10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MAHONY.- I brought under the notice ofthe Repatriation Department . the case of an ex-soldier who, owing to a defect in his eyes, the result of his having been gassed at the Front, is now in very distressed circumstances financially. In reply, I received a communication from the Department, paragraph f of which reads -
It is noted that this unfortunate ex-soldier is in distressed circumstances. May I suggest that if he has not already done so, an application for assistance could be lodged with the trustees of the German Verge Bequest.
I ask the Minister in charge of repatriation whether the fact that the Department has “ noted “ that this ex-soldier is in distressed circumstances is worth anything to him. Would he be able, for instance, to negotiate a feed on the assurance that the Department has noted that he is in distressed circumstances?
Sir NEVILLE HOWSE.- The honorable member for Dalley will remember perfectly that when I took charge of repatriation matters I promised a personal inquiry into any case brought under my notice by a member of this House. The honorable member did not bring this case under my notice until to-day, and, therefore, I have not inquired into it. If he will take the course followed by other honorable members the case will be dealt with.
Mr. YATES. - The PostmasterGeraral will, no doubt, have seen reported in the newspapers a complaint by Sir Joseph Cook, and the reply by the Premier of South Australia regarding the announcement broadcast in Great Britian that a plague of camels exists in South Australia. Will the Postmaster-General undertake to institute some form of censorship over the work of the wild pressmen who send such messages to the Old Country, for what reason no one knows? Could not the Postmaster-General’s Department hold up such messages when the attempt is made to have them cabled to the other side of the world ?
Mr. GIBSON. - It is extremely unfortunate that such press messages as that to which the honorable member has referred should be sent overseas, but the Postmaster-General has no control over press messages. It is a pity that we have not some form of censorship over such messages. If anything could be done in the matter it should be done, but it is impossible under existing circumstances for the Postmaster-General to deal with it.
Settlement of Returned Soldiers
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has any arrangement yet been come to with the Government of Western Australia regarding the financial concession granted by the Commonwealth to cover losses in land settlement, particularly in reference to the settlement of returned soldiers?
– The form of agreement with the State of Western Australia is now in the hands of the Premier. It is expected that notice of the Premier’s ratification will be received shortly.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Regarding his reply to questions of the honorable member for Hunter in connexion with the deportation proceedings’ wherein he stated that no allowance was made to Mr. A. S. Canning, will the Prime Minister be good enough to state whether he contemplates giving to this gentleman any money in addition to the salary he received as a member of the Taxation Appeal Board?
– Mr. Canning will be paid fees at the same rate as other members of the Board. It is proposed to make an adjustment so that he will not draw salary and fees in respect of the same period.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 3. The total expenditure brought to account up to the present is £859 7 s. 2. (a) Mr. Lamb, K.C., £328 15s. 6d.;. (b) Mr. Mitchell, K.C., £306 15s6d.; (c) Sir Robert Garran, nil; (d) Mr. Bowie Wilson, £223 16s.; (e) Nil.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to carry out the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the hop-growers’ position in the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Commonwealth Government has already agreed to distribute amongst growers the amount of £24,576, representing duty collected on hops which the Committee of the Board of Trade reported had been imported in excess of the percentage mentioned in the agreement between the brewers and the growers to restrict importations to 15 per cent. of the individual requirements of each brewer. The claims paid in this connexion amountto £23,296 5s. 9d. The Department of Markets and Migration is endeavouring to arrange with brewers to restrict their importation of hops as recommended by the Committee of the Board of Trade.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether certain junior officers are being given positions of Postmaster, Grade I., Fourth Division, over the heads of senior officers?
– Inquiries are being made in the matter, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the total value of Government Departmental orders placed overseas for each year since 1917, (a) exclusive of the cruisers, (b) inclusive of the cruisers?
– I can only furnish the honorable member with the particulars relating to my own Department, and this information will be supplied as soon as available.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the. Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What was the percentage of votes cast for each electorate in Queensland for (a) House of Representatives elections, (b) Senate elections, at each election since . 1917?
– The following table shows the percentage of voters to electors enrolled in each division in Queensland for the general elections 1917,1919, 1922, and 1925, for both the Senate and the House of Representatives: -
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
Will he place on the table of the House the report and recommendation of the Commonwealth Board of Trade concerning the appeal of the gold-mining industry for Commonwealth assistance,
– The report, of the Commonwealth Board of Trade on this subject is at present receiving the attention of the Government.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the indications at the Glenelg River area in Victoria, investigated by Professor David, are sufficiently promising to secure a Government subsidy?
– It is presumed that this question relates to the possibilities of the discovery of oil in the Glenelg River area. Dr. A. Wade reported on this region, but the Government is not in possession of any report thereon by Professor David. Any application for a subsidy in respect of boring- operations in this area will be considered after the passage of the Petroleum Prospecting Bill.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the importance of improved dairy herds to greater efficiency in the dairying industry, what action does the Government intend to take in regard to the recommendations of the Conference of Dairy Experts held in Melbourne in November, 1924?
– The Government has already agreed to contribute towards the organization of Herd Testing Associations or Units, at the rate of £100 per association or unit, the Commonwealth contribution to be made through the State Governments, and to be granted only where the Commonwealth is satisfied that the association or unit is being properly conducted. The Government has requested the States to furnish information as to the number of associations or units in the respective States, and as soon as such information is received from all the States, the question will receive further consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he give his reason for his desire to leave Australia to meet other Premiers when the various Dominion Governments are holding office .by threads and the public men in Great Britain are exercising all their abilities to remove discontent and unemployment so as to save the nation?
– I am not aware that I have expressed a desire to leave Australia to meet representatives of other Dominions holding office so uncomfortably as portrayed by the honorable member. Certainly, the substantial majority held by this Government will not inspire a similar query in Parliaments of other Dominions, as far as reference to Australia’s participation in any Dominion conferences is concerned.
Manufacture of Power Alcohol
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether he will, when considering any extra emolument to be granted to electoral officers in consequence of the recent election, bear in mind the doorkeepers employed, who received 12s. for a day of twelve hours, with a. view to increasing that amount to those concerned?
– The remuneration paid to a doorkeeper for services on polling day is 12s. 6d., and in addition a meal allowance of 3s. (or 4s. if the official is detained after 10.30 p.m.) is made to him. The total remuneration is considered reasonable for the services rendered by him.
Report of Anglo-Persian Oil Company
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the reports of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company for November and December, dealing with the exploration for oil in Papua, be laid uponthe table of the House or Library?
– Action will be taken to lay these reports on the table of the House.
Wireless at Lord Howe Island.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Government in dealing with claims under the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act will exempt from the regulations the provision to count the rental value of the house formerly occupied’ by the pensioner, who by reason of ill-health or enfeeblement has been required to secure residence elsewhere, in the determination of such rate as shall be paid to the pensioner?
– The matter will be taken into consideration in connexion with any future amendment of the Act. Already an exemption is made where a pensioner sells his home on terms and purchases another home on terms.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total value of sheet glass imported into the Commonwealth during the years 1923-4 and 1924-5 - also for the period 1st July to 31st December, 1925?
– The information is being obtained. I might explain that as the honorable member’s question relates to figures up to 31st December, 1925, it is necessary to collect interstate information to that date.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
When will the construction of the Lakemba Telephone Exchange be commenced?
– Inquiry will be made, and the desired information furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice. -
Whether, before entering into a contract for the Pacific Island shipping service, he will consider the question of calling for alternative tenders on a basis which would provide for an extension of the Papua and New Guinea steamship service to Melbourne?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked me last week to place upon the table of the House the reasons of the learned judges of the High Court for their judgment in the cases - ex parte Johnson and ex parte Walsh. I now place those reasons upon the table of the House.
– Will the Minister have the judgment printed ?
– It goes to the Printing Committee.
The following papers were presented: -
High Court -Reasons for judgment in cases of Messrs. Johnson and Walsh, detained in custody pending deportation.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. . 2 of 1926- Meat industry encouragement.
– I move -
I submitted this motion in the last Parliament, but it was not brought to finality. I have reintroduced it in the hope that the Government will not again resort to whipping its supporters to vote against a private member’s motion, and thus deny to a citizen the right to appeal to the highest court in the land - the Parliament of the Commonwealth.For the benefit of honorable members who are new to this House, I shall briefly recapitulate the circumstances of the case, and I hope that honorable members will base their opinions upon the moral aspects of the claim rather than upon legal intricacies. The firm of Henry Dean and Sons was established as manufacturers of pipes and bricks in the Newcastle electorate, and was requested by the War ‘Service Homes Commission to discontinue pipe making and enter into a contract to supply the whole of its output of bricks to the Government. Mr. Henry Dean demurred, and stated that he had private contracts for the supply of a portion of his output of bricks. The correspondence shows that at no time was he desirous of making a contract with the Government, but the departmental officers, who apparently were very well satisfied with the quality of his bricks, repeatedly urged him to make an agreement with the commission. The proof of that is supplied by the following letter: -
Watt-street, Newcastle, 24th July, 1920.
The quantity of bricks being supplied by you to this Commission is very unsatisfactory. We are of the opinion that is partly due to your being under the impression that our business is only temporary, and therefore do not consider it good business to yourself to give us absolute preference.
We wish to assure you that our constructional programme is permanent, and our requirements will only bemet by the receipt of 250,000 bricks per week for at least ten (10) years, and a continuance after that of a slightly less quantity for an indefinite period.
It is not the policy of the Commission to acquire brickworks or commence new works of sufficient capacity to supply the whole of our requirements. This policy will only be adopted as a last resource.
We are in a position to make an agreement with you to accept the maximum quantity of bricks for which you are in a position to guarantee delivery, say, from 50,000 to 75,000 per week for three (3), five (5), or more years.
An agreement to this effect would enable you to extend your plant, if necessary, and would guarantee your output.
We would ask you to give this matter your full consideration, the decided advantage of such an arrangement being most obvious.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) N. H. Cook,
Later correspondence indicates that at last he was persuaded to make a contract. I quote the following letter: -
We would advise you that you supplement or vary the agreement of which we have written the following as an indication according to what you consider a fair basis.
We, the undersigned, hereby agree to supply bricks of quality and size to. submitted sample.
We also agree to supply bricks at the rate of 200,000 per month from the 1st October, 1920, to the 1st April, 1921; and after that date we agree to supply 250,000 bricks per month until the 1st October, 1923, the price to bo 63s. per thousand for good quality common as sample, War Service Homes Commission to take delivery at kiln.
We agree to load all lorries or drays with all dispatch.
The following will be the only recognized conditions that will vary this agreement: -
We would ask you to go into this matter, and enlarge on the above as you consider necessary, returning same to us.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) N. H. Cook,
Another letter, written on the 13th September, shows that Mr. Dean still demurred at making this contract -
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 11th inst., and note that you are not agreeable to arranging a contract. You actually state you are not in a position to make one.
From the interviews we have had, I was under the impression you were prepared to grant this Commission your whole output, therefore we cannot understand why you are not in a position to make a contract, as it would hold good whether your output was nil or 100,000 per week.
As we must, and intend, to assure our brick supply, and if necessary will commence construction of works large enough to supply our whole output, we would be glad to know if we are to rely on you for bricks or not.
As a business man you . will, of course, realize that your word is not sufficient for us, and it is necessary that matters be arranged definitely by contract.
We realize it will be necessary for you to use a large proportion of your bricks on your work, until such time as they are completed.
We shall he glad to hear from you.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) N. H. Cook,
On the 2lst September the district officer of theWar Service Homes Commission wrote to the Deputy-Commissioner in Sydney : -
Subject:Brick Supply, Henry Dean & Sons.
In answer to your verbal request for the result of interview with Mr. Dean, of Henry Dean & Sons, on the 20th inst., I wish to inform you as follows: -
Mr. Dean was very much against making a contract at the present time, his reasons being -
I explained personally that the quantity of output did not effect the making of a contract, as I am assured this firm is aiming at an output of 200,000 per week within twelve (12) months.
It was finally agreed that a contract be made on basis, as follows: -
Price as aforesaid to be varied only by-
We would be glad if you would have this legally phrased in the form of a contract, inserting any additional matter which may be necessary, but not drastically altering the general conditions, and return to this office to be submitted to Mr. Dean for approval and signature. (Signed) N. H. Cook,
I have read the correspondence in con nexion with this subject to show honorable members that the action taken by the firm was taken at the request of the department. The firm was induced to discard the whole of its pipe-making machinery, and to instal patent brickmaking kilns. But, after it had incurred considerable expense, and had become somewhat heavily involved, as most business firms do in transactions ofthis kind, the department intimated that owing to an alteration in policyno further action . was to betaken. Although the agreement was in ‘the office merelyawaiting legal drafting, the department adopted this unusual attitude, and the whole responsibility for the expenditure had to be borne “by the firm. In consequence the pipemaking trade of the firm has been lost,and it has been found impracticable to re-establish the plant on the basis upon which it was operating prior to the intervention of the department. It illbecomes a government to treat in this way private citizens with whom it has entered into an agreement. Business men usually honour their moral obligations even if contracts have not actually been signed. Mr. Dean was told by the department that it recognized its moral obligation, but that he had no legal claim upon it. He endeavoured to arrive at an amicable settleiment, and for some time did not go to law. In a last resort he approached the Court, and a ; judge and jury, which consisted of business men, gave a verdictin his favour, as it was held that a contract was in fact in operation.Not satisfied with that decision the department appealed to the Full Court, not upon the facts of the case as submitted in the first -instance, but upon a point of law. The appeal was upheld owing to the fact that the contract had.not been actually signed. If private individuals or commercial firms were to act in such a way they would be disgraced commercially throughout the Commonwealth; but it appears that a Government department can . act in thisway with impunity, merely talcing shelter under legal technicalities. Not only the officer at Newcastle, but the Deputy Commissioner ofWar Service Homes for New South Wales wasresponsible for inducing the firm to undertakethis contract. The only redress which the firm now has is to appeal to this House for an inquiry into the whole ofthe facts. On the last occasion when I submitted a similar motion Iselected as members of the proposed select committee members from both sides ofthe House possessing business ability, who I felt sure would be prepared to assist in an investigation. also asked theMinister to allow ‘the matterto be inquired into by thePublic Accounts; Committee. “The whole position is so unsatisfactory that I have again broughtthe subject forward inthe hope that thisParliament will approve of the Government honoring its moral obligation - to reputable citizens. During the last Parliament I was amazed to. find that.the appointment of a committee which Isuggested, and alsoone which the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) advocated,which concerned thousands of people in the City of Sydney, were opposed by the Government. I submit the motion to the House in the hope that this Parliament will recognize the claims of the firm of H. Dean and Sons, and agree to the appointment of acommittee such as I have suggested. I do not care how the committee may be composed, as I believe that if an impartial investigation is made it will be found that the claim of the firm is fully justified.
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is asking this House, the highest court in the land, to use his own words, to consider and grant relief in the matter of a claim made against theWar Service ‘Homes Commissioner by Messrs. Henry Dean. and Sons. The claimmaybeexamined on either its legal or on its moral basis, or on both. I quite understand that the honorable member rests his case solely upon moral grounds. The matter for the consideration ofhonorablemembers is, therefore, whether in -all the circumstances of ‘the case, the claim of Messrs.HenryDean and Sons deserves, on moral grounds, some recognition. It is important to remember, however, that the claim has already been considered in ourlaw courts, and honorable : members ought to knowprecisely what has taken place there. The mover ofthe. motion, has, no doubt inadvertently, not -statedquite accuratelythe facts in relation tothe court proceedings. This claim was first investigated by a judge and jury in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. It was submitted in an alternative form, and £26,500 damages were asked. The firm alleged, ‘in the first place,that a contacthad been made with it by the War Service -Homes Commissioner, under which the Commissioner had undertaken to purchase the whole of. the firm’s supply of bricks for five years. Alternatively it said that the Commissioner had undertaken to buy 520,000 bricks per month for three years. The first thing that strikes one is that the company itself was not at all sure of the exact nature of its claim. It was, as a matter of fact, so doubtful of its position, that it. felt obliged to submit its claim in this alternative form. The verdict of the jury was most remarkable in that it was given in favour of the plaintiffs, without mentioning any amount of damages. It was, therefore, impossible for the judge to say which of the alternative contracts had really been made. The War Service Homes Commissioner subsequently appealed to the Full Court of New South Wales, but the grounds of appeal were not confined to what the honorable member for Newcastle has described asthe technical point whether a written record of the contract was actually signed or not. I have the papers in connexion with the case before me, and I find that there were eighteen grounds of appeal, which challenged every element in the case. The court, which consisted of three judges, decided in favour of the Commissioner, and set. aside the decision of the court below. Messrs. Henry Dean and Sons, in their turn; appealed to the High Court, and the bench of five judges which heard the case, decided in favour of the Commissioner, without calling uponhis counsel.That case was,I admit, decided on a pure matter of law. Of the nine judges who have consideredtheclaim, eight have decided that Messrs. Dean and Sons had no legal claim.
– The judge who heard the facts of the case decided to the contrary.
– The ninth judge said nothing about it beyond entering judgment in accordance with the verdict. It was for the jury to determine the facts, and the judge of first instance not only did not express an opinion about them, but would have been guilty of disregarding his duty if he had presumed to do so.I have recited these facts in order that honorable members might understand the real position.
I do not suggest that there are no cases in which a moral claim outside of the four corners of the law should not be recognizedby Parliament, but I think that very careful consideration should be given to any claim that is made here after having been prosecuted unsuccessfully by theclaimant in the law courts. Parliament should be thoroughly satisfied that there were moral obligations before it appoints committees to review decisions of thecourts.I propose now to examine on moral grounds the decision that has been given by the court on legal grounds. The basis of the claim, which I wish to state quite fairly, is that the War Service Homes Commissioner contemplated, and had announced publicly that He contemplated, undertaking an extensive building programme. The carrying out of that programme would undoubtedly have involved the obtaining of a very large quantity of bricks Messrs. Henry Dean and Sons, who were brick-makers, naturally desired to obtain a contract to supply the bricks which the War Service Homes Commissioner needed, if they could get a price profitable to themselves.
– That is not exactly the position. I read letter after letter which indicated clearly that the officers of the War Service Homes Commissioner induced the company to undertake the supply of bricks.
– What I have said is perfectly accurate. Messrs. Dean and Sons undoubtedly desired to supply bricks to the Commissioner if they could do so on a basis profitable to themselves. The suggestion is made that officers of the War Service Homes Commission urged Messrs. Dean and Sons to extend their works for the purpose of supplying the bricks to carry out this programme, that the works were extended accordingly, that the Commissioner then altered his programme, and that Messrs. Dean and Sons, who had spent a lot of money, were disappointed because they did not receive the orders which they had been led to expect. That, I think is a fair way of stating.the case It raises, first, the question off principle, and, secondly, a question of fact. So far as the question of principle is concerned, there was a change of policy on the part of the Commissioner.
– And also on the part of the Government.
– For the present purpose the Government may be considered to be identical with the Commissioner. There was a change of policy. If a person, relying upon an announcement of policy and the continuance of that policy, spends money, is it to be conceded that he has a moral claim in the event of that policy being reversed subsequently? To admit that would involve very grave considerations of a general character. Let us, for a moment, consider the effect of the application of that principle to tariff matters. Undoubtedly, tariff proposals affect the actions of business men; but, so far, it has not been considered proper to make any compensation to any citizen who has acted on his faith in a statement of the Government’s policy in tariff matters. This House not only is concerned with the collection of public moneys; it is also the guardian of those moneys when collected, and there are well-recognized methods under which alone liability in relation to public moneys can be imposed. Speaking generally, no liability can be created under which the expenditure of public moneys would take place unless it is done in accordance with the authority conferred by this Parliament, and, in the case of a business transaction, unless a contract is entered into. If this House accepted the responsibility of making compensation to people who proved that they had lost money by reason of a change of policy, a principle would be laid down which might have very far-reaching results. I ask the House to consider that principle in relation to this case.
– Does the Minister suggest that Messrs. Dean and Sons incurred additional expenditure simply on the strength of a public announcement of government policy?
– I am stating a general principle, which is a matter of importance. The next question to be determined is whether that principle applies to the facts of this case. What are those facts? The honorable member for Newcastle stated that the officers of the Commissioner urged Messrs. Dean and Sons to extend their works in order to supply bricks to the Commission. I call attention to the words of the letter which the honorable member read, and on which that contention is based. The letter referred to is that which apparently began the negotiations. It is dated the 20th July, 1920. That letter reveals that the Commissioner desired to make a contract. In it Messrs. Dean and Sons were informed -
The quantity of bricks being supplied by you to this Commission is very unsatisfactory. We are of opinion that this is partly due to your being under the impression that our business is only temporary.
The letter then proceeded to assure Messrs. Dean and Sons that the Commission’s programme was permanent. It continued -
We are in a position to make an agreement with you to accept the maximum quantity of bricks for which you are in a position to guarantee delivery…… An agreement to this effect would enable you to extend your plant, if necessary, and would guarantee your output.
I ask honorable members to observe particularly the words “ an agreement to this effect would enable you to extend your plant, if necessary.” In effect, the letter stated :” We have a big constructional programme. We want bricks, and we want to make an agreement with you for the supply of those bricks. If you enter into such an agreement, you can extend your works upon a basis of certainty, because we shall buy your bricks.” The Commissioner’s letter makes it perfectly plain that only by entering into a contract would Dean and Sons be assured of a demand for their bricks on the part of the Commission. In presenting these facts to the House, I propose to rely upon the evidence of Mr. Dean himself and his own correspondence; I shall not refer to anything said by any one else. In his evidence, before the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Mr. Dean stated that he was interviewed after the 20th July, 1920, the date of the letter to which I have referred ; that an officer of the Commission, Mr. Cook, then spoke to him about bricks, and that he, Mr. Dean, said he was not prepared at that time to make a contract for any specified quantity of bricks, his reason being that he had a large number of orders from private customers outstanding, and that probably there were other orders to which his firm was committed and which it would have to honour. He was, however, willing to accept orders for the supply of bricks. After having received the letter which stated that he should enter into an agreement if he wanted a permanent market for his bricks, Mr. Dean refused to do so. It has not been suggested that on the 11th September, 1920, any contract between the two parties had been entered into. At that time, as I have stated, the Commissioner was urging Messrs. Dean and Sons to enter into an agreement. That the firm was not agreeable to do. On that date Messrs. Dean and Sons wrote -
Just at present we are not in a position to make any contract for the supply of a specified quantity of bricks per week, for the following reasons: -
On Monday next we start the erection of two more temporary kilns, and on completion of these it is our intention to immediately begin the building of a patent kiln.
This will mean that for the next four or five months the bulk of the output will be required for our own work, the quantity depending on the number of men we are able to put on the work - the more the better.
The present position is not satisfactory to our customers or to ourselves, for the conditions under which we are working make it impossible to give delivery with any certainty, and tlie sooner the position is improved the better from every point of view; and: we regard the matter of such importance that we think our best policy is to make the necessary developments here as speedily as possible.
As soon as we have the two kilns in operation we fully expect to be able to supply you with a larger quantity of bricks than in the past, and in the meantime we will be. pleased to let you have all the bricks we can spare. More than this iwc cannot do under the existing conditions.
From that it is plain that the firm was unwilling to enter into any contract and that they would supply on order from time to time such bricks as they could spare after they had filled the orders of their own customers. The officer of the commission wrote, in reply to that letter on 13th September -
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 11th, and note you are not agreeable to arranging a contract. You actually state you are not in a position to make one. ‘
He then proceeds to say -
As a business man, you will, of course, realize that your word is not sufficient for us, and it is necessary that matters be arranged definitely by contract.
– Showing the pressure they were bringing to bear upon Dean all the time.
– I agree, but the pressure was to make a contract. That is the whole point, and these letters show that that was so. I can sketch the remaining history of the matter shortly in this way: - Terms of a proposed contract were provisionally arranged between Messrs. Dean and Sons and the local officer of the commission, and the price suggested was 63s. per 1,000. The Commissioner would not agree to 63s. per 1,000, and told Mr. Dean so. Mr. Dean admits that, and admits that there was no agreement as to price, and that he never made a contract.
– That is quite wrong.. The Deputy Commissioner went to Newcastle, and found that he could not get bricks for less than 63s. per 1,000, and. instructed that that be the price fixed. The honorable gentleman will find that in the correspondence.
– The evidence of Mr. Dean is clear on the point. He waa shown a letter in which he said that there was no contract, and he was asked -
Is it not a fact that on 11th September you declined to enter into any contract?
The answer is -
No, I did not actually decline. I declined at that time.
Looking at the transcript of his evidence, I find that statement repeated’ several times on one page. He was not” willing to enter into a contract at that time. He was asked whether it was true that Mr. Hutchings told him that he had received a communication from’ the Commissioner in Melbourne, stating that the Commissioner’s view was that the price of 63s. was altogether too high, having regard to the fact that coal could be purchased in Newcastle more cheaply than in Sydney. Dean’s answer to that question was “ Yes.” Then there is this evidence -
Was any reference made at that interview to the Commissioner’s view «s to the price of 60s.?- He said that the Commissioner mentioned the price of 60s., and could I see my way clear to reduce the price to 60s.
Did you not then tell Mr. Hutchings that you could not agree to the contract price being less than 63s. per 1,000? - Yes.
That is Dean’s own evidence. He gives evidence that, in fact, the parties did not agree upon the price, and what he was being urged to do was to make a contract to supply bricks at 60s. per 1,000. He would not make a contract at that price.
– Sixty-three shillings was the price agreed upon.
– I have read Mr. Dean’s sworn evidence that he was told that 63s. would not he accepted. This happened in September, 1920. Mr. Dean’s case now is that he was led to believe that large quantities of bricks - he was not sure whether his whole output would be required or only so many per month - wouldbe required at 63s. per 1,000 from and after September, 1920. As a matter of fact, he supplied bricks on specific orders in 1920 at the then current price of 63s. per l,000, and in 1921 and 1922 he supplied bricks to the Commission at 68s. per 1,000.
– That was the current price.
– Because no contract was concluded.
– And because the Commissioner had no right to compel him to supply bricks at any particular price. The Commissioner had to pay the current prices, whatever they were, and Dean was prepared to let him have, to use his own words, “such bricks as he could spare.” In the subsequent two years the Commissioner took less than 500,000 bricks on specified orders from Messrs. Henry Dean and Sons. I am not dealing with the legal position at the moment; but if the understanding between the department and Messrs. Dean and Sons was as Mr. Dean alleges, the Commissioner, over that period of two years, would have had to take 18,000,000 of Dean’sbricks.
– At 63s.
– Yes, that is according to the understanding Dean alleges: Asa matter of fact, he supplied under 500,000 bricks at thecurrent prices, and a considerable number at 68s. per 1,000.
– Would the Commissioner have taken 18,00.0,000 bricks if. Messrs. Deanand Sons could have supplied them?
– I think that, in fact, the Commissioner did not require so many, because the department did not build’ the number of houses originally intended to be built.
– Did the. department give Messrs. Dean and Sons to understand that it would take18,000,000 bricks?
– I do not know whether the honorable member waspresent during the whole of the time I have been speaking, but the point with which I have been dealing is that the officers of the Commissioner were urging Messrs. Dean and Sons to make a contract in order to secure a regular consumption of their bricks, and that Mr. Dean would not do so, but said that he would give the department only what he could spare,and then charged it time after time the market price ruling when the bricks were supplied.
– In the same way as other people.
– Exactly;in the same way as other people. The only urging done by the Commissioner was to induce Dean tomake a contract.
– And to induce him to spend money.
– I am dealing with the matter upon the evidence before me, and to which the honorable member has referred. He referred to a letter upon which he based his contention that Messrs. Dean and Sons were urged to extend their work.I have examined the terms of that letter, and have shown that what it contained was a request; and, indeed, a pressing request; tomake an agreement for the sale of bricks, as that would enable Messrs. Dean and Sons to extend their works with confidence. But, instead of making a longterm agreement at a fixed price, Messrs. Dean and Sons preferred to go on supplying their own customers, and tosupply the Commissioner with what they could spare, at the current market prices . They deliberately made their choice to do that.
– What is the date of the letter to which the honorable member has referred ?
– It was written in September, 1920. The policy of the Commission, I understand, was changed in January, 1921, andthe hoorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) will know more about that thanI do.No suggestion was made that the Commissioner was doing anything wrong in not ordering large quantities of bricks at 63s. per 1,000. Messrs. Dean and Sons were hardly in a position to make such a suggestion, as they were supplying small quantities of bricks to the Commission as suited them, and getting68s. per 1,000 for some of them.
– The honorablegentleman forgets to mentionthe fact that the department was asking for more bricks all the time.
– The department was trying to get bricks, but Mr. Dean took up the position that he would supply his own customersfirst, and let the department have what bricks he could spare. In 1922, for the first time, the suggestion was made, but the department was not carrying out some understanding that had been arrived at. In a series of letters from Messrs Dean and Sons, they do not suggest that a contract was made; they merely say that a contract was drafted. It is quite plain that neither party regarded itself as bound by that draft, because, as I have shown, Messrs. Dean andSons supplied only what bricks they could conveniently supply according to their own idea, and charged 68s. per 1,000 for most of them. Mr. Dean wrote thefollowing letter on the2nd June, 1922: -
Letme at once clear your mind of any impression of any claim made by me on behalf of my firm for compensation for an alleged breach by the Commission. Imentioned that a contract had been drafted for the supply of 520,000 bricks per month,and when theterms weremutually agreed between us, I was told thatthedraft would be sent to Sydney for completion. The contract wasnever completed.
– The honorable gentleman forgets tomention that the officer of the department told Mr.Dean to go on supplying bricks pending thefixing of an agreement.
-What ‘happened is quite plain. According to what thehonorable member has said, and the facts beforeme, the Commissionerwas anxious to obtain bricks, buthewould only make arrangements to obtain themover a long term,by contract, andMr. Dean said that at the timehedidnot make acontract.
Mr.Scullin.-What quantity and whatprice were fixed by the draft agreement ?
Mr.LATHAM.-Under the draft agreement, the priceset out was 63s. per 1,000.
Mr.Watkins. -Thatwag agreedto by theDeputy Commissioner.
– I have already read from Mr. Dean’s evidence that the Deputy Commissioner toldhim that not morethan 60s. per 1,000 wouldbe paid, and he was not prepared to deal with the Commission on that basis. Consequently he suppliedbricks from time to time at current prices, generallyat 68s. per 1,000.
– I have a letter from Mr. Dean in which he says that only a partial statement was taken from the evidence.
-I have read what Mr. Dean swore when under examination. I shall read this part of it again.
Bid you not then tell Mr. Hutchings that you could not agree to the contract price being less than63s. per 1,000?- Yes.
On the same page of the evidence it is shown that Mr. Hutchings told Mr. Dean that the Commissioner would not contract on any other basis than a price of60s. per 1,000. Messrs. Dean and Sons were in communication with the department, making a claim, but not for an alleged breach of contract. In one of the letters there is this passage -
Not for alleged breach of contract that has nothing to do with the matter in my mind. Why this is brought into - such prominence I do not know. I have made no claim on that ground.
In 1922 the Administration of the right honorable member forNorth Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) declined to recognize this moralclaim.Then litigation took place, with the result which honorable members have heard, and now a claim on the moral basis is revived in this House. It is for honorable members to ask themselves, on the merits of the case which . I have endeavoured to put clearly before them, whether it is desirable to appoint a select committee in such circumstances as I have set out. I askhonorable members to recognize that I have referred to nothing beyond the statements made by Mr. Deanor his firm, nor have I referred to any of the contraryevidence which exists. I have taken the claim of Messrs. Henry Dean and Sons as based solely and exclusively upon that firm’s evidence, and in itI cannot find anything to warrant this case being made an exception to the general rule. I ask honorable members to consider these facts and then determine whether it would be wise and proper toreferthis case to a select committee. I am not suggesting that there are no cases which should be so referred. There might well be such cases, but upon the evidence of the claimant himself this case is not strong enough to warrant honorable members supporting the motion of the honorable member for Newcastle.
Debate (on motion by Mr. West) adjourned.
.- I move -
The principle of the referendum, initiative, and recall comes primarily from Switzerland, but in some of the States of America it certainly did appear a little earlier. It was known in the Italian republics, and also in the ancient history of Greece and Rome. It made Switzerland a country whose borders were inviolate during the last war. Germany, Austria, Italy, and Prance were fighting amongst themselves, yet Switzerland kept its borders inviolate because of the justice of its laws, which are based upon the referendum, initiative, and recall. There is, in Hansard, an epitome of the reasons for this motion made by me on the 25th March, 1920, when this House honoured me by carrying a similar resolution unanimously. It mentions the various times this subject was brought before most of the American States. Again, on the 17th August, 1923, my proposal was unfortunately strongly opposed by the Prime Minister, and although it was taken at a difficult stage - on the motion for the adjournment of the House - it was defeated only by six votes. I believe that some of the Nationalists who voted with the Prime Minister against the motion were really in sympathy with it. Mr. Charlton at that time said- -
The existence of that right would do away with the necessity for anything like the warmth of feeling which exists among honor able members, and we would not have the spectacle of the party in power exercising its voting strength to deny honorable members on the other side of the House the opportunity to express their views.
In other words, burning questions would not be discussed in this chamber, but settled at appointed times, possibly at a general election, once and for all, by the vote of the people. At one time in the State of Ohio there were 46 questions put to the people, and 34 of them were passed in the affirmative. I am astonished that the Country party members do not advocate this principle, because the Country party in the United States of America is one of its strongest supporters. It may interest them to know that one of the questions put to the people and carried was the expenditure of £10,000,000 for roads. Later, Mr. Charlton, speaking of party government, said -
We talk a great deal about party government, but I fancy that the power of recall might prove one of the first and most effective means of breaking the system down. The people, and not individuals, would then have control of Parliament.
The present Speaker (Sir Littleton Groom) spoke during the debate, and I felt that he had some sympathy with the motion. He said -
There are certain aspects of the recall which are, perhaps, worthy of discussion.
Honorable members might find it interesting to read the speeches that were made by Messrs. Charlton, Parker Moloney, Brennan,Mahony, and Anstey. In the journal known as the American Academy of Political and Social Science, published in the United States of America, there is a magnificent collection of . arguments for, and in some cases against, adopting the referendum, initiative, and recall. I recommend that publication to honorable members.From it they will find that there were 46 appeals to the people in sixteen years, and that during that period fourteen separate States adopted, in one shape or another, the principles of the referendum, initiative, and recall. In 1920, there were 426 cities in the United States of America that had adopted this principle, and it was the means of doing more to prevent graft than any other law passed in those cities. The late David Syme - the term “ late “ should not, I think, be applied to one who made for himself the position which he had in this country, because those who do anything great in art and literature or public life do not die, their influence is immortal - in. his book Representative Government in England, makes this remark -
What is wanted is a system of continuous representation; and one very simple and efficient way of obtaining it is by providing that the constituencies shall have the same power over their representatives which the Crown exercises over Parliament, namely, the power of d iismissal.
Further on, he says -
It would be far better if the constituencies who were dissatisfied with their members called upon them to resign, and quietly replaced them by men whom they 30um trust.
I look forward to the time when the position of a member of Parliament will not be so precarious as perhaps it is now. When an honorable member has proved to his constituents that he is doing his work satisfactorily, he should remain in Parliament as their representative. As an instance, I may state that for 37 years now I- have given the majority of my electors the right to recall me by petitioning me to resign. In 1889 I was elected by a small majority of 222. My total votes were over 700, and if a petition signed by 360 of my electors asking for my resignation had been presented to me, I should have resigned the next day. That is the pledge that I have always given to my electors, except when I was elected unopposed. I have with me an interesting leaflet containing the strongest arguments that I have been able to formulate in favour of the referendum, initiative, and recall. The time may come when an honorable member will be elected to Parliament contingent upon good behaviour, and only his constituents will have the right to recall him. Judge Isaacs, assisted by Judge Higgins, made a notable fight in the Federal Convention for the referendum, but unfortunately it was not adopted in the Constitution. A Government with a large majority in both Houses would be able, if it dared, to take away the voting right of every man and woman in Australia. But if that right were safeguarded in the Constitution, it could not be taken away without the permission of the people. That is the reason why I desire to see the referendum, initiative, and recall enacted. At one time the Bulletin was a firm supporter of those principles ; whether or not it has been influenced by the large advertisements which now appear in its columns, I cannot say, but it is no longer as staunch a believer in the referendum, initiative, and recall as it was. The Australian Natives Association has adopted this reform, and advocates it through its many fine branches. The Labour party, too, has adopted it, but the recall has been excluded from the party’s Federal platform. Honorable members who have studied this question know, however, that soon after the referendum and initiative become law, the recall, the coping stone of this splendid edifice of political economy, will be added. Some of the highest officers of . the Nationalist party have been supporters of these principles, and one is a vice-president of the Referendum, Initiative, and Recall League in Victoria. Nationalists, however, have been diffident about including this plank in their platform. Various municipalities have adopted it, so that money cannot be borrowed or expended until the will of the ratepayers has been ascertained by a poll. Both Gladstone and Lord Salisbury, men of opposite political parties, supported the referendum, which at one time was the third plank in the platform of the Conservative party in England. The last constitution evolved by the genius of the British race, thanks to the sympathy of the late King Edward and the support of the House of Commons, namely the constitution of Ireland, includes the initiative and referendum, and that, in my opinion, makes it the finest constitution enjoyed by any people living under the British flag. In the splendid little island of Tasmania, a bill providing for the referendum and initiative has been passed by the Legislative Assembly, and I hope that the Legislative Council, too, will have the good sense to adopt it. If it does not, I hope that the Government of that State will follow the example of Labour Governments in’ Queensland and New South Wales, and abolish the House of Fossils. In New South Wales, Mr. Lang, who appears to be the strongest Premier who has ever controlled the destinies of that State, has said definitely that if Sir Joseph Carruthers attempts,, as he has said he will, to insert in. the bill for the amendment of the constitution an amendment to- provide for the adoption of. the referendum, and initiative, the Government will accept it. I. hope that Sir. Joseph Carruthers is- acting sincerely; but I. cannot recollect any previous- proposal by him during, the last 30 years to trust the people entirely, as this principle implies.. However, I. have a high regard for him personally, and I endorse his scheme, to settle 1,000,000 settlers on 1,000,000 farms, and if he is now a true believer, in the referendum, initiative, and recall, I. welcome him into the fold, even as an eleventh-hour recruit. These principles might have been part of Australia’s Constitution to-day but for that accursed ‘ murder of human, beings which we call war. Mr. Andrew Fisher, who never lied and was trusted, by all,, pledged himself during the- election, which gave his party a majority- in this Parliament, to introduce the referendum and initiative, and to provide pensions for widows. But the war absorbed all our finances, changed, the ideals of men and women, and left the world poorer not only by the murder and mutilation of millions of soldiers,but also by- the death, through starvation and. disease, of a very much greater number of innocent men, women, and children. What stronger preventive of such horrors: could there be than a lawrequiring a referendum to precede anydeclaration of war ? No finer deterrent of legalized, murder has ever- been evolved by. the brain of man. At the present time there is: a difference of opinion between some States– of. the Commonwealth in. regard to the 44-hours working week. In. South. Africa, that, is already- the lawof the. land.. Thanks to the wise advice given by the late. Alfred Deakin > to a South African- royal commission-, thai; visited Australia, a law promulgated, bythe South African Parliament operates throughout- the : Union, and from the 1st December, 1924, it became the law of: the land that every skilled worker in the building, trades should. receive at least 2s; 9d. per hour for a week of* 44’ hours: . The avowed ‘.purpose of that’ is to discourage overtime, the opinion, being held that continuous employment, is: more beneficial to a country than a system- of overtime, which connotes, tha alternation- of ab-> normal earnings and unemployment. The. maximum penalty for, am offence against this law. is a fine of £500, or> imprisonment for two years, or both. When I was in Capetown I. ascertained that, its white, population pf 112,000 persons did not include one “ plasterer. I was told that there were two bricklayers in the community, but I could not find them. When Senator Whiteside, of the South African Parliament, . who had’ been a worker on the? tramways in Victoria, and is now Commissioner for Railways in South Africa, came to Australia, I said to him, “Do I understand this law to mean that if any man, white-, coloured or black, works at those skilled trades he- must be paid at least 2s. 9d. per, hour.?” He answered that that was the law, and, to their credit, the employers in South Africa formed a council, upon which’ the workers in the building trades had representation, and raised the wage in some parts- of South Africa from 2s. 9d. to 3’s: 6d. per bour: Honorable members will understand that there must have been some reason for the slow development of South Africa, in comparison with that’ of Australia. Prior to the opening of ‘ the Suez Canal, only one of every four ships that’, went to the Cape came to Australia. Why have not more- white people settled in that great country^? Because they had to compete in employment with the blacks and half-castes. To-day a- Britisher holding an appointment” in South Africa receives, a higher -wage than is paid’ in any part of Australia other than Ford’s motor works at- Geelong. If Australia adopted the referendum, . initiative, and recall,’, the standardization of hours; wages, and other, working conditions throughout Australia could be easily effected. To-day there are in the Commonwealth six. different arbitration laws, and different systems, of industrial tribunals, awarding different- rates of pay and working hours. I come now to the strongest argument I can adduce in favour of the principle of the referendum, initiative, and recall. A clergyman quoted against the principle of the referendum, the demand of the populace of. Jerusalem for the release of Bar abbas and the crucifixion of Christ. I said “ Having regard to the fact that Christ’s opponents had used money and persuasion to inflame the minds- of the populace against Him; it’ was- little1 wonder that they demanded that He be sacrificed.”
I have never permitted my brain to formulate or my lips to utter a word against any religion. Sometimes I may have cause to criticise ministers of the Gospel; and adherents of a religion, but I never. assail any man’s faith. So ‘I said, in all sincerity, to my clerical friend, “ God never created anything His equal -or His superior. Why, then, should the electors, who are the creators of Parliament, once in every three years, make an institution more powerful than themselves?” The referendum, initiative, and recall will give to the people control of Parliament at all times. No country, however richly endowed by nature, can contain a happy, contented race of healthy human beings if the laws governing it are unjust or are badly administered. History shows clearly that countries poorly endowed with natural resources can contain healthy, happy, contented people if the laws are just and founded upon democratic principles. The true foundation of any democracy must be the initiative referendum and recall. Switzerland is not so favorably situated as is Scotland in this regard, but a genius to whom I .have already referred has compared Scotland, with all its advantages, with Switzerland, though he gives the palm to Switzerland. On one occasion I listened to a speech in this Chamber which lasted for nine hours. What would happen in Switzerland - that school house of Europe - if a speech which lasted for nine hours were delivered, ‘say, by a German? Switzerland is a trilingual country, and in such a case a French member would ‘have the right to say, “ This is not my vernacular. I desire the speech to be translated.” Any one who has experince in the translation of speeches - as Mr Speaker must have had when representing Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations - knows that the translation of a speech takes longer than its delivery in .the first instance. Therefore, another nine hours would be required to complete the work of translation, making eighteen hours, before the speech was available in German and French. An Italian representative would then have the right to say, “.I wish the speech to be translated into Italian.” This would in: volve .another nine .hours’ work, or 27 hours in all. In Switzerland they dis pose of burning questions by appealing to the people. If this Government wished to settle a difficult question, especially if an election were pending, it could be left ‘ to the arbitrament of the -people. I have much pleasure in submitting the motion for the favorable consideration of the House.
Debate (on the motion by Mr. Gibson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an Act to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1925.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from .20th January (vide page 220), on motion by Mr. Hill -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill, as has been explained by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill), is to ratify an agreement entered into between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Bruce) and the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn). It is also proposed to carry out an agreement entered into by the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia in 1910, which is embodied in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act and which provides that the Commonwealth shall construct, or cause to be constructed, as part of the transcontinental railway, a railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect with the other part of the transcontinental railway at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper. Since that agreement was entered into by the late .Mr. Alfred Deakin on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the late” Hon. Thomas Price on behalf of the South Australian Government, various interpretations have been placed upon its provisions, generally by persons endeavouring to- gain some advantage f ot the ‘ States which they represented. It was an honorable agreement entered into by the respective parties, and one to which effect should have been given at an earlier date. Time after time the construction of the north-south railway, as it is now ‘known, has been before the people, particularly at election time for propaganda purposes, and party leaders have said that immediate action would be taken in the building of the line if they were returned with a majority. I congratulate the Government Upon the action it, has taken in bringing the bill before the House so early in the session. I also wish to commend the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn) for the active interest he has taken in the subject, and for the efforts made in bringing the agreement to fruition. From time to time this proposal has been the stalking horse of those contesting elections, and I heard a candidate for a seat in another place state that the Premier of South Australia was responsible for holding up the present agreement. The Minister will, I am sure, agree that that gentleman is largely responsible for the satisfactory position which has now been reached. In moving the second reading of the bill the Minister said a good deal concerning the potentialities of the Northern Territory, which have been discussed in this chamber on many occasions. Having had the privilege of travelling through the Northern Territory since I last spoke on this subject, I realize that a good deal of what I have heard and read in the past has been said or written by people unacquainted with the actual conditions in that large tract of country. Last year I accompanied the party of which the Minister was a member, who, last night, gave the House his impressions of the country. His statement concerning the potentialities of the Northern Territory is not in any way exaggerated, because at the time the trip was made, the conditions generally were most unfavorable. State officers who had visited the country before stated on several occasions, when one day’s journey ended, that tha country to be traversed on the following day would be better; but, owing to the drought which prevailed, they were disappointed to find that the conditions were not as they expected. I travelled over country which had not had any rain for three and a half years, and in these circumstances the Minister saw some of the country at its worst. Notwithstanding this, he was able to give the House a satisfactory report, and to express the opinion that a line should have been built years ago. The construction of the pro- posed line has been delayed, I believe, owing to the fact that the existing railway terminates .at Oodnadatta, a township which is surrounded by some of the worst country in Central Australia. All the stock which travels from the north, of course, comes to Oodnadatta, so that the surrounding country is always in an eaten-out condition. Travellers, therefore, invariably see it in the worst of conditions. The party of which the Minister for Works and Railways was a member went SO miles beyond Alice Springs, and they found that although there were patches on the road, the farther north they went from Oodnadatta the better the country became. Beyond Alice Springs it wa’s extraordinarily good. The area known as Burt Plains was so good that some of the settlers there had already gone in for sheep, and were doing well. The greatest difficulty in the way of development is the lack of transportation facilities. Practically every visitor to the Territory returns south with the opinion that the North-South railway should have been built before now. It is a great satisfaction to South Australians, myself among them, that at last the agreement of fifteen years ago is to be honoured. I wish to take this opportunity of expressing the hope that the Minister will try to do something to improve the cattle transportation facilities on the Oodnadatta line. On the 27th August last I asked him in this chamber the following questions : -
His replies were -
The fact is, however, that the cattle raisers are very dissatisfied with the treatment their stock receives in these big trucks during transit from Oodnadatta. On this matter the South Australian Stock-owners’ Association wrote to the Commonwealth Railways Commissoner on the 15th September, 1925, as follows: -
At the annual meeting of members of this association, the following resolution was unanimously carried : - “ In the opinion of this association, the new cattle trucks which have been and are being installed on the Commonwealth railway lines are not, owing to climatic conditions existing in this State, suitable for the transport of stock over long distances, and that strong representations be made to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner with a view of having improvements effected in these trucks as follows : -
That a partition should be placed in the trucks.
That provisions be made for more ventilation on the sides.
That all trucks should be covered.”
I do not propose to read the whole of the letter, but will content myself with observing that it indicates a thoroughly unsatisfactory position from the stockowners’ point of view. The large trucks are not suitable for the conditions that prevail in these far northern areas. These stock-owners are men of considerable experience, who would not complain without just cause. I trust that the Minister will give earnest consideration to their suggestions. Only last year I met a gentleman at Port Augusta who uses these trucks a good deal. He told me that on one occasion he purchased, in the north, a number of horses for Indian remount purposes, and had them sent from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta in one of these big trucks, but they arrived in such a shocking condition that they were of no use whatever for remount work. Some of them, as a matter of fact, had to be shot. If the present conditions are allowed to continue, stock-owners will cease to use the railway. It is well known that, when feed is to be had en route, they preferto send their stock by road. If the railways into the interior are to pay, the transportation conditions must be greatly improved. I was glad to hear the Minister mention last night the possibility of mineral developments in Central Australia. He did not, by any means, exaggerate the prospects. North of Alice Springs there are many mining shows that are likely to yield splendid results. The Home of Bullion mine, to which the Minister referred, is, I am informed on good authority, only one of many similar mines. The evidence that the last parliamentary party to visit this country obtained from unbiased persons was that Central Australia was rich in minerals, but that their development was altogether dependent upon the provision of railway facilities. The railway which it is now proposed to build will not go near the Home of Bullion mine, which is about 150 miles from Alice Springs, but I hope that very soon it will be continued further north, until eventually it reaches right to Darwin. Many honorable members yesterday discussed at length the value of the mining industry to the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that there will be no unnecessary delay in making it possible to develop the mineral resources of Central Australia. Included in the proposal before us is the building of a line from Red Hill to Port Augusta. Red Hill, which may not be very well known to honorable members, is the terminus of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway 106 miles from Adelaide. It is only 30 miles south by south-west from the important industrial centre of Port Pirie. From Red Hill to Adelaide it is proposed to lay a third rail, in order to provide a 4-ft. 8-in. gauge line from Port Augusta to Adelaide. “With the standard gauge line extended from Red Hill to Port Augusta, the distance between Adelaide and Port Augusta by rail would be 193 miles, as against 260 miles by the existing route via Terowie. Moreover, there would be no break of gauge as at present. The Minister said last night that the construction of a railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta would be the subject of inquiry by the PublicWorks Committee. Personally, I am glad that that will be so, as the route tentatively fixed by the surveys which have been made is not, in my opinion, the best one for the railway. It is not proposed to extend the 5-ft. 3-in. railway to Port Pirie, and it is intended that the 4-ft. 8½-in. line shall be not nearer than 1 mile 50 chains to that town. Last year, in reply to a question, the Minister informed me that it was intended . that -the newline should not enter Port _ Germein, but that the railway station was to be three-quarters of a mile from that town. Another survey left the railway 4 miles from Port Pirie, and about l£ miles ‘from Port Germein. ‘ Those two towns should be on the new standard gauge railway. Instead of that railway being used only for the conveyance of passengers between Adelaide and Port Augusta, it should be1 made to serve that .portion of South Australia ‘which at present does not enjoy proper railway facilities. Port Germein is a shallow seaport 18 miles north of Port Pirie. Communication with Adelaide is obtained by means of .a small boat fortnightly. If the railway between Adelaide and Port Augusta were to pass through Port Pirie, the distance by rail between that place and Port Augusta would be about 60 miles. At present, to travel by rail between those two towns necessitates a journey of 1S2 miles. To make a deviation ‘from the route suggested to enable the railway to pass through Port Pirie would prevent the subdivision of fifteen farms, whereas if the line were taken further -west that would not be necessary. Moreover,- the construction of the railway in a more westerly position would mean that less sanddrift would be encountered. Last year I presented a petition, signed ‘by thousands of ratepayers in that portion of South Australia, in connexion with this matter. Apparently, the idea of both the State and Federal Railways Commissioners is to .prevent overlapping .in railway matters, but it should not be difficult to make the necessary adjustments in the accounts. Any commissioner who was incapable of doing so would not be fit to retain his position. Last night the Minister for Works and Railways referred to the- .possibility of a big silver-lead mine being opened up in the Northern Territory. As it would be impracticable to convey .the coal, coke, limestone, and other materials necessary ‘for smelting to the mine because of their bulky nature and necessary high -freights, any ore obtained -from it ‘would have to be transported to a seaport in South Australia for smelting. It has been suggested that in that event smelters would be erected at Port Augusta, but at Port
Pirie the Broken -Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary ‘ Company Limited has now the largest smelting works in the world, and it is not likely that while that plant remains there another will be erected at’ Port Augusta. “With the improved machinery and .appliances at the existing , plant at Port Pirie that plant would be capable of dealing with five times the .quantity - of ore ‘it now .treats. In view of the .possibility .1 ;hav.e “mentioned, it is extremely desirable that -the standard .gauge railway should pass through Port ‘Pirie. ‘With a railway station ‘1 mile ‘50 chains ‘.from the town, transhipment .of the. ore would ‘be necessary, to say nothing Of the other ‘disadvantages of a break-of-gauge station.
– If the South Australian Government is prepared ‘to .give tto the Commonwealth the exclusive right to enter Port Pirie by rail the -suggestion of the honorable member will be .seriously considered.
– I am glad to have that statement from the Minister, and hope that it will lead to negotiations between the two Governments with beneficial results to the whole . of ‘the people of Australia. No engineering difficulties would be encountered by connecting Port Pirie with this railway. I hope that the bill will have a speedy passage through -this House, and that in dealing with it honorable members will recognize that an agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth has been in existence for fifteen years and has not yet been honoured, notwithstanding that the people have been told from time to time by various Ministers ‘that if returned to power the matter would be dealt with. In spite of the different interpretations which have been placed on that agreement, the .fact remains that it is an agreement between the Slate of South Australia and the Commonwealth, and that no other parties are interested. Efforts are being made by some of the representatives ..of other States to .obtain a deviation of the North-South railway, with a view to obtaining some advantage for those States; but -no such .proposal should be entertained. I hope that the agreement will he honoured, and that before long the people of South Australia will see the fulfilment of a cherished dream.
– It should be clearly understood that this agreement which we are now asked to ratify is not only for the construction of a. railway across Australia from north to south, butthatit is for the construction of other railways also. A good deal of trouble has been experienced in connexion with the old agreement, and the Commonwealth has been compelled to build a. railway south from Darwin. From my knowledge of the country I feel sure that for the proper development of the north, apart fromthe construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, it would be better if a railway were constructed from either Derby or Broome, in Western Australia, easterly through Hall’s Creek to Camooweal, in Queensland. We were, however, bound by the agreement to the North-South line. This bill contains an agreement forthe construction of a proposed new railway. Honorable members will notice that in paragraph 2 of the schedule it is stated that1 -
The Commonwealth undertakes that, as soon as the necessary surveys and estimates are complete, it will introduce into and take all reasonable steps to have enacted by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, legislation authorizing this agreement to be performed by the Commonwealth.
It is provided that the Commonwealth shallconstructa railway on a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and provision is further made for the laying of a third railbetween Port Augusta and Adelaide.I believe that the idea is a good one, andthat it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth to have a 4-ft. 8½-in. line direct from Adelaide to Port Augusta and thence across to Western Australia. But, before this Parliament commits itself to the construction of a railway, honorable members should have full information before them. In this bill we are making a promise to South Australia that we will build this railway, though we have no information about it. The agreement makes provision for the laying of a third rail between Port Augusta and Adelaide. There has been a good deal of investigation by railway engineers and others into the safety and practicability of a third fail, but I. do not know that it can be stated authoritatively that a third rail can be introduced into a railway system without grave danger. If it can, the adoption of such a course might overcome the difficulty of the breaks of gauge in our railway systems generally. The matter is one about which we should be very careful. The Minister should give us some assurance that by passing this bill, Parliament will not be binding itself to the construction of a new railway. Once this bill is passed, it will be contended that a pledge has been given to South Australia, and thatwe ought to carry it out. Are we going topledge ourselves to this without information which, in my opinion, is essential before we can decide upon the construction of such a line? I have made no personal investigations with regard to the use of the third rail, but I know that some trials of its use were made in New SouthWales, close to the Victorian border. I understand that the experiments were considered fairly successful. I am, however, doubtful, if a third rail could be used on a main line, on which there are many points and crossings, without danger to passenger traffic.
- Mr. Bell and Mr. Webb say that there will be no serious difficulty.
– A commission was appointed to deal with the question of breaks of gauge, and I do not think it was favorable to the use of a third rail.
– The honorable member will notice that provision is made for going round some large stations.
– This is all tobe done at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– The expense will not be very great.
– The proposal to go round stations shows that engineers are doubtful about running a third rail through big stations with many points and crossings. It has been said that, even if we pass this bill, Parliament will not be committed to the construction of the proposed new railway. I do not agreewith that. Once we have made a promise we are bound to carry it out.
– It is a conditional promise.
– No. It isnot conditional. The wordingis very clear-
The Commonwealth undertakes that as soon as the necessary surveys and estimates are complete it will introduce into and take all reasonable steps to have enacted by the Parliament of the Commonwealth legislation authorizing this agreement to be performed by the Commonwealth.
If Parliament passes the agreement, and subsequently says that it will not build the railway, it will stultify itself. Every honorable member- who votes for this agreement will, in my opinion, be in duty bound to vote for the construction of the proposed new railway.
– The proposal will go before the Public Works Committee.
– No matter what the report of the committee may be, it will be the duty of Parliament to do its best to carry out the agreement it has ratified. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that we shall not be committed to the construction of the new railway until we have sufficient information placed before us. I believe that if we had a direct line on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge from Adelaide to Port Augusta, the’ transcontinental railway would have a far better prospect of being a financial success. I am not indulging in criticism with a view to prevent the construction of such a line. But it is questionable whether we are being asked to commit ourselves to a fair agreement between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government. Honorable members will remember that in the case of the construction of the railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane the Commonwealth undertakes to bear a certain proportion of the cost, and the New South Wales and Queensland Governments undertake to share in the cost. Under the agreement now before us, the Commonwealth is to pay the whole cost of the construction of the proposed line. I agree that the construction of the line would be of great advantage to passengers to and from Western Australia, and in connexion with the carriage of mails between Fremantle and Adelaide. It would help to make the transcontinental railway a financial success ; but I repeat that we should have more specific information as to what the proposed line will cost, and reports of engineers in support of the route proposed.
– I wish to compliment those responsible for the introduction of this measure, and especially the Premier of South Australia, who has evinced so much concern about the long-promised development of the North ern Territory, and has, I think, brought its accomplishment within measurable distance. I am reminded of the statements which used to be made about the Murray Valley, and what might be done with it. It was due to the practical mind of the late Tom Price, of South Australia, that operations are now being carried, on in locking the Murray, and making it the asset which it should be to the Commonwealth. I think that the action provided for under this bill has been much too long delayed. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has suggested the construction of a line from Derby across to Camooweal, but I cannot believe that such a line would have the same effect in the rapid development of the Northern Territory as would a line giving us direct communication between Port Darwin and the south. The line bisecting the Commonwealth north and south should be carried out as quickly as possible. All the plans submitted to us show that the valuable parts of the Northern Territory are the Victoria Downs country, the Barkly Tableland, and the mineral country of the centre, and if the Northern Territory is to be properly developed it will be by a line from Port Darwin to Adelaide via Oodnadatta. When such a line is constructed there may be branch lines running to Derby and to the Pellew Islands. I believe that Mr. Hobler reported in favour of such a scheme. I personally do not mind so long as the best route and that which will give the best results to the Commonwealth is adopted. It is pleasant to note that the agreement which has existed for go long between the Commonwealth and South Australia is at last being honoured. It has always appeared to me that the use of a third rail ought to be possible to overcome the difficulty of a break of gauge. Its use through big stations with much interlocking gear might be found difficult, but it should- be possible to use it over long distances to overcome the difficulties experienced from breaks of gauge. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) takes some exception to the proposal for the laying of a third rail, and I direct his attention to paragraph c of clause 6 of the schedule, in which provision for an alternative is made. That paragraph states that if the use of a third rail is considered impracticable or dangerous, a railway on a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge should be constructed, so that always there will be a. continuous railway on that gauge from Port Augusta to the central railway station in Adelaide. I hope, with the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), with whom I have had several conversations on this matter, that when inquiring into this work the Minister and the Public Works Committee will carefully consider the claims of towns to which railway com- .munication means so much. I have been led to believe that some of the surveys take the railway to within 1£ miles of places like Port Pirie and Port Germein, without actually running into those centres. I am unable to dogmatize as to the route which should be followed, but I hope no mistakes will be made which would prevent the line offering the greatest facilities possible for development. I trust that the best brains will be devoted to its construction. It may be suggested that I do not know what I am talking about; but I have in mind the fact that somewhere back in the 80’s, when the line was constructed to the hills near Adelaide, provision was made for two tunnels and for a Yankee bridge, over which a great many people were afraid to travel. Though the contour of the country and engineering principles have not altered in the meantime, only about two years ago the line was altered in such a way that one tunnel and the skeleton bridge were done away with. I presume that with the advice of the South Australian Railways Commissioner, whose qualifications induced the Premier of that State to appoint him to his position, Mr. Bell, and the Public Works Committee, we may look for the adoption of a line which will give the best results. I compliment the Government, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr, Hill), and the Premier of South Australia, upon this measure to deal with the North-South railway. I hope that before this Parliament dissolves the railway will be completed, because I am sure that it will be an asset to the Commonwealth and turn what is now a white elephant into something of value to the Commonwealth.
.- Although I am pleased that something is at last being done to construct a railway from the north to the south of Australia, this agreement does not quite meet with my approval. I object to the route agreed upon by the Federal and South Australian Parliaments. I do not take a parochial view of this matter. The speeches delivered by honorable members representing South Australian constituencies naturally favour the route proposed by the Government; but I would remind honorable members that the loss on the railway, as outlined by the Minister last night, will, of course, have to be met by the people of Australia. When the Northern Territory transfer was being effected, Messrs. Deakin, Lyne and Forrest represented the Commonwealth, and Messrs. O’LoughlinPeake and Price represented South Australia. I have been given to understand that Mr. Deakin would not agree to the stipulation desired by South Australia that the line should run direct from the Northern Territory to South Australia. He insisted that the matter of the route should be left open. . To comply with the agreement the railway must pass through the northern border of South Australia, but it is possible for the line to take a more easterly route than is now proposed bv the Government. It could pass into Queensland somewhere in the neighbourhood of Birdsville, and even west of it, and yet comply with the agreement.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member should look at the map in the library.
– We should honour the agreement.
– The construction of the easterly route would honour the agreement.
– Is the honorable member familiar with the country between Marree and Birdsville?
– I have seen some of that country. Mr. Deakin would not agree to any definite route being decided upon, as the line might possibly go through Queensland after leaving South Australia.
– That is not correct.
– In reply to the honorable member I shall quote from, a speech made by Mr. O’Loughlin, Commissioner of Crown Lands, on the 15th October, 1907, when the Northern Territory Transfer Bill was introduced by him into the. South Australian Parliament. His speech is reported in the South Australian Hansard, as follows: -
Numerous objections have been made to the agreement, on the ground that there ought to be a stipulated time in which to connect the Territory with South Australia by a line of railway, and which route it should take. They held this opinion, but in discussing the question with MrDeakinhepointedout, and properlyso, that, it would be unwise to bind the Commonwealth Government to construct the line of railway withina stipulated time. Mr. Deakin, however, undertook to construct the line from Port Darwin through Central Australia , to jointhe existing line at Oodnadatta;. or to go through what was considered to be very much better country- from Pine Creek, via.Camooweal,. down alongside the borders ofQueensland, and the Northern Territory westof Birdsville, and down to Port Augusta, via Hergott.
Mr.O’Loughlin said that the route via Camooweal down along the borders of the Territory and. Queensland west of Birdsville would go through what was considered to be much better country.
Mr.Foster - The original agreement especially excludes that proposal.
– The Hon. R. Butler was also of the opinion that the line should be constructed west of Birdsville. He is reported in the South Australian Hansard as follows: -
He disapproved of. the, proposal to hand over anyof our railways to the Commonwealth. Hewouldnot oppose the eastern- route. (The Commissioner of GrownLands. - “ The agreement provides that the railway must come through’ South;. Australian territory.”) Itcertainly touched the territoryofthis State, but only, a corner of it, and thenit passed threequartersofthewaythrough Queensland territory…… If the eastern route were agreed upon,there must be some definite stipulation concerning the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta.
Thatspeechshowsthatthe time of making the transfer of the Northern Territory from South Australia, to the Commonwealth; the eastern route was favoured. The Hon. R. Butler is furtherreported
He would be prepared to start from the presentendiftheCommonwealthstartedfrom Pine Creek, and. agreed to meet the South. Australian line at. a point to be. arranged. If that were done, they would know what South Australia was to get. Under the agreement they would not know what South. Australia would get outofthearrangement. The Federal line would enter Queensland; and it. would be yearsbefore South Australia got a through line.
From those speeches we must conclude that when the Territory was transferred the eastern route was favoured.I cannot understand the present change ofopinion, in view of the geographical positions of the two lines. If a line is constructed from Hergott, now called Marree, in a direct, northerly direction, it will pass through the northern border ofSouth Australia, and will still comply, with the original agreement ifitenters Queensland. The boundary line between the Northern Territory and South Australia is the 26th parallel of latitude, andfrom the point at which it meets the Queensland border it: runs easterly for a considerable distance to the 141st meridian of longitude. Mr. O’Loughlin is also reported in the South AustralianHansard as follows : -
Subject to the provisions of this act, and the agreement, and of the acts incorporated with this act, the Commonwealth - (1) For the purpose of carrying out, in accordance with the agreement, its undertaking to construct, or cause to be constructed, the transcontinental railway line from PortDarwin southwards to a point on the Port Augusta railway, may construct, or cause to be constructed, as part of such transcontinental railway, a railway in South Australia proper from a point on the Port Augusta railway, to connect at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper with the part of suchtranscontinentalrailway to be constructed from Port Darwin southwards to such point with all proper stations……
That is the relevant portion of. the original agreement, made between the CommonwealthandSouthAustraliato connect the railway ata point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
– That means the boundary, between the Northern Territory! and South Australia.
– The agreement does not say so.
– It means that the line . should be wholly within the Northern Territory and South Australia.
– It does not mean anything of the sort.
– Eminent lawyers in South Australia, and Mr. Deakin,said so.
– I have quoted from the speech of the South Australian Commissioner of Crown Lands to show that when introducing the original legislation in the South Australian Parliament he said that the railway should go near Birdsville. I come now to the merits of these two routes. The present line from Marree to Oodnadattais247 miles long, and runs through very poor country, some of it being salt and below sea level. The proposed route from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs is 297 miles long:A line from Marree to Birdsville would be 280 miles in length, or, roughly, the same distance as from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. The Minister forWorks and Railways(Mr. Hill) admitted last night that the western route will pass through , poor country. Those of us who have travelled over the present line as far as Oodnadatta know that it passes through poor country. The average annual rainfall at Charlotte Waters is only 5 inches, . at Alice Springs 10 inches, and at Barrow Creek 12 inches.
– The average rainfall at Alice Springs over the last 45 years has been ill inches.
Mr.R. GREEN.-Even that is quite insignificant.If the line followedthe route through Birdsville and Western Queensland to the Barkly Tableland, the actual distance between Adelaide and Darwin would be only 40 miles more than by the route which the Minister has proposed. But the railway would traverse countryhaving a rainfall that would permitof successful settlement. I could not help thinking last night that the whole ofthe arguments which the Minister adduced against the Kingoonya to Alice Springs route were equally applicable to the area : between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs. He spoke of the difficulty of obtaining water by sinking, and said that at Todmorden station no rain had fallen for two and a half years. Throughsuch country Parliament is asked to build a railway. I ask honorable members to consider this proposition on its merits andto free their minds of bias.I admit that if the railway followed the eastern deviation it wouldpass through very poor countryforthe first 200 miles north of Marree.
-What is the rainfall at Birdsville?
Mr.R. GREEN.- About 15 inches per annum.
Mr.Foster. - Nonsense!
– That information was given to me by a gentleman who has lived there for many years. The country for about 200 miles north-east of Marree is very similar to that between Marree and Oodnadatta, but a line built from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs will traverse 550 miles of bad country.
– That is not so.
Mr.R. GREEN.- OntheBirdsville route theline will ran intocountry having an assured rainfall,will adequately serve theNorthern Territory, andwill honourthe agreement made with South Australia. The Barkly Tableland is saidto be the only part of Australia that has never experienced a drought. The line I am advocating will traverse that tableland, and connect with the existing railway fromDarwin to PineGreek. If a railwayon the eastern route will tap country with an assured rainfall, and traverse only 200 miles ofpoor country, instead of the 550 miles through which theline proposed by the Government will run,the House must agree that the eastern route is thebetter. Much emphasis has been laid upon the allegedmineral wealth in the Macdonnell ranges. Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie were at one time enormously rich, and still have large quantities of low-grade ore, but notwithstanding railway facilities, water supplies, and other aidsto development, Coolgardie is almost extinct, and Kalgoorlie is on the decline. I cannot understand why honorable members should expectthefuture of the Macdonnell range mineral areasto be any brighterthan the record ofthe eastern gold-fields of Western Australia. The declared policy of the Commonwealth Government includes the unification of railway gauges;yet the Government proposes to make an arrangementwith a State Government for the construction of a railway on the 3-ft.6-in. gauge, thus helpingto continue and aggravate the break of gauge evil. The very fact of building so many more miles of railway on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge will make more difficult and costlythe task of standardization. The Government seems to be entering into an agreement to break down its own policy.
– And in opposition to an agreement with Queensland to build a railway on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
Mr.Hill. - That is an entirelydifferent proposition.
Mr.R. GREEN. - If theNorth-South railway is justified at all, and I think it is, itshould be constructed on the standard gauge. I therefore hope that the agreement will bereturned to the Government of South Australia, with an intimation that this Parliament insists that a railway shall be built on the standard gauge along the route which will best serve the interests of Australia asa whole. A railway constructed on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge from Marree to Birdsville, and thence to Camooweal, would be a continuation of the line from Adelaide to Marree, which will eventually be converted to the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge, thus providing a railway of the one gauge from Central Australia to Adelaide, and avoiding the inconvenience and expense necessitated at breaks of gauge. It seems ridiculous that this proposal should be submitted to the House when the Government is considering laying down a third rail on the existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge between Red Hill and Adelaide. The proposed line is to be of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– And they all connect.
– Yes. I do not know if this aspect of the question was brought under the notice of the Minister by departmental officials. Apparently the representatives of the South Australian Government conveniently neglected to remind him of the fact.
– Is the honorable member overlooking the point that the proposed line will connect with the existing 3-ft. 6-in. railway from Oodnadatta to Quorn ?
– No. I am advocating the continuation of the line from Marree northwards on a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– Is not the honorable member making a destructive speech without considering the merits of the case?
– I do not wish to assist the Government to commit itself to such an absurd proposal. I believe that the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australia should be honoured in the interests of the whole of the Australian people, who have to find the money. I am endeavouring to look at this subject from a truly Australian point of view, and am suggesting a route which, I sincerely believe to be preferable to that proposed. I do not think that a railway from Oodnadatta northwards is the best that could be constructed; a line in an easterly direction would be more advantageous owing to the fact that it would traverse only a comparatively small area of poor country, arid serve territory with an assured rainfall. In introducing a bill in 1907 to provide for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, the Commissioner of Crown Lands in South Australia expressed the opinion that a railway to the north would probably be constructed along the Queensland border. Another member of the South Australian Parliament, the late Sir Richard Butler, who spoke later on, expressed similar views, but said that he was opposed to transfer because the time within which the railway was to be constructed was not stipulated. He said, however, that he was not opposed to the eastern route, which is the one I favour.
– Did other speakers express different views?
– I have not read the speeches of those who expressed a contrary view. The general opinion at that time was that a line would be constructed along the Queensland border. When the bill is in committee I propose to move an amendment to the effect that a line be constructed from Marree to Birdsville on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
.- It is my intention at this stage ‘not to go over the whole of the ground covered by previous speakers, but to answer the criticisms of some speakers and to confirm the statements of others. A good deal has been said by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) concerning the most desirable route for the proposed railway. I do not know whether my schooling differed from his, but I remember learning that the four cardinal points of the compass are north, south, east and west, and this leads me to think that a line known as the North-South railway should be built from the north to the south, or vice versa. Yet, according to the arguments of the honorable member for Richmond, a north-south line should be built in an easterly direction. The history of the proposed line extends further back than 1911, when the agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the transfer of the Northern Territory was entered into, as a transcontinental line was first mentioned 55 years ago when the South Australian Government undertook the construction of the overland telegraph line through, the centre of the continent. In 1882 my late father, the Hon. J. Langdon Parsons, who was the Minister controlling the Northern Territory in the Bray Government, visited the Northern Territory in charge of a parliamentary party. On his return to South Australia so impressed was he with the wonderful potentialities of the Territory that, after having piloted a bill through Parliament to provide for the construction of a line to Oodnadatta and one from Darwin, which was then known as Palmerston, to Pine Creek - a distance of 346 miles - he resigned his portfolio as Minister controlling the Northern Territory and Minister of Education, and accepted the position of Government Resident in the Northern Territory, so that he could represent the Government in connexion with the construction of that line. Notwithstanding my father’s urgent representations to the Government that the work should be done by southern Europeans, who were to be granted land on the completion of the construction, the Government in its wisdom or otherwise, employed Chinese coolies who, when the work was completed, placed their money in their pockets and returned to their own country. No settlement whatever followed. South Australia completed these two sections of railway; but owing to the frequent changes of government, the Northern Territory was practically forgotten. There were other gentlemen who believed in the possibilities of the Territory, including the late Mr. Simpson Newland, who, irrespective of what was said concerning the Territory, was always one of the keenest advocates of a north-south railway. The South Australian people, who had almost despaired of seeing . a railway constructed, finally agreed, through their Parliament, to the construction of a line under the land grant system, the merits or demerits of which I do not propose to discuss at this juncture. If one has the slightest doubt as to what South Australia meant, and what the Commonwealth knew that South Australia desired, when she stipulated in the agreement under which she handed over the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, one has only to refer to the plan attached to the bill embodying the agreement, on which is shown, a line running directly northwards. South Australia was prepared to trust the Commonwealth and the other
States to do a fair thing. Certainly no period in which the work was to be undertaken was specified, but South Australia showed that she trusted the Commonwealth to honour its obligation. Opinions have been given on the question by some of the most learned King’s Counsel in the Commonwealth, all of whom agree that there is not the slightest doubt that the railway provided for in the agreement is a direct north- south line. It would be undesirable, if not impossible, in such an agreement, to define the exact course that the’ line must take.
– The route has been surveyed.
– But I think the agreement would permit of some slight variation. There was no doubt whatever about what the South Australian people intended when it was framed.
– What about the talk of the eastern route?
– Some persons might have talked of another route, but I cannot remember that a single South Australian advocated it. I must remind the honorable member for Richmond that sentences in speeches may be taken from their context and used to support almost any argument. In Holy Writ there is the statement, “ There is no God.” That sounds, very strange, taken apart from its context; but when one reads the complete verse, he finds that it is, “ The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” The honorable member had a good deal to say about that wonderful place Birdsville. I have been informed that at one time children of five years of age were living there who had never seen rain. I have also been informed, and I have no reason whatever to doubt the veracity of my informant, that the average annual rainfall in Birdsville is 7 inches, and not 15 inches as stated by the honorable member. If his statements on other points are as inaccurate as that of the average annual rainfall, we cannot safely place reliance upon them. I agree with the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) that, it would be a serious mistake to allow the line from Port Augusta to Red Hill to pass within . 2 miles of Port Pirie without actually entering the town. I have not examined the survey, ‘but I ‘know that a -3-chain road ‘runs almost all the way from Red’ Hill to Port Pirie. If the line could he taken down that road into the town a good deal- Of money might be saved in the purchase of land. In view of the -speech just delivered by the honorable member ‘for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), and also because of the attempts that have been made from time to time to filch from South Australia her fights in regard to the Territory, I should like a definite assurance from the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) that the agreement in the schedule of this bill does not in any way abrogate the undertakings in the original agreement to transfer, the Territory. I must confess that I, in common with a good -many other ‘South Australians, have been -suspicious of the intentions of the Commonwealth in regard to the building of the .North-South railway. For -many years I conducted an extensive correspondence in the press on this subject, and I always urged that South Australia should .hold fast to every right that she had under the transfer agreement. Referring for a moment to the route of -the .railway, the question in the last analysis .is not whether this, .that, or the other route, is the better one, but whether South .Australia transferred the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth for certain definite considerations. I- contend she did so, and that one of the principal considerations in the mind of the .Parliament at that time was that the NorthSouth railway .should be ; constructed by the Commonwealth within a .reasonable time. In my judgment, “it as improper for any group of persons, or for individuals, to attempt to interfere with the fulfilment of the agreement that was made. South Australia should not be robbed of .her rights. There is a much more important consideration in this matter, .however, than the honouring .of the agreement made with the South Australian Government. The building of the North-South railway is absolutely essential to the welfare of the Commonwealth, and the continuance of our White .Australia policy, for it will make possible ‘the populating and development of the Northern Territory. If that is done, we shall be able should war occur here in the future - i and we know the quarter from which trouble may come - *-to do something, at -least, in our own defence. If we make even an honest attempt to populate the Northern Territory and the unsettled parts of north-western Australia, we shall be able, in the event of another nation attempting to dispossess us of our country, to appeal confidently to our friends abroad for assistance. If, on the other hand, we allow this great territory to remain undeveloped for years in the hands of a meagre population of 2,000 people, we shall, in my opinion, have no right, in the event of war occurring, to expect assistance from outside. For these reasons, I sincerely trust that the NorthSouth line will- shortly be an accomplished fact.
– I do not intend to delay honorable members .long, and I regret that it is necessary to speak so soon after the introduction of this bill late last night; but I understand that the Minister desires that it shall be pushed through. The long and elaborate agreement in the schedule of the bill would need close consideration before one could follow the whole .of its ramifications. As I .understand it, although . it does not definitely fix the route of the line, it is . a .-step forward, in that it provides ‘that the work shall be ‘ completed within a given time. That: is something on which -I heartily congratulate the Government ..and the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Sill). T am specially pleased that the bill has .been introduced, because it confirms , the view expressed by honorable members on this side of ..the Chamber when the bill for the construction of the Mataranka to Daly Waters railway was before the House three years .ago. The then honorable member ‘for Angas (Mr. -Gabb) -moved an amendment to that measure which, had it been ‘carried, would have had the effect of referring the whole matter to the ‘Public Works Committee for consideration. The attitude adopted by honorable members on this ‘side of the Chamber was that, although they would prefer work on any instalment of the North-South railway to begin from the southern end, they were willing, in consequence of a verbal statement by the Prime Minister that the Government proposed to honour the agreement made -with South Australia in 1907, that work should be commenced from the northern end I am glad that our confidence in the Prime Minister’s promise has been justified. So far asI can see the rights of South Australia in the original agreement are not in any way curtailed by the provisions of the agreement in the schedule of this bill. The veryfact that the Government proposes to introduce a measure for the com structionof this railway” as a portion of the transcontinental railway to be constructed pursuant to the agreement in the schedule to the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910,” makes it clear to me that it intends to press on with the completion of the through line. If I required additional evidence of that, it is supplied by the speech delivered by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) last night, in which he gave the total mileage that had been constructed from the north and from the south, the length that the Government proposed to build immediately, and the distance that would still remain to be constructed before the two ends were connected. One of my main objects in rising to speak was to make it perfectly clean that, so far as I am concerned personally- and I believe my view is held by all the South Australian members of this Parliament - regard the construction of the line to Alice Springs as being only an instalment of the through route. I make that statement for the reason that the Public Works Committee some time ago suggested that, if a line were constructed to Alice Springs from the south and toNewcastle Waters from the north, the situation would be met for very many years to come. I totally disagree with that view. Personally, I. am glad that the Government hasdecidedto adopt the Oodnadatta route, but that matter can be discussed when the bill to provide for the construction of the railway is before us.Iam also pleased that it is proposed to build a standard gauge line direct from Port Augusta to Adelaide, assuming that the three rails on the Red Hill to Adelaide section can, in the opinion of the experts - as one assumes is the case - be used satisfactorily. But this also may be discussed later. I felt thatI could not allow the introduction of this important bill to pass without congratulating the Government on at last undertaking a project which the South Australian people have for so long struggled tosee put in hand.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill- read a second time; and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20th January (vide page227), on motion by Mr. Hill -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I have pleasure in supporting thisbill, concerning which the same arguments that applied to the measure with which we have just dealt are to a great extent applicable. The question of the route of this railway has been raised, but I feel that the Government is adopting the right attitude in that matter. WhileI should like to see a railway of 4-ft.8½-in. gauge constructed across Australia from north to south,I believe that theGovernment, in this proposal, is doing as much as can reasonably be expected. The conversion to the standard gauge of the Oodnadatta to Darwin railway, will be quite as simple a matter as the conversion of any other railway in Australia. The railway with which this bill deals will be purely developmental. The problem of the development of the Northern Territory has not yet been grappled with, nor willit be until we get into closer contact with the people there. Nothing helps so much in that direction as. the construction of railways. I agree with the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) that if South Australia had retained the Northern Territory a railway from north to south would have been constructed before this. While the bill is not all that I desire, it is an honest attempt tohonour the existing agreement; and to develop the Northern Territory. It will at least give those who nowlive there some chance of reaching civilization more frequently and more quickly than is possible at present. In that respect alone the construction of this railway is more than justified. The Northern Territory must be developed, and we must pay for that development. The pioneers there must no longer be overlooked. South Australian members are pleased to know that something is being done to honour the compact entered into so many years ago, and we all hope that it will not be long before the railway is extended to Darwin.
.- I regret that, because of the rapid progress we have made in dealing with the measures which have come before us, I am at this juncture unprepared to deal with this bill as I desire. I therefore ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Earle Page) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.20 to 8 p.m.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
That notwithstanding anything contained in the Customs Tariff 1921-1924, from and after a time and date to be proclaimed, the importation into Australia, direct from the Territory of Papua or the Territory of New Guinea, of such of the goods specified in the schedule to this resolution as were produced or manufactured in the Territory from which they are imported shall be free of duty.
The Commonwealth has control of Papua and the Mandated Territories, and consequently, in the opinion of the Government, it has some responsibility for their development. It is further a business proposition that we should endeavour so far as we can to make those Territories self-supporting, which they are not now. Their soil and climatic conditions make them specially suited to the production of tropical products which are very largely usedin Australia. As the population of the Territories numbers about 500,000 natives and about 3,000 whites, it is evident that their products must nearly all be exported. Australia by reason of her geographical position is the natural market for such products, but two factors have militated against the development of our trade with these Territories. One of these factors has been the coasting sections of the Navigation Act, and the other has been the Australian Customs Tariff, which has treated the products of even our own Territories as being of foreign origin. The Government considers that it devolves upon us to have a fixed and definite policy for the development of tropical agriculture in these Territories.It is proposed to give effect to this by means of this comparatively small preferential tariff, and by a further proposal that will follow, providing for bounties on other commodities. To remove any disabilities suffered by the Territories because of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act those provisions were in part suspended by proclamation on the 1st September last. The commodities covered by the tariff resolution which I am submitting, and by the Bounties Bill to follow, are not commercially produced in Australia, and do not come into competition with any of our primary or secondary industries. It is of great importance to Australia to develop the cultivation of tropical products practically at our own back door, because if we do we shall be to some extent, and I hope to a large extent, independent of foreign countries for such commodities. In addition to those referred to in this tariff resolution and the bounty proposals to be submitted, there are other commodities produced in the Territories, such as copra and rubber. These are very largely used in our manufacturing industries, but it is not proposed to give any assistance for their production, because those engaged in it have been afforded considerable relief by the suspension of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, and because a great proportion of the copra produced finds its way to ‘the world’s markets whilst there is a comparatively small consumption of it in Australia: and by reason of the very much improved condition of the rubber market. The action taken by the Government with regard to Papua and the Mandated Territories of New Guinea has two objects. One, and the major object, is to benefit the producers of tropical products in the Territories, and the other object which will be directly accomplished will be the granting of relief, through the Customs tariff, to the users of the commodities specified, to the extent, if developments progress as we hope, of an average of about £25,000 a year. Although Papua has been a Territory of the Commonwealth since September, 1906, we have, as I have already said, treated it throughout by our tariff as a foreign territory, and as if we had no responsibilities in respect of it. Tariff preference has not been given to Papua, and the comparatively recently acquired Mandated Territory of New Guinea, notwithstanding the fact that the planters, plantation managers, officials, tradesmen, and missionaries, as well as the monetary investments in the Territory, are nearly all Australian. The backward state of tropical production in the Territories is something which I am sure we all regret. The cultivation of tropical products which flourish in Java, in the Federated Malay States, Ceylon, and other parts, has, as yet, been practically untried in either Papua or New Guinea. Both Territories have their eggs in one basket, or rather their basket has only one egg in it, and that is the coconut. The economic structure of the Territories has its sole foundation in the production of copra. That is a position which must be viewed with some concern when one visualizes their future development, particularly because the consumption of copra in Australia is comparatively small. It only amounts to about 9,000 tons a year, whilst the total production of Papua and New Guinea in 1924-5 exceeded 45,000 tons. It is proposed to attempt to overcome the uncertain economic position of these Territories by encouraging the cultivation of a greater diversity of products, and this tariff resolution is a part of the scheme to that end. The . tropical products selected by the Government, after most exhaustive inquiry, for the application of bounties and’ a preferential tariff, are those specially adapted to the climatic conditions of the Territories, and for which an established market already exists in the Commonwealth, representing a value at the present time of nearly £2,000,000. Products such as bananas, citrus fruits, maize, peanuts, and sugar, which can be readily produced in the Territories, have been omitted from the Government preference and bounty proposals for the reason that they are commercially grown within the Commonwealth. A few figures relating to these Territories, and covering the last five years, may be interesting. The imports into the Commonwealth from Papua in 1920-1 amounted in value to £325,773; in 1921-2, to £163,232; in 1922-3, to £209,193; in 1923-4, to £471,953; and in the last financial year, 1924-5, to £295,199. The value of our exports’ to Papua - I am speaking now only of Papua, and not of New Guinea - was, over the five years, respectively, £292,851, £172,419, £219,225, £214,839, and £259,302. The exports from Australia to Papua include goods not of Australian origin. The value of goods of Australian production exported to Papua over the five years was, respectively - £163,449, £88,643, £111,442, £116,954, and £141,309. The value of the import and export trade of Papua over the five years was, respectively - Imports. £484,770, £305,705, £315,423, £354,965, £459,080; and exports, £172,672, £220,236, £179,452, £239,408, and £367,629. The exports from Papua in order of value are - Copra, rubber, pearls, beche-de-mer, pearl shell e.’id trochus shell. In 1924-5 ‘the exports from Papua were valued as follow: - Copra, £172,905; rubber, £68,507: copper, £41,674; pearls, £19,300; bechedemer, £10,351; pearl shell, £8,773: gold, £14,980; osmiridium, £3,630; and sisal hemp, £13,141. These figures show that the commodities to be affected by the proposals of the Government are produced in Papua in minor quantities only. The territory of New Guinea has reached a higher state of productiveness than the territory of Papua, as the figures of the import and export trade clearly show. In the last five financial years the value of goods imported into the territory of New Guinea was, respectively £661,441, £468,711, £516,855, £485,634, and £537,940. The value of the exports was, respectively - £673,992, £499,197, £630,892, £718,535, and £858,990. The exports are similar in value and variety to thePapuan exports, with the exception of pearls; and the export of copra and rubber comprises from three-quarters to seven-eighths of the totalexports of those territories. The value of the Australian import and export trade with the territory of New Guinea for the year 1924-5 was-Imports into Australia,£470,574; and exports from Australia, £268,664.The Australian exports to the territory of New Guinea include a considerable proportion of oversea products,as is also the case respecting Papua. The balance of the imports into these territories over and above Australian exports to them are made up largelyof direct importations ofpetrol, kerosene, cotton goodsand machinery. The Papuan Legislative Council can, and I understand will, give a preference to Australian imports in reciprocation of our effort to helpthe developmentofplantations inthe territory.Under theterms of the Mandate given to the Commonwealth by the League of Nations, ‘the Customs tariff of the territory ofNew Guinea permits ofno preference to any country; but with the development of trade under the bounties scheme and the preferential tariff proposals of the Government, a closeralliance of trade interests between the Commonwealth and the territory can be confidently expected.
– Has the Minister considered giving a preference on tobacco?
Mr.PRATTEN. - Yes. I propose making some exhaustive inquiries respecting the growth of tobacco and the manufacture of cigars in Australia. Later,I shall draw the attentionof theTariff Board to the possibility of the growth in Papua of special cigar leaf. I believe that we can grow inour tropical possessions cigar leaf equal to the best leaf grown in other countries, but tobacco and cigar leaf have deliberately been omit tedfrom these proposals, because the inquiry concerning them has not yet begun. It is intended to admit into the Commonwealth,free of duty, coffee grown in the territories, and to place a charge of 3d. a pound on coffee from other countries. At one time a considerable quantity of coffee was grown in Queensland, and for many years it had the protection of a duty of 3d. a pound.ButI regret tosay thatthe quantity of coffee nowproduced in Queensland is almost negligible.Fourteen years ago151,050 lb. of coffee were grown in that State. Last year only 6,160 lb. weregrown there, valued at £231. The importation of coffee into the Commonwealth during 1923-24 was 3,460,441 lb., valued at£136,654.
-What is the reason for the diminished production of coffee in Queensland ?
– We must search for and find it if possible. It is evident, from the figures that I have quoted, that there is every opportunity for the development of the coffee industry both in the Common wealth and in the territories. Prepared or desiccated coco-nut is the largest item affected by the proposed reductions in tariff duties.’ It is imported now from other countries, and the reduction of 3d. a pound in duty in favour of the territories will, it is expected, establish the industry there almost immediately, and provide an outlet for a further proportion of the main staple production of coco-nuts. Last year 1,500 tons of prepared coco- nut, valued at£98,000, were imported into Australia, the average price being from £40 to £60 a ton. As quite a number of honorable members have had an opportunity of visiting some portions of the territories, I feel sure of their sympathetic co-operation in the passing of these proposals, which the Government confidently anticipates will materially assist to develop Papua and New Guinea, and help themto become self-supporting.
In committee (Consideration ofGovernorGeneral’smessage) :
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the payment of bounties on certain goods the produce or manufacture of theTerritory of Papua, and on certain goods the produce ormanufacture ofthe Territory ofNew Guinea.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Pratten and Mr. Atkinson do prepare and bring inabill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Mr. PRATTEN (Martin- Minister for
Trade and Customs) [8.35]. - I move -
That the billbenowread a second time.
I stated in previous remarks that it was a responsibility of the Government to help reasonably to develop the tropical productions of the Territories of Papua , and New. Guinea. While it: is believed that the suspension of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act will help the big industry of. copra producing, and the very much smaller industry of rubber producing, and while it is. believed that the proposed preferential tariff will give further, help to the - development of the- Territories,, it is- still’ felt that it. is essential to take further action to get the diversification of tropical agriculture to- which I have referred. Honorable members know, that the Commonwealth -has. at different times granted to- the’ Territory of Papua loans– amounting to £100,897j and that the amount to be. repaid to the Commonwealth is at present £93,302: This money. has, been madeavailable for- the- ‘construction of reservoirs, wharfs, and’ roads, for general development, and. for the settlement of returned soldiers- on the. land ;: but, in addition to that), the Commonwealth has granted an annual subsidy,. which started ait.. £20,000 a year,, and was- increased at various, times, until- it now stands- at £50,000 a. year. On the 1st July,, 19.01-, we subsidized- the Territory, of- Papua at the rate of £20,000 a year. That continued for eight, years’, and on the lat July, 19.09, we raised the subsidy to £25,000 a. year, at which amount it remained -for three years. On the 1st July, 1912; it was- further increased1 to £30,000, where it remained for about eight’ and a half years, until the 1st January, 1921,. when it was.. increased to’ £50,000 a i year. The total subsidies, therefore, that the Territory ofl Papua alone has- had from the Commonwealth-since we took it over have amounted to the large . sum i of £752,000, on three-quarters- of a million. In addition to- these subsidies to enable Papua.- to carry on the services- of government) the Papuan portion of the shipping subsidy for: the Pacific Islands amounts -to £12,000 a year. To the Territory of: New Guinea, the Commonwealth grants an annual1 subsidy of- £10,000 for the benefit of the natives, and that is- spent on agriculture, and health matters-.. The Commonwealth grant of £10,000 for medi” cai services in the Territory of New Guinea was- made in , 1922. A Common– wealth loan was also granted of £67,000 for the construction of wharfs: andi fordrainage ; and the proportion of the mail subsidy I have referred! to in connexion with the Pacific Island services amounts,, so- far- as the territorial share of New Guinea is concerned, to a sum-of £16,000. From these particulars it will be seen that the development of the natural resourcesof the Territories- is very vital :to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth, and that it is- good1 business for us- to make these Territories as- self-supporting as we can, as quickly as- we can.- There is- no question that, if the proposals of “the Government are accepted by this House,- theTerritories should be largely selfsupporting at a not very distant date; and1 there will be the further advantage that the Territories, will provide Australia with some, if not all, of her tropical importations. To obtain these tropical’ productions from our, own Territories, will’ make us; at. least partially, independent of foreign sources of supply. Honorable members will notice -that- the bill provides: a- maximum sum of £25,0.00 a year for a, period often years-,, and that a carry-over can be -made from- year to year;, but not more than the- amount appropriated,, namely-,. £250,-000 in- all, can, be spent in a> period, of ten years-. A very careful calculation has .been. made, regarding the developments -that are expected to follow the application- of this, proposal. It iscalculated that the appropriation of an average sum of, £-25,000 a year. for. ten years, will reasonably cover the develop-; ments, expected. If there is a greater and.more rapid development than, we have calculated upon, then the bounty is fixed, and power is given to -the Minister to -pay it pro rata to the -limit of the appropriation, available at- the time. The trade that: can be - further developed between the Territories- of Papua and. of New Guinea is of much importance to Australia.. It may be- stated with every assurance that most of Australia’s- requirements of kapok,, coir,, sisal and manila hemp, rubber; , cacao beans,, bamboo and rattan, coffee; coco-nuts,- desiccated, coconut,, vanilla- beans, spices; and sago can, be eventually produced in the great island- territories: of the: Commonwealth. I mentioned- iii, a previous -speech. that the importations of tropical products- into Australia every year were worth nearly- £2,000,000. The details of these importations for the year 1923-4 are, approximately: kapok, £350,000; coir,’ £13,000; sisal and manila hemp, £300,000; rubber, £456,000; cacao beans, £231,000; bamboo and rattan, £45,000; coffee, £130,000; coco-nuts, £3,000; coco-nut, desiccated, £98,000; vanilla beans, £18,600; spices, £135,000; and sago, £3,500; making a total of £1,783,100.
– It is not intended to allow any concessions through the Customs tariff, or by way of bounty, to any goods that are not the product or manufacture of the Territories.
– The original resolution does not make that clear.
– In committee I shall be willing to accept any amendment that will make more clear the deliberate intention of the Government that the tariff concession and the bounty shall apply only to goods that are sent to Australia direct from a territory. The Government’s desire is to promote tropical production in Commonwealth Territories in order to increase the sources of our supplies of raw materials. The Commonwealth Analyst (Mr. Wilkinson), whose knowledge of tropical production is most extensive, has made a special study of the economic conditions of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, and having visited all parts of the Territories on a special mission before these proposals were finalized, he is most favorably impressed with the possibilities of the successful production on a large scale of kapok,- coir, desiccated coco-nut, cacao beans, coffee, sisal and manila hemp, vanilla, and all kinds of spices. With the granting of the bounties and the passing of the Papuan tariff, I am convinced that considerably more interest will be taken in the purchase of the expropriated properties, and the indirect benefits from this source are likely to be substantial. Those already interested in the development of the Territory confirm this view, and are optimistic concerning the added value which will accrue to the Government pro perties there as a result of the “legislation now proposed.
All the representations that have been made by the administrators of both Territories, the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce, the Samarai Chamber of Commerce, and leading planters, and others who are financially interested in the Territories have been very carefully considered. With regard to the individual items, some points concerning them are of special interest. A very important aspect of kapok cultivation is that the tree is the natural nesting ground of the red ant generally known throughout the Territory as the kurakum. This red ant is one of themost active controlling agencies of the leaf destruction caused by the coco-nut beetle. This insect is widespread in New Britain, and also occurs at Manus and the Solomon Islands, and has already caused considerable havoc and financial loss in numerous coco-nut plantations. The beetle causes the palms to look as though a plague of locusts had passed through them. The planting of occasional rows of kapok, followed by the introduction of the red ant, is regarded by competent entomologists as one of the most effective methods of combating this destructive pest. I am sure that all honorable members desire to do everything possible to assist the industries of the Territory. These proposals have been most carefully considered by the Government, and will, I am sure, be ft great stimulus to the planters, who for a long time have been struggling under adverse conditions. The bounty proposals are spread over a period of ten. years; a fairly long term of encouragement must be given, because some of the developments for which we hope can come only a number of years after planting. For instance, cocoa plants, although sometimes yielding at four years of age, do not give a full crop of beans until they are seven or eight years old. Manilla and sisal hemp are usually cut four years after planting. The vanilla vine and the kapok tree begin to bear in about the third year. Bamboo and rattan are usually cut in the fourth year after planting, but a full crop of coffee beans . is not obtained until from seven to ten years after planting, although the tree begins to bear in the second or third year. I have furnished the House with all the particulars at my disposal, but in committee I shall be prepared to answer any questions which honorable members may care to address to me. In the first few years the bounty payments will probably be small, and there will be a large carry-over, I estimate sufficient to meet all developments which can be reasonably expected as a result of these proposals within the tenyear period.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move: -
That this bill be now read a second time.
Since the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act were brought into operation in July, 1921, a constant agitation has been maintained by the people of Tasmania, and particularly the citizens of Hobart, for the exemption of the shipping trade between that State and the mainland from their operations. Whilst that request has been made in respect of both passenger and cargo traffic, it has been recognized that the substance of the grievance was the tourist traffic, which is admittedly of great importance to Tasmania. It is not possible for the Commonwealth Parliament, by any amendment of the Navigation Act, to specifically exempt the trade with Tasmania only. The Constitution requires that all States must be treated alike.
– That applies also to any proclamation under the Navigation Act.
– Certainly . Section 99 of the Constitution provides : -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof, over any other State or any part thereof.
That prohibition does not apply to a territory, and exemptions of the trade of the Northern Territory, New Guinea, Papua, and Norfolk Island have been granted by orders-in-council, under section 7 of the act. Often the question is asked - “ As the Northern Territory is exempted from the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, why cannot the same concession be extended to Tasmania?” The answer is that the distinction between a State and a Territory is made, not by the administration, but by the Constitution. But for section 99 of the Constitution, which has proved a lion in the path of Tasmania’s desires, there is little doubt that that State would have received some special consideration long before this in respect of the tourist traffic with the mainland. In order to avoid any conflict with section 99 of the Constitution, the amendment of the Navigation Act now proposed will not apply specifically to Tasmania or any other State.
– It . will apply to all the States equally.
– Only so far as their tourist traffic is concerned. It will confer a right which will be available to all the States so far as their tourist traffic is concerned, but whereas that traffic is negligible, so far as most of the mainland States are concerned, it is of the utmost importance to Tasmania. Indeed, the tourist traffic of Tasmania is equal to the whole of the tourist traffic of the mainland States. Therefore, Tasmania is more vitally concerned in its maintenance than is any other State.
– But the effect will be that tourists going to any other State can travel on these overseas boats.
– The bill provides that certain conditions in regard to tourist traffic must prevail before any
Gazette notice can be published.
– But when it is published, it will apply equally to all the States.
– That is so; but the circumstances must be equal before it is applied to them. The amendment will give relief to Tasmania to the extent that the limitations of the Constitution will allow. At the same time, it will create no discrimination against, nor do injustice to, any State to which it does not- apply. It will particularly apply to Tasmania, because the bona fide tourist traffic for which it provides is of very much greater volume to that State than it is to any other. It is persistently urged that the accommodation provided by vessels belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, the Orient Company, the Aberdeen and White Star lines and other overseas British companies that call during the apple season at Hobart, and which, prior to the proclamation of the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act, regularly carried passengers from the mainland to Hobart during the tourist season, is very much better than that which is provided on the local steamers trading between the mainland andtheisland. It is claimed, also, that because the passenger accommodation on those overseas vessels is not now available for the voyage to Hobart, Tasmania has been considerably prejudiced, because, although those vessels went to Hobart primarily to liftcargoes of apples, advantage was taken by many tourists of the opportunity to make the round trip from Sydney to Hobart and Melbourne. That the tourist traffic contributes a very important, part of the island’s revenue is shown by the statement of the Tasmanian Commissioner of Railways, in his last annual report, that the total loss sustained by the State during the last seamen’s strike, which lasted for eleven days only, was about £250,000. Each season, since the Navigation Act has been in force, the Commonwealth. Government has been asked to allow the big, comfortable overseas vessels to take passengers to Hobart, but the only, provision in the Navigation Act under which these vessels could be exempted from the coastingtrade provisions of the act is section 286, which provides, in effect, that where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister in regard to the coasting trade with any part or between any ports in the Commonwealth (a) that no licensed ship is available for the service, or (b) the service carried out by a licensed ship or ships is. inadequate to the needs of such port or ports; and if the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable in the public interests that unlicensed ships beallowed to engage in that trade, he may grant permits to unlicensedBritish ships to do so, and thereupon the carriage by such ships of passengers on cargo to or from the port or between the ports specified in the permit is not deemed to be engaging in the coasting trade. Under this provisionno relief hasbeen given to the tourist traffic to the island, for the reason that inquiry onevery occasion has shown that the shipping service maintained by licensed vessels trading between. Sydney and Hobart was” adequate” in the sense that sufficient accommodation of sorts was available, except during the rush periods immediately preceding holiday times, for all persons who desired to travel to the island. It has long been recognized that, especially by reason of its isolated position and its dependence on shipping for transport and means of communication with the mainland, Tasmania suffers, as compared with other parts of the Commonwealth, a distinct disability, which is mainly brought about by the restrictions imposed by the Navigation Act upon its passenger traffic. Although each successive year shows a small increase in the number of tourists visiting Tasmania, there is no doubt that the withdrawal of the privilege of being able to travel on the large overseas vessels has resulted in a loss to the State, and particularly to Hobart and the southern portion of the island, of a very desirable type of tourist. Tasmania is the smallest State in size and population, and it is possibly, suffering financial stress. Therefore, anything reasonable that the Commonwealth Government can do to help it ought, I think, to be done. The Government’s proposal is perfectly reasonable. With the object of’ overcoming the handicap suffered by the State, and particularly Hobart, in respect of its tourist traffic, the Prime Minister in his policy speech announced his intention to introduce legislation which would permit the better class of overseas vessels to engage in the tourist traffic to Tasmania during the apple-export season. This measure has been brought down to redeem that promise. I think the people of the Commonwealth will find that the Government is prepared to redeem all its promises as soon as it possibly can. The bill proposes to amend section 286 of the Navigation Act by adding thereto two sub-sections as set out in the bill. It is not thought that this concession to the Tasmanian passenger traffic will do any injury to the interests of the licensed steamers now running to the island. It is probable that, as was the case prior to the coming: into operation of the Navigation Act; thefarescharged by the owners of theoverseas vessels will be higher than those charged by the local companies. It is also very probable that, because of the extra facilities made available, one result of the new arrangement will be an increase upon the number of tourists that ‘now visit Tasmania. Thus Tasmania’s interests should ‘be materially helped without hurting ‘any one. Another point to be ‘kept in mind is that, as1 the .apple trips do not commence .until about the .middle ‘of February, the Christmas and summer traffic will -still remain with the licensed vessels. I cannot see that this is a party question. During the past two or three years parliamentary representatives from Tasmania of all shades of opinion, and also, I think, the Labour Premier of the State, have been urging the Parliament of the Commonwealth to do something in the direction now proposed. I therefore submit the bill to the ‘House in order that Parliament may remove an injustice and aid Tasmania without injuring any other state, thus redeeming as soon as, possible the promise made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 284).
.- This measure is of great importance, as it involves the expenditure of a large sum of money, and the carrying -. out of a long standing and much debated obligation to the State of South .Australia.. It vitally affects the development of the Northern Territory, -which has an important bearing upon out White Australia policy. The .defence of the Commonwealth, and the question of a uniform gauge are also involved. Numerous speeches have been made in an endeavour .to interpret the agreement entered in to between the Commonwealth and South Australia ‘when the Territory was ‘taken over by the Commonwealth, but whatever is provided in the .agreement it ‘was always understood ‘that a railway ‘should -be ‘constructed from the south to the north without any deviation ‘to benefit other States. That was the -spirit of the -agreement. Figures have been submitted in relation to two routes, which differ vitally, inasmuch as one is an extension of the -existing line from ‘.Oodnadatta to Alice Springs on the 3-ft. ‘o-in. gauge, whilst the other is a take ofl ‘from the east-west line at Kingoonya on’ the uniform gauge of 4’ft. 8½ in. Listening very carefully to the speech of the ‘Minister .for “Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) in moving the second reading of the bill, I gathered that the - Government bad carefully considered the .respective merits .of these routes, and had come to the conclusion that the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs route was the better one to adopt. I also gathered that the question. of’ eos I influenced the Government in coming to that decision. In the figures given in the very comprehensive table -supplied to honorable members it is -shown that the total estimated .cost of constructing a line from Kingoonya to Alice -Springs .is £4,500,000, and that of a line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs £1,700,0:00, a difference of £2,800,000. The Minister .gave some reasons why in the opinion of the ; Government the Oodnadatta to -Alice “Springs route ‘should :be adopted. He admitted that ‘the country for a distance of 200 -miles north of Kingoonya is better pastoral country with a higher rainfall than that on the Oodnadatta route.
– For a distance of “130 miles north of Kingoonya.
– I understood the Minister to 3ay that for 100 miles sheep-carrying country was served by the east- west line, and for the remainder of the distance the same line would serve cattle country. I do not think we should dismiss such distances with a wave .cif the hand. - One hundred miles is .a .long way .when the travelling of .sheep is involved, .and .200 miles is a fairly long distance to ; travel cattle. When visiting the Territory two years .ago I met many who -were conversant with the -conditions ‘prevailing .there, ineluding a Mr. .Pearce -.who, according to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) probably knows more concerning the Territory than any other man in the country. This gentleman, stated emphatically ‘that the country north of Kingoonya to a ‘point in ‘the same latitude as Oodnadatta is infinitely better than that on the Oodnadatta route.
– Did the honorable member compare the statements made by that gentleman before a section of the Public Works Committee when visiting the Northern Territory with those made by him in Adelaide ? They were diametrically opposed to each other.
– The gentleman to whom I have referred knows more about the territory than the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). The Lake Eyre country, which the Oodnadatta line traverses - Lake Eyre can be seen from the railway - is about the poorest in Australia. It is a desert in the truest sense. It has not been, and is never likely to be, of any use for agricultural or pastoral purposes.
– There are a number of sheep farmers in that locality.
– Upon the fringe of it. It is the poorest piece of country along the route from Adelaide to Darwin.
– How much is there of it?
– A large area, as can be seen by. a glance at the map. It has been said that this country is poor in appearance because it is on the stock route, and that if the country on the Kingoonya route were used by travelling stock it would not appear better than the Oodnadatta country. I deny that. The rainfall, for instance, on the Kingoonya route is better than on the Oodnadatta route. The Minister gave many reasons in favour of the Oodnadatta route as against the Kingoonya route, but I propose to give a few in favour of the latter. I ask honorable members, irrespective of party, to impartially analyze the position before coming to a decision. If a line were constructed from Kingoonya to Alice Springs, stock could be trucked at the latter station and landed in Adelaide without transhipment. That is very important. There would be no breaks of gauge, and, in consequence, transport would be more rapid, and, on the broader gauge, more comfortable. Stock travelling over the Kingoonya route would, with the exception of a short mileage near Adelaide, be travelling over Commonwealth railways, thus reducing the losses upon our own line. We have also to consider ihe advantages of a uniform gauge, under which rolling-stock will be standardized and made interchangeable with that on the east-west line, which will mean economy in . the rolling-stock required and efficiency in the matter of repairs and operating costs. Passengers could join a train in Adelaide and travel to Alice Springs without transhipping. If the proposed route is adopted, all the disadvantages which at present exist between Port Augusta and Adelaide will be perpetuated. The Kingoonya route provides all the advantages to be derived from a uniform gauge, which is the railway policy definitely laid down and accepted by the Government. At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Melbourne in 1923, the Prime Minister of the day said, inter aiia -
The Commonwealth Government considered the matter (a uniform gauge) at very great length, and as a Government we emphatically believe in the uniformity of railway gauges throughout Australia.
Later, in discussing various proposals for connecting the States he said -
We cannot go at length into the merits of that proposal. As a matter of policy, the Commonwealth Government at this moment says that whatever it does in the matter of railway construction will be done on the 4-ft. &)-in. gauge - the gauge accepted by the Commission and the whole of the States.
If we agree to the proposal submitted in the bill, we shall be not only perpetuating the difficulties which now exist, but be increasing the waste, extravagance, and confusion associated with varying gauges. If there is one thing more than another that can be regarded as a tragedy in Australian development, it is the varying gauges in use throughout the Commonwealth’. Notwithstanding this, the Government, which should by reason of its promises and pledges be in favour of a 4-ft. 8Jr-in. gauge railway, is submitting a bill to this House to perpetuate the varying gauges and to expend money on the construction of a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. Under the Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill passed by the last Parliament the Government agreed not only to provide our own quota for constructing that line, but also to carry the financial burden of Victoria and South Australia. That showed its anxiety to break down the policy of having different gauges, and to secure uniformity. The most astounding part of the whole business is that in the extension southward the sleepers are being laid, the permanent way made, and the bridges constructed, on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, so that when ultimately the northsouth line is built it will be on that basis.
– Provision is not being made for the laying of the sleepers on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. When the honor-‘ able member, as Minister for Works, introduced the previous bill, I moved an amendment to that effect, but he would not accept it, and it was turned down bv this House.
– If my memory serves me rightly, I promised that the extension should make provision for the subsequent conversion to the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. The .only difference was that, as we were connecting it with a 3 ft. 6 in. line, we should have to lay the rails 3 ft. 6 in. apart, so that when the time came to convert it to the wider gauge it would have been necessary only to widen the rails.
– The only provision made was in regard to the bridges.
– Bridges and culverts.
– The Minister (Mr. Hill) can ascertain, and inform this House, if the conditions are as I have stated them. Let us, however, accept the view that has been put forward by those honorable members who have interjected. What is the reason for Incurring this extra expense upon bridges and culverts if. as the Minister stated last night, the proposed line is to do service for 100 years? The Commonwealth cannot afford to set this example to the States. At conference after conference the Commonwealth has deplored the lack of uniformity in the railway gauges of Australia, yet it now proposes to do the very thing that it has hitherto deplored ! We should anchor very firmly to the policy of a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. If wo accept the proposal in the bill we shall be dragging our anchor pretty badly. It is estimated that the extra cost will be £2,800,000. It is false economy to construct the line on the narrow gauge. . The east-west line was planted between two other lines that were built on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. So determined was the Commonwealth Government of the day to build to nothing but. the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge that it actually incurred an unproductive expenditure, that is not yet returning a profit ! If in the present instance we stand by the 4-ft. 8$-in. gauge we shall ultimately have a standard trunk railway from Adelaide via Kingoonya to Alice Springs, and thence to Darwin. That should be the objective of this Parliament. If the country is worth a railway it is worth a trunk line, built to a standard gauge. I have every faith in the future of the Northern Territory. I believe that there are great possibilities ahead of it, and that it can be developed. While it may not be everything that some of the rosy optimists claim for it, I believe that ultimately history will repeat itself. What has been the history of this and of every other country in the opening up. of new areas? It is said ‘ ‘ The country is no good ; there is no water, no conveniences, nothing.” When the hand of man gets to work, what is the result? In America, in Canada-, in Australia, in every country in the world, .the pessimists have always been confounded, and the prophecies of the optimists fulfilled. The experience of the older countries will be the experience of Australia. Eyre blazed the track. A telegraph line was afterwards erected along that route, for no other reason than that it followed Eyre’s track, which was easy to trace. Later, a railway was built to follow the telegraph line. Now, at this late hour, the Government proposes to push along the same old track. I believe that the obligation to South Australia should be met, and I shall use every endeavour to have itcarried out, ‘ but this matter strikes at such a vital principle that I move the following amendment: -
That the bill be withdrawn in favour of Kingoonya, which provides for the construction of the railway on a uniform gauge of 4 feet 8j inches.
In submitting that amendment I do not desire to delay the measure. It-cannot be’ said that this proposal differs from that relating to the Kyogle to South Brisbane line. It is not different; one has a distinct bearing upon the other. The amendment should be acceptable to honorable members on all sides of the House, and I appeal to the Government to agree to it.
– The amendment not having been seconded, lapses.
– I. congratulate the Government upon having at last brought forward this measure, which was forecast in the speech of the GovernorGeneral, at the opening of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth 25 years ago. The State of South Australia has had to wait a long time since the undertaking to construct the North-South line was given by the Commonwealth Parliament as far back as 1910 or 1911. Several arguments have been advanced against this proposal. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) advocated the construction of a line through South Australia to Queensland, over what has been called by Professor Gregory “ the dead heart of Australia.” I do not agree with the contention of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that that country isworthless. It is not. But I do agree that it is almost the poorest, if not the poorest, land in Australia. I well remember passing through that country in 1921 with the sectional committee of the Public Works Committee. Mr. Crombie, a settler who held 365 square miles of land and who had reared a very fine family, said in his evidence that that country did not warrant a railway. I have before me the evidence that’ was given by Sir Sidney Kidman, who, perhaps, knows that country better than any other pastoralist in Australia. For very many years he travelled over it with cattle. He owns and controls stations not only there, but also in Queensland and in other parts of the Northern Territory. He said that there was only one route for a railway to the Northern Territory, and that that was the direct north-south route. He stated very emphatically that that railway should not go to Marree or Birdsville. The Minister (Mr. Hill) last night argued that not less than 500 square miles were necessary to enable a man to make a living in the Northern Territory. He went further and said, “ I believe that nothing less than 1,000 miles would be any good.” I do not intend to advance in opposition to that view the opinions of a surveyor who travelled through in a motor car, nor shall I give the impressions which I gained in a similar way. I shall, however, quote from the evidence of settlers who have made a very good living there. First of all I shall quote the views of Robert Henry Harris, grazier, in July, 1921. He said -
I have been in this country about 20 years. I am the holder of Hamilton Downs, an area of about 615 square miles, and carry about 2,000 cattle and 300 horses.
Concluding his evidence, he said -
Provided a man can get water on his holding he can make a living on a 200 mile block
At present the blocks are cut into only 400, 500, and 600 square mile blocks, and you must take the whole lot:
Water is procurable in the Hamilton Downs country, and most of the Macdonnell Ranges and the Burt Plain country, at very shallow depths. Sir Sidney Kidman says that water can -be got at a depth of 12 feet out to the Musgrave Ranges. At Alice Springs water is very close to the surface, and the average depth of the wells, on the overland telegraph line, for a distance of 1,000 miles, is less than 50 feet. The rainfall in Central Australia, that is, at Alice Springs, is 11 inches, and it gradually increases as you go further north. Sir Sidney Kidman in his evidence also said -
I have known the track from Oodnadatta to Macdonnell Ranges for very many years. I originally owned Owen’s Springs, next to Alice Springs, in the ranges. The climate there is one of the best I have been in. It is always cool at night, and I have never known a drought.
I ‘ wish to tell honorable members, the story of a family named Crook, at Wyckcliffe Well, a little further north, and I am glad to have the opportunity to place it in the pages of Hansard. The family came to Australia from London in very poor circumstances. Their first home, after their arrival here, was at a place 100 miles west of Alice Springs. The husband took a situation as a drover, and his wife as a cook. They were 400 miles from the nearest railway, and 100 miles from their nearest neighbour. It is almost impossible to imagine what must have been the feelings of the mother of the family, coming from London to an isolated spot like that. To-day they are holding about 200 square miles of country, and when I visited them they were full of optimism and expected to do well. This is what Mrs. Crook said -
The climate is quite suitable for a white woman. The mosquitoes and flies are very bad, but my daughters and I generally have good health, although I suffer from rheumatism in the winter. It would be much nicer, especially for the girls, if we had some neighbours.
How is it possible for them to get neighbours without either a railway or a decent road ? They are 650 miles from the nearest doctor in the north and 550 miles from tEe nearest doctor in the south. For years they have been expecting railway facilities, and I am glad that, at last, there is some hope of them realizing their expectations. Mrs. Crook also said -
I have never tried to grow English potatoes, although I grow sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, beet, etc. We grow tomatoes all the year round. The nearest white woman is about 180 or 190 miles away.
I should like honorable members to give their attention to the next few words in her evidence. They are -
Two years ago we saw a white woman passing through here, the wife of a drover who was travelling with him.
Then a pastor alist named Samuel Nicker gave this evidence -
I have been in this district nine years, and have been in possession of this block for six years. I have an area of 550 square miles and run 500 sheep, 400 cattle, 100 horses, 100 goats and half-a-dozen donkeys.
His property is near Central Mount Stuart, which is the actual centre of Australia. On the basis of one beast equalling five sheep, his property could have carried at least 2,500 sheep, which the Minister must agree ought to return a man a very fair living.
– I think the honorable member will admit that the country north of the Macdonnell Ranges is better than that south of the range.
– I have been referring to the country that will be served by this railway. The country in the extreme north of South Australia and for the first 50 or 60 miles in the Northern Territory is very poor and has a low carrying capacity.
– That is what I said. I added that a railway would not be justified if it were not for the admirable country north of the Macdonnell Ranges.
– I followed the Minister’s speech very closely last night, and I think some other honorable members besides myself understood him to say that nothing less than 1,000 square miles of that country would be sufficient to enable a man to make a good living. I thought that he was referring to the Macdonnell ranges country itself, as well as to the country to the north of it. Sir Sidney Kidman told the Public Works Committee that there was no better sheep country in Australia than in that locality. We met a man named Rosenbaum at Arltunga, 70 miles east of Alice Springs, and” right in the heart of the range. He was originally a miner, but he afterwards settled on 195 square miles of country. He said -
My block is big enough for a man. to take up. I am doing very well
This settler was so poor when he took possession of his block that he could not afford to pay the regulation wage of 10s. a week .to a black fellow to help him to sink a well 30 feet deep.. He did the work with his own hands, and honorable members can imagine what a job it was when he struck water. He had to go down the well, bale the water into the bucket, and then climb out of the well again and empty his bucket. But settlers in the far north, when they are starting, often have to do that sort of thing. I thoroughly believe that within the first few years of the railway reaching Alice Springs the development in the’ Territory will be infinitely greater than it has been for many years. I have always contended that .the Territory must be developed from the south, but even when the Government several years ago bought a road grader it was sent round to Darwin by boat, instead of up through the country, where the people could make use of it. Although many motors have travelled through the Territory from the south to the north, only one - and that one was driven by Francis Birtles to advertise some particular make of car - has come from north to south.
– Birtles did very good work.
– No doubt; but if the Government had endeavoured to develop the Territory from the south very much better results would have been achieved in this regard. I have a complaint against the South Australian Government. Some time ago I suggested to it that it should make a stretch of road from Oodnadatta to Charlotte Waters, but it could not seo its way clear to do so. The Macdonnell range country covers about the same area as the State of Tasmania - between 25,000 and 30,000 square miles - and is 2,000 feet above sea level. I feel certain that, given railway facilities, it will in the future become a health sanatorium during the winter, provided the Government will see that fares are reasonable. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has presented the case in favour of a 4-ft. 8J-in gauge railway. I should be quite willing to support him possibility that the Government would undertake the construction of such a line, but the report of the Public Works Committee on this matter stated that only a light 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway to Alice Springs was justified. I consider that the Government has acted wisely in accepting the advice of the Committee.
– The Public Works Committee was asked to look at the matter only from the point of view of an extension of the Oodnadatta line.
– The 4-ft. 8$-in. gauge line constructed on the “ D “ basis referred to last night by the Minister would cost £2,800,000 more than a similar 3-ft. 6 .-in. gauge line. To build a broad-gauge line would involve an annual interest expenditure of £250,000 more than a narrow gauge line, and there would be an annual loss in working expenses of more than £62,000 a year in excess of that of the 3-ft. 6-in. proposal. We shall be acting on economically sound lines if we adopt the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. Other countries have built light developmental railways, and afterwards converted them into heavier lines. If the optimism of the honorable member for Wimmera, is warranted - and he says that the optimists are nearly always right - this country,’ in the near future, will develop to such a great extent that the Government will be well able to afford to build a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge railway provided that in building the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line it makes the bridges and culverts strong enough to carry the heavier lines. Queensland has long stretches of light railway on which very good travelling time is made. South Africa also has excellent light railway lines. The railway gauge in Java is 3 ft. 3 in. and a fraction, and the carriages are 10 ft. 6 in. wide. When I was there some time ago the trains averaged 33 miles an hour, including stops. An effort has been made by those who are opposed to this line to make capital out of the stock transportation arrangements in the far north. Rut after all it is not a very long journey from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta or Adelaide. Sir Sidney Kidman informed me that on one occasion a mob of his cattle which were driven from the Macdonnell Ranges to Oodnadatta and . then sent through Adelaide to Melbourne by train, topped the market at the saleyards here. These beasts were driven 300 miles overland, and then carried well over 1,000 miles by rail to Melbourne. The evidence given to the Public Works Committee by a number of pastoralists indicated that cattle would always be carried by rail from Alice Springs in preference to droving them overland, because the country between a point south of Alice Springs and Oodnadatta over which they would have to travel was poor. The general opinion was that stock sent by train all the way would reach the saleyards in better condition than if they came by road, and so would bring better prices. Although I am a strong advocate of standard gauge railways, I believe that the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge will meet requirements in the Northern Territory for. a long while, for there’ will not be atremendous amount of traffic. I do not, however, agree with the Minister’s statement that the line will meet the needs for the next 50 or 100 years. My opinion is that it will be suitable for the requirements of the next 20 or 25 years. By that time it ought to be an economically sound proposition for us to convert it to the standard gauge. It is probably within the memory of many Australians that there was a tremendous outcry in America when the transcontinental railways, there were being constructed. It was said that they would not pay axle-grease because they would have to traverse so much desert and useless country. The same sort of thing is being said to-day in Australia. As a matter of fact, there is practically no desert country between Oodnadatta and Darwin. I admit that there is some poor country in South Australia and in the southerly part of the Territory, but none of it could be called desert. The building of a line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, and the extension of the line from the north to Newcastle Waters or Powell’s Creek, and then across to Queensland, would provide adequate railway facilities for the development of the Northern Territory for the next 20 or 25 years. If the optimists are right, and I hope the honorable member for Wimmera includes me among them, the development in the Macdonnell Ranges and the Barkly Tablelands will soon force . the Government to complete the North-South line. I hope that I may live to see that day. The possibility of mining development in the Northern Territory has certainly not been overstressed. In the eastern portions of the Macdonnell Range almost every known mineral has been found, and mica can be traced there for more than 100 miles. The great strides that have been made in the development of wireless have caused such an increase in the consumption of mica that, if a railway were constructed to within 70 or 80 miles of the Macdonnell Range, deposits, which are so extensive, would become very valuable. Yesterday honorable members had under consideration a bill for the provision of £40,000 for the encouragement of prospecting for minerals, and, by way of interjection, I remarked that the proposed railway to Alice Springs would do infinitely more than the £15,000 allotted to the Northern Territory under that bill. The Minister said that the two measures would go hand in hand, but I maintain that there will be no need for offering inducement to prospectors if the mineral belts in the Macdonnell Ranges country are made accessible. An area from 300 to 350 miles in length by almost 100 miles in width reaching from Alice Springs to Tennant’s Creek is highly mineralized, and it contains almost all minerals, the notable exception being tin. I welcome the present proposal because of the fillip it will give to the mining industry, in addition to .the benefit that the pastoral industry will derive from it. I could quote extensively from the Public Works Committee’s report, which I commend to the attention of honorable members if they desire to know the facts in regard to the stock-carrying capacity of the Northern Territory, according to men who have made their living there. I have not previously commented on the agreement made between South Australia and the Commonwealth with respect to the transfer of the Northern Territory, but I have said that the. country in the neighbourhood of the Macdonnell Ranges thoroughly justifies the construction of the line. If South Australia has such a good case as it thinks it has under its agreement, the argument is all the stronger for the construction of the railway. I confidently believe that the line will lead to a rapid development of the Territory, and, therefore, 1 welcome the bill.
– For three reasons, which I shall briefly set out, I personally favour the route that the Government has decided upon. In the first place, I consider that it is the route which it was originally intended the line should follow. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) stated that in his opinion - and I was glad to hear it - what was intended under the original agreement with South Australia was a railway running through that State, and through the Northern Territory. I put it to the honorable member that he should go a little further, and then he will probably agree that what was intended in the first place was a line from Oodnadatta on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. At that time Kingoonya was almost, unknown, for no railway passed through it. My second reason for supporting the bill is that it provides for a line that will be very much cheaper to construct than the alternative proposal, since it will cost £1,700,000 as against £4,500,000. It will necessitate the construction of only 297 miles of new line as against 530 miles, which is a considerable difference. In the third place there will be considerably less loss in the working expenses than if the other proposal were adopted. It seems to me that the only sound argument against the Oodnadatta route - assuming that the country is substantially similar in each case, or even assuming that the country about Kingoonya is ft little better - is the fact that the line is not proposed to be built on the standard gauge. I am in full agreement theoretically with those who do not desire to support the construction of any railway on a gauge other than 4 ft. 8£ in. But in this matter one has n good deal more than theory to consider. It must be remembered that a railway has already been constructed by South Australia for a great distance northward from Port Augusta on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. The 3ft. 6-in. gauge runs as far as Oodnadatta in the south, while in the Northern Territory a line on the same gauge has been authorized as far southward as Daly Waters. This matter was fully discussed in the House in 1923 when Parliament decided that,, all things considered, the north-south line was so different in nature from other railway systems, and so disconnected with the other great lines, that the extra expense of adopting the standard gauge would not be justified. I happened to be looking through Hansard, when the honorable member for Wimmera was speaking tonight and I propose to quote what he said on the 25th July, 1923, when the Northern Territory Railway Extension Bill was under consideration. I do this in no spirit of hostility to the honorable member; in fact, I think that the House is under a debt of gratitude to him for the interest lie took in this question when he was Minister for Works and Railways, and for the journey he undertook into the interior of Australia at a time when he was not in good health. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) at that time took exception to the proposal of the Government to perpetuate and extend the difficulty which he said had arisen in Australia as a result of the adoption in different States of varying railway gauges. The honorable member for Wimmera interjected, “We must build this extension on the same gauge as the existing line.” If that was his opinion then, there is all the more reason for it now, since the construction of the further section of railway which was then under discussion has been authorized.
– The cases are not at all parallel. We should have had to put 4-ft. 8A-in. gauge rolling stock in the Northern Territory, and we had none.
– In my opinion the cases are parallel. Subsequently the subject of sleepers was raised, and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) moved -
That the following words be added to the clause - “ But the sleepers shall be of sufficient length to enable the gauge to be widened to 4-ft. 8i-in. when required.”
The ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) stated in- reply -
I hope the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) will not press the amendment. The estimate provides for bridges and culverts - including the large bridge over the Katherine River, which will cost £95,000 - capable of carrying a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge line. The reason that sleepers suitable for a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge line were not included in the estimate was because the Dost of conversion will not be great if the bridges and culverts do not require alteration. On the other hand, the initial cost of providing the longer sleepers would be approximately £160,000. The House has already passed an appropriation for £1,545,000 which will provide tor bridges and culverts large enough, and strong enough, to carry a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge line. It is quite true that the line may be converted some time to the. wider gauge, but that is not likely to happen in the near future. I ask the honorable member to withdraw the amendment, because his wishes have been met in every respect except the length of the sleepers. The Government lias made reasonable provision for the future conversion of the line.
The same remark applies to-day in connexion with the line which we are now considering: at some future date it also may be converted to the wider gauge. I hope that I am not doing the honorable member an injustice.
– Not at all. The honorable member is pointing out that provision has been made for the future conversion of that line to the standard gauge.
– In that instance it was decided to construct a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway. If the honorable member’s argument was good then, it is good in this instance also.
– In this bill no provision is made for conversion.
– The honorable member cannot have it both ways. I do not think that I need say any more in regard to this matter, except to support the remarks of the honorable mem.ber for Angas (Mr. Parsons) regarding the late Mr. Simpson Newland. When I spoke in this Blouse on this question three years ago, I made reference to Mr. Newland’s untiring efforts on behalf of the Northern Territory, and I am glad to know that he derived a little pleasure from my utterances on that occasion. Unfortunately, since then he has passed away. No man in Australia . did more for the construction of this railway than did Mr. Simpson Newland. During a period of 40 or 50 years, politicians and statesmen came and went, but he, himself a politician and publicist, fought until nearly 90 years of age for this and other causes dear to him. I profoundly regret that he is not among us to see the attainment of his longcherished desire.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Manning)/ adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260121_reps_10_112/>.