oversea mails via Fremantle, whilst it would lead to a saving in the cost of the maintenance of the transcontinental telegraph line.
– To what extent?
– I have no estimate before me, but it is reported that a saving would result. There is also the humanitarian consideration that’ it would afford a’ ready means of communication to those now engaged in the more or less dangerous work of maintaining the transcontinental telegraph line. We have further to remember that the construction of the railway has been strongly recommended for defence reasons by Major-General Hutton and Major-General Edwards.
– Did not Major-General Hutton report against the proposal, saying that we had no troops to send over such a railway?
– On turning to the reports the honorable member will see that Major-General Hutton, from the defence point of view, strongly recommended the construction of the railway. He went even further, and showed that in the event of our becoming involved in war the isolation of the West, in- the absence of such a railway, would be a serious menace to the safety of Australia. Major-General Edwards has also pointed to the proximity of Western Australia to eastern countries, and shown that, possessed as it is of vast natural resources, it would be, in time of war, a serious temptation to other nations. Western Australia has united herself, for weal or for woe, with the Eastern States under the indissoluble Constitution of the Commonwealth, and we should take care, as far as lies within our power, to place her in a position of absolute security. We can do so only by providing for the construction of this railway. Another point worthy of attention is that it would afford two large centres of population, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, increased trading facilities with the eastern States, and also open up vast tracts of country both on the South Australian and Western Australian side of the border. The. reports dealing with this question detail other advantages which I need not enumerate. I think I have shown that Western Australia is certainly entitled to ask us now to take the initial step towards the fulfilment of the unwritten bond to which reference has been made by providing for a survey of the line. All the people of that State ask is that a survey be made in order to ascertain whether the scheme is a practicable one. That is a fair and reasonable request, to which we ought to respond. I would therefore urge honorable members to agree to this motion, and to the passing of the Bill, in order that the feeling which has been created in Western Australia may be. removed. Even if no promise had been made during the Federal campaign, I think that we should recognise that the history of other Federations shows that railway communication be- tween the component parts of a Union are essential to the national life. We find a great railway stretching from the east to the west of Canada ; whilst the United States of America can point to similar great undertakings. I believe that the line to which the motion now before us relates is only one of several that will ultimately be constructed, and which, stretching over our continent, will open up facilities for free intercourse and rapid transit between the most distant parts of the Union. The fact that we suffer from periodic droughts is another reason why we should have a ready means of communication between all the States, affording means by which live stock may be removed rapidly from place to place and much loss avoided. This line would certainly help to consolidate the commercial life of the Commonwealth. The Premier of South Australia has intimated that his Government offers no objection to the making of the survey, although at this stage they give no consent to the construction of the line. I hope that having regard to all these circumstances honorable members will agree to the passing of the motion in order that we may be able at the close of this debate to flash along the wires to Western Australia, what to the people of that State will be the cheering intelligence that the East is in full sympathy with the West, and fully recognises its rights as a part of the great Australian Union.
.- When listening to the Attorney-General, I was inclined to believe for a moment that I had been suddenly transported to Western Australia, and was sitting in one of the Houses of the Legislature of that State. The honorable and learned gentleman had much to say about the developmental utilities of this project.
– Is it a sui to discuss in this Committee matters affecting Western Australia?
– I am casting no reflection upon that State.
– Why should we not consider the claims of Western Australia?
– I hope that my honorable friend will permit me to proceed. As members of a Federal Parliament we have duties to our own constituents, and to the Constitution under which we work, and I think that the Minister, before asking us to deal with railway construction - a matter that is almost entirely within the control of the States - should have shown us that there was sufficient justification for the proposed departure.
– This is the third occasion on which we have dealt with this matter.
– In view of the honorable member’s interjection, I think it desirable to point out that if the Government were really as anxious as they profess to be to press on the work of Tariff revision, upon which alone they possess the confidence of the House, they would have introduced these proposals not in this House, which has agreed to them on three occasions, but in another place where they have been twice defeated.
– Let us dispose of the Bill and we may then push on with the Tariff.
– The Tariff resolutions are not ready for our consideration.
– I understand that they are not. The Attorney-General has had much to say about the Federal bond, but has not shown why we should interfere in this matter. I have carefully inquired into this question, as I am anxious to meet as far as I can conscientiously do so, the views of the representatives of Western Australia. But, although I have looked through the reports of the speeches made by the Treasurer at the Federal Convention, I can find no instance of his having asked for anything whatsoever of this kind on behalf of Western Australia. On the contrary, I find that at the Conveniton the right honorable gentleman actually said that Western Australia was able and willing to look after her own affairs in respect to railway construction. I also find that at the Conference of Premiers later on, the Treasurer made no request for the building of the line.
– How can the honorable member say that ? He has no knowledge of what took place at the Conference. I deny the truth of his statement.
– Then let me say that there is no evidence that the right honorable gentleman made any request whatsoever to the Conference of Premiers.
– The honorable member knows nothing about what took place at the Conference, and his statement is absolutely ridiculous. “~
– I would remind the Treasurer that he will have an opportunity to reply to the honorable member.
– I do not like to bear incorrect statements made. The honorable member can have no knowledge of what took place at a secret gathering.
– As a matter of fact a joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament of Western Australia passed a resolution asking for an alteration of the Constitution to enable express provision to be made in it for the construction of a railway through any State even without the consent of that State. Such an alteration would have removed what had hitherto been a stumbling block to the carrying out of this project - the inability of Western Australia to secure the consent of South Australia to the running of the line through its territory. There is no evidence, however, that the Treasurer ever moved in the matter, as that joint Committee requested him to do, and I know from a statement made by the right honorable gentleman himself that he failed to take action because he thought it would not be necessary to do so. He was under the impression that South Australia would not refuse the permission which she has, so far, withheld. I take it that these facts are all evidence that there was no request on the part of the then Premier of Western Australia, and the people of his State, for any such compact as is now claimed to have been made.
– That is incorrect.
– I have looked through the Convention reports, and can find no trace of such a request.
– “ There is none so blind as he that won’t see.”
– If the honorable member can point out the evidence which I have been seeking, I shall be very pleased.
– The honorable member should turn to the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia for 1900. He will find plenty of evidence there.
– I find plenty of evidence as to the joint Committee appointed by the Parliament of Western Australia having made a request which the Treasurer failed to carry out when he attended the Conference of Premiers!
– I did my best with the Governments of the eastern States, and came over here for that purpose.
– I shall read later on a quotation from a speech made by the right honorable gentleman in which he informed me that the reason why he did not make the request was that he did not think it necessary.
– The honorable member is confusing two different matters.
– The representatives of Western Australia base their charge that we have broken faith with the people of Western Australia on the alleged fact that certain promises were made by one or two leaders of public opinion in Australia during the Federal campaign. So far as I am aware those leaders have honorably endeavoured to secure the recognition of their individual views, but it would be idle to say, that the opinions of any one or two individuals should bind the people of Australia. I do not suppose that one man out of twenty in the eastern States knew what was being said in Western Australia during the progress of the Federal campaign. The only quarrel the people of Western Australia can reasonably have is with the gentlemen who made the promises, if those gentlemen failed to do their levelbest to carry them out. I say that those gentlemen have done their level best to that end, as even the Treasurer admitted on a former occasion. So much for this pre-Federal promise on the part of the people of the East. Another statement, constantly referred to in these debates, is that South Australia broke faith with Western Australia. We have been told by the Treasurer and other representatives of Western Australia that Mr. Speaker, when Premier of South Australia, said that he would, concurrently with the Premier of Western Australia, introduce a Bill into the State Parliament, giving power to construct a railway through the State. Honorable members for Western Australia have complained all along of the falling through of that understanding; but really they, have no cause for complaint, even in that regard; because, on inquiring; the facts, I find that the Parliament of Western Australia, though it had to act concurrently, did not move until nearly two and a half years had elapsed. Even in this particular, then, the charges made by the representatives of Western Australia do not seem to have much foundation. The AttorneyGeneral referred to what Western Australia was generously prepared to do in order to show its bona fides. We are told that Western Australia was prepared to set aside twenty-five miles on either side of the line, all along the proposed route in that
State. But what does that offer actually amount to? There are 450 miles of the route in Western Australia, and that figure, multiplied by fifty, gives us a total of nearly 14,500,000 acres. Now, honorable members should know that all this land in Western Australia is open to lease at 10s. per 1,000 acres.
– It is gold-bearing country - it is all auriferous.
– But the mining rights are reserved by the Western Australian Government. The concession of land worth ros. per 1,000 acres means £7,200 per annum, and, in return for this, the Commonwealth is asked to undertake an annual loss of probably £70,000.
– Without a railway, the land can be leased a,t the figure mentioned.
– But none of the land is taken up, so that it would appear that people will not have it even at that price. I am merely pointing out how hollow is the pretence that this land represents anygreat concession on the part of Western Australia!. ‘
– The Commonwealth asked for that concession, and, when Western Australia grants it, the honorable member sneers.
– I am .not sneering, but merely saying that the concession is insufficient. Honorable members from Western Australia, if we offer any objection to this proposed railway, seem to think that we are sneering at their State. I disclaim any such intention.
– Anyhow, this is better land than the land at Wentworth.
– The rolling downs of my constituency carry a population of about 50,000 to the square mile. It is one of the most thickly populated places in New South Wales; it is not the open country that the honorable member evidently thinks it is. The Attorney-General also told us it is our duty to Western Australia to build the line, in order that that State may be placed in a position of absolute security from a defence point of view. That statement of the Attorney-General will hardly bear investigation. Whether we consider the matter from a defence, from a developmental, or any other aspect, we must1 consider it on its merits in that regard ; and I ask honorable members to judge the proposal before us on its merits, from the defence point of view. The AttorneyGeneral has told us that there can be no absolute security for Western Aus tralia until this line is built. What is the actual position? A country, which has little money at its disposal, should proceed with defence works in the order of their urgency; that, I think, will be admitted. The building of this line can be of no value whatever as a defence asset to Western Australia, unless we retain command of the seas for the simple reason that it would cost more to send men and provisions by means of the railway than it would to send them round by sea. In fact, it would cost more to send men and provisions from the eastern States to Perth or Fremantle by land, than it would cost to send men and provisions from Germany or Japan to the same point. Therefore, as a defence project the proposed line will not bear investigation.
– Japan would not ask us to bear the cost.
– I think that’ probably Japan would, because, as Major-General Hutton pointed out, it is of no use building a line for somebody else to use. I think I can remember a passage in the report of that gentleman, in which he pointed out that until we had men to send over the line it was of no use having it for. military purposes; so, on the ground of defence, not much can be said for the Minister’s contention. I realize that this question has often before been threshed out in the House, and at considerable length. I rose only because it seems to me that the Minister has made out no case for Federal interference. Had he been able to prove to my satisfaction that the Commonwealth is justified in encroaching on the affairs of the States in this instance, I should have let. the motion go without further ado; and I do not propose to offer the serious opposition to the proposal that I did before. I propose to stand on my- own convictions and record my vote as occasion arises. But it is a great pity that this measure should have been introduced here before we know what is likely to be its fate in another place. So far as those who are able to judge numbers can tell, this Bill must fail in another place. And I suggest that- the better course would have been to there introduce a measure merely conferring authority to make a survey, and without making any provision for a grant of money. If that proposal were accepted elsewhere, it would be passed here without delay ; and subsequently provision could be made on the Estimates for the necessary money.
– Would that be possible under our rules?
– I have considered the matter, and I think it would be perfectly possible to carry out the suggestion. It would not be possible for another place to ask for an appropriation.
– The honorable member means to initiate the legislation in another place and finish it here?
– That is so. The ordinary procedure in other Parliaments, in regard to measures that have been defeated, is to re-introduce them in the House where they were defeated, so as to save time, and facilitate business. We have three times had a survey proposal of this kind introduced into this Chamber, where it is in no danger, and on each occasion four or five days have been wasted, seeing that ultimately the Bill was rejected by another place.
– It is only right that this proposal should be introduced on an appropriation message.
– It is difficult to say. As a general rule, that is so; but if we are dealing with a concrete instance, where we know almost exactly what will be the fate of the measure in another place, we ought to re-introduce it there before dealing further with it here.
– Proceed by resolution in another place - that would meet the difficulty.
– That would meet the difficulty. My only desire is to save time so that we may reach the Tariff, which is the only issue on which the Government commands the confidence of this House. If that does not also represent the desire of the Government, even their supporters in the House, and their friends in the country, will begin to regard them with suspicion.
.- While sharing the desire of the honorable member for Wentworth to facilitate business, with a view to allowing the Government to bring down their Tariff proposals - which, I am sure Ministers are anxious to get rid of quickly - I cannot altogether condemn them for introducing this. Bill in the House” ‘of Representatives, seeing, that it is one which deals with a very large proposed expenditure. The ground of my opposition to the proposal has hitherto been that, while it is only for a survey, the estimated cost of which is from £20,000 to £40,000, it still, to some extent, means a sort of affirmation that it is expedient that something, should be done to join Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta by rail.
– The Bill does not commit us to a railway.
– That is so, but we do not always act quite logically. It has been said that if we accept this motion there will be a sort of understanding that the expenditure on the survey shall rot be altogether futile, but that something shall be done subsequently. However, I do not approach the subject in that spirit. When I give my support to the proposition that the survey shall be made, I do not wish it to be assumed that my subsequent attitude will be favorable to the construction of the. railway. In regard to the latter proposal, I shall still seek further information, and be prepared to act on the facts as they appear when the Ministerial proposal for construction is before us. I have said that I think this is the proper place where a proposal to subsequently expend a large sum of money should be mooted; and, I point out that, although we have by a majority sanctioned the survey previously, this is a new House, and it may be that there will be greater momentum given to our action if we again affirm the desirability of making a survey; if the public mind is changed to any extent the change will be recorded on the division on the motion. Besides, as the House of Representatives, we represent the people in their tax-paying capacity; and it would be rather a surrender of our financial responsibility if we were to simply ask another place if they were now pleased that we should pass this particular resolution. I do not altogether agree with the honorable member for Wentworth in his criticism of the Government, as to the procedure which they have adopted in connexion with this motion. Nevertheless, I am not so enthusiastic as is the ‘AttorneyGeneral in regard to the prospects of the railway if it be constructed. The honorable gentleman referred to the report of Mr. Muir, who was one of the gentlemen sent out by the Western Australian Government, and who, amongst the many other birds sent out, at last came back with a message of happiness to those who had despatched him on his mission. Mr. Muir said that he had traversed millions of acres of first-class pastoral country which had hitherto hardly felt the foot of a kangaroo; whereas, Mr. Moncrieff, in his report of 1901, described it as most arid and inhospitable country. However, people are able to find things when they put on the spectacles supplied to them by the Government for the time being. Mr. Muir was probably as enthusiastic under the sympathetic suggestions of the Government by whom he was appointed as was to be expected. The best reason I can find advanced for constructing the proposed railway is that travellers will use it to shorten the journey from Fremantle to the eastern States. The Government of Western Australia assumes that those who have made a long sea voyage to reach Australia will face the discomfort of changing to a train to travel through a desert for two or three days.
– The country to be traversed is not a desert.
– I do not say that the whole of it is a desert, but my statement holds true of a good part of it. I do not speak without authority. When a member of .the South Australian Parliament, a relative of mine went all over this country, and, in a letter to me, described its conditions as depressing. He was a man able to judge, because he had travelled extensively, having also visited Port Darwin. Those who had enjoyed the comfort of ship travelling for five or six weeks would be very heroic if, merely to save a day or two, on arriving at Fremantle they transhipped to a train, and travelled for some days through country which has been described as arid and inhospitable.
– The passenger traffic to be considered is not only the oversea traffic, but also the Inter- State traffic.
– Last year, Western Australia added only 6,679 persons to its population. The Conference of State engineers considered that there would be a loss of £70,000 or £80,000 on the line, supposing the money necessary for its construction could be borrowed at the rate of 3^ per cent., instead of 3 per cent., as estimated by Mr. O’Connor; though loans cannot now be floated at par at that rate. That loss was, at Che end of ten years, to be changed to a profit of £18,000, should the country continue to progress at the ratio of the then development. But during recent years, perhaps because of the great pace set in the earlier years, the population of Western Australia has not rapidly increased. The figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician last week showed that the population of Australia has been decreasing, if the years from 1901’ to 1903 are taken, the Commonwealth having suffered a loss of from about 1,000 to 6,000 persons. Under present circumstances, the estimate that at the end of ten years the line will show a profit of £18,000 is not justified. The AttorneyGeneral told us that the population of Western Australia will double within the next decade; but, as it increased by only 7,000 last year, and is now 260,000, I do not think that his forecast will be verified. I admire the enterprise and courage displayed by the Treasurer, when Premier of Western Australia, in undertaking big works.
– The estimate of the AttorneyGeneral shows what is expected from the construction of the line.
– It is not to be expected that many persons will travel overland from Fremantle in preference to coming by steamer, or that there will be much traffic from Kalgoorlie or Port Augusta. It has been stated in connexion with the Port Darwin line that cattle will not be trucked over very great distances. That statement was made by Mr. Kidman. It is not at all likely that cattle will be trucked over country which is not now much inhabited, even by kangaroos.
– I know men who have made fortunes by shooting kangaroos there.
– The kangaroos there are like those described by Sydney Smith as progressing at the rate of five hops to the mile, with their young ones looking out between their fore paws ; thev are imaginary rather than real. I have heard Mr.’ O’Connor’s ability and patriotism spoken of in the highest terms by Western Australian representatives; but he based his assumption that the line would pay upon prospects which recent experience has falsified. He acknowledged that if the £4,600,000 required for the cost of construction were borrowed at 3 per cent., there would, in the beginning, be an annual loss of about £28,000 ; but he based his opinion upon a rosy estimate of passenger and goods traffic which I do not think honorable members now accept. At any rate, having gone carefully into the matter, I am very doubtful about the prospects of the line, and have hitherto refused to sanction the proposed survey. I shall, therefore, give my reason for somewhat altering my attitude in regard to this matter. Last night, in looking through the correspondence, I recognised that the impression had been conveyed to people in Western Australia, by communications between Ministers and public men in South Australia and in Western Australia, that no strong opposition would be offered by the neighbour State to the construction of the line if Federation were brought about. I was responsible for assisting the Federal cause during the campaign in Western Australia, and wrote to a number of representative men on the gold-fields. On behalf of the honorable member for Adelaide, Mr. Speaker, and other members of the Convention, or, at all events, to their knowledge, I expressed the opinion that probably South Australia would sanction the construction of the line if the Federation approved of it.
– Has the sanction of South Australia been given ?
– The understanding was created in the minds of some of those advocating Federation in the West, that South Australia would not oppose the construction of the line if the Commonwealth approved of it ; but, as the Parliament of the Commonwealth did not express its opinion on the subject, the Government is not much to be blamed for not having introduced the necessary Bill. The introduction of a Bill into the Western Australian Parliament was deferred, and when the South Australian Government asked the Western Australian Government to join in a scheme for connecting the two States, the latter hesitated, if it did not refuse to do so.
– A totally unrepresentative Parliament was concerned in that.
– South Australia has never spoken on this matter as a State. The nearest approach to an enunciation of the State opinion is contained in the Northern Territory agreement, in which the South Australian Government undertakes that an attempt will be made to sanction the construction of the proposed line by the Federation if the Federal Government determines that it is expedient to proceed with. it. This brings to my mind one of the reasons why the Treasurer occupies a seat in this Parliament, and a fact which has hitherto influenced my vote on this question. Just prior to Federation, the right honorable gentleman, who had hitherto been a tepid advocate of the proposed union, suddenly became enthusiastic in regard to it, making a series of speeches in support of it, the final expression of his repentance being delivered in the Perth Town Hall, in July, 1900. There, with the fervency which political exigency always produces in Ministers, or those who hope to obtain office, he declared himself an enthusiastic supporter of Federation, although he had hitherto regarded the prospects of the union with considerable doubt. He spoke of the possibility of Fremantle becoming the golden gate of Australia, as San Francisco is the golden gate of Western America, and asked his audience what would be the position of affairs if they did not return men like him to the Federal Parliament to oppose the construction of another transcontinental line.
– I never said that. I wish the honorable and learned member would quote exactly what I did say. I never go back on my statements.
– Sometimes the right honorable gentleman goes back on his reporters. The speech to which I refer was published in pamphlet form, and a copy sent to me by him.
– That report is quite accurate.
– On page 15 of the report, the right honorable gentleman is made to declare that - .
Out interests demand our presence in the
Federal Parliament. I should like to know the position we should be in if we were out of Federation when some great question affecting us was being discussed in the Federal Parliament. Our interests would have no one to look after them ; we should be absolutely sacrificed. Supposing it were proposed in the Federal Parliament that Port Darwin should be made the “ gate of Australia,” and that the railway should be extended from South Australia northwards, and from Queensland across by the Gulf of Carpentaria into Port Darwin. We should be left out. Fremantle would no longer be the “ gate of Australia.” If that proposal were made - I do not say it would - who would be there to fight our battle?
– That remark was not directed against the construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
– The Treasurer was referring to a battle against the possibility of a competing line of greater strategic importance. For the one report upon the country lying between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, which was made by Mr. Muir, who, by the way, could not find water, I can obtain twenty confirming the productiveness of the country lying between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek. Many of these reports have been officially published.
– But we have 270,000 people in Western Australia.
– Unless that State obtains a bigger population, the proposed transcontinental line cannot’ possibly pay. The comparative absence of population at Port Darwin ought not to militate against the chances of the construction of the line between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek.
– I said nothing against Port Darwin.
– I think that a man would require to be a beginner in the study of language if he could not read into the extract which I have quoted the sense that I have read into it. After speaking of the prospects of Fremantle, from the standpoint of the construction of the railway immediately under consideration, the Treasurer asked that representatives from Western Australia should be sent into this Parliament to support him.
– I have always held the opinion that Fremantle is a far better gate than is Port Darwin.
– It really does not matter very much. Politicians, and particularly Ministers, come and go. I have merely referred to the matter with a view to saying that I. have hitherto opposed this survey because of the speeches delivered by men who were strongly in favour of the construction of a line of doubtful expediency, and I did not want the first step to be taken under such circumstances. Now, however, I find that a Ministry, of which the Treasurer is a prominent member, has entered into an agreement with the South Australian Government to take over the Northern Territory, and to construct a transcontinental railway from the Oodnadatta line to Pine Creek. Associated with that agreement is a provision that the consent of South Australia is to be given for the construction of a transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, leaving our discretion as to the wisdom or otherwise of undertaking that work absolutely unfettered. That being so, I shall not oppose this motion. At the same time, I hope that the Treasurer will be equally generous when a proposition is submitted for the construction of a line from 000dnadatta to Pine Creek. I hope he will recognise that South Australia has accepted a very heavy responsibility in building a line - which can be availed of as part of a transcontinental line - of greater length than the line in Western Australia. The former
State has already constructed about 650 miles of the transcontinental railway, and, as the trustees of the whole of Australia, has fruitlessly expended £3,500,000 owing to her disinclination to develop the Northern Territory by means of kanaka labour. Under these circumstances, I wished to explain the change in my attitude in regard to this Bill. It is accounted for by the change which ‘has taken place in the attitude of the Treasurer, and by the fact that South Australia appears to think that Parliamentary sanction should be given to the construction of the second transcontinental line.
– I intend to support the motion, and for very similar reasons to those assigned by the honorable and learned member for Angas. Like him, I do not think that any vote which I may give on the present occasion will impose any obligation upon me in regard to my future action in respect of the proposed railway. I desire that point to be made perfectly plain. I also wish it to be made clear, before the Bill passes, what is to be the particular character of the survey to be undertaken. Obviously it is not intended to have a regular survey for the purposes of construction. It is not intended to have a complete survey made upon which the railway can be at once constructed.
– That is a very important point, because such a survey would determine the route to be followed.
– Precisely. The Bill relating to this matter which was submitted to the last Parliament merely authorized the survey of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta to connect South Australia with Western Australia. .1 am aware that two alternative routes have been suggested. I understand that the intention of the Government is only to carry out a flying survey - to obtain a general survey of the various routes suggested, so that that which is most favorable may be recommended - and to enable us to arrive at an approximate estimate of the cost of constructing the line. I would suggest that the cost of construction and the particular route to be followed are merely one or two of the factors which will enable this House subsequently to determine whether the line should be undertaken. To my mind the most important question of all relates to how far any permanent water supply can
– There is a fairly good rainfall along the route.
– Whether water can be obtained from catchment areas or from underground may be of the utmost importance, but at present we are very much in the dark upon that question. As the honorable and learned member for Angas has said, reports upon the country which would be traversed have been compiled by officials who were sent out by the Western Australian Government. But those officials very much resemble the dove which was sent out from the ark. They all returned with the olive leaf because they were sent out to look for it. Personally I do not place implicit reliance upon the reports of these officers. If those reports are substantiated by a more exhaustive and authoritative statement on the question, I shall be rather inclined to favour the construction of the line, because we cannot hope to secure a railway that will pay immediately. I am quite prepared to sanction the construction of a railway which will be built even at considerable loss if a reasonable profit can be expected from it within a reasonable time. But what I venture to suggest is this : Would it not be better to expend some of the money which it is proposed to spend upon the survey in carrying out more or less authoritative explorative work along the route to be traversed - in other words, if a purely technical survey were not. undertaken? If the money be expended upon what is technically known as a railway survey, the matter will come before the House again in a form which will not enable many of us to make up our minds as to whether the line should be constructed or not. If the general statements contained in the reports of the engineers of the States can be substantiated, if the estimated revenue to be derived from the line, and its probable increase, as well as the estimate of the cost of construction, can be confirmed by investigation, I shall be inclined to vote for the carrying out of the undertaking. But if we are going to spend all this money upon a purely technical survey- the only object of which will be to ascertain practicable routes, the grading, &c, and the possible cost of construction - the matter will be brought before the House again in a form that will not enable me to vote for the construction
– What information does the honorable and learned member suggest should be obtained?
– If, by cutting down the technical part of the survey as much as possible, we can allow a fair proportion of this money to be expended in an investigation of the natural carrying capacity of the different parts of the country through which the line would pass, the probability of obtaining effective storages for water in various places, and of securing underground supplies in others, we should be placed in possession of very valuable data indeed. In other words, if we spent the sum proposed partly in making a survey and partly in explorative work-
– That is what we intend to do.
– That proposal was agreed to by the last Parliament.
– I confess that as a new member I am not familiar with the whole history of this Bill. But I do know that the measure which was submitted to the last Parliament was confined to authorizing expenditure upon a survey. If we have the assurance of the Government that something more than a technical survey will be undertaken, probably a good many of the difficulties experienced by some honorable members will be removed.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member.
– We must all recognise that Western Australia occupies little better than an insular position in regard to the eastern States. Having regard to the future control which we are to exercise over this continent, a really reliable, statement concerning the vast areas that lie between Western Australia and Port Augusta in South Australia, will be well worth an expenditure of £25,000. I am very glad to learn that that is what is contemplated.
– I intend to support this proposal chiefly upon the ground that we owe it to our friends in Western Australia, who joined the Federation upon the understanding that this line was to receive fair consideration, that a thorough investigation should be made of the country which the projected line would traverse. But I hold myself entirely free to express an opinion upon the result of the proposed “ tour of inspection,” as we may call the projected survey i
There is one point that I wish specially to make. I do hope that the £25,000 mentioned by the Attorney-General will be the total sum expended upon’ the survey.
– The amount has been increased by £5,000. The sum provided last year was only £20,000.
– That is so.
– If I said that the amount to be expended upon the survey was £25,000, I made a mistake. The sum is £20,000.
– I am very glad to have that explanation.
– Those who estimated the cost of carrying out the work, must be able to give particulars of the nature of the survey to be made.
– The estimate was made by the Chief Engineer of Railway Construction1 in- Victoria, Mr. Kernot, and myself. I think we shall be able to carry out the survey for the sum named, and I pledged myself last year that it would not cost more.
– I should like the work, if possible, to be carried out by contract. When I was a member of the Victorian Parliament, the Premier, Mr. Bent, sometimes succeeded in inducing the Legislature to agree to an expenditure of £10,000 or £20,000 in respect of a work that could not be completed without a further outlay, and subsequently appealed for an additional vote on the ground that we could not allow the work to lapse for the sake of another £10,000 or £15,000. I hope that that will not be our experience in this case. My object is to see that the expenditure of £20,000 to which we are asked to agree, will not be exceeded - that we shall not be asked to spend, say. £100,600.
– We shall not be asked to spend that sum.
– The question, is one which ought to be seriously considered. We know that the Treasurer in days gone by undertook many a great work which, when first suggested, was decried. We have, for .example, the great water supply scheme which was carried through by him, and we know that by means of this survey, we may ultimately add another province to Australia. I am not sanguine in that regard, but I think that we shall be justified in expending £20,000 on the survey
– If the work be properly done.
– Quite so. We want something more than a technical survey. A sum of £20,000 might be well and judiciously expended on a survey that would furnish us with something like a real description of the route. The Treasurer, however, knows better than I do, that £20,000 is a small sum to provide for a reliable expedition crossing difficult country.
– Why should not Western Australia pay for the survey?
– I regard it as a Federal work, and do not think that we should adopt a cheese-paring policy. The work is a continental one - it relates to a transcontinental line.
– The question is whether this expenditure should be confined to a survey of a particular route without other possible routes being investigated.
– After it had been found that the proposed route was a good one, others might be examined. But if, on the other hand, the survey showed that the project was a bad one, and that there was no justification for the construction of the line, the whole scheme would fall to the ground. I am sure that the representatives of Western Australia will recognise that it would not be to the advantage of that State to have the whole of Australia weakened by the construction 6T~ a line that would involve a loss of £100,000 or £150,000 per annum. I feel confident that they would not press their demand for this line if the survey showed that it would traverse nothing better than barren country. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I wish it to be clearly understood that so far as I am concerned, the cost of the survey must not exceed £20,000, and that if I can exercise any influence, not an’ additional shilling will be expended on the work.
.- The question of the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie has been regarded in my constituency, and also, I believe, in many others as one of great importance. The position which I took up when on the hustings, was that whilst I expressed very great doubt as to the possibility of the railway proving a commercial success, I said I thought it was due to Western Australia that we should authorize such a survey as is now proposed, in order that the Parliament might in the future determine the utility or inutility of the work. It is on that ground that I intend to vote for the motion. I take up exactly the same position as that adopted by the honorable and learned member for Angas, and the honorable and learned member for Flinders. Although I shall support the Bill providing for the survey, the vote which I shall cast on this occasion is not to be regarded as curtailing my liberty to vote for or against the construction of the line when such a project is submitted. I also agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that the expenditure on the survey should be limited to £20,000, and I am glad that the Treasurer has already given a pledge on behalf of the Government that that sum will not be exceeded. On turning to the literature upon this question I find that Mr. O’Connor makes provision in his estimate for a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge line. The railway from Melbourne to Adelaide, however, has a gauge of 5 ft. 3 in., and it might perhaps be found advisable to continue the same gauge through to Kalgoorlie.
– The railway engineers of Australia have agreed that a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge should be the Australian standard.
– The probability is that when the experts submit their estimates of the cost of constructing the line, they will specify a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge, but I think it would be advisable for them to show also what would be the cost of a 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. I am aware that the engineers of Australia have already recommended that a gauge of 4 ft. 8J in. should bc adopted as the standard for Australia just as it has been in Great Britain and America. As a matter of fact, however, in the United States of America an agitation, headed by Mr. Harriman - who is, I believe, the largest railway shareholder in that country - is springing up for an alteration of the standard. Mr. Harriman affirms that in order to cope with the traffic on the limited number of lines that can be constructed judiciously between great centres, it will be necessary to so widen the gauge as to provide for the hauling of larger loads. We may have the same experience in Australia. Although leading engineers a few years ago may- have considered that 4 ft. 8£ in. should be the standard gauge for Australia, it may be found when we come later on to standardize our railway gauge that a 5 ft. 3 in. line would be the better one.
– Is not a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge recognised all over the world as being the best from the stand-point of speed and safety?
– No; I understand that the railway line between London and Plymouth is, or was, 6 feet wide.
– It was, but it has been reduced.
– Because it was out of joint with the standard gauge of Great Britain.
– And the cost of constructing so wide a line is very excessive.
– Perhaps so. I have read, however, that that line was the steadiest and most comfortable in Great Britain. I have quoted what perhaps may be regarded as the opinion of the greatest railway authority in the world - that of Mr. Harriman1 - who says that the time is fast coming when the main lines of the United States must be increased from 4 ft. 8J in. to at least 6 feet. If this transcontinental line be constructed, it will become part of the main trunk line connecting the capitals of the States, and when the engineers are preparing their reports, I think it would be well to have from them a statement showing what would be the cost ot a line on the 5 ft. 3 in. guage.
.- I object on principle to the introduction of the measure to which the motion now before us relates. It seems to me from a study of the notice paper that we are to have this session a repetition of the tactics adopted by the Government in the last Parliament, and which gave rise to so much confusion and dissatisfaction. The order in which measures were then set down on the business paper for consideration was varied so suddenly from time to time that often when honorable members came prepared to deal with certain Bills which thev had anticipated would be submitted for their consideration, they found that a surprise had been sprung upon them, and that other measures much further down the list had suddenly been given precedence. I see no necessity for such tactics, which .involve an immense amount of unnecessary ‘labour on the part of honorable members generally. I notice that every message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation simply invites us to set aside a sum of money without particularizing the definite amount which we are to be called upon to vote, with the result that it is not until the Bill to which a message relates is submitted that we are able to ascertain what expenditure is proposed. That, how-. ever, is only by the way. Another objection which I have to the motion being dealt with at this stage is that the Prime Minister throughout the recent election campaign insisted that it was the duty of this Parliament to first proceed with other business. In the course of his policy speech at Ballarat the honorable and learned gentleman said -
We are now resuming our original position as an absolutely independent party without engagements, public or private, expressed or implied, and nothing else except the policy we now put forward - the policy of immediate Tariff revision ; of immediately dealing with the reports of the Tariff Commission, which will be knocking at the door when the new Parliament assembles.
In that speech we were told that the question of Tariff revision was a matter of extreme urgency, and yet we find on the business paper no reference to it. He goes on to say, speaking of the reports of the Tariff Commission -
They must be ready for presentation early next year -
That is this year - so we say, and I think the public will say, with one voice, that nothing -
Mind, “nothing” - can justify the burying of the reports and recommendations of the Commission when they are presented in the first session of the new Parliament.
I make this reference merely to show how insincere the Government were in their professions before the electors. In spite of all their declarations, and of their positive statements about the urgency of this matter, they now calmly ask us not to worry our heads about the Tariff, but to deal with such matters as the survey of a transcontinental railway.
– The Government have not yet received all the reports.
M.r. JOHNSON. - I venture to say that the Government have a sufficient number of reports to occupy us, not only for the balance of this year, but to the end of next year, and, possibly, to the end of this Parliament. Previously, the Government were in such a hurry that they kept asking for progress reports ; but these progress reports nave been airily thrust aside.
– Even the honorable member has turned Protectionist !
– When I come to deal with the Tariff proposals, there will be no mistake about my position. We are asked to provide a sum of money for this survey ; and we have to take into consideration several questions. What is the railway going to cost? What is to be the cost of the survey? What is the justification for the railway? Is there any obligation on our part to honour an alleged compact entered into for the construction of this railway? Did such compact ever exist? As to the construction of the railway, we have to count the cost, not only to the people of Western Australia, but to the Commonwealth generally.
– That argument would apply to the Federal Capital.
– But there is a difference. In the case of the Federal Capital, there is an absolute bond in writing, which is signed by the Premiers of the various States in conference, and, on the strength of which New South Wales came into the Federation. Where is there such a bond in connexion with a transcontinental railway ? I do not cast any doubt on the truth of the statement which has been made to the effect that an understanding was arrived at amongst the Premiers that the Federal Parliament would be asked to construct such a railway ; but there is no written or documentary evidence, so far as I have been able to discover, showing that there was any agreement amongst the Premiers respecting the construction of a railway. I have looked through all the papers and I have not been able to discover any evidence of the kind. In the case of the Federal Capital, on the other hand, we have direct documentary evidence j but when the representatives of New South Wales express a desire that the bond shall be honoured, we are met with the cry that we are provincial and un-Federal in our demands - that we are parochial in our thoughts and aspirations. It would seem, however, that there is no parochialism or provincialism when representatives of Western Australia come to this House, and thrust in the forefront of its business this proposal for an expenditure on the survey of a transcontinental railway that will only benefit two States at the expense of the whole Commonwealth. What will the representatives of Western Australia do when the question of the Federal Capital comes up for consideration? Are we to be asked to commit ourselves to this railway, so as to leave those honorable members at liberty to treat us as unfairly in the future as they have in the past? ‘ If that be the reason for introducing this motion at the present juncture, I shall do all I can to oppose it.
– What unfair treatment has there been?
– The treatment that the New South Wales people have received in connexion with the Federal Capital question, particularly on the part of the representatives of Western Australia.
– We were never told about a bond until we had given our votes. Show us the bond, and we will honour it.
– Does the honorable member dispute that there is a bond?
– We knew nothing at all about it.
– I can see that the Chairman is getting uneasy, and I can only say that I am making this reference to the Federal Capital in order to explain my position. All I want is some assurance that New South Wales will be treated with common fairness in regard to a definite bond which does exist, seeing that we are now asked to honour an alleged bond which, it is admitted, was only at best a tacit understanding. There are 1,100 miles of railway to be surveyed, 650 of which are in South Australia, and 450 of which are in Western Australia, and the cost of the survey is estimated at £20,000. In my opinion, itis only fair to suggest that as Western Australia and South Australia will be the only States to derive any practical benefit from the construction of the railway, those States might be asked to defray the cost of the survey. Failing that, the two States might fairly be asked to pay each a certain proportion of the cost of the survey ; or, as another alternative, the two States might be asked to return to the Commonwealth the whole expenditure upon the survey, in the event of the Federal Parliament deciding not to construct the line during a period of, say, two years after the completion of the survey.
– Western Australia pays its proportion of the sugar bounty.
– If so, then Western Australia should pay its proper proportion of the cost of the survey. According to the report of the Engineers-in-Chief of the various States, the estimated cost of the construction of the railway is £4,559,000, to which we have to add £20,000 as the cost of the survey, making a total of £4,579,000.
– It may be put down at £5,000,000 before it is finished.
– I think we might, put down the cost at £5,500,000 before the line is finished; but the figures I am giving are those in the reports of the Engineers-in-Chief. The estimated loss for the first ten years is £68,000 per annum, or a total of £680,000; and this, too, has to be added to the cost of the line.
– Put it down at a million.
– If I include every probability, my figures will’ reach enormous proportions. The probable annual expenditure in working and maintaining the line immediately after construction is estimated at £114,400, which, added to interest at 3½ per cent., or £159,566, gives £273,966 as the expenditure - a total of £5,533,966or,inround figures, £5,500,000 ; indeed, I think that if we say £6,000,000 we shall be nearer the mark. We have to remember that there must also be constructed an additional line to a jetty at Eucla, from which must be conveyed the stores and materials necessaryin connection with the construction of the main railway.
– Oh, put the cost down at £16,000,000, and be done with it.
– It is difficult to say what will be the total expenditure; but I think the figures I have already given are sufficiently forcible. I know that to the Treasurer £1,000,000 or £10,000,000 are the same ; but we have to consider the matter from the taxpayer’s point of view, and say whether we are justified in taking the first steps towards an expenditure which will very likely involve the Commonwealth in financial difficulty in the not very far distant future. According to the report of the Engineers-in-Chief, the revenue ten years after the opening of the line is estimated at £411,720 ; the working expenses at £210,000, and the interest on capital at 3½ per cent., plus 15 per cent, for improvements, at£183,501, making a total of £393,501. This shows a net profit over and above working expenses and interest of £18,219; that is not a very large return on such an immense expenditure, and we must remember that even that return is calculated on a doubling of the population in Western Australia in ten years. I do not know whether the increase in population in the past ten years would justify an assumption that it is likely to be doubled in the next ten years, but I should say that that would be too large a margin to allow.
– I should say that the population will double in ten years ; it has, I think, practically done so in the past.
Sitting suspended, from 6.3.0 to 7.4.5 -p.m.
– The estimate of profit is based on the assumption that a large amount of revenue would be obtained by the carriage of European mails. The EngineersinChief, in the fifth paragraph of clause 7 of their final report, say that -
We would like to refer to a remark made under paragraph 8 of our first report, that the one item which can be determined with accuracy is the price to be paid for the carriage of mails. We have received no definite information on this subject from the postal authorities in reply to our request for it. We would point out that in the States of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, an average yearly payment of about £20 per mile on all lines is now made to the Railway Commissioners by the Post and Telegraph Department, and we find that in Victoria a sum of about ^20 per mile per annum over and above the ordinary mileage rate is paid solely for carrying European mails passing through Adelaide. In view of these payments, we feel that it is quite justifiable to expect that a sum of ^25 per mile of line per annum would be credited to the revenue of the new line, and this we have included.
In allowing for a return of £25 a mile for 1,100 miles for the carriage of European mails, the Engineers-in-Chief overlooked the fact that the Commonwealth has hitherto contracted for the carriage of these mails by sea to Adelaide, and tenders are now being advertised for a seven or ten years’ contract for a similar service. Consequently, the return estimated is not likely to be obtained until that period has expired.
– This is only a Bill to sanction a survey.
– It would be idle to suppose we should be asked to sanction a survey if the Government did not want us to make the railway, though, of course, the expenditure of the proposed appropriation on a survey may possibly prevent future waste in the construction of the line. A great deal of capital is being made of the contention that the line would prove useful for the defence of Australia, and that contention, when first brought under my notice, seemed worthy of very serious consideration. It occurred to me that even if the railway involved some financial loss, the added security of the country given by the increased facilities it would afford for the transport of troops might be regarded as a compensating advantage. But it must be remembered that two other transcontinental lines have been suggested, and it is held by many that, for military purposes, it would be better to connect the terminal points of the Queensland lines with the ‘ Pine Creek line in the Northern Territory, sd as to bring Port Darwin into direct communication with four of our capitals. I shall not dwell on this point ; but I mention it to show that if the defence argument is to hold good in connexion with the proposed Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line, it might apply with even greater force to the Queensland to Port Darwin line.
– The honorable member would not object to Queensland doing it herself ?
– No. That is one of the reasons why I say those lines ought to be connected up by the States within their boundaries, but if we expect Queensland, or South Australia, or New South Wales to do it so far as their territory is concerned it is reasonable to expect the States of South Australia and Western Australia, if they do not bear the whole cost of the transcontinental railway, to bear at any rate a considerable proportion of it, and not saddle the Commonwealth with it all. Seeing that in this proposal we may involve ourselves in an expenditure of about £6,000,000, the question naturally arises whether there is any urgency for it. I do not think there is.
– The Treasurer says there is.
– No evidence of it has been adduced so far. Perhaps during the debate the Treasurer may be able to show that there is some urgency for the construction of the line.
– The honorable member and the people in his locality would stick in the mud and do nothing all their lives.
– Major-General Hutton, dealing with the question from the stand-point of military defence, said -
As long as the supremacy of the sea is in the hands of the Royal Navy no serious attack on Australia upon a large scale may be considered as practicable. In this regard little attention need be paid to the temporary and local effect of a raid by one or two of an enemy’s ships upon one or other of the undefended, ports. It would, however, be the height of folly to disregard the possibility of the supremacy of the sea being temporarily or permanently lost. It is impossible to foresee the result of naval warfare in the future, or to anticipate the effect of fleets acting on the part of a combination of great powers hostile to British Imperial interests. In the event, therefore, of the supremacy of the sea being either temporarily or permanently lost by either of the foregoing possible contingencies, an attack on a large scale might be attempted with every reasonable chance of success, either on the shores of Western Australia or on some other part of the immense coast line of the Australian Continent. It may be assumed that no power or combination of powers would undertake an attack of such magnitude without employing from 20,000 to 50,000 well equipped, well trained, and well organized troops, according to the extent of the contemplated operations.
Evidently, therefore, Major-General Hutton did not think there was any pressing need for the railway for defence purposes. He went on to say -
It may be safely assumed that a hostile invasion of the description indicated, and with a view to permanent territorial occupation, would never be attempted in Western Australia with a less force than 20,000 men, and that a force at least equal in numbers and equal in equipment would be required in defence. It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength organized and capable of taking the field does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force.
Further on he said -
It will therefore be seen from the foregoing that, important as it would be for defence purposes to possess Inter-State communication as proposed, the establishment of railway communication would, in itself, be of small value without a military force being in existence which could be utilized by its means with any reasonable hope of success.
All this shows the absence of urgency for the construction of the railway, because, according to that authority, we have neither the men nor the means of equipment to provide a force sufficiently large to repel any invading force likely to be sent against us. Consequently that argument for the construction of the line falls absolutely to the ground. We know very little of the character of the country the line is to pass through. We have no reliable reports, although years’ ago the Treasurer, before he was a member of this House, published the report of a journey made by him across a portion of the route. This report was not very glowing, as to the possibilities of the country for agriculture.
– Some of it was very good.
– -The honorable gentleman referred in the report to the fact that on more than one occasion his party had to go about fifty miles out of their course to get a drop of water, and then perhaps only discovered a bucketful in a pocket amongst the rocks.
– Water was very scarce at that time.
– Generally speaking, it is admitted that the country is practically waterless. The water problem is a very serious one from the point of view of settlement.
– It is no worse than in the Western District of New South Wales.
– Does the honorable member say this country is no worse than parts of New South Wales?
– Not a bit. I have been in both.
– Has the honorable member been over the country in Western Australia that this line is to traverse?
– A good deal of it.
– Then we have two conflicting reports. The honorable member for Fremantle says the country is no worse than parts of New South Wales.
– What I spoke about was surface water. I did not say there was none to be found deeper.
– A gentleman who went across that territory not long since told me that he travelled about eight hundred miles without seeing a running, stream. If that is the sort of country this railway is to pass through, what hope is there of getting any substantial return from agricultural and other primary producing settlement? It does not look as if we would get very much from that source. It was suggested by the honorable member for Flinders, and also, I think, by the honorable member for Fawkner, that this money might not be wholly expended on surveying, but that a portion might be set aside for exploration purposes, to ascertain the exact character of the country. If the Commonwealth is to spend money on projects of that kind in Western Australia and South Australia, no reasonable opposition can be offered to proposals for similar expenditure in other parts of the continent, and where will it stop?
– The honorable member went to Port Darwin to explore the country there, did he not?
– Yes, but I was not paid for any exploration work, and the GovernorGeneral might just as well be asked to send down a message recommending the appropriation of money for exploring the Northern Territory, Northern Queensland, or any other part of the Commonwealth. Those are properly mattersfor the State Governments to deal with, and it is not taking a proper view of our position as Federal legislators to ask us to vote money for purposes of exploration unless incidentally in connexion with the question of railway survey. Of course it may happen that without exceeding the amount actually necessary for the survey itself, facilities may exist for the surveyors to ascertain the geological and other characteristics’ of the country. They may be able to afford us some valuable information in that connexion. But when it is proposed that money shall be voted specifically for that purpose we have a horse of quite a different colour. “Very grave thought will have to be given to what that proposal may involve in the future. So far as concerns the survey itself, I will withhold any declaration as to my attitude and vote until I hear the arguments brought forward. On a previous occasion I voted for the survey on the distinct understanding that such a vote did not commit me to support the construction of the line ; and because we had so little reliable information about the proposed route. That is the way I feel at present. But I should like to keep my mind open until I hear the arguments brought forward by those interested. I should particularly like to know what attitude some of the representatives of Western Australia intend to assume towards another question in which New South Wales is just as vitally interested as are Western Australia and South Australia in this line.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth, in the course of this debate, has referred to the undesirability of the Commonwealth entering upon railway construction. I do not share his view on that aspect of the case. The Western Australian people and’ the South Australian people appear; from what I can gather, to be favorable to the project.
– The South Australian people have not announced themselves as favorable to the railway.
– I have seen some correspondence which passed between, Sir Frederick Holder and the Western Australian Government prior to the establishment of the Federation, in which Sir Frederick Holder stated that he was prepared to move in the Federal Parliament in favour of the construction of the railway
– Not in the Federal Parliament, but in the State Parliament.
– He promised that if he became a member of the Federal Parliament he would move in this direction, and I think that there was an arrangement made between him and the Western Australian Government to that effect.
– He was dealing solely with the attitude of South Australia.
– It seems to me that in talking about the survey we are putting the cart before the horse. There ought to be an inquiry first and a survey to follow. Now that the Commonwealth is entering upon a. public works policy, we should have a public works committee, so that projects of this character might be inquired into and information furnished to Parliament, when it is asked to vote large sums of money. We are told that the Western Australian Government is prepared to guarantee any contingent loss for a period of ten years, not only with regard to the portion of the line running through its territory, but also in regard to the South Australian section. If Western Australia is prepared to do that, why should it not be prepared to undertake the survey or supply us with some information justifying an inquiry by some kind of public works committee? At any rate, the House ought to be put in a position to obtain reliable information to enable it to come to a satisfactory vote on the project as a whole. It is proposed that ultimately there shall be constructed 1,100 miles of railway - 450 in Western Australia, and 650 “ in South Australia - costing £4,500,000, with an annual Joss of £68,000 for the first ten years.
– It will cost nearer £6,000,000 in the end.
– The honorable member refers to the cost of the survey and other expenditure as well as to the construction of the line, but I understand that the line itself will cost about £4,500,000. The gentleman in this Chamber who is particularly interested in the project is the right honorable the Treasurer.
– We are all interested.
– But the right honorable gentleman has made the railway an idol of his own. Yet he is opposed to the breaking up of large estates and land monopolies.
– Who said that?
– The right honorable gentleman has stated time after time that he is against a land tax.
– Against the land tax proposals of the honorable member’s party; yes. .
– The right honorable gentleman knows that the effect of a graduated land tax would be to break up large landed monopolies.
– The honorable member cannot call a desert a monopoly.
– I do not suppose that the whole of the land which will be traversed by the railway is desert. Some part of it is probably decent land. But we ought not to run a railway through large estates to benefit individuals.
– It is all Crown land.
– Well, we want evidence to show what part of it is Crown land, how much of it is held by private individuals, and the areas which they hold.
– None of it is held by individuals.
– We are told that “there will be a deficit of £68,000 per < annum for ten years. Where is that money to come from ?
– I have not said that either.
– I suppose that some one else can have something to say about the railway besides the Treasurer. I did not say that he made that statement.
– Experts have made it.
– Engineering experts have stated that there will probably >e a loss of £68,000 a year for ten years.
– £68,000 for the first ,ear, but gradually decreasing until the loss s replaced by a return of ,£18,000 at the ind of ten years
– For the purposes of rr.y argument it is sufficient that there is going to be a loss of .£68,000 on the first year. Where is that money to come from?
– Where is the rest of it to come from ?
– That is what I want to know. We are told that we cannot afford old-age pensions, because on account of the operation of the Braddon section we must raise four times the amount required. If we cannot raise money for old-age pensions, to what source are we to go to get the money to bear the large estimated working deficit on this transcontinental railway? That is one of the questions to which the Treasurer might address himself, and about which he might give us more information than we have at present. In the States a number of political railway lines have been built. In New South Wales, owing to poli tical influences, we have had about £10,000,000 sunk in non-paying lines. The result has been that the capital account of the railways has been swollen, whilst the wages of the employes have suffered, and the producers have had to pay higher freight rates than they ought to have done. I will hestitate to be a party to the construction of non-paying lines by the Commonwealth, and will do my utmost to see that the mistakes made by the States Governments in connexion with railway construction are not repeated in the history of the Commonwealth. If there is any evidence forthcoming in favour of this proposal I am prepared to hear it, but from what I have heard so far, I am not prepared to vote for a survey which, if authorized, would be looked upon as a preliminary to the construction of a huge nonpaying railway.
.- The numerous statements which have been made against the construction of this railway have astonished me, but they are not half so bad as those I have heard made of other railway projects. When it was proposed to construct a railway from Adelaide to Melbourne, it was said that it would ruin both States. . Again, it was said that the railway from Northam to Southern Cross, if constructed, would ruin Western Australia. It was built, and after it had opened up the country, and people had gone further east, there was found a little place named Kalgoorlie, which would perhaps not have been discovered if the Western Australians had not had pluck enough to build a line which it was prophesied would ruin the territory. I can cite another instance of a railway which it was said would ruin South Australia, if constructed,” and that is the line from Petersburg to Silverton. When it was built Broken Hill was not thought of, and there we have one of the finest silver-mines known to the world. The railway to Kalgoorlie, which it was said would ruin Western Australia, was the means of opening up a gold-field, perhaps second to none in the world. The country between Kalgoorlie and South Australia for at least 300 miles is auriferous. I am in a position to say that it is not the desert which many persons would make it appear to be, but is well-timbered country. When I mention that from one siding within eight miles of Kalgoorlie I have run 1,500,000 tons of timber, honorable members will see that there is ground for the hope that where Nature can produce so much wealth of one kind, the country will produce something else. I have travelled from Southern Cross to Googarie on a track which had been opened up for twelve or fourteen years. I believe that very few vehicles had travelled along the track for seven or eight years. I found oats and wheat growing there. Shed from the nose-bags of horses of various teams, the oats and the wheat had been reproduced from year to year, and the oats were growing as well as oats can be seen growing in Victoria, and yet the country is supposed to be in a desert. I believe that, generally, it is only want of knowledge which leads a man to mark “ desert “ on the map. All places which are unknown to us are so marked. It is only a few years since Kalgoorlie was part of the country in Western Australia that was marked “ desert.”
– Does not the honorable member think that a line from Esperance Bay ought to be part of this transcontinental railway?
– It is only 300 miles away. It was said that the great water scheme to Coolgardie would ruin Western Australia, but I defy any one to say that any one in the West is living under greater hardship now that it is in full operation than he did before. It cost £3,000,000 odd to carry out the scheme, and no one has been injured. It has been repeatedly stated that the country to be traversed by the railway is a desert, but I can say that it is quite as good as thousands of square miles of country over which I have travelled north of Broken Hill, and on which large fortunes have been made from the raising of stock. I acknowledge that in that part of New South Wales there were no watercourses running all the year round such as we find in Gippsland and other places. Huge dams were built, and when water was conserved people and stock could live there. I am speaking on the authority of the engineers who have travelled over the country proposed to be served by the transcontinental railway, and I can assure honorable members that the Government engineers in Western Australia are just as reliable as those in New South Wales or Victoria. I would just as soon take their reports as those of any other engineers, for they have nothing to gain by presenting a false report. Mr. Muir is a personal friend of mine, and I prefer his report to that of any man in Australia, especially when he is reporting on a district through which he has travelled. The water difficulty’ has been magnified to honorable members. Water in large quantity can be obtained in any part of the interior of Western Australia. For about £20,000 large dams can,be built, and the huge granite rocks used as catchment areas off which the water will run just as water will run off the roof of a house. I am not suggesting what may be done, but stating what I have done. One of the largest water supplies for the railway to Kalgoorlie, I constructed at a point thirty miles from Southern Cross. In thirteen weeks we built there a dam which, I suppose, will hold about 15,000,000 gallons. When I took the work in hand I was told that all the horses would die, and that we could not stop there. Not only did we stop there, but we did the work in about half the time which we anticipated. I had 100 horses and 300 men employed. We met with no difficulty. We carried out the work, and it helped considerably to open up the country. It is the people hanging round the towns who are frequently the main obstacle to progress in Australia. They are against every proposal of this kind, and will talk for a week on questions which they do not understand. If they would only go to the back-blocks and live near the men who are engaged in pioneering work they would then be only too proud to acknowledge that Australia is a much better country than it is now said by them to be. Honorable members ought not to talk of the country from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie as a desert. Even at Kalgoorlie a man has to send forty miles for a truck of sand. The engineer’s report has been criticised, and rightly criticised I think, but it has been attacked by the critics in the wrong place. If the parts I have looked at are as valuable as the other parts, I would not give much for the report. For instance, in one place they estimate that the revenue from the railway in the first year would be £205,850, and the working expenses £114,400. That looks all right, but the engineers go on to say that within ten years the revenue would be £411,720, and the working expenses £210,000. That is the first time I have known an engineer to put forward the proposition that the working expenses of a railway increase in proportion to its revenue. I am running a concern where we handle 1,006 tons a day from a locality eighty miles away, and our working expenses are practically the same when we are running half that quantity.
I will undertake to say that the cost of maintenance of the proposed railway during the eighth or tenth year would not exceed that of the first year. This is the first enterprise in which I have heard the estimated working expenses calculated to increase in the same ratio as does the revenue. I hold that instead of the undertaking showing a profit of £18,000 at the end of ten years, it should show a profit of at least £100,000. I would further point out that when prospectors traverse the route to be followed by the proposed line, the chances are that they will discover gold-bearing reefs or mineral wealth similar to that which has been found in other portions of Western Australia. Thus it is quite possible that what are now empty spaces would soon become dotted with scattered townships. At the present moment the coaches are running to Tarcoola over the first 300 miles of the projected route from Port Augusta. It is well known that the country is auriferous from both ends of the proposed railway. We cannot afford to see the resources of Australia lying idle. We should have sufficient pluck “to develop them.
– Does not the honorable member think that in constructing this line we should be robbing Western Australia?
– I would point out to the honorable member that the undertaking is of a Federal character. Western Australia has no power to construct a line through South Australian Territory to Port Augusta. I might further remark that in close proximity to that port, there is what is known as the “ Iron Knob “ - a hue iron deposit from which the finest ores in the world can be obtained. Personally, I should like to see .this survey authorized and the steel rails required for the line manufactured at Port Augusta. The undertaking would constitute no drain upon the Commonwealth if the money, spent upon it did not pass out of Australia. Speaking of .the project from the standpoint of defence, it appears to me that a railway running inland would be very handy for defence purposes in time of national emergency. As the construction of the proposed railway would merely cost as much as would require to be expended upon the purchase of two or three first-class men-of-war, I do not think that that money could be spent to more advantage. ^ At the present time Western Australia would be completely isolated in time of trouble. I trust that honorable members will vote for the survey, and I hope that when the time comes, a bigger vote will be cast for the construction of the line itself.
.- The last honorable member must have impressed the Committee with his practical knowledge of Western Australia, and his belief in its future. At the same time, I think that he said a little too much. If the natural resources of the Western State are as great as he represents, why do riot the people of that State themselves pay for the proposed survey ?
– Two States have to be traversed.
– But the sum involved is a very small one. Consequently the people of the States concerned might have undertaken the trial survey with a view to demonstrating the great possibilities of the projected line. The Treasurer is justly famed as an explorer, and I am informed that in his book he has declared that the country which the proposed line would traverse is a desert.
– I can assure the honorable member that I have never said that.
– I am told that the right honorable gentleman stated it was such a desert that he acquired a thirst there that he has never been able to get rid of. The honorable member for Cook has opposed this proposal because it is not to be referred to a Public Works Committee. We have had experience of a body of that character in some of the States, and I say, “ God help us if we appoint a similar Committee here.” I think that in the circumstances Western Australia has, perhaps, a just claim upon the Commonwealth to carry out the proposed survey, and also the construction of the proposed line. If any State of the Union be isolated, it is certainly Western Australia. Of course, I cannot overlook the fact that in the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory a new aspect has been given to this matter. Certainly for many years to come Australia cannot bear the cost of the construction of two transcontinental lines. When this Bill was under consideration in the last Parliament an area of 25 miles was reserved upon each side of the proposed route, in order that speculators should not reap the benefit of the increased value which the construction of the line would give to the adjacent country. The honorable mem- ber for Cook was, perhaps, not aware of that fact.
– I thought that this was a new proposal.
– It is simply a revival of the proposal originally put before us, and I fail to see why I should go back upon the vote I cast on a previous occasion in favour of the Bill. From what has been said by one honorable member, it might be inferred that the railway was projected long before Kalgoorlie was thought of, and we are told that the line will open up large tracts of auriferous country. I fail to see why Western Australia should continue to remain isolated, and if the survey shows that the country proposed to be traversed is at all satisfactory, nothing will please me more than to vote for the construction of a railway which will connect the east with the west. As a matter of fact, to-day Western Australia is more remote from the large centres of population in the eastern States than is New Zealand. If I were a representative of that State, I should fight just as keenly as the honorable member for Fremantle has done to secure the proposed railway communication. It may well be said by the people of Western Australia that Federation has done practically nothing for them. There is just reason for complaint on their part, and I shall support the motion, believing that the Parliament will never agree to the construction of the line unless the flying survey shows that such a work would be warranted.
£8.38]. - I should not like the debate to close without offering a few remarks, for, as has been stated bv several honorable members, I have’ taken from the first, a keen interest in this project. It is often thought that a man who displays much concern on behalf of an undertaking has some special object in view, and it has been declared over and over again that as I am a representative of Western Australia, I am advocating the construction of this railway and this survey merely because I believe it will be beneficial to that State. I certainly consider that a railway connecting the eastern with the western side’ of the Commonwealth would be beneficial to Western Australia, but my inquiries lead me to the conclusion that the advantages which she will derive from it, in the early days, at all events, will not be so great as those secured by the adjoining State. . More than six years have elapsed since this proposal was first submitted to the Parlia ment, so that it cannot be said that much progress has been made. There has been no legislative result to our efforts ; but I believe that a change of public opinion has taken place. Throughout Western Australia, to-day, a much more liberal view of this proposal is taken than was evidenced at the inception of the Federation. Even in Victoria, where there was supposed to be a strong feeling against it, I find a far more liberal and generous spirit prevailing. Private conversations, as well as public meetings, bear testimony to the fact that hostility to this survey and railway are gradually disappearing. The people are beginning to recognise that if the Federation is to be a real one, we must Have the best means of communication between the several States of the Union. They are beginning also to realize that if we believe an undertaking is likely to be beneficial, we must not hesitate to embark upon it merely because we think that it will involve a considerable first expenditure. It is difficult to believe that there are in Australia men who believe that the connecting of the east and the west by. means of a line of railway 1,100 miles in length will be a burden and a disadvantage to the Australian people. I cannot enter into the feelings of such pessimists. When I was in London, I discussed this scheme with some of the great railway magnates who were principals in the carrying out of the great Canadian-Pacific railway, and they told me that if the railways of Canada or the United States of America belonged to them, as the Australian railways do to the people of Australia, they would not hesitate a moment to connect the east with the west by the construction of these 1,100 miles of railway. We have to remember that hard-headed business men are not disposed to take a too sanguine view of any project. Engineers recognise that their reputation for accuracy is their principal stockintrade, and when they are called upon to report as to the desirableness of constructing a line of railway they are very careful not to take too favorable a view of the project. Their position is different from that of far-seeing politicians and business men who, perhaps, are allowed a little more scope to give effect to their ideas. Engineers have reported on this proposed railway, and say that at the end of ten years it would be a paying concern. We should suffer an annual loss which, at the most, would not exceed £60,000 at the beginning, gradually getting smaller till after ten years aprofit would be the result.
– And what is £60,000?
– What is a loss of £60,000 a year? I have no hesitation in putting that question to the pessimistic “ stick-in-the-mud “ honorable member for Corangamite, who, I dare say, has never been associated with any great work or enterprise, and has never done anything for any one worth remembering.
– What is a million?
– The honorable member may scoff, but I ask him to say what is a loss of £60,000. when compared with the joining together of the eastern and western sides of Australia - the complete consummation of the Federation of this Continent, and the bringing about of a real union of the Australian people? As a matter of fact, every year we spend much larger sums more unwisely than is proposed in connexion with this railway. What we have to do is to make Federation a reality. I myself and others, who took part in establishing Federation, have a bounden duty and a great responsibility to che people of Western Australia whom we advised to consent to the union ; we have to show them that they are not to be for ever isolated “from their fellow countrymen on the other side of the Continent. The western State would never have entered Federation with my consent if I had thought that railway connexion was to be postponed indefinitely. My idea was that we were to build up a nation under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland - that we should be one people with the great destiny of dominating these Southern seas. The people of Western Australia did not federate because they thought they could obtain any pecuniary advantage. I had a great deal to do with the Federation movement in that State, and I earn assure honorable members that, although I have taken a great many risks in the course of my life, I was not prepared, and I said so at the time, to take upon myself the responsibility of spoiling the union of the Australian people by persuading the people of the western State to stand out of Federation. That was my attitude, although I could not see, as I pointed out at the time, any immediate pecuniary advantage that was to come to the State. No one knows better than my right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, and those who were associated with him in the establishment of Federation, that Western Australia had no immediate pecuniary gain in prospect when she entered the Union. On the other hand, every otherState had some material reason for favouring Federation. I thought, however, that the union would prove an advantage toWestern Australia in the future by making, her a part of the Australian nation; and I did not think it right that we should dissociate ourselves from the rest of the Continent in that great national movement. In the State of Victoria there had been greater activity shown than in any other State in the establishment of manufactures ; and Federation gave those manufactures the free markets of the whole of Australia. There is no doubt that Victoria has benefited largely by Federation in the direction I have indicated. Then New South Wales also wanted extended markets, not only for her manufactures, but for the products of the pastoral and agricultural industry ; and, moreover, there was a great desire to do away with the Customs houses and the stock tax on the Murray River Boundary. There is no doubt that this feeling in regard to the” fiscal boundary had a great deal to do with the votes of the people on the question of Federation, especially of- the southern portion of New South Wales ; indeed, I believe that the people of Riverina all voted for Federation, being desirous of getting rid of the nuisance and expense of the Customs duties, which prevented their produce and stock from entering duty free into Victoria, while, at the same time, almost all Victorian goods could enter New South Wales duty free.-
– The people of New South Wales had only one motive - consideration for the other States.
– I am quite willing to agree that there was also consideration for the other States on the part of the people of New South Wales. Queensland desired markets for the products of her great pastoral industries, and also for her manufactured sugar. I do not say that these States thought only of these material advantages; but they were advantages that could be pointed out to the people as art inducement to enter the Federation. The fertile State of South Australia, though limited in extent, is a land of corn, and wine, and oil, and the producers of that State desired fresh markets, and especially a free market in Western Australia. Tasmania had no market for her fruit and other produce, except on payment of high Customs duties ; and in this connexion, Federation has been a distinct gain to that State. In Western Australia, on the other hand, there were no exports into the other States except, perhaps, timber ; and seeing that most of the States have plenty of timber of their own, it will be recognised that we in the west had really no immediate pecuniary benefit to hope for from Federation. But I am of. opinion that it was a good thing that Western Australia joined the Union, because her adherence consummated the movement which was our natural destiny. I took the trouble this morning to ascertain the value of the exports from the eastern States to Western Australia. I did not go further back than last year, but the figures have been much the same for years and years past. Last year the eastern States exported to Western Australia goods - their own produce - to the value of £2,739,000.
– I think the right honorable gentleman is going beyond the terms of the motion, and entering into a discussion on the merits or demerits of Federation.
– I desire to give a reason why this railway survey and the railway itself are necessary.
– The right honorable member would be in order in doing that in a general way, but not in going into details.
– Seeing that the railway when constructed will have to carry these goods, or some of them, surely I may refer to the goods being transported to the west now. I do not wish to trespass, but I hope I may be allowed a little latitude. Of these total exports, New South Wales sent £603,000 worth. Victoria, which, I regret to say, if I may judge by a very powerful section of the press, is very much against the construction of this railway, Victoria exported to Western Australia £1,400,000 worth of goods, and South Australia exported to Western Australia £537,366 worth of goods.
– The right honorable member must not pursue that line of argument, though he may refer to these matters incidentally.
– How am I to do so? I must bow to the decision of the Chair, but I do not agree with it.
– The right honorable gentleman must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– On the point of order, I think the right honorable gentleman is quite right in showing the necessity of the railway for the carriage of the traffic to which he refers. I think that is essential to a proper consideration of the subject. Surely the traffic possibilities of a railway for which we are asked to vote money ought to be considered. I am sure that you, sir, will forgive me for calling your attention to that point, as it seems to me that the right honorable gentleman’s remarks deal with matters essential to a proper consideration of the question.
– Do I understand that the honorable gentleman desires to question my ruling?
– I should like you, sir, to consider that aspect of the matter. It occurs to me that we cannot properly discuss the question before the Committee unless we give some consideration to factors calculated to make the proposed railway a_ success if it should be constructed.
– It appeared to me that the right honorable member for Swan was dealing rather with the general aspects of Federation than with the particular question of the construction, of the railway. If I allowed the right honorable gentleman to proceed in that way, I should have to permit a similar latitude to every member of the Committee, and that might lead to endless discussion.
– I have no desire to discuss the general question of Federation. I am dealing with the question of the railway, and not merely with the proposal to make a survey for that railway. I believe that I should be doing a great wrong if, as a representative of Western Australia, I asked honorable members to vote money for a survey of the railway if I did not believe that the construction of the line would follow. Unless the construction of the line is to follow, the making of the survey will be of no use from my point of view. I have no fear of the fullest investigation of the merits of the proposal, as I believe that the more it is investigated, the more it will be proved to be justified. Personally, I do not want any survey of this line. If I had my way, I should build it without asking for this survey at all. I should be prepared to build the railway and make the survey at the same time in advance of construction. I know what I. am talking about. I know that this line will go through easy country. Five hundred miles of it will be across a grassy, treeless plain, and there need be no difficulty in constructing such a line and making the survey immediately in advance of construction. But I am not supreme in this matter. The people of South Australia say that they must have more information, and honorable members have made the same request. I travelled over this country thirty-seven years ago, and know its character intimately. I, personally, require no further information. I know exactly what the report will be. But I’ am supposed to be interested in the matter, or I could give honorable members a report upon the country, in which I could tell them all about it, and the obstacles which would be found in the course of the survey. I do not know that it is necessary that I should at this stage go further into detail. I have told honorable members that the trade between Western Australia and the eastern States is valued at £2,739,000, and trie value of the trade between the whole of the States of Australia and New Zealand amounts to only & >5°°>o°°- It will be seen, therefore, that Western Australia is of greater importance as a commercial consideration to the rest of the Commonwealth than is New Zealand. I wish that to be thoroughly understood.
– But we are not proposing to build a railway to New Zealand.
– I take very little notice of what the honorable member proposes to do or not to do. .It has been frequently said that there is no bond in the Federal Constitution which makes it incumbent upon this Parliament to build this transcontinental railway. I admit that there is no provision in the Constitution which binds this Parliament to construct that line in the way that it is bound to establish the Federal Capital in New South Wales. I look upon the two things as distinctly different. This Parliament is bound, sooner or later, to establish the Federal Capital in New South Wales. But this House is not bound to build the transcontinental railway, unless it feels that in the public interest the work should be carried out.
– It seems to me that the project which is not in the Constitution is taking precedence.
– I hope not. I wish, however, on this occasion to show that the connexion of Western Australia with the Eastern States by railway was used by leading public men in the Eastern States in order to induce, or shall I say to entice, the people of Western Australia to agree to enter the Federation ?
– Can the right honorable gentleman show one line to that effect?
– I can. show the honorable member. I say this transAustralian railway to join the East and the West was dangled before the people of Western Australia by leading public men of the Eastern States, who were genuinely anxious to bring about a Federation of the people of the whole Continent. It was used for all it was worth. In view of what has since transpired, is it unreasonable that the people of Western Australia should be beginning to say that it is the old, old story of the spider and the fly over again? “Will you come into my parlour said the spider to the fly “? Lee me read what some of the public men of Australia said before Federation. Mr. Deakin, in 1900, said -
Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation.
He further said -
The question was one of national policy, and, personally, he advocated the construction of theline at the earliest possible moment. For years probably that railway would not pay, but he believed that Western Australia would be connected by rail with the other States just as the State of British Columbia was connected with the other States of Canada.
Sir Josiah Symon, though he was not in office at the time, took a prominent part in Federation, and as every one knows, received an honour from the Crown in consequence of his services in that cause. On the 9th July, 1900, he took the trouble to address the people of Western Austra.lia; through the press, on the subject of their entering Federation, and a letter from him appeared in the West Australian newspaper on that date. What he wrote will appear remarkable as coming from Senator Sir Josiah Symon, because, I regret to say that since he wrote tha[ letter he seems to have changed his views. He has never since done anything to forward the construction of the line; but, on the contrary, he has spoken of it as that “ wretched “ railway. I very much regret it. I do not wish to say anything against the honorable senator, who ought to be a friend of mine. Not only has the honorable senator not done anything to assist in securing the construction of the railway, but lie has done a great deal to delay its construction. I ask honorable members to listen to what he wrote to the people of Western Australia -
Federation- must inevitably come to Western Australia; at a very early date the transcontinental railway, upon which your hearts and outs are set - and there the honorable senator was speaking of the people of South Australia - will be the outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the Federation. In my belief, the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of that work. That was before Federation, and was written with the object of inducing Western Australia to join the Federation.
– What has the honorable senator said since?
– He has been an opponent of the proposal since.
– Why ;
– I do not know why. How could I be expected to know why ? When the then Mr. Edmund Barton became Prime Minister of the Commonwealth he, on the 7th March, 1901, gave me, on the eve of the first general election, this message to the people of Western Australia, to whom I read it at the Town Hall, Perth, where .it was received with great acclamation -
For the quick transit of mails and passengers, for more effective defence, and, as time goes on, for general traffic, you claim that the West and the East should be connected by railway. No doubt the project presents difficulties. Inquiry must precede action, but the difficulties are not insuperable, and such inquiry will disclose the means by which they can be overcome, so that a work, essentially so great in national importance, might be entered upon as a practical project.
My right honorable friend, the present leader of the Opposition, immediately on the publication of the Maitland manifesto, for the first general election in 1901, telegraphed this message to Western* Australia -
There is one point in the general statement of Mr. Barton to which I would like to refer, and that is the construction of the transcontinental railway. The work is one that must be carried out. It is absolutely necessary from a commercial, military, and national point of view. I think the Government might take the responsibility of the initial work of exploring the best possible route.
In T903 he said -
Now there was one little bit of equity that the Federal Government had got to do to the State of Western Australia, and that is to build the railway. From the first moment the Federal compact was signed he had always publicly stated, although there was no written agreement about it, that it was always regarded as a tacit understanding upon the strength of which Western Australia had consented to join the Federation. When the leader of the Opposition was prepared to support the head of the Government to carry out an implied promise of that sort there was nothing to hinder its completion.
I come now to assurances from the right honorable member for Adelaide. Mr. Kingston, when Premier of South Australia, wrote to me on 19th April, 1899, long prior to Federation, as follows: -
Will you pardon me taking the opportunity of expressing the sincerest hope that Western Australia will, as heretofore, keep pace with the general Federal advance. All the other Colonies will no doubt be included. You also are so familiar with the general advantages of Federation it would be idle to dwell upon them. The relations between Western Australia and the other Colonies - I speak specially for South Australia - have been always so cordial that I am sure it would be a source of infinite regret to all if Western Australia were even temporarily omitted from the closer union so long contemplated, so arduously contended for, and now, apparently, so readily capable of consummation by all. Our near constitutional connexion resulting from Federation is, in itself, a boon of great worth to all included within its sphere. I cannot help thinking also that it must at no very distant date result in the connexion of the East and West by rail through the medium, say, of a line between Port Augusta and your gold-fields. This would indeed be an Australian work worthy of undertaking by a Federal authority on behalf of the nation, in pursuance of the authorities contained in the Commonwealth Bill. It is, of course, a work of special interest to Western Australia and South Australia, and I devotedly hope that the day is not far distant when the representatives of West and South Australia may, in their places in a Federal Parliament, be found working side by side for the advancement of Australian interest in this and other matters of national concern.
Then, on the 28th August, 1899, Mr. Kingston again wrote in reference to rumours arising out of the statement of a then colleague of mine that South Australia was not in favour of the construction of this railway -
I cannot understand Mr. Piesse’s references to probable reluctance of South Australia to permit Federal construction of a railway connecting colonies. We have no fear of such anti-federal “ dog in the manger “ policy.
On the 4th September he wrote again -
We hope it will not be long before West and South Australians are co-operating in the Par liament to bring the construction of this railway about. We repeat, you can rely on South Australia’s sympathy and support.
There is a section of the Constitution which provides that a railway shall not be constructed in any State except with “the consent of that State. That provision was agreed to by the Convention without remark, because no one desired that the Commonwealth should have power to invade State territory for the purpose of building local railways, and it did not occur to me at the time that the existence of this clause might give rise co objections to the construction of a line connecting the Western Australian and South Australian railway systems. At the time both States desired to make such a connexion, the only difficulty in the way of constructing the line being the want of means. Had I foreseen any difficulty, I could easily have had the provision to which I refer altered, because not a member of the Convention would have wished to make it apply to railways connecting two States. Later on, when there was a rumour that South Australia might not give its consent to the construction of a line from. Kalgoorlie to join with its railways, I tried to have the provision altered. A joint Committee of both Houses of the Western Australian Legislature moved in the matter, but it was too late to have the Constitution amended. However, I got a promise from the then Premier of South Australia, Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, which I regarded as completely satisfactory, as I was under the impression that if the Premier of one State officially gave a promise in writing to the Premier of another State that a certain thing would be done, that promise would be regarded as binding on the people of the State. I accepted this promise in good faith, and told the people of Western Australia that, although the Constitution did not contain the provision which we thought it should contain, I had an assurance in writing from the Premier of South Australia that permission to make the proposed connexion by the Commonwealth would be given by his State, and that there was no doubt but that the people of that State would carry out that promise.
– What was the promise ?
– The letter has been read twenty times in this Chamber, so that the honorable member should know all about it. The despatch is dated ist February, 1900. six months before the Western Australian referendum was taken -
Premier’s Office, Adelaide, ist February, 1900.
Sir, - Following our conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessary bv section 34 of c.ause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing ; in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established, Western and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
I have, &c,
– He says there, “ Simutaneously with the passage of a similar Bill through the Parliament of Western Australia.” Why was it that Western Australia did not attempt to pass that authorizing Bill for two and a half years? The right honorable gentleman could not expect the Premier of South Australia to keep his word if he did not keep his.
– The essence of the promise was that Federation should be established and that both South and Western Australia should be States of the. Commonwealth. Federation was established on ist January, 1901. In reply to an ‘inquiry on the subject by the Premier of Western Australia, a telegram was sent on nth June, 1901, five months after the establishment of Federation, by the then Premier of South Australia to the Premier of Western Australia to this effect: -
Adelaide, nth June, 1901.
Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway. A Bill will be introduced into our Parliament as agreed by Mr. Holder first February, 1900, but we strongly insist upon line joining your State forty to sixty miles north of Eucla
No demur was made to that condition. ‘ I regret, however, to say that the promise made by the Premier of South Australia to the Premier of Western Australia before Federation with the sole object of inducing Western Australia to enter the Union, and of removing a difficulty in the way of that State entering the Federation is still unfulfilled
– The difficulty was never1 raised by the South Australian Government. They never made a suggestion that thev would block the project.
– Why, then, was the undertaking in that telegram of nth June, 1901, not carried out? Two years passed away, during which, time, as the correspondence shows, the State of Western Australia was making every endeavour, even making “concessions, to re- move difficulties, even guaranteeing the loss, ‘ and yet the promise made by Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, with the sole object I have mentioned was not fulfilled. On 25th June, 1903, after repeated telegrams, the Premier of Western Australia received this from the Premier of South Australia -
Adelaide, 25th June, 1903.
Railway to Western Australia. After the most careful consideration, we feel that it would not only be unjustifiable, but utterly useless to submit to Parliament a Bill authorizing the construction of this railway (of which this State’s share of the cost would amount to a very large sum) without being in a position to give Parliament information as to the cost of the line. The Commonwealth Government is at present inquiring into the matter, and the information obtained by it will, no doubt, be made available to this Government. Until this information is obtained it would be useless to submit the scheme to Parliament.
Notwithstanding that the Western Australian Government had passed their Bill, as they had promised, the South Australian Government went back on their promise, which was simply that, provided Western Australia joined the Federation, they would give their consent to the Commonwealth constructing a railway joining South and Western Australia. The consent of South Australia to the construction of the railway was all that had been promised. The Commonwealth had to obtain all the information about the cost, and to carry out and pay for the work. The members for Western Australia have a big uphill business before them, even if this survey is agreed to, to get the construction of the line authorized. We have to bring all these details before the Commonwealth Parliament to satisfy it, but all that the South Australian Government were asked to do was simply to say that they were ready to allow the Commonwealth Government, if they were willing, to build ‘a railway from Port Augusta through South Australian territory to join the Western Australian railway system.
– I think even Mr. Jenkins said he would do it if Western Australia gave him some undertaking as to the route, but Western Australia would not do so.
SirJOHN FORREST.- There was nothing about the route in the agreement made by me with Mr. Holder, the Premier of South Australia. His undertaking was to give his consent to the Commonwealth constructing the railway. This Parliament will have to settle the route, the gauge, and everything. The Western Australian Government have passed an Act, and have said to the Federal Parliament, “You can build the railway where you like, on any, route you like, and of any gauge you like. Whatever gauge you decide upon we will carry it on from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle.”
– The South Australian Government said they would not block the line.
– The honorable and learned member should not try to bolster up a bad case. This sort of thing makes my blood boil. I really have scarcely patience to discuss it temperately, because I was trapped. There was I, representing Western Australia, saying to the people of that State, “ Come along and enter the Federation. This difficulty is removed. Here is the guarantee of the South Australian Government. Accept it. I have accepted it for you.” In fact, I wrote and accepted it, saying that the people of Western Australia were very’ grateful for it, and yet after seven years that promise - that solemn undertaking - has not been fulfilled. I say here deliberately, no matter what honorable and learned members may say, that if this matter were taken to a higher tribunal, Western Australia would have a good cause to get out of Federation if she desired it. She has been entrapped into Federation by false pretences. She has been promised a thing of absolutely vital interest to her, and that promise has not been fulfilled. Still, my friends from South Australia think that no harm has been done, and that they are quite justified in the action they have taken. I cannot understand it. I am not referring to the Speaker as Speaker, but, putting myself in his place, I say there has all along during the past six years been a great responsibility resting upon him as the Premier of South Australia at the time, who made the promise to me as the representative of Western Australia, to go to the people of his State and tell them, “ I in good faith and before the world in open day made this compact with the people of Western Australia prior to Federation, and on the strength of that compact they entered into Federation.” Without that promise I publicly stated at the time I would never have recommended the people of Western Australia to enter Federation. I never would have asked my fellow colonists to do so without a provision which would enable Western Australia to be connected with the other parts of Australia by railway. What would be the use of it ? There is no real Federation for Western Australia without that railway connexion. I have said openly before, and
I am glad to say it in this House now, that ii my opinion it is incumbent upon the honorable member for Wakefield to say to the people of South Australia, even now - “ You must keep faith. This was not done in a hiding place, but in open day. This bargain was made by me for you, and acted upon by the people of Western Australia, who came into the Federation in good faith upon the strength of it.”
– And there was no protest made against it in South Australia at the time.
– That is so, and yet people say we have no grievance. We undoubtedly have a great grievance. A great wrong has been done to us, and to me personally as the man who advised the people of Western Australia to enter Federation. I cannot acquit the honorable member for Wakefield, who was Premier of South Australia at the time, of blame. I know very well that he resigned the Premiership, and was not therefore in a position to. carry out what he said he would do, but he could have told the people of South Australia, “ We are defaulters. You do not know what I promised for you. Perhaps you are not aware of all the facts, but I made that promise for you in good faith, and the people of Western Australia acted upon it, and the promise must be fulfilled.” I believe if he had done that the South Australian people, who are as honorable and upright and British as any people in Australia, would have said, “Yes, you made the compact as our Premier and as our representative, and we will keep it.” It has not been put to them as it ought to be, and I am very glad to have the opportunity of putting; Tt to honorable members to-night. I hope honorable members will forgive me if I have spoken too warmly. I wish to be courteous to all. I feel it difficult to restrain my feelings when I think of the great wrong that has been done to the people whom I represent. I still believe that there are brighter days in store for us. I believe that the present Government in South Australia think that Western Australia has not been properly treated, and that they are going to make amends. But it ought to have been done long ago. How can honorable members expect the people in the western State, far away from the eastern States, and isolated as they are, to be satisfied with Federation, when they know that this bond and agreement made with them has not been carried out? Howcan we expect them to be satisfied with the present condition of things? They never see anything of the benefits of Federation. The members of this Parliament seldom visit them. My home over there is deserted, and almost desolate. I visit it and see my old friends but once a year. The other honorable members from Western Australia are in very much the same position. There is no going back home on Saturday and returning to Melbourne on Tuesday for us. We have to live in lodgings in this city all the session. The object of Federation is to try to do good to every one in Australia, to build up a common feeling for the country, to create an Australian sentiment. But there can be no such feeling whilst Western; Australia is separated and isolated from the rest of the Continent as she is to-day. To reach the eastern States from WesternAustralia a person has to undertake a four days’ voyage across the ocean almost continually out of sight of land, so that if he were not well acquainted with the geography of the country he might think he had arrived at another Continent, when at length he reached land again. He would hardly be able to realize that Australia was so large that after so long a voyage he had reached another portion of the same mainland.
– lt takes longer to go to the north of Queensland.
– Yes j and so it does to go to the north-west of Western Australia from Fremantle. It is possible to go as far north as Rockhampton by railway, and, I believe, the whole distance will yet be covered by railway.
– How long does it take to get to north-west Western Australia?
– It takes nearly a fortnight to get to Wyndham in Cambridge Gulf. It is true that we have telegraphs, but still there is at present no scope for the Federal sentiment to grow. Therefore, speaking as an Australian, and not merely as a Western Australian, I say that it behoves all of us who take a real interest in Federation, and wish to make it the living force and the great reality that I am sure most of us desire it to be, and believe that it will be as timegoes on, to realize that a great responsibility rests upon us to do our best to bind’ together the people in all parts of the Continent by the most perfect means at our disposal - postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and railway. I ask again, even at the risk of being scoffed at by the honorable member for Corangamite, what are a few thousand pounds compared with the good-will and friendship - the real Federal friendship - of the whole of this community? Remember, ours is not a small country. In respect of population, we are a growing community. We have, in Western Australia, nearly 300,000 peopleall white people, too. We are not proposing to build a railway to the Never Never country, but into a settled State. We sometimes hear a good deal about settling the northern portions of Australia. I believe that the only way of accomplishing that object is to inaugurate . a thorough colonization scheme, hand in hand with railway construction. It is of no use to build a railway to Northern Australia and then leave people to come there haphazard or by chance, and it is useless^ trying to settle that country without providing means of transit. We shall never succeed in our object in that respect until we have a great colonization scheme entered upon side by side with a railway scheme. But that is not the case with us in Western Australia. I said to the people of South Australia in the Town Hall, Adelaide, some time ago - and I spoke from the bottom of my heart when I said it - “ What good do you, the people of South Australia, expect to derive under existing circumstances from your proposed railwayto Port Darwin ? It would not be nearly as beneficial to you as a railway to the West.” Some of them jeered at that, and thought I did not mean it. I then said, “ Is that the country to which you wish your young men and your young women, your sons and daughters to go? Is that what you have in store for them - to wear out their lives under a tropical sun ? Let us change the prospect ! Let us turn our eyes to the great Western State, where they can go and make a home like the home they have left behind them here, and where they can live and work under conditions like those they have been accustomed to.” And that was the truth. We have in Western Australia a country with a fine climate, a good soil, and an abundant rainfall, where we can make homes for hundreds of thousands under conditions to which British people are accustomed. And the railway which we are going to build will make access to this country infinitely easier than it is to-day. I say, again, that we are going to build it. It mav be retarded for a little while, but to tell me that we, a British community of 4,000,000 people - and we shall soon be 10,000,000 - are going to be content to let the western State remain separated from the eastern States for long is to tell me something which I refuse to believe. If I had my way, I would not hesitate to build a railway there to-morrow. I would borrow the money to build it, and I believe it would pay its way from its start. Did honorable members ever hear of a railway joining together two sides of a great continent being a burden on the people ? This fear of embarking upon great projects because they are great is something that I have not been accustomed to. I have been accustomed to many large projects, and I have had the satisfaction of seeing results ten times greater than were anticipated. In one year in Western Australia I obtained authority to borrow £7,000,000. That money was spent in building railways and waterworks, and in development works generally, and the completion of these enterprises has made Western Australia the great country that it is to-day. I thank honorable members for the reception that they have given to this Bill. I know that many who intend to vote for the survey hold themselves perfectly free - and quite right too - to vote or not, as they think proper, for the construction of the railway when it is subsequently proposed. I do not blame them for that cautious attitude. But with my knowledge and experience of the country, I say frankly that in voting for this survey, it is, as far as I am concerned, merely the forerunner of a Bill for the construction of the line. I thank honorable members again for the reception that thev have given to me, and the way thev have listened to me. I am bound to admit that thu people of my own State have a right to hold me responsible for the pledges that I gave to them with respect to the consent of South Australia to the construction of this railway by the Commonwealth. Those pledges were, however, given to me by men responsible ‘ for the Government in South Australia; and it is not my fault that they have not been fulfilled.
.- I must do the right honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat the justice to say, from a rather intimate knowledge of the proceedings which took place before Federation, and in connexion with the adherence of Western Australia to the Commonwealth, that the statements which he has made are, to my mind, substantially accurate. As one of the Premiers in office at the time, I can say that we were all most anxious that Western Australia should join the Federation, and I think wisely so. That State represents 1,000,000 of our 3,000,000 square miles of territory. We know that it possesses sources of great natural wealth, and we could not have expected its people, situated as they were, to join the Federation, unless there was some well-founded expectation of the provision of the railway communication to which the right honorable gentleman has referred. My object in giving him the statement which I did was, I believe, that which inspired similar assurances from other Premiers. It was to enable him to go before his people, and by means of such statements, to satisfy them that there was at any rate a reasonable prospect of this great work being carried out. From that time to now, as honorable members know, 1 have always supported this project. My right honorable friend has not the advantage of a written compact - and even written compacts sometimes are not, perhaps, so strong as one suspected - but he trusted the leaders of the people of Australia, and the assurances which we gave him, and I can deeply sympathize with him in the feeling of disappointment which he has just expressed. He has not received the support which he was entitled to expect from some of the distinguished men to whom he has referred. Of course, this House would not be bound to construct the railway if it found on proper inquiry that the undertaking was entirely unjustifiable. But I feel sanguine, almost as sanguine as does the right honorable gentleman, that this is one of those great national undertakings which must come about, and, being one of them, I think that the sooner it comes about the better. In approving of the proposed survey we are taking a step which, in all the circumstances of the case, no reasonable man in Australia can complain of. I regret very much that the undertaking is now being interlaced with ocher projects, which, I am afraid, may raise fresh difficulties in the way. I Have before me a copy of an agreement which has been entered into between the Federal Government and the Government of South Australia with reference to taking over the Northern Territory. I am strongly in favour of that course, as I think it is one which must be adopted, but I cannot too strongly deprecate one condition in the agreement. Whilst we ought to be prepared to take over the Northern Territory, and to give South Australia every fair recompense for the loss and expenditure which she has incurred in connexion with its administration, I absolutely repudiate the attempt to bind the Federal Parliament to a great line of railway as part of the transaction. One of the conditions which are associated with the proposed transfer is that the Federal Parliament shall bind itself to construct a railway for I do not know how many miles j to acquire a long railway in South Australia, and carry that railway up to its northern boundary, and then to construct a railway from Port Darwin downwards. That may be one of the finest undertakings for the Commonwealth ; but we must not bargain with South Australia on a question of national concern of that sort. We can only ,deal with that State on the simple question of taking over the Northern Territory, and if it saddles the transaction with a stipulation of that kind, I think that it introduces into the agreement a feature which will require the most serious consideration.
– It is not South Australia that is doing that.
– South Australia will not take things on trust as Western Australia did.
– That is quite right. I simply object to this idea of a Federal railway as part of a bargain with South Australia.
– I think that on the results which Western Australia has achieved, it would be well for South Australia to have her conditions put in the bond.
– That I do not object to. But I object to grave questions affecting the provision of transcontinental railway communication by the Federation being determined by an agreement with South Australia.
– That is another matter.
– That is the only matter on which I am now dwelling. As’ I said, the railway may turn out to be one of the finest projects in the world.
– It may !
– On the other hand, it may not. The question of the transfer of ihe Northern Territory is sufficiently grave and important by itself. We have no right to enter into questions concerning what we are going to do with the Northern Territory after we pav for it.
– Order ! I ask the right honorable member not to refer to that matter.
– I was just finishing a sentence, sir, as I felt that the air was getting chilly. I cannot, however, finish the sentence, because I have forgotten what the first half of it was.
– After the delivery of this speech the right honorable member will not hear any more of the Northern Territory, because the Parliament of South Australia will soon settle that matter.
– I hope that my utterances are not of so much importance as the honorable member suggests. I trust that the Parliament of South Australia will wait until the matter has been fairly discussed by this Parliament on its merits.
– The right honorable member is not allowing the question to be discussed on its merits.
– I am only incidentally alluding to it as a complication which will prejudice the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth.
– Let the question be discussed on the Bill when it is introduced.
– It is a sufficiently serious matter without compelling us to consider the policy of constructing a vast railway in addition to the consideration of the problem of taking over the Northern Territory. I desire to show how this great project, to which I think we are committed, is prejudiced by the fact that the construction of this railway to Western Australia is made a condition in the agreement. So far as the Government can bind us we have entered into an agreement to do certain things and pay certain moneys, and the Government of South Australia, on its part, has entered into an agreement to do certain other things. For instance -
The State is to authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable it to make surveys, acquire the necessary lands, and to construct or authorize the construe tion of a railway line in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on thu north boundary line of South Australia.
The next part of the paragraph deals with the line from Port Darwin to the termina> tion of the Port Augusta railway that- I was referring to. But the condition to which I desire to refer reads as follows : -
The State is to authorize by legislation the Federal Government in the same way and to the same extent to do all that is necessary to enable it to construct or authorize the construction of a railway line westerly from any point on the Port Augusta railway line through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper by a route to be determined by the. Federal Parliament, and to maintain and work it when constructed.
There is an undertaking by the Government of South Australia to submit a Bill to the Parliament of that State to authorize the construction of the line which we are now discussing.
– That was what they promised to do.
– I sincerely regret the introduction of this undertaking as part of the arrangement for the transfer of the Northern Territory. Of course, I am speaking in the interest of the project for which the Treasurer has so valiantly fought. I say that no man can visit Western Australia - as some of us have done - without realizing that the people of that State - men of all parties - have placed a large measure of confidence in the right honorable gentleman in connexion with the development of that country. They have looked to him for the fulfilment of this understanding, and I very much fear that one of the results of the introduction of this fresh consideration, will be that it will prove an additional difficulty in the way of carrying out the (proposal to construct a line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta if the agreement to take over the Northern Territory be not ratified. I do not think it ought to stand in that agreement at all. It is now entangled in a proposal which I believe will never be ratified. I fear that the fact that it is so entangled will lead to difficulties. I hope not. If the matter were properly placed before them, I believe that the people of South Australia have absolutely as keen a sense of honour as the people of any other Australian community.
– They have never had a chance of saying either “yes” or “no” to the proposal.
– That is so. There is no community in Australia that would approve of a breach of faith, such as the Treasurer has brought under the notice of this Committee. When the representatives of communities have given such assurances as those which were read out by the right honorable gentleman, I think it is a scandal that the .people concerned have not had an opportunity afforded them of redeeming the public honour by the fulfilment of those assurances. The people of South Australia were naturally anxious that
Western Australia should enter the Federation. They were anxious, because they were neighbours, and because their two vast territories lay one beside the other. Consequently, South Australia had a most vital interest in persuading the people of Western Australia to throw in their political fortunes with the Federation. I believe that the people of South Australia, if appealed to, would honour that obligation. What does it mean? It means that a vast railway would be constructed for South Australia without a penny of expense to the people of that State. The project, if carried out, will begin by adding 650 miles to the railway system of South Australia without costing its people a single sixpence.
– And it will give them direct entry into the Western Australian goldfields market.
– I was going to add that. The work, if it be undertaken, will give the people of South Australia a long railway free of expense. But that is a very small consideration compared with the other benefits which it will confer upon them, because it will give them the first call by railway upon the great rising State of Western Australia. So that there is no object to be served by the people of South Australia proving untrue to the assurances which were given. On the contrary, the proposed undertaking will prove a great benefit to them.
– It will benefit them more than it will the people of Western Australia.
– Very likely. To my mind, this matter is associated with that sort of fair, generous dealing which I think the people of the Commonwealth, if properly appealed to, never fail to observe. I appreciate the position of honorable members who ‘ have declined to pledge themselves to the construction of this line. They are perhaps merely discharging their strict duty to their constituents by reserving to themselves that liberty of action. But from’ all that I know of the proposed railway, I feel sure that the figures which have been placed before Parliament will prove to be substantially correct, and that no unforeseen obstacle will arise to impede the carrying out of this great project. I heartily agree with the Treasurer in believing that when this great undertaking is accomplished, it will prove, not a source of weakness, but of strength to the people of Australia.
– I am sorry that I have again to occupy the time of the Committee in addressing myself to this motion, but I wish to remove a misapprehension! in the minds of some honorable members as to the attitude of South Australia in regard to the projected railway. I remember perfectly well the correspondence which was carried on in 1900 between leading representatives of South Australia and some of the leading men of Western Australia, the principal of whom was our present Treasurer. At that time, I wrote with the cognisance of several South Australian public men, to the gold-fields expressing, as far as anybody could, the opinion that South Australia would not block the construction of this line if a proposition in its favour were placed before the Commonwealth Parliament. For some reason or other, the electors of Western Australia were led to believe that South Australia would block its construction if Western Australia entered the Federation. To allay anxiety upon that point, I wrote several letters-
– The honorable and learned member also spoke upon the matter.
– I did, and I have never gone back upon what I then said. As far as I could, I stated that there would be no attempt on the part of South Australia to block the construction of the line if the Commonwealth Parliament wished to under. take it. I think that the right honorable member for Adelaide officially wrote to the present Treasurer, who was then Premier of Western Australia, to the same- effect.
– I- also received a special undertaking from the Premier of South Australia.
– Yes. Our present Speaker, who was then Premier of South Australia, wrote to the Treasurer, stating, not only that there would be no attempt made to block the construction of the line, but that he himself would undertake to bring in a Bill to authorize its construction. He never had an opportunity of redeeming his promise-
– But his successor had.
– His successor was Mr. Jenkins, the present Agent-General for South Australia in London. There is no doubt that Mr. Jenkins did dilly-dally over the matter a little. Had I been in his position, I should have thought that there was an honorable duty imposed upon me to afford South Australia an opportunity to consider the proposal to construct the line. Why “Mr. Jenkins dallied with the matter
I do not know, because the promise was certainly made by the Premier of the day, our present Speaker. I do say, however, that had the promise not been given, the proper course to adopt would have been to await a declaration of Federal policy-
– We should never have joined the Federation upon those terms.
– Possibly. I understand that one of the reasons alleged by Mr. Jenkins for his failure to redeem the promise which had been made on behalf of South Australia was that our present Treasurer would not give him an undertaking as to the route to be followed. I regret that the obligation which Mr. Speaker, as Premier of South Australia, imposed on his successors, was not carried out by the Jenkins Government. Even if there had never been inserted in the agreement made with the Premier of South Australia the provision about the construction of this line, I believe, from what I know of the people, that if a deliberate policy on the part of the Federation to construct this line were evidenced, the Price Government, or any other Administration, would be prepared to submit to the State Parliament a Bill giving the requisite consent.
– We have been handicapped by the fact that the consent of the Parliament of South Australia has not been given.
– With all respect, I venture to suggest that the handicap, if any, has been due solely to some hesitancy on the part of Mr. Jenkins.
– We have been handicapped by the cry raised by honorable members in this House that the consent of the South Australian Parliament has not been obtained.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman would not deny to me, or any other honorable member, the right, as a Federal representative, to question the policy of this proposal.
– Certainly not.
– No attempt has been made bv South Australia as a State to block the efforts of those in favour of the line. Indeed, I believe that I am the only representative of South Australia in this House who has voted against the survey. I remember sitting here, beside the right honorable member for Adelaide after a heated debate on this very subject, in which he had questioned the expediency of constructing the line in the face of what he felt to be strong opposition on the part of the gold-fields, and their favouring of the Esperance Bay line, but by crossing the floor, and voting for the survey, he fulfilled the obligation imposed upon him by his promise. It will thus be seen that, as a representative of South Australia in this Parliament, he sought to carry out the promise made by him as a Minister of South Australia.
– The promise was that the Commonwealth would be authorized to construct the line through South Australian territory if if desired to do so.
– I would point out that Mr. Speaker has not had an opportunity to carry out his promise, but that the right honorable member for Adelaide has never blocked the proposal.
– He has blamed me for not taking action before Federation was accomplished.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide at one time did blame the Treasurer for not consenting to the construction of the line by the two States. I remember the cross firing which took place between the two honorable members.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide advocated the Esperance Bay line.
– He advocated the construction of the other line two years before the Western Australian Government took action. He wished the Government of that State to consent to join their line to Kalgoorlie with one running by way of Eucla, but this they refused to do. That at all events is what we were told in this House, and it is not surprising that the right honorable member for Adelaide should have become slightly critical of the changed attitude of the Treasurer.
– I was away when the letter in question was written to the Government of Western Australia. There was no change on my part.
– I believe that even if the provisions to which I have referred were not in the agreement, the Price Government, as soon as the time had arrived for the fulfilment of the promise made by Mr. Speaker when Premier of South Australia, would introduce a Bill to give the necessary consent. With the exception of the Jenkins Administration, I do not know of any Government that has exhibited any hesitancy, and, as I have said, I think that many regret that the promise was not fulfilled.
.- I do not intend, to occupy the time of the Committee by making a lengthy speech, but as one who was not in this House when the question was previously considered, I rise to say that I think the survey should be made as soon as possible, and that the work is one calling for Federal and not State action. Some honorable members have inquired why, if the construction of the line is such a good thing, it has not; been undertaken by Western Australia. I am one of those who look forward to the Commonwealth taking over the railways of Australia, and to the day when we shall have a uniform gauge. The building of this line would be a step in that direction. The first reason why I think we should undertake the work is that it is necessary from the stand-point of defence. Indeed, I fail to see that we shall be able to offer an effective defence against invasion until we have railways stretching all round the Continent, but the construction of such lines will necessarily be a big undertaking, involving the expenditure of much time and money. I was in Western Australia prior to the building of the line from Southern Cross to Coolgardie, and the carrying out of the great water scheme for which our Treasurer was responsible. 1 am thus able to speak of the abominable difficulties that were encountered by the early prospectors there. Every assistance should be given to Western Australia in the development of her wonderful mineral resources. In the early days of which I have just spoken, we had1 the spectacle of the great mining field of Coolgardie, with a population of about ten thousand, dependent for its food supplies upon waggoners who had to cover a distance of something like 120 miles. Sometimes a block took place, and only a few waggons were able ito reach Coolgardie. Similar difficulties might be met with in the opening up of new fields that are not in close touch with a railway system. The line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie would cross a great mineral belt, and give facilities for opening up the mining resources of that country,. As to the agricultural possibilities of the country which would be traversed by the line, I have nothing to say, but the third ground on which I base my support of this motion is that the more mining fields we have opened up in Western Australia the better it will be for the eastern States, which, as producers, are very much ahead of Western Australia.
Thus even from what may be regarded as an almost selfish stand-point the eastern States, should be in favour of this project. I believe that the work should be pushed ahead. I am not often in agreement with the utterances of the Treasurer, but I find myself able to indorse almost every word that he has said to-night in support of chis motion. The complaint made by him on behalf of Western Australia has my strongest sympathy, and I have only to say in conclusion that I was pleased to note the fine’ Australian spirit which permeated the speech made by the AttorneyGeneral in submitting the motion.
.- When the Bill was under the consideration of the last Parliament I voted for it because I believed that the survey would add largely to the knowledge we possess of the mineral and other resources of. the country to be traversed. The point that has been raised by the leader of the Opposition is pregnant with trouble so far as this proposition is concerned. The clause in the agreement quoted by him seems to have been inserted as an indication of the price which we must pay for the consent of South Australia to the line passing through its territory, and those responsible for it acted most injudiciously. We can only explain the presence of the clause by surmising that its object is to indicate that unless this Parliament is prepared to take over the Northern Territory on the terms indicated by the South Australian Government the necessary consent to the construction of the line will be withheld by that State. That is a very unfair position for the South Australian Government to take up in connexion with a matter which has been before this House for three or four sessions. It is necessary for us to consider where we should be if the Commonwealth took over the responsibility attaching to the control of the Northern Territory. The whole of the railway system, indicated as likely to come under Federal control, in regard to construction, should, in my opinion, be considered as a whole. The South Australian Government may not be acting wrongly in putting such a condition in the agreement ; but it would be wise for the Commonwealth to see that, in reference to any railway system involved in taking over the Northern Territory, we shall not start before we are ready, and regret having done so. That opinion may not be worth much, but having travelled through the Northern Territory, that is the opinion at which I have- arrived. If the transcontinental railway immediately under discussion depends upon the construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin, I am not prepared, as a member of this House, to enter into such a bargain. Having, as I say, visited the Northern Territory, and investigated the conditions as far as was possible on such a visit, I do not consider it necessary or wise for the Commonwealth, even in order to take over the Territory, to undertake the- construction of such a line. If that is so, whence the decision, on which hangs the whole of this motion? We may vote the money to cover the cost of the survey, but, at the same time, the South Australian Government may turn round and say that, unless we take over the Northern Territory, they will not pass a Bill permit- ing the construction of a railway through their territory. We shall then be helpless, and, to some extent, have been deceived by the South Australian Government. In the case of such gigantic undertakings, I object to any condition of this kind, which may interfere with the success of the proposed survey. My own opinion is that, even if the proposed transcontinental railway were never constructed, the money spent on the proposed survey would not be altogether thrown away ; because the survey would place us in possession of valuable information regarding the mineral and other resources of that part of Australia. The South Australian Government are certainly taking very strong action when they practically withdraw from the promise which has been talked about so much by the Treasurer, and place another condition before us. I shall vote for the motion as a means of prospecting and exploring this country, always stipulating that I shall be free to oppose the construction of the line if I deem such a step necessary.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [to.io].- Like some previous speakers, I am a new member, and have, therefore, not had an opportunity to discuss this question previously in this House. I should, perhaps, not have risen now had it not been for a remark which fell from the Treasurer in the course of his impassioned address. No one listening to the right honorable gentleman advocating, in the whole-hearted way he did, a project he has deeply at heart, could fail to extend to him the very deepest sympathy in the position in which he finds himself. Undoubtedly, the right honorable gentleman has a strong grievance against somebody ; but I should question the statement if it were made - and I did not gather that the right honorable gentleman made the statement himself - that he has a grievance against the- Federal Parliament. In fact, I hold that his grievance is a personal one against those prominent statesmen of the various Colonies, as they then were, who made certain representations to him with regard to the construction of this railway conditionally on Western Australia entering into the Federal bond. But these representations, as I think has been admitted, were the personal views and pledges of the politicians who made them - they could not possibly bind their various States in any way unless subsequently ratified by resolution of the Legislatures of which they were members and leaders. I am sure that most Queenslanders have cause for considerable sympathy with the right honorable gentleman and other Western Australian members, because similar representations were made to the people of Queensland to induce them to enter Federation. Two honorable gentlemen, one of whom afterwards became the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and the other of whom is the present Prime Minister, visited Brisbane, and, in answer to questions, stated that there would be no legislation, so far as they were concerned, which would in any way prejudice the tropical and semi-tropical industries of Northern Queensland, until they had personally visited that part of Australia and seen the conditions for themselves.
– They went up to Bundaberg.
Colonel FOXTON.- That was afterwards ; and, in any case, Bundaberg is not the north of Queensland, and the honorable member must know that the conditions in Bundaberg are absolutely different from the conditions in the far north.
– Surely the honorable member does not say that the people of Queensland have anything to complain about ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I think they have a great deal to complain about.
– If any State has been well treated under Federation, it is Queensland.
Colonel FOXTON.- An attempt has been made to do Queensland justice ; but it is a very ineffectual attempt. If the honorable member would tour Queensland for himself, and ask the people there whether they think Queensland has been treated well, he would receive a very decided answer in the negative. In the same way the right honorable member for Swan feels that he and the State he represents have been unfairly treated. But it should be remembered that in both cases the representations were made certainly by prominent statesmen, but by men who, as events that have since transpired in Queensland show, were not in a position to bind the people of the Commonwealth or of their own particular States.
– What industry has been injured in Queensland?
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member may go up to that -State and ask for himself. Queensland as a whole has been injured, and I happen to know it.
– By what Commonwealth legislation ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I adopt the attitude of the Treasurer, and say that I have not the time to discuss these -things.
– The honorable member is unable to mention a single industry in Queensland that has been injured.
Colonel FOXTON.- I ask honorable members who disagree with me to go through the northern districts of Queensland, and they will be told by three-fourths of the people there that injury has been done to that State. The people who live there, and who know where the shoe pinches, are likely to have the best information on the subject.
– Surely the honorable member can say what industry has been injured. I have just returned from that State, and I do not know.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member is evidently one of those globetrotters who believes that if he pays a visit of a couple of weeks to a country he is entitled to claim that he knows all about it.
– I tried to find someone in Queensland who complained of Federation and could not do so.
Colonel FOXTON.- I know it is roundly stated there, and seldom contradicted, that if a referendum were taken in that State to-day on the question of joining the Federation the vote would be found to be overwhelmingly against it. I wish to refer to another statement made by the right honorable member for Swan, which really brought me to my feet. It was to the effect that the construction of the trans continental railway by the Commonwealth must necessarily follow the survey, if this motion be adopted.
– The right honorable gentleman stated only his personal opinion.
Colonel FOXTON. - His personal opinion goes for something in this House as well as in Western Austraila.
– I did not attempt to bind any one. I said that my object in supporting the survey was that the construction of the line should follow.
Colonel FOXTON. - Exactly. The right honorable gentleman is quite capable of explaining what he said without assistance from the cross benches.
– - I did not say that the honorable member would be bound to the construction of the railway.
Colonel FOXTON.- If, as the Treasurer said, the survey should be supported in order that honorable members and the Commonwealth generally may be given more information on the subject, I hold that the two States immediately interested should pay the cost.
– Honorable members would not as readily accept the information if obtained in that way.
Colonel FOXTON.- An honorable member informs me that we have had two reports about the country already. That being so, why this survey ?
– South Australia wants more information.
Colonel FOXTON.- Then the right honorable gentleman’s grievance is against South Australia. In fact, the burden of his speech was the relation of grievances which he undoubtedly has against that State; but that is not a matter which concerns this Parliament. The Treasurer mentioned, as one of the inducements held out to Western Australia to join the Federation, a statement made by the present Prime Minister, to the effect that undoubtedly the construction of this railway would follow Federation, in just the same way that the Eastern Canadian States were, connected by rail with British Columbia. But that connexion was made in a totally different way from that which is proposed in this case. The Canadian connexion was. effected bv a huge land-grant railway, and the Prime Minister, in making use of that illustration, would seem to have indicated that that was the way in which the transcontinental railway connecting Eastern with Western Australia would probably be constructed.. I hold that the possession and control of Crown lands through which any railway is constructed should be in the hands of the constructing authority.
– So they would be in this case.
Colonel FOXTON. - So they would not be if this railway were constructed by the Commonwealth.
– Yes, the land for twenty-five miles on both sides of the line will be under the control of the Commonwealth.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is not what I refer to at all. My point is that the country, the whole country, the value of which would be enhanced, and its revenueproducing capacity increased by the construction of the line, would belong to a particular State, and that State should be responsible for the cost of construction. If the land through which this railway would run is as valuable as we are invited to believe it is, I cannot for the life of me understand why the two States immediately concerned do not undertake its construction themselves.
– Who pays to protect the sugar industry of Queensland? Do not the people of Western Australia do so?
Colonel FOXTON.- That is only one industry, and the honorable member forgets that industries throughout Australia are protected.
– Western Australia willingly pays her share for the protection of the sugar industry of Queensland.
Colonel FOXTON. - In all countries in which a protective policy is adopted, that sort of thing occurs. If the proposed transcontinental railway will improve the revenueproducing capabilities of the country through which it passes, the burden of its construction should rest upon those who will reap the benefit. I cannot understand why South Australia should raise any obstacle to paying for her share of the line, because it seems to me that, great as the benefit to Western Australia will be from the construction of this railway, South Australia will benefit very considerably from the fact that the line will tap a considerable area in the south-eastern portion of Western Australia. For the reasons I have stated, I must vote against the motion, if it is to be understood as suggested by’ the Treasurer that by voting for the survey honorable members will be committing themselves practically to the construction of the line.
– The Treasurer did not say that.
Colonel FOXTON.- I understood the Treasurer to say so, and when I put it to him, the right honorable gentleman admitted that he had said so.
– The Treasurer did not say that the passing of this motion would commit any one to the construction of the railway.
– No, I did not.
Colonel FOXTON.- What I say is that the Treasurer advocated the survey, and said he would vote for it because he believed it would bring about the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth at some future date. For the reasons I have stated I shall vote against the motion.
.- I shall vote against the proposal for the construction of a railway to connect Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta; but the speeches of the Treasurer, the leader of the Opposition, and other honorable members have to some extent modified my original views. However much the Commonwealth may have been committed to this work prior to Federation, we cannot now view it with equanimity, having regard to the extensive obligations which the Government is about to ask us to undertake in connexion with the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory, and other proposals. These obligations will involve a very large expenditure, to provide for which the people must ultimately be called upon to pay increased taxation. Not only are we being asked to agree to this desert railway proposal, the cost of which has been estimated ‘by experts at about £4,500,000, but we are about to be asked to vote for the construction of a railway in South Australia, north from Oodnadatta, which will cost at least £6,000,000 more. It is also proposed that the South Australian liability in regard to the Northern Territory shall be transferred to the Commonwealth, and that we shall repay to that State the original cost of the railways made by it for the development of the Territory. Altogether these obligations will involve an expenditure of from £16,000,000 to £18,000,000. We are therefore compelled to ask how are they to be financed? The deficiency on the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta has been estimated at £68,000 for the first year; but we have been told that at the end of ten years there will be a profit of £18,000 per annum. That profit is hoped for on the assumption that ten years hence the (population of Western Australia will be twice as great as it is now. I am optimistic concerning the future of the Commonwealth, but not so optimistic as to think that the population of Western Australia will double itself in less than twenty years. If the Government made strenuous efforts to divert a stream of immigration to Australia, a great increase of population would no doubt take place, but there is a section of the House which shows a disposition to keep out immigrants. If we cannot attract a great stream of immigration, the schemes to which I have referred will prove visionary and impracticable. Some of the speakers this evening have said that they are prepared to vote £20,000 for a survey of a route for a line of railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta on the distinct understanding that they are not to be regarded as pledging themselves to vote for the construction of such a line. The opinion has also been expressed that some honorable members are proposing to vote for the motion cn the understanding that the Bill which will be presented later on will be rejected bv the Senate. I do not think that that is the proper position to take in this matter. But, notwithstanding what was said prior to Federation, the question at issue is now ‘so complicated by the introduction of the other schemes to which I have referred that before we consider the proposal before us we should have an assurance from (he Government that it is not intended to immediately undertake any further large obligations.
.- As I desire that the Bill shall be presented tonight, I should not trespass on the time of the Committee were it not for the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane, who thinks that he raised an objecion of great weight when he asked, “ Why do not Western Australia and South Australia make this line themselves?” It reminds me of the objection frequently heard in municipal councils, “ Why does not Mr. So-and-so clean the drain in front of his house, or put down a pavement, instead of asking the community to bear the expense ?”
– Is not railway construction within the sphere of State action ?
– This has been regarded as a national work by men whose opinions I value more highly than that of the honorable member for Brisbane. It has been indorsed by every Prime Minister of the
Commonwealth, not because it will benefit any particular State, but because it is emphatically a national project. Western Australia does not press for the work because it will be of material benefit to her people, although they will regard its construction as the consummation of Federation, which they strove so long to bring about.
– Does the honorable member suggest that Western Australia sets no value by the construction of the proposed line?
– Its value to Western Australia is largely sentimental.
– Are we to expend millions of money merely on sentimental grounds ?
– If millions of money are expended on this work, they will go to carry out an important national undertaking. Western Australia urges the Commonwealth Parliament to sanction the construction of the line as an important national project, not to gain pecuniary advantages for herself. 1 represent’ the metropolis of the State - its business centre - and probably the -majority of the people of my constituency are opposed to the construction of this railway, because they think that when it is made, part of the gold-fields trade, of which they now enjoy the monopoly, will go to the eastern States, and particularly to South Australia. The people of the gold-fields think that the railway will be of considerable advantage to them, because it will give them direct access to the eastern States, whence most of them have come. But, speaking for the coastal districts, I believe, in all seriousness, that if a vote of the residents of that portion of Western Australia was taken as to whether the transcontinental scheme would benefit them, there would be a distinct majority in the negative. The people of Western Australia are ardent Federalists. They had to fight hard to enter Federation against a non-progressive and non-Federal Government in the old days. I was one of those who fought in the front rank with the people against that autocratic Government who so long refused the masses of Western Australia an opportunity of saying whether they would enter the Federation or not. We watched what was thought and said of our struggle in .the eastern States, and we felt assured that in our aspiration for a true Federation we would be met in that respect by the people of the eastern
States, and would remain isolated from them for no longer period than would be required by the Federation to unite us with them in a practical form. I am proud to have listened to-night to the splendid address of the Treasurer, and I can only hope that he has impressed the House, as I believe he has, with the importance, not to the people of Western Australia, but to the people of Australia as a whole, of this great project from a truly Federal and national stand-point.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom, and read a first time.
In Committee :
. -I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of money be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to determine more definitely the Seat of Government in the neighbourhood of Dalgety and the territory there within which it shall be, and to provide for the grant to and acceptance by the Commonwealth of the territory, and to provide for other matters in relation thereto.
.- I presume that this stage is not final, and that the passing of this motion will not commit us to transfer our proceedings to the heights of Mount Kosciusko? We shall have I presume a later opportunity to discuss the whole Bill?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom, and read a first time.
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
It is provided in the Commerce Act that no trade description shall be prescribed which discloses trade secrets of manufacture or preparation, unless in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral the disclosure is necessary for the protection of the health or welfare of the public. All medicines imported are, however, being carefully examined to test the truth of the trade description, and to ascertain whether they contain deleterious substances. Attention is invited to the following regulations under the Commerce Act which are being enforced : - “ In the case of the following goods, the trade description shall, in addition, comply with the following provisions : -
In the case of medicines prepared ready for use, and containing 10 per cent, or more of ethyl alcohol, if the average dose recommended exceeds one teaspoonful (60 minims), the trade description shall set out the proportion or quantity of proof spirit in the medicine.
In the case of medicines prepared ready for use, and containing any of the following drugs (or the salts or derivatives thereof), viz. : - Opium, morphine, cocaine, heroin, stramonium, nux vomica, cannabis indica, bromides, sulphonal, trional, veronal, parade- hyde, or any synthetic hypnotic substance, phenazonium, phenacetium, acetanilidium, or any allied synthetic substance, chloral hydrate, belladonna, cotton root, ergot, or any abortifacient, the trade description shall set out the names of all such drugs so contained.”
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice-
Whether it is a fact that a native-born Australian, domiciled in New South Wales, who had developed symptoms of insanity while on a visit to Great Britain, was refused permission to return to Australia, except under a bond of £100?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
An application for a permit for a person afflicted as described, was received and granted on condition that a bond in the usual form was given to insure that the patient would not become a charge on the public.
It is understood, however, that, for medical reasons, it was decided not tobring the person in question to Australia.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to ask the Minister representing the Department of Home Affairs when we are to get the map of Australia that has been promised for two years ? A sum of money was placed on the Estimates, and was voted by Parliament. It is about time that we had the map. Two years is a fair time in which to execute a work of that kind.
– The Government are waiting to mark new railways on the map !
– There will be a new Australia to map out if the work is not expedited ! When a work of this kind is authorized the Government ought to be able to do it within two years.
.- I wish to ask the Minister in charge of the Bounties Bill whether he will see that the report of the Committee of experts which sat in Melbourne some time ago is circulated amongst honorable members,so that they may have an opportunity of considering it before the Bounties Bill is dealt with.
– I have laid upon the table the complete memorandum, including a portion of the report.
– Why was it not supplied to us before?
– It is already printed, and will be circulated, I understand, with other papers, to-morrow morning.
– When I was temporarily administering the Department of Home Affairs, I gave an instruction for the compilation of a map of Australia to be put in hand as quickly as possible, and I understand that it is being carried out.
– The order of Government business for to-morrow will be, first the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, next the Bounties Bill, and then the Seat of Government Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070717_reps_3_36/>.