4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper -
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - PostmasterGeneral’s Department. - Appointment of H. M. Cox as Assistant Engineer, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Western Australia.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he will lay on the table all papers relating to the last contract accepted by the Department for mail-bag labels ?
– I am informed that some of the papers referred to are privileged. We are now awaiting the decision of the Attorney-General, to whom they have been referred, and the Government will have no objection to lay on the table those which are not privileged.
– I ask leave to make a personal explanation. Last week, when speaking on the Pine Creek to Katherine River Survey Bill, I made reference to a certain statement which I attributed to Professor Wallace. I believe that Professor Wallace is dead, but I wish to say that I made a mistake in attributing the statement to him. It is from the journal of the Central Australian Exploring Expedition of 1889, and was by a Mr. W. H. Tietkens, who had command of the expedition. The journal was published by the South Australian Government Printer, in 1891. The quotation, to which I referred, was -
Date palms in fruit at permanent watering places would prove an inestimable blessing to the famished and weary traveller in tropical Australia.
– That referred to Hergott Springs.
– It is customary to permit a personal explanation to be made without interruption, but as the honorable senator appears to require information on the subject, I may inform him that the statement I have quoted appears in the journal in notes dated from Alice Springs, which is in the middle of Australia.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether it is the intention of the Government to deal with the Maternity Allowance Bill in the Senate tomorrow ?
– I hope that the first reading of the Bill will be carried today, and the second reading moved tomorrow. I hope also that as much progress will then continue to be made with the Bill as possible. The matter with which it deals has been for a considerable time before the country, and as the Bill has been passed in another place, the sooner, we finish with it here the better.
– I ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether, in view of the early completion of the Naval Unit of the Imperial Navy, the Government have considered the question of strengthening the Unit by building additional warships, and, if so, what decision has been arrived at?
– I think I can answer the honorable senator by referring him to the statement of the policy of the Government as enunciated in the Budgetspeech of the Treasurer, and to my own remarks on the question of naval defence made during last week on the motion for the printing of the Budget-papers.
– Arising out of the answer, I direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to the fact that my question had no reference to what the Government are doing now. I asked what the Government propose to do later on, and the honorable senator has referred me to a statement of what has been done in the past.
asked the Min-. ister representing the Minister of Trade, and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer to the question, I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will make definite inquiries as to whether similar conditions are really applied to the importation of frozen meat from other countries?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Can hegive any information respecting the importation into Australia of a number of Maltese now working at Mr Lyell, Tasmania, as to whether they were imported under contract in contravention of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
Careful inquiries have been made regarding this matter, as a result of which it appears that these men have not come to the Commonwealth under contract.
Senator GUTHRIE called the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive
Council to the following paragraph appearing in the Melbourne press -
Mr. Peake considered it was. not good finance for the Federal Government to be wasting money on the payment of a maternity bonus when it had not yet paid the States the money it owed them in respect of interest on transferred properties and other obligations. and asked, upon notice -
What constitutional obligations to the State of South Australia have not been met by* the Federal Government ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that no constitutional obligations have not been met.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
When will the wireless station in Fremantle be ready for the receipt and despatch of wireless telegrams?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The wireless station at Fremantle has not yet been formally taken over by the Commonwealth, but an arrangement has been made under which wireless telegrams, can be received at and despatched from that station under regulation conditions and at the usual rates. This arrangement came into operation on the 30th ultimo.
Have all negotiations between the Government of the Commonwealth and that of the State of New South Wales with reference to the occupancy of Federal Government House in Sydney been terminated? and’, if so,
Has it been definitely settled that the State of New South Wales is now to resume possession of the whole property? and, if so,
What steps, if any, are to be taken to provide adequate accommodation, for the Go- . vernor-General upon future visits to Sydney?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2. The correspondence laid on the table of Parliament and printed gives all the information, available on the subject of Government House, . Sydney.
.- The Minister has omitted to give an answer to my third question as to what steps, if any, are to be taken to provide adequate accommodation’ for the
Governor-General upon future visits to Sydney.
– The last part of the answer I gave referred to the honorable senator’s third question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
What steps, if any, are intended to be taken to give some parliamentary representation to the taxpayers in Papua, the Northern Territory, and the Federal Capital Territory ?
– The parliamentary representation of these Territories is still engaging the serious attention of the Government.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1. (a) Chief of Ordnance.
Officer Commanding Royal Australian Garrison Artillery.
Position, Rank and Name, Salaryper annum.
Director of Artillery, Major W. A. Coxen, R.A.G.A., £500.
Director of Engineers, Captain T. Murdoch, R.A.E.,£355
Director of Works, Captain H. O. Clogstoun, R.E.,£500.
Inspector of Ordnance, Major H. B. L. Gipps, R.A.G.A.,£450
Assistant Inspector of Ordnance, Lieutenant H. A. Home, R.A.G.A., £275.
Inspector of Ordnance Machinery, Major R Harding , £6oo.
Assistant Chief Instructor Field Artillery, Captain S. M. Anderson, . £450.
The duties carried out by the above staff are as allotted by the Chief of Ordnance under Commonwealth Military Regulations, paragraph 2 (b).
Major J. E. Robertson, 2nd, O.C.R.A.G.A., 5th Military District.
Colonel J. Stanley, 1st (honors), retired. (Now employed as Inspector of Equipment.)
Colonel H. Le Mesurier, 1st (honors), Commandant, 4th Military District.
Lieut.-Colonel L. H. Kyngdon,1st, O.C.R.A.G.A., 2nd Military District.
Major A. H. Sandford, 1st (honors), O.C.R.A.G.A., 3rd Military District.
Major W. A. Coxen 1st (honors), Director of Artillery.
Colonel W. J. Clark, 1st, Commandant, 6th Military District.
Major J. H. Hurst, 2nd, Chief Instructor, School of Gunnery,
With reference to the answer to question No. 7, I understand that a comparison as regards the class of certificate obtained by the different officers should not be made, as the percentage of marks required for the various classes of certificates has differed from time to time.
For instance, during some years 80 per cent. of marks and over carried “ honors,” whereas in other years it merely meant a first-class award. Similarly, 70 to 80 per cent. of marks would carry first class during some years, and only a second-class award during others.
At the present time only one certificate is awarded, that is “ qualified,” no class being mentioned.
Motion by Senator Chataway (for Senator Millen) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the Senate giving ‘particulars as to (1) area; (2) locality, rendor, price paid, Department effecting the purchase, and Department for which land was acquired, of all lands purchased or resumed in the financial years 1910-11 and 1911-12.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 27th September (vide page 3575), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– A good deal has been said here from time to time as to filling up the empty spaces in Australia, more particularly in the north and the interior. Unquestionably this has been a very serious problem ever since we had colonization of this island continent, and various proposals for its solution have been made. Quite a number of persons believe that it is impossible for the white race to make use of our northern areas, and I have heard the same opinion expressed here in regard to the interior of Australia. But I am pleased to say that with the lapse of time and the acquisition of a better knowledge of the climate and the soil a change has come over the scene. It is only very recently that this matter was debated in relation to the interior. ‘ It will be remembered that when the proposal to construct a transcontinental railway was brought be fore the Senate from time to time we had newspapers and members of Parliament declaring that the greater portion of the country which the line would traverse was of such a nature that it would be of very little use to us. It was described as a howling desert, and as a country with many waste spaces. But I am pleased to say that a very rapid change of opinion has taken place, especially on the part of the newspapers. In this city, where I think the greatest opposition was shown to the proposal by the press, we have a newspaper which continually referred to the proposal as a “ desert “ railway, but which now refers grandiloquently to the railway as a “ transcontinental “ railway. The idea of the desert has disappeared, and I predict that as we open up the country and become acquainted with its character we shall find that there is very little real desert in Australia. My eyes were opened as to the nature of the interior when I went to the gold-fields of Western Australia, where I saw splendid soil, and experienced a climate which was unequalled, although I was between 500 and 600 miles from the seaboard. It satisfied me that if the rainfall were anything like what we might reasonably anticipate, even those portions of Australia would in time be utilized for pastoral or agricultural purposes. It was surprising to me and others who came from, the west to find the opinion which prevailed in the east regarding the character of the interior, because I must credit those who wrote the railway proposal down with an honest belief that the country it would traverse was really desert land. A strange act on the part of the newspaper which- so recently decried the country as a desert and a howling wilderness was that no sooner did some Labour members take up portions of land along the route than they were dubbed “ Labour squatters.”
– Do you say that Labour members actually took up land?
– Certainly. They heard it described in this Chamber as good land, which was suitable for agricultural or pastoral purposes, and they showed the faith that was in them by taking up some of it. From time to time our fuller knowledge will prove beyond a doubt that Australia is a much richer country than we in the early years thought it was. I admit that whilst the soil may be all right there are climatic conditions which may prevent the country from being very acceptable to white men. I recognise that the northern areas are on a somewhat different basis from the southern portions to which I have just referred in connexion with the transcontinental railway from east to west, but we should not overlook the fact that whilst the more northern portion of Australia has a warmer climate white men have entered that country, and lived in it for many years. I have met them quite as far north as the Northern Territory. Many years ago I met men who for twenty years had been living in the more northern latitudes of Western Australia, and who declared that the climate was everything that was pleasant.. They assured me that, though during a few months in the summer the heat was somewhat severe, yet, taking the year all round, it was a fairly good land to live in. As the conveniences of life are extended to these parts, as we get to a better understanding of the climatic conditions, and learn how to take the necessary precautions, I feel quite sure that this country will be found to be habitable by white men. I recognise that Che colonization of these northern areas is a serious problem. I admit that the persons who have gone there, more particularly the women, are obliged to lead a very hard life indeed. We are all more or less familiar with the hardships that the pioneer has to experience. Knowing that we were sending men to report on the interior of the Northern Territory, I should have thought that both sides in politics would have welcomed the proposal of the Government to extend the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River as an earnest attempt to do something with those areas which have been considered somewhat undesirable, and that we would not have heard charges of bribery made against the Labour Government for having sent officials there in order that we might have some information of a reliable kind to guide us in passing legislation. Because the Government, charged with the responsibility of developing the Territory, appointed officials to carry on the work, we found honorable senators rising in their places and declaring that it was a piece of bribery on their part in making the appointments. I assert that the man who indulges in that sort of talk when an earnest attempt is made to deal with a very difficult problem, disrates himself in the eyes of every thoughtful person, either here or outside. Fancy the Government sending their friends into the most vital parts of the Territory, and thinking that they were doing them a favour ! Yet we had members of the Senate making ridiculous charges of that kind. When we remember how many views have been expressed as to what course should be taken in dealing with this very difficult problem; when we remember that we have men in the community ever ready to declare that white people will never be able to utilize thi’ country, and that the best thing to d(.. with all the northern parts of Australia, as well as the Northern Territory, because there are portions of Australia quite as far north as the Territory, was to hand them over to private companies, who would employ coloured labour for their development, I think we have every reason to congratulate ourselves upon the attempt which is now being made to populate this country with a white race. I do not presume to possess a first-hand acquaintance with the Northern Territory, because I confess that I have never been there.
– Then the honorable senator ought to be able to speak with authority upon it.
– Probably the honorable senator’s remark is prompted by a recollection of what he himself is in the habit of doing. I have not been in the Northern Territory, but I dare say that I have been as far north as has Senator Shannon, and certainly I have been as far into the interior of Australia as he has. I have been within 200 miles of Port Darwin, and I have had an opportunity of conversing with men who have crossed the Territory from the western to the eastern seaboard. They have assured me that it bears a general resemblance to the Kimberley country, in the north-west of Western Australia. If that be so, I think we may conclude that the Northern Territory is good cattle country, because no better cattle country can be found than that which is embraced in the Kimberley district of Western Australia. There, large, wellbred bullocks are produced without any very great expenditure. Such a country as the Northern Territory, therefore, must, in time, prove a profitable asset to the people of Australia, notwithstanding that at present we suffer a very serious loss upon it. Before the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, that loss was borne by South Australia, which deserves every credit for what she did in that connexion. Her burden has now Been removed to the shoulders of the Commonwealth, which will be able to do much more in the way of developing the Territory than any one State could be expected to do. Remembering that the Kimberley district in Western Australia is really the source of the meat supply of that State, we may confidently look forward to the Northern Territory coming to the rescue of the people of the eastern States in a similar fashion.
– It will be a case of the east going to the rescue of the north, not of the north coming to the rescue of theeast.
– If the honorable senator had waited until I had completed my sentence, he would have acted morewisely. In Western Australia, people have always had to contend with a very expensive meat supply. The one circumstance which has surprised people from the eastern States was the excessive cost of meat there. . Now there never was a good reason for that excessive cost. The explanation of it is that the trade was in the hands of a Meat Ring.
– A large quantity of the meat supply of Western Australia is obtained from the eastern States.
– Only a very small supply is obtained from that source. During the whole period that the Kimberiey district was the source of the meat supply of Western Australia, although meat could be produced so cheaply, the squatter very seldom got more than £2 per head for his bullocks. If he obtained £3 per head, he considered that he was receiving top price.
– At the market or at the cattle station?
– At the port of shipment. The Meat Ring in Western Australia had control of the shipping facilities. The ports from which the cattle were shipped are something over 2,000 miles distant from Fremantle. The Meat Ring consisted of Messrs. Forrest and Emanuel, Conner and Doherty, and one or two other companies.These people had control of the shipping facilities.
– Could not the cattle-raisers travel their cattle overland?
– No; there is no stock route. As the shipping facilities were in the hands of the Meat Ring, the cattle-breeders had either to accept whatever price the ring chose to offer them, or to take their cattle back to their stations, some hundreds of miles distant - a course of action which would simply be ruinous. One would have thought that cattle purchased at such prices would have meant cheap meat for the people of Western Australia. But, as a matter of fact, these beasts were sold at anything from £12 to £20 per head upon arrival at their port of destination. Instead of the people of Western Australia being able to procure cheap meat, they were compelled to pay higher prices for that commodity than were the residents of any other State of the Commonwealth. This condition of affairs continued for many years. Governments came and went, but no alteration was effected. In time, however, a Labour Government came into office. Itrecognised the evils attendant upon the existence of a monopoly in the matter of the meat supply, and in order to provide the people with cheap meat, and to give small squatters a fair price for their cattle, they purchased vessels and put them in this trade.
– When did they do that?
– Within the past six months. The result was that the price of meat was immediately reduced, notwithstanding that simultaneously over all other parts of the world it increased. There is an example of the benefit of State Socialism in the matter of a meat supply. I anticipate that, in the course of time, we may obtain similar results by pursuing a similar course of action in respect of the Northern Territory. It has been reported from time to time, on very good authority, that the Meat Trust of the United States has its eyes on Australia, and intends to bring this country within the area of its operations. This danger-signal has been held up to us, and it is very opportune, therefore, that we have at our disposal in the Northern Territory an immense tract which is capable of producing meat for the people. If ever we should be brought within the influence of the Meat Trust of the United States, I hope that the Commonwealth Government will emulate the example of the Government of Western Australia by placing vessels in that trade, with a view to bringing meat from the Northern Territory to the chief ports of the eastern States. I wish now to touch upon another aspect of this question. I do not happen to be in the confidence of the Government in regard to what may be their ultimate object so far as an immigration scheme is concerned. But my own view is that it is necessary to work, in conjunction with this railway proposal, an immigration. scheme. To build railways in the Territory will be of little use unless we can induce people to go and inhabit that country.. If the Territory is not to continue the white elephant that it is declared to be-
– And that it has been.
– I am not going to say that it has been wholly a white elephant.
– Perhaps it has been a black-and-white elephant.
– I grant that there are some coloured persons in the Territory, but in the circumstances which have hitherto obtained, I think we have reason to congratulate ourselves that there are so few of them there, especially when we remember how easy of access it is from Asiatic countries. But be that as it may, the degree of success, we have achieved, may be a matter for argument, and I do not intend to debate it at this stage. But I do say that we ought to have a well thought out scheme of immigration for the purpose of peopling those great northern areas of ours. It is a simple matter to get population for the southern parts of Australia. In fact, I do not know that we have not plenty of people in the south already. When we consider the enormous si”ze of our cities, we must realize that they are over-populated even in comparison with older portions of the world.
-That is no reason why we should not attract people to the country districts.
– I am not now referring to the country, but to the cities, which are certainly overgrown. We have to consider what we are going to do to populate those areas through which this railway will run. My individual opinion is that, we have been proceeding on wrong lines in the past. Any efforts’ we have made to attract immigration, have been solely confined to the United Kingdom, or the north of Europe. It will be agreed that it would be foolish to bring polar bears to the tropics with, the idea of acclimatizing, them’.. It would be foolish to bring animals accustomed to cold climates into tropical areas. We must be prepared, to devote our attention to other countries than the United Kingdom if we wish Fo populate the Northern Territory. I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who is the expert in vine culture at the Dookie Agricultural College. He is, I be lieve, an Italian by birth, though a naturalized Australian, and: has been in this country a number of years. When he was learning his. profession, he had to travel in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the south of France, and he. assured me- that if we wanted European agriculturists to come to Australia there would he no difficulty whatever in securing them.. If we were prepared to extend the same facilities in the matter of immigration, and afterwards to give the usual land bank help which is afforded to settlers, he assured me that there would be no difficulty in attracting agriculturists and their families from the south of Europe to the Northern Territory. I make that suggestion to the Government and to the Senate because I believe that, in the past, we have been looking for immigrants in the wrong direction. We have had perhaps a certain amount of prejudice, that does not altogether ‘ do credit to our intelligence, against people from southern Europe. Though many faults may be found with them, I am quite sure that faults may also be found with people from northern Europe.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator knows, I suppose, that the cheap labour of America comes chiefly from southern Europe?
– I am quite prepared to meet that objection. My experience shows me that people from southern Europe,, when they come to Australia, will stand, up for their rights just as keenly as will men who come from northern Europe.
– Has that been the experience in America?
– I cannot speak of America, but: I can from my own knowledge speak of Australia..
– The. United States- has received1 a great many of those people.
– Yes; and they are still flocking- to America. I believe that they are going to South America rather than to the United: States and Canada. I shouLd like, to see a. part of that stream of population turned into the Northern Territory, where I believe such people would be able to thrive, because the climate approximates: to the climate of the countries, from which they come. From the point of view of health and physical constitution, such, people might be expected’ to overcome: the: defects- attaching to our tropical climate.
– Some of those people are making Argentina hum to-day.
– I am glad to hear that, because it strengthens my argument. Whilst I would give every encouragement to people who are constitutionally fitted to make the most of those less valuable parts of Australia, I do not mean to say that we should relax our efforts to induce Australians to settle in the Northern Territory likewise. I believe that the people of Australia, Britishers who have been here for a generation or two, are better fitted to go to the northern areas than are people who come direct from the United Kingdom-
– We must stiffen our incoming population with Australians if we can.
– That is the point I wish to make. The people of Australia are much better acquainted with the conditions that obtain in the north than newcomers from the United Kingdom can lie. It is practically useless to expect people to come direct from the United Kingdom to a climate such as we have in the north. £ look upon immigrants from Italy, Spain, :ind Portugal, and the southern parts of Europe, as being likely to furnish the best sort of men to people our empty north. We all recognise that the north is a menace to us. We recognise that unless we are prepared to fill it up it may be filled up in spite of us with a less desirable class, namely, with Asiatics. I should prefer to see brought there Europeans, who would be likely to make good settlers. I am prepared to take people from any part of Europe for this purpose, believing that in time they will become quite as good Australians as would people from any other part of Europe. I believe that this is the best and most feasible scheme which we can work out for the peopling of our northern areas. I congratulate the Government on having taken the present step towards the building of a railway through the continent. I look on this as the first link in a chain which will connect the Northern Territory with the southern portions of Australia. The Government have been in office for only three years, and the railway policy which they have initiated is something which they will be able to look back upon with pride. No preceding Government have done nearly so much as the present Government to occupy this hitherto neglected portion of the Commonwealth.
– This is the only Government which have commenced a national scheme.
– I hope they will be allowed to finish their work. Having introduced this Survey Bill, and having passed the Act empowering the building of the transcontinental railway, I trust that they will remain in office until the line is finished.
– The electors will see to that.
– If the people of Australia have any sense of fitness concerning a Government who are prepared to make the best of Australia, they will certainly be very foolish to bring about a change at the next election.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - They are prepared to make a speedy change.
– I cannot think that they will be absurd enough to put back into office-
– Order 1
– I thought I was entitled to refer to the policy of past Governments, or their want of policy, in the matter of railway construction in the Northern Territory. I thought it was open to me to point out that this is the one Government that has made any effort in this direction. Other Governments which were in office for years never did anything to develop the northern portion of Australia.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Other Governments had no opportunity.
– Governments more or less supported by honorable senators opposite did nothing whatever. The present Government have done all that has been done, and I congratulate them on the manner in which they have done it.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The Northern Territory had not been taken over when the last Government were in office. The present Government took it over under Mr. Deakin’s agreement, but he engineered and arranged, for the transfer.
– I recognise that; but honorable senators opposite also opposed the construction of other railways. We have made a good start, and I hope that, in the next Parliament, we shall have put before us a scheme for the building of the complete railway. We shall then be able to congratulate ourselves, not only on having constructed a line from east to west, but also a transcontinental railway from north to south.
3-58].- We have listened, attentively to Senator de Largie’s speech, and I have no doubt that honorable senators will agree with a great deal that he said. But, at the same time, he said much to which exception might be taken. Before criticising his remarks, I should like to congratuate the Government upon the bold front they are showing in regard to a measure of this character. But no policy is disclosed in it. Whatever Government might have been in office would have found it necessary to propose the construction of this line. Whether, ultimately, we wished to take the railway down to Adelaide or to the Queensland border, it had to go to the Katherine River. But what I complain about is that the Government have not attempted to indicate any future policy in regard to the railway. We all knew that this bit of line had to be constructed ; but we want to know whether they propose to carry the railway right or in a direct line to South Australia, or do they propose to carry it to the east in order to link it up with the Queensland railways? We recognise that, under the agreement which has been entered into, a railway must be constructed to connect Pine Creek with Oodnadatta. This is part of the agreement upon which the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, and it must be carried out in due time. I have heard some honorable senators say that we are not bound to time in the matter, but I presume that representatives of South Australia would contend that the railway should be constructed within a reasonable time. Whether this line is carried by the direct route towards South Australia, or is taken towards the Queensland border, there can be no question that if we expect to develop the Northern Territory within a reasonable time we shall have to adopt a policy of railway construction towards the Queensland border. To talk of developing the Territory by a line running through the centre of it to South Australia is, in my opinion, to talk nonsense.
– Not running down, but up.
– I recognise that Senator Guthrie’s view is that the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta should be extended to the MacDonnell Ranges, and so on, to Pine Creek. South Australian representatives believe in that policy because they think that it will best carry out what
South Australia desires, but which, unfortunately, she had not the means of doing herself. We cannot blind our eyes to the fact that whether the Territory were administered by a State, or by the Commonwealth, its development, if justice were to be done to Australia as a whole, must involve the expenditure of enormous sums of money. I have always admitted that it was not fair to expect any one State to take upon itself the burden of the development of the Territory in such a way as to lead to its settlement, and to the protection of Australia from invasion through what has been termed “ the back door.” Though, probably, no member of this Parliament objected to the taking over of the Territory by the Commonwealth a great many did very strongly object to the terms and conditions imposed upon the Commonwealth. One of those conditions is the construction of a railway by a direct route from the north to the south, and another was the taking over by the Commonwealth of a most unremunerative line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, which it is intended shall form part of the great central trunk line.
– And which the State Treasurer says will pay next year.
– I shall be very agreeably surprised if it does. I look forward with confidence to a deficit on the working of that line for a very considerable time. I shall not say for all time, because I trust that when Australia’s waste places are filled up we shall find it possible to construct railways in all directions which will pay directly for their management and control. The object of the proposal that railway construction should be proceeded with northwards from Oodnadatta is that the first line of communication with the Territory should be through South Australia to Port Darwin without affording an opportunity for linking up the Territory with the other States.
– Hear, hear.
– I say that I am definitely opposed to that policy
– That would not prevent the linking up with the other States. We do nol require a boomerang railway, in order to connect the Territory with the other States.
– How are we, by the adoption of such a policy, to connect the Territory with Che Queensland system of railways t Queensland may build her railways to the border of the Territory, but she could take them no further unless by permission of the Commonwealth Government.
– The Commonwealth will not come to an end in a year >or two.
– I hope it will not come to an end in a century or two, but if we are going to develop the Northern Territory we should adopt the best and the quickest means for the purpose, and I say that, unquestionably, it can be better and more speedily developed from the east than from the south.
– Why not from the south-east?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am referring to the running of a railway from the Katherine River towards the >east, -so that Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria may all t>e linked up with the Northern Territory.
– That would not develop the Territory.
-Colonel Sir- ALBERT GOULD. - It must do so, because we shall have to draw the population, for its development, chiefly from the eastern States of the Commonwealth
– We are going to develop it from -the south by a railway through the MacDonnell Ranges to the north.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - How many people are there settled on the MacDonnell Ranges country? I suppose it would be possible to count the white people there on one’s fingers, though there may be a few more black people there.
– How many people Were at Broken Hill when the railway was Constructed to that place?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Probably there were very few, but there were indications of immense development in the district in the immediate future. T do not wish honorable senators to think that I am opposed to the construction of railways to places where, at the present moment, there is not any considerable population, if there are indications that the districts served by such railways might be successfully developed. Assuming that a district is suitable for settlement we might very well adopt the policy pursued in America of railway construction in advance of settlement. Honorablesenators are aware that the population of Queensland is larger than that of SouthAustralia ; the population of New South Wales is still larger.
– In Sydney.
– And outside of Sydney, .also. Adelaide contains a greater proportion of the population of the State of which it is the capital than does the capital of any other State in the Commonwealth. Queensland has adopted the policy of constructing railways from various points on her eastern seaboard towards her western boundary, and it is to the railway system of that State we must look for the quickest development of the Northern Territory. We ‘haveheard something of the great necessity .of protecting Port Darwin, and of being able to transport troops to that place should the necessity arise. I remind honorable senators that the largest body of troops will always be available in the eastern and southeastern States, and they may be much moreeasily transported from those States to the Northern Territory if it is connected with their railways systems, than they could be by taking them first to Adelaide, and thence by rail to Port Darwin or any of the exposed portions of the Territory. I cannot conceive how any honorable senator, viewing the matter without prejudice, can hesitate to admit that, in the interests of the people of Australia, the Northern Territory can bebest and most speedily developed from the east or south-east, as Senator Russell has suggested.
– The honorable senator has mistaken my meaning. I wanted to know what objection there was to linking up the Territory with the south-east as well as with the east. I was not barracking for Victoria.
– I am referring to the way in which it should first be connected with the rest of the Commonwealth. We have not unlimited means at our disposal, and the sooner we carry out effective work in the development of the Northern Territory the better. The shortest lines of communication must be those with the eastern coast, and they would go through better country than will be traversed by a line following the telegraph line directly from north to south. I admit that there were strong temptations originally for representatives of South Australia to look at the matter in a very prejudiced way. That State had charge of the Territory for many years, and the object of the South Australian people naturally was that the Territory should be developed in such a way as to give the greatest advantage to the State engaged in the work. But we have got past that stage of our history now, though we have had a very hard bargain driven with us. The Commonwealth acted in the most liberal spirit in taking over the Territory upon the terms and conditions of the agreement. South Australia was practically in a condition of bankruptcy, so far as the Northern Territory was concerned. She had to bear an enormous debt upon which interest had to be paid every year, and the revenue derived from the Territory did not approximate to the expenditure necessary to carry on the work of development.
– The Territory was a big asset all the time.
– Such as it is. What have been the attempts to develop the Territory hitherto? Enormous areas were let to pastoral lessees at ridiculously low rentals. This was done because, without such inducements, no one could be found prepared to take up the country.
– Because of lack of means of communication.
– Because of lack of means of communication, insufficient water supply, and poor country. We find that the present Commonwealth Government, having sent a number of administrators to the Northern. Territory, have had to recognise the poor quality generally of the land, and have found it necessary, even under a perpetual leasehold system, to offer enormous areas in order to induce persons to settle in the Territory. I presume that the Government officers who have been sent to the Northern Territory have, as far as possible, made themselves acquainted with it, and have advised the Government as to the best means to adopt for its development. That kind of development might be continued for scores of years, and we might still have only a handful of people in the Territory, and not sufficient revenue from it to defray the ordinary expenses of its administration. Are we to add to these difficulties the adoption of an unwise policy of railway construction, which can lead to no developmental work in the best interests of the Commonwealth for many years to come? While I am prepared to give my vote for continuing the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, I wish it to be definitely understood that, so far as I have been able to make myself acquainted with the circumstances of the country, I believe that it must be developed from the eastern seaboard, and the wisest policy to adopt will be to carry railways in that direction. We may have something like a boomerang railway before we reach South Australia, but that, in my opinion, is the only course to adopt if we are to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth with our limited means. If we were in a position to construct a railway by the direct route from north to south, and, at the same time, construct railways to connect with the Queensland railway system, I should say well and good. We have made a bargain in the matter, and while I say that the direct railway should be constructed, I am satisfied that its construction will involve a heavy load of debt upon the Commonwealth.
– If we built the direct line, Queensland could connect her railways with it where she pleased.
.- I wish the line from Port Darwin continued by such a route that Queensland can connect with it as speedily as possible.
– With the consent of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that he wishes to carry this line north and south, and at the same time to say to Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, “ You may link up as many Tailways as you like with the line going through the Northern Territory, but you must do so at your own. expense?” Is that the policy ?
.- If that is not the policy, then you should carry the railway right over to the western boundary Of Queensland.
– For the benefit of Sydney ?
– Sydney would not get very much benefit out of such a line. I recognise that Queensland is the State which would derive a benefit from its construction. Now, is the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River to be constructed with white labour, or are we to have a repetition of the experience of “South Australia in building the existing line to Pine Creek?
We know that that work was carried out with coloured labour.
– Yes, but it was done by contract.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD - The contractor had the option of building the railway with white or coloured labour ; but if he adopted coloured labour he was to lose £80,000 on the contract price. Although he started with white labour, he soon found that it was unequal to his requirements.
– He never did anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator was, perhaps, in the State Parliament at the time. My information is that the contractor started with white labour, but very soon he had to substitute coloured labour; and for doing so he had to forfeit something like £80,000. There must have been some reason for that. I know that it will be a. very difficult proposition to develop this country with white labour; but that is the policy of the Commonwealth, and we intend to carry it out, if possible. I ask the Government to say whether the line is going to be built with white labour, and whether there has been a careful estimate made as regards the cost? We know that while they have shied at a bridge across the Katherine River at an outlay of £170,000, there will be two or three very big bridges to be built between the terminal points. We are absolutely in the dark as regards the question of cost. The Government come down here and, in effect, say, “ We want, not a flying or exploratory survey, but a permanent survey, made of this portion of the transcontinental line, so that we may immediately set to work and build it.” But we ought to know definitely how the work is to be carried out, the probable cost, the nature of the country to be traversed, and the possibility of development. I am told that the country will prove to be practically worthless; but that this is an essential portion of the lines which we will be compelled to construct in the Territory. All these things ought to have been explained to us; but the Government merely come down and, in effect, say, “ We want to build a railway, but we have no particulars to give you. We want you to pledge yourselves to the construction of the line, which, we think, will cost £500,000. We are not going to tell you how long the work of construction will take, but we are going to build the line.”
What we want, and what I hope to see soon is a Parliamentary Committee appointed for the purpose of investigating and reporting upon all big works proposed to be carried out. I am, of course, prepared to give the Government credit for desiring to do the best they can in the intern terests of the country; but, after all is said and done, we*, as the men who have to sanction the policy of the Government and vote the money, want to be in a position to give an intelligent reply to the Government, and not to merely say, “ We are going to shut our eyes and open our mouths and see what Goody will send us.” We need full particulars. It mav take a little longer to carry out a work, but probably we should make fewer mistakes as regards both the expenditure of money and the development of the country. I do not know what the Government may think of my suggestion. We are building another great railway under almost practically the same conditions - with very little information in our possession. We will assume that this extension from Pine Creek to Katherine River is going to be built with day labour, and that it can be built for .£500,000, though I should not be surprised to see the estimate vastly exceeded.
– It would not be the first time, either.
– Nor would it be the first time that a contractor has exceeded the estimate.
– “Unless the Government place men in control of the labour, and give themample power to act just as would an ordinary contractor, they will not make a success of the experiment. In New South Wales, day labour has been tried in connexion with the construction of the north coast railway, and there we know that money has been expended badly, and that inefficient work has been done in consequence of insufficient control and management. When we hear that a workman is able togo and complain to the Minister about theway in which his boss or superintendent istreating him, to get the ear of the Ministeras against the other man, it does not speak very well for the policy of employing daylabour.
– Are you back orv “ the man on the job “ ?
– No; I am making a casual allusion to the system.
– Have not the whole of those charges been disproved?
– No, but they have been denied. I hope, at any rate, that the Government will not give opportunities to persons to make similar complaints, because this railway will have to be built as economically as possible. With much of what Senator de Largie has said we probably agree. We all agree as to the desirability of populating the Northern Territory. We all recognise that it must be populated as speedily as possible if it is to be made a source of strength, instead of a source of weakness, to the country. I am glad to know that the honorable senator, although he had a little fling in regard to the immigrants coming to the more populous States realizes that immigration must be insisted upon, and carried out thoroughly and effectively, if the Northern Territory is to be developed at all. He commends the character of many of the men from Southern Europe, but I would remind him that a great many persons might come from portions of Southern Europe who would be a curse to this country.
– They would cut your throat at any time.
– Yes, if we are to judge by the experience of America.
– Men from the north of Europe would cut your throat for halfacrown.
– We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that secret societies not only exist in Europe, but have been extended here.
– Are there none in the north of Europe?
– There are; but they are not constituted by the same class of persons as are the secret societies in the southern parts of Europe. A friend, talking to me about the stream of immigration to Canada and the United States,expressed the opinion that one of the worst things that could happen to Australia would be to get many of certain of the classes of people who emigrate to these two countries.
– Many of those we get now from Great Britain are not very good specimens.
– I am afraid that there are some, people coming from the Old Country who are not of the best type, but that may be the fault of our immigration agents there. There can be no question that there are any number of good citizens to be obtained in the Old Country, as well as onthe Continent, if our representatives take the proper steps to insure that only suitable persons come here. Even then,some undesirables will slip by.
– Morality is quite as high in the south of Europe as it is in the north, and the standard of intelligence is equally high, too.
– What I have read and heard leads me to believe that it would not be wise for us to get people from many portions of . southern Europe, as they would be a source of serious trouble to us. However, I do not wish to labour that question. I am prepared to support the second reading of this Bill, because I recognise the necessity of communication being opened up as speedily as possible with the Katherine River. But I believe that the immediate development, of the country is to come from the east, and not from the south, and when it becomes necessary to continue the railway from Katherine River, I hope that the policy placed before us will be that of carrying the line over towards the Queensland border, in order that that State may have an opportunity of linking up its railway system, and so help to develop the country at large more rapidly than could be done by an extension from South Australia, and also facilitate the transport of troops in an emergency.
Senator E. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) [4.27). - I want to give a general support to the Bill, not so much because of what it contains as on the assumption that it is part of a continuous policy. I am disappointed that this proposal is not accompanied by a general outline of the policy that is to be adopted in regard to the Territory. If I thought that the development of the Territory was to stop with what has been proposed, namely, its development so far south as the Katherine River, I should have little or no hesitation in voting against the Bill, because my study of the reports has led me to one conclusion, and that is that the greatest difficulty we shall have will be to get a white population in that portion of the Territory which is north of the Katherine River. It is clear that some of us are in a peculiar position. Senator Gould feels quite at liberty to support the Bill because he believes that the terminal point of this line will practically lead to nowhere, and he may still be able to follow out his hobby of having the line bent towards the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Unfortunately, I think, so far as the general policy is concerned, I am in the position of being able to support the railway leading to this point which we will call nowhere, because I recognise that it does not take it very far off what, after all, would be the direct route south to Oodnadatta. That is one of my regrets. It has been put forward, of course, that from time to time the Government will unfold their policy in regard to the Territory. My opinion is that we cannot have a piecemeal policy. We ought to have a policy for the whole of the Territory declared, and work up to it from, year to year.
– Do you mean a railway or a general policy?
– I am speaking of a general policy. 1 am one of those who think that it will be very easy to spend millions of pounds in dribs and drabs in the Territory, and that the expenditure will be an absolute failure. I do not think that, 4n the policy so far outlined for the Territory - and necessarily it has been one of investigation and experiment - there has been anything but a mere playing with one of the biggest questions we have to deal with in’ Australia. If it be possible to lay down - as we have done - a naval policy extending over a period of years, it ought to be possible for us to frame a policy for the Northern Territory upon similar lines. Although the Government have not directly committed themselves to Admiral Henderson’s scheme of naval development, they have given a general support to it, with modifications which time may determine. I believe that in the Northern Territory we have a bigger problem to face than confronts us in connexion with our naval defence. If a policy for the Northern Territory were laid down for a number of years, we should then be in a position, to judge from year to year of how we could best give effect to that policy. The line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River will admittedly traverse difficult country. Consequently we cannot hope for much development in that portion of the Territory if we except the narrow belt of mineral country which the line will tap. That, however, will not aid its development very materially. I am not one of those who regard Port Darwin as the Northern Territory. I wish to see something done to promote the development of the heart of Australia. The reason advanced for the introduction of this Bill is that it is impossible to travel fat stock over that portion of the country which the proposed railway will traverse. We have been told that if an attempt were made to travel fat cattle over this 56 miles of Territory, they would become so reduced in condition that at the termination of their journey they would be merely stores.
– What sort of country is it?
– With the exception of the mineral belt to which I have referred, the country for 200 miles south of Port Darwin is worthless.
– Certainly it is for cattle purposes.
– And for. agricultural purposes, too. But, admitting, that this line will form a portion of the direct railway to Oodnadatta, I ami strongly of opinion that we are commencing operations at the wrong end. In the first place, we have to consider the expense that will be incurred in taking the necessary materials for the railway to Port Darwin by water. Why we cannot adopt the common-sense policy of constructing the transcontinental line from south to north I utterly fail to understand.
– If we commenced operations at the southern end, we should not reach the Katherine River for a long time, and meanwhile the development of that portion of the country would be hung up.
– It is not so much a question of whether we shall construct this 56 miles of railway. I am pledged to a non- borrowing policy except for reproductive works. But an expenditure of £500,000, or even £2,000,000, on the development of the Northern Territory by the construction of a line from Pine Creek south will represent only so much waste. I believe that the only way in. which we can effectively develop this Territory is by building a railway right through, it, from south to north. If such a line were constructed, I believe there is sufficient enterprise among the pioneer miners of Australia to warrant my statement that, within five years of its completion there would not be a square mile of that country which had not been thoroughly prospected. Unless minerals are discovered in payable quantities in the Territory, its development will be very slow indeed. Some have said that this country is a desert.
– What- constitutes a desert ?
– If the country is absolutely bad, what is the use of spending ^500,000 or ^1,000,000 upon it ? But if the country be good, if it be likely to prove reproductive, why not afford the fullest opportunity for its development by white people? That result can only be accomplished by constructing the transcontinental line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. We have to consider the question of whether the Territory is worth attempting to develop from a mineral standpoint. In this connexion, we know perfectly well that it has only been scratched. The discovery of one Kalgoorlie or Broken Hill within its borders would do more towards its development in five years thun an agricultural policy would achieve in fifty years. I do not know that even Kalgoorlie could exist in the very heart of the ^Northern Territory isolated as it is to-day. That being so, what is the use of talking about developing the Territory by means of a few bullocks or experimental farms in the absence of means of communication? Senator Gould dealt with the question of large areas. What is the use of large areas if we have not means of communication ? Similarly, what would be the use of payable mining propositions in the Territory under present circumstances? I have been looking forward with some interest to an Australian policy in respect of the Northern Territory - a policy to which the people of this country could give their whole-hearted support. If the Territory is not worth building a railway through, the sooner we abandon it, and abandon our White Australia policy, the better, because we are only humbugging the people. I will never vote for a borrowing policy except in respect of some very big question or in extreme circumstances. I would like to see a big population established in northern Australia, irrespective of whether it comes from Europe or any other country across the sea. I believe that we can get people there if we only open up means of communication. To do .this requires the expenditure of money, and with that end in view. I am prepared to go to the extent of borrowing ^6,000,000, ^7,000,000, or even ^10,000,000.
– Hear, hear ! We have made a convert of the honorable senator.
– I gave utterance to the same sentiment long before the honorable member entered this Parliament. I believe it would be better to establish a white population in the Northern Territory for the purpose of developing it than to spend a vast sum of money upon the defence of Australia, because that defence cannot be effective so long as our population is so small.
– We want the men behind the guns.
– But I do not suggest - as- the honorable senator’s party does - that we should dump men down in our cities. I am in favour of developing the Northern Territory and Australia, where, I submit, there is room for tens of millions of people ; but 1 am not in favour of a policy which would dump down immigrants upon the wharfs around the city. I intend to give a general support to the Bill, not because of any great merit which is embodied in it, but because it contains nothing, which will interfere with that larger policy which I hope to see the Government submit before long. I trust that the measure is merely the forerunner of that better policy which Australians are anxious should be put into operation so far as this portion of our country is concerned.
– I think that members of the Opposition may well congratulate themselves upon some aspects of the debate which has taken place upon this Bill. When the Budget was under consideration, I pointed out that, in respect to the Government’s large commitments on railway development in Australia, not a single ray of light had been thrown upon where the money was to come from.
– It will come from heaven, as the manna did.
– We cannot trust to thai kind of thing nowadays. As the debate has proceeded, it has become abundantly clear .that the Ministry cannot retain their present positions unless they accurately define what is their policy in this respect. It was quite refreshing to hear Senator Russell declare that he does not mind borrowing for the purpose of developing the Northern Territory by means of a transcontinental railway.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear me declare myself in favour of any other policy?
– That is not the point. I said it was quite refreshing to hear a supporter of the Government making such a clear declaration on this subject. Unless the policy suggested by the honorable senator be carried out immediately, this Bill will prove absolutely useless. The money which we are asked to expend upon the proposed survey of a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, unless followed up by practical action of a fairly extensive kind, might as well be put in a bag, given in charge of the Treasury officials, and thrown into the Yarra. From that point of view I welcome the criticism of Senator Russell, and that of Senator de Largie. Another thing which must strike every honorable senator is that while we have been talking about the development of the Northern Territory from many points of view during the last six years, and while we expected much to be done, the result is that the mountain which has been in labour has brought forth only a ridiculous mouse. Why have we this Bill before us at all ? If the Government were satisfied that the railway is required immediately, a survey being essential to its construction, they could easily have put a sum of money upon the Estimates for the purpose. They could have secured the survey by Executive act. They could in this way have obtained estimates of the cost of the line and of the probable revenue, which would have been useful to Parliament. A Bill was not required for that purpose. When the survey has been made Parliament will not be precluded from refusing to build the line. The Bill is, under the circumstances, an example of dangling projects before Parliament and the people, not with the object of developing Australia, but for the purpose of balancing and gerrymandering various sections and parties in Parliament and the country.
– What is the meaning of gerrymandering?
– Any ordinary dictionary will enlighten the honorable senator. We have heard of political railways in Australia. We have heard of railways being built as baits to sections and parties. We hoped that if the Commonwealth Government ever went in for a railway policy the devices that have been resorted to in various States would not be repeated here. But we all know that this railway has been dangled before parties for a considerable time past. The lamentable fact is that we have not yet had a Government bold enough and strong enough to declare a strong policy upon this subject. It is time this sort of thing ended. We ought no longer to. gamble on political exigencies in regard to railway policy. Whenever the Northern Territory is brought up for consideration the strong claims of South Australia for special consideration are always brought before us. I have on more than one occasion said by way of comment, that South Australia appears before us in this matter as somewhat of a sturdy and insistent beggar. I do not wish to go into the past. South Australia has a right to be considered, because, undoubtedly, she has done the pioneer work in the Northern Territory. She has drawn considerably upon her own resources and incurred a large debt.
– She is not responsible for that now.
– Certainly not. The Commonwealth in its relations with South Australia has discharged every obligation. If that State has done good work in the past, we can now claim that thi. Commonwealth and South Australia are quits. The subject must be considered in future from an entirely different point of view. No single State has a lien upon our policy; no State can dictate that policy. Our policy must be determined from the point of view of what is best for all Australia.
– Quite right.
– I am glad to hear that admission. *
– South Australia is only a part of the Commonwealth.
– Sometimes when the patriotism of South Australia is voiced, one would think that we were bound hand and foot to the policy of the past; indeed, to any policy that South Australia might choose to dictate. The building of the railway of which this survey is a preliminary step, does not, fortunately, involve determining the route of future extensions. I do not think that either South Australians or Queenslanders will oppose the Bill. In the future it will have to be determined whether the railway shall be built to the Queensland border or north and south. The portion of the route now proposed to be surveyed will, in any case, be an infinitesimal step in either direction. It is not what either South Australia or Queensland wants that ought to determine the bigger question, of which this is a beginning. That question is - what is the best railway to serve the interests of the whole of the States of the Commonwealth from a developmental point of view, as well as from the point of view of defence? The whole question must be considered to be an open one. I began by expressing satisfaction with the brave and wise speech delivered by Senator Russell. I now find myself in the position of complimenting Senator de Largie on some of the views which he has expressed. It is very seldom that I am able to compliment honorable senators opposite on the attitude they have taken up, and I therefore do so on this occasion with all the greater pleasure. Senator de Largie raised the important question of the settlement of the Territory. This survey, and the railway ultimately to be built, are ancillary to settlement by a white population - preferably a British population. Senator de Largie spoke about the qualities of a Southern Europe population. I assent very heartily to his general proposition, because I believe that there is prevalent a gross and ignorant misconception with regard to the possibilities of southern Europe as a recruiting ground for northern Australia. When many people in this country speak of Italians they think of the lazy lazzeroni of Naples, and of gangs of mafia conspirators. The average Britisher and Australian is reminded when one speaks of Spaniards only of cigarettes, stilettos, and the opera of Carmen. It is a huge mistake to imagine that people of Southern Europe are represented by the class of individuals indicated by such associations. Men who travel with their eyes open, and exercise an impartial judgment, are thoroughly conversant with the fact that some of the finest settlers that we have in Australia to-day, though they are comparatively few in number, are Italians, French, and Spaniards. I have met them everywhere in Australia. There is a type of Greeks and Italians who congregate in cities, and are generally employed as flunkeys or as waiters. But these do not represent the best of the people of Italy and Greece. Amongst the most closely cultivated districts in the whole of Europe to-day are districts of Italy, Greece, and Spain that are occupied by people who are a credit to every country to which they go.
– That is the class whose immigration we should encourage.
– I agree that we should encourage such people to come to this country. We should instruct our agents in the Old Country to be watchful of such people, and not to send them away from the ship’s side merely because they happen to come from Southern Europe. They should intelligently investigate their antecedents and their relations to agriculture in their own country. Surely Australia is wide enough to permit of the introduction of some of these people. When speaking on public platforms before I entered this Parliament, I frequently advocated the immigration of these people, and I found considerable difficulty in getting a hearing when expounding that policy. I was often howled down, because it was assumed that these people, if introduced, would settle in the towns, and come into competition with our own workers. In this connexion I might ask who it was that opened up in Queensland one of the richest fruit districts in Australia? I personally know the man who showed, by his inspiring example, what might be done in the cultivation of fruit in the Stanthorpe district, which is one of the most flourishing districts in Queensland to-day. When travelling in the Werriwa district I found that the most successful fruit-growers there were an Austrian and his son. In the settlement of the Northern Territory the question of railway construction must be considered in conjunction with an immigration policy. It is of no use to talk about railway construction unless we consider at the same time a means to induce population to settle in the Territory. In considering the question of populating the Territory, we have to consider the most suitable class of immigrants for that portion of Australia. Senator de Largie was quite right when he pointed out that, in many respects, the Northern Territory is not the most suitable place in Australia to which to bring British and North European settlers, who have been accustomed to labour during long winters. No Government, I think, would contemplate the introduction to the Territory of Norwegians or Swedes. There would be great danger, if a first experiment in that direction failed, that that portion of Australia would be regarded as unsuitable for the settlement of a white population, and we should get another of the unfortunate advertisements which have done us so much injury in the past. In order to guard against the possibility of such a disaster - and the word is not used unadvisedly - it is absolutely necessary to very carefully select the people we bring to the Northern Territory. We must secure population for the Territory from outside, and an essential feature of our policy must be a stiffening of the population of the Territory by Australians. When Senator de Largie was speaking of the people of Southern Europe, there was evidently in his mind the idea of agricultural development in the Northern Territory. We all heartily desire to settle the Territory if possible with an agricultural population, which is the basis of permanent development in every direction. But the Government must fail to attract to the Territory a desirable class of agricultural settlers so long as they say to those who will be called upon to bear the heat and burden of a severe climate in the beginning of settlement there that, so long as they remain in the Territory, they can never hope to secure the freehold of the lands on which they are settled. I should not ‘be permitted to debate that question at length, but if the Government are considering a policy of agricultural settlement along with a policy of railway construction in the Territory, they will certainly be driven, and the sooner the better, to reconsider that particular question. If at any time Senator de Largie can impose his policy on the Government, I think it will be found that the corollary to which at present he does not assent will be inevitable. Some honorable senators on the other side have referred to the long delay in the development of the Northern Territory. I think it was Senator Russell who said that the people of Australia are becoming anxious about this matter. They have been anxious about it for some time. With the exception, perhaps, of the Navigation Bill, we have had no greater stock subject of discussion in the Senate than the development by the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory. The present Government compliment themselves that they are the .first to do something practical in the matter. Yet, when we test their policy practically through this Bill, we find that they cannot give us a scintilla of light which carries us beyond a survey for 48 miles south-east of Pine Creek. After six years of laborious investigation, and more or less of discussion and arrangement with South Australia, with an overflowing Treasury, and greater opportunities than any previous Government ever enjoyed for commencing a vigorous developmental policy, the present Government are able to come down only with a proposal for a survey of 48 miles of railway. It is not possible to answer Senator Russell’s criticism of this matter. Honorable senators have a right to know something definite about the policy of the Government as a whole. It is plain that they cannot, or dare not, make up their minds upon the matter. It is an insult to our intelligence to suggest this Bill as an expression of a policy in any form. If the Government desire the people of Australia to accept this measure as an indication of a policy, they merely insult their intelligence. The present and previous Governments have, in connexion with the development of the Northern Territory, said “nott possimus” at every step. If that be so, it is somewhat remarkable that Australia, with her policy of State railway construction, is lagging behind Canada. As compared with us, Canada has displayed courage and resource, possibly because she has relied entirely upon private enterprise to carry out railway construction. 1 am not at liberty, in dealing with this Bill, to. go into that question, but 1 will say that the people ‘of Australia will not be content with tinkering of thiskind. They will demand from the Government a clear and full expression of a policy which cannot be expressed in wretched railway Survey Bills of this kind. If the present or some future Government declare that they have not the necessary resources to carry out the development of the Northern Territory, no doubt the people ‘of Australia will permit us to fall back upon the source of revenue which Canada has availed herself of with a large measure of success. I hope that no Government, by dillydallying or shilly-shallying in the future, as is indicated in this Bill, will drive any party, or the people of this community, to rely first and not last upon a policy of building railways entirely with the aid and under the ownership of the State. Arising out of this miserable, ridiculous mouse of a Bill, which has come forth after six years’ labour, I do administer this warning to the Government, that they cannot go on in this way ; that if they do not come out with a bold policy, the people will send in another’ Ministry, and insist that it shall bring downa clear policy. Either the Government cannot find the money-
– The Fusion will never come back, according to that statement.
– According to a well-known authority, a politician who uses the word “ never “ is either an ass or something else. Very seldom do I use the word. I am merely pointing out what will be the course of events by reason of the past, and suggesting to the Government that they should consider the position very carefully, and should not exhaust the patience and the- intelligence of the House and the community with a tinpot measure of this kind. In introducing this Bill, the VicePresident of the Executive Council pointed out that it is also the beginning of a defence policy. It is part and parcel, not merely of an internal developmental policy, but also of a defence system. I wonder what the Minister of Defence thinks about the matter? How long will he, or any other Minister of Defence, be content with a railway ending at the Katherine River? I can imagine that nothing will give an enemy who has an eye upon Australia greater pleasure than to see the railway going into the Katherine River district as quickly as possible and stopping there; because the easiest way for an enemy to invade Australia and remain there would be to seize the railway and let it go no farther. Therefore, from the defence point of view, it is necessary that the Government’s hand should be forced. It is of no use to go on with this tinpot railway. We have had tinpot navies, and mosquito fleets talked about in Australia time out of mind. We are, happily, beginning to build up a fighting Navy, and one of the greatest purposes of such a Navy will be the development, quickly and immediately, of the Northern Territory in some definite direction, beginning somewhere and ending somewhere; and a naval policy cannot be complete without it. With this proposed extension, the railway will end at Katherine River ; and what purpose, except as an infinitesimal portion of a transcontinental railway, is to be served, I cannot see. I intend to conclude my speech, because I think we shall hear more from the honorable senators from South Australia about the claims of that State for an extension of the railway to the south. And when we consider the claims of New South Wales and Queensland, I venture to suggest that the South Australian, and ether supporters of the through line north and south, do not know enough about the advantage of the route to make up their minds definitely. I venture to predict that, if the matter were put to a referendum to-morrow, there would be but one verdict. I am not going to say that it would be in favour of the route in the direction I desire the line very strongly to go; but I do say that it would be in favour of leaving the question very largely open. While I am not going to prove obstinate, or to prolong my opposition to this mouse of a Bill, I venture to say that the question of the route is still in the melting-pot of politics, and will have to be considered from top to bottom. Whenever the Government and the people of Australia are ready to come to a determination, the matter will have to be considered de novo in the full light of the knowledge we have at the present lime, and what we may get in the future.
– I was rather astonished at Senator St. Ledger expressing a desire to hear more from South Australian representatives in regard to this proposal. I do not think that a South Australian is affected more than any other representative of Australia. Each member of the Senate is responsible for the attitude which he takes up. I not only support the Bill, but commend the Government for what I take to be the continuation of a policy which was laid down some years ago. In his introductory speech, the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave us to understand that a portion of the proposed survey had been undertaken, and’ from his statement I assume that South Australia must have had a similar policy to that which has been adopted by the present Government.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And a policy which they had to abandon on the score of expense.
– Probably they did abandon the policy, and I think from the honorable senator’s remarks that they had a right to take that course, seeing that they were unable to find money to carry on a policy for the development of the Territory. In his speech, the honorable senator made that point very clear to us. The present Government may be able to find means with which to ultimately carry out the policy, and if they are successful, I shall congratulate them most heartily. In any case, I believe that they have taken the only possible course for the development of the Territory. I have never been there, but I do claim to have seen in various parts of Australia a good deal of country which, in my opinion, is very similar to the country to which this Bill relates, with this difference, that in this case there will be a number of rivers to cross.
– Do not try to make political capital out of that?
– I heard the honorable senator admit that there are three or four rivers to cross.
– And a thousand Chinamen who support the other side.
– The country to be traversed by this railway differs materially from a considerable portion of the country in the central parts of Australia. I take it for granted that the Katherine River, which is to be the terminal point of this railway, will as a river be of some utility. The fact that the Government propose to construct a line from a port inwards ought, I think, to commend the proposal to sensible men. If we intend to develop the country in close proximity to the various rivers to be crossed., surely a line from a port will provide the best facilities which can be given to those who may settle in this country ! A few nights ago, I listened to Senator Story making an excellent speech in defence of building a railway from Oodnadatta into the MacDonnell Ranges. He undoubtedly conveyed a good deal of information to the Senate. Having regard to the immense territory which lies between Oodnadatta and the Katherine River, we must recognise that one line would be infinitely more economical at the present time than would the other. What the future may bring forth time alone will reveal. At the present, time, it would seem that the opening of the Territory from the seaboard is the only sensible method to be adopted. Inasmuch as it is stated that there are very large tracts of excellent pastoral land which will be tapped by this railway. Therefore, an inducement in that regard will be offered to people to settle in the Territory, the difficulties of which everybody recognises. Inasmuch as settlement there is sparse, and will continue to be sparse for a long time, it must be patent to every honorable senator that the most acceptable and economic route for the development of that Territory is the route which ought to be adopted by the Government. It is quite evident that at one time South Australia herself contemplated doing exactly what the Government propose to do. She intended to open up this country from its port end, and afterwards, as settlement took place, to develop it from both ends., I think that the Government occupy a similar position to day. I am not particularly concerned with whether that country is settled by Britishers or by southern Europeans. But the whole responsibility for its settlement rests upon this Parliament. No better proposition could be put before the Senate than that which the Government have brought forward, inasmuch as sea carriage is always infinitely cheaper than is railway carriage. Ifwe are to do what Senator de Largie suggested in the matter of procuring a cheap meat supply for the people of Australia, it cannot be denied that the facilities which are offered to us in the way of sea carriage will prove of great assistance. If freezing works are to be established at Port Darwin, facilities must be provided for carrying away the produce of those works. At the same time, I recognise that an obligation rests upon the Commonwealth to finally connect the Northern Territory with South Australia. In submitting this Bill, the Government are adopting the only course which is open to them - a course which will prove most advantageous to Australia, and which will attract more settlers to the Northern Territory than could be attracted there by any other means.
Motion (by Senator Shannon) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Ayes … … … 7
Noes … … … 15
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I recognise that the question which is raised by this Bill is one of the most important with which the Commonwealth Parliament will be called upon to deal. We have accepted the responsibility of taking over the Northern Territory from South Australia, a Territory the magnitude of which very few seem to have an adequate conception. Senator St. Ledger declared this afternoon, in regard to this measure, that the mountain had been in labour and had brought forth a mouse. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Bill represents a part of the Government policy for the development of the Northern Territory? I had not the pleasure of hearing the honorable senator move the second reading of the Bill, but I have read his speech carefully, and I gather from it that it is proposed to construct this 56 miles of railway for the purpose of conveying a few cattle which are depasturing on the Katherine River to Port Darwin, where it is intended to establish freezing works. If that be so, I am surprised at the lack of statesmanship exhibited by the Government. The honorable senator knows that in South Australia there is one butcher alone who would slay every beast on the Katherine that is fit for freezing within twenty-four hours. Our first requirement is to grow the cattle. It will be time enough then to talk about establishing freezing works at Port Darwin. If this is the way in which the Government propose to develop the Northern Territory, I am extremely sorry for them. It has been said that the representatives of South Australia are parochial in this matter. I wish, with all the vehemence of which I am capable, to repudiate that statement. I am an Australian first, and a South Australian afterwards. I believe that every other honorable senator takes up a similar attitude. When the Northern Territory was handed over to the Commonwealth, an agreement was made between it and the State of South Australia.
– A rattling good bargain was made by South Australia.
– South Australia made the worst bargain that it was possible for any country in the world to make. It was only due to the shortsightedness of the politicians of South Australia that the Commonwealth was able to obtain such a bargain.
– The honorable senator is not really serious?
– I am absolutely serious.
– Order ! I hope that honorable senators, by interjection, will not attempt to drag the honorable senator who is addressing the Chamber off the track, because this is not an occasion upon which the agreement made between South Australia and the Commonwealth can be debated.
– Do I understand that that agreement cannot be debated?
– Reference can be made to the agreement, but the agreement cannot be debated.
– I merely wish to point out that one of the conditions of the agreement was that a railway should be built from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. That was the only reason why South Australia was prepared to get rid of the Territory. It will be remembered that some years ago a measure was passed by the South Australian Parliament permitting a land grant railway to be constructed. Every inducement was offered to capitalists to undertake the project. Unfortunately for Australia, the money market was extremely tight at the time, and no syndicate was prepared to finance the scheme. But that is not to say that the country is of no value. I mention this to show that South Australia fully understood that all that was required to develop the Northern Territory was a railway.
– To aggrandize Adelaide.
– No, to develop, the country. It is impossible to develop it otherwise than by railway construction. I do not know whether Senator Gould fully realizes the area of land taken over by the Commonwealth. It amounts to 335,116,800 acres. This is not a fleabite, but a vast territory of between 500,000 and 600,000 square miles, which at is. per acre is worth- ^16, 755, 840. Yet some honorable senators dare to say that the Federal Parliament made a bad bargain in taking over this vast area. I say that it was the best bargain this Parliament ever made, or is ever likely to make.
d-. - A jolly big price we paid for it.
– We paid 3d. per acre.
– I venture to say that it was a splendid bargain. It was anopportunity which the Federal Parliament ought never to have had.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the merits of the bargain entered into some time ago. This is a Bill for the survey of a railway. Incidentally, the question of developing the Territory may enter into the, debate.
– The point which 1 wish to make is that what is now proposed is only a portion of the railway which is necessary for developing the Territory, and that the Government are beginning at the wrong end. By taking this step they will simply be adding to the cost of maintaining the Territory, without any chance of securing a return. A short line of this description cannot possibly develop much country, nor can it be remunerative for a long time to come. Indeed, in my opinion, it never will be remunerative until it is coupled with a line further south. The proper course was for the Government to bring down a Bill for the purpose of starting railway construction from the south.
– It is a pity that South Australia did not build the railway from the south herself.
– I admit that it is a great pity.
– According to the honorable senator, the line had to be built only 20 or 30 miles further north to reach the good country.
– Only 18 miles from the present terminus at Oodnadatta the country begins to improve. Another consideration is that the Northern Territory cannot be developed without population. Do the Government think for a moment that by starting a line from the north they are likely to attract population? Surely there is a bigger chance of inducing people to go there from the eastern States if we start building from the south. Even if we only constructed a 100-mile stretch at a time, we should do a great deal more to settle this vast area than we can do by means of this Bill. But the Government seem to have no policy in the matter at all. It is true that they propose to establish freezing works at Port Darwin, but that is a mistake. It will be ample time to consider the question of establishing freezing works when we have surplus stock to freeze.
– How many cattle does the honorable senator think the halfmillion square miles can carry? If it were fully stocked, half-a-dozen freezing works would be required.
– The difficulty is in regard to stocking the country. The stock is not there at present. Probably i it will take ten years to stock the Northern Territory, even .after we have commenced to open it up by railway construction. The great drawback hitherto has been the lack of facilities for getting stock away. As to what route should be followed by the through line, I say, speaking as a South Australian, that it is only a matter of time when both the routes now favoured by rival parties must be traversed by a railway. We want to get rid of all provincial ideas in this matter, and determine what is the proper course to be adopted from a developmental point of view. In my opinion, when you are building a railway over level country, the proper route is the most direct one.
– From the other side of the continent ?
– The honorable senator will find that Port Augusta is about as near to the actual centre of Australia as we could possibly get for this purpose. Of course, any one who believes in connecting the north with the south by railway must vote for this Bill. But I impress upon the Government, and especially upon the Minister of Defence, that the only right way to secure what we desire- namely, the development of the Northern Territory - is by proceeding from Oodnadatta northwards.
– I have considered this Bill from the point of view of the future development of the Northern Territory by railway, and, as far as I can see, no matter what railway policy may be adopted in the future, the portion of line now proposed to be’ surveyed will be necessary. If it be finally decided that the proper way to develop the Territory is by means of a railway from Port Darwin to Port Augusta, this must be a portion of the line. If, on the other hand, it be determined to develop the Territory from the Port Darwin end, the line will be equally necessary. Therefore, I do not see why so much noise should be made in disparaging this harmless little measure for the survey of a few miles of railway.
– At a cost of half-a-million pounds.
– I am not in a position to know what the cost will be until the survey is completed, nor am I aware that Senator Gould can speak with authority. We have heard a great deal from certain honorable senators, as to what the proper policy ought to be. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has laid down the emphatic dictum that the only way in which the Northern Territory can be developed is by a railway proceeding northward from Port Augusta. I should like to ask Senator Shannon how
South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, developed their territories? Did they develop them by going to the other side of the continent and running a line of railway right across Australia to the countries to be developed? Not one of them pursued such an utterly fatuous policy as that. The proper way in which to develop the Territory is to make the country accessible, and the best way in which to do that is to open up the various ports - and I understand there are several good ports on the coastline of the Territory - and then run railways inland from those ports into the centre of the country in all directions, instead of having one line going right across the continent and traversing for much of the distance through practically desert ‘country. Let me refer to what has been done in Queensland, the State with which I am most familiar. We have there at least five lines of railway which do not centre in one place,’ but run from several ports along the coast .almost straight west into the interior cf the country., and we have other lines radiating from them. The people of Queensland did not go over to Western Australia, to the Northern Territory, or down to New South Wales to begin railway construction for the development of their own State. If they had done so Queensland would to-day be probably as deserted as is the Northern Territory.
– The Queensland people did exactly what the Government are proposing to do in the Northern Territory - they ran their lines right into the country..
– The honorable senator and his colleagues from South Australia .all desire to begin railway construction for the development of the Northern Territory, not in the Territory itself, but wi South Australia. From a national and every other point of view, the proper place to begin is in the Territory which is to be opened up. I am not now discussing the question of defence. I leave it to experts to say whether for that purpose it is essence I that a line should be constructed from north to south. Honorable members have addressed themselves to this Bill from the point of view of the development of the Northern Territory, and looking at the matter solely from that point of view, for the purpose of my present argument, I say that the proper policy is not .to begin railway construction in South Australia but in the Territory itself. Queensland is the most highly developed tropical portion of Australia, and it was developed by first of all opening up the ports along the coast, and then by sending railways into the interior from those ports with side lines radiating in all directions from them into good country. Further, the Queensland people paid large subsidies to steam-ship companies in order to secure an efficient steamship service to connect the ports along the Queensland coast. We have in Queensland a line running practically straight west from Brisbane for a distance of over 500 miles; another line running due west from Rockhamption for a distance of over 500 miles ; a third line running due west from Townsville almost to the border of the Northern Territory, for nearly 700 miles. We have another line running almost due west from Cairns for about 300 miles; and further north still, there is a line running west from Cooktown. Then right around in the Gulf of Carpentaria we have a line running .through the Gulf country south from the port of Normanton. If we had adopted the policy advocated by Senator Shannon for the development of Queensland, we should have started our railway construction at Port Darwin, or over in Western Australia, and constructed a line right across the continent. A more ridiculous idea was never promulgated in .an assembly of intelligent people.
– :A line from Normanton to Brisbane would toe about thesame thing..
– It would not be .soridiculous, because for its greatest length, it would go through the territory it was intended to develop. I repeat that thebest policy to adopt for the development of the Northern Territory is to make the country accessible. I am prepared to votefor the expenditure of a considerable sum of money to secure regular steam-ship communication between the various ports of the Northern Territory. This would givepeople an opportunity to get to them and away from them at any time in comfortable boats. We should spend .sufficient money to provide decent shipping accommodationat four or five of the most suitable ports, and we should then build lines of railway from those ports into the Territory. Inthat way, we should make the Territory, not only accessible, but popular. The difficulty under existing conditions is that if a man desires to go to the Northern Territory, it is almost impossible for him to go to anybut one place, and that is .Port Darwin-
When he gets there, it is even more difficult for him to get away should he find it necessary to do so. If the country possesses anything like the merits that some people claim for it, and which I am not prepared to dispute, I say that if it is made accessible it should, in a short time, be as well peopled as is the northern portion of Queensland, which is the best developed tropical portion of Australia, although it has no communication with any of the great capital cities. Only a few years ago, central Queensland and north Queensland were entirely separated from the southern portion of the State, so far as railway communication between them was concerned.
– They were developed from the coast.
– That is what I am advocating for the Northern Territory, namely, that it should be developed from the coast. Some people have an idea that oceans separate countries. There could be no more fallacious opinion. As a matter of fact, they connect countries. Would any one say that the United Kingdom could as easily obtain the huge supplies she draws from America if, instead of bringing them over 3,000 miles of ocean, she had to transport them over 3,000 miles of land, and most of it desert country? The cost of land carriage would be prohibitive. So that the Atlantic Ocean, instead of separating the United Kingdom and America, really connects them, and makes communication between them easy. We have one of the safest and best sea tracks in the world between here and the Northern Territory, whether we go round by the western or eastern coast of Australia. There is no reason why we should not subsidize a line of steam-ships to secure communication with every one of the ports in the Northern Territory. It would be preferable, from my point of view, to establish and conduct such a line of steam-ships of our own for the purpose of developing the country. If they called at the ports of the Territory once a week, a man might visit or leave any of those ports in any week, if he chose. If, at the same time, we had lines of railway constructed from those ports into the interior, we should find that the Northern Territory would become as familiar to the people of Australia as is any portion of the States. With that familiarity, all the feeling of aversion to living in the Territory would entirely disappear. We find no unwillingness on the part of the people of Queensland to go and live in the Cloncurry district, though it is 600 or 700 miles from the coast, and is in exactly the same latitude as the Northern Territory. Cloncurry is to-day one of the liveliest centres in Australia.
– How far is Cloncurry from Normanton?
– Speaking from memory, I think it is 230 or 240 miles from Normanton; but honorable senators must remember that the Cloncurry mineral field comprises an enormous area. The point I wish to emphasize is that there is no reluctance on the part of the people of Queensland to go there, though it is in the same latitude as the Northern Territory, is from 500 to 700 miles from the eastern coast, and is not connected with any capital city by railway. It is connected with a provincial town by the railway to Townsville, but any one desiring to go from Cloncurry to one of the capitals of the Australian States, must take a steamer from Townsville. The Cloncurry mineral field carries a very large population, but I can inform honorable senators that before the railway from Townsville was constructed to within 200 miles of Cloncurry, every inch of that country was fully occupied, from a pastoral point of view.
– What is the population of Cloncurry ?
– I could not tell the honorable senator without a reference to the latest census returns.
– Is it 500 ?
– There are more than 500 men working in several of the mines of Cloncurry. As I have said, the mineral field comprises an immense area of country, and some of the mines are distant from the Cloncurry railway station 70 or 80 miles.
– The Oxide Mine there was floated for £^100,000 only the other day.
– No doubt the development of the district will be very great in the future. I repeat that, apart from the attraction of mining, when the railway was 200 miles from Cloncurry, the country was fully occupied from a pastoral point of view. It was not because it was connected with any capital city, but because it was accessible. Stock and the other products of the district could be regularly sent to market. and there was a regular and certain means for supplying the requirements of the settlers. That is what we must provide in the Northern Territory if we are to develop it at all. We must secure to the settlers there a means of getting their produce to market, and provide that they shall never be stuck up for supplies of the necessaries, and even of some of the luxuries, of life. We cannot do that by compelling them to drag everything across the continent of Australia, or to send all they produce across the continent. We can do it by opening up the various ports of the Territory and making them accessible by a good line of steam-ships, and by constructing railways from those ports into the interior.
– Could we do it better than by connecting Port Darwin with Port Augusta ?
– Undoubtedly, we could. The honorable senator cannot have been listening to what I have been saying. There are four or five decent ports on the coast of the Northern Territory which might be considerably improved. Port Darwin is an excellent port. I say that we should develop the Territory by opening up those ports and establishing regular communication with them by a line of steam-ships.
– Which ports did the honorable senator mention ?
– I did not mention any in particular. I cannot say from personal knowledge which are the best ports on the coast, but four or five of the best might be opened up. I have been twice across to the Northern Territory, but have never been round the coast. I believe that a good port might be made at the mouth of the Macarthur River, and another at the mouth of the Roper River. The whole of the coastline is indented with ports more or less capable of development. Senator Shannon told us that there are not enough cattle in the Katherine River district to keep a South Australian butcher going for twentyfour hours. If we were to believe such a “ stinking-fish “ cry as that, we should abandon the Territory altogether.
– There are over 500,000 head of cattle there now.
– I know of one small portion of the Territory - the Barclay tablelands - which is capable of supporting, not 500,000, but 2,000,000 head of cattle.
– And it would be much better for sheep and horses.
– As Senator Chataway has reminded me, it is ideal sheep country, and any one who knows anything of the pastoral industry is aware that where the country is suitable sheep are more profitable than cattle. There is over 500,000 square miles of country in the Northern Territory, and to say that we cannot grow enough cattle in the Territory to supply a surplus which will keep one freezing works going is to cry “ stinkingfish “ about the country in a way which must dishearten any one who has any hope for its future.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator plainly said that a freezing works would not be required there for years and years.
– Not at Darwin, certainly.
– Then they want a freezing works at Port Augusta or Adelaide ?
– Put it on the Victoria River.
– I believe that if the country be opened up in the way I am advocating, we shall have plenty of freezing works by-and-by, and in the best places, too. I do not know which is the best place now for establishing a freezing works, and I do not think that there is any one who can speak with authority on. that point. But I do know that the best place for a freezing works, apart from a particular locality, is where you will be1 nearest to a supply of cattle and to a market. That is not in Port Augusta, and I defy Senator Shannon or any one else to say that it is. It is either Port Darwin or some other of the ports in the Territory, because honorable senators must know that one of the most profitable markets which we hope to have for our frozen meat in the future is in the East. About the most profitable places that Queensland has now for getting rid of surplus stock in the way of frozen meat are the Philippines and a few other places in the East. Apart altogether from being nearest to the market, have Senator Shannon and other senators from South Australia ever considered the. difficulty of railing cattle over 1,000 or 1,500 miles of country, as they apparently desire when they want them brought through the heart of Australia to Port Augusta? How are you going to do it? You would have to get the cattle out of the trucks twice on the journey, in order to give them a drink.
– Who proposed to do. that?
– If my honorable friend was not here to listen to the enlightening and illuminating statement of Senator Shannon, that is not my fault; but his colleague has advocated that not less than five, minutes ago. My honorable friend,, too, thinks that the way to develop the Territory is not to build railways in the Territory, but to build them in South Australia.
– The only rational way is to do it from the south. Senator GIVENS. - According to the honorable senator, everything is a great national, and also a rational,, policy if it will bring grist to his mill, if it will help him in the game of grab, if it will assist him to get at the people, of the Commonwealth. But I am not advocating that any State should get at the Commonwealth or obtain any profit out of the Territory. What I am advocating is that we should seriously tackle the problem of developing the Territory for its own sake and that of the Commonwealth at large. The point I was making just now was that, in order to get cattle economically to the freezing works, wherever they may be established, it is essential that they must not have too long a train journey. Cattle can be carried fairly well for about 500 miles without derailing; they will generally travel that, distance. But I would point out that on a railway where there is any considerable traffic it is very difficult to fit in fast cattle trains, and it is essential for the successful carrying out of a. cattle trade on railway lines! that there must be fast trains.. The. only way iti which it. has been done, in Queensland has been by running the cattle trains at night. That enables the cattle to travel in the coolest portion of the twenty-four hours, and also enables the trains to run as quickly and with as little interruption, as possible. That is the only way in which they have been able to successfully carry cattle for 500 mites without de-trucking, in order to give them food and drink. But if you have to carry cattle for 1,500 miles - right across Australia - that will not be possible. By the time you got the cattle to Port Augusta half of them would be dead, and most of the others would be very much deteriorated. Of course; the cattle from the Territory now travelled1 to Adelaide, have to go through Queensland, in order to get down to Adelaide.
– Yes, they do; and from the Kimberley district, in Western Australia, they have to go through Queensland in order to get to Adelaide. Scores of times have I seen cattle from the- Territory passing through Charleville. All the men who make their living by taking cattle very long journeys- from the Territory are just as familiar with that route as Queens^ landers themselves. That is the route which they invariably travel, because it is the only one on which they can be sure of getting a constant supply of grass and water. I do not propose to discuss this matter at greater length.. I have enunciated what I think is. the proper railway policy for the development of this country, and! other honorable senators, of course, are at equal liberty to hold and express their opinions as freely as: I. have done. I have no quarrel with any one. on that score, but I consider that honorable senators, being charged with the interests ot the Territory, and of the Commonwealth as a whole,, should get rid of the. petty parochial idea of bringing grist to the capital of. their State, and letting the Territory go hang. We heard a. great plaint from Senator Shannon that all we wanted was an extension of 25 miles to carry the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway into improving country, and that a. little farther om the country was splendid. L interjected “ The pity of it was that the South Australian Government did not make that shortextension in aQl these years.”
Senate Shannon. - It is a pity..
– Yes, it is. They had the opportunity, and never thought it worth while, to do so. Yet Senator Vardonis not here five minutes when he immediately howls that the Commonwealth did not do it, although it is. only twenty minutes’ comparatively speaking- since it took over the control of the Territory.
– And the Tanges are still in South Australia.
– I am not prepared to say, because I know nothing- of the ranges, except from hearsay. Experts cannot yet say with certainty what that particular country is like, because none of them has ever seen it, except for a short period. A man needs- an acquaintance with the country for a term of years beforehe can actually say what it is capable of. I know from my own experience what the northern portion of the Territory is like; and I know from the experience of men who have lived there for many years, and;. made a living, and many of whom have taken up country there, that portions of the Territory are equal to the pastoral country that we have in the west of Queensland, which, everybody knows, is not surpassed in any portion of Australia, and which is all fully occupied. If we radiate railways from the ports into that good country, we shall easily populate the Territory, and if we once get a population established there, the major portion of the problem in regard to the Territory will have been solved. I am prepared to vote for the Bill in pursuit of the policy which I have been advocating. I welcome the Bill so far as it goes. I hope that the Government will seriously consider . t he necessity of developing the Territory in the same way as every State has been developed, not by starting4^ the other side of the continent to build railways through it, but by starting at its own ports, and building railways into the interior.
.- It seems to me that in consequence of the diversity of opinion in regard to the construction of railways in the Northern Territory we need much more information than we have at present. Senator Givens has made a very interesting contribution to the debate. His idea seems to be that we should have a central point where there is a. depot, and lines radiating from there to the various harbors round the coast, in order to open up the country and encourage trade. He thinks that we should then have lines of steamers put on by the Government for the purpose of bringing the stuff away. Senator Shannon believes that the proper way to develop the Territory is to run a line due north from Oodnadatta to the centre of the country. Our Queensland friends on the other hand think that the line should connect with the Queensland lines running westward in order to develop the Territory. With the idea of assisting capitalists to bring trade into Victoria we are not much concerned, but we are concerned to see that the best thing is done with the Territory, which is going to cost us an enormous sum. We should have a comprehensive plan as to what the future railway policy in connexion with the Territory is to be. We are doing far too much- in a piece-meal manner, and before we sanction even a survey, let alone the construction of a railway, the Government ought to come down with a definite plan of railway construction, in order that we can consider whether the money is to be spent to the best advantage, so that future settlers may have an idea of the conveniences for transport which they are likely to have.
– The Minister of External Affairs has announced his intention to appoint a Committee to draft a proposition of that kind.
– Why should it not be done before we make a move at all ?
– It is admitted by all parties that the construction of this railway is inevitable.
– We do not know what the future railway gauge of Australia is going to be. There is a great diversity of opinion as to which is the proper gauge. I think that we ought to have the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. All the inquiries which have been made and all the criticisms which have been passed by the highest authorities on what this Parliament has done in regard to the question of gauge are adverse. This question is of vital importance to the Commonwealth.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that this is a Bill providing for a survey, and’ that the question of gauge will come up for consideration when the Senate is asked to sanction the construction of the railway.
– In looking through the reports of the debates in another place I found that the question of gauge loomed very large, and was gone into at much length. I do not propose to labour that question, but I think that we ought to have a great deal more information in regard to it than we have, and therefore I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ while a survey of a railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River is desirable, the Senate affirms that the railway policy in the Northern Territory should be made the subject of inquiry, and of a definite statement by the Government to Parliament, with a full opportunity for the Senate to discuss the same.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, you, sir, intimated that you entertained a doubt as to whether my amendment is in order. It seems to me that it is in order, inasmuch as the Bill marks the first step in the formulation of a railway policy for the Northern Territory. True, it involves merely a survey, but that survey relates to a section of the route to be followed, and that route is, in turn, related to the railway policy of the
Territory. Consequently, it is quite fair to say that we should have more information as to what the Government propose before we are asked to determine this small portion of that policy which is to govern transportation in the Northern Territory.
– The motion before the Chair is one for the second, reading of this Bill, and the honorable senator has submitted an amendment to leave out all the words after “ That” and to add the following words -
While a survey of the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River is desirable, the Senate affirms that the railway policy in the Northern Territory should be made the subject of inquiry and of a definite statement by the Government to Parliament, with a full opportunity for the Senate to discuss the same.
Now, standing order 190 provides -
No other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
In this Bill only one principle is at stake. It is embodied in clause 2, which provides that-
The Minister for External Affairs may cause a survey to be made of a route for a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River.
That contains a definite statement. The amendment is altogether indefinite, and I do not think it is relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. In my opinion, the words - the Senate affirms that the railway policy in the Northern Territory should be made the subject of inquiry - are not relevant to the measure, nor is the further statement in the amendment - and of a definite statement by the Government to Parliament, with a full opportunity for the Senate to discuss the same. 1 have no option, therefore, but to rule the amendment out of order.
– With all due respect to you, sir, I move -
That the Senate dissents from the President’s ruling, on the ground that the question of survey from Pine Creek to the Katherine is relevant to the railway policy of the Northern Territory.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that his motion does not assign any reason for dissenting from my’ ruling. It merely makes the statement that the question of a survey from Pine Creek to the Katherine is relevant to the Bill. As a matter of fact, it is the whole Bill.
– I wish to say, sir, that you have not read what I wrote. I think at least the President might be honest and fair.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that statement.
– Very well. I withdraw the statement that I hope you will be honest and fair.
– What the honorable senator has handed to me reads -
T object to the ruling, on the ground that the question of survey from Pine Creek to the Katherine is relevant to the railway policy of the Northern Territory.
It does not disclose any ground for objecting to my ruling, which was that the matters contained in the amendment were not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, which seeks to authorize the survey of a line from P$ie Creek to the Katherine.
– Shall I be in order in speaking upon this question?
– Only if the honorable senator intends to conclude with a motion of dissent from my ruling.
– I understand that in Senator Chataway’s dissent from your ruling a reason is assigned.
– Order ! The honorable senator cannot discuss that. The statement which was handed to me by Senator Chataway assigns no reason for objecting to my ruling.
– Is it only the last two matters set out in the amendment which you, sir, rule out of order?
– I rule that all the words after the word “ desirable “ are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– I understand that if a dissent from your ruling be moved, consideration of it will have to be postponed until the next day of sitting, unless the Senate affirms that the matter is urgent. I do not know whether Senator Walker intends to move a dissent from your ruling.
– Assuming that Senator Chataway has not given a sufficient reason for submitting a motion of dissent from your ruling, cannot he be permitted to amend it?
– He may hand in another dissent if he chooses to do so.
– We have’ had several rulings now. Upon the last ruling which you have given, I wish to move -
That the amendment which the President rules is not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill is relevant to it.
– Does any other honorable senator wish to address himself to this question? If not, the debate upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill will proceed.
– I notice that most of the differences which exist upon this Bill relate to the route which is to be followed after the line has passed the Katherine River. Honorable senators appear to be fairly unanimous as to the route which should be adopted from Pine Creek to the Katherine. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the Vice-President of the Executive Council referred to the fact that differences did exist regarding the latter route, but intimated that those differences had been brushed aside. I hope that the Government will always find it as easy to brush aside their difficulties as they have done on this occasion. At the same time, I regret th”at, in the present instance, their difficulties have been brushed aside so easily, because I believe it would be better, in the interests of the development of the Northern Territory, that this line should be constructed through the mineral fields. The adoption of such a route would admittedly add 5 miles to the length of the line, and would involve an additional outlay of £25,000. The 56 miles of railway which it is proposed to construct will, I understand, cost about 10,000 per mile, and the additional 5 miles which would be necessary to take it through the mineral belt would cost only £5,000 per mile. That fact clearly proves that the mineral belt of country is of a better description than is the remainder of the country which the line will traverse. Doubtless the cost of maintenance through that belt of country would also be less than it will be over the balance of the route I hope that when the Government submit to the Senate a Bill for the construction of the line they will meet with some opposition, unless the interests of the mines are taken into consideration. I know that a suggestion has been made that we should build branch lines through to the mineral fields. We know what that means. Branch lines are sometimes built to mining districts, and about one train weekly is run over them. Thus These districts are not given the same chance to progress that they would enjoy if the main line went through them, lt has also been suggested that the difficulty might be overcome by constructing roads at a cost of about £5,000. But anybody who is familiar with the conditions which exist in the Northern Territory will recognise how absurd it would be to construct roads at that cost in a country where there is a rainfall of from 50 to 60 inches within a period of five months, with a view to carrying the heavy machinery that would require to be transported for mining purposes. As to the differences which exist in regard to the line after it passes the Katherine River, I am not at all concerned. I recognise that the Commonwealth is under a legal and moral obligation to build the railway through to Oodnadatta. I was strongly in favour of taking’ it through from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek as early as possible, but I must admit, after listening to the startling statements made by Senator Shannon this afternoon, that it may be necessary to reconsider the question. I have read very carefully various reports in connexion with the Northern Territory, and I was under the impression that a large number of “stock were depastured there, and that hundreds of thousands more would be depastured were it not for the fact that pastoralists obtain a low price for their stock, and because of the difficulty of getting them to market. But Senator Shannon informed us that one butcher could slaughter the whole of the stock there in twenty-four hours. If that be the case the position is that we are going to build a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, through an unpopulated country to an unpopulated country. Not only that, but we shall also be building a line through unstocked country. If the honorable senator was relating facts - and no doubt he believed that he was - what are we going to build the line for? It certainly cannot be for defence purposes. It would be absurd, in my opinion, to build a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek for defence purposes if we have 110 population there, unless the Government are of opinion that if an enemy were to invade Australia they would send a wireless message informing us that .they were coming, so as to give us an opportunity of sending troops to the Northern Territory to meet them. 1 believe that the Government, as fal as they have gone, are on the right track, but they might have gone a little further. I hope that they will be prepared to do so before the session closes. I look at this matter, not from a South Australian or Northern Territory point of view, but only from an Australian point of view. Naturally the South Australians would prefer a railway to be constructed at once from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, because then the business men of Adelaide could establish branches at towns along the route. When the line was completed their business connexions with southern ports would continue, and South Australia would reap the advantage. The Government are looking at the matter from the point of view that the Northern Territory is our property. It is our property, but we are holding it in trust for the people of Australia. We are not responsible to South Australia or ‘ to the Northern Territory alone for the opening up and development of that property. We are responsible to the whole people. I am afraid that the Government are forgetting that to a certain extent, and are regarding the matter too largely from a Northern Territory point of view. Certainly in the interests of the Territory itself, if we are not prepared to look beyond that, it would be better to develop it wholly and solely from the north end, so that when the through connexion was made business relations with the northern ports would continue. The best way to develop the northern part would be to run the line northward and southward, and to establish a Commonwealth line of ‘steamships to provide water carriage round the coast, and up the various rivers, where most of the good land in the northern part of the Territory is to be found. I am glad that the Government are pursuing this policy, but I want them to go a little further. We have some splendid country in the MacDonnell Ranges, where we can settle a very large population. A survey of a railway has already been made from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges, so that no time need be lost in bringing in a Bill for the construction of that line. We should thus bridge over a great deal of the difference that now divides north from south. We should bring a population to the tropical part of the country, and induce people to go there who are not prepared to go at present, because, for one reason, persons who become sick or are stranded find it exceedingly difficult to get away. But if we built a railway to the MacDonnell Ranges, we might attract a large population there. Mines would be developed and farms established. I am given to understand that there is every probability that there will be a great agri- cultural industry in the neighbourhood of the MacDonnell Ranges in years to come, and I have no reason to doubt the information. ‘ If there is a rainfall there of 10 or 1 1 inches per annum, it ought to be possible to grow wheat.
– It depends on when the rain falls.
– Exactly ; but I am given to understand that the rain falls at the right time for growing wheat, barley, and other grains. Another question referred to this afternoon has, I claim, some connexion with the Bill now before the Senate. It is, I believe, the intention of the Government to have prepared a survey to provide for a line sufficiently strong to’ carry a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line. For the time being, however, the intention is to lay down the rails on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I commend the Government for pursuing that course, believing that they are perfectly right. It would be an absolute waste of money, at present, to pull up the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek. It would mean laying down another line, and would also mean pulling up the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and altering the gauge from 3 ft. 6 in. to 4 ft. 8J in. A 3-ft. 6-in. gauge has been found very satisfactory in some States, and I am sure that it will be sufficient for all that is required by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory for many years to come. I sincerely hope that the Bill will be passed.
– I think that the Government were perfectly justified in bringing forward this proposal for making a survey for a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. 1 was very much struck by some of the remarks made by Senator Givens this afternoon. They were very much to the point. There is a great deal to be said in favour of making surveys from various ports in the far north inland, and ultimately building railways from those ports. The honorable senator referred to some of the Queensland ports, but only mentioned half of them. As you know, Mr. President, railways proceed from ‘he coast of Queensland inland, from Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bowen, Townsville, Cairns, Cooktown, and Normanton. The northern part of Queensland has been very fortunate in having railways running from the coast inland, because the coastal districts, as a rule, offer facilities’ for settlement, and therefore afford ready means of access inland. Many of the places referred to owe their origin- to the pastoral industry. Settlement was afterwards augmented by the opening up of the- mining industry. For instance, Rockhampton was taken up originally for pastoral purposes. When the Canoona rush broke out in 1859, it brought a great many goldseekers there. Then they had the Peak Downs diggings, and ultimately Mount Morgan. The district was therefore supported both by pastoral and mining industries. Going further north, Cooktown was developed in much the same way. The Palmer diggings broke out, and led to Cooktown going ahead. Bundaberg, is an agricultural district. The same remark applies to Cairns. Senator Givens was; quite right in what he said about the northern part of Queensland having, gone ahead so well, and in pointing out that there is no reason why the Northern Territory should not go ahead similarly. He omitted one little point, which I propose to mention. It is quite true that we have established a White Australia policy, but it is also impossible to deny that the northern districts of Queensland went ahead largely in consequence of the employment of indented kanaka labour. We have prevented the employment of that labour now, but we cannot forget how valuable it was in former days in Queensland. As- to the proposed survey, I recognise that the Commonwealth has made an agreement with the South Australian Government, and that agreement must be carried out. What is now proposed is the first step towards building the trunk, line which, will have to be constructed in time. I think, also that the. Katherine River would not be a bad place at which to establish freezing works, because I understand that it. is the centre of a large, pastoral district.. Hereafter we shall know what. the. intentions of the. Government are in respect of future policy. It may be determined to make the Katherine River the point of departure for a railway eastward. I do not say that this Government will make such a proposal, but at the same time, if. the- Northern Territory goes, ahead, we ought not. to have any jealous feelings in regard to assisting progress there, even if we have to build railways to meet the lines running- to the borders of Queensland and New South Wales. I am altogether with the Government in their desire to have the survey completed. I anr, however, one of those oldfashioned people who think that if we are to make a railway right through to Oodnadatta, we- may have to consider the matter of making partial payments in land grants: When we remember what has been done in Canada and the United States, itf must be admitted that there is something to be said in favour of that system. 1 take this opportunity of thanking the Senate for granting me two months’ leave of absence on account of sickness.
– The debate has been very satisfactory from the point of view of the Government. I have been a good many years in Parliament, but I have never seen a Government so fortunately situated in regard to a matter of policy before. Every Government supporter is in favour of this measure. Even Senator Stewart is not prepared to oppose it. Every member of the Opposition has declared his intention of voting for the survey.
– There is one exception which proves the rule. The Government are to be congratulated, however, on having secured, practically, unanimity. 1 shall refer briefly to the opinions expressed, not only by honorable senators sitting in opposition, but also to those of Government supporters who are not opposing the Bill.
– They dare not; the matter has been settled in Caucus.
– That statement is not exactly in accordance with the facts.
– The honorable senator should let us know what happens in the Caucus.
– I shall be pleased to inform the honorable senator, but on all occasions when information has been imparted, members of the Opposition have not seemed to be satisfied. Although they are all supporting this Bill from different, but, I have no doubt, legitimate, motives, yet by interjection and insinuation there has been made apparent a certain amount of hostility to which honorable members opposite are not prepared to give direct expression. During nearly the whole of the debate to-day, when different aspects of the question have been under discussion, Senator Gould has, by interjection, shown himself to be opposed to almost every feature of the proposal.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is hardly fair for the honorable senator to say that.
– I have no wish to be unfair to the honorable senator, but nearly every interjection he has made has indicated that he is not satisfied with everything that is being done.
– Hear, hear !
– I am aware that some honorable senators are unbelieving, and sometimes pugnacious, and that it is very difficult to satisfy them. I wish, first of all, to refer to an aspect of the question which has been dealt with by honorable senators on both sides, and which was to some extent the subject of an amendment which has been ruled out of order. It has been contended that the Government, in bringing down this Survey Bill, should have declared a policy with respect to the Northern Territory. Some honorable senators have referred to a policy in a general sense, and others have spoken of a policy so vaguely and indefinitely that it is impossible to decide whether they referred to a general policy, or a railway policy, for the Northern Territory. I shall deal first with the question of a general policy for the Territory. If honorable senators will consider for a moment the history of this session, they cannot honestly say that the Government have not already declared a policy for the Northern Territory.
– But their policy with respect to land legislation has been withdrawn.
– No, it has not been withdrawn. An Act has been passed with respect to a policy for the Northern Territory, and the only thing that has not been definitely proceeded with is a certain portion of an Ordinance for dealing with the lands of the Territory.
– I understand that it is hung up until an opportunity is afforded to the Government to try again.
– The honorable senator will know all about it in due time. A policy for the Territory has been included in an Act already passed, and has been further promulgated through statements made by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government.
– There has been nothing definite.
– The principle has been embodied in the Northern Territory
Act that the lands of the Territory shall be dealt with under the leasehold system. Is not that the first part of any policy which any Government could submit?
– That is a very small portion of a policy.
– We must have a beginning. The Government, proceeding on that Act, came to the conclusion that the lands of the Northern Territory should be classified. Officers have been appointed for that purpose, and the classification is now being made. Is not that a portion of a policy?
– Was there no classification done by the South Australian Government?
– There was no classification that would be satisfactory to the Commonwealth. Surveys were carried out in the past by the South Australian Government, but, so far as I know, no attempt was made to systematically classify the’ lands of the Territory. That is the first duty of any Government in dealing with the Territory.
– Then the South Australian Government failed in their duty?
– I have no doubt that Senator Sayers has been a very good citizen of Australia, but I am sure he would not be vain enough to declare that he has done everything he ought to have done, and has left undone everything he ought not to have done. If he is not prepared to claim infallibility on his own account, why should he carp at the South Australian Government if, in the past, they have not done everything which, in his opinion, they ought to have done?
– I was referring to the honorable senator’s argument.
– I am arguing the question fairly, as the honorable senator will know before I have finished. The Government have adopted the classification of the lands of the Northern Territory as part of their policy. They have appointed officers for the purpose, who are now engaged in the work. Much has been said on the subject of the appointment of officers in the Northern Territory, and in this connexion a serious mistake was made the other day, due, possibly, to inadvertence on my part. When I was enumerating the number of officers who were appointed outside the Public Service, it was said that there were 95 officers appointed outside the Public Service to positions in the Northern
Territory. I am not sure that I said such a thing, but, if I did, I never meant to do so. I was referring to the number appointed outside the Service throughout the Commonwealth. But there has been an attempt to make it appear that an inordinate number of persons outside the Public Service have been appointed to positions in the Northern Territory.
– I think that the honorable senator led us to believe that that was the case.
– I am making this statement in order to clear up any misunderstanding on the point. The officers who have been appointed in the Northern Territory to carry out the policy of the Government are only sufficient for the work. When the lands of the Territory have been classified a certain area of each class of country is to be allotted on leasehold to settlers. That is another part of the Government policy. Then when we are looking for settlers we propose that the first 5,000 shall be given leaseholds of the different classes of land for which they may apply for twenty years or for life, as seems desirable. That is also part of the Government policy. If honorable senators will still persist in saying that we have no policy I can inform them that already, in moving the second reading of this Bill, so far as a railway policy is concerned, I stated that the Government are appointing three officers with special knowledge on different subjects for the purpose of examining the lands and advising the Government as to the possibilities of those lands in order to enable us to finally determine our railway policy. When that is done it will be found to be in accordance with the honorable understanding between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth. The Bill we are now discussing is a portion of that railway policy. Every member of the Senate, not even excepting Senator Clemons, who is going to oppose the Bill, is agreed that the section from Pine Creek to the Katherine River must form part of any railway policy for the Northern Territory which will in future be adopted by any Government.
– What is the policy of the Government after we get to the Katherine River?
– What does the honorable senator want with that now?
– The Government have no policy.
– Let us go back to the history of New South Wales. When the New South Wales Government decided to construct a line from Sydney to Parramatta,, did the members of the New South Wales Parliament at the time object to the survey of that line because the Government did not inform them that at some future date it would be taken across the Blue Mountains to Orange ? Was it found necessary for the South Australian Government, when they proposed to construct a line from Adelaide to Gawler, to set out the whole of the railway policy which has been followed in South Australia up to the present time? In Victoria, when it was proposed to construct a line from Melbourne to Ballarat, dic- any one ask, in connexion with the survey of that line, that the Victorian Government of the day should develop the whole railway policy of the State? Cannot honorable senators opposite see the absurd position in which they place themselves? The Government come down with a proposal for the survey of a section ot railway which is admitted to be, not only necessary, but which must form a portion of any railway development policy carried out in the Northern Territory, and honorable senators object because we are not prepared to make a statement of a railway policy for the whole of the Territory.
– The Government will not say whether the railway is to be continued from the Katherine River, south, or east to the Queensland border.
– Why should they say that? Have I not already stated that officers have been appointed to investigate the whole question, not from Port Darwin to the Queensland border, but from the Western Australian border to the Queensland border, and from the north of the Territory right through, the MacDonnell Ranges to Oodnadatta, and then advise the Government as to which would be the best routes, and everything else necessary for the development of the Northern Territory, having in view the honorable understanding which has been entered into between South Australia and the Commonwealth. Why should we be required to go any further than that statement in connexion with the construction of this short line? That is quite sufficient at present so far as our policy for the’ Territory is concerned. When the– officers already appointed have gone so far with their work that the Government can throw the lands open for settlement, not only to Australians, but also to persons from all parts of Europe, and even America, honorable senators must acknowledge that the development of the country is going on. There is another point to be considered. A number of . honorable senators, particularly those from South Australia, have stated that the Government are in error in the way in which they are going about this business, and that for the development of the Territory, we should commence at Oodnadatta, and work northward. The distance from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is nearly 400 miles, while the distance from Port Darwin to Pine Creek is only 148 miles. When honorable senators are talking about the economic construction of a railway for the development of the country they must take distances into consideration, because all the necessary material for the railway will have to be imported from somewhere.
– Not the timber, for instance.
– The timber will have to be imported from somewhere, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned.
– I was thinking of importing from outside of Australia.
– So far as I understand, there is not in the Northern Territory a sufficient quantity of timber which would be impervious to white ants to construct 100 miles of railway ; and, consequently, there are only two ports at which that material can be landed, namely, Port Augusta and Port Darwin, and both are good ports.
– What about Wyndham?
– There is no railway to Wyndham from Pine Creek. The honorable senator, of course, has an eye upon his own State, as he has a perfect right to do: Wyndham is a place of very great importance, so far as the north-east portion of Western Australia is concerned, but it is not connected by rail with Pine Creek. The honorable senator can surely see the absurdity of suggesting that we should ship the sleepers at Fremantle or Bunbury, in Western Australia, or in Tasmania, or some other portion of Australia, and land them at Wyndham.
– You could land them at Derby.
– That is what I was about to say. We will land at Port Darwin the sleepers for the northern por tion of the line, and at Port Augusta the sleepers tor the southern portion. What applies to sleepers, also applies to rails, bolts, fishplates, and everything else of that description, and we will land these things either at Port Augusta or Port Darwin.
– The Roper River is the best place at which to land them.
– Yes ; but there is no railway from the Roper River to the Katherine River, and, according to Senator Shannon, there are not enough bullocks in the Territory to cart the material over to the latter place. ,
– You landed all the material for the overland telegraph line at the Roper River.
-.- Yes; it was just as easy to carry the material on camels or horses, or by dray, from the Roper River to the centre of Australia as it would have been to do so from Port Darwin, because there was no railway at the time. But, seeing that there is now a railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, the officer who would recommend the Government to land the material for a railway ‘ from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, at the Roper River, would want to say his prayers pretty often to keep out of a lunatic asylum.
– Then you could land the material at the Daly River.
– You could land the material at the Daly, the Katherine, or the Adelaide River; in fact, in dozens of places.
– You could not land the material at the Katherine River, unless you took it overland.
– The Government will land the material at the place where it can be put on railway trucks and carried to where it is to be used. The honorable senator knows that, and he is only joking when he makes an interjection about the Roper, the McArthur, the Adelaide, or the Alligator River. Seeing that the material will have to be shipped from different portions of Australia, America, and Europe, and even from Great Britain, so far as shipping is concerned, it will make no difference whether it is landed at Port Darwin or Port Augusta. If you want to handle your material economically, you will land it at the port whence it will have to be carried the shortest distance by railway afterwards. Consequently, until we get the line’ from Port Darwin 500 or 600 miles into the interior, it will be cheaper to land material there and construct from that end. Honorable senators have referred to the action of the Government from a defence point of view. I know, as well as any honorable senator knows, that if there were any sign of danger - and there is no necessity to advertise it - the worst thing which the Government could do would be to build from the northern end, because it would be giving our enemy an opportunity of seizing the railway, and we should be cut off from our southern base. The Government have taken all that into consideration, and in due time, when their policy is developed, they will be prepared to go on from the south as well as from the north. But, on account of the arguments 1 have used m connexion with the carriage of material, the most economical and the most effective way is to build from the port nearest to the scene of operations. I think I have said enough with respect to the point of commencement to show honorable senators that the Government are taking up the right attitude at present. I believe, with other honorable senators, that there are great possibilities of development in connexion with the MacDonnell Ranges. [ hope that the Government will not be so neglectful of their duty as not, in the very near future, to do something so that that country may be developed from, not only a mineral, but also a pastoral and agricultural point of view. As much of their policy as is really necessary, and as they have really completed, they have already disclosed to both Houses of Parliament, and to the public, and all this talk about the want of a policy is moonshine. Some honorable senators have raised some fanciful objections with respect to the statement I made in my second-reading speech about the establishment of freezing works at Port Darwin. Some of them have said that there are no cattle there. Even Senator Shannon declared that a butcher could kill them all in one day. I do not know whether he meant in twenty-four hours or eight hours. I think that a more absurd statement, coming from a South Australian, could not be .uttered. When honorable senators come to realize that in the Territory - and that is mostly on known country which has been dealt with by the South Australian Government - there are 513,000 head of cattle, they will admit that he would he a very expert butcher - unless he used dynamite - who would kill all those cattle in a day.
– And in Queensland there are 10,000,000 head of cattle.
– I am not talking about Queensland, in which there are many freezing works and many establishments, for dealing with not only live, but also dead cattle. The development of the Northern Territory is only in its infancy. I think that Senator Chataway, and other honorable senators, must recognise that 513,000 head of cattle is a fair number to make a start with. Of course, I could not make honorable senators hear if they were not present when I was speaking to the second reading ; but I mentioned then that the Government have come to the decision that Port Darwin is the best place for freezing works, on the recommendation of the Government Administrator, who arrived at that view from information which he had gained in the Territory. We know that Senator Sayers gains information from the man on the job, the man in the train, the man on the boat, the man on the plain, and the man on the mountain.
– He gets it at first hand.
– Ves ; but it is like the information which is got from the man who met the man who met the man who said that he saw the devil. That is the source to which I attribute all that sort of information. Senator Sayers was not the only honorable senator who made the statement that the proper place for the freezing works is in the interior where the cattle are running. Senator Millen made the same statement, and so did other honorable senators. I think that Senator Walker remarked that the works ought to be established at the Katherine River.
– Yes; where it junctions with the Adelaide River is a good place.
– That is very like the information which comes from “ the man on the job,” or the man in the train, or the man in the boat.
– “ The man on the job “ is pretty’ stiff for you.
– If the man on the job did his work at less than the estimated cost, and if at Cobar, or elsewhere, they always got it done in that way, they would be quite satisfied. The honorable senator’s information resembles information which is obtained in that way. It is unreliable. The ‘Government, and sensible Government officers, prefer to .be guided by the experience of the past, and by the evidence which can be obtained at the present time. I ask Senator Sayers, or Senator Gould, or Senator Walker whether, in the settled States of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, or South Australia, freezing works have been established in the interior? Are they not always established at the port of export? Why ?
– Because the climate is colder.
– The climate is not always colder. But it is quite cold enough in the freezing works. The carcasses are put aboard the vessels in a frozen condition. If a hundred chilling works were established in different parts of Australia, we would still require to establish freezing works at the port of shipment. Wherever requests have been made to establish works inland, those requests have always been to enable chilling operations to be undertaken.
– Is not chilling taking the place of freezing nowadays?
– Yes. But in a new country like the Northern Territory we must first establish our freezing works at the port of shipment. I am aware that live cattle have been shipped from Port Darwin before to-day, and probably they will be shipped from there again. But the establishment of freezing works at the port of shipment marks the commencement of the business.
– The commencement of the business is the production of the cattle.
– People will not breed cattle unless they can see a method of getting rid of them. But as soon as freezing works have been established they will begin to grow both mutton and beef for export. Senator Chataway must be very young, or very forgetful, seeing that he has not recognised that in the early days, before freezing works had been established in this country, sheep were only grown in the_ interior, and then only for their wool. It is true that a few were grown to supply the people with mutton.
– The carcasses were boiled down in those days.
– Yes ; but as soon as steps were taken to establish freezing works, people began to grow lambs and beef for the export trade. It will be seen, therefore, if one’ regards this matter from a common-sense stand-point, that our first step must be to establish freezing works at the port of shipment, so as to enable stockbreeders to secure an outlet for their produce.
– Is not the complaint to-day that too many sheep are being grown for wool, and too few for mutton?
– It would be a waste of time on my part to enter into an argument of that description. I am not going to deny the statements which the honorable senator choses to make by way of interjections, which are out of order. My argument is that the establishment of freezing works marks the first step which must be taken in the development of this Territory.’ The Administrator, in tendering advice to the Government, has intimated that he is arranging for a guarantee to supply the works with 10,000 fat cattle per annum to begin with. Up to the present time he has obtained a guarantee from one firm, which has scarcely commenced to develop yet, to supply them with 5,000 fat cattle per annum. The other guarantees are coming in. Honorable senators will recognise how necessary it is to secure guarantees of that description from stockbreeders if we are to commence this new industry in the Northern Territory. The first development in a new country is the breeding of cattle. When they have eaten down the rough country, sheep are brought in, and they prove much more profitable than do the cattle. Consequently the Government are endeavouring to induce development of that kind, and to encourage the production of cattle and sheep in the Territory. I hold that, in establishing freezing works at Port Darwin, they are acting wisely. If the development of the Territory proceeds in the way we hope it will proceed, if the land policy of the Government proves successful, and if, as a result, we secure population and produce in that country, it will then be time enough to establish chilling works in places where the cattle are bred in large numbers. Some honorable senators have objected to the Bill on the ground that the line proposed to be surveyed will pass through comparatively poor country. That is admitted. But that is the reason why the line is necessary. The stock-breeding portions of the Northern Territory are to be found on the tablelands. Stock are healthier, and thrive better there than they do on the low-lying lands of the coast. Honorable senators know what coast disease is, and they are aware that in various places horses and cattle have to be removed from coastal districts to higher latitudes at certain periods of the year. The purpose of this Bill is to authorize the survey of a line which will ultimately be constructed. The survey will be made this year, the Bill to authorize the building of the line will be passed next year, and its construction will occupy a couple of years. Consequently, breeders will take care to have their stock ready by the time it is completed. All the arguments go to prove the necessity, not only of surveying this line, but of constructing it as soon as possible.
– And the rest of the transcontinental line, too.
– Certainly. Tt would be very foolish for this Parliament to permit any delay in the development of the Northern Territory by means of a transcontinental railway. But honorable senators must know’ that the Government are /bing their best at the present time with the funds at their command. So far as the great loan policy is concerned, which Senator St. Ledger is anxious that the Government should embark upon, I suppose that will come in due time. He and other honorable senators are labouring under a very serious misapprehension when they imagine that the Labour party have ever declared themselves absolutely opposed to borrowing. They have never done anything of the kind. The policy of the Labour party has always been that they will not borrow for works of a non-productive character - for defence purposes, or for anything of that kind - under ordinary circumstances. But when a country has to be developed, and when there is a possibility of that development ultimately paying, the Labour party will be just as willing to borrow as will any other section of the community.
– I congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon giving us some enlightenment.
– We have made the same statement for the last ten years, but honorable senators opposite have chosen to ignore it. Their attitude in this connexion is on all-fours with their attitude towards the Labour party on the question of immigration. They declare the policy of the Labour party in respect to immigration, notwithstanding that they know no more about it than does Tommy Walker, the king of the black- fellows. The Labour party are just as earnest advocates of a proper system of immigration as are any honorable senators opposite. But they are not going to induce persons to come to Australia by means of false pretences, so that, upon their arrival, they may walk about our streets doing nothing. We wish the country to be opened up, and we desire that there shall be possibilities ahead of immigrants, so that they will write home to their friends, saying, “ Come along ; this is God’s own country.”
– Are immigrants going to build this railway?
– We do not know what will happen in the near future in respect of the settlement of the Northern Territory. There may be a rush there which will surprise my honorable friends opposite. I have clearly stated the intentions of the Government with regard to the line. It i& absolutely correct that it will be surveyed and constructed to carry a 4-ft. 8$-in. railway. It would be very foolish to tear up the line from Darwin to Pine Creek that can be availed of for carrying material for the 3-ft. 6-in. line. We are doing just as has been done in the case of the railway from Brisbane to Tweed Heads, which will be made into a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line when New South Wales is progressive enough to carry her railway far enough north. We shall build a line capable of carrying a 4-ft. 8j-in. railway, but under existing conditions and circumstances the line will be built on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– Do the Government propose to convert the culverts and cuttings on the line from Darwin to Pine Creek to 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge?
– We are prepared to lay a 4-ft. 8 1/2. in gauge line, but there is no necessity at present to do so. It would only be laying out money that might more profitably be used in some other direction for the time being. I hope the Government will never be foolish enough to do anything of that description. I think I have now given a very fair answer to some of the supposed arguments that have, been advanced from the other side.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Minister for External Affairs may cause a survey to be made of a route for a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT is it provided in this clause that the survey is to be made by the Minister of External (Affairs? Should it not be made by the Minister of Home Affairs?
– At present the Northern Territory is under the control of the Minister of External Affairs. What will happen with respect to the control of railways when the Commonwealth becomes an extensive owner of them, I cannot say at present.
– This seems strange. We have the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. King O’Malley, controlling the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. For the purposes of that line the Commonwealth has control of a strip of land which will become Federal territory, but the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine will run entirely through Federal territory, and is going to be put under the aegis of the Minister of External Affairs.
– Foreign affairs.
– Now we see the attitude taken up towards this proposal by the South Australian representatives. We are told by one of them that the Northern Territory is a foreign place. My honorable friend is welcome to that argument, which, however, will not be very pleasant to people living in that part of Australia. Why should the control of a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie be in the hands of the Minister of Home Affairs, whilst the control of the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine is in the hands of the Minister of External Affairs? If Australia is to be treated as an entity, and governed on the same lines throughout, the same Minister should have control of railway construction. Why build a railway in one part of Australia under King O’Malley, and another railway in another part of Australia under “ I, Josiah Thomas.”
– It seems to me that there is an excellent reason why this railway should be placed under the control of the Minister of External Affairs. It is simply to give him something to do. He might as well have some little thing to look after. The work of his Department is not at present overwhelming, and I congratulate the Government on giving the Minister something with which to occupy his time, df, however, there should be a conflict be tween the two Ministers who are looking after railway construction, it will probably be very bad for somebody; and the somebody will probably not be the Minister of Home Affairs.
– The Northern Territory is under the control of the Minister of External Affairs, and therefore this Survey Bill concerns his Department. Next session, when the control of the line is proposed, the question raised by Senator Gould may bear a different aspect.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The cost of the survey authorized by this Act shall not exceed £5,000, and shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund which is hereby appropriated accordingly. *
– What is estimated to be the cost of this survey? ls the .£5,000 to be spent on the whole route from Pine Creek to the Katherine?
– But, roughly speaking, 30 miles of the 55 miles have already been surveyed by the South Australian Government’. Does the Federal Government intend to recover from the South Australian Government the cost of the survey that has already been made, or do they intend tq use the South Australian survey, or do they intend to pay twice over for the same work?
– I will put the question before the Attorney-General, and get his opinion.
– Does the £5,000 simply cover the continuation pf the South Australian survey up to the Katherine? Surely that is a reasonable question to ask?
– We ought to have an answer to Senator Chataway’s question.
– I have already said that I will lay it before the AttorneyGeneral.
– There is scriptural warning against answering a fool according to his folly. We have been informed that the South Australian Government have already surveyed a portion of the route. Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council going to adopt that survey, or is the £5,000 to be spent on an entirely new survey?
– I am not at present in a position to state whether the survey made by the South Australian Government is a permanent or a flying survey, nor can I say to what extent it is likely to _ be of assistance to the Commonwealth in connexion with the ultimate construction of the line. ‘ But honorable senators can easily understand that the cost is placed at a maximum of £5,000 ; and they may rest assured that if the Government can save anything by adopting any portion of the South Australian survey the total will not exceed the maximum of .£5,000, or even reach the estimated cost of ,£4,100.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; leport adopted.
Senate adjourned at 9.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121002_senate_4_66/>.