4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 8.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to announce that on hearing of the death of MajorGeneral Sir John Hoad, I sent, on behalf of the House of Representatives, a letter- of sympathy to Lady Hoad, and ordered a wreath to be placed on the coffin.
– In the course of my speech on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill, I referred to the fact’ that the right honorable member for Swan had made certain observations with regard to the country through which the route runs, and, 1 think, in doing so, did him an injustice which I wish to correct. I represented to the House that the right honorable gentleman had gone to the Australian Bight in a schooner, and had then made two or three trips inland, returning to the schooner. I find, after looking again at his book, that he did not on the occasion referred to go to the Bight by sea, but undertook a rather extended south-easterly journey across the continent, and travelled to within a few miles of the route of the proposed line. As my remarks may have given a wrong impression, on thinking the matter over, after re-reading his book, and remembering that his journey took place forty years ago, when that part of Australia which he visited was almost an undiscovered country, I feel it right to say that I unnecessarily and unfairly belittled his great effort in the cause of Australian exploration.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence endeavour to make arrangements for avoiding the drilling of cadets during the Christmas holidays ?
– I shall put the matter before the Minister, and ask for a reply as early as possible.
– Has the Prime Minister seen an article in the Standard of Empire dealing with the cablegrams sent to Australia through the agency of the Independent Press Association, which is subsidized by Commonwealth funds? It is said that -
The news is mostly gathered al Vancouver from trans-atlantic sources, and “ cabled across the Pacific at 3d. a word. Picas messages from England cost od. a word.
The cablegrams selected in Vancouver from trans-atlantic sources (unfortunately Canada is largely served by United States organizations) frequently show a tainted origin, and are sometimes absolutely groundless.
The article gives some examples ‘ of the’ cables that are sent. In view of the fact that the Independent Press Association is’ heavily subsidized by the Commonwealth, will the Prime Minister say what newspapers take advantage of its cablegrams, and whether any steps will be taken by the Government to put an end to the present unsatisfactory state of affairs?
– I have either heard or read of the complaints referred to, but the question contains an innuendo to which I object. If the honorable member will ask for the information which he desires by putting a question on the’ notice-paper, I’ shall try to get it for him; but I decline . to accept the .statement that the news which is sent is biased or inaccurate.
– I did not say that it was. I merely quoted the statement in the Standard of Empire.
– In the Law Reports of a few days ago there is a judgment of the High Court on a land tax appeal in which regulations upon which a claim was made to turn were characterized by the Chief Justice as “ ultra vires and absurd,” and, again, an act of the Commissioner, as “ extraordinary and surprising.” I should like to know upon whose advice these regulations were framed, and whether the right honorable gentleman will take steps to have the regulations under the Land Tax Act reviewed, in order that the High Court may not again have reason for using such language with regard to them.
– No one knows better than the honorable member that the Chief Justice in his judicial capacity may say what he pleases. I think I remember that he once said, speaking of Justices of the Supreme Court of a State, that they ought to have known something of the elementary principles of law. We all honour and admire him for his talent, but we cannot complain of the language which he chooses to use. No doubt the best legal advice was sought and obtained before the regulations were made, and another Judge might take a different view of them.
– While I recognise that it may not be permissible, in a question, to say that the regulation was manifestly not within the scope of section 24 of the Land Values Assessment Act, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the value under the section, since the regulation was declared ultra vires, is not much greater on life tenants than before, and whether the honorable gentleman will bear that aspect of the matter in mind if it be intended to amend the regulation?
– I am not competent to express a legal opinion on the matter, but I shall bring the honorable member’s remarks under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral and others concerned.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Trade and
Customs to the following paragraph which appears in this morning’s Argus: -
SMALL-POX ON SHIPBOARD. Curious Federal Action.
Sydney, Tuesday. - There is a good deal of criticism among shipping men here of the. action of the authorities in causing the steamer Eastern, which has reported a case of small-pox on board, to steam direct from Thursday Island to Sydney. Amongst 350 souls on board are passengers for Brisbane, and there is also a large quantity of cargo destined for Brisbane. It is asserted that something is wrong when passengers and cargo for the northern State cannot be landed there under quarantine safeguards, instead of being brought all the way to Sydney. The Eastern is expected to arrive tomorrow night or early on Thursday.
For what reason have passengers to Brisbane been brought on to Sydney? Why was the vessel not quarantined in Queensland ?
– I stated last week that, at the time Federation was entered into, Queensland abolished its quarantine station at Brisbane, and there is now no quarantine station between Thursday Island and Sydney. The accommodation at Thursday Island is not sufficient, and therefore we had to bring the passengers to Sydney.
– Will the Government favorably entertain a proposal to compensate to some extent those passengers and others who have had to suffer monetary loss through the Eastern having been ordered so many hundred of miles away from their destination ? Furthermore, will immediate steps be taken to improve the accommodation at Thursday Island for passengers who may arrive in infected vessels?
– The honorable member’s question opens up a very large matter in regard to the compensation of people for detention, when that detention is imposed in the interests of public health. I shall, therefore, be glad if the honorable member will give notice of his question in order that I may have time to look into the matter.
– Will the Prime Minister enable honorable members to see the judgment of the High Court in the enginedrivers’ case before the House is called upon to pass the new Arbitration Bill, which amends the law as declared in that case?
– I shall make the necessary request for copies of the judgment to be supplied.
– It has already been issued in the Argus Law Reports.
– Then I shall see that honorable members are supplied with it.
– Is the Treasurer able to fix the time at which he will deliver the Budget statement?
– I am sorry, but it will be yet a fortnight.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it h the intention of the Government to introduce during the present session any motion or Bill relating to the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture ?
– The Government will endeavour, at any rate before they leave this bench, to give effect to the proposal in which the honorable member has taken so great an interest. Whether steps can be taken this session or not is another matter.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Railways - The Gauges of Australia and their Unification - Supplementary Report by the Consulting Railway Engineer (H. Deane) - 6th October, 1911. Census and Statistics Act -
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth -
No. 4. - 1901 to 1910. Bulletins -
Finance - No. 4. - Summary, 1901 to 1910. Population and Vital Statistics -
No. 23. - Quarter ended 30th September, 1910.
No. 24. - Quarter ended 31st December, 1910
No. 25. - Vital Statistics, 1910.
No. 26. - Quarter ended 31st March, 1911.
Production - No. 4. - Summary, 1901 to 1909.
Social Statistics, 1909 - No. 3. - Education, Hospitals and Charities, and Law and Crime.
Transport and Communication - No. 4. -
Summary, 1901 to 1910.
Trade, Shipping, Migration, and Finance -
No. 45. - September, 1910
No. 46. - October, 1910.
No. 47. - November, 1910.
No. 48. - December, 1910.
No. 4g. - January, 191 1.
Census and Statistics Act - continued. Bulletins - continued. Trade, Shipping, &c. - continued.
No. 50. - February, 1911.
No. 51. - March, 1911.
No. 52. - April, 1911.
No. 53. - May, 1911.
No. 54. - June, 1911.
No- 55- July> I9»-
Public Service Act - Regulations Nos. 114-116A Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1911. 1, No. i5g.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Military Forces -
Nos. g2, g3 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. i5S-
Financial and Allowance Regulations - No. 82(a) - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 151. No. 161 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 152. No. 152 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 153. No. 176 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 154.
Universal Training - No. 16. - Statutory Rules 10,11, No. 150. Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces - Regulation No. 200 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1911, No. I4g.
Holiday Railway Warrants. Mr. RYRIE asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, . upon notice -
Is he aware that members of the Defence Forces serving in States other than those in which their homes are situated are practically debarred from coming home during their holidays by reason of the expense of the journey?
Will he instruct his Department to issue railway warrants to such officers when requested for this purpose?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Commonwealth Government will take any exception to the Queensland Government granting Rockhampton the benefits that were given to Brisbane at the inauguration of wool sales at the latter place, provided that said benefits sire as shown in the following paragraph :-
In 1898 wool sales were first established in Brisbane, and by way of assistance the Government of the day decided to grant a bonus on all Queensland wool sold thereat of £1 per ton for the years 1898- 9, 15s. per ton for the years 1899- 1900, and ros. per ton for the years 1900-1 ; also to reduce the export harbor dues on wool imported into Brisbane from 2S. to is. per ton; and in addition the Commissioner for Railways undertook to convey all wool to the Brisbane National Society’s grounds (where the sales were held) free, which was estimated at a saving of 5s. per ton?
– T. do not think the Commonwealth will see cause to intervene if these proposals are given effect to.
asked the Acting Minister of External Affairs., upon notice -
How far is Epi from Vila?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Postmaster at Neville - Casual Employes, Tasmania - Letter Carriers’ Wages - Wireless Telegraphy - Preference to Unionists. Mr. RYRIE asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he is aware that at Neville, N.S.W., a potato-producing centre, a storekeeper who deals largely in this product is the telegraph master?
Does he not consider that it is an undesir able state of affairs that this man should get all first-hand information with regard to the market prices, and will the Minister take some steps to rectify it?
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has furnished the following information in answer in the honorable member’s questions : -
The revenue received from the office, namely, ^153 for 1910, is insufficient to justify its conversion to official status. The inspector points out that the majority of residents are buyers or sellers of local products, and that the removal of the office from the present postmaster to another resident would merely transfer the suspicion (which is held by a few residents) against the postmaster. In the circumstances it is considered that the removal of the office is not desirable or necessary.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Including £2,000 for special allowance to men in line parties.
Note. - The altered rates of pay took effect from 1st January, 1911, and from 1st March, 191 1. The above figures show the additional cost for the first year of operation. The ulti mate increased cost will amount to £107,000 for the above-mentioned classes of officers.
Telegraph Messengers. - Minimum raised from £26 to £39. Maximum from £52 to £60.
Telephonists. - Minimum raised from £32 to £39. Maximum of £110 unaltered, but now paid to all officers on reaching 21 years of age, irrespective of service.
Letter Carriers and Mail Drivers. - Minimum raised from £60 to £72. Maximum of £150 unaltered, but period to reach maximum reduced by one-half. Minimum wage to adults raised from £110 to £126, and latter amount paid immediately upon reaching age of 21. Formerly requisite to have three years’ service.
Assistants and Postal Assistants. - Minimum raised from £60 to £72. Maximum of £150 raised to £156. Period to reach maximum reduced by one-half, and greater reduction in cases of telegraphically qualified officers. Minimum wage to adults raised from £110 to £126, as in case of Letter Carriers.
Linemen. - Minimum raised from £114 to £126. Maximum raised from £126 to
Mechanics. - Minimum salary for junior mechanics raised from £60 to £72. Minimum salary for adult mechanics raised from £114 to £132. Maximum of £156 unaltered.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Our firm will endeavour to manufacture, as far as practicable, parts of the stations in Australia ; in fact, we hope to manufacture in the near future the whole plant, with few exceptions?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether, as steamers trading to Tasmania- are about to be installed with wireless telegraphy, it is the intention of the Government to eject stations in Tasmania, to enable communications to be made by wireless telegraphy?
– The question of the location of wireless stations throughout the Commonwealth is engaging the attention of the Engineer for Radio- Telegraphy, who has just arrived and taken up duty.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Can he give the House any information as to the progress being made with the Fremantle Wireless Telegraphy Station?
– The Australasian Wireless Company Limited were informed on the 22 nd August that the foundation for the mast and the anchorage for the stays of the Fremantle station had been completed, and the clearing of the site had so far progressed that the work of erecting the station could be commenced at any time they wished, and they were asked to advise when the work of erection would be commenced. On the 16th September they reported that their tower specialist and assistant had left Sydney that day for Fremantle to make arrangements for starting operations; that unfortunately, through delay on the part of the New South Wales railways, the tools and sundries would not go forward until the end of the following week; and that all matters in connexion with the erection of the plant at that place were receiving their immediate attention.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will define-‘ the expression “ member of a recognised union “ used in his reply to question No. 1 put to him on Friday, 6th October?
– The words used in my reply were ‘ ‘ members of a recognised trades union,” and my definition of the latter is any union formally recognised by trades unionism.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to state that I copied the words from the reply handed in by the Postmaster-General, and in that reply the word “ trades “ did not occur.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th October, vide page 1234):
Clause 5 -
The gauge of the railway shall be four feet eight and a .half inches.
Upon which Mr. Glynn had moved -
That after the word “be,” lino 1, the following words be inserted, “ five feet three inches or.”
.- I have been struck by the fact that no one apparently questions the contention that the time has arrived for the adoption of a uniform gauge throughout Australia. At first I was under the impression that 4 ft. 8£ in. was sufficient, but, after listening to honorable members, after making diligent search, into the various theories on the matter, and after consulting the opinions of practical men, I have come to the conclusion that it is not wide enough to meet the growing traffic with which Australia will eventually have to cope. Many honorable members have referred to 4 ft. 81 in. as the “standard” gauge; and it is very interesting to learn how that definition was arrived at. That gauge was adopted not because any body of experts had gone into the question and settled it on its merits, but in a rather haphazard way. In an able article in the Atlantic Monthly, we find the following -
The makers of the first locomotives thought only of putting their machines upon the tramways already in existence, and from that followed a very interesting and curious result. These tram lines naturally had exactly the width presented by the strength of one horse. By mere inertia the horse cart gauge established itself in the world, and everywhere the train is dwarfed to a scale that limits alike its comfort, power and speed. Because there is so much capital engaged, and because of the dead power of custom it is doubtful if there will ever be any change in this gauge. Still it might be worse. If the biggest horses had been Shetland ponies our railway carriages now would only be wide enough to hold two persons side by side, and would have a maximum speed of 20 miles an hour. There is hardly a reason, aside from this antiquated horse gauge, why the railway coach should not be 9 feet or 10 feet wide - the width of the smallest room in which people can live in comfort.
That writer has, in my opinion, placed his finger on the weak link in the chain. The 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge was simply adopted, as I say, in a haphazard way, because it represented the strength of one horse; otherwise what reason was there for not making the gauge 4 ft. 9 in. ? Those who refer to this as the “ standard “ gauge are absolutely without any authority. It has become the most usual gauge, because as new lines were built it was necessary that the rolling-stock should be able to run over those already in existence; arid the gauge has remained because of the vast amount of capital invested in railways. In America there are hundreds of millions of pounds invested in railways built on the 4-ft. 8J- in. gauge; and the cost of conversion to 5 ft. 3 in. would be enormous. In 1897 the Premiers’ Conference, at Adelaide, called on the Railway Commissioners of the various States to prepare a report, which was presented in the following August. Here, again, these railway experts, or Commissioners, based their recommendations in favour of a gauge of 4 ft. 8 *</inline> in., not on its merits as a gauge, but on considerations of
The Railway Commissioners of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia met in Melbourne in the following August, and furnished a report in which it was pointed out that it would cost less to change the 5 ft. 3 in. lines to 4 ft. 8£ in. than those of the 4 ft” 8£ in. to 5 ft. 3 in. ; that, therefore, the more favorable gauge was 4 ft. 8£ in.
To my mind, that was not the proper way to determine what was the best gauge to select in the interests of Australia as a whole. The Minister of Home Affairs, in order to secure the most up-to-date information in regard to the building of a Federal Capital - in order to insure that the work should be carried out in the best interests of the people- invited the experts of the world to furnish him with information on the subject. I should like to know why he did not take the same action with regard to this important question of railway gauge. It cannot be denied that the question is of vital importance, since the gauge selected for this line will eventually be the uniform railway gauge for Australia. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the only expert advice furnished by a body appointed specially to consider the question, is that contained in the report submitted by the railway experts of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, who met in 1853, and who, having considered the matter on its merits, selected the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge as the most desirable. I am pleased to say that Victoria and South Australia honorably abided by the decision thus arrived at. New South Wales, however, changed its policy. It changed its engineers, and adopted a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. The decision arrived at by the experts in 18.53 was based on the view that the consensus of opinion was tending in the direction of a wider gauge. They recognised that the working cost of a narrowgauge line in proportion to its earning; power was very much greater than in the case of a wider gauge of railways. On the other hand, the Railway Commissionersin 1897 reported in favour of a 4-ft. 8-in. gauge, merely because it would cost lessto change the 5-ft. 3-in. lines to 4-ft. 8 in. than to increase the 4-ft. 8j-in. lines to- 5 ft. 3 in. It .has been said that Mr. Deane supports the construction of thisline on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, but I have not been able to find in his report any statement to support that assertion. He writes -
The consensus of opinion among railway engineers and managers is that variations of gaugeshould be avoided ; that in countries such as oursthere should be one gauge, and that of a width suitable for running heavy and long freight trains, and comfortable and swift passenger trains.
There can be no doubt that the consensusof opinion is that the wider gauge conduces to the swiftness and comfort of passenger traffic, since the smaller the gauge the greater the oscillation. And so withfreight trains. The heavy engines now being manufactured in some countries could not be run on a 4-ft. 8J-in. line. A line of such a gauge will only carry enginesof a certain capacity, and if, as the honorable member for ‘Parramatta said, we are to follow in the footsteps of America, and endeavour to introduce 3,000-ton loads, we ought not to adopt a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge in this case.
– I did not say that we should imitate America in regard to the 3,000-ton load.
– The honorable member referred to the question.
– I did. In the United States they have single tracks ; here we can have as many as we need.
- Mr. Deane has reported that it is a mistake to multiply gauges, and that -
What is now looked upon as the standard gauge of the world, and which is adopted in New South Wales, or the Irish gauge, which is that of Victoria and part of South Australia, should have been the gauge of the whole of Australia.
He expresses the opinion that we should have either a 4-ft. 8^-in. or a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. He does not state definitely, ashas been asserted, that a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge should be selected. At all events, if he does, I have been unable to find such a recommendation in his report.
– He dees in a supplementary report.
– Then I have not seen such a statement. This question is one that seriously affects every State, and more particularly ‘ Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia, since, if we select a 4-ft. 8$-in. gauge for this line, it will mean that those States will have to expend millions of pounds in order to bring about their
Uniformity. The Prime Minister, in discussing this question, said that Canada had built two transcontinental lines on a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, and that she was about to build a third on the same gauge; whilst it has also been said that ihe great railway systems of the United States of America are built on a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. There is, however, a reason for that preference, and it is given by the writer of an article in the Atlantic Monthly. He explains that there is so much capital involved that it is doubtful whether there will ever be a change of gauge. That is also the opinion of other railway magnates. Mr. Harriman - one of the great authorities on this question - has Stated that, notwithstanding the duplication and quadruplication of the lines of the United States of America, traffic there is too -congested. Then, again, his great rival, !Mr. James J. Hill, in speaking before the Merchants Club, at Chicago, said that -
The capacity of the 4-ft. 8£-in, gauge had been exceeded; that the new traffic offering could no longer be profitably handled ; that a wider gauge would afford relief ; that, as it is, before present requirements can be overtaken the lines of the States must be extended and duplicated ; that the additions, upon a basis of 5 per cent, annual increase extending over five years, would involve a total expenditure of £1,100,000,000
The secret of the whole trouble in the United States is that to convert the present system from a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge to a 5-ft. 3-in., or a wider gauge, would involve an expenditure of 100,000,000. This American writer undoubtedly places his finger on the weak spot in the arguments of those who would retain the 4-ft. 8^-in. ;gauge. Mr. Harriman has also advocated very strongly the building of railways in America on a 6-ft. gauge. Mr. Deane states that he recognises the difficulties that confront the United States of America, but -that -
With us in Australia the day must be immensely remote when duplication and quadrupli- cation are insufficient to provide the necessary -increased facilities called for by the growing traffic.
Even assuming that that day is remote, the fact remains that, when it does come, the people of Australia will be faced with a problem infinitely greater than that which confronts them at the present time. At the present juncture, the alteration of America’s main lines to a wider gauge would involve an expenditure of 100,000,000, and if we are going to reach the magnitude of the American railway service, it will ultimately be necessary for us to alter over 238,000 miles of railway. I differ from Mr. Deane in regard to the remoteness of the day when quadruplication will be insufficient to provide the facilities called for. Australia will advance far more rapidly than she has in die past. The more liberal legislation of recent years which has made it possible for the people to get on the land must tend to a greater and more rapid development, and as we develop our lands so our railway traffic must extend. The problem to-day is remarkably easy compared with that which will confront posterity fifty years hence. In 1854 the United States, of America had a population of 26,000,000 and 17,000 miles of railway ; to-day the population of the country is over 91,000,000, and there are 238.3s6 miles of railway. A similar advanse is possible with Australia under the liberal legislation which is being introduced by this Government. Australia, like India, is a country of long haulages, and we find that in. India the favorite gauge is 5 ft. 6 in. In South America most of the lines are of a 5-ft. 6-in gauge.
– What about Canada?
– I have pointed out that both Canada and the United States of America have invested so many millions in their railways that they cannot afford to convert to a wider gauge. We must avoid their error. The following table shows the lengths and gauges of the South American railways : -
Most of those lines are on the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge. For the proper development of this country cheap fares and freights are necessary, and it must not be forgotten that the smaller the gauge the greater the proportion of working expenses to receipts. It is essential to progress that the producers in the distant interior shall be able to send their goods cheaply to the coast for consumption in the centres of population, and for export to foreign markets. Mr. W. P. Hales, M. Inst. C.E., in a very interesting paper, says -
The largest practicable locomotive on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would probably be 20, per cent, more powerful than the largest practicable locomotive on a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. Carriages and trucks could be made about 10 per cent, wider with a similar increase in carrying capacity. It may safely be affirmed that a railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge can handle fully 10 per cent, more traffic that a railway of 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge at a less cost per passenger mile and per ton mile, and the cost of construction per mile in an easy country like Australia will be little greater.
– Then why do not. the Victorian railways carry goods more cheaply than the New South Wales railways?
– I am not in a position to compare the Victorian and New South railway rates, but it is a generally accepted principle that freights and fares are proportionately higher on narrow gauge lines than on wide gauge lines. During a~-visit T paid last year to Oodnadatta, I went down a coal mine whose coal, though not so good as that from Newcastle, is superior to the Victorian brown coal, but the rates on the 3-ft. 6-in. line which serves the district are too heavy to allow it to be used. Similarly, some fine copper mines, with expensive plants, have had to close down because the rates were too high to allow their ore to be profitably sent to other places. The whole of the New. South Wales lines are on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. Australia has 3,983 miles of railway on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, 3^43 on the 4-ft- 8J-in. gauge, and 7,263 on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. If the only thing to be aimed at is the saving of expense on conversion to a uniform gauge, the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge should be made the standard. If the 4-ft. 8$-in gauge were made the standard, over 11,000 miles of lines would have to be converted from other gauges. New South Wales had an opportunity to bring about the unification of the gauges of Australia when railway construction was first commenced, but she broke her compact with Victoria. Our friends from that State want all the plums, and say to us when we wish for a fair deal that we are influenced by the Age or some other newspaper. When I think the Age correct, I support it, and when it is incorrect I oppose it. . I am no more influenced by it than are New South Wales members by the Daily Telegraph, and am dealing with the question before us from the national, not the parochial; stand-point. It is unworthy of a member of the Labour party to say of a colleague that he is influenced by a newspaper. I am not bound hand and foot to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. What I ask for is the report of a body of experts. We have not had a definite statement on the gauge question from expert engineers, but I have seen it stated that the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is not wide enough, and gauges of 5 ft. 3 in., 5 ft. 6 in., and 7 ft. have been advocated. The proposed railway will have a length of 1,060 miles, and the distance from Brisbane to Adelaide is 1,800 miles. If the proposed railway were made on a 5-ft. 3-in gauge, there would be 1,700 miles of that gauge, leaving 1,100 miles to be converted to it. That is a problem that would lae remarkably easy for us to solve to-day in comparison with the problem that will confront Australia in fifty or sixty years. That is the way in which T am looking at the matter. We have to accept the latest engineering advice as to the policy which will benefit Australia to the greatest possible extent. The New South Wales representatives appear to think the expenditure involved in converting railways to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would amount to millions of pounds. If in adopting a uniform gauge, we are to consider solely the ground of expenditure, let that expenditure be deferred so that posterity, which will share in the advantages, will also share in the cost. It is also urged that it will be easy to get rid of 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock. But I point out in answer to that argument that at the present time in Australia more money isinvested in 5-ft. 3-in. railways than in lines of any other gauge. The total sum invested in rolling-stock for lines of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is ,£8,001,588. The sum invested in stock for 3-ft. 6-in gauge lines is £7,436,600, whilst the amount invested in stock for 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge lines is £7,816,359. That is to say, the money invested in rolling-stock for 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines is very much more than the amount invested in that for lines of any other gauge. I also point out to honorable members who advocate the 4-ft. 8j-in> gauge, that as that gauge is more generally employed in the railways of the world than any other, it would evidently be easier to get rid of rolling-stock constructed for railways of that gauge than it would be to get rid of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge rolling-stock. Indeed, Mr. Hales points this out. He says in a document which has been circulated for the information of honorable members - .
If the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge is discarded the superior saleability of its rolling stock, amounting to about ^2,500,000, should more than counterbalance the additional cost of adopting 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
I think it will be admitted that the statements which I have had the honour to make this afternoon in favour of the wider gauge are, at all events, definite. On the other hand, the authorities quoted by honorable members who favour the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge are not definite. There is no finality about them. They seem to have selected the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge and to have recommended its advantages ‘from the financial standpoint alone. I feel compelled to oppose the clause as it stands, for the reasons which I have given. I do not say that I am pledged in favour of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, but I do say that the Minister ought to do in this case what he did when he called for plans in connexion with the building of the Federal Capital. He. advertised throughout the world in order to obtain the best expert opinion. I want him to do exactly the same in connexion with this railway. I oppose the clause first because the only engineering authorities whom we have at our command have definitely advocated the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Secondly, the only Railway Conference which has considered this gauge question, and recommended the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, only recommended the narrower gauge in New South Wales because it was considered that it would be cheaper by ^2,500,000. In America, however, as has been pointed out in connexion with the duplication and quadruplication of lines, both Mr. Harriman and Mr. James J. Hill have definitely stated that the congestion of traffic has not been overcome by means of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. Furthermore, I consider that in our railway construction we must lay down as a definite principle that we must give to our people a swift service, cheap passenger rates, and cheap freight for produce, so as to permit them not only to compete in local markets, but also in the markets of the world. “ I recognise that this is a very serious question, and that the selection of a gauge by the Commonwealth in this instance will involve the adoption of the same gauge on trunk lines throughout Australia. It must be recognised here, as it is recognised in the United States and Canada, that in order economically to work main lines a uniform gauge is essential. I can see no other future for ‘the railways of Australia than that a uniform gauge will have to be adopted. Because I think that a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is not suitable for that purpose, I must support the amendment.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has stated that one of the chief considerations in connexion with the adoption of any gauge on our railways is that we must have cheap freights and fares to enable our producers to carry their produce to the sea-board at the lowest possible rates. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member, and, if he will listen to what I have to say, I think he will be compelled to admit that Australian experience, at all events, is strongly in favour of the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, as compared with the 5 ft. 3 in. I do not know whether, if we were to alter the gauge to 6 feet, the result would be in the opposite direction, but I do know, and wish to emphasize, that Australian experience points strongly to the fact that the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge gives us the cheapest possible fares and freights, and enables producers to send their produce long distances - and short distances as well- =-at lower rates than any other. The honorable member for Angas proposes to refer back tq the engineering experts the question of what shall be the gauge for this railway. I can see very little use in adopting that course. During the last, few months those in charge of defence matters have consulted with those in charge of our railways, and have gone into this question. They have recommended the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. As pointed out in Mr. Deane’ s report, the engineers and Commissioners of our railway systems - the very men to whom it is again proposed to refer once more the same question - also met in conference to deal with this gauge question, and recommended that the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge should be adopted. I do not think those who are supporting the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge have shown that in itself that gauge embodies any particular merit. True, they. have quoted some opinions with a view to proving that a wide gauge is preferable to a narrow one, but they have not attempted to show that such a- gauge is associated particularly with a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. There is no doubt that the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge was decided upon more or less by chance. But I hold in my hand an authority which shows that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was also decided upon entirely by chance, and not because in itself it possessed any special merit.
– That remark does not apply to Australia.
– Neither the 4-ft. 8j-in. nor the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was adopted, because of any particular merit. Both were adopted in quite a haphazard w-ay. Peculiar as may have been the origin of the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge, I think that the origin of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was still more remarkable. I. hold in my hand a book entitled Our Home Railways, by W. J. Gordon, who, in speaking of the Irish railway system, which was the first to adopt the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, Vol. 1, p. 57, says-
The gauge battle was just the sort of thing in which Irishmen would revel, and they chose their gauges to please themselves. The Ulster, for instance, completed twenty-five miles of the road from Belfast to Dublin on a gauge of 6 ft. a in., which the Drogheda, which set out from Dublin to meet the Ulster, adopted 5 ft. 2 in. When this was complained of by the Ulster company, the Irish Board of Works replied that though it looked a bit awkward, yet, as there was little chance of the intervening part being finished, it really did not matter. This airy sort of thing, however, was not quite good enough for the Ulstermen, who appealed to higher powers, with the result that Sir Charles Pasley, the Inspector-General of Railways, was requested to look into the matter of these Irish gauges. That ingenious engineer, after trying persuasion in vain, solved the difficulty arithmetrically by adding up the width of gauge adopted by every Irish company, dividing the total by the number of companies, and thereby obtained an average of 5 ft. 3 in., which thus became the Irish national gauge.
– That writer is absolutely incorrect, because the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge had been adopted in Australia prior to that period.
– T have simply quoted the author for what he may be worth.
– A very good exhibition of Irish wit and humour.
– At any rate, our experience in Australia* - whatever may have been the experience elsewhere - is rather in favour of the 4-ft. 8j-.in. as opposed to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Mr. Hales, who was quoted by the honorable member for Corio, has doubtless written a very interesting paper, in the course of which he cited a number of figures in support of his advocacy of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - figures which are apparently taken from official sources. But he carefully omitted all those figures from the same sources which did not suit hisargument. This, perhaps, was quite natural. I find, from Knibbs’ Year-Book, that in New South Wales the total mileage of railways on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is 3,644. Victoria possesses 3,491 miles of railway, including 107 miles of 2-ft. 6-in. gauge, which leaves a balance of 3,384 miles upon the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. As evidencing the difference which exists between the cost of working the 4-ft. 8j-in. and the 5-ft. 3-in. gauges, I would point out that the estimated cost of conversion from the 4-ft. 8J-in. to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in New South Wales and Victoria is £4,260,000, whereas the estimated cost of conversion from the 5-ft. 3-in. to the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge would be only £2,360,500. Thus there is a difference in favour of the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge of £1,899,500.
– What would be the difference if we had to sell the 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock? We could not sell it.
– Several honorable members have endeavoured to prove that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is being used to a considerable extent. If that be so, we could easily get rid of the 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock. But I am credibly informed by those who know something of the subject that, while it would be possible to alter a very great deal of the 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock to the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, it would be almost impossible to alter the 4-ft. 8j-in. rolling-stock to the 5-ft. 3-111. gauge.
– One expert says no. Mr. Glynn. - Neither could be altered’ very well.
– The annual train mileage run in New South Wales at the present time totals 15,468,000 miles, asagainst 11,706,000 miles in Victoria - that is to say, that, although New South Walespossesses only 153 miles more of railways than does Victoria, she runs her trains; 3,720,000 miles more per annum. lt isperfectly clear, therefore, that her people have a better train service than have thoseof Victoria.
– She has more people.
– But, proportionately,, she provides a very much better train service for her people than does Victoria.
– Do those figures include the suburban traffic?
– What about the number of passengers carried?
– The honorable member can obtain information as to the number of passengers carried by consulting the Y ear-Book. I come now to the volume of goods which is forwarded by rail. In New South Wales the railways carry 8,393,000 tons of goods annually, as against 4.468,000 tons in Victoria. In New South Wales the cost of construction and equipment has been .£48,925,348, whereas in Victoria it has been £43,142,329. Anybody who knows anything of the railways in New South Wales and Victoria will readily recognise that the additional cost sf construction in the former State is due to the very much more difficult country on the average which her railways have to traverse. Any one acquainted with the Blue Mountains line, the Great Northern line, and the line from Sydney to Albury, three of the longest lines in New South Wales, will be aware that for a great part of their length they run through very difficult country indeed. There are no railways in Victoria at present that for difficulties of construction, and consequent capital cost, can compare with them in this respect. Whilst at the present time the actual service rendered is distinctly in favour of New South Wales, the actual cost of construction is distinctly against that State. I am comparing now system with system in each State.
– The New South Wales railways have cost nearly £.1,000 per mile more to construct than the Victorian railways.
– The New South Wales railways on the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge cost an average of £13,480 per mile to construct, whilst the Victorian railways cost an average of £12,358 per mile. As an offset to a certain extent against the additional cost in New South Wales we find that that State owns 349 more locomotives, and 4,000 more waggons, than Victoria. When we come to consider the percentage of working expenses to gross earnings, what do we find ? This percentage in New South Wales is 59.73, and in Victoria 63.41, distinctly against Victoria and the wider gauge. The working expenses per train mile run in Victoria is 57.77CI., and in New South Wales 50.84d., again distinctly against Victoria and the wider gauge.
– The experience of South’ Australia is against the honorable member in that regard. Her railways pay nearly 6 per cent, with a large stretch of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– South Australia has just as great a length of railway on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge as on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Yes, but the lines on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge have to carry a loss on some of the other lines.
– I have shown that the working expense per train mile in Victoria is 7d. more than in New South Wales on the narrower garge
– Surely the honorable member will not put that down to the gauge ?
– I am not putting it down to the gauge. I am dealing with the statement of the honorable member for Corio that what is desired is a thoroughly efficient and a thoroughly cheap service for the whole of Australia. What I am endeavouring to prove is that, so far as our Australian experience has gone, and according to the figures of our own officialYearBooh, it is proved conclusively that, notwithstanding the additional expense that New South Wales has had to go to in the construction of her lines, and notwithstanding that she gives her people a very much better service than is given to the Victorian people^-
– That is questionable.
– I have given the figures for the train miles run, and that is an indication of the efficiency or otherwise of the service. Notwithstanding these two facts, which are distinctly against New South Wales, we have absolute proof that per train mile New” South Wales is conducting her railways more cheaply than is Victoria. The percentage of net revenue for capita] expenditure is the next consideration I direct attention to. In New South Wales, it is 4.52, and in Victoria it is 3.77 ; again distinctly in favour of New South Wales.
– What has that to do with the question, of the gauge? Is it not a question of management?
– And of a thousand and one other things?
– I am supposing that the management of the Victorian railways is just as good as that of the New South Wales railways. We have no evidence to the contrary. Both systems are Statemanaged, and under the control of Commissioners; and it is a fair presumption that the management is no better in New South Wales than it is in Victoria.
– What about the longdistance haulage?
– In respect of the longdistance haulage, the figures tell distinctly against New South Wales, and in favour of Victoria.
– Has that not an influence in reducing the cost of working per train mile?
– It has; but I .do not think it would prevent the management being just .as cheap in Victoria as in New South Wales. The net revenue per train mile run in New South Wales is 34.28d., and in Victoria, 33-34d. It must be said, in favour of the Victorian railways, that they do not carry as much mineral traffic as do the New South Wales lines. At the same time, we must remember that coal is carried at a very cheap rate indeed on the New South Wales railways. The percentage of profit to capital cost of construction and equipment in 1910 is again distinctly in favour of New South Wales. It was 1.07 as compared to .36 in Victoria. That is to say, we have a difference of profit of no less than .71 per cent, in favour of the New South Wales railways. Now I come to what is one of the most important points in favour of the New South Wales system, and that is the question of fares and freights charged. I have already shown that the capital cost of construction in New South Wales is very much greater than in Victoria, that the train mileage run is very much greater, and also that the profit is greater on the New South Wales system ; and yet, when we come to consider the important matter of the” actual freights and fares charged on the two railway systems, we find that fares and freights on the New South Wales railways are very much lower than on the Victorian railways. The first class single fares compare as follow : - For a journey of 50 miles, New South Wales 5s. 9d., Victoria 7s. 66.-
– What on earth has that to do with the gauge question?
– I think I have shown fairly clearly that the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge provides a cheaper service than the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in Australia at present.
– The honorable member means that the New South Wales Railways Commissioners are providing a cheaper ser vice than the Victorian Railways Commissioners will provide.
– I mean that the New South Wales Railways Commissioners can provide a cheaper service on a greater cost of construction, and show a bigger profit at the end of the year. If that is not a point in favour of the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge I do not know what is. The first class single fares are: - For 100 miles, New South Wales 13s. 7d., Victoria 15s.; 200 miles, New South Wales 28s. 7d., Victoria 30s. ; 300 miles, New South Wales, 43s. 2d., Victoria 44s. 6d. ; 400 miles, New South Wales 56s. 4d., Victoria 58s. 2d. ; 500 miles, New South Wales 65s. 8d., Victoria 72s.
– Recently, in New South Wales, they have refused to give return tickets for long distances.
– I am quoting from Knibbs, at a time when return tickets were issued.
– They had to alter the system.
– We have altered it, but for a very different reason.
– Has the honorable member worked out the difference in the cost of fuel between the New South Wales and Victorian railways?
– I have not, but there should not be any difference in favour of New South Wales, seeing that Victoria has a State-owned coal-mine supplying its railways. If that will not provide coal cheaper than private enterprise I do not know what will.
– The honorable member is quoting from figures published prior to the opening of that mine.
– No, these are figures for 1910, and the State coal-mine was open in “that year. The second class single fares compare as follow : - For 50 miles, New South Wales 3s. 7d., Victoria, 5s. ; 100 miles, New South Wales 8s. 3d., Victoria 10s. ; 200 miles, New South Wales 17s., Victoria 20s. ; 300 miles, New South Wales 25s. 4d., Victoria 28s. 9d. ; 400 miles, New South Wales 32s. nd., Victoria 38s. 10d. ; 500 miles, New South Wales 39s. 8d.. Victoria 47s. 10d.
– Does the honorable member attribute the extra charge in Victoria to the difference in the width of gauge.?
– I am showing that, although the New South Wales railways cost more for capital construction than d.i,d the Victorian, the service rendered in New South Wales is better than in Victoria, taking the train mileage run over railways of almost similar length.
– Does the honorable member think this has anything to do with the question of gauge?
– Yes, I am endeavouring to show that New South Wales can charge less on her narrower gauge railways for all these services, and yet show a bigger profit. Exactly the same state of affairs exists in the matter of freights. For agricultural produce, a matter of great importance to all farmers, the charges pel ton in truck loads compare as follow : - For 50 miles, New South Wales 5s., Victoria 5s. 66. ; for 100 miles, New South Wales 7s. 6d., Victoria 8s. 9d. ; 200 miles, New South Wales 9s. 6d., Victoria 1 is. 6d. ; 300 miles, New South Wales 10s. 6d., Victoria 13s. ,4d. ; 400 miles, New South Wales 11s. 4d., Victoria 15s.; 500 miles, New South Wales 12s., Victoria 16s. 8d. The figures in Queensland, with a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, are lower than those in Victoria, although not lower than those in New South Wales.
– There should be a great difference between Queensland and New South Wales if the narrower gauge means lower freights.
– I think the figures tend to show that in the 4-ft. 8j-in gauge we have that mean between the two which gives the cheapest possible service to the people.
– It is the long-distance rate in New South Wales that pulls down the average, and Mr. Eddy said they all paid.
– All I contend is that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge has no great merit over the 4-ft. 8J-in. Those who have advocated the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge have not shown that it has any particular or peculiar merit, and if the figures which I have quoted prove anything at all they prove that it is possible to give on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge a cheaper service than on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The whole question largely resolves itself into one of first cost. The first cost to the people of Australiaand I take it that the cost will have to be borne by practically every part of the Commonwealth - would be £2,000,000 more to convert the lines from 4 ft. 8 J- in. to 5 ft. 3 in. than to convert from 5 ft, 3 in. to 4 ft. 8 J in. We shall have, in the 4-ft. 8$-‘m. gauge, a gauge that has proved itself over and over again to be perfectly capable of carrying any traffic that we can possibly suppose Australia will ever have to take over her railways. I do not think we shall ever be able to reach in Australia the enormous production of America, because we have not the same vast extent of rich territory.
– That has yet to be proved.
– We ha%’e already proved that, with our existing scientific knowledge, it is not .possible for the continent of Australia to produce as largely as the American continent. If in time to come our scientific knowledge is extended, and Australia is enabled to produce as much as America is producing now, that same scientific knowledge will be available to America, and she will still produce then more than we will. In regard to the 4-ft. 8x-in. gauge, we have not reached anything approaching the possibilities of the development of our system on that basis. When we compare the rollingstock in Australia with the rolling-stock in America - I have not the figures before me now, but I know that in America they have engines nearly four times as heavy as ours, and freight cars which carry five and six times more than do any cars we have in Australia to-day-
– And still the principal lines are overtaxed.
– That is a statement which I do not think has been borne out by any facts which have been brought before the Committee.
– By one of the engineers.
– When we remember that practically all our lines are single tracks, when we reflect that by the general duplication of those lines, and the quadrupling of some sections near the coast, we can add to the existing railway facilities and increase the usefulness of our railways by, I suppose, 2,000 per cent., and when we recognise that a vast portion of the interior will not produce very heavily at any time, it is not possible to conceive of a time when the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge will fail to commend itself as the standard gauge for this great continent.
.- I think it would be idle at this stage for the Committee to discuss entirely the question of what is the superior gauge. We cannot, simply because we are members of Parliament, pose as experts on a question which is absolutely one for experts to decide. And seeing that we have not had anything like a consensus of opinion among the experts, I fail to understand why there should be any debate as to the acceptance of the latter portion of this amendment. It does not settle finally which shall be the gauge; but it proposes a very short delay, possibly a delay of a few weeks, until we can have a proper inquiry into this question by those who are competent to decide it. The honorable member for Richmond has given us some very valuable information as regards the working of the different lines in each State. But I fail to see any application in them to the question before the Committee. By that kind of argument you could prove that the 3-ft. 6-in. or the 2-ft. 6-in. gauge is the better one. By that process of reasoning you could prove anything ; but it does not touch the question of which is the superior gauge. The amendment proposes that the gauge shall be 5 ft. 3 in., instead of 4 ft. 8 in., or, failing that, that the consideration of the matter shall be postponed pending an inquiry. Now, what is the case for an inquiry? We are here to consider whether the clause shall pass as it is, or whether a further inquiry shall be made. The case for an inquiry is, I take it, that there is considerable doubt in the mind of every member of the Committee as to which is the better gauge. There has been no definite opinion expressed even by the experts who have spoken. Consequently, I think that a good case for further inquiry is made out. One would imagine, from reading the reports of Mr. Deane, and particularly his supplementary report, that all that is to be done on this question is that he shall say the last word, and that the matter will” then be settled. As a public man, I have not had very much experience, but I object to any person setting himself up as a dictator to this honorable House on a question of such vast importance to the people of Australia. At the very beginning of one paper, he says, “ In my report on the gauge question, I thought I had said all that was necessary,” that is, when I open my mouth, let every other dog be dumb. This report emanates from the gentleman who endeavoured to reply to Mr. Hales, another eminent engineer ; and, in my humble judgment, it is about the weakest answer to a good case which I have ever read. I object to this final remark by Mr. Deane - “ I have said all that can be said on the question.”
– That is contradictory of the first paragraph.
– Exactly. In one part of the paper, Mr. Deane said -
I do not think that the opposers of the 4-ft. 8-l.in. gauge, or, perhaps, I should say the favourers of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, would clamour for one of 6 feet.
How can he know ? If it were practicable, and financially possible, I would favour a 6-ft. gauge in preference to either of the others. Having read the reports, I do not think that there is any doubt that the wider gauge is the superior one; and, therefore, I believe that there should be further inquiry into the matter. Lower down, Mr. Deane deals with one of the objections as regards the construction of the engines, namely, that the wider gauge was advocated because they wanted to build the cylinders inside. Then he points out that the American engineers solved the difficulty by building the cylinders on the outside, admitting that there was a big difficulty. But the point is that the larger the cylinders have to be built, in order to increase the haulage power, the bigger must be the overhanging on the narrower gauge. If this gentleman, as an engineer, did not want to put forward what I may call a partisan statement, surely he would have placed these things before us. I hold that when we have a consulting engineer, he should advise the members of this House. The whole case, and not one side of it, ought to be placed before us. For that reason, I think that the amendment should be accepted. I have said that there is some doubt about the different arguments which have been used. It is not for those who support the amendment to prove that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is superior to the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in gauge. It is sufficient for us to prove that the last word has not been said in favour of the latter gauge for this transcontinental railway. In this report, we are told that there have been considerable recommendations made. What do they consist of? As has been pointed out several times, the final question was solved, not on the merits of the gauge, but on the cost of converting a track from one gauge to the other. It has been said that the extra cost of converting the line from a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, as against converting the line from the latter gauge to the former, will be something over £2,000,000. In a very able criticism of that statement, Mr. Smith, who is also an engineer of standing, points out that it takes into consideration the re-sleepering of the whole, which will not be necessary.
T asked the Minister, when he was submitting the measure, where the extra cost would come in, and for a short time I was satisfied with his answer that it represented extra sleepering, tunnelling, and widening of bridges. The question of the conversion of gauge is one which we need to inquire into more. I do not think -.that there is very much difference in the width of the railway carriages and rollingstock on either gauge. The overhang is larger on the narrow gauge, as any one can see. Therefore, the question of widening the tunnels does not arise. Not one engineer in Australia has said that he has made a careful analysis of the cost. What he has said is that the amount stated is an estimate. We cannot expect any one to make a proper examination unless there is some proof that we are going to have a uniform gauge; at present it is mere conjecture. Consequently, we cannot accept the bare statement that it will cost so much more. Let us assume, however, that the estimate is correct, and that it will cost £2,000,000 more to convert from the narrower gauge than from the wider. Mr. Hales, another engineer, says that the extra loss on the rolling-stock by going from the narrower ito the wider gauge would be ,£2,500,000”. I am not saying that Mr. Hales is correct, or that Mr. Deane, or the Commissioners, are correct; but there are those differences, and if we accept all the estimates, then the saving on account of the rolling-stock will counterbalance the cost of the conversion of the permanent way. When there is so much difference of opinion, it is time to have the matter thoroughly threshed out by bringing these experts into touch with one another. At present, they are running in parallel lines; and, if they could be brought together so as to arrive at a consensus of opinion, I should be prepared to accept it. First of all, we are told that the loss on the rolling-stock by going from the wider to the narrower gauge will be obviated by the fact that we shall not immediately bring about a complete conversion. Then there :is the argument that the uniformity of the trunk line gauge will not necessarily mean a uniform gauge on all the lines. There are those who contend, with some justice, that while the uniform gauge for defence and developmental purposes will mean the same gauge through all the States where the lines connect with main trunk lines, branch “lines may be of a different gauge. Of course, there is no question that it would be better for Australia to have one gauge on all lines ; but here we are faced with the question of cost. But the most important question arises - what will be the effect of this line from a defence point of view within the next ten or twenty years? Nobody will say that, in providing for defence, we should look any further ahead than ten years. We desire a line to connect the east and the west, and to enable the mobilization of troops and the carriage of guns and horses for the defence of the east or west as the case may be. If the line is built on the wider gauge, it will not be a big contract to convert the line from Port Augusta to Adelaide. Western Australia has promised to carry out her share of the work; and I believe that South Australia will also make the conversion. If a war broke out. and an attack were made on the west - which is where attack is most feared - or, otherwise, I do not see any strong case for the railway - we should be able to mobilize troops, horses, guns, and so forth right from Albury to Melbourne, and then on to Adelaide and Perth, thus connecting three capitals and three States. If it is necessary that we shoulld, in the immediate future, connect with Sydney, the line to be converted would be less than 400 miles, whereas to bring the main lines of South Australia and Victoria into line with the New South Wales gauge would mean (he conversion of 673 miles. Honorable members have said that we are not proposing a line to carry big freight loads, but, to ray mind, that argument savours of lack of confidence in the future development of Australia. Supposing we do not ask those honorable members to look very far ahead, we are justified in asking them - seeing that ive are building a line primarily for defence purposes, for, otherwise, it would not be a national concern - to look at the possibility of a war in the immediate future. Where is the man who will not say that, when war breaks out, the line will be taxed to its utmost capacity. There is no line in any part of the world that has ever proved capable, over a long distance such as this, of coping with the traffic in war time; and that is a fact that honorable members have not faced. Right through the discussion we have’ been told that this railway is for defence, and with that I agree. I realize that the case for this railway, and the expenditure of money on it, would lose more than half its strength were it not for the recommendations of military authorities. Yet we are told that we do not require the best gauge for a railway that will carry the biggest freight trains, because the country will not have sufficiently developed to require that in the next fifty or 100 years. As a matter of fact, everybody, with even an elementary knowledge of warfare, knows that this line would be taxed to its utmost as soon as war -broke out.
– Does the honorable member contend that the salvation of Australia depends on 6 J inches?
– I do not; and nobody can read such a contention into my remarks, which, I believe, are a complete answer to the statement that it is not necessary to have a line of the fullest capacity. The wider the gauge the better. It is estimated by engineers that the extra 6£ inches will add 20 per cent, to the carrying capacity of the line ; and that advantage is not to be ignored when it is a matter of life and death to the nation. I do not say that the salvation of Australia depends on this line ; but the line will be a big factor in the defence of the country. I am not in the habit of making extravagant statements, and I do not contend that the salvation of the continent depends on 6 inches or 6 feet. In war time, however, the salvation of the country does depend on the promptitude with which troops, guns, and horses, and other requisites of war can be shifted. If it can be shown that, with the extra 6 inches, the carrying capacity is increased by 20 per cent., we have a strong case made out for the wider gauge. I have not heard that any of the engineers contend that the first cost of constructing a 5-ft. 3-in. line is any more than that in the case of a 4-ft. 8j-in. line, particularly in countries such as this, where there are no engineering difficulties. A uniform gauge must come ; but, as yet, we have arrived at no decision on the point. Both States and Commonwealth have to be consulted ; and, in any case, there must be uniformity, quite apart from the construction of the line under discussion. Such a change may not come in our time ; but if the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is adopted, there would be a break of gauge at Albury, and another one at Port Augusta, or at Adelaide, as the case may be. Here we have two breaks of gauge, instead of one; and yet we are professing to build a line by which troops may be quickly moved from one side of the continent to the other. We are told that 4 ft. 8£ in. is the standard gauge of the world ; but, as already pointed out, the adoption of that gauge was purely accidental. If it were the most desirable gauge half a century ago, that does not prove it to be the better one for the requirements of to-day. We are further told that lines are being maintained and rebuilt on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge; but that is no argument. -We all know that, where there, are thousands of miles of existing lines on the narrow gauge, it would be madness to build other lines on a different gauge. But that does not apply to this country. If the argument that the majority of the lines are built on a certain gauge is a sound one, then I think a fairly strong case could be made out for the adoption in Australia of a uniform gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., inasmuch as the majority of our railways are of that width. All the engineers, however, reject that gauge. If, as- the honorable member for Richmond has said, railways built on. a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge are more effective than are those on a 5-ft. 3- in. gauge, then it might be reasonable to say that a still narrower gauge would be even more effective. The honorable member for Richmond said that we had struck the happy mean. That is indeed a discovery.
– A revelation !
– I should call it an inspiration. I do not know what the happy mean is. I do not even say that a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is wide enough. We have, however, to consider the question of practicability, and who will say that there are very big difficulties in the way of the adoption of a 5-ft. 3-in. as against a 4- ft. %-‘m. gauge for Australia? Even in his report Mr. Deane admits that there is a better case for the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The only argument advanced by the Railway Commissioners in support of their decision of 1897 in favour of the adoption of a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge was that it would cost more to convert the smaller into the wider gauge. The railroad development of Australia is as yet in its infancy. By constructing this transcontinental line we shall lay the foundation of the future railway gauge of Australia, and that being so, we ought not to rush to a conclusion. We should be prepared to study the matter carefully, and to have it fully considered, so that when the lines in existence to-day come to be increased twenty fold, aye, fifty fold, we shall be able to say that we have the best gauge that could possibly be adopted.
.- It used to be the practice for the Minister in charge of a Bill on which an amendment had been proposed, to at once inform the Committee whether or not the Government intended to accept it. We have now been discussing this proposal for some hours, yet neither the Minister in charge of the Bill nor any other member of the Government has intimated whether or not it is to be accepted.
– The Prime Minister made it clear when he spoke that the Government favoured a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge.
– The Prime Minister has not spoken since this amendment was submitted. I suppose that the Government have the numbers behind them, and that, therefore, the Committee is to be treated with contempt.
– There is nothing like that in our minds.
– What does this amendment really mean? As the honorable member for Corangamite has pointed out, it is simply a proposal that the gauge shall be either 5 ft. 3 in. or 4 ft. 81 in., whichever both Houses of Parliament may by resolution approve of, after a report on the comparative merits of the two gauges has been obtained from the engineers-in-chief of the States and the consulting engineer for the Commonwealth. Unless the Government have the numbers behind them in support of the clause as it stands, what possible objection can they have to such an amendment? Its adoption would not delay by one day the construction of this railway. No one opposed to it dare say that it would. Before anything can be done in the way of building the railway, the Parliament of Western Australia must pass an Enabling Act. Then, again, the Government of South Australia must come to an agreement with the Minister of Home Affairs as to the extent of territory to be taken over. Whilst those negotiations were proceeding, this, conference of experts could take place, and we could then be furnished with an authoritative expert statement of the position. Up to the present, however, we have nothing of the kind. There has been circulated among honorable members to-day a supplementary report by Mr. Deane, and I should like to know whether it was read by the Minister of Home Affairs before it was placed in our hands.
– I do not think it could have been.
– Nor do I; because there has never, been circulated a more misleading, contradictory, flippant, and, indeed, impudent official report.
– I am sure there was no such intention on the part of Mr. Deane.
– I am expressing the opinion of honorable members on both sides of the House - honorable members holding different views on this question - when I so describe this supplementary report. Has the Minister read it?
– I went through it very carefully.
– Then I do not know why the Minister allowed it to be circulated.
– I did not want fc colour the report with my own opinions.
– This man says that he thought he had said all that was necessary on the subject. As a matter of fact, he had said practically nothing. In this supplementary report, dated 6th October, 1911, Mr. Deane writes -
In my report on the gauge question I thought that I had said all that was necessary in the way of argument in favour of what is called the Standard gauge.. . I pointed out how unnecessary it was to adopt a gauge only 6g inches wider, and I showed how the real experts in railway matters, namely, the State Railway Commissioners, in conference, had on four different occasions decided that the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge was the one to adopt.
The only paper which has been circulated dealing with the question of gauge is that by Mr. Deane, entitled The Gauges of Australia and their Unification. I presume that that is the report to which he refers in this later document, in which he states that on four different occasions the States Railways Commissioners in conference had recommended the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. According to his only report on the subject the States Railways Commissioners have met in conference on only one occasion. Is not that misleading? Can the Minister defend the circulation of such a statement to mislead honorable members? And yet the honorable gentleman says that he carefully read the supplementary report. Let us see what appears in the first report, under the heading of “ Historical.” In the first place, we have the statement -
In April, 1897, the Premiers, in Conference at Adelaide, decided to request the Railway Commissioners of the respective Colonics to report on the question. The Railway Commissioners of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia met in Melbourne in the following August, and furnished a report in which it was pointed out that it would cost less to change the 5 ft. 3 in. lines to 4 ft. 8£ in. than those of the 4 ft. 8£ in. to 5 ft. 3 in. ; that therefore the more favorable gauge was 4 ft. Si in. The cost of reducing all lines of the wider gauge to 4 ft. 8^ in. was estimated at £2,360,500.
According to this historical sketch by Mr. Deane, that was the first and only conference of States Railway Commissioners. But let us go a little further. We are told in the first report by Mr. Deane that-
The question of the best uniform gauge again came to the front when the Engineers-in-Chief for Railways of the five States were called upon, in 1903, to report upon the selection of the route for the connexion between Port Augusta, South Australia, and Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and its estimated cost. Here again the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge was recommended.
That was a decision, not of the Railways Commissioners, but of the EngineersinChief. Then we have the further statement -
Al a meeting of the Railway War Council in February last, the Chief Commissioners of the States being present, the question of gauge was discussed, and it was unanimously decided to recommend the adoption of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge.
These are the only three occasions on which, according to Mr. Deane’s first report, the matter was considered. It was considered once by the Railways Commissioners - and not on four different occasions, as he states; - once at a meeting of the Engineers-in-Chief, and once by the Railway War Council. Mr. Deane conceals the fact that the Engineers-in-Chief, in their report of 1903, stated that they recommended the adoption of the 4-ft. 8!-in. gauge in recognition of the decision of the Iia il way Commissioners in 1897. We do not know the constitution of the War Council, or what knowledge and experience its members possessed to entitle them to make any recommendation, or to warrant us in paying any attention to their decisions. Is it not outrageous that a statement of this kind on the part of a public official should be circulated, after< being carefully read by the Minister, to mislead honorable members? Further, Mr. Deane contradicts himself. He says -
Although in some respects it (the 4-ft. 8£ingauge) may be considered to be inferior to the 5 ft. 3 in., in other respects it is much better.
I emphasize the admission that “ in some respects it may be considered to be inferior to it.” He concludes his report by saying - 7 think I have shown on all points the advantage lies with the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge.
Are not the two statements contradictory? Then let me draw attention to the bad. taste of the man, as displayed by his reference to the late Mr. Harriman. Hesays -
Except the opinion of the late Mr. Harriman,. of the Southern Pacific Company of America, I have failed to come across any very definitestatement, and that opinion was hazarded by a man who shortly afterwards succumbed tothe fate of all humanity.
As if his recommendation of the wider gauge had anything to do with Mr. Harriman’s death ! Why should those who areopposing the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge be told that they would not “ clamour for one of 6 feet”? Is that the language which theMinister recommends his officials to use in papers to be laid before Parliament ? Takethe next paragraph of the report -
It has been said that the tendency in Europe is to ask for wider gauges; there was a wider gauge in Spain, and that, I believe, was converted to 4 ft. 8£ in.
Mr. Deane does not say that it was converted to 4 ft. 81 in. -
In any case, if Spain had adhered to her 5 ft. 6 in. I do not think that the rest of Europe or America or Great Britain would bevery much impressed by the opinions and practice prevailing in that country.
Is that a proper statement to be made by an official, and placed by the Minister before Parliament? Mr. Deane, in the last paragraph but one of his report, says -
One word as regards stability and steadinessof running. Stability does not depend so much, on the extra few inches width of gauge as on. length of sleeper with a well packed road.
Although he makes us believe that he intends to refer to stability and” steadiness of running, he says nothing about the latter. I hope that before the Minister lays anymore of these reports on the table, he will1 take the trouble to read them, and see that they are couched in the respectful languagewhich should be adopted in addressing a. deliberative assembly. The only consideration given to this question in the past wasgiven at the Conference of Railways Commissioners in 1897, when the narrower gauge was recommended because it wouldcost less to convert to the narrow than tothe broad gauge; but, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Angas, nodetails have been furnished to show how thecost of conversion is estimated. We havebeen told that it would cost less to convertto the narrow gauge, because it would notbe necessary to re-sleeper the permanentway ; but, as a matter of fact, it is stated, by Mr. Deane himself, that on the mains lines of New South Wales, g-ft. sleepers are used, whereas, on our 5-ft. 3-in. lines, only 8-ft. 6-in. sleepers are used. The gauge question has never been considered by expert engineers solely from the engineering point of view. The adoption of the amendment would not delay the construction of the line. All we ask is the consideration of the gauge question by engineers from the engineering point of view. It staggers me to see Ministers sitting silent, and thus appearing to refuse to consent to this reasonable proposal. Mr. Deane’s criticism of Mr. Hales’ report is, as the honorable member for Corangamite has shown, a weak one. He says -
There is, of course, no doubt that a comparison of two gauges, even where the difference is only 6^ inches, points to an advantage in hauling capacity in favour of the wider gauge, but the argument can be pressed loo far.
He then refers to the late Mr. Harriman in a more respectful way than in the report from which I have just been quoting -
Mr. Harriman’s opinions were entitled to very great consideration, but his views of the inadequacy of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge to meet the exigencies of traffic were certainly exaggerated.
He continues -
The capacity of the standard gauge for carrying traffic may be easily underestimated. Most of our lines are single track, but when duplicated the facilities for carrying traffic would be enormously increased.
Would not the facilities . of a line on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge be enormously increased by the duplication of the track? Of what use is it to compare a double track line on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge with a single track line on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge? I should like the Minister to say, even now, what his attitude is towards the amendment ; and, if he opposes it, why he refuses to Parliament the opportunity to consider the views of engineering experts ‘ on this engineering question.
– I see no need for this battle of the gauges, as it has been termed, and am prepared to vote for the adoption of the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge in this case, believing that it will amply serve our requirements, and will prove the best that we could have adopted. The 5-ft. 3-in. gauge may have advantages, but they have never been proved in practice, either in Victoria, or in other places where the gauge has been used. What surprises me is that, in none of the reports of the engineers is reference made to the two great factors of capacity in a railway line. Any one who knows anything about railway construction - and I profess to know a little - is aware that the amount of traffic which can be carried over a line depends, not so much on its gauge, as on its grades and curves.
– Then, why not adopt the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in this case?
– That is a good gauge, which has been used in Queensland and elsewhere because of its cheapness to construct, and the facility with, which it can be used for mountain climbing. The gradients of a railway control the haulage power, and the curves control the speed. There is no reason why we should not have flatter curves than are laid down in Mr. Deane’s report. Gradients need not be so steep as are here provided for - 1 in 80. There should be nogradient on this railway steeper than 1 in 100, and there should be no curve on a line where there are practically no severe engineering difficulties to encounter more severe than one of a 30-chain radius. The Minister should have provided for these things in the Bill, and not let them be matters for decision by the engineers. The 70-lb. rails provided for are not heavy enough. A 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line would mean not only additional expenditure in construction, but also additional cost in the necessity for providing heavier rails, larger sleepers, and more ballast. A 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge line is perfectly safe, as has been amply proved in the Old Country, where the traffic is undoubtedly greater than it will be in Australia on this railway for the next century. The consideration as toexpedition in the carriage of troops is controlled by the factors that I have just mentioned. Speed is controlled by gradient and curves, and if there is one gradient on the 1,063 miles of a heavy character, it will dominate the whole railway, because no locomotive can haul anything over the remainder of the line which it cannot haul over that particular gradient. That, also, is a matter which should have been seen rein this Bill. I am not altogether influenced by what the engineers report.
– Engineers, like lawyers and doctors, differ.
– Who is to decide when they differ? The layman. I have here a document which illustrates the unreliableness of engineers’ estimates. An estimate was made, not by one consulting; engineer, but by the whole of the principal railway engineers in Australia in combination. Another engineer, having experienceequal to any of them, then came forward with another estimate, which was very considerably less. In a subsequent report, the combined engineers adopted almost the identical figures of the independent expert. What, then, is the value of their first report ?
– Does the honorable member say that engineers are influenced by their environment?
– 1 do not say that; but the engineers in conference may not have given the same amount of attention to the matter as did the individual engineer.
– The honorable member’s complaint is that the engineers agree, not that they differ?
– I am not complaining at all ; I am simply pointing to the fact that the estimates of engineers may be erroneous. If erroneous in the one case, they may equally be so in another. Engineers in preparing estimates always leave a very large margin. In this case, they would have left a margin of £800,000, had it not been that an independent engineer submitted his own estimate to the Minister. At a subsequent conference the railway engineers brought ‘ their figures into consonance with his. I mention this fact to illustrate the point that the differences of engineers in regard to gauges do not imply that the one gauge or the other is necessarily right or wrong. The estimate which they may make regarding the capacity of a certain gauge may be just as far out as their estimates as to cost.
– In this case, they say that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is the best.
– They may; but that consideration does not bind me. If the railway engineers had another conference, and unanimously recommended us to adopt the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, I should still vote for the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge.
– I am surprised that the honorable member is so dogmatic.
– The honorable member for Corangamite has laid stress upon the fact that in war time we want the best possible facilities for carrying troops from one part of Australia to another. He also emphasized the conjecture that a difference of 61 inches in the gauge of a railway would be a very important factor, if not in the salvation of the country, at any rate in the defence we could make against a possible foe. I say again, however, that gauge has nothing whatever to do with expedition in the transport of troops. One can travel just as rapidly in New South Wales on a 4-ft. 8%-in. gauge as in Victoria on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway.
– But in the former case one is shaken more.
– The honorable member would shake anywhere. The travelling is just as speedy and as safe in New South Wales as it is in Victoria. There has never been a Sunshine accident in New South Wales.
– Was that due to the gauge?
– Accidents are frequent in Victoria; whereas they are very few in New South Wales.
– ls that due to gauge?
– lt shows, at any rate, that the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is perfectly safe.
– What has gauge to do with a collision?
– In Queensland trains travel very rapidly on 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines, and accidents are fewer than is the case on 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railways in Victoria. The adoption of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge is very often necessitated by the financial position of a country. It has to cut its coat according to its cloth. Queensland had borrowed very largely, and, consequently, had no money to spend upon a wider gauge than that which has been adopted there. Being short of funds, she had to be content to build cheaper lines than she might otherwise have built. As a matter of fact, there is in Queensland a railway with a 2-ft. gauge, upon which trains carry heavy loads at a good rate of speed. I myself have travelled over the line. But the main factors to be considered in the construction of a railway are its gradients and curves, and not its width of gauge. At the same time, I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment. It would be only a fair thing to do.
– It would delay the construction of the line until next year.
– I do not think that it would delay its construction a week, and, in my opinion, it would confirm the Government in the attitude which they have adopted in regard to the width of gauge.
.- There can be no doubt that an irresistible case has been made out for further investigation into this important matter.
– For delay.
– There need be no. delay. It is quite possible for the Minister of Home Affairs to call a conference of. the engineers of the various States to discus’s the gauge question, and 1 am sure that such a body would arrive at a definite conclusion without any delay. 1 quite appreciate the views which have been put forward by those honorable members who have debated this question. In New Zealand, both passengers and goods are carried, for long distances, at reasonably cheap rates, over a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I believe that there is a good deal to be said in favour of narrow gauge railways for the purpose of opening up new countries before the traffic has attained certain dimensions. Viewing the matter from that stand-point, the arguments in favour of the adoption of the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge are necessarily strong at this stage in the history of the Commonwealth. But I believe that we have in Australia a greater variety than - and probably as great a volume - of natural resources, as is possessed by the United States. There is nothing to show that this continent is not quite as capable of development as is the United States. Australia has a greater variety of climate, and that probably carries with it a greater variety of soils. We have supplies of water running through the centre of the continent which will cause our production to equal that of the United States, while the rainfall of Australia compares very favorably with the rainfall of that country. Under all these circumstances, the question which we have to consider is, “ What gauge is best suited to our future development?” The tendency of the engineering faculty in all countries which nave been laying down new lines of railway has been in the direction of a broader gauge. The only parallel which we can cite is that of the United States, where there has been an enormous develop- ment in railway traffic, and where the most eminent engineering manager, Mr. Harriman, has declared himself in favour of the wider gauge. The narrow gauge system has, in reality, ceased to carry the traffic on the main lines of railway in that country. Having that object lesson before us, and realizing as we do that the development of Australia must proceed largely on similar lines, we should profit by the example of the United States, and insist upon having in our possession the best information that is available before arriving at a final determination upon this question of the width of gauge. So far the Government have placed before us only the report of the consulting engineer in favour of a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, and that of Mr. Hales in favour of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. These reports constitute all the information which has been vouchsafed to us upon one of the greatest, if not the greatest, financial problems we have to solve respecting the future of this continent. It seems to me that it would be an act of the merest justice for the Government to afford honorable members an opportunity of satisfying themselves, from the opinions of the best engineering talent available, as to which is the best gauge To adopt. In our anxiety to link up Western Australia with the eastern States, I fear that we are likely to forget trie larger question of what is the best gauge for the future. So far we have not had a straight-out opinion as to which is the superior gauge for Australia from an engineering stand-point. The whole question has been viewed rather from the stand-point of the expenditure that is involved. We have in Australia only about 16,000 miles of railway, as against 300,000 or 400,000 miles in the United States.’ It is evident, therefore, that we have only commenced the work of railway construction in the Commonwealth. So far, we have expended about ,£150,000,000 upon our railways, and yet we are going to decide the most potential factor in the development of our resources from the stand-point that by adopting the narrower, and, possibly, the inferior, gauge we shall save an expenditure of £2,000,000. I recognise that £2,000,000 is a very large sum to save in the early history of the Commonwealth, but it is a very small amount compared with that which we have already expended upon railway construction, and represents only a fraction of what we shall have to expend in that direction. The conversion of our lines to a uniform gauge must be a gradual process, so that, after all, the saving of £2,000,000 is scarcely worthy of serious consideration as compared with the necessity which exists for adopting the best gauge in view of future requirements. The question of the gauges adopted in different countries of the world has been so fully discussed that there is perhaps very little new to be said about it. The newspapers have taken the matter up, and valuable information regarding the gauges adopted in different countries has been published for the benefit of the electors and of members of this Parliament. We have the benefit of an article in the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the gauges operated in different parts of the world. The writer of this article was the editor of the Railway Gazette of New York, and in view of his selection by the editors and compilers of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a man capable of dealing with this important question, we may accept his conclusions as those of an eminent authority. The article was written in 1900, and we all know that vast strides have since been made in railway construction. I direct attention to the fact that the writer in a footnote to the article in question states -
Perhaps it would have been . better if in all “ the countries of Europe and America the 5 ft. 6 in. or even the 6 feet had been made the standard, since the physical limits of the power oi the locomotive and the ultimate carrying capacity of the cars would not have been reached -so soon.
This is the opinion of an impartial and independent authority, after a close and exhaustive investigation into every system of railway construction in all the important countries of the world. Writing from New York, the capital of a great country which has adopted for the most part the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, the author of this article writes in favour of a wider gauge. This opinion should possess a value in the minds of honorable members which could scarcely be exceeded by the combined wisdom of the railway engineers of Australia, lit is of sufficient importance, I think, to warrant honorable members in hesitating before they finally commit this Parliament to a blunder which cannot be rectified in the future, and which may have the effect of seriously retarding the development of the continent and injuring our future commerce. At this comparatively early stage of railway construction in Australia, we have a serious responsibility cast upon us to profit by these expert opinions. We should admit that we have not sufficient -information, and should at least demand to be supplied with a definite opinion from the best railway engineers of the Commonwealth on this engineering question. I have said that in our anxiety to build this line to connect Western Australia, as it ought to be connected, by rail with the eastern States, we have lost sight of the paramount importance of the question of the future gauge for Australia. It has been stated over and over again that the building of this line will determine the future gauge of Australia. I am not in a position to say that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge’ is better than the 4-ft. %-m. gauge. I believe it is essentially an engineering -question, but we cannot be blind to the fact that in India, Argentina, and Russia, the engineers who have been intrusted with the construction of the most modern railway systems have adopted a wider gauge than 4 ft. in. as the best gauge to meet the future requirements of those great countries. We must not overlook the very serious difficulties in the way of altering the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge adopted in some countries fifty years ago, though it is admitted that to meet the. present necessities of traffic in those countries a wider gauge would be desirable. The proposal that is made is in no sense likely to jeopardize the Bill or to delay by an hour the construction of the railway. It is necessary that it should be given effect to if we are to be placed in a’ position to do justice, as we are expected as a National Parliament to do, not only to the present necessities of the Australian continent, but to the needs of the future. We require the fullest information on this subject if at this critical stage in our history we are to adopt the railway gauge which will be the most efficient, economical, and serviceable, and which will make for the speediest development of our immense resources.
.- It would lae unfortunate if this important question were to be settled on grounds of political expediency, or because of State attachments to particular systems in vogue in the different States. It seems to me that this is a question pre-eminently for practical men to deal with after knowledge has been obtained as to the requirements of the great railway systems which in this continent are only in their infancy. I intend to support the amendment for two reasons. First of all, because it will not in any way delay the passing of the Bill or the construction of the railway. It is idle to contend that it will, because the inquiry proposed could be made during the next few months, and would enable men who are thoroughly acquainted with all the circumstances, and who would deal with the matter” entirely from a scientific point of view, to supply us with such information as would enable the Government and the House to do what might ultimately be the right thing in this important matter. The second reason I have for supporting the amendment is that it is only prudent that before the Government and the Federal Parliament settle perforce the question of the future railway gauge of Australia there should be the fullest inquiry made into the best means of effecting the necessary alterations of gauge. The honorable member for Herbert, at the close of his speech, laid down the dictum that the only two things to be considered in the construction of a railway are the curves and the grades, and that the width of gauge has nothing whatever to do with it. I dissent from that view. I think the width of gauge is a matter of supreme importance. The fact that in the United States and in England the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge has been adopted does not appeal to me as a conclusive reason why we in Australia should adopt that gauge, now that the question of altering the varying gauges already in existence in Australia has been raised. About eighteen years ago I had the pleasure of travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane m company with Mr. Kitson, a brother of the late Sir James Kitson, head of the great locomotive manufacturing firm- of Leeds, who have supplied many locomotives for Australia and elsewhere. Between Melbourne and Brisbane we travelled on three different gauges, and this led to a conversation which made a great impression on me, and which has influenced my mind now that this question has come up for consideration. I hardly thought it would come up in my time ; but now that it has, I think I ought to mention that gentleman’s opinion, because he was a thorough engineer. He said that a terrible mistake has been made in varying the gauges in Australia. I asked him whether, if he had to direct an alteration of the gauges, he would choose the wide gauge as it. exists in Victoria or South Australia, or the 4-ft. 8 in. gauge as it exists in New South Wales. He said he would change the gauge to tlie 5-ft. 3-in., or an even wider gauge. I was surprised, and asked the reason, and he gave me a reason which, from the practical stand-point; has, I think, only to be stated for its force to be recognised. It certainly made a great impression on my mind, having, as I had, some knowledge of mechanics and machinery. He said that the loads would be heavy in this country, the trains long, and the hauls ultimately of enormous length. He added, “ In these days the difficulty which we locomotive manufacturers have is that we cannot get sufficient fire-box space to supply steam for ‘ the enormously heavy engines and trains that are now coming into force.” It is not possible, for instance, to have a very heavy train, in the sense that heavy trains are understood in other countries, on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge of Queensland, because that gauge necessitates a long narrow fire-box, and it is impossible to get the area, of heating space to supply the amount of steam necessary to propel the locomotive and drag the train. To a certain extent that is also correct of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, and to a less extent of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The honorable member for Wimmera referred to the statement of Mr. Harriman, the railway expert, that it would have been better if the gauge in America had been made 5 ft. 3 in., 5 ft. 6 in., or 6 feet. The reason for that is the one which I have just given. When we regard the future of this country, that consideration is of enormous importance, because it means, possibly, a 5, 10, or even 20 per cent, difference in thecost of haulage over the enormous distances that we have to cover in Australia. It is estimated that the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would mean the spending of £2,000,000 more now. £2,000,000 is a great deal of money, but at a£ per cent, itis only £70,000 a year, and possibly by adopting the wider gauge we may save the £2,000,000 in two or three years. That is, the whole principal and interest may be repaid by the saving to the public. Of. course, it might not come into the accounts, but the cost to the public of the haulage of the enormous system which we shall have in Australia would make £2,000,000 look a very insignificant sum to spend to attain the object in view. I can see no objection to the question being fairly debated. It is not a question that particularly affects New South Wales or Victoria, because, although I have not been here to listen to tlie arguments, I understand that it is recognised by the Committee that the standardization of the gauge will have to be approached, not as a question for the States to be burdened with, but as an expenditure which must fairly and equitably be borne by the whole Commonwealth. If that is so, why should I, just because I am a representative of Victoria, be obliged to advocate the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, if I thought, the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge the better, or why. if I were a New South Wales member, and thought the evidence showed that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was better than the 4-ft. 8j-in.’, should I support the 4-ft. 8j-in. against my own convictions ? As a business proposition, the proposal of the honorable member for Angas is only prudent and reasonable. Personally, I believe that, for the mechanical reason I have stated, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge will be found to be better. The fact that the gauge in America is 4 ft. 8 J in. proves nothing, because the American railway system was practically begun at the time that gauge came into vogue, and, having begun with it, they could not stop it. That is exactly the position in which we shall find ourselves. The Federal Government are now forcing the settlement of a question which ought to be settled only after the fullest and fairest inquiry. I am not an advocate of delaying the construction of the line, but I feel that there are more than the interests of the Western Australian line in question. The future of the whole of the railway system of this great continent is at stake, and that, I think, entitles us to act cautiously and carefully, and to take the fullest means to ascertain what is really the best’ gauge. It is not a political question. It is not a State question. It is a great question for the Commonwealth.
.- The further the discussion proceeds, the more need it shows for a closer investigation of this very important subject. It is acknowledged, not only in this House, but by the experts and the public outside, that the fixing of the gauge from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie means the fixing of the gauge for all Australia, at any rate, for many years to come. The question, therefore, should have our most serious consideration. The honorable member for Richmond this afternoon rather made light of the manner in which the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was first decided upon. I have here a bound file of papers that have been read from time to time before the Institute of Engineers in Victoria. Among the gentlemen who have appeared before that very important body to elucidate certain engineering questions, was the late Professor Kernot, of the Melbourne University. I think that anybody who is acquainted with his history, and the very deep interest which he took in engineering and engineering works generally, will at once accord £0 him an exceptionally high place in the engineering world of our time. I propose to make a few quotations from either a paper which he read, or an address which he delivered before the Institute of Engineers. In giving a history of the different gauges, he said -
The most popular and widely-adopted gauge has the somewhat odd dimension of 4 ft. 85 in., and is now generally spoken of as the standard gauge. How .it originated is somewhat doubtful. A certain ingenious gentleman finds it in the cart tracks revealed by the excavations at Pompeii, and one is inclined to suggest that Professor Piazzi Smyth, the author of “ Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid,” might, had his attention been called to the subject, have found it a divinely’ inspired and absolutely perfect railway gauge, along with the British inch and other wonderful things laid down in that building of hoary antiquity.
– Did he say how the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge happened along?
– T shall give my honorable friend some information on that point a little later. As Professor Kernot was an authority of undoubted ability and integrity, I think that his opinion can be taken without hesitation. On important occasions, the meetings of the Institute of Engineers of Victoria were attended by engineers from all parts of Australia, and, at times, from other parts of the world, and any information which Professor Kernot might give would be of the best kind - that is apart from the jocular side of the matter. In this paper, he went on to relate how the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. ‘ gauge came into existence ; but I do not intend to quote what he said, as that is not necessary. Having quoted his preliminary remarks, I will read the following passage -
Some people seem to think there is some magical charm, some peculiar virtue in this particular dimension to account for its prevalence and success. I cannot agree with them. I regard it as a mere accident, which, once established and being found tolerably satisfactory spread and occupied the field, compelling other gauges of later date to give way to it, the evils of break of gauge being found far greater than the benefits of the few extra inches that gauge reformers in numerous cases added. Had railway making started on a gauge anywhere between 5 and 6 feet I am convinced we should never have heard of the present peculiar standard. It is noteworthy that nearly all the attempts to break away from it in the early days of railway making were in the direction of increase, and not of diminution, showing plainly that even then it was found hardly ample enough for growing practical requirements. . . .
Evidently, he was indicating to his hearers that the error in selecting the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge was a grave one. I think that in Ireland and India the question of gauge was discussed much more intelligently, if I may be excused for saying so, than it has been discussed in any other country, because there were two schools of thought. Wherever that condition obtains in respect to engineering questions, the best possible result is likely to be evolved out of a discussion. In the language of Professor Kernot, the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge was accepted more by accident than as the result of a well-thought-out plan. It has no particular charm, and produces no great benefit -
The other notable endeavour to enlarge the gauge, was made in Ireland. With the complaints of restricted space on the English lines before them, and with an insular country having no conceivable possibilities of connexion with the rest of the world except by sea, the engineers had carte blanche, an open field untainted by legacies of past errors.
That is, I think, a sufficient answer to the honorable member for Perth, who wanted to know under what peculiar circumstances the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge came into existence.
– I did not use the word “ peculiar.”
– This gauge did not come into being under the same amusing circumstances as have been related by the honorable member for Richmond. Professor Kernot said that it was deliberately chosen, after full and careful inquiry.
– By whom?
– By experts of all kinds.
– By how many experts?
– I mentioned Ireland and India as two countries in which there was an intelligent discussion in reference to the merits of the various gauges prior to a gauge being fixed. According to Professor Kernot, after the greatest inquiry, research, and deliberation, the engineers decided that the best gauge for Ireland was 5 ft. 3 in. Continuing, Professor Kernot said -
They therefore adopted what they considered in view of all accessible experience the best possible gauge, and made it 5 ft. 3 in.
That is about the only reason which he could discover for the establishment of that which is now supposed to be the standard gauge of various countries. There is as much mystery about the birth of the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge as there was about the birth of Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin; we can only suspect that it “grow’d.” -
This, then, was a gauge deliberately chosen after full and careful inquiry, contrasting with the Standard or English gauge, which, like Topsy in “ Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” had no known parents, but merely “ specs she growed.’
I wish to emphasize the fact that, before delivering his address, Professor Kernot had made a very great study of our railway problem generally, and particularly the engineering side of it. Some honorable members, including the Minister of Home Affairs, the Prime Minister, and other Ministers who have spoken, have asked, “ Why should we seek for further information when we have already obtained all the information possible from the engineering talent of Australia?” A little while ago the railway experts of Australia, in combination with military experts, were formed into what is known as the War
Council for the Commonwealth - I believe the Railways Commissioners have been made colonels on that account - and their attitude is that indicated by the question I have just quoted. But the last word has not been said. If the Victorian or South Australian Railways Commissioners assented to that opinion, all I can say is that, at the present time, those Commissioners have remitted a report to their respective Governments, the tenor of which is favorable to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Would it be advisable for them to do otherwise?
– The honorable member is suggesting that some pressure is being brought to bear on the Commissioners.
– I simply asked a question.
– But in such a tone as to suggest a suspicion that the authorities have rather pressed these experts. Mr. Norman, a Victorian Railways Commissioner, is one of the best engineers we have; and, as I say, he and his colleagues, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. McClelland have sent in reports strongly in favour of the retention of the wider gauge. I believe the South Australian Railways Commissioners have done the same; but, at any rate, I know that Mr. Kernot, the EngineerinChief of the Victorian Railways, has sent in a report to that effect.
– He is a very wise man !
– The honorable member is again making nasty insinuations. If I were to retaliate, I might say that other engineers have been rather influenced by their environment ; but I have no desire to do so. These reports are a direct contradiction of the statement of the Minister of Home Affairs, and, I believe, the Prime Minister, that there is unanimity of opinion amongst the Railways Commissioners of Australia on this question.
– Why did the South Australian Government not build the line to Broken Hill on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge?
– The South Australian Government displayed considerable courage in building that line when it was not known that the resources at Broken Hill were so extensive as they have proved to be. No one is more pleased than myself that that field has lasted, and that, so far as we know, it will last for many years to come; at any rate, it would be a disaster if the Barrier constituency were wiped out, and we were deprived of our PostmasterGeneral.
The amendment of the honorable member for Angas is in terms to which no one can take exception ; and even the most ardent advocate of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge should readily assent to the request made. The amendment means further investigation, which will not result in any delay. I see no reason why the wires could not be set in motion to-morrow, and, before the end of next week, at any rate, the leading railway engineers of Australia should not meet in Melbourne to discuss the question. These engineers are practical men, and will not delay in arriving at a decision.
– I think they willcome to a decision at once.
– Then, all the more reason to accept the amendment. The Postmaster-General seems to think that the engineers will simply sit down at the table and say, “ It is no use discussing the question further ; undoubtedly the gauge of the world is 4 ft. 8½ in., and we all assent to it.” If a decision can be arrived at so expeditiously, why should the amendment not fee accepted?
– It is a mere waste of time.
– The PostmasterGeneral says that there will be no waste of time in coming to a decision, and, yet, that it is a waste of time to refer the matter to the engineers.
– Would those engineers not agree to differ, as they did before?
– Then there would be possible ground of complaint, and any request for another tribunal would be out of court. I previously complained of the lack of information; I am prepared to accept it, no matter whence it comes. More has, no doubt, been supplied to us; but it is small compared with the magnitude of the subject. In New South Wales it would seem that it was the accident of a change of engineers that caused the change of gauge ; because we are told that at the outset 4 ft. 8½ in. was recommended by Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the. Colonies, and New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia all agreed to adopt it. In 1852, however, owing to the urgent representations of the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Shields, the New South Wales Government altered it to the Irish gauge of 5 ft. 3 in. Mr. Shields had evidently followed the discussion on the fixing of the gauge of the Irish railways, and, as an intelligent man, prepared to accept the verdict of intelligent men, realized that if the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was admirably suited to the purposes of Ireland, it certainly ought to be a suitable gauge for the railways of Australia. The representatives of New South Wales, including the Postmaster-General, I believe, are very axnious that the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge should be adopted. I would point out to them that the representatives of Victoria, where we have a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and also, I presume, of South Australia, where several of the main lines are built on the same gauge, are quite prepared, notwithstanding that fact, to accept the verdict of men who are competent to express an opinion upon this question. Our Railways Commissioners have not been consulted, as they ought to have been, regarding a great question of this kind.
– I understood that they had been asked for their opinion.
– The Railways Commissioners of Victoria and South Australia have reported to their respective Governments that they favour the retention of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. That being so, how can it be said, as some honorable members, including, I believe, the Minister of Home Affairs, have urged, that the Commissioners have decided in favour of a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge ?
– Does not the honorable member think that if the Victorian railway gauge were 4 ft.8½ in., the Railways Commissioners of this State would be in favour of the retention of that gauge?
– Not necessarily. The question we have to determine is which is the better gauge. Which will prove of the greatest service to Australia in the years to come? Even if a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge were adopted, the Commonwealth would have to stand behind the State Governments in carrying out the conversion of existing lines, so that the State exchequer would not suffer, whether the 4-ft. 8½-in. or the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge were adopted. The Commonwealth will have to assist the States to con- vert their lines.
– To convert all their railway lines?
-I do not speak of all their railway lines, but the Commonwealth will certainly have to stand behind the States in the conversion of their main lines. If 5 ft. 3 in. be adopted as the standard gauge, New South Wales will have to be compensated, and if 4 ft. 8½ in. be adopted, South Australia and Victoria will have to receive compensation.
– And Queensland will have a big say in it, too.
– No doubt. The cost to Queensland - if the State Treasury had to bear it - would be almost the same, in the event of the adoption of a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge, as it would be if that State had to alter its railways to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– There would be a difference of only 000,000 !
– No. Whilst laymen have to exercise their common-sense in dealing with all questions, they must depend, more or less, in a matter of this kind, upon the advice tendered to them by experts. Mr. Alex. Smith, president of the Victorian Institute of Engineers, who has taken a very great interest in this question, told me only yesterday that the difference between the cost of laying down a 5-ft. 3-in. and a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge railway was infinitesimal.
– Nonsense. Why the Age says-
– I do not care what the Age says. 1 was told to-day by an officer in our own Railway Department, who is competent to express an opinion, that the difference in cost is not worth haggling over. He informed me that the cost of constructing a 5-ft. 3-in. line would be only ^50 a mile more than would be the cost of constructing a 4-ft. %-m. line.
– The timber would cost more than that.
– I am quoting the opinions of experts. One railway man, as I have said, told me that the difference in cost would not be £50 per mile, whilst Mr. Smith informed me that the cost of laying down a 5-ft. 3-in. line was not likely to be more than .£50 or £60 more per mile.
– The additional ballast would cost that.
– Neither the honorable member for Brisbane nor the honorable member for Denison happens to be an engineer.
– The gentleman to whom the honorable member refers will say, “ Save me from my friends “ when he reads this speech.
– Not at all. I am very sure of my facts on this point. What is the use of honorable members disputing the statements of experts? I am giving the Committee the opinions- of two engineering experts. If those who dispute them «an quote, in opposition to them, the opinions of two other railway experts, I shall be prepared to listen to them; but I am not prepared to listen to an honorable member who thinks, merely because he has an aptitude for interjecting, that he has the necessary knowledge to express an opinion upon a very difficult engineering problem. Throughout Victoria, and practically throughout Australia - if the railway managers are looking to the future - every new bridge that is built is so constructed as to be capable of carrying a far greater weight than is likely to pass over it at the present time. All the clearings in respect of tunnels and railway platforms are also going to be wider. I have it from an authoritative source that, on the New South Wales lines, for greater safety, the clearings are to be widened, regardless of whether or not the gauge is altered. The bridges also, 1 am told, will need to be strengthened, and the culverts looked to, regardless of whether or not the railways there are converted to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Would not those changes also be necessary in the case of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line?
– To a certain extent. I am pointing out that, no matter what gauge is adopted, we must be prepared for heavier haulages. Consequently we must have heavier engines, with greater firing and steaming capacity, as the honorable member for Mernda has stated, so that they will be able to draw larger loads. A considerable expenditure will be necessary to make the present lines safer than they are.
– Each State Government is doing that now.
– My point is that whatever gauge is adopted, there must be considerable expenditure to make the lines capable of dealing with heavier traffic. The New South Wales Commissioners will have to make their main lines capable of taking bigger loads, and, later, the Victorian Commissioners will have to do the same thing. In the making of all new lines, there is provision for heavier loads than have been provided for in the past. I have already pointed out that, in the first instance, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia decided to adopt the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, but on the arrival of Mr. Shields, whose views were influenced, I believe, by the decision in regard to the Irish railways, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge was adopted. I am informed by an expert that -
The Act for this purpose received the Royal assent on July 27th of that year, and is to be found in No. V. of the Public Statutes of New South Wales, p. 2490, which the writer has consulted at the Melbourne Public Library. This Act is of an almost ferocious character in the stringency of its requests, stating that if any person shall make a railway for conveyance of passengers on any other gauge he shall be fined ;£io per mile per day of running, and that the Surveyor-General shall have power to remove such railway and restore its site to its former condition.
I am quoting from a letter by Mr. Smith, who says further -
Meanwhile, strange and regrettable events were taking place at Sydney. A new EngineerinChief, named Wallace, appeared on the scene, having arrived from England, according to Mr. Deane, on July 9th, 1S52, or just before the passing of the Act making the Irish gauge compulsory under such enormous penalties. He was an intense partisan for the standard gauge, and left no stone unturned to bring New South Wales back to her first’ love, entirely regardless of keeping faith with the other colonies, whose railways were now progressing with comparative rapidity, and who had already reversed their policy once in order to keep in line with New South Wales.
Victoria and South Australia, on two occasions, deferred to the Mother State, but when finally New South Wales resolved to adopt the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, uniformity was impossible, because the other two States had already committed themselves. Victoria had constructed a short suburban railway, and the line from Melbourne to Geelong was under way. Rolling-stock for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge had also been ordered. Similarly, South Australia had commenced to construct on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and had ordered suitable rollingstock. My correspondent continues -
The result was that on August 14th, 1S55, the Act of 1852 was repealed, leaving the question of railway gauge in New South Wales absolutely open. See Public Statutes, No. VII., p. 2926. Six weeks later, on September 26th, 1855, the Sydney and Parramatta railway opened on the standard 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, and the most lamentable engineering disaster in Australia was an accomplished fact.
I place that passage side by side with the statement of Profesor Kernot that a great mistake was made in not deciding on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Is the honorable member’s correspondent an independent expert ?
– He is President of the Institute of Engineers of Victoria, and quite independent. He has investigated railway matters in Australia, and is in touch with the best informed people on engineering subjects in America, Great Britain, and other parts of the world.
– Practically, he is the greatest authority in the world.
– I do not say that, but he is in touch with the world’s greatest authorities. What I have read is not an expression of opinion given five or ten years ago, but one obtained only the other day.
– Yes ; though I have no hesitation in using Mr.. Smith’s name, because his reputation extends all over Australia.
– Is he a railway engineer ?
– He is an engineer whs understands railway matters. He could design a new locomotive, and is well informed regarding railway construction and everything pertaining to it. Further, I may say without fear of successful contradiction that to-day, in America, railway managers and engineers would be willing to pay millions if they could convert to the wider gauge. They realize the great difficulties with which they are confronted by reason of the narrowness of the present gauge. I cannot give authorities to sup» port this statement, but, as honorable members know, professional nien often make their opinions known to one another in confidence, because their business connexions often make it inconvenient to state them publicly.
– It is difficult to weigh the value of evidence for which no authority can be cited.
– I admit that, but the honorable member for Denison is so persistent that I have given him all the information at my disposal. The honorable member for Fremantle the other night spoke of the speed at which trains travel on the 4-ft. 8l-in. gauge, and mentioned a long distance journey on which an average speed of 41 miles an hour was maintained. That, I understand, is an exceptionally good average speed, even for a Harriman express. But I should like to point out that the express travels between Melbourne and Sydney at the average rate of 34J miles an hour, including stoppages. These, as honorable members know, waste a good deal of time. For instance, there is twenty minutes delay at Seymour, another wait at Benalla, a third at Wangaratta, and a long stop at Albury, and several on the New South Wales’ side. Probably in all, two or three hours are consumed in stoppages. Where the grade is favorable, the trains in this country can travel at a very great rate. I advise the honorable member for Denison, the next time he travels down the Bendigo line from Woodend, to estimate whether a high rate of speed is not maintained. The gentleman whose opinion I have quoted is not financially interested. He is not now a servant of the Railway Department. He simply says that, having had experience, he is pleased to give his view for the benefit of the public. I consider that an honorable member who has access to information of that kind has a right to lay it before the Committee. He continues -
What shall we say as to responsibility? Who was to blame ? Or is the blame to be divided ? The facts are clear, vouched for by the official publications of the three States and the daily papers of the various dates, and they are these : -
All three Slates agreed originally to adopt the standard gauge.
New South Wales broke away, and gave her allegiance to the Irish gauge.
Victoria and South Australia at once fell into line with New South Wales, and commenced railway making actively.
When Victoria had one line open for public traffic for nearly a year - a country line of 40 miles long - well advanced, and much rolling-stock ordered and under construction, and South Australia was also actively progressing, New South Wales reversed her policy and went back to the then standard gauge.
Six weeks after the change of legislation New South Wales opened a line 13 miles long, with an English locomotive on the standard gauge.
There is a footnote to that statement, in which it is stated that it is believed that the result was largely influenced by the fact that engines and rolling-stock were being purchased from certain manufacturers in England. We must, of course, pay some heed to the consideration whether certain firms who were interested had not some effect upon the decision. Honorable members should remember that the Irish gauge, 5 ft. 3 in., was adopted after the most minute investigation for the three States, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Is it any wonder that progressive States like Victoria and South Australia proceeded with the construction of lines after that decision was arrived at? But New South Wales did not adhere to the determination. She afterwards proceeded to construct 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. railways.
Another important consideration is that, as so many other countries have adopted the 4-ft.- 8^-in. gauge, we should have no difficulty in selling rolling-stock constructed on that gauge if we determined to convert to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. On the other hand, we should have great difficulty in selling the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge rolling-stock. Probably the whole of the rolling-stock constructed on that gauge would have to be.scrapped if we decided to convert to 4 ft. 8J in.
– The honorable member surely does not mean that seriously.
– I do, indeed. If the honorable member can show me that there is a probability of 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock being sold to foreign countries, I shall be pleased to hear it. Mr. Hales, in his report, deals with this point. He says -
If the world-wide gauge of 4 ft. 8^ in. is discarded, the rolling stock should find a market in some of the following countries, viz : - Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, United States of America, Argentina, Egypt, and several minor countries.
– Do those countries all use the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge?
– I believe they do. In all probability that gauge was adopted in those countries on the recommendation of one set of engineers, because English engineers had a great deal to do with the construction of railways in foreign countries.
– Argentina has both gauges.
– That is true; but I am informed by those who are in a position to know that the whole of the 4-ft. 8^-in. rolling-stock in New South Wales could be disposed of to Argentina. That country would probably be glad to get it. Mr. Hales, in his report, goes on to say -
If the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is discarded, the only possible markets for the rolling stock are Ireland and Brazil, which have railways of that gauge. The rolling stock on 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge - cost ^7,816,359 - should be saleable at secondhand price - say, 50 per cent.
That means that, we should get for our rolling-stock a sum of nearly £4,000,000 - almost sufficient to construct the proposed railway to Western Australia. Mr. Hales continues -
Most of the rolling stock on 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - cost ^8,001,588 - would only be saleable at scrap prices - say, 15 per cent.
That is the statement of an engineer.
– Of an engine-driver. He could not have been an engineer.
– 1 am quite prepared to listen to the honorable member when he speaks of contracting work, of which he has had a large experience, but upon engineering matters I prefer to accept the evidence of an engineer. Mr. Hales has thirty-eight years of experience behind him.
– I have a bit more than that.
– Of engineering experience ?
– I have been engineering in my own way.
– I dare say that we have all done a little engineering in our own way.
– The authority whom the honorable member has quoted is certainly not a financier.
– How is that ?
– He says that we shall make money by selling our rolling-stock at half-price.
– I would point out to the honorable member that he was discussing the difference between the disposal of our 4-ft. 8U-in. and our 5-ft. 3-in. rollingstock.
It has been said over and over again that America has reached the highest degree of perfection in regard to the type of locomotives in use on her railways. In that country, engines weighing 425 tons are in course of manufacture. To attain that weight, certain risks must be incurred. For instance, when these huge locomotives are rounding curves, instead of the boiler part of them taking the curve, the undercarriage follows the rails, and the boiler projects outwards, only to swing into its proper position after the curve has been negotiated.
– Does not a waggon do the same thing?
– Why, a tram-car does it.
– I hold in my hand a sketch, which, I confess, is not drawn to scale, but which shows how far the boiler part of one of these locomotives protrudes over the side of the line while the undercarriage is following the rails. In America, the biggest engines in use are 100 feet long.
– There is more danger with the heavier weight.
– Decidedly. In order to get the power for generating the necessary steam, the heaviest engines in use in the United States of America are 100 feet long. Consequently, the wheels cannot be joined together. The main wheels are attached to a bar. When rounding a curve, the boiler portion of any of these engines projects outwards, while the under-carriage follows the rails. Thus, if a bit of a jolt were experienced, the whole train might be wrecked.
– That remark might apply to any train.
– No doubt the honorable member has travelled a good deal indie bush, and he knows perfectly well thatvery often an eighth of an inch may mean the difference between the capsize of a vehicle and safety.
– In engineering matters,’ one cannot go within an eighth of an inch-
– I do not suggest that one can. I would remind honorable members that the engineers of England and’ India had a full-dress debate upon thewidth of gauge to be adopted in the construction of railways in India.
– Is the width of gauge which has been adopted in Victoria the reason why we never have accidentshere?
– The width of gauge- has little or nothing to do with the number of accidents which occur. Accidentswill happen in the best regulated families, and on the best regulated railways. In 1849, the Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie, who was a great statesman, andalso a railway expert - he was a shareholder in some of the British railways prior to hisadvent in India - after making an investigation, and obtaining the advice of quite a. number of engineers, recommended the adoption in that country of a wider gauge than 4 ft. 81 in. Again, in 1851, the Gauge Commissioners, who were appointed’ in Great Britain to make inquiries into the merits of the various gauges, recommended that a gauge between 4 ft. 81 in. and 7 ft. should be adopted.
– A very safe recommendation.
– I come now to the recommendation of a noted railway engineer - I refer to Mr. Sims, consulting engineer, in India. There, as. honorable members are aware, the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge was adopted. This gentleman went so far as to say that, in view of the nature of the country which the railways had to traverse, . it would be dangerous to lay down a line; with a lesser gauge than one in excess of 5 feet. Some districts of India are liable to be visited by hurricanes. If the honorable member for Swan were present, he might be able to tell us whether such atmospheric conditions were noted during his explorations in the country through which- this line is to pass. I will not say that it is a treeless waste, but there is certainly a great portion of the country that is un- protected by timber. I have not yet been across the Great Australian Bight; but I am told that it is one of the worst portions of the passage from the eastern States to Great Britain. I should like to know whether the serious atmospheric disturbances that are experienced when crossing the Bight are known to penetrate any distance inland. I direct attention to this matter, because Mr. Simms suggests that a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is unsafe where trains have to travel over long distances of exposed country, subject to hurricane conditions. He states that it is possible that, in such circumstances, a train on a narrow gauge may be toppled over by the force of the wind. I do not say that hurricane conditions would be met with on the route of this line; but I mention the matter to show that weather conditions have had some influence upon engineers in recommending the adoption of a wide, rather than of a narrow, gauge.
– The honorable member for Fremantle says that this railway will not cross the Bight.
– That is so; but its construction will involve a big bite out of our finances, and we should see that it is constructed on the best possible lines. The railway, in some places, will not be more than 60 miles from the coast; and it is, therefore, important to know whether the severe storms that are met with in the Great Australian Bight extend so far inland as to be a source of danger to travellers on this railway, if it be constructed on the narrow gauge.
The honorable member for Herbert, and other honorable members, referred to the use of this line for the transport of troops. My military experience is very limited, and I cannot pose as a military expert ; but I am convinced that if this line is to be considered as a means of transporting troops in the most expeditious way from the east to the west, according to the testimony of some of the most eminent engineers in the world, the wider gauge is preferable to the narrow gauge for this particular purpose. It stands to reason, because, on the wider gauge, we can have wider and larger waggons, and can place larger’ and more powerful engines on the track than we could if the narrower gauge were adopted. It has been said that 3,000 tons is now recognised as a train load in America, and that seems to me to be an immense weight for any engine to haul. I believe that the increased haulage power which may be obtained by the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, as against the 4-ft. %-x. gauge, is equal to about 15 per cent. If a train load be estimated at 3,000 tons, this would represent a difference of between 200 and 300 tons in the load which could be drawn on the wider gauge, as compared with the narrower gauge. The difference in the expense of haulage would therefore be very considerable. If, by the use of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, we could carry in one train load an additional number of soldiers equivalent to 200 tons 111 weight, it is clear that, from the military transport point of view, the wider gauge must be preferable. I believe that some complaint has been made about the capacity of the Siberian line in connexion with the transport of troops during the RussoJapanese war; but we are told that if that line had been constructed on a narrower gauge, it could not possibly have done the work it did. Engineers say that if the gauge had been a few inches less, troops could not have been carried over the railway as successfully as they were during that war. The opinion of those who have studied the matter is that troops were carried more expeditiously over the Siberian railway with a 5-ft. gauge than they could have been had the gauge been 4 ft. 81 in. That is the only modern experience, in a big way, that we have of the movement of troops by rail during a war.
– Magnificent work was done in South Africa in the same direction on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– Some relatives of my own took part in the South African war; and they have said that the most tedious part of their experience was the time it took to travel from the sea ports to the front on the South African railways. The railways of South Africa are yet in a somewhat primitive condition; and it is perhaps hardly fair to speak adversely of the work it was possible to do in the movement of troops during the South African war. I have given the opinion of engineers that, in the transport of troops, better work was done on the Siberian railway with a 5-ft. gauge than could possibly have been achieved if the gauge of that line had been 4 ft. 81 in.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– An engineer writing about the gauge question says, with reference to bridges, that before the full capacity of the present gauges - meaning either gauge - can be reached, locomotives as heavy as those in use, or contemplated, in America - between 300 and 400 tons - must be used. He adds that the present bridges throughout the States, are being actively strengthened to carry the increased weight of locomotives now in use here, although those weights do not exceed no tons. The strengthening of all the bridges must, he says, be effected apart altogether from the question of gauge, but their strengthening and the removal of wooden bridges will progress naturally with the increasing traffic which justifies it. The same expert, referring to the transition, or conversion, costs, says -
The transition, costs must not be confused with future construction costs. The transition or conversion costs, which are the basis of the published estimates, include the rectification of all the errors of the past - the widening of tunnels, which are already too narrow and are considerably narrower than those on the main lines nf America. Sidings,, platforms, bridges, &c, come into the same category.
That means that, although the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is used in America, there are, in that country, greater clearances in connexion with tunnels, cuttings, &c, than is the case here, and that in order to carry the heavier traffic, the Australian States will find it necessary to increase the strength of their bridges, widen their tunnels, and so on. He also says -
The present attitude of the various States clearly contemplates this work altogether apart from the gauge change. All future works are by mutual agreement on a much more ample scale.
This means that provision is being made for the carrying of heavier loads, and that, whether the gauge is altered or not, considerable expense must be incurred to put the lines in a proper state of safety when heavier engines are used, and heavier loads hauled. I wish to quote some comments that have been made as to how the experts arrived at their decision on the standard gauge question. They are as follows -
In the early part of this year the South Australian Commissioner for Railways made a strong fight for the broader gauge in the Railway War Conference. He nearly succeeded in gaining the support of a majority of the railway experts in that Conference for a gauge which would have continued from Perth to Albury, allowing the standard gauge of 4 ft. 8£ in. to continue from Albury to Brisbane.
Evidently, the South Australian Railways Commissioner found that he could not get the main body of the Conference with him for the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge from Brisbane to Perth, and thought tot, by proposing two gauges, he might obtain sufficient support to leave the Victorian and the South Australian gauge undisturbed, the new line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie being built on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and Western Australia to have the line from Kalgoorlie to Perth on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Personally, I believe in having only one gauge throughout, but, according to the authority I am quoting, the South Australian Railways Commissioner very nearly converted the majority of his codelegates at the War Conference of railway and military experts to his way of thinking. It is further stated -
At the time he reckoned on the support of the Victorian railway experts, who, even if they were persuaded about the narrower gauge being best, could hardly stand out for an alteration which affected Victoria, adversely. The balance in the railway war councils was held by the Western Australian Commissioner, who also might be expected to fall in with the broader gauge, seeing that in any circumstances the trans-continental line means a special set of rails between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Nothing is said about this extra mileage at present, but it is well understood in railway circles, and was fully understood in the Railway War Conference, that the trans-continental line starts at Perth and not at Kalgoorlie. The Western Australian Commissioner is a strong believer in the “ standard “ gauge ; and, as Victorian railway men are more anxious about the Riverina trade than they are about the trans-continental line they were easily persuaded that the “ standard “ gauge would be best.
I do not know that that is so. I doubt it very much. If the Victorian experts did vote for the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, simply for the purpose of annexing the Riverina trade, they scarcely acted on national lines. If the representatives of any State went into that Conference simply to get an advantage for their own State out of it, I do not see how we can take very much notice of the result. I believe that Victoria will participate, to a very large extent, in the Riverina trade, whatever the gauge may be.
– From what newspaper is the honorable member quoting?
– From a newspaper published yesterday. I shall give the name of it when I have finished the quotation, as is usually the case in journalistic practice, which proceeds -
In a way the Riverina trade is the key pf the situation, because it turned the scale in the Railway War Conference.
That is a serious statement, and further investigation may prove whether it is true or not. All that the amendment of the honorable member for Angas asks for is further investigation -
The Ministers are resting on that decision. It may seem strange to say so, but the question of gauge was settled by the railway experts apart from the main issue. Riverina trade affected the Victorian judgment, and the new line between Kalgoorlie and Perth affected the Western. Agreeing to the narrower gauge brought New South Wales into line with Victoria and Western Australia, and left South Australia and Queensland in a minority.
The writer of that article has evidently been taken into the confidence of somebody who was in the counsels of the Railway War Conference.
– Does the honorable member know the name of the writer?
– I forgot to inform the honorable member for Denison that the paper from which I have been quoting is the South Australian Register.
– What is the name of the writer of the article?
– The writer of this particular portion of the journal has, somehow or other, obtained inner knowledge of the working of things.
– And we cannot know his name.
– The honorable member may have the use of the newspaper afterwards, and if he, with his detective ability, can discover the writer, I shall be glad to know his name.
– So would we all.
– I would like to know the names of the writers in every newspaper, especially the writers of leading articles. It appears from the information gained by this writer, and the impression which he wished to convey, that the gauge for this line was determined altogether apart from the great national reasons which should animate every man in arriving at a decision. The Premier of Victoria has recently returned from Great Britain, where he inquired into the question of the electrification of railways. I understand that, one of the chief objects of his mission, apart from ‘ his attendance at the Coronation, was to investigate the working of railways and tramways by electricity and steam in the United Kingdom and other countries. Almost the first intelligence which he conveyed to the public on his arrival in Western Australia was that, in discussing the gauge for railways, he found that the preponderance of expert opinion in Great Britain was in favour of the wider gauge. I appeal to the Prime Minister, in all earnestness, to agree to the. amendment moved by the honorable member for Angas. It is one of those reasonable propositions which usually emanate from that quarter, and is deserving of the kindliest consideration. I, as a supporter of the Ministry, urge that further investigation be made before we are called upon to fix the gauge of this railway. Our decision will really determine the railway gauge of Australia for practically all time. The Government, would suffer no inconvenience by assenting to our appeal, and no time would be wasted. 1 have no desire to defeat the measure, but I wish to have all possible information before I am called upon to give a vote. Suppose that the amendment were agreed to, the wires could be set in motion to-morrow, and before the end of next week the railway experts of Australia could be in conference. They should not need more than a fortnight to come to a decision. Therefore, within three weeks, the House would be in possession of the facts on which to decide the question of the gauge. I commend to the earnest and kindly consideration of the Government the proposition submitted by the honorable member for Angas.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong admitted that the proposed railway was essential for national purposes. He also admitted that it had a grave connexion with the defence problem, which made it imperative on this Parliament to deal, with the subject at no very distant date. He went on to say, however, that the importance of the question of gauge was so great that it was necessary that we should .know exactly which was the best gauge, in the national interest, to adopt before we proceeded further with the project, and the evidence he produced as to the necessity for the delay he desires was that of the anonymous writer of a. paragraph in a South Australian newspaper !
Since honorable members who urge the advantages of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge profess indignation when they are told that they are sinking national considerations for selfish State interests, we are entitled to wonder why its advocates come only from the two States which have a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– That cuts two ways.
– No. Tasmania is not concerned in this question at all. The establishment of a particular gauge does not affect that State, because its system cannot be linked up with the other systems.
– And we are getting support from Tasmania for the amendment.
– For the delay. Honorable members who have always been opposed to this proposal, and who are still opposed to it, intend to vote with the honorable gentleman who has interjected for further delay.
– We will get support from an honorable member who believes in the construction of the line.
– Why do honorable members who come from South Australia and Victoria exhibit such an extraordinary unanimity in dealing with this proposal? The honorable member for Maribyrnong put his political arms round the neck of the honorable member for Angas, and said. that all proposals which emanated from that quarter were wise and beneficial. How often in the past has he so caressed my bashful friend on the front Opposition bench? We see most extraordinary bed-fellows on this question, and all come from States which have a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The question with me is which gauge is most suited for Australia and will best serve the traffic to be carried over the line. I confess that if honorable members can prove that a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is best suited to the general requirements of Australian railways, they will have made out a case against adopting a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge for the transcontinental railway, even although it can be proved to demonstration that, so far as the traffic that line will handle is concerned, the narrower gauge will be ample for all possible requirements. But when we begin to examine the arguments placed before the Committee by the advocates of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, we find that they are all based on the allegation that lines built on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge are unequal to handling the” transcontinental traffic across the United States. On what is that statement based ? It is based on no solid foundation of fact. For passengers, the transcontinental service of America is more than adequate to all requirements ; for freight, on the other hand, it is alleged that with a wider gauge longer freight trains could be run, and would carry heavier loads. I wonder what length of train would be required to carry the freight across our transcontinental line !
– Very long trains will be required for defence purposes.
– The new argument is that long trains will he required for defence purposes. Are we to saddle the people of Australia with the enormous expense of building an unnecessarily wide line, because, when war comes, we shall have to send long trains over it.
– The primary reason is defence, surely.
– Yes. Let us examine the matter a little further. We are asked, not only to incur the increased capital cost of constructing this heavier line, but also to saddle the people of Australia with the increased charge of converting the State services to a 5-tt. 3-in. gauge. That is really the corollary of this proposal emanating from the representatives of - this noble State of Victoria, where national sentiment abounds, and of South Australia, where they have a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, that the States of Queensland and Western Australia, which have a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, shall be required to have a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge; although the cost of conversion to that gauge, as opposed to a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, will run into many additional millions. Now, for a percentage of these many additional millions I think that you could more than buy the extra rolling-stock that would be required to transport to Western Australia on the 4-ft. 8£in. gauge all the troops which you are ever going to send across the continent. You could do it more cheaply, if that is your proposal, on a 4-ft. &%-‘m. gauge, by saving the capital cost, and putting the money so saved into rolling-stock, than by laying the line on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in the first instance. On that point, the proposition of the honorable member for Laanecoorie is put out of court.
The interest of the Committee must undoubtedly be attracted to . the peculiar difficulty in which Queensland will be placed after the line is completed. If we have our trunk railway running through from Brisbane to Fremantle on a 4-ft. 81-in. or a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, the Railways Commissioners of every State through which it passes will, if they do not convert all their lines to that gauge, find it necessary to maintain and keep in running order two sets of rollingstock, two sets of ordinary freight locomotives, and two sets of express locomotives. Considerations of economy in running will, require them, in their own interests, to convert their other lines to whatever gauge is established on the main trunk line. We have to look beyond this Bill, in the interests of the Australian people, to find out which is the most feasible proposition - to convert the gauge of the whole of the railway services to 5 ft. 3 in. or to 4 ft. 8£ in. When honorable members ask themselves whether it is fair to place on the backs of the taxpayers of Queensland the cost of conversion to 5 ft. 3 in., when purely national considerations require only a railway of 4 ft. 8j in., they will, I think, find that beating the provincial drum of the Melbourne and Adelaide press does not fulfil all the requirements of participation in the deliberations of a national Chamber. The first question we have to determine is whether the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is adequate to Australian requirements. In considering this problem, we have to remember that the question of the expense of converting our railways to one or other of the gauges is intimately connected wim it. I am satisfied, after examining the precedent set to us in America, that the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is ample for our requirements. In the first place, for the passenger traffic across America the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge has been found to be ample, and more than ample. The large volume of freight carried on the railways there is due to the fact that it is almost impossible for sea carriage to seriously compete with the railways, owing to the immense length and difficulties of the voyage around Cape Horn. In Australia, the sea route is practically as short as the land route, and the freight difficulties of the sea route are only one-tenth the freight difficulties of the land route. Consequently, in Australia, in normal times, when there is the opportunity to transport goods by sea, there will undoubtedly be 999 of every 1,000 tons sent by sea after the line is completed. That being so, what is the use of saddling the taxpayers with millions of additional taxation in order to satisfy the mere provincial exigencies of Victoria and South Australia ?
– What about the political exigencies of New South Wales?
– It would, no doubt, suit Victoria excellently to have this expenditure placed on the Australian taxpayer, while that State would not have to convert a single railway.
– The amendment only asks for further inquiry. Mr. KELLY. - lt only asks for delay. I can remember the honorable member asking for further inquiry with regard to the Federal Capital, and how every site but the right site was advocated enthusiastically by both the Melbourne newspapers and Melbourne members, excepting, perhaps, one or two. However, I have no desire to go into that matter; and only touch on it as another instance of that spread-eagle Victorian nationalism which, when analyzed, seems always to find its birthplace behind the inkpots of the Melbourne Age. I sincerely trust, however, that my Victorian friends, and their South Australian colleagues, will endeavour to look on this question with broad Australian eyes ; for, if they do, they will vote for 4 ft. 8£ in., and not for 5 ft. 3 in.
– And then the honorable member will talk of them as he did of the Victorians who supported the Capital site !
– And without whose support that site would not have been selected.
– Hear, hear !
– Three Victorian representatives have interjected, and the honorable member for Gippsland pleads with me to remember what some Victorians did in the matter of the Capital site.
– I asked no such thing !
– From three such colleagues, in any national movement, God forbid - however, I have no desire to be offensive. I shall only say that the interjections are singularly unfortunate when coming from those three honorable members. I am afraid that, in the present case, they are adopting no more national outlook than the one they adopted on a previous occasion. That outlook, like the exigencies, are just the same. There is an endeavour to keep, as far as possible, the selfish interests of this particular State in the ascendant, however much that may affect the ultimate welfare and progress of the Australian people. I am satisfied that the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge is adequate to meet all passenger requirements ; and I am more than satisfied it will meet all freight requirements. A line of 4 ft. 8J in. is infinitely the cheaper and easier to complete ; and, as those gentlemen confess that this line is necessary for Defence purposes, I ask them to be holiest and straightforward, and to vote for the Bill on the basis of that gauge without further delay.
Mr. LAIRD SMITH (Denison^ [8.10]. - It was not my intention to speak, and I should not have done so, but for the interjection of the honorable member for Corangamite. I desire to state, distinctly, that I do not happen to be the member for Tasmania who is going to support the amendment. In my opinion, we should be involving the Commonwealth in vast unnecessary expenditure if we adopted the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. We are told that’ the adoption of that gauge would involve an extra expenditure of about £2,000,000; and why should we saddle the taxpayers of the Commonwealth - not only of Victoria - and New South Wales - with such an additional burden, merely in order to delay the construction of the railway? One honorable member has stated that, within a week, we could obtain expert advice on which we could rely. Did the Committee ever before hear such an argument?
– I said three weeks !
– I am sorry if I misquoted the honorable member ; but even in three weeks we could not possibly obtain better advice than we have already. The Prime Minister, when he introduced the Bill, told us that expert advice had been obtained.
-. - There is no evidence that the question of gauge has been seriously discussed, but only the question of expense.
– What more expert evidence do we require? I regret very much that honorable members on this side should have attacked a civil servant, who did not descend to the level of Uriah Heep, but gave a straight-out, honest opinion. I hope the day has gone past when civil servants are to be muzzled.
– He has not made the matter very clear.
– I think he gavea very clear opinion, and that he hit the nail on the head when he said that stability and steadiness in running do not depend sp much on the extra few inches of gauge as on the length of the sleepers, and a wellpacked road. Why are such good results obtained on the New South Wales railways? Because of the length of the sleepers, just as similar results are obtained on the British railways. Recently, in Great Britain, I travelled on a time-table of 76 miles an hour, and the train w.is much steadier than was that on which I travelled last night from Adelaide.
—What was the average rate of speed from Adelaide?
– I do not know ; but I do know that we were half.an-hour late. There were two engines hauling the train the whole distance ; yet it was found to be impossible to arrive here on time. The slow speed was due, not to the gauge of the line, but to the long climb over Mount Lofty, and other steep gradients. It is the grade to* be accomplished, rather than the gauge of the line, that controls the speed. So far as speed is concerned, there is very little difference between a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge and. a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line. The one slight advantage which the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge possesses over the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. is that engines built on the wider gauge have their cylinders on the inside, whilst those of the smaller gauge have their cylinders on the outside.
– Where did the honorable member learn that information. Did’ he read of it this morning?
– No. I learned it from the late Mr. Batchelor - a man who knew as much about a locomotive as does-‘ any one in this House.
– Does the honor-, able member know which gauge he preferred ?
– I am surprised that the honorable member, in view of his long parliamentary experience, should have asked such a question. Inasmuch as thedeceased gentleman was a member of the Government which introduced this Bill, is it likely that I should have asked him what gauge he favoured ? I should not insult a Minister by putting such a question to him. The views of Mr. Harriman have been quoted at length during this debate ; but will any honorable member say that he ever advocated a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge? As a matter of fact, he favoured a 6-ft. gauge.
– A 7-ft. gauge.
– A 6-ft. or a 7-ft. gauge.
– What about the steadiness of the running on the narrower gauge?
– I travelled at great speed on a 4-ft. 8j-in line in Great Britain, and found the train much steadier than was the Adelaide express last night.
– Was that because of the gauge?
– No. The greater steadiness was due to the superior permanent way of the British railway. Why should we incur an additional expense? of something like £3,000,000 by adopting the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge when, by raising our permanent ways to the high state of efficiency prevailing in connexion with the railways of Great Britain, we can make trains travelling on a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge line in Australia equally as steady and effective for all purposes as are those of the Old Country? The railways of Great Britain carry more passengers in one day than are carried on our railways in a month ; and they serve the people most effectively. If they are capable of coping effectively with such a passenger and goods traffic as that, of Great Britain, surely railways of a like gauge should be good enough for Australia. Why should the Commonwealth be involved in the great additional expense which would follow the adoption of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge? The Victorians do not care one iota for that consideration; they have an axe to grind. Why should the Commonwealth suffer because of a difference between New South Wales and Victoria? In the United States, at the present time, engines three times as heavy as those we are using are running on 4-ft. 8j-in. lines. Even if the railways throughout Australia were converted to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge heavier engines could not be run, because the existing bridges and culverts would not support them. That is why heavier engines cannot be run on the New South Wales lines at the present time. If engines three times as heavy as those at present in use in Australia can be run on a 4-ft. 8^-in. line, why should we incur the enormous additional expenditure which the building of a 5-ft. 3-in. line would involve? It has yet to be proved that long trains are advantageous. My experience in Australia is that, to secure increased speed, the railway managers, as in Great Britain and elsewhere, have to use additional engine-power, and that the only way to secure the enginepower is to put on two locomotives.
– Oh !
– I thought we had heard enough from the honorable mem- ber when he spoke of engines in negotiating curves overhanging till they lost their centre of gravity and toppled over. I have here a plan of a railway engine constructed on the principle of all locomotives, and find that the bogie is underneath the boiler and as far forward as possible. If there is anything projecting at all, it is the cow-catcher; and the honorable member’s friend, to whom he referred, must have mistaken the cow-catcher for the boiler. I wish to emphasize the point made by the Prime Minister in regard to the Canadian railways. The right honorable gentleman said that the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company, in the first place, constructed a 4-ft. 8£-in. line. They acted, no doubt, on the best expert advice available, and since they have constructed another long length of line on the same gauge, and are about to construct yet another, surely a 4-ft. 8^-in. line should be sufficient for our requirements. I find, by reference to the
Commonwealth Year-Book, that, although the New South Wales railways cost a little more per mile to construct than those of Victoria, they give a better return on the capital expended, and carry passengers and freight at lower rates. Why is this? Because a railway on a. 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge can be run more cheaply than a railway on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. In New South. Wales, for a distance of 50 miles, a second-class passenger is charged only 5s. 9d., whereas in Victoria he is charged 7s. 6d., a firstclass passenger being charged 13s. 7d. in New South Wales, as against 15s. in Victoria. There are a number of members opposing the adoption of the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge who represent the poor farmers, of whom we hear so much, and I wish them to note these figures. The rate per ton for a distance of 50 miles is only 23s. in New South Wales, as against 26s. in Victoria. Despite figures like those, representatives of Victoria tell us of the superior advantages of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. For a distance of 100 miles, the New South Wales rate for the carriage of a ton of goods is 44s. nd., and the Victorian rate 5 is. The difference may not appear of much account to honorable members opposite, but it means a great deal to the farmers who have produce to send to market. No doubt those who are opposing the adoption of the standard gauge are sorry that they compelled me to use these figures. They are making a great noise about it. When travelling through Ireland recently, a certain animal under a gate was squealing very loudly, and I was told that it was squealing because it was being squeezed. Probably my figures are squeezing honorable members, and that is why they are squealing. For a distance of 300 miles, the rate for the carriage of a ton of goods is 99s. id. in New South Wales and 134s. 6d. in Victoria.
– Tell us about the Tasmanian rates. There the gauge is only 3 it. 6 in.
– Being a Tasmanian, I can speak on this question without bias. lt is not necessary for me to read certain morning newspapers before making up my mind as to the attitude to be adopted towards this proposal. One honorable member spoke of the great loss which would be incurred by scrapping 5-ft. 3-in. engines and rolling-stock. He forgot that, if a conversion of gauge from 5 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 8L in. were commenced, a third rail would be laid in the first instance, so that both 4-ft. 8-in. and 5-ft. 3-in. rollingstock could be used until the latter was worn out. Whatever rolling-stock had to be dispensed with, whether 5-ft. 3-in. or 4-ft. 8&-in., would practically be unsaleable. Second-hand rolling-stock could not be sent from Australia to other parts of the world to be sold. I shall vote for the adoption of the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, because I think chat that is the best gauge to adopt, and that nothing is to be gained by delay. The Railways Commissioners have already recommended that gauge. Of course, experts can be got to give different opinions, but when expert opinion differs, it is for the layman to make a decision. In this case, it is our duty to ask whether the 4- ft. 8i-in. gauge has given satisfaction in Great Britain, in Canada, the United States, and Europe, as well as in New South Wales. If it has, and is the standard gauge of the world, it is surely the gauge which we should adopt for the line under discussion. There might be reason for proposing a change to a 7 -feet gauge, but nothing can be said for a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, as opposed to the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge, on the score of greater capacity for dealing with traffic. I understand that the break of gauge which we now have was due to the fact that in the early days the State authorities failed to come to an arrangement, but that is no concern of ours now. The 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is cheaper to construct, to maintain, and to ‘ work than the 5- ft. 3-in. gauge. Furthermore, it would cost more to convert the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge than the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. The enlargement of tunnels for the conversion from the 4-ft. gauge to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would in itself be very difficult and expensive. Tunnels once altered are not so safe as they were before, and it is dangerous and difficult to keep traffic going through them while they are being altered. I hope that the Government will stand by the Bill, and that a division will soon be taken. We have been here for five weeks, and have not yet done anything.
.- The honorable member for Angas is perfectly sincere in his attempt to get as much light as he can on the important question of gauge, but I cannot support his amendment, because I think that the Committee has sufficient data upon which to come to a decision, and that nothing would be gained by a delay of two or three weeks. For purposes of defence, and in the national interest, it will be necessary within the next few years to connect the proposed transcontinental line with the New South Wales system by way of Broken Hill and Cobar. If we want to make short cuts through Australia, we must take steps to link up the existing railway systems. Taking the railways already in existence, we find, in the first place that, between Albury and Sydney, there are 392 miles of 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. line. The Queensland Government made an arrangement with the New South Wales Government some time ago, that as soon as the North-Coast railway was pushed through to Tweed Heads, they would widen the rails from Tweed Heads to Brisbane. As a matter of fact, the cuttings, tunnels, .and bridges between Southport and Tweed Heads have been constructed on the basis of the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. I hope that before long the New South Wares Government will have completed the North-Coast line, and that we shall then have a clear run through from Sydney to Brisbane on the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge. That will give us 1,117 miles of 4-ft. 8j-in. railway running from Albury to Brisbane. The main trunk line from Albury to Adelaide totals 674 miles. I believe that there are 130 miles of additional 5-ft. 3-in. railway between Adelaide and Port Augusta. Consequently, from the aspect of mileage, the cost of unifying the gauges on a 5-ft. 3-in. standard must be enormous as compared with the cost of conversion from 5 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 8J in. I find that New South Wales, which has a railway mileage approximating in length to that of Victoria, is carrying 8,000,000 tons of freight per annum; whilst the Victorian railways are carrying only about 4, 500,000- tons per annum. I can approach this question as one who has very little local interest in it. Like the honorable member who has just sat down, I can take an outsider’s view-point, because Queensland will have to alter her gauge whatever the gauge of this line may be. I point out, however, that the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in Queensland has enabled us to do splendid work. I have travelled over some of the branch lines in Victoria where the gauge is 5 ft. 3 in., and can bear witness to the fact that the service in this State is not one whit better than the service in Queensland with a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I admit that, on the trunk lines in Victoria and New South Wales, the service is better than on Queensland trunk lines. But, for general purposes - for tapping the country in particular - the narrow gauge has done good work at less cost than has been incurred in Victoria. With regard to carrying capacity, I think that a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge will meet all the requirements ot Australia for very many years to come. In Scotland, the Caledonian Company owns a line of railway 1,100 miles long, which carries 34,000,000 passengers per annum and 28.000,000 tons of produce. Even in his wildest dreams, the Minister of Home Affairs scarcely imagines that the proposed transcontinental railway will carry a larger traffic. In speaking just now, the honorable member for Denison either did not hear or declined to answer an interjection by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who wished to attribute the extra cost of working the Victorian railways, as compared with the cost of working the lines of New South Wales, to the increased price of coal.
– My statement is undoubtedly true.
– I do not know what is the cost of coal in New South Wales, but I do know that the Victorian Government is hewing its own coal. Indeed, we are given to understand that at Wonthaggi there is sufficient coal in sight to last Victoria for another 100 years. This coal is being hewn, I repeat, by the Government of this State, and thus the middlemen’s profits are eliminated, whereas the coal used upon the New South Wales railways is hewn by private enterprize. Consequently, if there be anything in the argument we so frequently hear that the State can do things better than can private enterprise, the existing position is certain I v in favour of Victoria. I was very much interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. I do not blame him for endeavouring to put forward a good case for his own side. It has been said that the Victorian representatives have to do that. I would not like to say that. But T admire the energy with which the honorable member attacked this subject to-night. At the same time, I think his reference to the trans-Siberian railway was rather unfortunate. There is no doubt that the Russians made a pretty good show in getting back from Port Arthur after the Japanese had given them a fright, but their transport of troops to that port did not reflect credit upon their railway management. Shortly after the return of LieutenantColonel Flewell Smith from South Africa, that officer spoke very highly of the conduct of the Railway Department of that country, and of the facilities which were provided for transporting troops and horses from one portion of it to another, even on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. He assured me that he had arrived at the conclusion that for the transport of horses, at any rate, any wider gauge was unnecessary, and merely a waste of space. Personally, I think that a 4-ft. gauge is quite sufficient for all our requirements. One sometimes derives information from the advocates of an opposite cause, and I learn from a paper which has been published by Mr. W. P. Hales, who is, 1 think, a Tasmanian, and who, I believe, advocates a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - although I have not read his report in its entirety-
– Therefore the honorable member is able to criticise it !
– I am not going to criticise it, and my honorable friend will have an opportunity of reading anything in it that I may omit. Mr. Hales says -
If the world-wide gauge of 4 ft. 8£ in. is discarded, the rolling-stock should find a market in some of the following countries, namely : - Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, United States of America, Argentine, Egypt, and several minor countries.
These are all countries to which we may sell our 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. rolling-stock rather than scrap it. Now, if these countries have adopted that gauge. I take it that they have done so after very careful consideration. Mr. Hales continues -
If the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is discarded, ‘the only possible markets for the rolling-slock are Ireland and Brazil, which have railways of that gauge.”
I think that those statements condemn the rest of. Mr. Hales’ arguments, however magnificent they may be.
– Why does the honorable member suggest that they condemn Mr. Hales’ arguments?
– Because he has shown here that about ten countries have adopted the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge to every one which has adopted the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and if there be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, there must be wisdom in the course which these other countries have followed. I find, too, that the London and Northwestern Railway Company owns 2.000 miles of railway, which are earning .£8,000 per mile per annum. The average use of the American railways is 4.568 times per annum. That is to say, every foot of railway is used that number of times. The same volume of traffic would give us fifteen trains per day over the transcontinental railway. I think that number of trains would be sufficient to transport all the” passengers and produce that are likely to require transportation. I wish now to point out that the arguments which have been used on the present occasion by the honorable member for Angas, in regard to the country along the route of the proposed line, Were not those which were urged by him upon a former occasion. On Friday last he spoke in a disparaging way of the land along the route of the proposed line.
– 1 was hot speaking on the gauge question then. Those remarks were made on Tuesday of last week. I then said that there were 40 or 50 miles of difficult country on which to widen the gauge.
– I understood the honorable member to condemn the whole of the country.
– Not from the point of view of the country.
– I wish to place on record what Mr. David Lindsay has said in this connexion. -
– I Woul’d point out that the honorable member would not be in order in discussing the nature of the country at this juncture. The question before the Chair is the width of gauge which ought to be adopted.
– The line will run through the country.
– The honorable member will not be in order in debating the nature of the ‘country.
– I merely wish to reply to ‘the statement ‘bf the honorable member for Angas
– The honorable member for Angas made that statement in speaking upon the motion for the -second reading of the Bill, and Consequently the honorable member Will not be in order in replying to it at this stage.
– Perhaps I shall be in order in pointing out that - the enormous difference between the cost that would be incurred in laying down a 5-ft. 3-ih. instead of a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. ‘gauge - seeing that the proposed line will traverse very poor country - can scarcely be justified. Mr. Lindsay, iri his lecture on the transcontinental railways of Australia, said -
How unsatisfactory it is ‘for Western Australia cut off from Adelaide or Melbourne, by 1,000 or 1.500 miles of ocean ! How easy it would be for any foreign ship to intercept any of the mail steamers or men-of-war and pre vent the communication which is so necessary for our very existence ! Therefore, the first railway that I shall refer to is the one from Kalgoorlie >to Fort Augusta, 1,080 miles iri length. Now, a great many people consider this country a desert. It is not a desert.
– I must ask the honorable member not to continue on those lines.
– If you, sir, rule me out of order, I will not persist, although I should like to be allowed as much latitude as has been permitted to other honorable members who have discussed the subject.
– The honorable member is imputing motives to the Chair.
– I have no wish to prolong the discussion, and I shall have no hesitation whatever in voting against the amendment.
– t certainly deplore in the National Parliament the strong provincial feeling that has been evidenced during this discussion. I take it that what we now have to consider is the width of gauge which will be best suited to the requirements of Australia for all time. We have to think, not merely of today, but of the future. Although we can readily recognise that it would be less costly to lay down a narrow than a widegauge railway to Western Australia, we have to recollect what is in the minds of the .great engineers of the Old World in regard to the conversion of such a line to a wider gauge. We have to consider whether in Australia we shall not finally reach a stage of railway construction when it will be necessary, if we do not ‘deal with the matter now, to consider the cost of converting the gauge, not of a few thousand miles of railway, but of perhaps ten times the number. The expenditure then might be, wot £2,000,000 or £3,000,-000, but £100/000,000. I am not going toblame the representatives of one State more than another for the exhibition of provincialism to which . I have referred, though I am afraid th’a’t if I were to lay the -rod on the shoulders of any -for that exhibition, I should have ‘to lay it more ‘heavily upon (he representatives of my own State than upon those who represent the other States. 1 am one of the seniors of this House, and witnessed the first trains run in Victoria and in South Australia. I ‘had the privilege and honour of riding in the first train that left Adelaide for Port Adelaide. At that time there was a short railway in Victoria in the hands of a private -company, known as the Hobson’s Bay Railway Company. Though my memory does not serve me so well, my reading enables me to say that a little later an attempt was made to agree to a particular gauge for railway construction throughout Australia. No one can contradict the statement of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, that at one period in the history of Australia there was a unanimous agreement on the part of the whole of the States, arrived at after full consideration of the best engineering evidence it was possible at the time to obtain, that the best gauge to adopt for Australia was the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. That agreement was departed from, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong also pointed out ; but there should be some honorable members present who can recollect that it was not financial considerations alone that led to that departure. Provincial considerations were- allowed to have great weight in compelling traders in remote portions of one State to trade with the commercial centre of that State rather than with the commercial centre nearest to them. I know that that was so, and I am not satisfied that we are yet in a position to determine finally so gigantic a problem as the laying down of a universal gauge for Australian railways. Whilst I still have an open mind on this question of the gauge, I want some more evidence to enable me to come to a Conclusion. I have known Mr. Deane, the consulting engineer of the Commonwealth, for a great many years, and I respect and admire him. I have studied his report very carefully, and I find in it an admission that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is superior to the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge, lt is said that arguments may be pressed too far; but Mr. Deane makes that admission candidly, whilst he goes on to give a number of reasons to show that it is advisable to maintain the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge, lay down an additional rail on the existing 5-ft. 3-in. lines, with the idea of converting them in about five years to the narrower gauge. I have to consider also the constituency I represent in the State of New South Wales. I- have to consider the requirements of the people- of that district, which has not so far been blessed with any railway, because of the strong provincial feeling on the part of the authorities of the senior State, and their desire to prevent the people of that district trading with Victoria. Though they have not yet decided me as to the course I should adopt, the communications I have from my constituents are in favour of the wider gauge as against the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge. The honorable member for Angas has submitted an amendment for the consideration of the Committee. Like every proposition we get from that honorable gentleman, it is moderate, without any party significance, and proposed with a sole desire to do what is best in the settlement of the question. All that the honorable gentleman asks forand I am surprised that the Government did not see their way to accept his proposal without hesitation - is that, as we have not yet sufficient light, and there is a conflict of testimony between engineers on this subject, we should bring the consulting engineers of the different States together to discuss this matter with our own engineer, and so acquire technical information which we cannot hope to obtain from members of this House, to enable us to decide what gauge shall be adopted, as the standard gauge for Australia. What reasonable objection can be taken to that course? The honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out that the wires could be set to work tomorrow, and: the engineers assembled at some convenient place within the Commonwealth within a week, and within the next two or three weeks or a month they could report to this House which is the best gauge to adopt. I am not approaching this question from any party or State point of view. I wish to see the best course followed. It will not affect me personally; but I have to look to those who, when I go, will be left behind, and must consider how the settlement of the question will affect Australia in the future. No matter what gauge is adopted, money will have to be spent in the conversion of existing lines, and my desire is that the railways of Australia should be established on a uniform gauge as rapidly as possible. I wish to do my duty to my constituents and my country by adopting what is recommended as the best course after the most mature and reliable evidence is submitted to honorable members. I appeal now to the Prime Minister not to continue- to oppose the amendment. The delay which would be involved upon its acceptance would be infinitesimal. We might go on with the consideration of the rest of the Bill, and we should, and I believe would, have the report of the engineers before the measure could be finally dealt with in another place. So that the charge made against some honorable members of voting for the amendment because they desire to bring about delay, and are antagonistic to the lint, cannot possibly be sustained. I arn not antagonistic to the line; quite the reverse. 1 wish to see it, and also the line through the Northern Territory, constructed as rapidly as possible. Besides the 2,000 or 3,000 miles of railway now in existence in the more largely populated States of New South Wales and Victoria, we must consider the hundreds of thousands of miles of line that will be laid down in the future in and around the vast territories that we have taken over. I therefore feel compelled by a sense of justice to myself, my constituents, and my country to support the amendment of the honorable member for Angas.
– I am sorry to find that into a question of this sort there has been imported so much of that old Inter-State jealousy and parochialism which many of us hoped had almost succumbed to sweet reasonableness. This question ought to be regarded Strictly from the national stand-point, and those honorable members who are endeavouring to set State against State by repeating that those who are opposed to them are taking a parochial view, and that those on their side are taking a national view, should have kept such assertions entirely in the background. We are dealing with the question from a strictly non-party point of view. Honorable members on either side of the House are on either side of the question, and we should, therefore, be able to claim that it is a matter in which the interest of Australia bulks most largely, and has the most influence upon our votes as well as our voices. I wish, at the outset, to complain of the manner in which information has been sent to this House, and through it to the country. The Minister has done a great deal to simplify procedure in his Department, and for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude, but I am afraid that in abolishing the ordinary polite methods of communication he has given opportunity for an officer to exhibit a superiority which should not be exhibited towards this House, or the Minister, or the electors. No unbiased individual reading the supplementary report of the consulting railway engineer would take it to be the report of a subordinate to a Minister. He would rather take it as the statement of an autocrat to a body which was bound to accept his decision.
– The honorable member surely would not wish me to edit the report? I want Mr. Deane to be free to say what he thinks.
– I ventured to express the opinion that the Minister had never read the report.
– Oh, yes, I had.
– Then, evidently the Minister takes the responsibility for it?
– Then I would tell the Minister that it is not couched in the terms which we would have expected from him, because, although we know that he is liable to certain flights of fancy, we realize that no one is more courteous to the members of this House than he is. lt is, therefore, with pained surprise that I find him justifying the form in which the report is presented - I am not, of course, alluding to its substance. I have a shrewd idea that the Minister is supported by the honorable member for Wentworth in the attitude he is adopting in this matter. No one knows better than he the value of words, and of the form in which words are put, but he surely cannot approve of such a statement as the following, made after speeches have been delivered in this House by honorable members, and made also for the purpose of influencing the votes qf honorable members -
I do not think that the opposers of the 4-ft. 82-in gauge, or, perhaps, I should say thefavourers of the ‘ 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, would’ clamour for one of 6 feet.
An expression that honorable members are “clamouring”- in this House for a particular gauge should not be used by a servant of the public.
– He is replying tothe engineers.
– I know thecategory which the Minister has in hismind, but that is not the way in which a responsible officer of education and experience should address a Minister in a memorandum.
– I think he is replying, more to Mr. Hales’ reoprt.
– He does not say so. He uses the words “opposers”’ and “ favourers.” The honorable member for Wentworth, who showed an amount of earnestness, as well as a desire to get to the bottom of things, which we are always glad to see evidenced by any honorable member, claimed that those who intended to support the amendment were only endeavouring to postpone the question. That was the great argument he used against it. What a change has taken place in the honorable member in the brief period since this- question was previously before the House ! The lofty attitude which he then took up was expressed in the following words : -
My opposition to the measure is not prompted by any disregard for the people of the great western State, but my first duty, I conceive, is to the Constitution which I am sworn to uphold - and then, as a sort of afterthought, he puts in - and to the electors who have sent me here. I cannot forget that I am one of the trustees of the public purse of the Commonwealth, and that the proposed railway would not constitute a fair charge upon the Commonwealth exchequer.
Does it lie in the mouth of the honorable member who made those statements to accuse other honorable members of desiring to delay the construction of the line, when they are asking for only three weeks’ delay in order that they may get further information, of which they admit, as laymen, they are urgently in need, and of which they believe that those who favour the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge are still more in need? When such information should be, and can be, obtained, within that short period, it is not fair to accuse the supporters of the amendment of wilfully attempting to delay the question, especially in view of the attitude which the honorable member for Wentworth and others adopted only a little while before. How can those honorable members possibly reconcile their present with their previous attitude, when they said alt sorts of hard things about the whole proposal, bitterly opposing the expenditure of money even for a survey, and adding that when the survey was completed, they would use all their endeavours to prevent the construction of the line? The explanation in the case of the honorable member for Wentworth lies, I feel sure, in that second part of his first duty. His first fluty was to the Constitution, and then he put in, as a sort of mental parenthesis, “ and to the electors who sent me here.”
– That is where we differ. You are not thinking of that.
– The honorable member is doing in this case what he has done so consistently and so effectively for a considerable period. He is dealing with the question as one which will affect his own electors, and leaving out of sight its effect upon the Commonwealth as a whole. With regard to placing the cylinders on the outside of the wheels, and so on, the engineer uses an expression which I want the Minister who has accepted full responsibility in the matter to explain. It occurs at the end of this paragraph
Seeing that this can be done, and power gained without widening the gauge for a few inches, it must be clear to any one who looks at it properly, that the standard gauge is actually better than the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, because it does not require the same width between platforms.
What is meant by the words ‘ ‘ because it does not require the same width between platforms?” I have read the paragraph over and over again, and endeavoured to ascertain what is meant.
– On a double line.
– One of the strong anti-parochial national supporters from Western Australia tells us that the answer is that this is to be a double line. I am talking about the width between the platforms. Has the honorable member for Fremantle any authority for supposing that the Minister intends to construct a double line from here to Fremantle?
– I hope that some of these days we will.
– Does the report really mean that the Minister intends to construct a double line?
– Oh, no!
– Then the honorable member for Fremantle will pardon me if I refuse to take further notice of this self -constituted interpreter of the Minister’s ideas on this subject. If the Minister can tell us what is meant by the words I quoted, he will, I feel sure, remove a great deal of doubt from the minds of a number of honorable members besides myself, who feel that we are placed in a greater difficulty by this supplementary report than we were previously. Before I read the second last paragraph, which refers to stability and steadiness of running, 1 want the Committee to realize that it was prepared by an expert, and brought here tor the purpose of informing us with regard to a most important but vexed question on which the writer knew we desired light. What does he say in regard ro the matter of stability and steadiness of running? He begins with the phrase “One word.” Any one would think that he was a member of the House, so fond is he of using the phrase “one word” when he wants to use a number -
One word as regards stability and steadinessof running. Stability does not depend so much on the extra few inches width of gauge as on length of sleeper with a well-packed road. It is the practice on the main lines of New South Wales to use sleepers 9 feet long, and the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, with 9 feet sleepers, is really better than the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge and 8-ft. 6-in. sleepers.
Stability does not depend, he tells us, on the extra few inches in width, but he does not give us one word in regard to steadiness of running. We want to know what his opinions are in that regard. It is a matter which he himself brought up, but he has 1 ot :old us one word about it. I ask any ieas, nable man on which of two railway lines running parallel, one with a 4-ft. 8$~’m. gauge, and the other with a 5-ft 3-in. gauge, both with the same length of sleepers, namely 9 feet, and an equally well-packed road, will you get the greatest steadiness of running? I think that there can only be one answer to the inquiry. To use an expression which the Minister thoroughly understands - “ all things being equal,” with the road, the length of sleepers and the maintenance, the steadiness of running would always be in favour of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. It does not need an expert to tell us that ; but the consulting engineer has not told us anything about steadiness of running which he desired to say “ one word “ about. We have not got that word. He wound up by saying -
There can be no doubt whatever that the socalled standard gauge is the one to adopt for Australia.
Maintaining right to the very end the superiority which he adopted in the beginning, he told us, and told the Minister, who adopted the report, in very definite terms that there is no doubt whatever - where? in. his own. mind, I presume - that it. is the gauge to adopt for Australia.
– The preceding part of that paragraph shows that his mind was on .finance, and that the question he asked was - which was the cheapest gauge.
– Hear, hear ! The question of gauge has not been considered on its merits.
– I really believe that that is so. I am entirely disappointed with the report as a whole, and with its tone; and I am more than disappointed with the fact that the Minister has taken the whole responsibility of it. In regard to the gauge, it has been said that this is a national work, because it is only justified on the ground of defence ; that we must have means of carrying troops from the populous eastern States to defend the less thickly-populated western State; also, that we might require to have something brought from the western
State to assist the eastern States, which I readily admit. We will require their gold, on which, I think, the Minister has his eye, for purposes of another character. The railway, if used for that purpose, will have to be run with long trains. There is no doubt about that. It is not a line that should be constructed on a narrow gauge, because the survey shows that there are no mountainous tracts to be traversed ; and, in addition, seeing that time is to be the essence of the contract, and that we are anxious to save the expenditure of money, there will not be any sharp curves to be turned. In these circumstances, it will be a straight railway. It will be required for rapid running and for carrying long trains of either trucks or ordinary rolling-stock. In these < circumstances, how can any one possibly say that it will be a distinct advantage, nay, more, that it will be defensible, for us to construct the line on a gauge narrower than 5 ft. 3 in. If it was to be used only for bringing produce to market, then I would say that a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge might be ample. But we know that it is not to be used for that purpose. The country is against that, and the very idea for which it is to be constructed is against it. What we require is a gauge which will give us speed and security. We shall sacrifice both speed and security by every inch that we narrow the gauge below 5 ft. 3 in. We shall sacrifice both those very much to be desired things, and the Minister takes upon himself a very great responsibility when he swallows the whole of such a memorandum as that of Mr. Deane. He is so enamoured of the proposal that he is prepared to adopt the cryptic utterances of his own officer, and take the responsibility of saying that he will have no further inquiry, even from those who have been in the railway services of the continent for1 a considerable number of years, and know local conditions.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the Minister cannot “run “ a little matter of this kind?
– I believe the Minister is “running” this on his own. He has captured the Government and the majority of his party, and he has also captured, by means I do not like to indicate, certain honorable members on this side. We are pleading for further information, and not for delay. I know that this railway is to be constructed ; and I believe the gauge will be 4 ft. 81 in. ; but
I contend that there is not sufficient information available to enable the whole of the members of the Committee to come to a proper decision. The Minister is not dealing fairly with honorable members when he refuses a reasonable request, which has come from a quarter we acknowledge at all times to be reasonable. The honorable member for Denison surprised me by quoting what is done in other parts of the world, and using it as a reason for following the example there set. I was under the impression that the very reverse idea animated him - that he held and declared, “ We lead, let others follow who can.” I am astonished to find him referring with approval to other portions of the earth, which he, and others with him, describe as “ old, played-out quarters of the globe,” as guides, philosophers, and friends. The honorable member reminded us of the passenger and freight charges made on certain railways in order to prove that tlie 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge is the cheaper, and gives cheaper facilities to the public. But the honorable member was scarcely accurate in his illustrations ; and, with- reference to the fares on the railways of New South Wales and Victoria, he left out one important factor. In New South Wales, the return-ticket concession, has. been withdrawn.
– Only quite recently ; the figures of the honorable member for Denison refer to a former period.
– The honorable member did not say so ; and he did not quote the year. Fares have been reduced in New South Wales, because of the abolition of the return-ticket concession.
–There are return tickets on the suburban railways.
– The honorable member for Denison was speaking particularly of the farmers, and appealing to them to carefully note the honorable members who voted for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. T know that we, as members of Parliament, do not have to pay fares, but we have to pay for those who accompany us. I have recently had to pay fares in New South Wales ; and 1 was then astonished to find that the return-ticket concession had been abolished. I shall, however, leave that fact out of account, because the honorable member may have quoted figures relating to times anterior to that abolition. He ought to remember, however, that thf cost of coal at the dep6t,s in New South Wales is many shillings lower than it is in Victoria.
– The State coal mine in Victoria is producing coal at ns. a ton.
– Does .the honorable member know what is paid by the New South Wales Government for their railway coal ? I am certain the price is lower than 11s. a ton.
– I think it is something over 10s.
– I presume the honorable member means something under ns. In any case, it is only quite recently that the Victorian Railways Commissioners have taken over the mine ; and they have still to pay for the production of the coal. These circumstances, and not the difference in the gauge, are, in a large measure, responsible for the difference in the charges made on the railways. I ask any honorable members who have been accustomed to travel on ordinary country linesof 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, to travel on the New South Wales narrower gauge, and see how they will enjoy themselves..
– The Victorian carriages are like bullock-drays compared with the carriages in New South Wales !
– Here we have a sample of that blind prejudice which arises only from ignorance. I have recently travelled in the interior of New South Wales; and, although I admit that the railways in Victoria are not all that could be desired in the matter of speed, they suggest aeroplanes when compared with those in the adjoining State. I can well understand the attitude of the honorable member for Denison, as a little incident will show. In Tasmania, there is a narrow gauge; and for a time, on the score of economy, wood and coal were used together. One day, an engine-driver said to his fireman, as the train was going down, a steep gradient, “ Bill, I have lost control of the engine,” to which Bill replied, “ What is going to happen to the passengers?” The driver said, “ I do not know about the passengers ; I think we had better jump.” Bill, however, was a man of resource and presence of mind. He seized the tomahawk which was used for splitting the wood, jumped off the engine, and, having chopped down a sapling, stuck it in between the wheels of the engine, .and saved the lives of the passengers.
– Will the honorable member tell us when to laugh ?
– I do not expect the honorable member to laugh at that story. It is too true a picture of the antiquated methods adopted ou what are called railways in the southern State. Honorable members, from Tasmania are doubtless prepared to accept any gauge a couple of inches in advance of that to which they have been accustomed for many years ; and for them to come here and, with their limited experience, to talk about a gauge for the whole of Australia, would be a farce if it were not a tragedy. Those honorable members, are invested with the power to decide on a point of this sort with little personal information or knowledge - with nothing to. guide them but their love and affection for the Minister of Home Affairs, whom they regard as the embodiment of all that is just and proper, and whom they are prepared to follow. I guarantee that if the Minister had said that the gauge was to be 9 feet, those honorable members from Tasmania would be just as enthusiastic.
– The honorable member is very amusing !
– I do not feel in an amusing frame of mind when I see what I deem to be a national injustice being perpetrated by those who ought to be the custodians of the national rights and privileges of the people of Australia. The people of Australia ought not to have foisted on them, in this way, a gauge which, it adopted, will prove, I venture to predict, a grievous disappointment to those who are so earnestly advocating it, and will not fulfil in any degree the anticipations of those who, for selfish or parochial reasons, are supporting it.
– I should like to secure your assistance, Mr. Chairman, in an effort to open the Ministerial oyster in order that we may discover whether or not it contains a pearl. Member after member has appealed to the Minister of Home Affairs to say why further information should not be given to us in order that we may be in a position to properly determine which is the better gauge to adopt. One would imagine, from his silence, that the honorable gentleman had something to fear from a reconsideration of this question - that he was apprehensive that the conclusions arrived at by his expert officers, upon further inquiry, might lead to the adoption of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The Minister sits at the table with an angelic expression on his countenance, and resists ali appeals for further information. He pays no heed to our request that this. amendment should be accepted so as to give the Parliament an opportunity to obtain additional information. I wish to imprest* upon the Committee that, in supporting thisamendment, we are not asking that the construction of the railway shall be delayed. Whether it be accepted or rejected, we may be sure that it will be many a long day before you and I, Mr. Chairman, are invited to the banquet that will mark the turning of the first sod. The fear of those who oppose the amendment is that further information may cause the proposal to build this line on a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge to be forsaken for one that it shall be built on a. 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Of all the authorities to whom reference is made in the reports presented to us, not one, from the Railways Commissioners and the EngineersinChief, to the Railway War Council, gives any other reason for the adoption of the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge than that of economy.
– Is not that a good reason?
– It is the standard gauge of Canada.
– In reply to the honorable member for South Sydney, I would say that false economy is, at all times, a bad thing. As to the. statement that the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge is the Canadian standard, the same remark might be made of the position in England. But will honorable members say that, if a fresh start could be made tomorrow in either Great Britain or Canada, the 4-ft. 8$-n. gauge would be adopted? We have an unbroken gauge of railway from Albury to Terowie ; and there is no reason why the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie should not be built on the same gauge. The Government of Western Australia haveagreed to bring their railway lines into uniformity with the gauge adopted on the transcontinental line; and the adoption of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would mean no more to them than would the adoption of a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. The construction of this railway has been talked of in this House for ten years, and we are now asked to take a hurried vote on this question, when much might be gained by obtaining further information. Many curious statements have been made during this debate. Some honorable members have sought to show that the 4-ft. 8$-n. is better than the 5-ft. 3- in. gauge by contending that there are more accidents on the 5-ft. 3-in. railways of Victoria than there are on the 4- ft. 8j-in. lines of New South Wales.
They are so unfair that they would even have us believe that a railway collision is due to the width of gauge. One honorable member referred to the Richmond railway accident; but every one knows that ihe question of gauge had nothing to do with that disaster. lt was due either to the heavy fog prevailing at the time or to some remissness on the part of the railway management. If those who favour the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge would say that the railway management of New South Wales is better ‘than that of Victoria, 1 could understand their position. The statement might perhaps he correct ; but it is absurd for them to urge that the railway accidents of Victoria are dup to the width of gauge. If we cannot induce the Minister of Home Affairs to speak, we ought to appeal to the Prime Minister to allow the Committee time to secure further information before this question is finally decided. The amendment simply asks that an opportunity shall be afforded us to obtain fuller information ; and upon that information we may decide to adopt, either a 4-ft. 8J-in., or a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. This has not been made a party question ; and 1 certainly think that our request is a fair one. The sphinx-like attitude adopted by the Minister throughout this debate is not fair to the Committee. If he has any reasons to give in support of his proposal, he ought to put them lief ore us. 1 f he has no reasons other than those already advanced. I can only say that they are useless ; but if he has other reasons, and refuses to place them before us, he is not doing his duty to the Committee. I do not intend to delay the taking of a vote. The numbers are up ; and I suppose we shall have to accept defeat. If the Minister of Home Affairs will not give us more information, we must ask the Prime Minister to do so ; and if he, too, refuses, we must make the best of the situation. The only reason advanced in favour of the adoption of the 4-ft. 8£-in gauge is that of economy ; and we all know that that which may seem now to be cheap, may prove, in the long run, to be most costly. That, I believe, will he our experience if the Committee decides in favour of the 4-ft. 8j-in. instead of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and we make the narrower gauge the standard for Australia.
.- The unanimous support which the railway project is receiving is very pleasing. All that remains to be done is to come to a decision regarding the gauge to be adopted. I con gratulate the Government on having fixed the gauge in the Bill, and can imagine the speeches which we should have heard from the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and others, if that had not been done. They would have wanted to know what the gauge was to be, and why the Government had not the courage to declare its policy. The construction of the proposed line will virtually force a settlement of the unification of gauge question. I ask those who oppose the adoption of the standard gauge, where they think further information on the subject is to be obtained.
– Does not the honorable member know that two of the States ask for further information?
– I am not troubling about the States ; the matter is one for the Committee. If honorable members know of any secret source of information which lies buried, they should declare it. A great deal is in print about the merits of the various gauges used in railway construction throughout the world, and the works on the subject are available to us. Further, we have the opinions of the Railways Commissioners of the States, of the military authorities, and others. From whom, then, are we to ask for further information? Where do they live? We have been told that the amendment does not mean delay. Consequently those who support it must know of experts near at hand whose opinions should be sought. Surely they overlook the fact that we already have die opinion of the best railway engineers, the Commissioners being guided in their recommendation on a matter like this largely by expert advice. The honorable member for Corio told us that there is some connexion between the standard 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge and the size of a horse ; that the size of a horse regulated the width of the ordinary cart, and that when railways first came to be built their wheels were placed the same distance apart as ordinary cartwheels. That story was very interesting, but I found in it no condemnation of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. It does not matter what the origin of a thing was so long as the thing itself is good. We have been told, too, that some American experts are beginning to think that railways capable of carrying heavier loads than can be carried on a standard gauge are coming to be necessary, but it must be borne in mind that America has a population of 91,000.000, and before Australia is so thickly peopled many changes in transport arrangements: may be expected. Before then, we may have air carriage, mono-railways, and other improved means of transport ‘ which are not now thought of. As a matter of fact, it isdoubtful whether at the present time we use more than a fourth of the power latent in coal. The most modern steam-ship engines use 60 per cent, of the power latent in coal, but they are more economical than locomotive engines, and even than stationary engines. Improvements in machinery are constantly being effected, and for this reason alone we may expect that our railways will become capable of dealing with much more traffic than they carry now. Some honorable members have condemned the proposal before us, as if it were wise to spend money lavishly on one proposal because the reason urged for another course was its economy. It has been objected that the 4-ft. 8^-ln. gauge has been advocated on the score of economy, but that seems to me a great thing in its favour. Opinions have been read which, at the best, show only that experts differ. . It has not been proved that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is better than the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge, though it has been said that it may be the better gauge for us some day. In dealing with the cost of conversion, some honorable members have contended that to convert the New South Wales lines to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would not cost much, because those lines are already equipped with 9-feet sleepers, and Victoria uses shorter sleepers for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. They overlook the fact lhat if the New South Wales gauge were widened, the lines would have to be reconstructed. New tunnels might be necessary, and new cuttings. Alterations of curves, especially in rough country, would mean entirely new tracks. On the other hand, the Victorian lines could be converted to a 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge merely by altering the position of the rails on the sleepers. The Government obtained expert information before the measure was framed. This railway proposal has been before us for the last ten years, and in that time a great deal of information on the subject of gauge has been collected. I remember on one occasion, before this line was in contemplation, asking a very experienced New South Wales officer which, in his opinion, was the better of these two gauges. I said that I understood that it was claimed that the 4-ft. 8b-n. gauge was superior to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and I asked him in what respects it was better. His reply was that experience proved that running costs were less with the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, the rolling-stock lasting- longer and needing fewer repairs. Where wear and tear is least, the line is safest. He gave me a great deal of detailed infor.mation about length of axles, vibration, and other points that convinced me that a case was made out for the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. We must choose one or the other, and, in my opinion, the Government have done right in selecting the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge. The supporters of the amendment are really asking for delay.
– No delay whatever.
– Those who say that there will be no delay should take’ the Committee into their confidence, and tell us where the experts, whose opinion they de7 sire to have, are to be found.
– The information we want can be obtained in less than three weeks.
– We want’ a more definite statement than that. The mere assertion that information can be’ obtained isof no use to us. Of course, we know that the varying Opinions of engineers can he obtained readily enough ; but if we are to have delay we shall want some more authoritative evidence than they would affordus. Can any opinion be obtained which will be superior to the advice upon’ which the Government have acted? ls it not reasonable to assume that the Railways Commissioners consulted the EngineersinChief when they advised in favourof the 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge? There is a great deal in what the honorable member for; Herbert says, that when experts differ laymen should settle the question at issue. I’ was, therefore, very much surprised when the honorable member wound up his speech by saying that the amendment might well be accepted. I contend that the situation is one which should be settled by laymen after availing themselves of the best evidence. I have no doubt that the Railways Commissioners, when they made their recommendation, were guided by the consideration that it is a far more costly matter to make the narrower gauge wider than to make the wider gauge narrower. As to stability, every one who has inquired into the question knows that that does not depend on width of gauge, but on the con’dition of the. permanent way. There have been times in connexion with our railway systems in Australia when Governments have been stingy in respect of the number of men employed in looking after permanent ways. In New South Wales, in times of economy, railways were allowed to run. dangerously close to a condition that was unsafe. I remember occasions when, travelling over the line from Adelaide to Melbourne,onecould tell perfectly when one had crossed into Victorian territory, although there was no break of gauge, because the permanent way was not so well maintained. Comfort in travelling is affected by the condition of the track, the weight of the rails, and a number of other considerations which railway men understand. In all probability, there is very little to choose, on. the ground of merit, between a 5-ft. 3-in. and a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge. But conversion to 4 ft. 8½ in. will be much cheaper, and a railway of that gauge is more economical to work. As such a line will serve our purpose perfectly, I am in favour of what the Government have proposed.- Economic reasons and the evidence of experts support the same conclusion.
.- I shall not delay the Committee more than a few minutes ; but I desire to call attention to one or two points. One of them will enable me to cite the authority of a man whose name ought to be respected in connexion with railway matters. The question of railway communication was discussed at the Federal Convention, and 1 remember that the opinion of Mr. Eddy, then Railways Commissioner for New South Wales, was solicited on the question of gauges. I do not know whether any honorable member has referred to what Mr. Eddy said. In 1889I tabled a motion in South Australia in favour of the assimilation of the gauges of the Colonies. The fact that I did not then advocate the South Australian, but the New South Wales, gauge ought to be sufficient to show honorable members that there is no provincialism about my attitude. The mere fact that there happen to be over 500 miles of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway in South Australia does not affect my attitude on this question, as is amply shownby what I did on the occasion to which I am now referring. From 1886 to 1896 Mr. Eddy repeatedly advocated that assimilation of gauge should be deliberately entered upon. The first quotation which I shall make from his remarks on the subject is from the appendix to the minutes of the Adelaide Convention. The extract is from a paper which Mr. Eddy handed to Sir Henry Parkes in 1886. In this document he advocated that a meeting of experts of the Colonies should be called to consider which of the gauges -5 ft. 3 in. or 4 ft.8½ in. - should be adopted ; and he said, on the general question, that the present was undoubtedly the right time to grasp the problem and determine what should be the universal gauge of the future. Mr. Eddy went on to say -
I would therefore recommend that the question should be at once taken up by the Government as a great national question of far-reaching importance for the future of the country, and, as neither colony will be disposed to alter its gauge because of the consequent expense,I would recommend that after it has been agreed which gauge - the 5 ft. 3 in. . or 4 ft.8½ in. - shall become the gauge of the future, the cost of making the change shall be borne by a special fund created for the purpose, and that the colonies shall contribute the annual interest in agreed proportions, and also set aside an annual sum to act as a sinking fund for the extinguishing of the debt in, say, fifty years:
– He did not condemn the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge.
Mr.GLYNN.- All he asked . was that the experts should be called together to determine once and for all whatshould be the standard gauge. In another of his reports he mentions the merits of the 5- ft. 6-in. gauge for example. He says -
A very similar change has taken place in Canada and the United States. In the former country a large mileage was originally constructedon the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge, which confessedly permits the employment of more powerful and durable engines than the standard,or 4-ft.8½-in. gauge.
He fairly admits the superiority of that gauge from a haulagestand-point, and points out that the reason underlying the change in America was based, not on the merits of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, but upon the fact that it was not economic to have these breaks of gauge. He also acknowledged that the third rail had been found futile for some of the purposes for which it was intended. In1889.he indicated the lines upon which the experts should consider this matter of the unification of the gauge. After vain efforts to get the Railways Commissioners of the States to confer with each other, he declared in 1896 that an attempt ought to be made to induce Victoria to alter its gauge so that there might be traffic on the standard gauge between New South Wales and this State. One of the reasons why he advocated the adoption of a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge was somewhat provincial, because it emphasized the greater cost which would be involved by the adoption of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in the alteration of stations in New South Wales. He said -
As a question of cost, too, it will be much cheaper to adopt the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge than the
Victorian gauge of 5 ft. 3 in., as no works would require widening ; whereas if the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge were adopted the cost of altering stations like Sydney, the suburban lines, &c, would be exceedingly great. The axles of the rolling stock would in nearly all cases be available for the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, whereas if the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge were adopted all would have to be abandoned. The permanent way change would also be “cheapened and simplified by adopting the narrower gauge.
Mr. Eddy’s efforts for years were devoted to an endeavour to secure an investigation of the merits of these two gauges. His idea was that when the superiority of one had been determined, an alteration to that gauge should be made at a specific period. In a somewhat clever speech, the honorable member for Richmond has pointed out that in New South Wales better paying results are obtained from the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge than are secured in Victoria from a 5-tt. 3-in. gauge. But he omitted to mention that it is always possible to obtain better results from the same mileage of railway with a much greater traffic. In this connexion, I find that the traffic which is dealt with on practically the same mileage in New South Wales is double the traffic which is dealt with in Victoria. I would further point out that the lower freights in New South Wales are due to the fact that the long-distance rates there are less than those which are charged in Victoria. In giving evidence before the Inter-State Committee which was appointed in connexion with the Adelaide Convention, Mr. Eddy showed that the long-distance rates operative in New South Wales enabled the Railway Department there to carry goods at very low freights. At this late hour I do not propose to traverse the arguments which have been advanced by honorable members who differ from me. Such a speech as that which was delivered by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, replete as it was with information, ought to have sufficient weight with the Committee to induce it to grant us the few weeks of inquiry necessary to enable us to determine what gauge we ought to adopt. The report of Mr. Deane, which was laid upon the table of the House to-day, is scarcely worthy of a man who had previously given us such an admirably balanced statement. H’s first report was that of an engineer, whereas that which was presented to-day seemed to be inspired by necessity.
– His liver was bad.
Mr. - GLYNN- In that report, Mr. Deane refers to Mr. Harriman, and men tions that it is only Mr. Harriman, of the Southern Pacific Company, who had recently emphasized the necessity for changing the American gauge to a wider one. He neglected to add that Mr. James Hill, who is also a very great expert in America, takes the same view, and he also omitted to mention that in a book published by Messrs. Carter and McPherson - McPherson being the lecturer on railway economics in the John Hopkins University - the following passage occurs -
Allen also recommended that a gauge of 5 feet should be adopted. He also tried to get the “ Erie “ to adopt that gauge. Probably there are few railroad officials to-day who do not regret that Allen’s recommendations were not followed. The addition of 3^ inches to the width of the track would be of material advantage now. Only a year ago James J. Hill gave out a statement for publication in which he deplored the error in judgment that had prevented the adoption of a broader gauge for railroads. The enormous cost would render a change at this date impossible.
I understand that Mr. Smith has estimated the cost of the suggested change in America at something like j£i, 100,000,000, which practically prohibits the adoption of the recommendation of this high expert. Upon a line such as that which we are now considering, it is desirable that the difference in favour of freight charges, represented, perhaps, by 10 or 20 per cent., should be a determining factor, because we may have to handle very heavy freights of low intrinsic value. The result will be that avery small difference - such a difference as is represented between the adoption of the 4-ft. 8x-in. and the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - may prove of vital importance in the development of the country through which the line will pass. I ask the Government to afford us an opportunity of having a conference of engineers to determine the relative merits of these two gauges before definitely com-* mitting us to one of them. If time permitted, I could show that some of the best engineers in Australia who have recently had to inquire into railway management at Home believe in the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. I heard yesterday that Mr. Roberts, who was locomotive engineer in South Australia for many years, until he retired a few years ago and went to England to make inquiries into railway matters,’ says that he has no doubt as to the superiority from the modem point of view of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. I have here a letter which I received this morning from an English engineer who was the engineer for one of our early South
Australian railways, and recently was engaged on a private line at Broken Hill in an engineering capacity. He writes to say that he has no doubt of the superiority, from a modern point of view, of the 5-ft. 3- in. gauge. These experts may be wrong, or they may be right ; but all we ask is that by accepting the amendment, the Government will give us an opportunity of making an inquiry which, I think, would be completed within three or four weeks.
– Though I do not at all question the bona fides of the honorable member for Angas, the amendment he has moved is undoubtedly ingenious. I wish to say that every information that could be secured from the EngineersinChief of the Railway Departments of the States has already been embodied in the reports of the different Railways Commissioners, whose subordinates they are, and “ in whose name they speak when they make their recommendations. We have, in addition, the decision of the military experts, who have given their opinion that the 4- ft. 8L-in. gauge is the better of the two gauges. I submit, also, that this is not a proposal to unify the gauges adopted in the different States. It is a proposal by the Federal Government to construct an Inter-State line between ‘ South Australia and Western Australia; and in the light of the best information at their disposal the Government say that the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge which they propose is not only the best gauge, but the most economical. I go further, and say that every expert authority states that if there is to be a re-arrangement on the basis of the 4-ft. &-n. gauge rather than of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, there will be a saving to the people of the Commonwealth of at least £2,000.000 - no estimate on the subject is under £2,500,000 - while in my opinion we shall secure equal utility by the adoption of the 4-ft. 8L-in. gauge for this line. In view of these considerations, I ask honorable members who favour the adoption of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge to deal with the matter now, and let us abide by what the majority of this House and Parliament declare, and what the Government pin their faith to as the best gauge for Australia, namely, the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge.
.- I shall not detain the Committee more than a moment. It is a misfortune that a considerable section of the members of the Committee will vote as the Prime Minister desires for’ this line, simply as a great local line connecting two States and through them the rest of Australia. The merits and demerits of that particular proposal have been canvassed, and will be responsible for a great many of the votes cast in favour of the clause before us. Still the real issue decided by this vote, which is not being submitted, but is in fact before us, is the gauge now to be forced upon us fixing the uniform gauge for the whole of Australia. It is a great misfortune that, in order to get this line, which has been long necessary, will become more and more necessary every year, and requires to be constructed without delay, this local proposal is brought forward in such fashion as to commit us finally upon that far greater national question - the Federal gauge for the whole Commonwealth. <
– Before we go to a division on the amendment I wish to ask the Government if in the construction of this line they intend to make provision for an alteration of gauge if that should afterwards be decided to be necessary. I understand that the Queensland lines are capable of alteration to the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge without the necessity of altering bridges or tunnels.
– Only one; the line from Brisbane to Southport.
– I wish to know if the Government are willing, in making arrangements for the construction of this line, to make provision in ‘the construction of bridges and tunnels for a wider gauge if that should be shown to be necessary.
– There will be no tunnels on this line.
– It is a fortunate line on which no tunnels have to be made. I saw some of the Western Australian lines being constructed, and it struck me that it should be an easy matter to construct railways over such flat country. I ask the Government whether they will, in letting contracts for the construction of this line, make provision in the width of bridges and culverts to permit of the alteration of the gauge to 5 ft. 3 in. if that should subsequently be shown to be necessary. The day may come when we shall see fit to have a wider gauge, or it may be a narrower gauge, because we may yet have the monorail, since no one can say what developments will take place in railway construe1 tion. I congratulate the Government on the stand they are taking in connexion with the financial aspect of this question. They are evidently giving it serious consideration. I have always supported the proposal for the Northern Territory line, and I hope the Government have it in mind, and will propose its construction at some time in the near future. In considering the financial aspect of this line, we have to bear in mind also the construction of. the Northern Territory line.
– On what gauge?
– Certainly, on the gauge adopted for this line. I hope that the same gauge will be adopted for the line to connect the Federal Capital with its port. The Government would lose the confidence of many of their friends if they did not seriously consider the financial aspect of this matter. I must say that in my opinion the request made by honorable members for further information on the 5-ft. 3-in.. gauge is not an unreasonable one. We have not been overwhelmed with information on that subject. The evidence before us so far is almost entirely on the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge. That is practically the only gauge upon which we have any information. I do not wish to detain the Committee, but I should like to say that I was highly amused at some little incidents of the debate. There has been some talk, for instance, of the sale of our rolling-stock to foreign countries in the event of the conversion of the gauge of some of our lines. Those who talk in that way can have no faith in Australia.What is to become of the branch lines we are to construct to feed the great trunk lines? Could we not find use for our rolling-stock on those lines? I hope that no honorable member will advocate the sale of our rolling-stock to foreign countries because of any alteration of the gauge of our railways.
– It was one of the experts who mentioned that.
– The proposal, I hope, is too absurd for politicians to take any serious notice of. I urge the Government if it will not seriously hamper their arrangements, or delay the construction of the line, to postpone the consideration of the clause until honorable members who favour the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge can obtain moreinformation on the subject.
.-I am in somewhat of a difficulty. I was hoping to be able to take part in a division on the amendment after the Prime Minister Spoke.
– I hoped so, too. .
– Since then, perhaps, arising out of the honorable member’s speech, we have had new matter introduced by the honorable member for New England, which 1 think deserves careful scrutiny. The honorable member implored the Government - whom with one voice he appeared to be supporting, and with another apparently desired to injur? as much as he could - to be very careful, after it has been decided that the gauge of this, railway shall be 4 ft. 8½ in., to leave the way open for the adoption of some other gauge.I hope that the honorable member, on whichever side he may find himself in the division, does not intend that the Government shall act as they like, in spite of what this clause lays down as the gauge for the railway. The honorable member professes himself in favour ofdelay.
– No funniosities ! Be serious.
– I am as serious as the honorable member’s speech will permit me to be ; and, so far as I understood it, it was certainly in favour of delay.
– For a whole three weeks, after waiting on the procrastination of the Opposition for years.
– Order !
– The Opposition failed to deal with the question, and now object to three weeks for inquiry.
– I must ask the honorable member for New England to pay some attention to the Chair.
– If the honorable member ceases to act the goat, I will do so.
– Our new Chesterfield takes exception to the way in which I am addressing myself to. the Committee. I do not wish to offend him personally; but those who heard him had considerable difficulty in knowing what he really proposed doing in regard to the amendment. He claims that there should be a delay for three weeks, which I understand is all the honorable member for Angas asks for. At the same time, the honorable member for New England highly commended the Government he supports for adopting the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge, an the ground that that would undoubtedly safeguard the revenuesofthe Commonwealth. He, therefore, appears to be in favour of the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge, and yet in favour of delay to inquire into the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Whilst in favour of that delay, he apparently wanted the Prime Minister to spend a lot of unnecessary money on so making the line on a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge that afterwards, in spite of the authority of this House, they would be able to convert it to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge if that appeared to be necessary.
– Is not the chief expense in the alteration of gauge involved in the alteration of the rolling-stock?
– I understand from his interjection that the honorable member wants us now to build a 4-ft. 8½-in. railway and 5-ft. 3-in. rollingstock. The two will not go very well together. If the Prime Minister decides on a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge, he ought to build it as economically as it can be built, consistent with sufficient ballasting and sufficient sleepering to enable it to be a fast through, traffic line. That, I think, is all that we could ask. But if he is going to put down the sleepering required for a fast throughtraffic 5-ft. 3-in. line, he will be wasting so much of the public revenue.
– Would not the same sleepers carry the extra 6 inches of gauge ?
– Not necessarily. If we are to have equal facilities, and an equally fast service, we shall require a longer sleeper and more ballasting for the 5-ft. 3-in. than for the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge.
– Mr. Deane says the very opposite.
– He does not.What he says is that the sleepering and ballasting largely control the speed of the line. But if equal traffic facilities are sought on both gauges, undoubtedly the broad gauge will require more money to be spent on sleepering and ballasting. That is a selfevident proposition.I hope the Prime Minister will not accept the proposal of the honorable member for New England. I see that the Prime Minister nods his head.
– I wish to get home.
– I am anxious to get home also. I was very puzzled by the speech of the honorable member for New England, but now that the Prime Minister realizes that it would be foolish to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion, I can resume my seat withthe knowledge that the finances of theCommonwealth are safe.
.- The honorable member for Went-worth has tried to be funny at the expense of the honorable member for New England, but if he had listened to the speech of the Prime Minister he would have seen that the suggestion of the honorable member for New England was not at all ridiculous. The Prime Minister distinctly said thatthis Bill did not necessarily settle the question of gauge for Australia for all time. The honorable member for New England then suggested that the bridges and earthworks on this line might, in that case, even if the gauge adopted was the 4-ft.8½-in., be made in such a manner that they would permit of alteration to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The only stupid remark in the matter came from the honorable member for Wentsvorth. from whom we often get stupid remarks.
– I did not intend to speak on this question until I heard the Prime Minister. He said that the Government had considered the question, and obtained all the necessary information. If they have done so, they have not given it to this House. The Minister of Home Affairs has toldus. from time to time that he is not a rubberstamp, but in this case he has allowed an officer of his Department to virtually insult members of Parliament, by printing to-day’ a report from that officer commenting on what has been said in this House, and answering honorable members. If any reply was to he made to honorable members, it should have come from the Minister, and not from an officer. That was not a proper or fair way to treat the House. This question, which the Prime Minister wishes to make a party one, is going to decide for all time what is to be the standard gauge for Australia.
– It is not a party question.
– It was virtually put that way by the Prime Minister.
– I assure the honorable member and the Committee generallythat it is not a party question. I had no intention of saying that it was.
– If I have misrepresented the honorable member, I apologise. I evidently misunderstood his remarks. The honorable member for Angas has shown that it is a moot question as to which is the proper gauge to adopt, and one that seems to be engaging the attention of the best talent in the engineering world. Yet we are about to takeon ourselves the responsibility of deciding which is the best, without making any inquiry worth consider - ing. The passing of this Bill means the adoption of 4 ft. 8½ in. as the future gauge of Australia. The Government would have acted wisely if they had accepted the suggestion of the honorable member for Angas in the spirit in which it was meant. They should have taken three weeks to make inquiries, and after those inquiries were made, I should not have been at all surprised if the Government had changed their opinion. Mr. Eddy, the greatest railway man we have had in Australia, raised this very question over twenty years ago. His opinion and suggestions are quite as worthy of the consideration of this Parliament as they were of the Convention to whom they were submitted.
– Did not Mr. Eddy merely ask for consultation and decision ?
– Certainly ; and that is all the honorable member for Angas asks for. We arc taking a retrograde step by deciding without sufficient knowledge what is to be the future railway gauge of Australia, and the passing of this clause means that, and nothing else.
Mr. FRANK FOSTER (New England [10.35]. - I am very sorry that I have to detain the Committee from proceeding to a division. If I had known that we had in this Chamber an expert on railway gauges and so forth so distinguished as the honorable member for Wentworth, I would not have been misled by the opinions of a gentleman of the calibre of Mr. Deane. Unfortunately, I was somewhat misled by this paragraph in his report -
One word as regards stability and steadiness of running. Stability does not depend so much on the extra few inches width of gauge as on length of sleeper wilh a well-packed road. It is the practice on the main lines of New South Wales to use sleepers 9 feet long, and the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, with 9 feet sleepers, is really better than the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge and 8-ft. 6-in. sleepers.
I may say, as a bushman with a little experience of timber matters, that the cutting a little additional length in a sleeper entails no more expense in the cutting.
– It costs more to buy the sleeper, though.
– The quantity of timber would, no doubt, affect the cost.
– And the ballasting of the line, too.
– But the cost -of cutting is so small that the New South Wales Government use a little longer -sleeper, although a smaller one would suit - the purpose. In these matters, in future, I shall certainly interview the honorable - member for Wentworth as an expert. I -regret that I did not know before that he -was an expert on anything but motor cars.
, - I desire to have a couple of points cleared up. It has been stated, and the statement has just been repeated by the Prime Minister, that the whole of the experts in Australia are favorable to the adoption of a 4- ft. 8i-in. gauge. If that be so, I want to know, and I think that the Committee should know, whether the Government have received any reports from the Governments and. the experts of South Australia and Victoria in reference to the adoption of a 5- ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Of course, I did not use the words which the honorable member has used. I understand that a communication has been received from the Premier of Victoria.
– I understand that .the Premier of South Australia came over to Melbourne in order to discuss this matter with either the head of the Commonwealth Government or with the Minister of Home Affairs. But I am in a position to say that the Railways Commissioners, the EngineerinChief, and, I understand, the Government of Victoria, are adverse to the question of gauge being decided without further investigation. I also understand that the Railways’ Commissoners, the EngineerinChief, and the Government of South Australia are of that opinion. I do think that even at this eleventh hour the request made by honorable members on each side of the Chamber should be acceded to. I do not believe it is in the heart of any honorable member to seek to delay the passing of the measure, nor will an investigation delay its passage. It seems to me most ungracious that, when solicitations come from each side of the Chamber, the Government should refuse to afford us an opportunity to obtain further information.
– I asked the Prime Minister a. question in regard to the construction of the railway, and I trust that he will make some reply. I do not care to take an answer through a deputy like the honorable member for Wentworth. I would rather have a word from the Prime Minister himself on the matter, if he cares to give us some information.
– The intention of the Government is clearly to construct this line as a safe, fast, economic 4-ft. 8 1/2 in. line, if Parliament so desires and directs.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted -be so inserted (Mr. Glynn’s amendment)- put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I rise to move an amendment on behalf of the honorable member for Fremantle. I move -
That’ the following words be added: - “and the weight of each rail not less than’ eighty pounds to the yard.”
This is to secure a safe weight of rail in connexion with the gauge on which we have decided. It is a common understanding that the weight of rails shall be stated, and it is. stated in nearly every Railway Construction Act. We know that when the cost is mounting up the tendency is to -put in rails of a weight which makes a line insecure and ineffective for heavy and express traffic. The weight of 80 lbs. is only an ordinary minimum weight, and, as a matter, of fact, there are lines -in Aus- tralia in which rails of over 100 lbs.’ are used. There can be no objection, I think, to a minimum weight of 80 lbs. being stipulated.
– I ask the Committee not to pass this amendment. The weight of the rails is a. question forexperts, and the weight may vary in different parts of the line.
– Has the point been considered ?
– Tt has ; but if we pass this amendment, we shall bind ourselves to have rails of not less than 80 lbs. in every part of the line, sidings as well. The Government have stated their intention’ to make a substantial and economical line, and I think this matter may be left to the experts, because the question can from time to time be raised in Parliament.’
.- 1 think it is as absolutely necessary to arrange for the gradients and curves as it is to specify the gauge, and I desire to move’ an amendment with that object. It has been laid down that there shall be a 20-chain radius and no gradient of more than 1 in 80, and I desire .that the curves shall ‘ not be less than 30 chains radius and the gradients not less than 1 in 100.
– The Government policy is to make this line with the lowest possible gradients, so that the. load shall be large and the speed great, and on those grounds there must be a liberal radius and no high grades. I ask the honorable member not to move this amendment, as we propose to go no further tonight.
– I assume these details will be settled as soon as possible by experts, and, of course, immediately communicated to Parliament?
– Yes ; they will be subject to review.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I ask honorable members to permit ‘.Supply to be taken first to-morrow.
– - Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the exact terms of the Sugar Commission ?
– In asking a question to-day I expressed some doubt on the statement of the Postmaster-General that he had used the words “ members of a recognised ‘ trades ‘ union.” I had a copy of the answer given by the Postmaster-General at the time I wrote out the notice of my question, and I was perfectly certain, from memory, that the word “ trades “ did not occur. I have since seen the original reply, and found that the word “ trades “ does occur, and, therefore, in justice to the honorable gentleman, I make this statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111011_reps_4_61/>.