3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
‘Were new telegraphic regulations issued re- f;arding cypher messages on or about Friday last, 26th July?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Instructions were given on. the 27th (not the 26th) ultimo regarding the counting and charging of words in telegrams.
– Arising out of the answers, I desire to ask the Minister if the extra charge is made to members of the Melbourne Stock Exchange?
– I have no information on that point, but I shall make inquiries and furnish the honorable senator with the result of them during the day.
Will the Government consent to, and support, the elimination from the proposed agreement relating to the transfer of the Northern Territory of the condition with respect to the consent of South Australia to the construction of a railway by the Commonwealth from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and of all other references to such railway ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
It is impossible to make an announcement until, after the State Legislature has dealt with the agreement, and until Parliament is invited ‘ to confirm it.
Motion (by Senator Clemons for Senator Millen) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted t» Senator Pulsford, on account of ill-health.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) agreed to -
That leave bc given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Defence Act 1903.
Debate resumed from 1st August (vide page 1262), on motion by Senator Best -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.35]. - There is one point in respect of which I beard the desire expressed that as much information as possible should be made available, and that is the usefulness of the proposed railway for the purposes of defence. It was urged by the honorable senator, who made that request,, that the proposed railway would be of immense value in the event of troops being required to be brought from India for the defence of the eastern portions of Australia. Apart from any professional or technical knowledge of military questions, it must be patent to any student of the subject of defence, whether he belongs to the Military Forces or not, that the transport of troops is a serious matter. It is possible for a. man to belong to a military force, and yet not to be a military student. It is very possible for a man to achieve a certain amount of military distinction, and yet to be unsupplied with knowledge on some of the questions which do not belong either to the battlefield or to the barrack yard. The question of transport of troops refers neither to the field nor to skill in drill, or the attributes which are commonly connected -. with soldiering. Any person, whether he.- be a brilliant soldier or whether he be entirely outside, a. military force, may by study gain a fairly accurate knowledge of the subject of the transport of troops, and it is to that point I now address myself. One of the essentials which were named was the advantage, in point of time, in getting troops from, say, Fremantle to the eastern States by way of the proposed railway. I think it must be a proposition of an absolutely elementary character that what is a snug little harbor to vessels when they are within the shelter it offers, may not be approachable from outside in all conditions of weather. There are honorable senators here who know that when some of us sought to come round from Fremantle about six weeks ago the vessel was delayed for practically twenty-four hours, owing to the difficulty of approaching the coast. That difficulty might arise at a time when we wanted to use the railway.
– The honorable senator is not in order in saying that the statement of another honorable senator is incorrect, and that he knows it is. He must withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw the expression; the honorable senator ought to know it at any rate.
– The ‘ honorable senator ought not to make that remark..
– You, sir, must make allowance for some honorable senators sometimes. The Orontes arrived somewhere in the vicinity of the port of Fremantle about daylight on a Thursday or a Friday. Owing to a storm, arising or to the entrance being obscured, she did not get into port and come alongside the quay until some time in the afternoon, and she did not leave until daylight next morning, practically twenty-four hours from the time when she arrived ‘off the port. That is a fact which can be verified by any one who likes to look up the newspapers. Of course, I do not mean to say that the time was actually twenty-four hours, because the vessel would necessarily be engaged for an hour or two in coaling ; but from the time she appeared somewhere off -the port and sought to enter but could not, because she did not think it safe, until the time she did leave the po;t at daylight next day it was practically twenty-four hours. My honorable friends can call it eighteen hours if they like.
– We had better pass a Bill to abolish fogs and mists.
– It was the biggest storm that there had been on the coast for many years, and a similar storm would have prevented a steamer from going out of Sydney Harbor.
– That may be so, but it is quite evident that the advocates of the proposed railway are not prepared to hear information in answer to the questions which’ they have asked.
– I have been outside Sydney Heads under precisely similar conditions.
– Mr. President, I must ask your protection, because it is simply impossible for me to proceed while so many interruptions take place.
– I ask honorable senators not to interject so freely. Senator Neild no doubt does not object to a casual interjection, but I ask honorable senators not to interrupt him so continuously.
– Even if there had been such a condition of weather and a vessel had been merely making her way round the coast, there would have been no delay. The storm was following the ship’, and, consequently, there would have been no material delay, if any, if she had been proceeding round the Leeuwin. But, leaving the question of casualties of weather out of consideration, to disembark a large number of men with their arms, guns, equipments and stores, to take them a little distance, to entrain them, to feed and water them on the journey, particularly in a country where the supply of water will be one of the greatest difficulties to be encountered
– Supposing that the transport train broke down in, waterless country, what would happen?
– Then God help the people aboard the train. But I am not supposing that anything adverse is to happen to the train. Of course it is to be understood that it is to be above all casualties. I affirm with all certainty- - because I know of what I am speaking- -that the time occupied in landing troops, entraining them, and carrying them for several days, would be. just as much as, and probably more than, would have been consumed in taking them by ship. We cannot deal with crowded trains in a moment of time. The delays must of necessity be frequent, and no one who has studied the question of the movement of troops in the manner indicated can possibly contradict what I have said. As I pointed out in a debate, I think last session, every year sees enormous strides in the rapidity of steam-ship progress, but every year does not show an increase of speed by railway. Until some new mechanical appliance such as the mono-rail is an assured success, we may say that railway speed has about reached its maximum. There has been practically no material in-, crease for many years past in the rate at which trains can be run.
– What about the electric trains that travel 100 miles an hour in America ?
– Electric traction is still in an experimental stage. Unless we achieve some improved method of railway traction we have practically reached the maximum speed. I do not say that trains are not run faster now than they used tobe. They are run faster because the extra speed can be afforded with improved engines and smaller consumption of coal, whereas it could not be afforded in the past, although it could have been achieved. We find steamers now running up to 25 knots an hour.
– One steamer.
– If one steamer can do it as a matter of business, that shows what can be achieved, but as I wish to exaggerate nothing, I will leave the 25 knots speed out and say that there are plenty of vessels to-day doing their 22 and 23 knots per hour. That means over 25 miles an hour. Taking that as a going speed as compared with a . train on a 3 ft. 6 in., gauge, which South Australia demands, the steamer could beat the train all the time. If we deduct from the possible speed of a train on a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge the time necessary for coaling and watering, it stands to reason that the 22 or 23 knots steamer can beat the train. There is also a vast difference in the distance between Fremantle and Adelaide by water and by land. The distance by sea is something like 1,100 miles.
– No; 1,300 miles.
– I will take it as 1,300 miles, whereas the distance by land is, I suppose, all of 2,000 miles. You cannot make up in a journey of that duration the difference between 1,300 miles and 2,000 miles.
– Is there not ordinarily a certainty that we would be much less hampered by an enemy in internal traffic than in travelling by sea?
– That would be so if we lost command of the sea, but if that happened, I quite agree with Senator Cameron that there would be a danger of the line being cut at least in two places -Port Augusta and Eucla - and that it would be necessary to maintain an armed force in time of war at those two points, and to fortify them. I wish to deal with another aspect of the defence question that has been discussed. It is rather interesting to find that the honorable senator who made a demand for information upon the point carefully absents himself from the chamber when the matter is being dealt with. I was recently in Western Australia, and happened to travel with the new InspectorGeneral of the Commonwealth Military Forces - Major-General Hoad. He was making his first visit to that State, and one would have expected that visit to have some special degree of interest and attraction to the members of the Military Forces in Western Australia. But what happened? The first night Major-General Hoad was there he. held an inspection of the one infantry regiment that has its head-quarters in and about Perth. Honorable senators, if they take the trouble to look up the Military Forces List, will find that the whole city of Perth does not raise a single infantry regiment. The Western Australian Infantry Regiment, which has its head-quarters in Perth, is shown to consist of only six companies, instead of eight, and, therefore, it is only three-quarters of a regiment at best. A company consists of sixty men. It appears from the Military Forces List, which I hold in my hand, that there are only three companies of this regiment in and about Perth - two at Perth, and one at Victoria Park - which is near enough to Perth to be called Perth for compliment’s sake. Therefore, the capital city of Western Australia, which is crying out for railway communication for purposes of defence, only professes to muster 180 infantry men. In order to make up a regiment, the companies are scattered about to such an extent that, in addition to the three at Perth, there is one at Fremantle, 12 miles away, and another at Bunbury. which, I believe, is 80 miles away.
– Thirty miles.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong.
– Yes; I was making a mistake.
– Bunbury is distant 120 miles from Fremantle.
– I was putting the distance at 80 miles, so that I was understating the case all the time. Imagine a regiment with one of its companies 120 miles away ! The sixth company isat Geraldton, to the north. I do not know the distance of Geraldton from Perth by land, but it is over 200 miles away by sea. Consequently, of the one regiment which has its head-quarters in the capital of the State that demands com munication by rail for purposes of defence, only 180 infantry men are raised in the capital, and in order to make up 360 men, or three-fourths of a regiment, the remainder are scattered over nearly 400 miles of coast line.
– Is not that an argu ment why it should be within easy reach of assistance ?
– It is an argu ment which might be used for the necessity of giving assistance by the rest of Australia, but I believe in helping those who help themselves.
– Western Australia has volunteer forces as well as militia at Terth.
– Perhaps the regiment the honorable senator refers to is the gold-fields regiment.
– No; there are several companies of Scotch volunteers at Perth.
– I can find no other infantry force mentioned in the Military Forces List. If there is- a Scottish force at Perth it must have been raised since the issue of this book, which, I admit, is a year old, although it is the latest available. It may be that some Scottish rifles have been raised since. However, they did not appear at the general parade held by the InspectorGeneral of the Commonwealth MilU tary Forces whilst I was over there. When Major-General Hoad paraded this scattered infantry regiment, only four companies attended, and they did not attend in half strength. At the afternoon parade on the following Saturday, when horse, foot, guns, army medical corps, and army service corps were all represented, and as many chaplains as possible were present, the whole attendance of effective members of the Military Forces of all grades and classes, according to the field state published in the Perth press, was 420 men. This was exclusive of the goodly turn out of cadets.
– Was the quality good ?
– So far as I saw, it was excellent. I have here an extract from a Perth paper giving the following report of what Major-General Hoad said -
He regretted tliat the parade strength was so very poor. They were the smallest body of men he had yet inspectedin Australia.
Are the people of a State who take no interest in their own defence entitled to ask the people of the other States of the Commonwealth to put their hands in their pockets, and pay for a railway to supply them with a means of defence? I think they are asking a very “ great deal when they make such a demand. Then there is the question of the gauge of the proposed railway to be considered. South Australia tells usplainly that she must have a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge.
– She says nothing of the sort.
– Senator Guthrie is one of the most capable contradictors who has ever had a seat in this Chamber. He is- prepared, at all times, and in all circumstances, to contradict every honorable senator who rises to address the Senate. In view of his singular capacity for refutation by assertion, I reallv cannot pay quite as much attention to the honorable senator’s denial as I should like to. To give an example, the honorable senator just now corrected me when I said that Bunbury was distant 80 miles from Fremantle, and assured me that it was only 30 miles, whilst honorable senators from Western Australia have announced that the distance is 120 miles. How can T accept the honorable senator’s contradictions? We have a proposal to connect by rail two lines on a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. It is plain that there must be a uniform gauge right through, or the whole line would prove a nuisance. A break of gauge has proved sufficiently inconvenient in the short journey between Melbourne and Sydney, but it would be very much more inconvenient if, as suggested, there were to be two breaks of gauge on the proposed line.
– There might be three if there were any. A gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., another of 4 ft. 8½ in., and a third of 5 ft. 3 in.
– Senator Symon speaks of the line through to Adelaide, and I was referring only to the line as far as Port Augusta. It is known that on a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge it is not possible to attain a very high rate of speed, and if time is lost it is not possible to make it up. The break of gauge suggests also the consideration of the break of ownership and management. There are to be three separate owners of this line; South Australia at one end, Western Australia at the other, and the Commonwealth in the middle. Who is going to be boss? I have heard it asserted by more than one member of the Senate that he would be no party to the establishment of a Commonwealth Territory for the purposes of a Federal Capital that was not free of access to more than one State. Here we have a proposal which would wedge in a verv important Commonwealth ownership between two States. Amongst the estimates put forward for working the proposed line, I have seen none as to the cost of workshops. Railway workshops are considered most valuable by the States that possess them, and those already existing in South Australia and Western Australia would be convenient and useful if the proposed Une were built on a uniform gauge, and under one ownership. But it would involve everlasting difficulties to work a railway system under separate ownerships in the manner described. There is another point that’ causes me to be more than dubious about the justification for the proposal. I have never in my life been more pressed to vote for a Government proposal, and by Government after Government, than I have been in the case of this line. In the first instance, I was urged to vote ,fbr it on the ground that the political party giving the line most support might hope for most success in the Western Australian elections. I was afterwards pertinaciously urged to support it when it was brought in by another Government as a consolation to a distinguished gentleman- for not having been taken into the Cabinet that had then been but recently formed. That was the reason put before me on the second or third occasion, I forget which. In a political life extending over a quarter of a century, I was never in any other case approached with any such reasons with a request to support a Government or a private measure. I have never known such peculiar tactics to be employed in connexion with any Bill in any of the States Parliaments. It does not matter who is in office, this Bill is a feature of the Government programme. It is just as regular an item in the opening speech of the GovernorGeneral at the beginning of every session as is porridge at the -top of a breakfast menu in a hotel. Some comment has been made, and not ill-naturedly, on the change of attitude of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I can remember the gallant fight the honorable and learned senator made here all one night, and into the small hours of the morning, when Senator Symon was leading the Senate as
Attorney-General. My honorable and learned friend, Senator Best, then fought a battle which entitled him to an epitaph such as that which was provided for a distinguished American gentleman. To make the epitaph applicable to him, it is necessary only to alter one name, and it would then read : -O
Robert Best; He done his damndest - Angels could do no more.
There is no doubt that on the occasion referred to, the honorable and learned senator, in the words of the American epitaph, did his damndest, and “ angels could do no more.” However, he is still fighting; he is now doing his damndest on the other side, and I am therefore at a loss to imagine what particular brand of angelhis reputation is to be coupled with in the future in this connexion.
– Did I say anything against the railway ?
– The honorable and learned senator nearly killed me that night.
– This is a refinement of casuistry that I am unable to follow.
– I referred only to the procedure.
– That is so fine a distinction that I am unable to follow it, and I doubt very much if Senator Best will be able’ to succeed in inducing any large number of people to read into his attitude the moral refinement that he desires to portray. There is one other feature of this matter which might be referred to, and with that I had better conclude, because the Government have announced in the newspapers this morning that they have the numbers, and the vote of one honorable senator is to do the business, though it is possible, within a measurable time, that circumstances may arise which will destroy that vote. It is possible, therefore, that the second reading of the Bill will be carried by a vote which will be noneffective before the third-reading stage is reached, so that the carrying of the second reading to-day may not, after all, be a matter of complete importance.
– The honorable senator is like the drowning man now. He is clinging to the straw.
– I do not know that there is any particular straw in view. I was going to point out that there is another stage ‘ to be negotiated, even if the second reading should be carried to-day, and that will be a discussion next week on the desirability of referring the Bill to the consideration of a Select Committee. About a month ago the Senate carried as a formal motion a request to the Standing Orders Committee to consider the standing orders making it necessary, unlike the corresponding standing orders in force in other Parliaments, for the second reading of a Bill to be carried before it can be referred to a Select Committee. I do not think that any report has yet come from the Standing Orders Committee on the subject, and therefore it is probable that we would be unable to move for the reference of a Bill to a Select Committee at that stage. But it can be done at any” later stage up to the third reading. Having said that, it is, perhaps, unnecessary to go into the old troubles as to engineering conditions in connexion with the proposed railway that have been so often discussed before. For instance, in the latest estimate of construction the engineers have put forward a proposal for the expenditure of .£70,000 to put soil on the top of unlimited sand hills to prevent the sand covering the rails. We know that soil blows away in the form of dust as readily as does’ sand in the form of sand, and it is difficult to understand how the engineers, if they expended £670,000 in putting soil on the top of sand-hills, would be able to keep it there. If they proposed to put £70,000 worth of asphalt pavement on the top of the sand hills, 1 could have understood them. That is about the only thing that will keep sand down. We heard from Senator Fraser, who has carried out railway contracts in this country, that it was necessary for the navvies to stand their wheelbarrows on end at night, or thev would be lost before morning, and that if a man left a pick or shovel on the ground for any length of time it would be covered by the drifting sand. How the sand is to be kept down by a top-dressing of soil is beyond the comprehension of. any one unacquainted with a brand of soil that is not generally known to exist on the earth’s surface. Nothing short of tar would do the business. There is also to be considered in connexion with this proposal the fight between South Australia and Western Australia as to the last port of call for the mail steamers. South Australia is going in for mammoth expenditure on a big scheme for the con:venience of mail steamers in St. Vincent’s Gulf. She knows perfectly well that if this railway were built on, conditions that permitted of trains running at top speed, it would make Fremantle a formidable rival of Adelaide as the terminus for the mail ships. Adelaide is the terminus to-day. The desire on the part of Western Australia is naturally enough to make Fremantle the terminus, and to detract from the status of Adelaide to a considerable extent.
– Probably that accounts for the attitude of the. South Australian senators.
– That is the reason why ‘South Australia says - “ We will allow you to make the survey, but will not make any promise that we shall consent to- your doing anything after you have spent your money.”
– She suspends her judgment.
– It is officially announced in Western Australia, or at all events in the press, that the Western Australian Government intends to fit out a survey expedition to accompany the Commonwealth railway survey party ‘.to examine the country for minerals and so forth. That shows that Western Australia has never taken the trouble to survey this part of her own country. Why cannot Western Australia do the work decently and honorably at her own expense? New South Wales for the last twenty years or thereabouts has lost ,£60,000 per annum in maintaining Railway communication with Brisbane. That line runs through almost the only great agricultural district of Queensland, the Darling Downs, as well as through the splendid table-land of New England, New South Wales.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the sugar districts are a fine agricultural country ?
– We do not apply the term “agriculture” to sugar growing as a general rule. We apply it to ordinary products grown ‘in temperate zones. My honorable friend need not take me off the track by an observation of that kind, even if he is prepared to vote against his own State in this matter.
– Queensland is very proud of her sugar plantations.
– I know that, but sugar growing has nothing to do with ordinary agriculture. It is annoying to be taken off one’s argument by utterly irrelevant observations. The line from Sydney to Brisbane runs through very fine agricultural country. Yet New South Wales is ^1,000,000 out of pocket, apart from the initial cost, on account of that line. Why is that? Because a railway cannot compete with water carriage, and because the land journey is about 50 per cent, longer ir* distance than the sea voyage. And those are the conditions with regard to the proposed line. We should have the competition with water carriage, and a land journey more than 50 per cent, longer than the sea voyage. Again, there is a large population at each end of the Sydney to Brisbane line, whilst in the other case, taking Adelaide and Perth as the two limits, there are small populations. The whole population of Western Australia from end to end is not equal to the population of the Sydney suburbs. I do not remember the exact population of Brisbane and suburbs.
– That must be materially more! than the population of Perth. So that we have a positive example that, not for a year or two, but for twenty years, the train cannot compete with water carriage even with plentiful supplies of coal on the journey. Coal can be obtained quite easily for hundreds of miles along the Sydney to Brisbane line. I forget the exact distance for which coal is procurable on the Queensland side.
– For about 130 or 140 miles.
– It is not too much to say that coal is procurable for at least one-third of the journey from the base.
– And there is water everywhere.
– Yes; I do not know that it has been necessary to construct a dam costing one hundred pounds anywhere along the line. But what do we find in the other case? In all probability water will have to be condensed, because even if it can be procured by boring it could not be used foi engines without being condensed. That is almost a certainty. Supplies will have to be provided all along the route. There will have to be a special line from Eucla to carry coal to the railway. Western Australia Has no coal of her own which she can use for railway purposes, except a little at a time, because Western Australian coal will not bear exposure. It crumbles ; and what is more, if it is carried in bulk it fires. In Western Australia, at almost every railway siding, you see stacks of New South Wales coal, and a truck or two of Collie coal standing alongside waiting to be used immediately. Collie coal can never be used for the purposes of this railway. It is not used in Western Australia to-day, except in minute quantities. Consequently coal would have to be brought presumably from New South Wales or Queensland. It would be necessary to maintain a special line to the coast to bring coal to the engines, no matter whether the line ran ic» miles or 50 miles from the coast. There is no such railway project in the world as this. For the reasons which I have given, I cannot see my way to vote for the proposal. I require further information, though not of an engineering character, because a Committee of the Senate could not obtain better informationon such points than we already have before us: I want a policy to be laid down, and to see some definiteness as to the management of the line. We should have an understanding relating to geographical questions, and further informationon constitutional points, before we sanction the survey. For instance, we ought to know whether the line, having been carried to the neighbourhood of Port Augusta, is to wander all down the southern coast away from the great bulk of the people of this continent, or whether it is to be carried across by way of Broken Hill to Wilcannia, and so connect with the western, system of New South Wales. Such a scheme would be very much more central to the bulk of the people of Australia, and much more convenient ‘than a line wandering down by way of Adelaide. I will undertake to say, however, that if such a proposal were made, South ‘Australia would not even agree to the survey, let alone the construction of the railway. It would be better not only for New South Wales, but for Victoria also, to have a connecting line right across as direct as possible. If the line is wanted, as we are told, for defence purposes, let it be taken, to the centre of population ; and the centre of population on the east coast to-day is somewhere in the vicinity of Sydney. It is not because I come from Sydney that I make this assertion. Look at the map. Any one can see that the centre of population of Australia would be struck by going right across the continent in the direction I have indicated, better than by going down a track, as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and getting to the southern coast at Adelaide. I say that without any disrespect to Adelaide. South Australia might still by means of her one train a fortnight railway connect with the line through the centre of the continent.
– An informal arrangement has been made that the division on this motion shall be taken this afternoon at half-past 3 o’clock, and as I was a party to that arrangement, I. shall honorably abide by it. My remarks will therefore be as brief as I can make them. Since this question was first debated in the Senate it has assumed quite a new aspect, and it is to that aspect that, after some general remarks, I shall chiefly devote myself. I wish to refer first to the way in which support has been obtained in the Senate for this Bill. There are six senators who will naturally support it. It is the duty of the Western Australian senators to do so. Their people require that they should. Naturally, from their point of view, this is a very attractive proposal, because if the Bill is carried, and the survey is made, it will be difficult for those who have voted for it, not to vote for the construction of the line.
– Some of us do not think so.
– I know that some honorable senators think that in voting for this Bill they will be voting simply and solely for the survey.
– I do, for one.
– But they forget that in their individual responsibility the corporate responsibility of Parliament is involved through the action of the majority of its members. When Parliament by a majority commits itself to this proposal, what sort of claim will be made by the Western Australian representatives? We can judge what view they will take from the claims which they have already made on insignificant and fictitious grounds. In the case of Tasmania there is no difficulty, because its senators repudiate any moral responsibility in regard to the construction of the railway. If other honorable senators seem to think that Mr. George H. Reid, on his own ipsi dixit, could commit New South Wales, and that Mr. Kingston and Sir Frederick Holder, on their individual responsibility, could commit South Australia, to the project, certainly there is no responsibility, personal or otherwise, on Tasmanian senators, because, as a matter of fact, the question was not mentioned or even heard of there prior to Federation. Of course it could not have been heard of in Queensland, as it did not send any representatives to the Federal Convention. Before dealing with the question at large, I desire to state the position of Tasmania very briefly. There are three solid, reasons why its senators should oppose the Bill. The first two reasons are stronger than the last one, which is perhaps selfish. The first I have just mentioned, and that is that we are under no moral or legal responsibility. The second is that our financial position is deplorable, and that we cannot afford to involve ourselves further in expenditure on such a scale as is now proposed in regard to this railway and other projects.
– That is, deplorable from the Commonwealth aspect of finance.
– Yes. I do not mean to say that Tasmania is insolvent, or unwilling, or unable to pay her way ; but her position is deplorable all the same. If Senator Keating were in the chamber I would call his attention to her position, because he should consider it. At the present time, we have to neglect the maintenance of public works, in respect of which we have borrowed £8,000,000 or £9,000,000. We cannot carry out properly the work of develooment in our little State, for- the simple reason that? although we are the most highly taxed people in the Commonwealth - I refer to direct taxation - we cannot even then, from our own resources alone, make ends meet. The third reason, I admit; is a selfish one; but it is a solid one, and it certainly appeals to the people of Tasmania. There is no question about our responsibility, if this Bill be passed, to pay our share of the cost of the survey, and the annual loss on the working of the railway. That it will entail a loss if constructed, I feel certain. I should like any honorable senator to try to show the people of Tasmania what benefit they can hope to gain from its construction. When we wanted increased facilities for direct communication with the other States across Bass Strait, who paid the cost? Did the Commonwealth, which proposes to saddle us with our proportion of the cost of this £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 railway, help us in that matter? No. Because we desired” to get extra speed on our mail steamers we had to pay £13,000 a year, and now,. as a magnificent concession, we are let off with an annual payment of ,£7,000. ls it right that a State which has no interest in this railway, and cannot possibly gain any benefit from its construction, should be saddled with such a responsibility as is proposed ?
– The Federal spirit, I suppose !
– Where is the Federal spirit? I do not want to arouse any feeling, and, therefore, I shall not make certain remarks which might evoke strong rejoinders. I desire to put a question to the Minister of Home Affairs, and I am obliged to be somewhat personal, though, of course, a Minister is fairly attackable on such questions. Does he think that in voting for a survey - and it will be his vote, I remind him again, that will carry the Bill - he will be committing Tasmania only to its proportion of the cost of the survey, £20,000, that is, about £1,000? He does not answer.
– What was the question?
– I ask Senator Keating if he thinks that, by voting for the measure, he will be committing Tasmania, of which he is a representative, although he is a Minister, only to an expenditure of £1,000 ?
– I do think so, and I said so forty-two times in Tasmania at the last election.
– I ask the honorable senator now, if he thinks that the people of Tasmania support him in his action ?
– I do.
– Otherwise they would not have returned him.
-Is this a political meeting or a meeting of the national Senate?
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to interrupt.
– I know that the people of Tasmania do not support the honorable senator in his attitude in regard to this proposal.
– I ani asking some questions ; and it is for the Minister to answer them or not as he pleases; but, of course, they have a purpose. If the honorable senator thinks that because he was manly enough to take his responsibility as a Minister, and defend this proposal before the electors ; if he thinks that because, in appreciation of his manliness, and also of his political and other qualities, he has been returned, therefore Tasmania is committed to this project, I tell him that, so far as I can judge, he is absolutely mistaken.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I am convinced that he is thoroughly mistaken about the attitude of the people of Tasmania.
– Nonsense !
– I accept the verdict of the people. I do not accept the verdict as given by certain organs of the press there.
– The verdict of the people brought another of the staunchest opponents of this proposal up to within, comparatively speaking, an insignificant number of the votes obtained by Senator Keating. .There was no more staunch opponent of the proposed survey, and the construction of the railway, in the Senate than ex-Senator O’Keefe, and yet he secured within a few hundred votes of the number which was obtained by a gentleman who at the time held, a portfolio.
– Yes; but what about the Commerce Act and the persecution of the press?
– I ask the Minister of Home Affairs not to interrupt the speaker. If it is necessary for him to speak he will, have an opportunity to do so later.
– But I am being asked questions.
– The honorable and learned senator can reply to them byandby.
– But the speaker should not ask the questions.
– I have every right to ask questions, and it rests with honorable senators to reply to them or not as they please.
– Is it fair for the hon- 01 able senator’ to ask questions when it is disorderly to answer them?
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to allow the speaker to proceed.
– I know that Senator Keating will have an opportunity to- . reply to my questions afterwards, but . I thought he would answer them at the moment. It is part of my case to show that the electors of Tasmania are opposed to this project. I honestly -think that 90 per cent, of them are, and I do not believe that the Minister of Home Affairs knows that.
I believe that if he did know their feeling lie would not vote for this proposal. I do not accuse him of such conduct as I allege against his latest colleague. What has happened in that case? Senator Best has informed the Senate that, although he voted against the Bill on the last occasion, he confided in a f riend that he was not going to do so any more. We have memories as well as Senator Best. I remember Senator Trenwith stating privately to me that he felt that he ought not any longer to go against the will of the people, and he stated it afterwards publicly. Certainly he was honest and open, but I think he was mistaken, because the Senate is as much representative of the people as is the other Chamber. I heard nothing of that kind from Senator Best, but- at the last moment of dealing with the Bill last session in the Senate, I knew that honorable senator to be one of its Bitterest opponents, and one of the most active in arranging to bring about its defeat.
– Did the honorable senator hear what Senator Trenwith said?
– Yet Senator Best tells us now that it is in the “ whirligig of politics ‘ ‘ that he is to be found supporting that which he previously condemned. I have never known a more deplorable instance of political tergiversation. There was an article in the Argus this morning which said that we have yet to learn a good deal about Australian invertebrates. We can furnish an excellent specimen in the Senate if one is wanted by a scientist.
– What is the good of debate ?
– Does the honorable senator, in the innocence of his heart, imagine for a moment that it was debate which changed the mind of Senator Best?
– The honorable senator is trying to convert us now.
– Does the honorable senator, in the innocence of his heart, imagine that, no matter what arguments I mav use, I shall be successful?
– I do not.
– Besides the suppott of the senators for Western Australia this measure has the support of certain senators for South Australia who are interested in another project. Thev are very anxious to have the line surveyed, and no doubt constructed. Some of them say that thev do not care about the latter aspect, that all they want the survey for is to get information. I would remind them that they represent a State which has not yet given the Commonwealth” even permission to make a survey. I can satisfy the Senate by documentary evidence that it has not yet agreed even to allow the Commonwealth to go through its territory to survey a line, and that it has made its consent conditional upon our accepting an agreement involving an enormous responsibility.
– The honorable senator is putting up a- gallant fight for the .£900.
– No; I am putting up a gallant fight to protect my State from being called upon to help to construct a railway in country part of which is in a State that, by its railway freights, barred our timber from getting to its mining centres. A great deal has been said about the proposed railway itself. From my point of view, I do not think it is necessary to discuss that matter. With me it is not a question of whether the line should be surveyed or constructed, but of whether the ‘Commonwealth should be saddled with the responsibility of surveying and constructing it. That such a connexion will be made with the eastern States in a short time - probably because Australia does and ought to advance very rapidly - seems to me to be absolutely inevitable, but it should come in the way of natural development, and it is premature now to commit the Commonwealth to the project. Apart from the financial aspect, the construction of a railway by the Commonwealth will involve an enormous responsibility. Senator Neild has referred to the absurd proposition that we should construct an intermediate section of a railway, the front door of which is held by one State and the back door bv another State, especially when each State has its own independent railway system. In such circumstances, what capitalist would ever dream of constructing an intermediate section with his own money? Whether this section of 1,100 miles is to pass through good or bad country I cannot say - in fact, no one here can say. A few persons, to be counted on the fingers of one’s hand, have been across the country from time to time, but whether they have been across that portion in which it will be feasible to construct a railway is quite another question. Even the most favorable reports do not seem to indicate that it is a desirable country, or a country in which it is advisable at present to construct a railway. Be that as it may, it does not concern me. We have to deal very shortly with a most important problem, specifically associated with the Constitution, in the taking over of the Northern Territory. We should, therefore, stay our hand, and treat the matter now before us on a broad and national basis, and not upon a mere basis of how it may concern two particular States, because that is really the standpoint from which it is being regarded at present. I should like to call attention to what was foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s speech. I think I shall be quite in order in doing so, inasmuch as the matter has not yet come before the Senate. I refer to the provisional agreement for the taking over of the Northern Territory, with reference to which I gave notice of a motion that I had somewhat to modify afterwards, at the suggestion of the Acting Clerk. I gave notice the other day that I would move as an amendment to the question “ That the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill be now read a second time,” that all the words after “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert - “ in view of the following facts : -
I believe you, sir, regarded that amendment as being somewhat out of order. I therefore redrafted it, and now move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “ in view of .the fact that the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments have entered into a provisional agreement for the transfer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory ; and that the question of the construction of railways by the Common- wealth through the State of South Australia is intimately associated with and largely dependent upon the acceptance or non-acceptance of such agreement by the Federal and the South Australian Parliaments, the Senate is of opinion that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill should be withdrawn until both Parliaments have dealt . with the said agreement. “
– Who drafted that?
– I did.
– Did the honorable senator have any legal advice?
– What . does the honorable senator mean to imply by that question? If the amendment is worth anything, it is mine; if it is worth nothing, I will take the discredit of it. I desire to call attention to that provisional agreement, and also to the answers which the VicePresident of the Executive Council gave to questions on the subject yesterday and today. The honorable and learned senator said that we were not to be asked to confirm the agreement until the State Parliament had dealt with it. I wonder if he has read the agreement. If not, I will read the last paragraph to him -
The conditions set out above are to be submitted to the respective Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the State for consideration without delay.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable and learned .senator says, “ hear, hear,” but what do the words “ without delay “ mean? If they mean anything, it is that the agreement is to be submitted concurrently to the Parliaments, and. to be discussed by them concurrently. There are four paragraphs in it devoted to the act of transfer itself, and four dealing with finance, while there are thirteen relating to the acquisition and construction of railways. One of the obligations that we shall he asked to assume is the construction of a real transcontinental railway ; not a sham one, not a mere coast line, but one which will tap the heart of Australia, and bring us into much nearer association with European countries, if that is what we really desire. Part of the arrangement which has been provisionally entered into by the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia for submission to both Parliaments involves first of all i,roo miles of railway construction. It involves also the Commonwealth taking over railways already constructed from Port Darwin to Pine Creek in the north, and from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta in the south. That involves us in the question of a great national railway system, but the agreement incidentally drags in also the question of the wretched political railway with which we are now dealing. We are not ignorant, nor are the Government ignorant, of the magnitude of the proposals contained, in the agreement. I would like to read, for Senator Best’s edification, the views of his own Prime Minister, in a letter to the Premier of South Australia, upon this particular question -
Your insistence that the Commonwealth should discharge the increased indebtedness of the Territory, and, at the same time, undertake, at its own expense, the construction of such a gigantic public work as the transcontinental railway, of which your State dictates the route, and hopes to reap the greatest part, if not all, of the advantages, is, it appears to me, the chief obstacle to an early and “satisfactory settlement.
There is the Federal spirit standing out a mile - the State of South Australia dictates the route, and hopes to reap the greatest advantage, if not all the advantages -
The task of developing the immense area included in the Territory, of which a large portion of- the best lands have. been sold or leased to private persons, will, especially after so long a period of depression, necessitate spending large sums of money. To settle the grave problems that suggest themselves as certain to arise will tax the best energies of the Commonwealth for years to come. If, in addition, the Administration is, at the outset, hampered by the outlay involved in the acceptance of your proposed conditions, its responsibilities might be so magnified as to create a serious strain on the financial resources of Australia for the next few years.
In the face of that the Prime Minister’s Government are striving to commit Australia to an expenditure of another £5,000,000 or ,£6,000,000. In a later letter, Mr. Deakin says -
It appears from your various letters that the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth is the point to which most importance is attached, as that work, involving immense immediate expenditure in building and the certainty of large losses in maintenance- for many years-
What a magnificent argument against this Western Australian railway ! But in that instance it is being applied to the real trans- continental railway - the one which at any rate has a large amount of justification, in my eyes - is apparently beyond the powers, either present or prospective, of” South Australia.
– Would the honorable senator favour the construction by the Commonwealth of that northern line to Port Darwin ?
– In a general way I would. I am not going to commit my self to any particular route, but it would have to be an Australian railway, and not a South Australian or Western Australian railway. It would have to be an Australian undertaking, which would serve the best interests of the whole of the States.
– Half of it would be in Commonwealth territory
– That is’ quite true. I am not going to commit myself beyond saying that I believe we should construct that transcontinental line.
– The honorable senator has already committed himself.
– I do not commit myself to any particular route.
– Poor Tasmania 1
– Unfortunately, it is poor. But it is rich enough to be able to vote for a national railway policy when it comes along, and not merely for a two States railway policy, to which honorable senators, for various reasons that are not altogether worthy, have been induced to give their consent. If ever there was- an example of the evil effect of party upon this Senate, it is shown in the fact that certain honorable senators have committed themselves to, and will vote for, this scheme, when we know that in their hearts they do not believe in it.
– Whom does the honorable senator mean ?
– I am not going to be drawn in that way.
– The honorable senator constitutes a party in himself. Why does he not become a member of some party, instead of being a lone fisherman ?
– The Labour Party will not have me, I am not a freetrader, and I do not believe in the Government.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the Labour Party has refused him?
– I have not asked them, “but I should imagine, from the general tenor of their observations, that I would not be very acceptable to them. Certainly I do not think that I shall ever ask them-. I referred a little time ago to the question of the survey of the line, and I did not hear any South Australian senator interject to correct me when I said that South Australia had not yet given permission even for the making of the survey.. _ Senator Turley. - No legislative permission.
– I do not think that an)’ permission has been given.
– South Australia has given no consent. All she has done is to refuse to consent to everything.
– If she has given consent it must have been very recently.
– ‘She has not.
– As a matter of fact, every one knows that she has not. Every one knows that South Australia is simply playing a game to suit herself. Senator McGregor. - Then she is worse than Tasmania.
– She has something to gain by it, and Tasmania has not. The following occurred in Mr. Deakin’s letter of 30th August, 1906 -
It would be a further condition that South Australia should create no difficulty with respect to the survey of the Western Australian line.
With that agreement looming before us, we are asked to commit the Commonwealth of Australia to a certain- amount of responsibility for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line. I again direct the attention of Ministers representing the Government in the Senate to the declaration of their colleague and leader in this regard. I ask them if they are prepared to carry out what Mr. Deakin was of opinion should be carried out. He wrote -
In the opinion of this Government, such a scheme cannot be considered without taking into regard the question of the other transcontinental railway through South Australia:
The Prime Minister himself there states that the two questions should have concurrent consideration. That is all that my amendment asks. It asks only that this matter should be deferred until the larger and more comprehensive measure has been brought before us. Our power for the construction of railways under the Constitution is merely permissive. The section enables the Commonwealth to enter upon railway construction in any State with the consent of the State, but one of the obligations laid upon* the Commonwealth in the Constitution is certainly the taking over of the Northern Territory. Every one recognises that it should be controlled by the Commonwealth and not by a State. I ask Ministers, therefore, whether they are going to repudiate the words of their own leader, because it seems to me that that is what they would be doing by voting against my amendment, which asks for a reasonable delay until there has been fair consideration of the other and larger question with which the measure now before the Senate is so closely associated. There is no member of the Senate who could not reasonably vote for the amendment, and who would not subsequently, with the advantage to be obtained from the greater information which we shall possess after the discussion of the other question, be in a better position to consider the proposal which is now before the Senate.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South’ Australia) [12.5]. - This Bill is tolerably familiar to the Senate. It comes before us like the importunate widow, and this I think is the third time of asking.
– And yet the plea is for more delay.
– I do not know why the honorable senator should make that remark. He has only just come here, and as he has not had much experience of the matter, he might, I think, exhibit a little more patience.
– I was referring to . the amendment which has just been moved.
– I think that the honorable senator, who comes fresh to the field, might exercise a little patience with regard to a matter which can only affect -those who have been here before, and have been through the mill in connexion with this particular subject.
– The matter affected me fourteen years ago.
– The honorable senator might exercise a little patience. It was not necessary for him to offer a remark which was perfectly irrelevant, and being merely disturbing, had better not have been’ made. I was saying that this is the third’ time of asking, and we have -heard that changes of opinion and attitude have taken’ place in the in- .terval. I am not one of those who discard changes of opinion, or who think that there is no room for them in political life. I shall not, therefore, comment on the changes of opinion by others. So far as I am myself concerned, my views in regard to the intention and essence of the Bill have undergone no change whatever since - three years ago or mons - I introduced it in the Senate, But the circumstances in some respects have altered, and the situation is not quite the same. I say this because at the time I occupied the seat which is now occupied by Senator Best, there were certainly no microbes on the Treasury bench, and so far as I am aware, there have never been any on this side of the chamber. At any rate, I have never been bitten by any. So that in that respect my withers are entirely unwrung. The phraseology of the Bill has undergone no change. I think that probably a few remarks by me are justified by sOme not very complimentary references that were made this morning to South Australia. First of all, I wish to say that South Australia is not to be animadverted upon in the manner adopted by Senator Neild on the ground that a portion of the money to be expended on the survey, which. I regard as purely exploratory, is to be spent within that State. Senator Neild proceeded to denounce that proposal as being specially criminal, and he referred to the fact that New South Wales had carried out a railway resulting in a loss, I think he said of about £1,000,000. The honorable senator will allow me to remind him that if there is one State which stands out more than another in respect to public spiritedness in regard to expenditure it is South Australia. That State, without the assistance of one penny from any of the other States, built the transcontinental telegraph line -very many years ago, when her population was small, and the resources of her Exchequer very limited. That was a great, I will not say national, but an international, work.
– South Australia was offered assistance in that work.
– I do not deny it. She declined the assistance simply because the line was entirely within her own territory, and she had put her hand to the plough, and was not going to turn back. I am pointing out that she sustained the entire burden of that work at a time when people were not very ‘ sanguine as to its financial prospects. The next thing which ought to be remembered when remarks of the kind to which I refer are made, is that South Australia, for a great many years, has maintained the Northern Territory. She has held the fort there for a White Australia policy; at an enormous cost to herself. I think it is a little paltry that remarks of the kind to which I have referred should be levelled at South Australia in respect to the matter now under consideration.
– The honorable senator surely does not call Chinese White Australians.
– South Australia had nothing to do with the few Chinese who got into the Northern Territory, or with those who substantially form the population there.
– Except that in connexion with the railway contracts preference was given to Chinese labour.
– I am not going into the question of the railway contracts. A sum of ,£3,000,000 or more is due in respect of the North’em Territory to South Australia, with an annual deficit of about ,£1 25,000, which might have been altogether removed, and certainly very greatly lessened, if, twenty-five or thirty years ago, the free admission of coloured labour had been permitted to that part of the continent. From my stand-point, questions of gauge, route, and other matters which have been raised have no bearing on the discussion which is now taking place. They will all be very relevant and important when we come to deal with a specific proposal for the construction of the line.
– They will be very convenient excuses for South Australia refusing her consent to the construction of the line.
– I am - not saying anything- about that matter. South Australia will deal with it when the time arrives.
– She is the arbiter. We spend the money and she calls the tune.
– South Australia is entitled to be the arbiter. Her situation is one which is governed not merely by State interests, but by national interests that concern the entire Commonwealth. The third point to which I ‘ wish to refer, and as to which allusion has been made, is the consent of South Australia to the proposed survey. South Australia has not effectively consented to this survey. As I said when the matter was under discussion last year, not a surveyor, a chainman, or an assistant can enter upon the area within which the proposed survey must take place in South Australia without the legislative authority of that State.
– Is it not a fact that the Executive of a State can order surveys for railways within the State without an Act of Parliament?
– I think not.
– It is so in Victoria.
– I do not doubt for a moment that the Commonwealth Government would not send out a
Staff for the purpose of undertaking a survey without the legislative sanction of the State of South Australia, or without the conditions with respect to that survey being properly defined. The construction of a railway is not in my judgment involved in this proposal. I have no right to express an opinion for the Parliament of South Australia, but from what I know, I do not doubt that that Parliament may sanction in proper form., and on proper terms, the details of the survey. I have said that I look upon the survey as exploratory. In fact, it is not intended to be a delailed survey. The attitude which I have assumed with regard to the matter was, I think, explained with great clearness when I moved the second reading of a similar Bill to this in 1904. I then said -
It seems to me to be scarcely necessary to say - but I do so to prevent any possible misunderstanding - that the Bill is not for the construction of the line.
Senator Mulcahy interjected
We know very well what it means.
I replied -
Well, there is one thing which it does not mean ; it does not mean the construction of the line. I wish that to be perfectly clear, so that honorable senators may not be led away into arriving at a wrong conclusion by any mistaken impression of that kind. The Bill does not commit, and is not intended to commit, the Senate or this Parliament collectively or individually to the construction of a transcontinental . railway line connecting South Australia with Western Australia.
– Sir John Forrest says it does commit us.
– I am not bound by what Sir John Forrest has said. He says many things from which I entirely dissent. Again, I said -
I am hopeful that even my honorable friend who interjects - referring to Senator Mulcahy - will be in favour of passing this Bill with the same reservations as I apply to myself - that it does not commit me, as it does not commit him, to vote for the construction of the line unless he is convinced when that project comes before Parliament, of the necessity for doing it. I hope that honorable senators have an open mind upon the miestion so far, and that they are open to consider the reasons and the additional information whichI am about to snpnly. In the first nlace, we all know that Western Australia undoubtedly wants the line. There can be no miestion about that. I think also that my honorable friends will aeree with me that I am perfectly frank whenI say that at present I am not in favour of the construction of the line. I wish that to be distinctly and clearly understood. Therefore the arguments which I propose to offer in moving the second reading of this Bill are emphasized and strengthened by the fact that I do not support construction now, and do not advocate the Bill as part of the policy of the Government on the ground that it is equivalent to authorizing the construction of the line. … If this were a Bill to authorize the expenditure of . ?5,000,000 or ?6,000,000 for the construction of this line the probability is that I should not be in charge of it. . . . Quite apart from the question whether this large amount of money should be raised for the purpose of its construction, no one can deny that Western Australia may, on broad Federal grounds, apart from selfish motives, legitimately advocate the railway, and legitimately push any steps she may think desirable in that direction. I go further. I say the time must come when this iron road between Port Augusta and the nearest point of railway construction in Western Australia, will be constructed, and will be a symbol of that union which, although I am not in favour of the immediate construction of the line, I freely admit is. to a certain extent, incomplete without it.
That is the view which I took at that time, and those were the conditions upon which I moved the second reading of the Bill, and invited the Senate to accept it. If the Bill is now passed, those are the conditions upon which I shall vote for it. I do not think that by voting for the Bill any member of the Senate or of this Parliament will be committed to vote for the railway. At present it is a railway in the clouds ; that is to say, there is merely an idea to construct a railway between two termini - some point in South Australia and some point in Western Australia. My attitude is plain. I have never deviated from it. On that occasion I did my very utmost- to secure the passage of the Bill. I can well recollect the vehement opposition of my honorable friend Senator Best.
– Only as to procedure.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Procedure ! I remember him, like Ajax defying the lightning, hurling epithets of the most vehement- character at the supporters of the Bill - epithets which, I am sure, he afterwards felt were a little too strong. I am not mentioning that as a matter of reproach ; but I did feel at that time that the one man who towered above all others in his opposition to my efforts to get that Bill through was my honorable friend Senator Best.
– How did the ‘ honorable senator vote last year?
– I voted for the Bill.
– The honorable senator was not here.
– The honorable senator was not here. Every honorable senator who was then a member of the Senate knows of the efforts which I made when I was in charge of the Bill to get it carried. Yet, at the end of last year, Sir John Forrest went over to Western Australia and charged me with being responsible for its loss. Well, Sir John Forrest says that he is my friend. All I can say is that -
Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me downstairs?
Of course, I am a long-suffering individual, and am disposed to forgive Sir John Forrest, although I said a word or two about him at the time.
– Pretty hot words, too!
– But I recognise that at that time, like the Highlander, he was doing a good, deal of swearing at large in Western Australia about everything and everybody who disagreed with him. But, still, it was somewhat ungrateful,- considering that I had stayed here until 6 o’clock in the morning, doing my best to get the Bill through, that three years afterwards, simply because some disturbance had taken place in regard to the course that that right honorable gentleman would like to have seen pursued, he should have made charges against me without a shadow of foundation. As I have said, I am sorry for it, but I forgive him now that time has healed the wound. It is a remarkable fact that the attitude adopted by each of my successors has been identical with my own. Senator Playford, when he introduced the Bill in 1905, said -
If a Bill was brought in at the present moment for the construction of a transcontinental railway, I should not be in favour of it, until I had obtained further information as to what it would cost, and what its probable earnings would be.
Then, with regard to the survey, he said -
It is to be a partial survey, not a detailed survey.
That was Senator Playford’s attitude at that time. From -what I have read in the report of his speech, which Senator Best was good enough to send to me the other day, I gather that his own attitude is substantially the same. He gave the reasons which actuated him for proposing the survey. . He said -
That this proposed railway is inevitable, I do not think any one denies for a moment.
Inevitable, but when? Not now. We are not all obliged to stand on our heads and carry out this scheme in an instant. Even those who are most active - and naturally active - in supporting the Survey Bill and even the railway itself, were not so active during the first three or four years after Federation was established. Senator Best went on to say -
It is only a matter of time when it is to be constructed.
It is a matter of the proper time -
If the aim and object of the Federation is to be achieved, I say it is inevitable that the eastern States should be linked to Western Australia in the way suggested. I recognise, moreover, that this measure is at most but a Survey Bill, having for its .object the securing of further information for the guidance of members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament.
It is a remarkable fact, therefore^ that the attitude which I took up in 1904 has been the attitude of each of my successors. Their hands are not tied, and our hands are not tied. Their minds are free and open to bring an unbiased consideration to this question when it comes before us in a concrete shape later on. Now, the situation in regard to this Bill has changed somewhat. My honorable friend, Senator Mulcahy, has alluded to that aspect of the matter, and I shall refer to it shortly. The change is this - that since this Bill was last before Parliament an agreement has been entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the State of South. Australia with regard to the transfer of the Northern Territory. That agreement, which is on the files of honorable senators, embraces the largest national political question which faces the people of Australia to-day. I feel satisfied that that statement will not be questioned. To my mind, it was a mistake to include in that .agreement any reference whatever to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway line. It has nothing whatever to do with the matter, and we should not be influenced in determining how we will solve the great national problem of taking over the Northern Territory by any considerations relating to this railway. The two things have no relation to each other. (Senator Clemons. - They are antagonistic.
– I think they are. I cannot- understand why, in that agreement, relating to a great national question of policy - the biggest question before Australia - it should be sought to be made a condition that South Australia should consent to the construction of this line. It seems to me to be really an attempt to coerce South Australia into giving her consent, in order that the other question might be solved as she wished, or on terms just to herself. But the position in regard to that agreement has been a little changed since the commencement of this session. I consider that it was unadvisable .and unwise to have introduced that as a condi-tion. It showed the anxiety of those interested in regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, to bring pressure to bear on South Australia, to give a consent which otherwise she might withhold. But the agreement indicates two things. First, it . admits the paramount importance .of the great question of taking over the Northern Territory. In the second place, it admits that South Australia has not yet consented in any way to the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Fort Augusta line. I welcome it from that point of view.
– I do not think that it has ever been suggested that she has consented to the construction of the line.
– South Australia has not consented) legislatively even to a survey ; whether that is essential or not, is another matter. Last year an amendment was inserted, I think, to the effect that legislative consent to the survey must be given before the Bill could come into operation. I consider that this great question, of the Northern Territory, and what Senator Mulcahy called the true transcontinental line - a line to the north bisecting the Continent east from west - is, in our .best and highest national interests, of infinitely greater importance than is a railway line from South Australia to Western Australia. I am going to quote a few sentences - because they express my view of this great policy better than I can do - from an article which appeared in the Bulletin a little time ago -
The taking over by the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory, the completion of the transcontinental railway to open it up, and the establishment of a good land settlement policy there, are worth more to this country than the Commerce Bill and the Union Label twenty times over.
What the Bulletin hopes for is that the Australian Government will arrange -
To take over the Territory as it stands, with all its debts and deficits, also its scrap of unprofitable railway and its other misfortunesto take it over in a large offhand spirit, without any sordid bargaining about the odd twopence, and without any close calculation as to whether the other six States might not, for the time being, lose. i£d. per inhabitant, or some other fraction on the deal.
To purchase the whole line of railway from Adelaide to Oodnadatta-in-the-desert, or, if that can’t be arranged, at least to purchase the line from Fort Augusta to Oodnadatta ; and to com;plete this line to Pine Creek, and thus make a Federal railway across the Continent.
That, I venture to say, is a policy whose importance cannot be exaggerated. It is important from the point of view of the State to which I belong ; but I consider that it is of immeasurably more importance from the point of view of the Commonwealth. The danger to which we are exposed in the north is incomparably greater than that to which we are exposed at any other part of the confines of the Commonwealth. People talk about isolation. In comparison with the north., the west is not isolated. . The north- is an empty defenceless country. Tt is a country which, if. I may- use the expression, .is the heel of the Achilles, and exposed to attack by an enemy. If a descent and an occupation were effected there, it would be difficult to estimate the consequences to Australia we should never get the enemy out. I desire now to refer to the statements which have been industriously made that Western Australia entered the Federation on the faith of having this railway constructed. In fact, if was said the other day in another place that she had been “ trapped “ into the Federation. That expression is not worthy of any one in this Parliament. It is not one which ought to be used at all. I take leave to deny the statement entirely. It is not true. Western Australia did not enter the Federation on the faith of having this railway made. She entered the Federation - and it does no discredit to her advocacy of the railway - by the force of the men on the gold-fields. It was the fear of what might happen that drove those crusty anti.Federationists in Perth and Fremantle to acquiesce in it, and, because they sought a pretext, months, or a year or two afterwards - to save their face - for turning round and being obliged by the force of the men on the gold-fields to go for Federation, are we to be .told that that was the cause of Western Australia coming in. Is that to be thrust down our throats as a reason, I shall not say for agreeing to a Survey Bill, because that is another thing, but for agreeing to pledge ourselves to the construction of the railway? I repudiate the suggestion in the most emphatic terms, and I will mention briefly one or two facts which were omitted from the little history on this subject which was given elsewhere. History, as I said the other day, depends very much upon the historian. In the Convention, so far as I am aware, this railway, as a condition of Federation, was not mentioned at all. Western Australia sent ten representatives with a man whose capacity and energy no one doubts - Sir John Forrest - at their head. I repeat that, as far as I am aware, there was never a mention of this transcontinental railway, or any suggestion that Western Australia would expect it to be constructed by the Commonwealth if Federation were accomplished. I have not seen the Hansard report of Senator Dobson’s speech, but I read in the press that he had quoted a passage from a speech in which Sir John Forrest said in effect that Western Australia was prepared, and anxious to construct her part of the line within her territory, and that he hoped that soon ‘ ‘ our friends ‘ ‘ - we are all friends when we are going the right way - in South Australia- would soon consent to link it up with the portion in her territory. That was a significant remark. I undertake to declare here that what was contemplated in the Convention was that Western Australia should build her own share of the line, and that South Australia, if she could be prevailed upon to do it, should build her share. South Australia was not very sweet on the project, but it was thought that with the advent of Union her unwillingness might be removed. lt never occurred to me until comparatively recently - and some of the dates I shall give - that it was ever in the contemplation of any one that the Commonwealth, out of its funds, was to construct the railway. There was then in Perth an anti-Federation party or clique. What was the situation? The other Colonies had their referendum in 1898 ; but Western Australia, although her delegates had returned with the words of Federal union warm on their lips, did not join in it.
– Has this anything to do with the survey?
– I can go into ancient history, too.
– The honorable senator can go into ancient history as much as he pleases, if it is relevant ; but I am not going to have it said, and men are not going to be taunted, that there have been breaches of -faith, and that Western
Australia claims this Bill because she entered the Federation on the faith of getting the railway. With one or two exceptions, her delegates - who unfortunately were not chosen by the people - went back from the Convention strongly in favour of Federation. But under the parochial influences I have described, they fell away, and the result was as I have said. What happened then? On the 3rd February, 1899, there was a Premiers’ Conference to make amendments in the Constitution Bill, and a printed report of its proceedings is now on the files of the Senate, but it does not contain one word stipulating for the construction of the railway.
– At that time, Sir John Forrest, so far as any public ut.terance was concerned, was not in favour of the railway.
– Was he not?
– So far as I can learn, he was not.
– I take my honorable friend’s word.
– I do not regard this as his project.
– What my honorable friend says explains why Sir John Forrest did nothing to further this railway proposal although he was present at that Conference. I am “only mentioning these facts because I think they ought not to be forgotten. Sir John Forrest was present at the Conference on 3rd February, 1899, and if the construction or nonconstruction of this railway was the stumblingblock, why was it not brought forward then in the form of a motion, with a view to securing another of the many amendments that were proposed on that occasion to be made in the Bill before the second Referendum was taken in that year? ‘ Nothing of the kind was done, and every one of the Premiers then present, including the Premier of Western Australia,’ signed the resolutions that were then arrived at. the decision of the Conference being that there should be no alteration in effect in the Constitution, except those embodied in those resolutions, which did not include this railway. Reference has been made to the fact that I went to Western Australia in March of that year immediately after the Premiers’ Conference took place. I did go,- and I am proud of it. There was nothing in the way of Western Australia’s entering the Federation, except that anti-Federal party in Perth and
Fremantle. I went to Kalgoorlie, and addressed as fine a meeting as could be held anywhere. They were all enthusiastic for Federation, and for a referendum as a preliminary to it. The meeting was held in a very large building which was called, I think, the Miners’ Institute. There was an enormous crowd present, but I have not the slightest recollection of the subject of this railway being alluded to even in the remotest possible way. As honorable senators will see, there was no ‘ reason in the wide world why it should have been, as it was not on the tapis. The Conference was just over, and I knew what had taken place there. Sir John Forrest had not brought it forward. The people of the gold-fields were hot for the Bill. The second referendum took place in June, 1899, after amendments were introduced in connexion with the Federal Capital, and other things, but again Western Australia, led by those in Perth and Fremantle, would not join the Union. The gold-fields were furious. They were up in arms, and then, as an after-thought, to find some pretext for their attitude, a joint Select Committee of the people at the seat of power was appointed, and they, for the first time, reported - it was, as I say, an afterthought
– It was a Select Committee of the two Houses of Parliament.
– That is so. I do not want to go into the details, but I have the report of the Committee beside me. They, for the first time, reported that power should be given to the Commonwealth to construct railways - not this railway in particular - through a State, in order to connect with other lines that were being constructed to th”. border in an adjacent State, if the first-mentioned State should be unwilling to do so. Even they did not go so far, in my judgment - although a different interpretation might possibly be put upon their recommendation - as to contemplate the construction by the Commonwealth of one complete line through two different States in a way that might hereafter be, and really is now being, suggested. The two referenda having taken place, those antiFederal folk then set about trying to get amendment’s made in the Constitution - not by the straightforward method of having another Conference and attempting to get those amendments agreed to there - but by seeking to have them introduced by the Im perial Executive or the Imperial Parliament, behind the backs of the Convention, the. Premiers’ Conference, and the people of this country. That is exactly what happened, and that request was refused by Mr. Chamberlain, who was then in charge of the Bill, although he did make certain amendments,’ of which we have heard before. A delegate was sent Home, Mr. Parker, 1 think, as representing that antiFederal party in Perth and Fremantle, but he was not admitted with our delegates - Mr. Kingston, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Barton, and the others who represented the consenting States. He was, however, sent there for the purpose of trying to influence those delegates, and the Imperial Government, to have the amendments made by another Parliament and another authority than ourselves. Those amendments had not been mentioned at the Convention nor at the Premiers’ Conference, and the attempt to make them took place after the Western Australian authorities had twice refused, against the wish of the men of the gold-fields, that had made Western Australia, to join tlie Federation.
– And against the wish of the men of the coast.
– I am glad of that interjection, because I was then, and am still, in absolute sympathy with the men of the gold-fields and of the coast, who took* what I call a noble and patriotic attitude.
– There was a majority for Federation independent of the goldfields.
– As reference has been made to the part I took by the kind permission of the people of Western Australia in advancing Federation there, I may state that in November of that year, on my return from England, I, at the invitation of the press, took an opportunity of expressing how strongly I felt about the attempt that was being made to delay the Constitution Bill for the making of any amendments whatever from Western Australia behind the backs of the constituted authorities of the Commonwealth. In January, 1900, just about the time our delegates were going to England to get the Bill through without alteration, Sir John Forrest said, at Brisbane -
Nothing would be done by his Government unless the eastern States were prepared to give consideration to the wishes of Western Austra-
Iia, and unless that consideration was given at once it would be impossible for Western Australia to enter as an original State.
For whom did he speak? He did not speak for the men of the gold-fields. He did riot speak for the men Senator Pearce referred to - the men of the coast. He spoke for that coterie of anti-Federalists to whom I have already alluded. That was enough for the gold-fields. They would submit no longer to this kind of thing. They wanted no railway, except the railway to Esperance.
– The transcontinental railway was also mentioned.
– My honorable friend is mistaken.
– That was one of the questions on the gold-fields.
– I shall read one sentence from the manifesto put forward by the people of Western Australia. As Senator Pearce rightly says, there was a majority in that State for Federation quite irrespective of the antiFederalists of Perth and Fremantle. They wanted the Bill, and not these amendments. They wanted Federation. They formed an Eastern Gold-fields Reform League, and issued a manifesto,’ a copy of which I hold in my hand, on 3rd January, 1900. The motto on it, printed in large type, is “ Separation for Federation.” They were prepared to cut the Colony of Western Australia in two in order that they, the wealth-producing portion of it, should be joined in this Federation with their brethren in the East. There is not. one syllable in this manifesto, from end to end, about the transcontinental railway, but the ground for their demand for separation was the fact that there was a refusal of natural railway facilities. What were those? They said-
In addition to denying .us fair’’ representation, over-taxing us, and diverting revenue and loans for the benefit of the older-settled districts, the dominant minority on the coast have refused to allow us our natural harbor at Esperance, and have frequently stated that- they will never permit the construction of a railway to the south coast.
There is patriotism for you -
In order to force all our commerce and traffic to pass through Perth and Fremantle, they thus compel all goods from the eastern Colonies to travel an extra c68 miles by sea and 163 miles by rail. The distance from Fremantle to Coolgardie is 36^ miles, whereas from Esperance it is only 200 in a direct line.
That was their manifesto, and that was the pressure that converted my friend, Sir
John Forrest, and his friends to Federation. As if that manifesto was not enough, it was followed by a petition for separation, which was sent to Her Majesty the Queen. The grounds there are more shortly stated, to the effect that the western part of the Colony - Perth and Fremantle - had imposed unfair and unequal burdens on the inhabitants of the eastern gold-fields, of which examples were given. One of them was -
The refusal of railway communication with our natural ports on the southern coast in order to force our trade into their portion of the Colony and to distant ports. 1 am proud that, in association with two much abler men, Mr. Kingston and Mr. Glynn, I was consulted by the men of the gold-fields, and it is one of the acts of my life in connexion’ with Federation of which I am most proud that I was so consulted, and had a hand in assisting them to frame their manifesto and their petition to the Queen. My friend, Sir John Forrest, did not like that, and his friendship grew cold for a little while. He says that I ought to be his friend. I have no unfriendly feeling whatever towards him, but, unfortunately, the condition of his friendship always seems to be that you must do exactly what he wishes, and the moment you have opinions or wishes which’ are not exactly, on all-fours with his own, he thinks there is a little fleck in your friendship. I. do not blame any man for being earnest, but that coldness continued for some time. I survived it. It did not quite freeze me out, and I am riot complaining about the attitude he has taken up towards me on this matter. But I do Complain of his attitude generally in face of the fact that I know it was the demand of the gold-fields for Federation that effected the conversion of himself and his friends.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– When, in the circumstances I have set out, the men on the gold-fields sought the help of Mr. Kingston, Mr. Glynn, and myself, it was our duty to give them that help. We were, I hope, like all true Federalists, resolved to bring about the Union of Australia if we possibly could. We knew the state of affairs in Western Australia, and as Senator Pearce, whose fairness and candour I am not slow to recognise, has said, we knew that the mass of the people, not merely on the gold-fields of Western Australia, but in the coastal districts of that State, were in favour of its entering the Union as an original State. What has personal friendship to do with the discharge of one’s public duty ? I do not for a moment undervalue the friendship qf Sir John Forrest, but I refuse to purchase it at the expense of my public duty. If one or the other must give way the choice, so far as I am concerned, may be a painful one, but it is an easy one. The right honorable gentleman published, in answer to the manifesto and petition to Her Majesty, what he called a refutation, but what, with great deference, I thought a very feeble answer to the statement of the point of view of the masses on the gold-fields. However, that I suppose was forwarded to the authorities in England in the same way as the other document. But the point is that the arguments which convinced the anti-Federalists in Western Australia of the unwisdom of longer resisting the public will was the manifesto and petition to the Queen - “Separation for Federation. ‘ ‘ That was the irresistible argument. They did not dare face the consequences which might have ensued if they had not yielded to that argument. I do not know whether it is so or not, but I should like very much to know if they did not receive a hint from- the Imperial authorities that it was desirable that the people of Western Australia should be given an opportunity by a referendum to express an opinion upon - the Commonwealth Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator knows of Mr. Chamberlain’s letter.
– I donot.
– Mr. Chamberlain sent a message to say that if the request of the petition was not granted, he would seriously consider the advisability of recommending Her Majesty to accede to the prayer of the petition.
– I am exceedingly indebted to my honorable friend for that information, because really that is what we all thought. It is curious to note that the decision of Sir John Forrest to take a referendum in 1899 was practically coincident with the close of the delegation in England, when Mr. Kingston, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Barton and the others were returning, although.no alteration had been made, as was asked by Western Australia. It seemed to me that it was impossible that his action could have been other than the result as I suggested of a hint from the Imperial authorities. As a matter of fact, there was an actual message, to which Senator Pearce has just referred, and with which I have been made acquainted now for the first time. What then becomes of the statements made with respect to the reasons for opposing this Bill, and of the taunting of opponents of the measure that Western Australia took that referendum and entered into the Federation on the faith of having the proposed railway, when in reality the action taken was due to the combined wish and resolute determination of the vast majority of the people of the State that they would become members of a great and auspicious Union. I hope we shall to-day hear the last of this matter for ever. Whatever the merits of the Bill are, they should be considered by themselves. I hope that after this the suggestion to which I have referred will be for ever entirely buried, and that we shall get rid of a very great deal of distracting heat and recrimination that distort the judgment and lead to a great waste of time. I do trust that it will never again be urged by. any one in a responsible position that, because there is any hesitation on the part of any one in assenting to this Bill, Western Australia was “ trapped “ into joining the Federation. There has been an accusation that South Australia has been guilty of a breach of faith, and that this measure must be assented to in order that that State may be relieved of the consequent discredit. I desire to say that that is simply a gross libel on South Australia. That State is without blemish in this matter. The present Bill is before us in a totally different aspect as compared with previous Bills, but the people of South Australia never promised as to this or any other Bill that they would give their assent to the proposed railway. The suggestion that there has been a breach of faith on the part of South Australia is utterly unfounded. It is sought to be supported by accusations made against Sir Frederick Holder-in connexion with a letter he wrote in February, 1900. That honorable gentleman could not pledge South Australia in any way, but he undertook to introduce a Bill giving the assent of South Australia, and to pass it step by step with the passage of a similar Bill in the Western Australian Parliament. Will honorable senators believe that, although for six months or more after that Sir John Forrest was Premier of Western Australia, he never introduced the Bill in the Parliament of that State? Sir Frederick Holder is capable of defending himself so far as regards his own Ministerial or other acts, but I am dealing with one of the collateral reasons which have been urged why opposition to the construction of the railway, should be given up.
– Sir John Forrest has said that it was not possible for him to introduce the Bill as agreed upon.
– I do not accept that. I say that the right honorable gentleman continued in power for six months after the receipt of Sir Frederick Holder’s letter, and he should have recognised his public duty in the matter.
– He was pledged to make the attempt at any rate.
– Even if it was not his duty, and he had a good excuse, ought he not to give equal credit to the other party to the correspondence? Why should he attack Sir Frederick Holder in order to make political capital, and secure the passing of the Bill? His action was calculated to have the opposite effect, since it makes those of us who are not unfriendly to the Bill hesitate when we find such methods adopted to secure its passage. In this connexion, it is not necessary for me to express any judgment of my own, because Mr., then Senator, Playford, as a member of the Ministry to which Sir John Forrest also belonged, speaking on the subject in the Senate, and having mentioned that the Premier of Western Australia did not perform his part of the bargain by introducing a Bill, said -
The fault is unmistakably on the part of the Premier of Western Australia.
– Others said the same thing at the elections.
– I am aware of that. There is one point which the honorable senator’s remark suggests, and it is that, as Senator Playford pointed out, Sir Frederick Holder’s successor in 1901 did not introduce a Bill in the South Australian Parliament, because he found that he had not the slightest chance of carrying it. I say that these things ought, not to be said by those who, not so much in the Senate as in other quarters, are seeking to forward their own views in this matter. Then, if honorable senators please, it is said that I personally have done nothing to secure the construction of the railway. When did I undertake to do anything to secure its construction? I wrote a letter - an excellent letter, I think - to my friend, Sir Walter James, which Senator de Largie has described as “ hifalutin.” I do not know whether the honorable senator meant by that that the people of Western Australia ‘ did not take any notice of it.
– They took a very great deal of notice of it.
- Sir Walter James had my absolute permission to do what he pleased with that letter. I did not write it for publication, but I was very glad to see it published.
– The honorable senator gave Sir Walter James permission to publish it.
– Certainly he had my heartiest permission to do what he liked with it.
– It was intended to have a big influence.
– It had a big influence.
– I am very glad to hear that it had considerable influence on the anti-Federalists in Western Australia. Some little time before in reply to an attack made upon me by the West Australian, I wrote a letter direct to the press, in which I said -
For example, you say that you will not come in unless a guarantee for your transcontinental railway is embedded in the Constitution.
When they knew that it could not be done.
– That seems to prove our contention that the matter was fiercely advocated at the time.
– It was an a’fter-thought brought forward, not by the people who desired Federation, but by those who did not desire it, to allow them to escape from the consequences of their own conduct. I wrote further -
Do you ever ask yourself how you are going to get that railway when the rest of Australia federates without you? Let me commend that problem to’ your consideration.
It had never occurred to me that there was the slightest idea at that time that the line was to be constructed at the expense of the Commonwealth. At the Convention, the idea was that Western Australia was prepared to construct her part, and the Federal Union being brought about, the unwillingness of South Australia might, perhaps, be more easily overcome. But what has Sir John Forrest done to bring it about? No proposal for the construction of the Western Australian section of the line has ever been brought forward. What did he say to the people of Western Australia in the Perth Town Hall on the 18th July, 1900 -
But I consider that in the very first session of the Federal Parliament, whoever represents Western Australia in that Parliament, must lemand that it shall deal with these important questions.
Did he, in the first session of this Parliament, attempt to deal with this important question ? Not a bit of it ! He slept for three or four years. Nothing effective was done until the Reid-McLean Government came into office, in the month of August,
– Did not the Watson Government introduce the Bill ?
– A motion was moved by Mr. Batchelor, but it was not carried. Nothing effective was done until Mr. Dugald Thomson moved on behalf of the Reid-McLean Government, after the vote of no-confidence was disposed of. It is true that a motion was introduced on the eve of the resignation of the Deakin Government ; but my point is that when Sir John Forrest, who lives in a glass house, throws stones, it is a dangerous thing to do. He further said -
When that railway is built, as it will be built very shortly, I am certain -
What does “very shortly” mean?
– Nothing !
– I am as ready as any one can be to support the construction of this railway at the right time, and freely admit that it must come sooner or later. But the time has not come yet. It is not to come tumbling over us now in the way suggested. In addition to that, when we find that six years have elapsed since this was said, and that those in charge of the matter, and most deeply interested in it, did nothing for three years, and when we find that they turn round and vituperate others who are not responsible, because another year or two have gone by, we have a right to* complain -
What will Fremantle then be?
It is a very beautiful picture that Sir John Forrest draws, but it is not very encouraging for the neighbouring State of South Australia -
Will it not be known as the Golden Gate nf the western side of Australia, just as San Francisco is known as the Golden Gate of the western side of America?
-Colonel Cameron. - That is the Federal spirit
– There is nothing un-Federal in that.
– Quite so; but it is not a very n.ice thing to flourish over South Australia, which is at present the landing-place of the mails. Personally, I do not believe that if the railway were constructed to-morrow, one man in a thousand on the gold-fields would travel by it. But that is not the question now. What I have read was stated in 1900. But in 1903 - nothing having been done, mark you, by Sir John Forrest himself - there was apparently a considerable amount of feeling amongst those in Western Australia .who constituted what I call the anti-Federal party. A good many unwise things were said. I find that, in December, 1903, whilst Sir John Forrest was a member of the Deakin Ministry, and before any motion was introduced by his own Government, a meeting was held at Perth. Mr. George Throssell, a most respectable and respected politician, I believe, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on one occasion myself-
– One of Sir John “Forrest’s followers.
– He is one of that party ; this gentleman delivered, at a meeting of the Australian Natives’ Association, a strong anti-Federal speech. He said that if Western Australia did not get fair play -
It would be for the people here to endeavour to secure justice by breaking the Federal bonds, provided all other means failed. He believed that if the occasion arose for taking such a decisive step, they would find an enthusiastic support for the policy, which would take the country by surprise.
I do not believe that anything of the kind would have been found, and I hope that this matter will be considered apart from any threats of that description. Sir John Forrest was present. He was then a member of the Federal Ministry. Instead of deprecating that kind of language and explaining that the Ministry of which he was a member had not been able to take any step whatever in the advancement of this matter, he said -
He would not recommend the use of the mailed fist if it was not absolutely necessary. At the same time, if South Australia thought she could persist in the policy of blocking railway communication between the west and the east, and expect Western Australia to remain in the Federation, he, for one, would have none of it.
Now, I venture to think that that was not the way in which Sir John Forrest should have spoken on that occasion. That was not the way to commend a measure of this description, involving a step towards the legitimate accomplishment of the desires of Western Australia, to the people of this country. Sir John Forrest should have been the last to threaten with the “ mailed fist “ the Commonwealth, whose Minister he was. There are a great many other matters when the full history of this affair comes to be gone into, which I hope to have an opportunity of dealing with. At present, I have stated enough. I will reserve the other points for a future occasion. But I submit to my honorable friends opposite, who are not only in favour of the survey, but advocate the construction of the railway, that these accusations and these suggestions of Western Australia being entrapped into the Federal Union ought to be dismissed once and for all. The second point to which I wish to refer is that my own view has undergone no change whatever in respect to the belief that railway communication between the east and the west must some day come. I assent to that proposition as freely as any one can. But the near future for a gigantic undertaking of this kind may not be, and in my opinion is not, yet. I said so in 1904. I have said so since.
– The honorable senator did not say so in 1900?
– I did, but Sir John Forrest waited four years, and did nothing. I adhere to every word which I used in my letter to Sir Walter James.
– “ Speedy inauguration “ was the phrase the honorable senator used.
– I hope there will be speedy inauguration. But what is “ speed” in the life of a nation? Is it to be next (morning, or four years afterwards, or now, or when? There are other national questions far more important than this awaiting the consideration and action of Parliament. I have never been an opponent of the Kal-“ goodie to Port Augusta railway, but the time when it is to be built is another matter. The place which it occupies in the order of importance is also a matter upon which I hold strong views. I decline to sacrifice not merely the interests of my own State, but the national interests of this Commonwealth for this or -any other railway. I hold that the taking over of the
Northern Territory, and the construction of the true transcontinental line from south to. north, is of paramount importance. 1 said so. in 1901. I then took the opportunity of remarking upon the absence of any allusion to that subject in the policy enunciated by . Sir Edmund Barton. That is a national policy. I hope that both railways will be built, but I will not vote for, nor consent to, the construction of the one from South Australia to Western Australia until at least the other is assured. A railway to the north is undoubtedly the true transcontinental line for this country. But I said last year, and I repeat, that it would be disastrous at the present moment not merely to the interests of the great question which I have mentioned, but to the interests also of South Australia as a State, if the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway were agreed to now. I do not say that my honorable friends, who, with perfect earnestness, are advocating not merely the survey, but also incidentally the railway, are doing other than they ought to do in the discharge of their duty. They, are doing no more than, perhaps, I should myself do if I were in their shoes. But I find the press of their State enunciating opinions that are not calculated to reassure us as to a fair consideration being given to the Northern Territory question, and as to the transcontinental railway line, which is bound up with it. I read in the Perth Morning Herald utterances which I am sure my honorable friends from Western Australia will be disposed to disclaim. It says in a leading article -
It is absurd to compare the connexion with Adelaide of the stagnant Territory - with its feeble pastoral industry, deserted gold mines, and total white population of 900 - to the connexion of Western Australia - with its population of 260,000, its fertile cultural area, as large as Victoria, its populous and prosperous goldfields - with the eastern States. The latter work is an immediate necessity of Federation, with a certainty of remunerative results; the former is a project of the future, dependent, on problematic developments .of the future. Still, it is not difficult to understand the South Australian jealousy on the subject. The Ade’laide to Port Darwin scheme was projected in ‘ the first place with the idea that the line would not only open up the pastoral resources of Central Australia and the Territory, but would make Fort Darwin the mail port of Australia. The rapid rise to the f front of Western Australia and the opening up of Fremantle Harbor have dissipated this dream ; and it is evidently feared that the Adelaide outer harbor scheme will come to nought, and the western shipping trade of South Australia be seriously diminished, if the Kalgoorlie-Fort Augusta line >e. constructed.
Now, I say that statements of that kind are not reassuring, especially when I compare them with recent developments. But when we find that the Government of the Commonwealth themselves realize - as I should expect them to wisely realize - the great importance of this Northern Territory question, and the transcontinental railway which is connected with it, and enter into an agreement with the Government of South Australia, which is to be submitted for the approval of the Parliament, I think that we, looking at the cost which will be involved on both sides, may fairly hold that the settlement of the one should certainly not take place until the settlement of the other and far larger question, to use the Prime Minister’s own words, which is embraced in the Northern Territory policy. I do not wish to make any quotations on that head. This morning a passage was read from a speech by Mr. Deakin, who, I am sure we all extremely regret, is still indisposed, and there can be no doubt that he realizes the immense importance of that question. With this agreement in front of us as an admission that the policy is imminent and great, then, undoubtedly, we are face to face with an undertaking of enormous magnitude. With regard to this Bill I am going to follow the course which I pursued before. In his speech at the opening of the Parliament in February last the Governor-General said -
The general agreement which my advisers have arrived at with the Government of the State of South Australia for the transfer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory will also be then submitted for your approval.
The allusion in the Governor-General’s speech on our reassembling was of the vaguest possible description, and it was that which led me to put a question to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, feeling as I did that if the original statement were to be carried into effect it was desirable that we should know when that agreement was to be brought under the consideration of the Senate. The reason is obvious. If that agreement were to be immediately brought under its consideration, as one would infer from the speech of February last, we should be face to face not merely with the question of the survey, but also with the question of the construction of the line. We should be face to face with it in a form by which we would be asked to impose on South Australia the condition that, she should consent to the construction of the Western Australian line as a condition precedent to the Northern Territory arrangement being adopted. If that had been the case, I should have hesitated very much as to supporting the second reading of this Survey Bill in face of the possibility of our having to deal at once with the larger question of the construction of the railway in the form of imposing that condition on South Australia. It was from that point of view that I put the question to Senator Best, and I have his undertaking on behalf of the Government that that agreement .is not to be submitted to the Parliament until it has first run the gantlet of the Parliament of South Australia. That being ‘the case, I do not feel justified in seeking a postponement of the second reading of this Bill. When the South Australian Parliament has dealt with the agreement we shall then know how it views - and that may be some guide to us - the substantial question of the construction of the railway, and whether it is content to let it be imposed as a condition on the policy which the people in the State, I am glad to say, strongly advocate, and which I have always advocated - of handing over the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth for development and government, and the construction of a great trunk line to communicate with it.
– In the meanwhile money may be squandered.
– It will be squandered in South Australia.
– No. Every one has been discussing this matter on details more or less affecting the construction of the line, but we do not know anything about it; we have no information. Three years ago I supported this Bill for the’ purpose of a survey to acquire information. I have seen no reason to depart from that view. But if the Government had intended to submit for consideration an agreement which would have forced us to decide now the question of construction, I should have said, “ Postpone this survey until you do that, if you are going to act on the materials you have.” So that there shall be no misapprehension, I repeat that we, individually and collectively, are in no way committed to the construction of the railway by our assenting to this survey. I shall oppose the construction of the line bv the Commonwealth until the transfer of the Northern Territory is settled on terms just to South Australia, and one of the terms must be the completion of the transcontinental line connecting Port “Darwin with the south. That is the course I was returned by the electors to follow, and that is the course I intend to pursue.
.- I think that many of the sky-rocket arguments which have been fired off in favour of, and in opposition to, this measure would, perhaps, have had some effect if they had been directed against a Bill for the construction of a railway to connect Port Augusta with Kalgoorlie. When that question is submitted the arguments we have heard for the last three or four years will, probably, be advanced in opposition to it. During the debate, it has been said that many promises were held out by prominent Federalists to the people of Western Australia that this railway would be built after the inauguration of the Commonwealth. If Mr. Deakin, Mr. Kingston, Mr. Reid, or any other prominent politicians gave any such promises, that in no way committed me, nor do I feel that it committed thisParliament or the citizens of a State, to give effect to them. Because effect has not been given to them - and they were mere expressions of opinion - certain folks in Western Australia have felt called upon to get large audiences together, and at meetings held under their auspices to submit and, if press reports speak correctly’, pass, with much enthusiasm, motions in favour of secession.
– The last meeting of that kind was held in a township of 350 inhabitants - Newcastle, to wit.
– I do not know whether the audiences were large or small. The inane vapourings and the empty outpourings of the Western Australians do not reflect credit on themselves, and do not advance the movement in which they seem to be very much interested. It is said, too, that the non-construction of this railway will- weaken the Federal spirit. I give way to no one, either here or outside, in my desire to advance a truly Federal spirit. But if a railway, without absolute justification for its construction, is to be built, which, when- built, will not pay for axle grease, but will saddle the people of not only Western Australia, but all the States, with an everlasting debt and responsibility, in my opinion, it will not strengthen, but will considerably weaken, the Federal spirit which exists to-day. One newspaper in this city has condemned this Bill, lock, stock,’ and barrel, whenever it has come before the Senate. In its condemnation it had occasion, on the 24th December, 1906, to express itself in a leading article in these words -
Fortunately the job was defeated. The desert railway is dead, as it has long been damned.
It had condemned this Survey Bill, and I shall endeavour to show presently that in its condemnation it has been consistent only in its inconsistency. Last year it singled out for special criticism Senator Keating and myself. Strange to say, Senator Keating, who was a supporter of the Bill then, appeared before the electors of Tasmania in December, and, according to the statement he made here this morning, advocated this Survey Bill at forty-two meetings., A valuable member of our party, whose loss we all greatly deplore, and who vigorously opposed the Bill, lost his seat, while Senator Keating was returned.
– Yes, but two opponents of the Bill were returned with Senator Keating.
– They were antiSocialists they had no other issue but antiSocialism.
– Then, was Senator Keating returned as a Socialist?
– The honorable senator can ask Senator Keating that question.
– At whose expense was Senator Keating returned?
– I do not want to be drawn into that matter.
– No, and the members of the Labour Party do not.
– Order !
– This newspaper said that, had the Bill been carried, Senator Keating’s vote would have teen the means of carrying it, and his State would have been involved in an expenditure of £500,000. It was said time after time in its editorial columns, and in special articles, that the passage of the Bill meant the construction of the line. In addition to Senator Keating, the newspaper which desired that the Bill should not be resurrected, was kept very much alive by exSenator Styles during the late Federal campaign in Victoria. That gentleman had two main planks - protection and antagonism to the. so-called “ Desert Railway.” He did not get in.
– Is protection dead, then?
– No; it is very much alive. Ex-Senator Styles has now found a political desert. He says he intends to stand again. I do not wish him any harm, but I do not think there is much chance of his getting back in opposition to the men who are standing on a different platform.
– Where was Senator Fraser on that poll ? He was also against the railway.
– Let the honorable senator put that question to Senator Fraser, who, I understand, is to be brought here from a sick bed with great display, wrapped up and carefully guarded and watched oyer, in order to show the people of Victoria how enthusiastic he is in his opposition to this project.
– Because honorable senators opposite would not give him a pair.
– What did Senator Fraser do when the last division on the Bill was taken in regard to a pair?
– What Senator Findley is saving is rather indecent.
– If -Senator Fraser is sick, I am very sorry for him. I do not think it is right for those who are responsible for him politically1 to bring a sick man into the Senate in these circumstances,, when the fate of the Bill is sealed, and it is certain to be carried. The Age said the passage of this Bill meant the construction of the line. This was on the 24th September, 1906, yet the same paper on 4th October, two or three weeks afterwards, said, re- garding surveys that were about to be made by the Bent Government -
Mr. Bent had a good deal to say about a plan he has in his mind of building a Western District railway, and another to Bombala, at a cost of £1,000,000. The Bombala route is being surveyed, it appears, and it is expected to render available for settlement an area of 3,000,000 acres of Crown land. But these projected railways are very largely in nubibus. They are to be dependent on the result of surveys, and on the willingness of Parliament to incur a fresh State indebtedness for their construction.
That is exactly the position with regard to this Bill. The people of Australia are hungry for reports and information about the question.
– So are we.
– Those honorable senators who oppose the Bill are not, because nearly every one of them who has addressed himself to this subject, when he found certain arguments to be of little avail, fell back on the cry that the consent of South Australia had not been obtained, and also on the assertion that it would involve the other States in the expenditure of large sums of money. I have gone into the question of what the cost of the survey will be. I find that the £20,000 will work out at I Ad. per head of the population of Australia. The population of the Commonwealth is 4,153,000, and of the ,£20,000 New South Wales would be called upon to Pay £7.464; Victoria, £5,962; Queensland, .£2,586; South Australia, ,£1,864; Western Australia, £1,271; and Tasmania, £853.
– The point is, why should any one of us spend that money?
– If the honorable senator does not want to spend his one penny and one-sixth, I will pay it for him. I believe that the people of Victoria are quite willing to be taxed to the extent of one penny, and one-sixth per head in order to ascertain without delay, and I hope definitely for all time, whether the construe- . tion of this railway will be justifiable or not.
– Why make the people of Queensland pay it?
– Because they are in the Federation. “They make the people of other parts of the Commonwealth pay for their sugar in the interests of Australia.
– Is the honorable senator going to limit the cost to £20,000 f
– The Bill does, and I am voting for the Bill, and nothing but the Bill. Different senators have said that, this country is a wilderness, a barren waste, that would not feed a grasshopper. Most of those who have designated it in that way have never crossed over an inch of it. Those who have traversed it have expressed different opinions. In the Argus a few days ago, a letter appeared signed by C. j. McCart, as follows -
My mates and I travelled a mob of sheep from” Fowler’s Bay, in South Australia, to Coolgardie, in Western Australia, and the worst -part of the route was in South Australia, where there was a drought at the time. We had splendid feed and water all the way in Western Australia, and if some of the members -
He means by “ members “ those who are opposing the measure - passed through the country I am sure they would have a different- opinion of it. I have travelled a great number of miles through the interior of Western Australia and South Australia. I have no hesitation in saying that -the railway will be a success, as it will not only open up pastoral and agricultural land, but gold-bearing country as well.
I do not know whether that opinion is correct or not, but I do know that opinions were expressed many years ago about Western Australia by experts in their own particular line that seem to-day almost impossible, so absurd and unsound have they been proved. Tn 1864 there was a meeting of the Geographical Society in London, presided over by Sir Roderick I. Murchison, K.C.B. A paper was read by Mr. E. C. Hargreaves, the discoverer of gold in Australia, on The A7 on-auriferous Character of Hee Rocks of West Australia. In the Proceedings of the Geographical Society, it is stated -
Mr. Hargreaves, who first practically opened out the gold mines of Australia, having been sent to examine West Australia, with the view of determining if, as had been loosely asserted, it would prove to be auriferous, has, after various excursions into the interior, reported that, although rich in iron and copper ores, its rocks, so different from those in New South Wales and Victoria, render it essentially a non-auriferous region. Relying upon the absence of those rocks, which Sir Roderick Murchison (to whom he refers) had cited as the only true matrices of gold in veinstones, he shows that the statement that that geologist had ever suggested that West Australia would be found to be a gold-producing country, was entirely unfounded. Mr.. Hargreaves had sent home numerous specimens of the rocks.
The President, in expressing the customary vote of thanks to the author of the paper, said Mr. Hargreaves was the first practical explorer of the gold mines of Austraia. He had been sent out bv Government to see if Western Australia would prove auriferous. He had stated what was certainly a fact, that he (the President) - never had the remotest idea of suggesting that Western Australia would prove auriferous; on the contrary, he knew very well from what had been previously said of the structure of these rocks, and from the fossils and or.ganic remains which had been brought before them by Mr. Frank Gregory, who had ex’plored the country, that there were none of those ancient slaty rocks in the regions examined, with quart!! veins in them, in which gold could be discovered.
Mr. Hargreaves explored Western Australia. The President of that society, a highly scientific man, agreed with Mr. Har- greaves’ opinion that it was a nonauriferous country, and yet, since that time, within a period of fifteen or twenty years, £74,000.000 worth of gold has been won from the bowels of the earth in that State.
– The same thing happened at Mount Morgan.
– We are not dealing with Mount Morgan. The question before us is a Survey Bill involving an ex penditure of £20,000. I know there is a strong desire on the part of the Senate to have a vote taken on the Bill at the time agreed upon - half -past 3 o’clock to-day. The question has been so exhaustively dealt with that further remarks from me would seem superfluous. I intend on this occasion to vote for the Bill as I did when the measure was before us last session. In doing so, I am in no way committing myself to vote for the construction of a line which will involve an expenditure of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000. I say unhesitatingly that the people of Australia, when the facts are presented to them in their true light, will not begrudge a fraction over one penny per head in order to get information that is essential to enable the representatives of the people to give an intelligent vote on this all-important question.
– It is not a case of begrudging the money. It is a question of whether it is right and fair.
– This is essentially an Australian matter. I view it in no other light, and as essentially an Australian myself, I say that the £20,000 is a justifiable expenditure. I hope the second reading of the Bill will be carried on this occasion by more votes than it received last session.
– I rise with some trepidation as a new member to speak on this question, after the dictum of one of my South Australian colleagues that new members are supposed to exhibit impatience if they intervene in this debate even by interjection. This, however, is by no means a new question to me, although I have not had an opportunity of discussing it in this Senate before. It is by no means a new question in South Australia. Ten or eleven years ago, it came up for the consideration of the Cabinet of which I was a member, and the view expressed then was the same as was subsequently embodied in a- minute by my colleague, Sir Frederick Holder, in 1900 - that South Australia would do nothing whatever to impede the survey or to throw any obstacle in the way of the Commonwealth carrying it out. If there was any delay at that period in taking a definite step forward, it was the fault of whoever had the reins of power in Western Australia, when the advances made by Sir Frederick Holder were not met, because he undertook then - and I know that he had a majority behind him at the time - to introduce and carry through the South Australian Parliament a measure facilitating the settlement of this question if the Western
Australian Government did the same in their State. The early part of this debate resolved itself mainly into a duel between the senators from Western Australia and those from Queensland, with an occasional intervention by senators from other States just to keep a clear ring, .or to help one side or the other. I am at a loss to understand the attitude of honorable senators representing Queensland in this matter. One might imagine from what they have said that under this Bill, which is intended merely to supply Parliament with information, we were proposing to take 1,100 miles of railway from Queensland territory and transfer it to South Australia.
– As the honorable senator is aware, five of the six senators representing Tasmania are also against the proposal.
– I was referring particularly to the attitude of honorable senators from Queensland. I agree with Senator Symon that the attitude of honorable senators from South Australia is quite clear. They are going to support the Bill.
– I am sorry to say that it is quite dark to me, whilst I can understand the attitude of honorable senators from Western Australia.
– We are voting for the Bill in order that, as a result of the survey for which it provides, we may obtain information which will enable Parliament subsequently to determine with greater confidence whether the great undertaking of the construction of the proposed line is justified or not. We do hot commit ourselves in any way to the construction of the line. Personally, I am, as I have always been, favorably disposed to its construction. With my colleagues and other people in South Australia, I was committed many years ago to the favorable consideration of the proposal if the information to be obtained concerning it justified the opinions which we then held. If I were to speak from the selfish point of view of the interests of my own State, 1 would say that I do not think that the railway would be of any special advantage to South Australia. No doubt it would give the people of South Australia speedier transmission of their mails ; but that is an advantage which would be shared equally by all the other eastern States. It would probably also give South Australia an earlier and a better market for her perishable products than she has at present. But, as I am glad to say has been pointed out, Western Australia is ‘ developing her agricultural and dairying industries, and no doubt looks forward to being able, at no distant date, to supply her own wants in the matter of food products. I wish to refer very briefly to some arguments advanced by military members of the Senate on the question of defence; and to what I consider the fallacious conclusions which they drew from them. Senator Neild, for instance, attempted to support, what I think is an entirely impossible proposition, that communication by sea is more expeditious than by rail. It is generally accepted as an axiom that, while sea-carriage is cheaper, land-carriage is undoubtedly the more expeditious. By a very laboured argument, the honorable senator sought to convince the Senate that if troops were required in Western Australia from the eastern States, it would be more expeditious to transport them by sea than by rail, if the proposed line were constructed. The argument is one which I think veryfew would be inclined to indorse, and the objections to it would hold good if it were sought to be applied the other way to the transport of troops from Western Australia for the assistance of any of the other States. Senator Cameron, whose opinion as that of a man who has seen actual warfare is entitled to very great consideration, has said that if the line were constructed, it would be vulnerable at the point at which it most closely approached the coast. I think that the honorable senator was not aware that, by the route last suggested, the line would be fifty or sixty miles from the coast at Eucla, and possibly, when the survey provided for by the Bill was carried out, it would be found that the line would pass 100 miles north of the coast at that particular point, the point nearest the sea on the whole route. If that were so, it would be three or four days before any hostile force landed at Eucla could reach the line to do any damage. It should be remembered also that there is a telegraphic station at Eucla, and, in the event of an enemy landing there, the news would be flashed east and west. I cannot conceive it possible that any large force would be landed there, but if it were the news of its landing would be made known to the military authorities of the Commonwealth, and its position would be rendered exceedingly precarious. Despite Senator Cameron’s reputation for bravery and dash, I doubt whether even he would have the temerity to attempt such a rash proceeding as to try” to cut a railway line establishing communication between two centres from which reinforcements could be sent to oppose him. At one time, Senator Symon was a very ardent advocate for the construction of the line, and I am glad to find that he has not altogether gone back upon his previous statements in that regard. The honorable senator some time ago penned a certain letter to a prominent politician in Western Australia, from which it would appear that the most ardent desires of his heart were, first, the union of the States of Australia, and, second, the union of Western Australia with the eastern States by means of this railway. So far as one can follow the honorable senator’s rounded periods, that might be gathered from the letter to which. I refer, and which I find quoted in Sir John Forrest’s speech on the Bill. He wrote-
Federation must inevitably come to Western Australia; at a very early date the transcontinental railway, upon which your hearts and ours are set” will be the outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the Federation. In my belief, the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of that work.
Senator Symon was at that time not only in favour of the survey, but expressed the desire of his heart that the construction of the railway itself would be speedily inaugurated. Some reference has been made to the country through which the proposed railway line would pass. I wish to say a few words on that matter, because for a number of years I represented in the South Australian . Parliament the portion of that country which is situated in South Australia. It may not be as fertile as some of the Queensland territory which has been referred to, but it is by no means a desert. There are prosperous settlements all along the coast, and a considerable quantity of wheat is grown there. A large quantity of wool is brought down the west coast to Port Adelaide for export to the other side of the world. Back from the coast there is a considerable extent of good pastoral country. In common with the greater part of Australia, that country suffered a good deal from the drought which prevailed a few years ago, and has hardly recovered from it yet. But with railway communication it would be very suitable, I will not say for agricultural, but certainly for pastoral settlement. However,’ no one has undertaken to advocate the construction of the proposed railway. as a line for local development. It is advocated on national lines, because it will facilitate the transit of mails, and add considerably to our strength for defence purposes, and because - and this is a consideration which is not to be ignored - its construction will bring Western Australia into closer communication with the rest of the Commonwealth. A Victorian Premier a few years ago, referring to a line to Gippsland, stated that it would add a new province to Victoria, and I think I may say that railway communication between Western Australia and Port Augusta, and consequently with the eastern States, would add a new province to the Commonwealth. I did not wish that the question should go to a vote without expressing my views upon it, but I had no intention to delay the vote which I understand is to be taken in a few minutes. I content myself with the expression of a hope that the feeling which has been displayed by some honorable senators in the matter will be allayed, and that by a substantial majority the Senate will carry this proposal for a survey, so that Parliament may be supplied with the. information necessary to enable it to determine whether the construction of the line could be justified or not.
– It is not my intention to speak at any great length, but I feel bound to offer a reason for the vote I intend to give, inasmuch as honorable senators from the State I represent are’ equally divided on this question. Unfortunately my honorable colleague, Senator Pulsford, is unable to be present, otherwise it would be seen that the New South Wales senators would vote three and three on this Bill. I have always supported a Bill for this purpose. I have been consistent from the start, and intend to continue so. I have always maintained that the information which the survey would provide would be worth the money expended in obtaining it. As one of the representatives of New South Wales, I may say that at several meetings during the election I did not hesitate to say that it was my intention to again support the Bill if it were “brought forward, and the expression of that intention met with the approval of the audiences I addressed. I can go further, and say that an honorable member in. another place, who is also a representative of New South Wales, told me that he had previously voted against the Bill, but that this time he asked the electors to permit him to use his own judgment in the matter, and his request was granted. I believe that the majority of the people of New South Wales desire the information which the survey would provide. I have never pledged myself to vote for the construction of the proposed railway unless, when the proposal to construct it is brought forward, I deem it a feasible undertaking. Amongst those whohave opposed the Bill are Senators Dobson and Chataway, and, curiously enough, those honorable senators have each given me another reason forsupporting it. Senator Dobson made a very excellent suggestion that if, after the survey is completed, the Federal Parliament should consider that the railway is not a commercial undertaking, we might say to Western Australia and South Australia, “ If you choose to build the railway yourselves, in view of its advantages for defence and other purposes, we will give you a subsidy of £35,000 a year, for so many years, towards paying the interest on the cost of its construction.” Senator Chataway took the ground that if the two States concerned could not see their way to undertake the construction, of the line, they might agree to hand over to the Federal Government the territory which would otherwise be almost useless to them, and the Federal Government would then have the ownership of the land, and complete control of the line.
– Because I suggest a just proposal the honorable senator intends to vote for an unjust one.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am only saying that the honorable senator gave me an excellent reason why we should have a survey of the route in order to provide further information.
– At whose expense?
– This reference to the expense of the proposed survey fairly bothers me. I have worked it out with some of my honorable friends on the other side, and assuming the total population of Australia to be, in round numbers, 4,000,000, I find that each unit would have to pay 1 2-10d. or, in other words, that ten persons would have to pay just one shilling towards it. As we shall have thirty-five members of the Senate voting in the division on the Bill, our total contribution would amount to 3s. 6d., about the price of a bottle of Colonial claret. I feel very much annoyed that a leading newspaper in Victoria should constantly refer to the proposed railway as “ The Desert Railway.” I regard that as an absolute insult to Western Australia and South Australia. What sort of an aspersion is it upon the reputa tion of Australia to say that we have 1,100 miles of desert country in the- Commonwealth ? I have here some . quotations collected from the report by Mr. John Muir, M. Inst. C. E., Inspector of Engineering Surveys, which go’ to prove that there is a lot of excellent country on the route of the proposed railway. I propose to give one or two of these quotations, because I feel very indignant that one of the leading newspapers of. Australia should asperse the reputation of the Commonwealth in the way it is doing, and above all, that this should be done in Victoria, a State which derives enormous advantages from the adoption by the Commonwealth of a protectionist Tariff for which the other States have to pay very heavily. This gentleman says -
I was led to believe prior to starting this trip that the country to be traversed consisted almost entirely of a desert composed of sandhills and spinifex flats. This impression proved, however, to be perfectly erroneous, unless a waterless tract of country, though well grassed and timbered, can be called a desert. . . At about two hundred miles rolling downs of limestone formation are met with.
We all know that limestone is the very formation in which artesian wells are to be obtained. I believe, therefore, that artesian wells will be sunk by means of which we shall be able to obtain water in this country which is called a desert. Another point is this, that we cannot suppose that Australia will always consist of six States. The United States commenced with thirteen States. To-day’ there are forty-five, with five territories. My own impression is that the huge States of Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, and also the Northern Territory,, will ultimately be subdivided into other States. We must have an eye to the future. This railway will be part of a broad trunk line running through the Continent. We are told that the population of Western Australia consists of only 250,000 people, but it must be remembered that the line will be a connecting link between that population and over three millions and three-quarters of people living in other parts of Australia.
– What gauge does the honorable senator advocate?
– That is a matter of detail with which we are not now concerned. Regarding the subject from the defence point of view, it may be remarked that the fact that there are few troops in Western Australia constitutes another reason why we should have a ready means of conveying troops from other parts of Australia.
What did Major-General Edwards say? He told us that for defence purposes we must have a railway line running from one end of Australia to the other. The speech of Senator Millen reminded me of an incident in Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures. Mr. Caudle used to be lectured by his wife as to “ what the consequences would be “ ; but Mrs. Caudle’s prophesies were nothing like as dreadful as what we are told is going to happen to Australia if we spend £20,000 in making this railway survey ! I visited Western Australia about October, 1899, upon a matter of business. While I was there, I was invited to go to Kalgoorlie with Mr. Leake, who afterwards became Premier of the State, and Mr. Vale from Victoria. We addressed a meeting at Kalgoorlie one night. I found that there was a very strong feeling in favour of Federation. The people apparently considered that they were under serious disadvantages owing to the heavy duties and freights they had to pay upon commodities from the eastern States. When I alluded to my free-trade principles; I found that my remarks were very well .received, especially when I reminded the people that Federation would result in Inter-State free-trade. When I got back to Perth, I met a Mr. Monger, a member of the Upper House. I found that this gentleman looked upon me as having been guilty of a great piece of impertinence in having dared to speak upon Federation in Kalgoorlie. I told him that I considered that I was perfectly free to speak upon a great national question which had nothing to do with merely local politics. It appears that this gentleman is now one of those who are taking an active part in the secession movement in Western Australia. I. shall not detain the Senate any longer, but simply intimate that I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, and against the amendment if it goes to a division.
Senator McCOLL (Victoria) [3.21I- Until twenty minutes ago, three speakers had occupied the whole of to-day’s sitting.. I have been waiting the whole day to speak, and, although I am aware that it is desired to take a division, I do not intend to curtail my remarks. At the last election I claimed the right to exercise a perfectly free hand upon this question. My colleague, who was running with me, was strongly opposed to the Western Australian railway, but I declined to commit myself to his views. While I was a member of another place, I supported the proposal on one or two occasions. I never voted against it. But, as has been said, the question has now assumed a new phase, and there are other points to be considered. If I change my vote, as I probably shall do, I shall not make an excuse, nor do I blame the Vice-President of the Executive Council for changing his attitude in regard to the Bill. He had valid reasons for doing so. I do not think that it is fair to blame any one who changes his views on conscientious grounds. Personally, I should like to vote for the survey, if only to conciliate the feeling existing in Western Australia. I should also like to vote for it on account of my personal friendship for Sir John Forrest. But there is something more than private friendship involved, and that is public duty. I have paid great attention to the reports .which have been laid before the Senate, and the more I have studied them, the more doubtful I have become as to the wisdom of voting for the Bill. If I had desired to fortify myself in voting against it, I could have quoted the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council delivered a year or two ago. But I have not read the speech of any senator who was against this Bill on a former occasion. I have looked into the matter entirely for myself, and the views which I shall express to-day are based upon the reports. I do not consider the question of spending £20,000 as very serious. The amount would be nothing if there was no point in reserve. Such a. sum would be well spent in obtaining information with regard to the interior of this country. I know enough about arid and semi-arid country to be aware that much of the land that is commonly called desert can be cultivated under a proper system, and that homes can be reared upon it. If it were proposed to spend money for the purpose of finding out whether the country in question can be made productive and carry a population, and whether it can be -made a. bulwark of the Commonwealth, I should be prepared- to vote for it. It is only twenty or thirty years since one-third of the area of the United States was marked as arid country, hut now that land is carrying a thriving population, enjoying a large production. I believe that money spent for -the purpose of proving the arid districts .of Australia would be well spent. The conquering of the desert is one of the greatest problems that Ave have to face. We can scarcely spend too much money in. efforts to make our so-called desert country habitable and profitable to the Commonwealth. This is called a Survey Bill, but I venture to say that there will be very little surveying done;’ under it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has informed us that the object of voting .£20,000 is to ascertain the cost of construction, cost of water supply and conservation, the prospect of obtaining a water supply by boring, the character, of the land, and its suitability for pastoral and agricultural purposes, its geological characteristics, and its natural resources. But I cannot imagine that £[20,000 will be sufficient to give the Senate information with regard to’ all those points. We could spend £20,600 on any one of them. Mr. Muir, in his report, advocates a line of bores across the whole district. He tells us that one bore would cost ,£5,000. How could we possibly get anything like a complete survey, and such information as we ought to have before a Railway Construction Bill comes before us, for the sum of £20,000 ? It is making a joke of the whole matter to say that we can obtain the information we require for the money proposed to be spent. We are told that a flying survey is required. Do honorable senators know what it costs to make a flying survey? Even the most limited kind of survey in plain country costs ,£10 per mile; in undulating country it costs .£20 per mile, and in mountainous country ,£30 per mile. A permanent survey, marking out a route, will cost three times as much. That is information which I have obtained from the Construction Branch of the Victorian’ Railway Department. The proposed line will be 1,100 miles in length. So that a flying survey on the very lowest scale would cost .£11,000. That would only give us a bare survey without any information such as we require about cost of construction, water conservation, boring for water, the character of the land, and the geological formation. “ I venture to state that, when this so-called survey is completed, we shall have very -little more information than we have now.
– Will it cost any more now than it would have done when the honorable senator voted for it?
– I had not then studied the question sufficiently, and, moreover, other factors have since entered into the consideration of the question which justify me in changing my vote. The surveyors will not get very far with their work before they find that the money is spent. Then there will be a demand upon Parliament for a further -amount. It will be said, “ We have done so much that it is a pity to waste what we have, done.” We shall be asked to vote ‘another £20,000 or £[30,000. While the sum is not very large, that very fact is a reason why the . two States directly interested should find the money. No information has been supplied as to who is to undertake the survey. Under whose supervision is the survey to be carried out? Is it to be carried out by officers’ responsible to the Commonwealth or by the Railway Departments of Western Australia and South Australia? Not one scrap of information on that very important point has been supplied. Unless we can get independent experts to go over the country, I am afraid that we must look with very grave suspicion on any report which comes from persons directly interested. It has been said that this Bill merely authorizes the survey of a route. I cannot dissociate myself from the fact that we are asked to sanction, not merely a survey, but the preliminary stage to the construction of’ a railway. Supposing that a favorable report is sent in, and that the two Houses refuse to act thereon, will not the feeling in Western Australia be tenfold stronger than it is now? No doubt, at some time or other, the line will have to be constructed ; but the time for its construction has not yet arrived. There is a number of important matters which ought to be considered before this railway project is sanctioned. Before the session ends we shall be confronted with proposals for the expenditure of at least .£1,500,000 on defence. Many of us are bound by our election pledges to vote for a system of Commonwealth oldage pensions. I am prepared to support its establishment, and that will involve an annual expenditure of a further £[1,500,000. We shall also be invited to pass a Bounties Bill, which will involve an annual expenditure of from £[80,000 to £[100,000 for a considerable number of years. We have other proposals to consider - for instance, a proposal by Senator Henderson to establish a line of Commonwealth mail steamers at a cost of £[2,000,000 or £3,000,000. Then the bush Capital fad will involve us in the expenditure of millions sterling. There are proposals in the air - some of them just, others of them unjust, I believe - which will run the Commonwealth into an expenditure of £[8,000,000 or £[9,000,000.
Where are we to get an extra sum of £5,000,000 to construct this railway, and what return will it yield?
– Will the honorable senator never stop crying poverty?
– I am not crying poverty, but caution, prudence, and business. The honorable senator and his party are never tired of spending money. They do not care where it comes from; they are ready to squander money everywhere and anywhere, and on any fad.
– If it had not been for the presence of the Labour Party in Parliament more money would have been spent.
– Not at all.
– We put the brake on your crowd, squandering and plundering.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators to allow the speaker to proceed.
– I do not know who my crowd is. Probably Senator Findley will find out when he goes up for reelection.
– If I can get on the Age or Argus ticket I shall be all right, I suppose.
– Other factors have come into the consideration of this question since it was last submitted to the Parliament. One factor is the transfer of the Northern Territory. That question has been so well presented by Senator Symon that I do not propose to dwell on it; but, as he said, there is no comparison between the question of connecting the east with the west and that of connecting the south with the north. The latter question is one which must be faced, and faced at once. No doubt we shall be asked this session to give a vote on the proposal, and I trust that a satisfactory conclusion will be come to. I was very much astonished to hear Senator Mulcahy say to-day that the condition in the agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory, that South Australia shall give her consent to the survey of this railway, was proposed by the Prime Minister. In my mind, I was blaming South Australia, because I thought that the provision had been placed in the agreement by that State, but it appears that the suggestion to put it in came from the Prime Minister. It was not a proper suggestion to make, because it is likely to prevent a fair vote from being taken now. When I first read the condi- tion I said to myself : Is this a threat or a bribe? I think it is both, when I come to look at the’ inner meaning of it. We have heard much about an expected increase in the population of Western Australia. The figures quoted ranged from 1894 up to the present time. Since that .year there have been great discoveries of gold. Gold will bring a population to a place more quickly than will anything else; but we cannot expect those discoveries to be repeated. We do not know even that the mines will continue, We cannot tell what the life of a mine will be. When we go down 100 feet or 200 feet a mine may “peter” out. There is no security in quartz or alluvial mining for any length of time. Therefore, the anticipation of so-called experts that the population of Western Australia will be doubled in ten years is entirely illusory, and, to my mind, it will not be realized. Another factor has arisen which affects the consideration of this question very much. Since it was last before the Parliament the Norseman, Esperance Bay, and Kalgoorlie line has been started. That will enable persons to get to the gold-fields with, very much less travelling than they now have to do It will save the trip round the Leeuwin. It will be a’ great competitor with the transcontinental line if constructed, and that is another reason why we should not act hastily. I do not wish to detain honorable senators long, and out of consideration for them I am curtailing my remarks. I shall vote against this Bill, because at trie present time I think it is premature.
– It was all right two years ago; but it is premature now.
– The honorable senator may find his own excuse without troubling me. I am not concerned about that in. the least. With our scanty population in Australia we cannot afford to indulge in great financial schemes, especially when there is an absolute certainty that they will not. pay. There is far more necessary work to be done in developing this great Continent than in constructing railways which cannot possibly pay. We have been told that the main trunk lines which lie between Adelaide and Brisbane are not paying’ their way. If with the large population which they serve those lines are not paying their way, how is it possible that any return can be obtained from the proposed railway from Western Australia to South Australia for a generation or two? We cannot hope to get a satisfactory report for an expenditure of £[20,000. It will not obtain for us the information which is necessary to enable us to decide whether or not a railway should be built. After the proposed survey is made there will have to be a permanent survey undertaken, which, of course will cost a great deal more than. £[20,000.
– This is the permanent survey that we want now.
– I have already stated that a permanent survey cannot be done for less than £30 per mile.
– The figures are questionable, I think.
– The £[20,000 may be sufficient to make a flying survey, but it will not enable the surveying party to ascertain where water can be conserved or to do any boring for water - one bore alone would cost £5,000 - or to test, the geological character of . the country. I am against the Bill, because the railway to Esperance Bay will provide for the people on the gold-fields a speedy exit to a port at which they can embark for the eastern States, and that will satisfy their requirements for a very long time to come. The more I have looked at the reports on the project the less I have felt inclined to vote for the Bill.. They have been put forward to strengthen the case for the Bill, but Mr. Muir’s report is, I think, utterly condemnatory, and the reports from other engineers and persons are mere anticipations, which are not based on anything solid, and cannot possibly be realized. The attitude of South Australia is most peculiar, and the contention that its consent should be given before any step is taken is, I think, very sound indeed. I trust that before the second reading of the Bill is carried the Senate will be told under whose supervision the surveyors will do their work. The Bill should be amended in several directions. In my opinion it should be delayed until the question of “taking over the Northern Territory is settled, and I hope that when the latter question is dealt with the clause in the agreement relating to. the construction of this railway will be eliminated.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Mulcahy’s amendment, vide page 1340) be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr.’ President-
– What about the compact ?
– I do not know of any compact.
– On a point of order, am I permitted to ask the leader of the Government if he is going to adhere to the arrangement entered into?
– That is no point of order. The only point the honorable senator is entitled to raise now is a question as to whether something which is proposed to be done is in order or not. What the Government may have proposed or desired to do is not’ involved.
– I shall not keep the Senate very long, but I think I am entitled to give a few reasons for the vote which I intend to record. A number of honorable senators have taken up a very long time in stating their views, and I see no reason why I should not have an opportunity to give mine. I have a responsibility to my constituents just as other honorable senators have to theirs, and even if some of them are anxious to catch their trains, public business of such importance as this ought to take precedence of any matter affecting their convenience.
– If public men make an agreement ‘they ought to abide by it. “ Senator STEWART. - I never agreed to it.
– The honorable senator was here when the agreement was made.
– I must ask honorable senators not to interrupt the speaker, especially on a matter that is entirely irrelevant, when he is addressing himself to the question before the Senate.
– I object to the measure for two main reasons. The first is that the survey should be made by the States concerned. The second is that even if the Commonwealth determined to make it, the consent of those States should first be obtained. Honorable senators who support this proposal1 are so conscious of having a bad case that they resent any attempt to make a fair statement of the issue. I am rather surprised at the persistence of the Government. This matter has been brought before the Senate on three previous occasions. On two of them overwhelming evidence was adduced that the proposal was distasteful, to apply the very mildest term to it, to a very large section of the people of the Commonwealth. That being so, not only was it the duty of the Government to abstain from again thrusting it before us, but if the people of Western Australia and South Australia had any sense of decency they would also have ceased to push it in the face of such a very strong public sentiment. But it appears to me that when people are out for loot nothing is of any consequence, but to get it if they can.
– Hear, hear. You cannot stop a burglar by reading a leading article to him.
– It is a melancholy fact that there are only two ways to stop a burglar - either by a bullet or by sending him to gaol.
– Is this in order?
– The honorable senator is not out of order.
– There appears to be some influence at work of a very active character, although it does not show on the surface. If there is not, how is it that strong opponents of the measure become zealous converts the moment they find a seat upon the Ministerial bench ? Probably the only means by which the measure will ultimately find an easy passage through this Chamber will be to give every honorable senator an opportunity of holding a Government position. I suppose we should all then be converted to the Bill.
– Or to any other Bill.
– Probably to any other’ Bill.
– Would that bring the honorable senator over?
– The honorable senator might try me. One can never, tell what will happen until he is tempted. I have not been tempted yet, and I do not suppose there is very much likelihood of that sort of temptation ever being placed in my way. I have observed the almost miraculous influence upon several senators of transition from the Opposition, or even the Government benches, to the Ministerial bench.
– And vice versa. Look at Senator McColl.
- Senator” McColl has found grace. He has been removed from the influence of another place. He is now able to give an opinion of his own.
– He has only voted one way in this Chamber.
– Other honorable senators have voted in two or three ways.
– Where is the logic of Senator Stewart’s argument now?
– I am merely pointing out that some honorable senators haw been induced to change their votes by removal from one side of the chamber to the other. This survey ought to be carried out by the Governments of the States concerned.
– That is an original idea.
– Western Australia has so many originals in the Senate that there is not much room for originality from any other State. The States concernedin this measure are South Australia and Western Australia. Let us look at railway construction throughout the Continent. Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria have built railways at their own expense from border to border.
– Has the honorable senator no maps or charts to show us?
– We may require maps or charts before we can settle this business. Some honorable senators seem to have consulted neither map nor chart, but simply to have opened their mouths and allowed the proposal to career down their throats without question. AH that I claim is that the two States which are interested in this proposal should do what the others have done - make their own surveys and build their own railways, instead of standing as beggars at the door of the Commonwealth ; and impudent beggars at that. Why should the Commonwealth engage in either railway survey or railway construction in Western or South Australia ? Every senator from Western Australia when he speaks on this subject dilates upon the wealth, magnificence, splendour, grandeur, and glory of his State, and yet winds up by asking his poor relations, the other States, to make this survey, and, as a natural consequence, to build the railway afterwards.
– What about the Queensland sugar bounty?
– I have nothing whatever to say to those glorified White Australians who are prepared to barter a great national ideal for a paltry railway across unexplored territory. If they are against the sugar bounty, they should vote against it.
– We are in favour of it.
– I presume the honorable senator voted for it because he was in favour of it. So I intend to vote against this Bill because I am against it. The honorable senator seems to think that because he voted for something which concerns Queensland, I ought to vote for this measure which concerns Western Australia. He appears to be one of the old log-rolling school of politicians whose motto was “ Scratch my back and I will scratch yours.” I never belonged to that school. I hope I never shall belong to it. I did not think that it had any existence in the Senate, and I am sorry to find that it has. However, it will get no encouragement from me. I consider every measure submitted on its merits or. demerits, and I am dealing with the measure now before the Senate on precisely those grounds. I have been waiting anxiously to hear some reason why the Commonwealth should take in hand railway construction in Western Australia and in South Australia. What have we to do with railway building in either of those States? Some honorable senators said that Federation could not be consummated without the building of this railway. I have not the slightest doubt that the building of the line would quicken communication between various parts of Australia. That might be said with equal truth of a railway constructed in any other part of the continent - for instance, from Rockhampton to Townsville, or from Cooktown to Normanton. But Queensland has never come to the Commonwealth and asked that the whole of Australia should do her railway building for her. The
Queensland people have done their own railway building. They have borrowed millions of money, incurred a huge debt, which I hope they will some day be able to pay, and are paying a very large sum annually as interest, all for the purpose of developing their own territory. All I ask is that Western Australia and South Australia shall follow this good example; that they shall not attempt to loaf upon the other members of the Federation, but that they shall perform their own part in the great play of the Commonwealth. I again say that Western Australia and South Australia should not come here in the guise of mendicants at the gates of the Commonwealth. New South Wales has done exactly what Queensland has done. She has extended her railways to the Queensland border on the one hand, and to the Victorian border on the other. Victoria gets no benefit from the sugar bounty, and yet she has extended her railways to the New South Wales border on the one hand, and to the South Australian border on the other. Western Australia and South Australia, two large and wealthy States, comprising, I believe, one-half the total area of the Commonwealth between them, ought to do exactly the same thing. . South Australia has connected her railways with those of Victoria, and it is now her duty to extend them to the border of Western Australia. It is equally . the duty of Western Australia to connect her railway system with that of South Australia. When they have done that, they will have performed their individual part so far as railway building in the Commonwealth is concerned. To refuse is to admit that they are not prepared to carry out the obligation which I maintain rests upon every one of the States to connect its railways with those of its neighbouring States. The proposed survey ought to be made by the States concerned. Why should the Commonwealth pay for this work? Why should the other States be asked, in addition to having done their own work themselves, to take up a portion of the burden which ought to be borne by the two States referred to. I see no excuse for the proposal, which can only be attributed to the avarice or greed of the States concerned. We have been told that there was some pre-Federation undertaking entered into.
– Senator Symon dispelled that idea.
- Senator Symon’s speech effectively dissipated that idea.
– And the honorable senator’s vote dissipates our hopes. Let us be frank about it.
– It is clear that there was no pre-Federation undertaking or agreement, nor could there have been. It was not possible for any person to enter into any agreement with Western Australia before Federation that would bind the Commonwealth. We know that when a referendum is being taken, a general election is being fought, or some great public question is being eagerly discussed, statements are made that will not stand the test of examination after the conflict is over, and promises are very often given which are never intended to be performed. But whether certain politicians made promises to Western Australia, or did not we, in this Chamber to-day, cannot be held to be bound by any utterances of the kind. I say that the people of Western Australia, in claiming that they came into the Federation because of those promises, make the most serious charge against themselves. They were not moved by the Federal spirit, by the desire for unity. Their troubles about “Australia - One People,- One Destiny ! “ What they desired, apparently, was that the Commonwealth should build a railway for them. So far as they are concerned, the contention set up suggests that they were moved by very sordid considerations indeed. In any case, Senator Symon has effectively disposed of the claim, and I am glad to say, for the honour and credit of* the people of Western Australia, that there is not a shadow of foundation for it. Ar Senator Symon very forcibly put it tc-day, it was the men working on the goldfields who hustled Western Australia into the Federation. They did so, believing, not that they would get a railway from the Commonwealth, but that, under Federation, they would have better government than they had under the domination of the “ Six Families,” or whatever they used to be called in Western Australia. That was the reason why they desired Federation. They believed it would bring them better laws, greater freedom, and more liberal administration, and that it would send the pulses of prosperity bounding along in their State. In a great measure what they believed would happen has been bi ought about, not only in Western Australia, but in almost every State in the Union. I do not see why the people of Western Australia and South Austra lia should seek to shirk their obligations. What do we think of the ordinary individual who tries to evade his manifest duty? Have we a particularly high opinion of him, or do we consider him a good citizen? If we do not in the case, of an ordinary individual, how much more does this hold true in the case of great States like those whose honour is involved in this question? I say that, for their credit and honour, the States of Western Australia and South Australia should build this railway themselves, and should not come begging to the gate of the Commonwealth. They should not seek to impose additional burdens upon the shoulders of people who have already incurred serious obligations on their own ac- count. They should not be a dead weight on the Commonwealth, but should do their fair share towards the development of this great Continent. If each State in the Commonwealth looked upon her neighbour as a post against which she might lean, progress, prosperity, and development in Australia would be absolutely unknown.
– We have a Labour Premier in South Australia.
– I am very glad to hear it; but I am not very pleased to think that a Labour Premier desires to shift a burden which his own Government and State ought to bear on to the backs of other people.
– But is not that often the Labour policy?
– I have never known that to be the Labour policy. I have always known the Labour policy to be exactly the opposite of that. What labour desires is fair play all round. That is all that the opponents of this Bill are asking for. Let us consider for a moment the position taken up by some honorable senators, and more especially those from South Australia. I believe they are unanimously in favour of the survey, but if we can read between the lines they are as unanimously opposed to the construction of the railway. We had an excellent example of their attitude this afternoon in Senator Symon-. That honorable senator is in favour of the survey, but he will not consent to the building of the railway. He, at least, was honest. Several other honorable senators, I believe, think in the same fashion, but they have not allowed themselves to be drawn into any admission. But, as a matter of fact, we know the attitude of the people of South
Australia upon this question. They say, “ If the Federal Government is foolish enough to spend £20,000 in making a railway survey, or in organizing an exploring expedition, why should we object? They will spend one-half the money here.” But that is a very low plane upon which to conduct . Inter-State negotiations. I advance this proposition, and think it undeniable - that any honorable, senator who votes for this survey will be morally bound to vote for the construction of the railway if the report of the surveyors is favorable. If not, those who vote for it are not only deceiving Western Australia, but running the Commonwealth into useless unnecessary expenditure.
– If the report is favorable, surely the honorable” senator will vote for the railway?
– If the report is favorable, I will not vote for it, because I believe that Western Australia and South Australia should build the line themselves. Look at the position in which the South Australian senators place themselves. They say, “ Let the Commonwealth spend money on a survey in our State. It will be so. much ‘ boodle ‘ for us, but there is no reason why we should do anything after the money is spent.” But I think that honorable senators ought ‘ to take a higher view of their responsibilities than that.
– I wish they did !
– The honorable senator thinks that I am acting parochially. I have heard a great deal during my short political career about “national enterprises.” I have found that people living in any locality who wanted a bridge or a road immediately discovered that it was a national work, the cost of which ought to be borne, not by those more particularly interested, and who would benefit in the greatest degree from it, but by the ‘people as a whole. I regret to find that my honorable friends from South Australia and Western Australia are bringing the roads and bridges idea into the Federal Parliament, and I am very sorry that other senators are encouraging them in this evil propensity. Some of the senators from other States tell us that, although voting for the survey, they will not commit themselves with regard to the building of the railway. But I have already pointed out that any senator who votes for the second reading of this Bill will be morally bound to vote for the building of a railway if the report of the surveyors is favorable. That. leads me directly to the next position. What would the building of the railway involve? It would involve an expenditure of £5,000,000 sterling, probably £6,000,000. Of course, that is not much. What is a couple of millions? What is ten millions? The expenditure will be a very fine thing for Western Australia and South Australia. They stand on velvet. They call the tune, whilst the Commonwealth pays the piper. This expenditure means a very great deal to people living in Perth and Fremantle on the one hand, and in Adelaide and other parts of South Australia on the other. “
– Western Australia has given a ten-years’ guarantee.
– She has only guaranteed to South Australia, for ten years, that portion of the loss upon the line which would otherwise have to be borne by that State.
– Western Australia ought to go a step further, and build the line herself. But if she will not, I consider that the members of the Federal Parliament will be going outside the bounds, of propriety, reason, and common sense if they consent to anything which will involve the Commonwealth in such a heavy- outlay. The question has been further complicated by the proposal to take over the Northern: Territory. Its whole aspect has been changed by that fact. Hitherto the Northern Territory has been administered by South Australia. But the Government has come to the conclusion - and a great number of people throughout the Commonwealth agree - that it is desirable in .the interests of Australia that the Northern Territory should be taken over and administered by the Commonwealth Government. To do- so will involve a further expenditure of from £5,000,000 to £10,000,000 sterling in building a railway through the heart of the Continent. If we have to choose between -a railway to Port Darwin and this railway, we must inevitably give the preference to the former, which will run through territory administered by ourselves, and for which we shall be responsible. Until now we have prided ourselves upon the fact that the Commonwealth has not borrowed any money. How are we to build railways unless we embark upon a borrowing policy ? Members of the Labour Party are almost pledged against borrowing, believing as they do that it isone of the worst of evils, or at least that borrowing in Australia ought to be stopped. What consistency is there in members of that party supporting a proposal which involves large borrowing? Why should we rush the Commonwealth into the borrowing market, especially when we remember that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line will not benefit Australia as a whole? I know that a large number of honorable senators intend to vote for the Survey Bill who have made up their minds to vote against the railway.
– A most immoral attitude.
– It is, indeed. It is a method of dealing with public business which we ought very carefully to avoid.
– It is the confidence trick.
– That expresses it in plain language. Senator Lynch dilated upon the wealth of Western Australia. Senator Best became quite eloquent in explaining how the population of that State had increased, how her revenue had advanced by leaps and bounds, and how the deposits in the Savings Banks had mounted up. In fact, one would almost think that Western Australia was, in miners’ language, “ a jeweller’s shop.” But then he wound up by asking the other States of the Commonwealth to help this magnificently rich ‘State. If Western Australia is in the position which her advocates claim1, she is much better able to build this railway for herself than Queensland, at any rate, is to assist her. Another reason why honorable senators should pause before agreeing to the second’ reading of the Bill is this: There is no prospect, so far as we can discover, of the railway paying within any measurable time. I am aware that a great many railways that do not pay have been constructed in Australia. Generally they were political lines. Thev were the products of log-rolling or similar political conduct. It was maintained when those lines were proposed that they would “ pay from the jump.” That was the stock phrase. But thev were built, they ran for years, and deficits were constant. Many were built under much more advantageous conditions than prevail in connexion with the line that we are now discussing. So far as I can gather from the reports which have been issued by gentlemen who made a very cursory examination of the country, it is one of the most arid portions of Australia. If it is good country, I ask honorable senators to tell me why it has not been settled long ago? We have settlement right up to the most northern portion of Queensland ; we have settlement there 700 miles from the coast. How does it come that the country on the proposed route of this line, which at some parts is only 50 miles from the Southern Ocean, is not settled? Every portion of the Australian coast right round has been explored by men on the hunt for good pastoral land, and I am sure that this country has also been examined by men interested in the pastoral industry. But with what result? With the result that there is absolutely no settlement for 1,000 miles of that country, so far as I can gather. Is that country over which .to build a railway ? What possibility is there of a line paying under those circumstances? None whatever. It is simply deceiving the people of the Commonwealth to state that within about ten years it will pay expenses. Let us look at some of our coastal railways in Queensland and New South Wales. Take the railway from Tamworth to Jennings in New South Wales. It passes through excellent country, carries a great traffic between Sydney and Queensland, and is dotted by towns every few miles. But what is the result of the working of it ? The line from Tamworth to Jennings - that is to the border - cost £[2,750,000. In 1904 the loss on the line was £74,000, and in 1905, £[63,500. In 1905, the earnings were £[102,000, and yet the engineers who made a report on the transcontinental line estimated its first year’s receipts at £205,000. Where in heaven’s name is that revenue to come from ? Where is the traffic to be carried ? The population of New South Wales is 1,500,000, and the population of Queensland is 500,000. There we have 2,000,000 persons to provide traffic over the line I have referred to. The population of South Australia is about 300,000, and the population of Western Australia is about 270,000, so that between them they have a population of about 600,000. So as not to understate the position, I will put it at 700,000. How is it possible, I ask, for such a population to provide a revenue of £200,000 per annum for a line across country such as that which we are now discussing ? Now, take the railway from Gowrie Junction in Queensland to Wallangarra. Senator Lynch.- On a point of order, sir, I wish to know if the honorable- senator is in order in quoting statistics relating to a branch line in Queensland when he is discussing: the second reading of this Bill ?
– The honorable senator is not out of order in quoting these statistics. The honorable senator who takes the point of order was allowed a very free hand yesterday in quoting statistics; and Senator Stewart has not gone so far as he did.
– I only rose to a point of order on account of you, sir, calling me to order.
– I cannot enter into a discussion with the honorable senator, and he will please resume his seat.
– I am trying to get at the probable- -
– The honorable senator is getting more latitude than I got.
– Order ! I call upon the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I am trying to get at the probable traffic on a railway of the character proposed. I am comparing the line from Tamworth to Jennings, and the fine from Gowrie Junction to Wallangarra with the transcontinental railway, because the former have to compete with sea carriage just as the latter would have to do. I do not take the line from Brisbane to Sydney right through, although it would not very much alter the final result, because a very large portion of the traffic from Brisbane to Gowrie Junction belongs to another portion of Queensland, and that is the western portion. “ I am making what I consider a very fair comparison. Here are two lines competing, as I pointed out, with the steam-ships exactly as the transcontinental line would have to do. We find that the New South Wales railway is being run at a loss over all that fine country, but I am glad to say that the Queensland line is barely paying expenses and interest. In 1901-2, the line from Gowrie Junction to Wallangarra, which cost about £1,500,000, paid £1 10s. id. per cent. ; in 1902-3, 17s. 2d. per cent; in in 1903-4, £1 6s. 6d. per cent ; in 1904-5, £2 9s. id. per cent. ; and in 1905-6, £3 2s. per cent. It must be remembered that in Queensland we have had several phenomenal seasons, with the result that the traffic has been largely increased during the last few years, and I think we may fairly consider ourselves at high-water mark so far as railway revenue over that line is concerned. The same remarks apply, I think, to the line I have mentioned in New South Wales.- T have not gone into figures as regards the line between Adelaide and Melbourne, but I am almost sure that it does not pay remarkably well. Coming back to Queensland, I know that the fruit-growers on the Darling Downs send their fruit by rail to Brisbane, and thence by steamer to Sydney and Melbourne, and can do so more cheaply than it would be possible for them to do by means of the railway to Sydney. If that is the case in those older and more densely populated, and richer portions of the Commonwealth, what ground is there to expect that the proposed railway to South Australia would pay anything like expenses within a reasonable time? No man who examines the figures and takes into consideration the relative population and fertility or otherwise of the country can come to any other conclusion than that the railway, if built, would be as a millstone around the neck of the Commonwealth for several generations. I am not a bit surprised at Western Australia making every attempt to get the Commonwealth to build the railway. Why should she not? If she takes such a low view of her responsibility as a partner in the Commonwealth, if she thinks she is justified in shirking her own obligation, and foisting it on the shoulders of other people, she is quite justified from that point of view in coming .here and trying to press her point.
– What ! By gross misstatements ?
– By anything she pleases. A State which takes such a low view of its own responsibility to the Commonwealth will never be very particular as to the weapons or the means she uses to further her design, so that we need not expect very, much in that direction. While the senators from South Australia and Western Australia may think that they are completely justified in coming to this Parliament and making a raid on the Commonwealth Treasury, I hold that the representatives, of other States, instead of aiding and abetting them, ought to take up their position as defenders of the Commonwealth against that unseemly assault on its revenue.
– What a heroic attitude the honorable senator is adopting !
– The honorable senator does not understand what heroism means. I merely ask other honorable senators to do their duty. If the senators from Western Australia fail in a clear perception of what their duty is to the Commonwealth that is no reason why other senators should also fail. That is another reason why the Commonwealth should not be asked to em- bark on this wild cat scheme. So far as I can see, there is no possibility of the railway paying anything like expenses for very many years. But we are told that the delivery of the mails will be accelerated by its construction.
– What have the honorable senator’s arguments to do with the survey of the route?
– I am dealing with the survey.
– No ; with the construction of the- railway.
– I am dealing with the survey and what it involves. If it is not intended to build a railway, what is the use of having a survey ? I admire the attitude of Sir John Forrest in this connexion. He, at least, has the courage of his opinions. He does not shelter himself behind the subterfuge that this is only a proposal for a survey. He says-, “ I want the railway,” and if honorable senators opposite said the same thing I should respect them a great deal more, and give them credit for the courage of their opinions.
– Would the honorable senator vote for the Bill?
– I should not. . I can admire Sir John Forrest’s attitude. He says, “ I want the railway ; I am prepared to go on with the railway without a survey, except such a survey as can be made while the railway is being constructed.” But when any one attempts to criticise the proposal, honorable senators opposite take shelter behind the plea that nothing more is intended by this Bill than to explore the country in order to ascertain whether it is desirable to build a railway. It has been claimed that its construction will accelerate the delivery of mails, in addition to many other advantages which I do not believe will ever eventuate. No doubt, so long as the mails enter Australia by the golden gate of Fremantle, the construction of the line will hasten their delivery in the eastern States by two or three days, but the time is fast approaching when the mails from Europe will come by the eastern coast of Australia instead of via Fremantle. Within a few years it is probable that the Panama Canal will be opened, and then the mails and other traffic from Europe will come by that route, and passengers, goods, and mails will cease to come through Fremantle in their present volume.
That is an element of the case which ought not to be overlooked. This railway if built would be nothing but a mass of useless iron. There will be no traffic along it, and no settlement in the country through which it passes. The people of Perth, Fremantle, and other settled portions of Western Australia, instead of travelling by it, will come to. the eastern States by steamer as they do now. Only Nabobs, who are so rich that they can find comfort wherever they go, and impecunious members of Parliament, who are not able to raise enough money to pay their fares by boat around the coast, where they would be more comfortable than in travelling across a thousand miles of this sandy country, which I was going to call a desert, will use the line. Although railway travelling is fairly comfortable and cheap between Rockhampton and Sydney, the great majority . of people travel by steamer from Queensland to the other States.
– Simply because if is cheaper.
– Because it is cheaper and more comfortable for any one who is ‘ not subject to sea sickness. Even if this line was built it would still be cheaper and more comfortable to travel from Western Australia by steamer.
– :Mr. O’Connor’s figures entirely disprove the honorable senator’s statement as to cheapness.
– Senator Turley showed that a first-class return ticket by rail from Brisbane to Melbourne, adding the cost of food and sleeping berth, costs about £15 ros., whereas it costs only about half that sum to travel by steamer.
– And occupies twelve days.
– Everybody does not want to rush round the continent at express speed. Many people take a sea trip for the benefit of their health. After making a cheque in the north they come south for/a holiday. The great majority travel by steamer because it is cheaper, more pleasant, more comfortable, and better for their health. If the railway connecting Western Australia with the eastern States were built exactly the same con- .ditions would prevail. The people of Kalgoorlie and other gold-fields, centres are much more anxious for a railway to Esperance Bay than for the transcontinental line that is now being pressed so eagerly through the Senate. How many of the
Kalgoorlie miners could afford to pay the high fares which would undoubtedly be charged ?
– One of the honorable senator’s colleagues from Queensland said that if the workers of Western Australia were in favour of the line, he would support it. The miners of Western Australia have decided in its f avour.
– I have not the slightest doubt , that every man and woman in Western Australia favours its construction. Why should they not? It will cost them comparatively little. It will mean the expenditure of several million pounds within their territory. It will mean a large accession of population, a great circulation of money, and the quickening of the national pulse- of Western Australia for a time. I believe that is badly wanted at present, because the gold-fields, so far as I am able to discover, are not exactly as prosperous as they were some time ago. That being the case, I see no reason why the people of Western Australia should not be in favour of this expenditure. If some fool were to visit Queensland and to say, “ I am prepared to spend £5,000,000 in this State,” would the people there be likely to hinder him? Tilley would be mad to do so. No doubt the people of Western Australia desire to see this line constructed, because they recognise that it will involve a huge expenditure. It will afford employment to a large number, it will add to the land values of Perth and Fremantle - indeed, to the land values right away to Kalgoorlie. But if the line were constructed very few people would, travel by it, because the fares charged would necessarily be too high. Then, again, the incidental cost of travelling across that barren country would be very great.
– That barren country has provided a home for a lot of Queenslanders, who have been sending £10,000 annually to Queensland during the last ten years.
– The ^honorable senator evidently grudges it.
– At least, the honorable senator might be grateful.
– I am not un- grateful. .If working miners went from Queensland to Western Australia to assist in the development of that country, leaving behind them wives and families, surely it was their duty to send money to support them. I do not see that we have anything to be thankful for in that connexion. Hon orable senators seem to think that I entertain some ill-feeling towards Western Australia. Nothing is further from my mind. I am delighted at the prosperity of every portion of the Commonwealth. All I ask is that each State should hoe its own row.
– But if it has not a row to hoe?
– Let it get one. Queensland has received nothing from any State of the Commonwealth. A great many other reasons might be advanced why this leap in the dark should not be taken. But apparently a majority of honorable senators have been hypnotised. At any rate, they have been won over to vote for the proposed survey, although they reserve to themselves the right to take whatever action they may deem necessary when the Bill to authorize the construction of .the railway comes before Parliament. I hope that that Bill will never come before Parliament.
– Not if the railway is ‘ proved to be a necessary undertaking?
– If it is proved to be a necessary undertaking, that will make the responsibility of Western Australia and South Australia all the greater. If the line be necessary, it is the business of those States to build it. Every other State has built a railway to connect it with its neighbour. Why cannot Western Australia and South Australia do the” same? They are as wealthy, and they possess as great resources. If the Commonwealth had not been created, what would have happened? They would have had to build the line themselves. Did not Sir John Forrest declare, prior to Federation, that he was prepared to connect Western Australia with South Australia by rail the moment that the latter State was willing to meet him? But now that Federation is an accomplished fact, Western Australia and South Australia ask the other States, without a shadow of reason, to bear the lion’s share of the cost of the undertaking. I say that those two States ought to recognise their obvious duty in this matter, and build the railway themselves. Then, when the line becomes necessary for defence purposes, it will be the business of the Commonwealth to defray whatever expenditure may be necessary for its defence.. The most vulnerable portions of Australia, so far as I am able to discover by reading the reports of military experts, are Thursday Island, the whole of the northern portion of Queensland, and the Northern Ter- ritory. If a railway between Adelaide and Kalgoorlie is necessary for defence purposes, surely a line for a similar purpose is much more necessary from Townsville or Camooweal to Port Darwin. But, although Queensland recognises that such a line is necessary, it never dreams of asking any other State to build it for them.
– There is not the slightest analogy between the two cases.
– There _ is. I say that such a line as I have indicated would enable the Commonwealth to concentrate troops on the north-eastern portion of Australia, and is just as necessary for defence purposes as is a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. If the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory be ratified, that country will belong to the Commonwealth, which will be charged with the task of developing it, and a railway will be necessary for its development. If we have to choose between building a railway in some one else’s back yard, and building a railway in our own back yard, the choice naturally falls upon our own back yard.
– Surely you do not expect an invading army to attack Australia at Cloncurry ?
– I do not suppose an army would invade Australia at Cloncurry unless they came by way of Thursday Island ; but there are much more vulnerable points in the north than there are in the west. On the north-eastern coast there is a fine stretch of country which could be settled by Asiatics, and is fitted for cultivation, with a large rainfall and excellent soil. That cannot be said of the country in Western Australia which lies eastward from Perth. Even the pioneering settlers, who have forced their way almost everywhere, have absolutely shunned the south-western corner of Australia, and if an invading army were to come here they would not go to that part of the Commonwealth. If railways for defence purposes ‘are required Queensland stands in need of one; but the people of that State do not contemplate a railway until they can do what all the other States should do - build it for themselves. If a State finds itself incapable of developing its territory it ought to admit its impotence and hand its responsibilities over to the Commonwealth. But Western Australia and South Australia, ask the Common- wealth to bear the expense of constructing this railway, while they retain possession of the land, and reap the profit. To the best of my ability, I have given a few reasons why I oppose this measure. I do not suppose that honorable senators will be influenced one way or another by what I have said, and I have never expected that they would, because we have, probably, all made up our minds how we are going to vote. So far as I can gather, there is every probability of the second reading of the Bill being carried. On some future occasion, if we live long enough, there may be an opportunity to remind some honorable senators ,of .their utterances in regard to this measure. We may find men, who are now strong advocates of a survey, opposing the building of the line, and they will be exposed in all their nakedness, in their attempt to get something out of their neighbours for nothing.
.- It is trying to a new senator, especially one from South Australia, to have to sit in this Chamber and be lectured for not speaking, although I have tried on several occasions to say a word or two, and this is the first time I have succeeded. It was a little unfair on the part of my absent colleague, Senator Symon,- when my other colleague, Senator O’Loghlin, interjected, to administer a snub in the remark “ too impatient,” which meant, to use a Scotch phrase, a “ little bit impudent.” Although I am a new senator, I have been a close reader of Hansard, and of newspapers of all shades of opinion, and I have watched the attitude of members of Parliament in both Houses on this question. On one occasion I had the pleasure of listening to Sir John Forrest, who has been a much-abused man at the hands of certain persons, including members of Parliament. I do not believe in the policy of Sir John Forrest as a rule, but when, during’ an address he delivered at Adelaide, I heard how he had been treated by some of the prominent leaders in connexion with the Federal movement, I came to the conclusion that Western Australia had not been justly dealt with. I do not, however, charge the Government with that unfair treatment. Only yesterday, or the day before, I heard a statement made to the effect that no one could keep a position for- any length of time on the Treasury bench unless he was in’ favour of this Survey Bill. I should like to know the reason why. My object in speaking is not to kill time. I know that my train has now gone, but that does not matter ; we have certain duty to perform, and, to use the words of an old song of my country, if we don’t “ go home till morning,” I am quite prepared to see this business concluded.
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,
Gang aft a-Eley And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.
Another point that we have to bear in mind is that this is not the last day on which the Senate will meet. A compact was openly made a week ago that a division should be taken on this Bill at a given” time. But what has happened ? It is neither the fault of the Government nor, with one or two exceptions, of the members of the Labour Party that that compact has been broken. It has been broken by the opponents of the Bill, and their action will not be forgotten.
– By members of the honorable senator’s party. ‘
– If the honorable senator gave his word that he would do a certain thing I should have every confidence in his doing it. A number of opponents of the measure have taken up a certain attitude, and I may say at once that all that has been said during this debate might well have been considerably condensed. But condensation was not in the minds of honorable senators who spoke in opposition to the Bill. I am new to the Senate, but it seems to me that, with these honorable senators, the order of the day was that they should string out the time. I read years ago many of their arguments.
– The honorable senator should not be too severe. The honorable senator in question has very materially assisted us.
– I am not referring particularly to any honorable senator. I do think, however, that we should be honorable in our dealings with each other. When a compact is entered into we cannot afford to treat it as that relating to the taking of a division on this Bill has been ‘treated.
– The honorable senator, who .spoke at such length, has driven away some of the- opponents of the Bill.
– Yes; he has given us four votes.
– That is so. I - do not like to refer specially to the action of the honorable senator who last addressed himself to this question, because hs is a countryman of mine, but I may take the liberty of saying that, among all classes that I have met since coming to Melbourne, I have found my countrymen the most extreme and the most stubborn. Last evening, when another honorable senator, who is also a countryman of mine, submitted a certain proposal to the Senate, I crossed over to him, told him that he had not the least chance of carrying his motion, and asked him, as a friend, to withdraw it. He replied at once, “ I shall not. I know what they are doing, and I am not going to put up with it.” That is not the kind of attitude we should take .up. We ought to keep to our compacts. A statement has been made that the Labour Party are recklessly running the Commonwealth into heavy expenditure. I think it was Senator McColl who made that statement. If I were not speaking in this chamber I should use a word of only three letters to express my view of that statement, but since I should not be in order in doing so, I shall content myself by saying that it is absolutely incorrect. If I could characterize it by a shorter word, I should feel it my. duty to do so. As a matter of fact, this is not a labour question, and the party to which” I have the honour to belong is opposed to. borrowing save for reproductive works which would pay interest on the loan money, and enable us to maintain our credit with the outside world. Several honorable senators have declared that South Australia has. not yet given her consent to this survey being carried through her territory, whilst others . have stated that she has an axe to grind, and wishes to have a lot of money spent in her territory at other people’s expense, in order that she may reap the benefit. I am not in a position to say what attitude South Australia takes up upon this question, but I know that if our State Premier gives a promise he will do his best to carry it out. I would remind Senator Stewart that the name of the Premier of South Australia is “ Tom Price,” and that he is the first Labour Premier we have had in Australia. We can trust him.
– Why has he not given a promise ?
– He has.
– He gave a promise on ist August, 1906.
– I was surprised to hear some honorable senators de- . clare that, in connexion with this matter, millions were hanging in the balance, and that the passing of this Bill might mean ruin to Queensland and Tasmania. When I turned to the Bill and found that it contained only three clauses, providing for the survey of a route at a cost of £[20,000, I came to the conclusion that there was much ado about nothing. Notwithstanding what Senator Symon has said, I would point out that he, as well as Sir Frederick Holder, and the Right Hon. C. C. Kingston, and others, have had a finger in the pie. What was their object in writing to Sir John Forrest when Premier of Western Australia but to induce him and his supporters to do their utmost to secure the acceptance of the Constitution Bill by the people of that State. They succeeded, and I do not wonder at it. I am not surprised that the Parliament of Western Australia should have been discussing what it has described as the unfair treatment meted out to that State by the Commonwealth. I do not say that it was altogether justified in going so far as it did, but it had some grounds for carrying the resolution which was passed, and for suggesting a remedy. How often has this measure been before both Houses of Parliament? Several times in the House of Representatives the Bill has been carried by large majorities, and on the last occasion it was carried .by an increased majority. Was not the will of the people expressed there ? This is the fourth occasion on which a similar Bill has been before the Senate. Every Government that has been in office has included it in its policy.
– And it has always been defeated in the Senate by a trick.
– Senator McGregor is responsible for the statement that it has always been defeated by a trick. I must not be blamed for saying that. The blame attaches’ to Senator McGregor, who has been longer here than I have, and knows more about tricks.
– I ask the honorable senator not to enlarge upon that expression.
– I have no wish to do so. I desire merely to shelter myself from the possible consequences of the use of an expression for which Senator McGregor is responsible. I have said that the Bill was carried on three different occasions in the House of Representatives, and on the last by an overwhelming majority, and I wish now to remind Senator Stewart that on the last occasion Mr. Reid voted for the Bill. It has been before the Senate on three previous occasions, and what has happened? I dare not say that it has been thrown out by a trick. However, I . challenge a statement which was made by Senator Symon. In my opinion, that honorable senator has never voted for the Bill. He was a member of a Government ihat introduced the measure, and allowed it to be talked out. Divisions were taken on the measure on two different occasions, and Senator Symon was not present. It is possible that his action may have given some honorable senators the impression that South Australia was at least lukewarm on this question. I am not responsible for what Senator Symon has done, nor am t responsible for some of the statements on the subject which were made by ex-Senator Playford when he was a member of the Senate. That gentleman adopted an attitude of indifference in regard to the proposed survey, and if that was the ‘reason he was defeated at the last Senate election in South Australia, I say that it served him right. I went before the electors of South Australia with my mind made up and my opinions formed, by reading not only press reports, but Hansard reports. I recognised the position that Western Australia was in, and the injustice inflicted upon that State. The other candidates representing the Labour Party with myself at that election fought the battle right through. We all took the same stand. We said that the survey was necessary, that we required information, and that until we got the information that was required we could not promise to support the construction of the railway. I am not prepared to place myself in the ridiculous position in which some of the opponents of the Bill would like to place those who support it. The survey is necessary to provide Parliament with information as to tEe nature of the country through which the proposed railway would pass and its probable cost. No man of common sense would support the construction of such a line without information of that kind.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth?
- Senator Givens should not need to ask such a question. Surely I am stating the matter as plainly as it can be stated in words. I require the necessary information. I do not object to South Australia asking that she should be consulted as to the route. Everything will depend on the report of the surveyors, and if it should be a favorable report, he would be only a fool who would not be prepared to support the construction of the line, because it would develop the country and strengthen the position of the Commonwealth. We have been repeatedly told that the country through which the proposed line would go is inferior. In this connexion, I have heard a doctrine proclaimed in the Senate that I never heard before, and it is that grass grows where no rain falls. In my experience of farming in Scotland and in South Australia, I never knew grass to grow without water. I have no wish to take up time unnecessarily by referring to the various reports, but it cannot be denied that they show that there are many millions of acres of splendidly grassed lands on the route of the proposed railway. The difficulty due to want of water has been magnified. In certain closely settled parts of South Australia the difficulty of procuring water is a serious matter, and in some cases water has to be brought over long distances from reservoirs. If the proposed survey is carried out, it is just possible that a good supply of artesian water may be struck. In all the circumstances, I think that a very good case has been made out in favour of the Bill. There is another matter to which I think I ought to refer. One honorable senator alluded to the fact that there is a lot of heavy mallee growing on some of the country in question. He seemed to be under the impression that mallee will grow well only in indifferent soil. I again bring my experience as a farmer to bear on the matter, and I say that where stunted mallee is found there is some risk of the soil being poor, but where the mallee grows well the land is rich. It has been said that after one or two crops are taken off such land it is no longer fit for cultivation. I could take honorable senators to parts of South Australia where land on which mallee formerly grew has been producing exceedingly good crops for as long back as I can remember, a period of between thirty and forty years. We are told, too, that the quality of the soil along the route of the proposed line is such that, when rain falls, the water cannot be conserved. But those who have agricultural experience know that farmers will always choose, not hard, red ground, off which the water runs easily, but loose, porous soil, which is better adapted to cultivation. I am satisfied that there is a majority for the second reading, and feel that it is my duty to vote for the Bill. Before I came into this Senate, I was an ordinary farmer, and almost unknown; but the votes of 32,000 electors were cast in my favour, or only 1,800 fewer than were cast for Senator Symon, the leading lawyer of the State, and its great luminary in regard to all Federal matters. But although he had a larger following than I had, he secured some thousands of votes less than were cast for him at the first election for the Senate. I received the labour support on this occasion because I was a straight-out advocate of the labour platform and preached economy. For me to support the construction of the proposed railway without knowing its probable cost would, therefore, be to go back on my hustings pledges, which I shall not do. I have said what I intended to say in as plain language as I could command. I resent the lecturing which I have received during the past two or three days as to the position which I should take up with regard to this measure, and, therefore, was forced to make this speech. My motives are pure. I am thoroughly in favour of the proposed survey, and believe that in supporting the second reading of the Bill I shall be giving expression to the opinions of the ‘ electors, and particularly of the democracy, of South Australia.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Act 1907.
. -I wish to move an amendment.
– I draw the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that it has been the practice in Committee to postpone the title and the preamble of Bills, so as to give an opportunity to make them uniform with any amendments made in clauses.
– As we shall probably have no further opportunity of dealing with the clause now before us, I shall move my amendment forthwith. I wish to pay a graceful compliment to one of the prominent public men who has been chiefly responsible for the introduction of this measure. My amendment will take the form of a clearer definition of the route to be taken by the surveyors. Sir John Forrest, in the admirable book which he published concerning his explorations, mentioned a place which furnishes me with a suggestion. He said that in all his peregrinations he found but one water hole, which he described as the fifteen gallon water hole. Out of compliment to Sir John, I think we ought to insert those words in the title to this Bill. It is essential that the surveyors should know the route which we desire them to adopt. I therefore move -
That after the word “ Kalgoorlie “ the words “and Fifteen Gallon Water Hole” be inserted.
Clause agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 5.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070802_senate_3_37/>.