4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in computing an old-age pension the municipal rating value of a home is deducted from the full amount payable under the Act ? Many of our old pioneers possess a home, and nothing more, and its possession cannot sustain them. I ask the right honorable gentleman to take into consideration the desirability of amending the Act by striking out the provision requiring the deduction I speak of.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will give me specific instances. The Government is at present considering how it may extend the principle of old-age pensions.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been drawn to a paragraph in this morning’s Age, headed “A Question of Decency,” in which a report is given of a prosecution initiated in connexion with the sale of indecent postcards, and the statement is made that the cards were imported through the Customs without let or hindrance? I direct his attention particularly to one kind of postcard which stares at us from half-a-dozen shop windows between Parliament House and the General Post Office, a card in which little children are represented under conditions which, though perfectly natural and innocent to them, are reproduced in sheer bestiality and obscenity. Such cards are an outrage to fathers and mothers. Will the Minister take steps to see that they are excluded from theCommonwealth?
– I have not seen the paragraph in the Age, but I read in last night’s Herald what is probably a reference to the case mentioned. I have taken steps to prevent the importation of a great number of postcards, but it is impossible to examine all that are imported.
– The allegation is that the cards now being dealt with were examined and passed by the Customs officials.
– I did not know that. I shall have the matter inquired into, because I am of opinion that indecent cards should not be exhibited and sold.
– In view of the importance attached to the matter by honorable members and the public, can the Prime Minister, before the House rises, inform us whether the issue of the memorandum of the Department of Home Affairs, to which reference was made last night, is regarded merely as a departmental matter, or is indorsed by the Government as an Executive act?
– I have made a general statement of my position, and shall take the House into the confidence of the Government at the earliest opportunity.
– It is rumoured that the mail steamers will not call at Hobart next year. Has the Minister of Trade and Customs any information on the subject?
– The rumour was mentioned to me by another representative of Tasmania, but I have not heard anything directly. So far as I know, there is no truth in it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence been drawn to a paragraph in this morning’s newspapers wherein it is stated that some boys at Adamstown, in my electorate, after walking three miles from their homes to their work and three miles back again, have to walk similar distances to and from the place at which they are drilled? Will the honorable gentleman cause inquiries to be made, with a view to putting an end to this state of things ?
– I have not read the paragraph, but shall make inquiries to see what can be done.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is he aware that great difficulty is experienced in country centres in obtaining necessary facilities for rifle ranges to enable shooting to be carried on safely and expeditiously?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is that -
The Minister is aware that some difficulty has been experienced in providing proper facilities for rifle practice in country centres, which has been mainly due to the fact that numbers of ranges have had to be closed owing to the spread of settlement and the consequent withdrawal of permission to shoot. Although in many cases owners of private property have granted permission to shoot over their lands without charge, or at a nominal charge, in others such permission has been refused, and the expense of purchasing or leasing the necessary land in many instances is practically prohibitive, and where purchase becomes imperative Parliamentary approval has first to be obtained for the expenditure. However, everything possible is being done to provide proper facilities as expeditiously as possible.
Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is any portion of the recent decrease of postal and telegraph revenue ascribed to the early closing of offices; if so, how much?
– The explanations accompanying the weekly (reports received from the Deputy Postmasters-General in the several States do not ascribe any portion of the decrease of postal and telegraphic revenue to the early closing of post-offices.
Debate resumed from 20th September (vide page 648) on motion by Mr. King O’Malley -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not propose to speak at length upon this very important Bill, because at the present stage I scarcely think that it is necessary to do so. “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick “ and for ten years I, and the other representatives of Western Australia, have been battling hard to bring about the project which is dealt with in this measure. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth we were led to believe that the construction of a railway connecting the eastern States and the West would be one of the first acts undertaken by the Federation. We had been told that by the most prominent politicians - by the strongest advocates of Federation. But the result proved very disappointing. Instead of Parliament being willing to construct this trans- Australian railway, we found that it would not even seriously think about the matter. At any rate, it was impossible to get sufficient support for the undertaking, either in this House or in another place. I need scarcely say how bitterly I felt this disappointment, because I had led the people of Western Australia to believe that a railway connecting that State with the eastern States would be speedily constructed by the Federation. There can be no doubt that if South Australia had been of the same mind as Western Australia after the advent of Federation this railway would have been built by those States themselves. I do not think it would have been constructed upon the gauge which is now proposed, but I am quite certain that railway communication would have been established between the two States long before now. But South Australia took up the position that the matter was essentially a Federal one. In fact, she did not even give her consent to the Commonwealth constructing the line through her territory until this Parliamenthad agreed to take over the Northern Territory. I wish to point out that there is a misapprehension, entertained even by some honorable members, in regard to this proposed railway. Only yesterday, a prominent member of this House was under the impression - until I told him the facts - that the mileage of the proposed railway through Western Australian territory would be far greater than the mileage through South Australian territory. As a matter of fact, 605 miles of the line will be in South Australia - that is, the distance from Port Augusta to the Western Border - and only 455 miles of it will be in Western Australia. Although the undertaking is frequently referred to as the Western Australian railway, as a matter of fact 605 miles of it will traverse South Australia, passing through the Mount Gunson copper -field and Tarcoola gold-field, and only 455 miles of it will traverse Western Australia.
– When does the right honorable gentleman think that the line will begin to pay?
– I do not pose as an expert in this matter. I, personally, think it will pay very soon. But better authorities than myself, including all the engineersinchief throughout Australia, think it will pay after ten years. The engineerinchief of Western Australia, the late Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, and Mr. Deane, the engineer-in-chief .of the Commonwealth, have both given independent opinions to that effect. I must admit that wherever this undertaking has been mentioned by me throughout Australia, I have not experienced any difficulty in convincing my hearers that it was a necessary one. But in this Parliament the position was different, and we have for ten years had a very uphill fight. I rejoice that that difficulty has now been overcome, and that a true Federation, so far as Western Australia is concerned, is at last in sight. It is extraordinary that there should have been such opposition exhibited to this railway. A vast and practically undeveloped country is at the very door of the people of Eastern Australia - a country with a population of 300,000, who, as a body, are the most progressive and prosperous people in the world. What sort of a place is it to which it is proposed to build this line? Western Australia has a trade of ,£16,000,000 a year, she has 2,500 miles of railway running, and that mileage is being largely increased. These railways cost £12,000,000 to construct, and in 19 10 they returned £153,111 in excess of working and maintenance expenses and after the payment of interest on the capital outlay. In other words, they yielded a profit of .£153,111. These people have produced £100,000,000 in gold from the soil, and during the last ten years the average yearly production has been £7,500,000. That is the country in the management and development of which we want more of the people of the Commonwealth to come in and share.
– The old stagers did not want that.
-The old stagers, as the honorable member calls them, mortgaged every sixpence they had in the world to give a water supply to the new population on the gold-fields.
– The outlanders did that.
– Not at all. The early settlers of Western Australia and their descendants have proved themselves the most progressive people in the whole country. At any rate, they never refused to stand by me in a course of progress. They were always my staunchest supporters during all the years I was in office there. The new-comers used to support me also for a while, until at last they wanted to take the whole management of the country to themselves. The mines of Western Australia, besides producing ,£100,000,000 in gold and providing a tremendous amount of employment, have paid .£21,000,000 in dividends during the last ten years. One would think that an El Dorado like that, which is to-day producing an enormous quantity of gold, and is besides rich in agricultural and pastoral production, would have been a country which the people on this side would have been very eager to be closely connected with. The only reason why they have not insisted on closer communication hitherto is that they did not know the facts. Those who went there nearly always stayed and built homes there. Look around this House, and you will see some who have done well in Western Australia. The Honorary Minister is one.
– Did he make his fortune there ?
– He looks like if. At any rate, I am quite sure that the honorable gentleman never regretted throwing in his lot with the people of Western Australia.
– The right honorable member is quite right there.
– I and all those who belong to Western Australia have reason to be grateful to that country, and are determined to do all we can for her. The Savings Bank returns afford an indication of the thrift of the people. Many of those 300,000 inhabitants do not belong to the richer class, but nevertheless they have ,£4,000,000 sterling in the Savings Bank. That looks as if they had put something by to build up a compentency for their old age. The area cleared and cropped now is 5,000,000 acres, that is. an area four times as large as was being farmed ten years ago. I mention these facts to show that the country is in its infancy as a productive factor.
During the last ten years Western Australia has been isolated. To the people there Federation has been but a name. They have not had a chance of realizing that the Commonwealth was really intended for them as well as for the rest of the people of Australia. If they wished to come and see these great populous cities in the eastern parts of Australia, they had to make a four or five days’ voyage across the ocean. Is it any wonder that they did not feel that they were really a part of the union? But this work, when completed, will show them that they are. I have always said that the best advocate for the union of the peoples of East and West would be the railway guards when they were able to call out at the Perth railway station, “ Take your seats for Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.” I am very glad to say that public opinion on this subject has altogether changed, not only in this House, but throughout Australia. I believe that every one is now in favour of a railway connexion being made. Even the press has given up opposing it - that is, I should say, the portion of the press that used to oppose the project so strenuously. All are now practically in accord, and the result is the Bill that we have before us. We all remember reading in the Scriptures that when St. Paul journeyed down to Damascus “ suddenly there shined round about him a light out of heaven, ‘ ‘ and he heard a voice saying unto him, “ It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Those who have been opposing the construction of this railway have found it hard to kick against the pricks - the pricks being public opinion, and the wisdom, and justice of the people of Australia. I, myself, from the beginning never had any fear whatever as to the ultimate result. I have often said in this House, “ You can delay this work, but you can never prevent it. You cannot prevent this railway being carried out in the near future. If you delay it for a while, that is all you can do.” I knew very well that, as time went on, the people of the East and the people of the West would want to be brought closer together for purposes of trade and commerce, of defence, and. of mutual intercourse. They would not be content to have a thousand miles of unoccupied country separating them. They would not be content to have to make a four or five days’ voyage across the ocean to reach one another. They would be bound to say, “ We must have communication in the speediest way between all the great centres of this Commonwealth.” The case was too strong for the work to be thwarted. Parochialism might have its day, ignorance and misrepresentation might have their day, but they could not continue to exercise their influence. Justice and common interest were certain to prevail. I think that the Ministry have acted wisely in determining to proceed with this work ; and I think that I may add that they have the support of an almost unanimous House. It will not astonish honorable members when I say that I shall give them all the assistance in my power. This is the consummation of a great federalizing effort. It will bind together with hoops of steel all the people of Australia. I am not concerned personally, whatever some may say, with what party or Government gets the credit for carrying out this work. What I want is that the railway shall be built, and that the consummation of the Federation of Australia shall be a reality for all parts of it.
– Did I understand the right honorable member to say that he would give us all the assistance in his power for the completion of our programme when this work was finished?
– I was speaking of this Railway Bill. The honorable member misunderstood me. I have done my best, and the other representatives of Western Australia have done their best. We have received a lot of support in this House, but we have not had sufficient support until very recently.
It is a bold comprehensive policy which alone will do for this country. We must provide the necessary means of transit. I know that this work is in the hands of the States, but whenever we have an opportunity this Parliament, as representing the whole of Australia, must be equal to the occasion. It is a bold comprehensive railway policy, giving means of transit to the people, which is wanted in Australia. When we have an opportunity, let us not lag behind, but let us show them an example. I also wish to say that I hold the same views in no less a degree, though the population is not there, in regard to the opening up of the Northern Territory which is now committed to our control. Honor- able members will never find me wanting in giving them support for any bold project for opening up country, and giving means of transit to any part of Australia which they are able to develop, because I know very well that it is of no use to leave these waste lands unutilized and unproductive. The only way in which we can open them up is by providing means of transit, without which people cannot enter on the land, or attempt to develop it. We want knowledge, boldness, and also experienced judgment in dealing with this great question. It is not enough to build railways anywhere haphazard. We want to put them in the right places, and we want experience and judgment in action, in the same way as we want boldness and comprehension in policy. I do not go so far, mind, as to say - and I hope that I am not misunderstood - that I think that the present Government is the best one to carry out this bold comprehensive policy. I do not think it is, not on any personal grounds, but because I know that they have not knowledge and experience. They have not had experience in these matters, and experience and knowledge cannot come to them by intuition. Therefore, I look on with some fear and trembling the trusting to the present Government of the carrying out of great projects. I speak in all friendliness, and I hope that honorable members opposite will not take any offence at my straightout statement. We do not want those intrusted with great authority to be hampered - in the way I am sorry that my honorable friends are hampered - in carrying out this or any other work of like magnitude. Men intrusted with the discharge of great responsibilities have no right to be hampered at every move by the employes of the State. An employe1 ought to be a man who is under control. He is paid by the State, and should be controlled by the State. He should not be able to dictate to those who employ him. But that is what it is coming to in this country as far as I can see. Those who are paid by the State, and for whom its trusted representatives in this House provide the funds for paying them liberally, want to have the management of the Government, and to coerce them at every turr I sympathize with honorable members opposite. I know very well they are just) as much dissatisfied with this thing as I would be. Circumstances, they say, alter cases, and I should say my hon orable friends squirm under this demand and. dislike it just as much as any one else would, but have to bow their heads and submit to it.
Let me now refer to the cost of the railway. According to the estimate framed by the eminent engineer engaged by the Government - Mr. Deane, who I suppose has had more experience of railways and railway construction than has any other man on this side of the Equator - the cost of the line was to be just under £4,000,000. But according to a paper which was handed to me yesterday by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Deane believes that owing to recent discoveries the amount for providing a water supply on the line may be reduced by £350,000.
– Is the honorable member aware that this second estimate of Mr. Deane was given after an estimate was furnished by another engineer?
– I am no» aware of that. We know that water by artesian boring on an immense limestone plateau has been found, which will very much simplify the work of construction. The cost of the railway is now estimated by Mr. Deane at about £3*650,000. I have always thought myself, and I would have said so only for this paper which the Minister handed to me yesterday, that the estimate of £600,000 was too much for providing a water supply for the railway alone. If a supply of water for more than the railway is required that is another matter. My opinion is - and I shall continue to express it until I am proved to be in the wrong - that this railway if tendered for and let to a substantial firm to build would be constructed for £3,000,000.
– The experience of New South Wales is against that view.
– At any rate, the Commonwealth can call for tenders, and if the lowest tender is too high it need not be accepted.^ If it calls for tenders for constructing the line on the departmental plans I believe it will be found that the work can be done for ,£3,000,000. My eminent friend, the engineer, may say that my estimate is too low. I know very well the difference between building by contract and building in other ways; and the above is my opinion, and I give it for all it is worth.
– We might get a McSharry case.
– That would all depend upon the supervision, and, besides, there are no engineering difficulties
From the report which was handed to me yesterday by the Minister of Home Affairs, I wish to read a paragraph or two regarding the water supply, because that is a very important matter. Mr. Deane says -
Between Kalgoorlie and the edge of the Nullabor Plain -
That is about 170 miles altogether - catchment dams must be built or artificial catchments prepared. At Cardinia, 82 miles -
That is a big granite rock 82 miles from Kalgoorlie - and the granite ridge at 107 miles east of Kalgoorlie, there are good rock catchments.
Wherever you get rock catchments along that route you may depend upon securing a good deal of rain water. The plan they have is to put a parapet round the foot of the catchment, which acts just like the roof of a house. All the water which falls within the area runs into a dam, and so every drop is conserved. We followed out that plan with great success on the railway between Southern Cross and Coolgardie. For a long time we were able, and it was astonishing to what extent we were able, to provide water for the railway by that means The granite rocks in that locality were very much more numerous and extensive than they are at the place named by Mr. Deane -
On the Nullabor Plain-
That is a very extensive limestone plain, elevated from about 700 feet at its highest down to 500 feet, when it reaches the boundary of Western Australia. There are about 25,000,000 acres of grassy, open country without timber, on this immense plain -
On the Nullabor Plain the State Government of Western Australia have carried out boring operations with success. At No. 3 boTe on railway route, 344 miles (from Kalgoorlie), water was struck between 1,270 and 1,344 feet in beds of fine and coarse sand with hard bands and granite boulders with hard granite at the bottom. The water stands in the bore about 420 feet from surface; there is a large supply, and it is of good quality, no salt, a little hard, but it is considered that it would be good water for boiler purposes.
This 900 feet of water is a splendid discovery.It is 344 miles from Kalgoorlie, and altogether removes any anxiety in regard to the water supply. There are about 100 miles of sandhills, though” these are not in Western Australia, but in South Australia.
No. 4 bore at 419 miles 73 chains was bottomed on granite at a depth of 907 feet. After drawing 30,000 gallons water stands at 402 feet from the surface; quality slightly brackish.
Among the sand hills artificial catchments of Wynbring and Kychering offer opportunities - the latter is very extensive, and the former is capable of great improvements by stripping. From Tarcoola East there seems little difficulty of conserving water. Where well water cannot be obtained sites for dams can be found.
In the estimates of cost furnished with the report of the11th October, 1909, the sum of £609,000 was quoted for water supply. This was figured out on the assumption that steam locomotives would be used for hauling trains over the line. This item of the estimate has been further looked into, and I have found it possible to make a considerable reduction, partly owing to the fact that water of good quality has been proved by boring to exist below the surface at a point 344 miles from Kalgoorlie, as mentioned previously in this report, and partly by adopting a cheaper method of conveying water to distances along the line, namely, by using wooden stave pipes instead of steel.
The scheme now proposed is to take water from the Mr Charlotte tank at Kalgoorlie, convey it along the line in pipes of suitable size, delivering it for the use of the steam locomotives in water tanks about 50 miles apart, till the tank at about 257 miles from Kalgoorlie is reached. Then making use of the water at No. 3 bore at 344 miles, pump and deliver this back towards Kalgoorlie as far as 295 miles, where a tank would be placed, and sending it along the line in the direction of Port Augusta as far as the end of the limestone plain where the sand hills are entered, at about 632 miles from Kalgoorlie, which is the lowest point on this part of the line, viz., 329 feet above sealevel. Between No. 3 bore and this point tanks erected at intervals of about 50 miles would be supplied from the same main.
By the above scheme sufficient water for engine purposes can be secured at a total estimated cost of £456,000, thus showing a saving of £155,000 on the estimate of October, 1909.
If the internal combustion principle can be applied to the locomotives used on the railway, the provision for water can be much reduced, and it might be safe to reckon on bringing the cost down to say, £250,000, as the water requirements would then be confined to station purposes and household use.
That is very satisfactory. Personally,I never had any anxiety as to the water supply, because we have had some experience in this respect, as I shall show later. All the engineers report that the railway will pay after a certain time ; and I am quite content to accept their estimate of ten years; though I do not agree with it. I venture to predict that the returns will be better than the engineers anticipate. Engineers value their professional judgment most of all ; and they always endeavour, and rightly so, in giving an opinion, to be on the safe side. We cannot accurately forecast what the returns for the railway may be. A rich discovery of gold, attracting thousands of people, as on previous occasions - though the attraction will be greater on account of the greater facilities of travel - would alter all our calculations. The Western Australian Government constructed 120 miles of railway from Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie at the small outlay of £200 or £300 a mile ; and the contractor, whom we were obliged to permit to carry passengers and goods while the contract was under way, made a fortune. The fact that the two sides of Australia are separated, and that this railway will connect them, promises results much more profitable than we can anticipate now. Expected returns of this kind cannot be put down in black and white; but when we observe the success of similar projects all over the world, we may very well look on the bright side. At any rate, I believe that this railway will never be a burden on the people of Australia.
– Will the right honorable member stake any of his capital that it will not be a burden ?
– Yes, if the honorable member will put down a similar amount as a stake to the contrary. This railway must be a success; and, byandby, it will be regarded just as the Coolgardie water scheme now is. The last time I spoke on the subject of the water scheme in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, I told those who denounced it, and described it as a pall hanging over the State, that the time would come when not a man in the country would have a word to say against it.
– The right honorable member was lucky at that time.
– It was good judgment.
– Kalgoorlie came to the rescue !
– Kalgoorlie was there before the work was commenced.
– I beg the right honorable member’s pardon ; that is not so.
– It was in 1896 that the Bill was introduced, and Kalgoorlie was discovered in 1893.
– If the right honorable member looks into the matter, he will see that I am right.
– That interjection shows the foolishness and conceit of some people. I was responsible for the scheme as Premier of the State, and yet the honorable member tells me that if I look into the matter I shall find that he is right. I told the opponents of the scheme that the time would come when not only would they not say anything against it, but would search* the records in order to justify themselves in saying that they had supported it. That has come to pass; and those who opposed the scheme are now saying that they did not oppose it much, or were in favour of it at last, and so forth. There is a remarkable surface feature of the country to be traversed to which I wish to direct special attention. From Perth to a place called Bullabulling, near Kalgoorlie, the country rises to an altitude of about 1,610 feet above the sea. Thereafter there is a gradual fall towards Kalgoorlie, and while there are some undulations and some rising ground, these are not sufficient to interfere with the gravitation of water all the way from Bullabulling for 683 miles to the far-distant sandhills of South Australia. In other words, water can be carried by gravitation from Bullabulling across the Western Australian boundary to the sandhills of South Australia.
– What is the difference in the respective elevations?
– At the South Australian boundary the elevation is 507 feet, while at the sandhills themselves there is an elevation of 329 feet above the sea. That is the lowest point on the line, so that we have a fall from r,6ro feet .at Bullabulling to 329 feet at the South Australian sandhills, the elevation at the Western Australian boundary being 507 feet. I looked into this matter some eighteen months ago and came to the conclusion that if all other means of obtaining a satisfactory water supply failed, we should be able to carry it through the country by means of a gravitation scheme. My suggestion is not that, as Mr. Deane, the engineer, proposes, a small pipe should be laid sufficient merely to provide for the requirements of the railway, but that we should put down a big pipe which would supply the wants, not only of the railway, but of people who settle in the country, and also their stock.
– Where would the right honorable member get the water? >
– From the Mundaring Weir. I do not say that we should be able to obtain from that source at the present time sufficient to carry out my scheme, but we should, at all events, be able to secure a very considerable supply. Not more than one-half of the water which the pipes are capable of carrying is being used in connexion with the Coolgardie scheme. The surplus is far more than would be necessary to fill the small pipes that Mr. Deane suggests should be laid, but would not be sufficient to supply such a service as I propose. Mr. Kernot, Chief Engineer of the Victorian Railways, at my request worked out the figures as to the volume of water which a 24-in. pipe service would be capable of supplying.
– A wooden or an iron pipe service ?
– My figures are based on a steel pipe service. Mr. Deane, however, says that wooden pipes would be cheaper and better, because, unlike steel, they would not corrode. For the first 130 miles a 24-in. pipe by gravitation would supply 2,000,000 gallons a day. At a point 220 miles from the starting place it would supply 1,250,000 gallons a day more; at 380 miles from the starting point 1,000,000 gallons a day more; and at a distance of 455 miles - on the Western Australian boundary - 500,000 gallons a day more - or a total of 4.750,000 gallons per diem.
– Could that quantity be spared from the Mundaring scheme?
– No ; but an additional pipe could be inserted and more water pumped up. The present pumping plant is capable of pumping up a much larger quantity than is being raised.
– But would there be a sufficient quantity available in the dam to give that supply?
– If there was not we could build another dam. As a matter of fact, however, only one-third of the storage capacity of the dam is now being used. I should think nothing of building an additional dam if that were necessary. The estimated first cost of supplying 5,000.000 gallons of water per day through this vast stretch of country, presuming the water was at Pullabulling in sufficient quantities to supply the railway service, the people on the land, and their stock is . £1,500,000. That estimate would be considerably reduced if the scheme provided for the use of wooden rather than of steel pipes. This initial cost having been incurred, the additional cost would be comparatively slight, since the water would run by gravitation right through to the South Australian sandhills. Contemplate the effect of this 640 miles of river running through that great expanse of country. A water service capable of carrying 5,000,060 gallons a day would indeed be a veritable river, and if the country is any good at all it would confer upon it inestimable advantages. I contend that the country is good. It consists largely of a limestone plateau, all covered with good grass. Quite recently the stationmaster at Eucla sent me a telegram stating that the present season was one of the best ever known there. The whole country, he declared, was covered with grass about a foot high. In other words, the vast territory through which this line will pass comprises 25,000,000 acres of good grass. What an outlet for starving stock at a time of drought in other parts of the Commonwealth. In a good season the whole of the stocks of the Riverina could be maintained there. As the result of the Kalgoorlie water scheme from Northam to the gold-fields, all the intervening country has been settled with farms which extend much further to the east than we thought would be possible. Such a scheme, presuming the water is at Bullabulling, as I have just suggested, would involve a first cost of £1,500,000, and the cost of maintaining the service would be comparatively light. In connexion with the Kalgoorlie water scheme we have to pump the water uphill against a head of 2,500 feet, including friction, but in this case the water would be running down hill. Surely this ought to be an Australian undertaking. Surely we ought to be capable of subduing the wilderness.
– Does the right honorable member suggest that the State should carry out that water scheme?
– I should like the Commonwealth and the State to undertake it.
– It is a State right, and we ought pot to interfere with it.
– I ask honorable members to seriously consider the effect of this additional 640 miles of fresh water running through a territory where at present there is no surface water. The scheme opens up boundless possibilities.
I have a few words to say in regard to the route of the railway itself. Theline will be 1,063 miles in length, and for the first 70 miles will run through auriferous country similar to that of Kalgoorlie, with its diorites and quartz. Geologically, it is the same as the Coolgardie gold-fields country.
– Has it been geologically surveyed ?
– Yes. For the first 70 miles the line will pass through auriferous country, and thereafter for 100 miles through granitic, wooded and grazing country. Some quartz reefs may be found there, but that sort of country is generally grazing country. We then reach a plain which stretches for 450 miles. I asked Mr. Deane yester-‘ day if we could not have a straight line across it. He said, “ I think we could.” We do not, perhaps, want the line exactly straight, but fancy an extent of level country with a gradual fall all the one way for 450 miles. This is a limestone plateau, which is generally supposed to be good country, and all it wants is a good rainfall. There is, then, this 450 miles of level limestone plateau, which is well grassed in good seasons, and from 700 feet to 329 feet above the sea. We then come to the sand hills of South Australia. There are, I think, about 100 miles of them. I am informed by Mr. Deane that they are not so formidable as people think. I know the sand hills of Central Australia, and can tell honorable members that they run in ridges for miles; there is a valley between them, and the bottom of the valley is quite level, but when you want to cross over you have to go up the hill and down into the next valley.
– Are they moving sand hills?
– No. It seems that they present very little difficulty, because they are not the ordinary drift sand hills. Only the top is sand, and down below is hard rock. A good description of them is given in Professor Gregory’s account of the sand hills on the shores of Lake Eyre. There is a geological theory given by Mr. Brown, the Government Geologist, as to how they are formed. It appears they are not formed by drifts, or else they would be of the same softness right through, whereas underneath they are fairly hard limestone or sandstone rock. This, therefore, can Be got through without any great trouble, and Mr. Deane thinks very little of the difficulty of getting from one valley to the other.
– Are there any bogs in the valleys?
– No, I wish it were so, as water would be plentiful. In the valleys it is firm sandy ground. The formation of the hills is just like the waves of the sea. They are very common in Northern and Central Australia. I passed over some in 1874, but kept generally to the south of them.
– As a matter of fact the right honorable member says they are not drift sand hills at all?
– The geological opinion now is that they are not. Artesian fresh water has been already found in two places on the limestone plateau I have described. There has been discovered 900 feet of fresh water coming within 400 feet of the surface, and if there is fresh water in one place it is only necessary to bore to get it in other places. There are 25,000,000 acres of grassy, open plain, and I predict that the whole of that will be used for grazing purposes. I do not see why, if the rainfall is sufficient, anything should not grow there, because the latitude is between 30 degrees and 31 degrees, or a little further north than Perth.
– Is any information available about the rainfall?
– No, because no one lives there, but we know that the rock holes are often full. The average rainfall at Eucla and along the coast is about 10 inches, and there is no doubt that the tendency of the fall is to decrease as you go further north. This part, however, is not very far north, as the line will pass within about 50 miles of the sea at Eucla. I should say that the rainfall would be less than at Eucla. We then cross the South Australian border, and get to Tarcoola, after passing through the stretch of sand hills I have described. Tarcoola is 801 miles from Kalgoorlie. There is a township there, with a telegraph line, and the South Australians have great hopes of it some day turning out a good gold-field, although it has not done much up to the present. The South Australian people have great confidence in it, as also in Mount Gunson, nearer Port Augusta, where, I think, rich copper has been found. From Tarcoola to Port Augusta is 262 miles through settled country, where there are sheep stations. When Mr. Deane travelled over it he described it as beautiful and covered with flowers. It would not, of course, be in that condition in dry seasons.^
This, then, is the country which has been termed a desert, only because there is no surface water in it. What we have to do is to reclaim the wilderness. Where the soil is good and things will grow, but no surface water is available, we must find the water. If water can be supplied by gravitation, it is a very easy matter; but when it has to be pumped, as is the case with the Coolgardie water scheme, it means an everlasting expense.
– That is the trouble at Yass-Canberra.
– Plenty ot water can be obtained by gravitation at Yass-Canberra by going a good way up the Cotter River.
– The right honorable member has only shown that water can be got by gravitation over 400 miles out of the 1,000.
– I have shown that it can be provided by gravitation over 640 miles, and when you reach Tarcoola and go on towards Port Augusta you get into more settled country, with wells, where water is easily obtained. In any case, 900 feet of fresh water has been discovered 344 miles from Kalgoorlie, within 400 feet of the surface, so that a permanent supply is assured already. I expect that Mr. Deane’s recommendation will be carried out so far as railway purposes are concerned, and a quarter of a million pounds will cover that ; but, of course, if we want to go in for a settlement scheme, which would probably be a matter for the Commonwealth and the State, the possibility of a wider scheme is in front of us. Only by providing a good water supply can this vast territory be used to the best advantage. The result would be that the country would be settled and intermediate traffic would be provided for the railway. My opinion is that Immediately after the railway is constructed all this country will be utilized, for- pastora purposes at any rate.
Let me quote descriptions of the country furnished by people who have no interest in it except to tell the truth. Mr. Muir, Inspector of Engineering Surveys, was sent out by me to examine it in 1901. He went over that stretch of country from Kalgoorlie to Eucla, about 500 miles.
– Is there a seaport at Eucla ?
– There is an open roadstead with sand banks and a jetty where ships can go, but it is not a good port for large ships. Mr. Muir said about the country he traversed -
Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have ever seen in Australia, and, with water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for - it is admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end.
Mr. Deane went over the country from the western side for about 200 miles inland from Kalgoorlie until he got to the limestone plateau. The country on the plain is the same throughout, and he did not travel over it. Reporting on this country in May, 1909, he wrote -
The country passed through is not of the desert class. This fact should be distinctly borne in mind.
Writing again of the same country, he says -
Everywhere along the route vegetation is abundant, such as salt bush, blue bush grass, and edible and other scrub.
Speaking of the country on the eastern or South Australian side he reported in July, 1909-
From a pastoral point of view the country traversed, with the exception of the sand hills and salt lakes areas, is well covered with salt bush mulga and other edible bush, and in many places in the winter with herbage and grass.
During the discussion of this question the point was raised as to the necessity of altering the gauge of the, line between Port Augusta and Terowie. From Melbourne to Terowie the line is constructed on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and from Terowie to Port Augusta on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. It would be very inconvenient to travel by a wide gauge to Terowie, then by a narrow gauge to Port Augusta, and later again by a wider gauge to Fremantle. I do not think that we need bother our heads about this matter at the present time. I have no doubt the Government have it under consideration. I feel quite sure that the South Australian Government will make the necessary alterations in their narrow gauge line. In fact, they are considering now a line from Port Augusta along the coast down towards Port Pirie to join the wide gauge line further south than Terowie.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think we should proceed until that matter is decided ? Ought we to take the risk ?
– Certainly. The risk will be nothing, because the South Australian Government must consider the convenience of the people. The people of South Australia will never be content to let such an inconvenience continue. I do not think it has ever been suggested that the South Australian Government will make people change about from a wide to a narrow gauge. They have agreed to the construction of this railway in a most friendly way. Western Australia has already agreed to make any alteration of gauge required in the line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. The broadening of the gauge between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle will involve a great deal of expense, but I have never heard it suggested that the Western Australian Government will not be prepared to do what is necessary. The people would not stand having to change about from one gauge to another. The desire of the people of Western Australia is to have a through line to the eastern States, and the people on the eastern side will desire in the same way to have a through line on one gauge to the ship’s side at Fremantle. I am satisfied that the State Governments of South Australia and Western Australia will change the gauge of their lines where necessary to any gauge adopted by this Parliament for the transcontinental line. Whatever gauge we agree to, the Western Australian Government have agreed to adopt the same for their line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle.
– Does the right honorable gentleman not think that the South Australian Government should be bound in the same way?
– It remains to be seen whether the Victorian Government will agree to alter the gauge of their line.
– I have no doubt they will all be prepared to make the necessary change of gauge. The Western Australian Government will have to alter the 400 miles of line between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle, which is at present constructed on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, to the gauge approved of by this Parliament for the transcontinental line.
– Would it not be just as easy to alter it to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge?
– Not quite, but I am not dealing with that question at present.
– The Midland workshops are built for a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge.
– The EngineersinChief of all the Australian railway systems have sat to consider this question of the gauge on two occasions.
The Railways Commissioners have dealt with the matter on several occasions, and I may mention that the late Mr. O’Connor, in reporting on the proposal in 1901, without any instructions whatever, made his calculations on a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. He evidently seemed to be of opinion that that was the right gauge to adopt. All the expert reports are in favour of the adoption of the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, I suppose because it may be considered the world’s gauge. I am aware from my own experience recently that it is possible to attain a speed of 60 miles an hour on that gauge at any time. I do not wish to labour the question of the gauge. I intend to support the Government in the matter, because what they propose is based on the reports of the experienced engineers who have dealt with the question. . I can the more readily support the Government in this case, because I know they can have only the public interests in view. They have not in this matter to consider any outside view of preference, such as preference to unionists. They have no axe to grind, and removed from the extraneous and evil influences; which, I regret to say, press from every side on my honorable friends opposite to induce them to go where I feel sure they do not themselves wish to go, their judgment may be taken to be reasonable and unbiased. Acting as they are in this matter on expert advice, which the Minister has assured us they have considered carefully, I am prepared to support the adoption of the gauge they have proposed for this line.
– It will not be possible, after the proposed line has been constructed, to travel throughout the States without changing carriages.
– In a few years I believe it will, as a uniform gauge is sure to be adopted. That is a national question, to which this Parliament might well devote its attention.
– The construction of the proposed line will probably determine the standard gauge.
– That fs so. Whatever gauge is adopted for this long length of line from Port Augusta to Fremantle - 1,447 miles - will probably become the standard for Australia. The States should not be asked to bear the. whole cost of providing a standard gauge on the lines connecting the capitals ; the Commonwealth should, I think, and would, I believe, share the expense.
– How much would be involved ?
– According to some estimates, £2,000,000.
– Certainly a large sum of money ; but we should not grudge that. Before resuming my seat, I wish to thank those honorable members, both here and in another place, on my own behalf, and on behalf of the people of Western Australia, for the generous support which they are giving to this proposal. The construction of the railway will assist to bind the people of Australia together in the bonds of friendship and goodwill, and will enable them to better fulfil their great destiny of controlling this great southern continent. I rejoice that one more work for which I have striven for so many years, like so many others with which I have been associated during my twenty-eight years of parliamentary life, is likely soon to become a matter of history. From the inception of this Parliament, I have felt it an obligation upon me to do all I could to bring about the construction of this work. I felt that if I shirked the task, or declined to take further part in public affairs, or did not continue at my post till this railway was authorized, I should not be carrying out my pledges to those who, following my advice, and in the full belief that this railway would be built by the Commonwealth, voted for the acceptance of the Constitution by Western Australia.
– Is this the coping stone of the right honorable member’s career?
– It is one of the coping stones of many arches with which I have had the honour and privilege of being associated. A few years hence no one will be willing to admit that he opposed this great humanitarian and utilitarian undertaking. Honorable members have been associated with other enterprises which have been gained only by strenuous effort, but after a year or two have become part of the daily life of the community, and regarded as a matter of course, so that the difficulties which had to be contended with to bring them to a successful issue have been almost forgotten. Similarly, once this line has been completed, it will not be comprehended that any one could have thought it undesirable, or could have opposed its construction ; the people will look on it as a work necessary for their material welfare, comfort, and convenience. I have had great pleasure in taking part in the debate on the second reading of the Bill, and hope that when the measure has passed Ministers will let us see what they are made of by constructing the railway as speedily as possible ; and I hope that it will be constructed in less time than the three years I have estimated to be required for the work.
– 1 listened with interest to the right honorable member for Swan, who is more in his element when dealing with proposals of the kind under consideration than he is in regard to many other matters. He is an extraordinarily good shopkeeper, and can place his goods in his window to the very best advantage. He has had so much to do with Western Australia that I feel bound to give attention to what, he has had to say on this matter, but there are many points on which I disagree with him. I have noticed that whenever a member of this House favours a proposal, he speaks of it as a national work, and, on the contrary, if he is against it, he regards it as. parochial. I admit that the people of Western Australia were promised the construction of this line if they would vote for the Constitution. New South Wales and Western Australia both got big concessions, and many little concessions were given.
– Victoria got the biggest plum out of the pie.
– She got nothing.
– She got the trade of Western Australia practically.
– I had not intended to touch that question. One has only to touch its fringe to find the tiger in some members, f do not admit that the proposed work is of national importance; and better reasons for it than have yet been given to us must be advanced before I shall promise to vote for the third reading of the Bill. This is not a national undertaking.
– Lord Kitchener said that it is.
– He looked at it from the military stand-point.
– Defence is a national matter.
– If there were any immediate necessity to prepare for our defence by constructing this line, the work would be a national one ; but, under present circumstances, I do not see why Western Australia and South Australia should not do as much for the linking together of the capitals of Australia as has been done by the other States. I recognise that immediate and material benefit will accrue to two States from the construction of the proposed railway, and I candidly confess that the greatest benefit will be derived bySouth Australia. As the right honorable member for Swan has pointed out, the line will traverse a greater extent of South Australia than it will of Western Australia.
– But in South Australia it will merely open up sandhills.
– I am not so sure of that. There is a good deal of mineral country there awaiting development. Seeing that both these States will benefit at the national expense, I say that it behoves them to concede that which is desirable in the interests of the rest of the people.
– The Western Australian Government have already made considerable concessions. They have given guarantees, and made offers of territory.
– And they expect to derive a very material benefit by the granting of these concessions. What prompts me to support trie proposed railway more than anything else is the peculiar position occupied by the residents of the gold-fields of Western Australia. They must have Some outlet. At the same time it is only just that the States which will derive the chief benefit from the construction of this line should concede whatever is necessary to insure the ultimate success of the undertaking. The right honorable member for Swan has himself admitted that between Kalgoorlie and Tarcoola water is scarce. Developmental work will be required between those points.
– That country will be developed.
– It will not be if the States have sole control of the territory between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. The residents of the Western Australian gold-fields had to assert themselves for years before they could secure justice from the people of the coastal areas.
– That is not so.
– The right honorable member knows a.s well as I do that Western Australia is practically divided into two districts with conflicting interests. When I visited that State last year I found that the people in the coastal areas were endeavouring to centre everything -there at the expense of the residents of *he gold-fields. With the latter, the para mount consideration appeared to be the construction pf a line of railway from Esperance to Norseman. The honorable member for Perth and the honorable member (for Fremantle may laugh, but the people of the gold-fields do not laugh. I mention this matter merely for the purpose of proving my contention that some power will have to be given to the Commonwealth by the States concerned if the ultimate success of the proposed transcontinental line is to be assured. The representatives of Western Australia cannot deny that antagonism exists between the residents of the gold-fields and those of the coastal areas.
– I do deny it.
– The honorable member represents a coastal electorate.
– But my interests are on the gold-fields.
– We all know perfectly well that no State has yet been able effectively to safeguard the “interests of the whole of its citizens. In New South Wales, for instance, every other consideration is subordinated to the interests of Sydney. The same thing happens in Victoria, and on a lighter scale in South Australia and Tasmania. I hold that the Commonwealth should be granted a sufficient area of land along the proposed transcontinental railway to insure that the undertaking will prove a remunerative one in the near future. It is almost as necessary in the one case as in the other for the Commonwealth to exercise over that territory - if the line is to be made a payable proposition - the same powers that it exercises over the Northern Territory. I hope that a strong endeavour will be made in this House to secure to the Federation power to prevent the States of South Australia, and Western Australia from retarding the development of the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie.
– They will give a second mortgage.
– I suppose that the honorable member has hit the point as nearly as possible. For instance, it has been pointed out that a good water supply is necessary. Unless the Commonwealth had the right to go wherever it is desirable to take its pipes to obtain water, South’ Australia and Western Australia might make the railway awkward to run.
– There is power under the Bill.
– During the last ten years the members of this Parliament and people outside thought that the Commonwealth Parliament possessed a number of powers which it was afterwards shown that we had not. I make no pretence to being able to draw up a Bill that would prevent the exercise of the powers we require being upset by a judgment of the High Court. But certainly the Bill should be so framed as to insure what we want. This Government should make all necessary provision so that no State can retard us when we endeavour to run the railway in the best possible manner. We know what trade means. If you can by any means divert trade from one town to another, it is of course an advantage to the town that secures the increased business.
– It would not be possible to divert trade from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
– My point is that if it were necessary, in order to make the line pay, to do certain things, the people, say, on the coast of Western Australia, if they had sufficient influence with the Government of their State, might prevent the development of the country along the railway. The honorable member for Fremantle shakes his head, though he knows the differences that exist amongst the Western Australian people at present. I hope that this point will be carefully considered. If it is not seen to carefully in Committee, I shall have to vote against the Bill on the third reading. We must insure to the Commonwealth the right to develop the territory along the line successfully. We know perfectly well that even if the settlements of population at both termini increase materially, the line will not be made to pay. That end can only be secured by the development of the whole of the country, from end to end. It is useless to pretend that we can carry commodities over so great a distance without intermediate freights. Another important question is that of the gauge. As to the best gauge to choose, I have, of course, to accept the opinion of practical men. I know little about the matter personally, but I should have thought that the broader the gauge the more durable the line would be. Certainly any one who travels from Sydney to Adelaide has to admit that there is not so much oscillation on the broader as there is on the narrower gauge. I also think that the broader the gauge the greater the safety. It has often been a marvel to me that trains with narrow flanged wheels, running over a narrow-gauge line, did not leave the rails more frequently than they do. I think that it is more the intervention of Providence than engineering skill that has prevented accidents from this cause. But if engineers agree that a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is sufficient, I must accept their verdict.
– But they do not say so.
– I have been paying attention to this question for some years, and know that there has always been a difference of opinion. Undoubtedly the narrower gauge is cheaper, but, on the other hand, the broader gauge gives greater durability, steadiness, and safety. If, however, the consensus of opinion among engineers is that the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge is preferable, I shall have to accept their conclusion, just as I accept the views of a majority of lawyers or a majority of doctors.
– The honorable member should always reserve the right to maintain his own opinion.
– I do not know that I can do that in connexion with a matter about which I know nothing. If I have to follow a course, I prefer to take “the opinion of the majority of the experts in the matter, as I do in everything else. When the honorable member for Flinders spoke the other day, he submitted a point which I think is well worthy of consideration. He suggested that, seeing that there had been no decided opinion expressed as to which is the better gauge, and that as from Albury to Terowrie there is a gauge of 5 ft. 3 in., and from Terowie to Port Augusta a gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., it would be cheaper afterwards to alter the gauge from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie from 5 ft., 3 in. to 4 ft. 8 J in., whereas if it were found afterwards that the latter was not the right gauge it would cost more to alter the gauge from 4 ft. 8J in. to 5 ft. 3 in. He took that broad stand, and suggested that seeing that nothing had been decided, the matter might be considered, and I agree with him. If a gauge of 4 ft. 8£ in. be adopted for the transcontinental line, Queensland will have to alter the gauge of its railway system.
– It will have to do that in any case.
– In New South Wales the gauge at present is 4 ft. Z in., while from Albury, in New South Wales* to Terowie, in South Australia, the gauge is 5 ft. 3 in. The question which will have to be seriously considered is that of expense. Between the border of Queensland and New South Wales and the border of New South Wales and Victoria a great extent of country is traversed by railway, and if the permanent way has to be altered to a broader gauge the cost of the work will be enormous. But there is no immediate necessity to make the alteration any more than there has been during the last twenty years. If we cannot decide which is the proper gauge to adopt, and can get a continuity of line from Albury to Perth on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, that will go a long way towards giving us uniformity. It will be better to consider that aspect of the question now if we cannot get a decided opinion, and to build the Commonwealth line on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– One would think that the Commonwealth had discovered the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge.
– I concede that the honorable member knows more about railways than I do, but I submit that men who have had more experience of railways than he has had would differ from him.
– They would differ on anything
– Exactly, and the honorable member need not think that I feel the remark which he passed. I am simply looking at this question from the standpoint of the ordinary man in the street. Seeing that there is such a great diversity of opinion on the question of gauge, I think it is necessary that we should follow the path of least resistance or trouble. I share the opinion of the honorable member for Flinders. I would point out that if Western Australia has agreed to alter the gauge of its railway from Kalgoorlie to Perth to 4 ft. 8J in. it would not cost much more to adopt the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. If the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is to be built with national money, the whole cost of regrading the railway systems of the States should be borne by the National Parliament. That would be merely an act of justice to those States which will have to alter their gauges. If that point is conceded I shall be willing to leave the whole matter to the engineers and financiers of Australia to deal with.
– Do you not think that Unification would settle the whole difficulty ?
– I am with the honorable member there, but I do not know what chance we have of getting Unification. In spite of the fact that there is more apparent safety to life on a broad-gauge than on a narrow-gauge line, I shall accept a narrower gauge than the 5 ft. 3 in. for this new line if the experts advise that it will do all that ih wanted. If, however, the people of Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia are expected to pay for the alteration of their railway gauge, which is a matter of national concern, I shall have to give this proposal more consideration before I cast a vote.
– Queensland and Western Australia are willing to pay for the alteration.
– Western Australia will get a benefit out of this great national railway when it is built; and even if South Australia should have to pay for broadening the gauge between Terowie and Port Augusta it will also gain a material benefit.
– The States will all benefit, I think.
– Now that my honorable friend has scratched the leopard, and shown the spots, I want to know where Victoria is likely to benefit, and why it should be asked to pay, not only its share of the deficit on the working of the transcontinental railway, but also the cost of altering the gauge on its trunk line, which would be considerable, and upset its whole railway system. Whether we care to make the admission or not, we look at questions from a State stand-point. For instance, on the question of acquiring the Northern Territory, we always found the representatives of South Australia supporting the proposal. On the question of the Federal Capital, we have always found the representatives of New South Wales strong advocates. A representative of Western Australia has always taken more interest in the question of this railway than he has done in any other question.
– But they are all Nationalists, though.
– Every Victorian when the Tariff is mentioned is up on his hind legs at once.
– That is a very peculiar remark, indeed, coming from the honorable member.
– No; it is true.
– Anybody would, think from the remark that “the Tariff has been beneficial to Victoria only.
– Oh! oh !
– Order I
– I know, sir, that’ I am digressing, and should not notice interruptions, but I hope that you will excuse what I said. I would like to say, in passing, that Protection has done more good to New South Wales than to any other State in the Federation.
– Order !
– The interjection of the honorable member implied that we in Victoria have some special interest in the Tariff. H my honorable friends wish to act from a narrow State standpoint, I would say that Victoria has received nothing from Federation bar the presence of the good-looking representatives of the other States. I admit that their presence has imbued Victoria with a more Federal spirit than is to be found in any other State. But that is really all that’ we have gained from the Federation. An alteration of gauge from 5 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 8£ in. would, I repeat, upset the whole railway system of this State.
– Victoria is not Australia !
– I have never claimed that Victoria is Australia. But Victoria has just as much right to be considered as any other State in the Federation, and this State Has not received its due consideration up to the present.
– I fancy I have read that in the Age at some time or other !
– The honorable member is taking the place of the honorable member for Parramatta in persisting in throwing the Age at mv head at every opportunity.
– The honorable member is the best advertiser that the Age has.
– I ‘ cannot say that the Age reciprocates. The Government ought to at once settle the question of who is to pay for the alteration of the gauge; and unless that is made a national question, as much as the construction of the line itself, I shall not be found voting for the Bill at its final stages.
– A national spirit ! Is that a threat?
– I like to hear the “ national spirit “ advocated by the parochialists of this House. The two questions that require consideration are, whether there shall be preserved the right to develop the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie without any interference arising from State bias or interest, and whether the alteration of the gauge is to be made a national question, so .that the States weakest in voting power shall not be left to pay? Unless these questions are answered satisfactorily my vote will not be cast for this railway. If the whole of the “national spirit” is to be with Victoria, and the whole of the national gain with the other States, I shall cast my vote in such a way as to secure justice for my own State as far as possible. The right honorable member for Swan, in his genial way, endeavoured to prove that the people born in Western Australia have made that State. The right honorable gentleman, however, knows as well as I do that there was just as much antagonism between the “Outlanders” and the “Gropers” in Western Australia as there was between the Outlanders and the Boers in South Africa.
– We received them with open arms.
– But the right honorable gentleman did not give the “ Outlanders “ a vote for about ten years, and retarded the political progress of the State so long that the “ Outlanders “ rose in their just indignation and secured tha franchise.
– I introduced both manhood and womanhood suffrage.
– If Western Australia had been willing to welcome all in 1893, myself and others would have gone there instead of to New South Wales.
– Did the absence of the franchise prevent the honorable member going ?
– The fact that the native-born of Western Australia, led by the right honorable member for Swan, reserved to themselves all political rights, had a great deal to do with my not going there in 1893. To-day the people of Western Australia are the same as the people in other” parts of the continent, but twenty years ago there was a difference. Under the altered circumstances this railway is necessary; but there must be the safeguards I have indicated.
.- This question has been before Parliament for a number of years, and I am glad that it has reached its present stage. In my opinion the railway will be a great success : and many honorable members, who, though not directly opposing it, are supporting it in a half-and-half way, do not realize the magnificent nature of the country that will be opened up. After all, this is not a very big undertaking. After the war with Russia,
Japan’s first act was to order more rails and rolling-stock for Korea than are required for this railway. Fortunately, we have not had to defend ourselves against a Power like Russia, and we have no money invested in old guns and powder. It should be a small undertaking to a community having everything that a country can require to connect its distant parts by means of railways. In Western Australia there is one of the most magnificent agricultural areas in the world. That State contains gold, timber, cattle, wool, and agricultural country, and the construction of this railway will cause development such as we have never seen in the past. As to the route, the South Australian Government, in demanding that the line should go north as far as Tarcoola, played directly into our hands. We have taken over a railway which, as I pointed out during the discussion on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, was carried from Port Augusta north with the intention of extending it to the Queensland border. In the first place, a survey to the Queensland border was made. The pegs were lost, but I have it on the authority of Mr. H. C. Mais, one of the best railway engineers we ever had, that the intention was to take that line into the corner of Queensland and New South Wales. The line actually taken over by us, after going a certain distance north, runs almost due west for about 100 miles. The map exhibited in the chamber shows that all we have to do in carrying the line to Port Darwin is to start at a point about 100 miles along the Une that we are now proposing to construct, and to build it on a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge. In that way we should save a “lot of construction work, and avoid having lines coming into two different parts of Port Augusta. I have here a map - the best that I could obtain - a glance at which will show very clearly the whole position. The line as marked on the map is pointing straight towards Port Darwin. I hold, therefore, that, instead of incurring the expense of altering the 3-ft. 6-in. line that we have taken over, which would be a very costly affair, it would be much cheaper for us to construct the section that would be required to carry the line 100 miles out from Port Augusta straight up to the north. In that way the route from Port Darwin to Port Augusta would be shortened by at least 100 miles, and we should really save the cost of constructing about 200 miles of line in connexion with the railway to Port
Darwin. From time to time the proposal to construct this transcontinental line has been bitterly opposed by newspapers in the eastern States, that have described the country to be traversed as a sandy desert. I am glad to know, however, that the exact position of the sandhills to which these newspapers have referred has been fixed, and that they are 170 miles inside the South Australian border. As a matter of fact, they are not within Western Australian territory. As I have often told the House, the timber belt extends from Kalgoorlie for a distance of 160 or 170 miles east, and the country thereafter to be traversed consists of good grass and good edible bush lands. For a distance of 160 or 170 miles from the South Australian border the line will traverse really splendid country, which will feed stock. Western Australia to-day is exporting more timber and producing more gold than all the other States put together. In a few years we shall be able to say the same of our wheat production. It is only a matter of time. Great wheat areas are now being opened up in the West, and we have also an area big enough to enable us to produce, I hope, quite as much wool as all the other States combined now do. We have the finest and the largest areas that have ever been opened up in Australia for the production of apples and other fruits of that class. The apples which were sent from Western Australia to England last year fetched double the price which apples from other parts of Australia realized.
– No. The average was about 2s. per case more.
– They fetched absolutely twice the price. No doubt one reason for the better prices realized for Western Australian fruit is that we are at least seven or eight days nearer the English market than are the eastern States. That saving of time in the carriage of perishable products to the English market must be of very great importance. Apples grown in Western Australia are also free from blight and pests. They are clear of all marks and blemishes, and are a very fine fruit. Indeed, I have never seen apples equal to those grown in the southern part of Western Australia. It is well known that no better grapes are grown than those produced in the West, and the same may be said of our oranges. Just before I left Perth to attend the present session of Parliament, I saw in Sandover’s window, in Hay-street, navel oranges which were larger than any I had ever seen before.
They were magnificent thin-skinned specimens, grown at Carnarvon far up the coast. Then; is a bit; stretch of country between. Carnarvon ai:.d the south where oranges are largely grown, and citrus fruits are also produced at Geraldton, and between that town and Perth. It will not be long before we shall have a large export trade in citrus fruits. In putting these facts before the House, I do nol wish it to be understood that I am seeking to depreciate what is being done by the other States. My sole desire is to let honorable ‘members know that Western Australia is well worthy of the line that we propose to build. I wish them to gain some idea of the character of the country, and to realize that the line will open up opportunities for the establishment of all sorts of industries. Much attention has been devoted to the question of gauge, and some of the utterances of honorable members on this phase of the subject have been rather selfish. It is astonishing to me that Victoria should claim to have a voice with respect to the gauge of this line, seeing that years ago the Government of this State recognised that its 5 -ft. 3-in. gauge was altogether useless in connexion with the opening up of large areas. They went one better than Queensland and Western Australia by building 2-ft. 6-in. railways, instead of 3-ft. 6-in., to open up their timber areas. , Lines which had to carry heavy loads, and the longest timber that could be obtained in Victoria, were built on a 2-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– No. They were only two little tramways.
– When the nation’s money has to be expended the Victorians are nationalists, and claim that the Victorian standard railway gauge is the right one to be adopted for Australia, but when they have to spend their own money they are quite content with a narrower gauge. And so with South Australia. The South Australian Government commenced to open up their big northern areas with a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway. They carried that line as far as Terowie, and there they stopped, saying, ‘ We cannot go on at this rate. We have spent more money than we can afford.” South Australia is the only State in the Commonwealth with three breaks of gauge in its territory - one at Wolseley, one at Hamley Bridge, and one at Terowie. South Australians would never have opened up their country if they had not abandoned the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge for the 3-ft. 6-in. The whole of Queensland, one of the most magnificent areas in the Commonwealth, has been opened up by means of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge - a splendid gauge for opening up country. Had Queensland and Western Australia been foolish enough in the first place to begin with a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge their country would never have been opened up today, as they could not have afforded to build the lines. Victoria went one step too far the other way in adopting a 2-ft. 6-in. gauge for some lines. The Commonwealth is taking the middle course in adopting the standard gauge of the world -a gauge over which nine-tenths of the traffic of the world is being carried, and which has been approved by all the engineers who have special knowledge of the subject. One can place an order in England or America for rolling-stock for the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge much cheaper than he can place an order for rolling-stock for outside gauges. If a man requires rolling-stock constructed in England or America on a 3-ft. 6-in. or 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, he has to pay a bigger percentage per ton. In England the workshops where rolling-stock for the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge is constructed are absolutely separated from the workshops for the construction of the standard gauge stock, although both may belong to the same people. Not even a spanner or other appliance used for the making of 4-ft. 8^-in. material is used for the manufacture of 3-ft. 6-in. material. The 4-ft. 8j-in., the standard gauge of the world, has carried up to date the whole of the traffic of England, and practically all the traffic of America. That being so, honorable members who advocate the use of a broader gauge are looking too far ahead.
– Then the honorable member admits that it must come in the future?
– I do not. Honorable members who think that the traffic between Western Australia and Port Augusta will increase to such an extent that a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge will not carry it could not use a better argument in favour of building the line. Statements have been made in the House that Mr. Harriman, the great American railway owner and railway stock manipulator, advocated the use of a broader gauge. So he did at one time, but my impression is that he did it to make the public believe he was carrying a great deal more freight than was actually the case, and thereby to increase the value of his shares in certain railways. When the proposal for adopting a broader gauge was inquired into the experts condemned it absolutely. In their report they said, “ If a 4-ft. 8j-in: gauge single line will not carry the traffic, duplicate it. If it will not carry it then, duplicate it again and again in preference to building a line on a broader gauge.” There are many reasons for this, one of them being that the weight of the rollingstock is increased out of all proportion to the carrying capacity of the vehicles. The sleepers for a broad gauge railway require to be strengthened out of all proportion as compared with the sleepers necessary for an ordinary track. In building a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line now, the sleepers nave to be of such a prohibitive price that the South Australian people are putting in steel sleepers on the line between Adelaide and Melbourne. If we adopted so expensive a system for a line across such a long stretch of country as that between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie,’ we should be undertaking a task that we could never afford to carry out. In America the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge runs over treble the length of country, and the most luxurious trains in the world travel on it. If that gauge is good enough for America, it is good enough foi Australia. Had it been proposed to adopt the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge I should have been against it; had it been proposed to use the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, I should also have been against it ; but we can afford to build the line on the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. By so doing we shall be making that gauge the standard for Australia, and we shall be thanked for doing it in years to come. One effect will be to bring the States into line. I do not claim that it will be necessary to alter all the gauges in Australia. The Engineer-in-Chief of South Australia, in a recent report, said it would make things very bad for the travelling public of South Australia, but I do not see what difference it would make to the people travelling from Port Augusta to Adelaide, as they have been doing for the last twenty years, if we built our line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie 10 feet wide. It is simply a matter for the South Australian Government to alter their own facilities as the Western Australian Government propose to do,. and will shortly do. Let Victoria abandon her selfish feelings, and alter her own tracks, and let South Australia alter hers. The Western
Australian people prepared for the change when they built the Midland Junction works in a manner suitable for alteration to a 4-ft. 8£-in. construction. They looked ahead, knowing that this line would come through from the East, and that it must be on a different gauge from that hitherto used in Western Australia. The proposal that the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge should be adopted reminds me of the recruit who, when he was told that he was out of step, expected all the others in the squad to alter their step. All credit is due to the New South Wales people for starting on the right track by adopting the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. The Commonwealth Government by adopting it are doing the right thing.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have shown that this railway is absolutely necessary, and that it will go to a part of Australia which is much better fitted for settlement than some honorable members would lead us to believe. Western Australia has been greatly de,veloped since 1893. At that time the eastern States were almost on their uppers. Prices were very low for grain and for horses, cattle, and all kinds of stock. Draught horses, which now fetch £60 per head, could then be bought for £14 per head. The development of Western Australia was seriously commenced and a great forward movement made at that time, when the eastern States required all the assistance that could be given them. I do not know where they would have drifted to if it had not been for Western Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, in a manner which I am sure is quite foreign to his nature, appeared today to be in a mood to disagree with everything. He disagreed with the proposed gauge of the railway, with the omission to secure grants of land from the State Governments on either side of the line, and he even went so far as to disagree with his colleague on the other side, the honorable member for Maranoa. He reminded me of a story I once heard of a testy old Church of England minister, of whom it is said that he disagreed with every congregation wherever he was appointed,’ and, ultimately, when he was sent to the South Sea Islands as a missionary, and was there killed and eaten, he disagreed with the savages. There is very little in the honorable member’s argument with respect to the reservation of land on either side of the railway, because in sub-clause 2 of clause 3 of this Bill it is provided that -
The construction of the railway shall not be commenced until the States of Western Australia and South Australia, respectively, have granted, or agreed to grant, to the satisfaction of the Minister, such portions of the Crown lands of the State as are, in the opinion of the Minister, necessary for the purposes of the construction, maintenance, and working of the railway.
A railway cannot be worked without an ample water supply, and under the provision I have quoted the Commonwealth authorities will have power to secure all the land that is necessary to provide such a supply. If this Bill be passed we shall be protected in every way. I hope that the Government will take care to secure every rock and other water catchment area along the route of the railway, notwithstanding the fact that already some good bores have been put down and a fair supply of water provided for. Even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will probably know that water secured from a rocky catchment is better for locomotive purposes than any other. I hope that all rock catchments along the route will be secured, that reservoirs will be constructed, and that every drop of water that can be conserved will be conserved for the purposes of this railway. Speaking from actual experience, I am able to say that on going over the ground ten years ago, when considering the construction of a line for a timber company on the gold-fields with which I am connected, I passed a big rock on which an extensive depression was noticeable. The line has since been constructed past that rock, and there is there a natural rock catchment and basin which holds 1,750,000 gallons of water. An excellent water supply for ralway purposes can be obtained from these rock catchments, and I am not anxious about the difficulty of securing a sufficient water supply on this line. If we make up our minds to build this line, al! the difficulties which have been suggested will disappear, as similar difficulties were found to disappear years ago at Kalgoorlie. Even before the goldfields water scheme was contemplated, Kalgoorlie was a place with 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants. There were more people living there then than there are now, and yet a water supply was found for them by condensing and other means. It was the fact that there were so many people living there that induced the Western Australian Government to carry out the water scheme to supply that place. The honorable member for Gwydir said, when the right honorable member for Swan was speaking, that the water scheme was initiated before Kalgoorlie was found, but Kalgoorlie was a prosperous and gold-producing place before the water scheme was decided upon. The construction of this railway is very necessary for defence purposes. I am under the impression that had it not been for Lord Kitchener’s report the work would not be pushed forward in the way now proposed. As a means for the defence of Australia, nothing could be better than to connect the East with the West by railway. It is certain that it is very much more difficult to destroy a railway than to destroy a war vessel. A war-ship may be run on a rock or sunk by the enemy without much difficulty, but it would be a difficult proposition to obliterate a railway 1,000 miles long. Lord Kitchener did good work for Australia when he urged the necessity for connecting all the States by rail, and the setting aside of parochial considerations limited by State boundaries. We must aim at the connexion of the North with the South, and the West with the East. When that is accomplished Australia will progress more rapidly than it has done in the past. I have shown that the part of Australia to which this line is to be built should be connected with the eastern States. The line will form a bond between the East and the West. I think I know of only one stronger bond, and that was created by the referenda. I have told the people of the West a good many times that the referenda might be considered an important bond between the East and the West, since it enabled the eastern States to save Western Australia from itself. Many persons in the West think that in the past they have not received fair treatment from the East ; but in this matter and the construction of the proposed line they have two things for which to thank the East. As for what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said about the people of the gold-fields being in antagonism to those on the coast-
– I said that the people on the coast are opposed to those on the gold-fields.
– I know of no antagonism, though there was a little feeling on the part of a small clique, led by the Kalgoorlie Miner.
– They were like a lot of Kilkenny cats when I was there.
– AH was peace and quiet before the honorable member arrived. As a matter of fact, although most of my interests are connected with the gold-fields, I represent a coastal constituency, and the big agricultural development in the West has been made possible largely by the expenditure of money earned on the goldfields. The honorable member knows little of Western Australia if he thinks that the construction of the Esperance line is a necessary preliminary to the making of the proposed railway. The antagonism that he speaks of is so much froth. A man generally finds what he looks for. As Eben Holden said, “ There aint no trouble in this world unless you go round looking for it.” If the honorable member found a feeling of antagonism he must have been nosing round for it. He would have been much happier had he mixed with persons of a more genial nature, like himself. I am sorry that I had not the opportunity of seeing him, and keeping him clear of the trouble which he appears to have got into. I trust that the second reading of this Bill will be carried, and that the line will be constructed as early as possible on a gauge of 4 ft. 8J in.
.- Following two representatives of the State, it is needless for me to extol the wonderful productiveness and mineral resources of Western Australia. Of the future of the State no honorable member has any doubt ; but, like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I think that we should have the fullest information before entering upon a Work the cost of which will be exceptionally large. On questions of expenditure we must accept the judgment of engineers, but my reading leads me to think that the opinion is coming to be held by authorities on the subject that in closely-settled districts, or for long haulage, the gauge of 4 ft. 8J in. is not as good”* as a wider gauge. The honorable member for Fremantle spoke of the need for the line for the defence of Australia, but it seems to me that if the leading countries of the world all use the 4 ft, 8£ in. gauge it would be an advantage for Australia to have another gauge, so that should she be attacked it would be more difficult for her enemies to use her railways. Men accustomed to the control of railways constructed on a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge might be somewhat at a loss if asked to control some other gauge. Even Australian experts are not unanimous regarding the wisdom of adopting a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge. Two gentlemen of eminence in the engineering world here suggest another gauge. One is Mr. Hales, an engineer with thirty-eight years of experience in Tasmania and New Zealand, and the other is Mr. Smith, who is also ari “engineer. The honorable member for Fremantle, with his wide knowledge of contracting in connexion with railway construction, must know that where a country is mountainous a narrower gauge than would be employed in plain country is usually adopted. But, according to the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Fremantle, the proposed transcontinental railway presents no engineering difficulties whatever on account of the exceptionally level nature of the country to be traversed. It seems to me that that is an additional reason why we should adopt a wider gauge than the 4 ft. 8J in. In this connexion certain figures which I have obtained are decidedly interesting. 1 find that New South Wales has constructed 3,643 miles of railway of 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge at a cost of £48,925,348, or £13,430 per mile. Victoria has built 3,383 miles of railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge at a cost of £42,453,801, or £12,549 per mile. Thus the wider gauge employed in Victoria has cost nearly £1,000 per mile less than the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge has cost New South Wales.
– But in New South’ Wales the railways climb mountains 4,000 feet high.
– South Australia has constructed 599 miles of railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge at a total cost of £6,670,794, or £11,136 per mile. In other words, her railways have been built - I admit that they mostly traverse level country - for £2,000 per mile less than those of New South Wales with the lesser gauge.
– The railways climb the Mount Lofty Range in South Australia.
– But, generally speaking, the railways of that State traverse much easier country. South Australia also built 1,313 miles of railway of 3-ft.- 6-in. gauge at a cost of £7,737,738, or an average cost of £5,892 per mile. In the Northern Territory there are 145 miles of railway on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, which cost £1,180,155, or £8,111 per mile. Queensland has constructed 3,661 miles of railway of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge at a total cost of £24,336,372, or £6,648 per mile. Western Australia has built 2,144^ miles of railway of a similar gauge at a total cost of £11,377,262, or £5,305 per mile.
– Up to what date do those figures cover?
– They are almost the latest figures available. Tasmania has constructed445½ miles of railway of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge at a total cost of £3,949,441, or £8,860 per mile, thus proving conclusively that where a country is mountainous the cost of construction per mile is increased.
– It is all a question of the altitude which has to be reached.
– That is so. Throughout Australia the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railways have been constructed at an average cost per mile of £6,144. In Tasmania the same gauge has cost £8,860 per mile; in New Zealand, £10,494; in Cape Colony,£9,055 ; and in Natal, £12,861.
– And in Natal the lines were constructed with coloured labour.
– Exactly. That seems to me to be an argument in favour of employing white labour every time. The honorable member for Fremantle mentioned that great railway king, Mr. Harriman, in derogatory terms. He endeavoured to make it appear that Mr. Harriman was desirous of increasing the gauge of the railways in which he was interested in order to inflate the values of certain stock. Now, according to Mr. Hale’s report, Mr. Harriman endeavoured to make the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge do all that it was possible for it to do. To-day, in . America, the limit of perfection has been reached, so far as haulage is concerned. In Victoria, we have engines which weigh just over 100 tons, and we consider them giants.
– Does that tonnage include the tender?
– It includes everything, I understand.
– Then we had engines of that tonnage twenty years ago.
– I may be wrong in my statement. But even assuming that we have engines weighing 150 tons, I would remind honorable members that in America on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, engines are employed which weigh as much as 370 tons. These locomotives are capable of drawing very heavy loads. But, notwithstanding that such a stage of perfection in haulage has been reached in America,
Mr. Harriman declared his belief that it was necessary to adopt a wider gauge - either a 5-ft. 6-in. or even a 6-ft. gauge. In this Parliament we hear a good deal about the national view which we ought to take of things. In this matter we should certainly, as far as we possibly can, take the broadest view. We should consider what has been accomplished and the difficulties that have had to be overcome in other countries in connexion with the haulage of goods. In America at the present time considerable difficulties are being experienced on many main lines owing to the congestion of traffic, and it was owing to this fact that a great railway man like Mr. Harriman made the suggestion that the gauge should be wider. The railway between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta will, of course, be a long-distance line upon which haulage will be a very important factor. Engineers have stated that engines that can be placed upon a 5-ft. 3-in. railway can be constructed at least 20 per cent. heavier than with the narrower gauge, and have a 10 per cent. heavier load than can the largest engines running on a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge railway. That point is worthy of some thought. If we can build an engine to run on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line that will pull a 10 per cent. bigger load than the largest engine that can be placed on a 4-ft. 8½-in. line, the wider gauge is certainly entitled to consideration. Of course, I know that when the problem of conversion has to be tackled the cost to the States and to the Commonwealth - which will probably have to come to the assistance of the States - may probably lead to the introduction of what is known as the third line on the wider gauge railways during the transition period. But it appears to me, from information that I have been able to obtain from engineers, that a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge line will not be nearly so certain to meet our requirements in the future in all respects as a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line. Mr. Hales, who is of this opinion, has had considerable experience of railway construction in Tasmania and New Zealand, where the engineering difficulties have been greater than in any part of Australia, except perhaps in a few patches. He is emphatically of opinion that if Australia is to adopt a great national system it should be based upon the principle of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– Where is that gauge in operation now in Australia?
– Whenever the honorable member transfers himself from the train at Albury into another train to come to Melbourne, he realizes at once, from the easy running, that he has changed gauge, and no doubt says to himself, “ Thank God I am on the Victorian side now.” This is a country of vast distances. From north to south, Australia covers 1.900 miles, and from east to west, 2,500 miles. It will be admitted that there are long-distance lines in America, and there the engineers contend that 5-ft. 3- in. gauge railways are by far the more desirable lines to construct. I wish now to quote from an address delivered by Mr. Alex. Smith, in which he gives the history of railway gauges in Australia. He says -
In the “ fifties “ far-seeing advisers of the Colonies, who had a neal acquaintance with the merits of the gauge controversy, decided upon the broader “ Irish,” or 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The Colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia indorsed the choice, and made it the standard - in New South Wales by Act of Parliament. Possibly an even wider gauge might have been recommended had rolling-stock of wider gauge been a market article.
Victoria and South Australia abode loyally by the contract and commenced construction. Then New South Wales changed its policy, its engineer, and its gauge, and the unique opportunity for obtaining uniformity was wilfully thrown away. Since then various other gauges have been introduced, on the plea of their suitability for cheap pioneer development. That claim - temporary expediency - is the only valid reason for their introduction.
Of course, I can quite understand that in the purely developmental stages of the history of the Australian States it may have been necessary to build narrow-gauge lines to provide ready means of bringing produce to market. I also admit that where country is mountainous and difficult a narrow-gauge line may be advantageous. But we have been reminded by the right honorable member for Swan that in connexion with the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta there will be no considerable engineering difficulties. Therefore, I contend,^ the broader the gauge the more suitable it ‘will be. I do not say that I intend to vote against this Bill unless the gauge be fixed at 5 ft. 3 in., but when an honorable member has any information to give bearing upon an important point, it is right that he should lay it before the House. If we pass this Bill containing a clause providing for a 4- ft. 8£-in. gauge, it seems to me that we shall have fixed the railway gauge of Australia practically for all time. If we do that we-, may some day awaken to. the fact that we have made a mistake in not adopting the wider gauge, so that bigger loads might be drawn. Certainly, for the present, we shall not have a very great traffic on the line. But almost from the start, in my opinion, we shall have a considerable passenger traffic. I believe that there are many people in the eastern States who would be more ready to take a trip to Europe if they could avoid the rough voyage across the Bight by taking train to Perth. When this line is built a person will be able to take train all the way from Brisbane to the steamer at Perth, and to journey from Fremantle to Marseilles in three weeks. We shall be able to travel by train practically from one side of Australia to the other. That will be, I think, very desirable. I believe that from the very opening of the line the passenger traffic will be a very considerable factor.
– Do you think that we can discard the possibility of the mono-rail coming into use?
– No. I am not going to suggest that the profession of engineering has reached the highest pitch of perfection or exhausted all the ideas which are to be evolved in this world. It would be contrary to the history of that great profession if I were to make such a statement. I do not know of a profession which is engaged more deeply in study and researchin respect to improvements to machines of various kinds, and particularly to railway locomotion, than the engineers whom we have in Australia and in other parts of the world. It .is quite possible that before many sleepers have been laid on this transcontinental line a discovery may be made which will transform methods of transit. In the meantime we have to come to a decision. I do not know that much has been done in respect to the mono-rail. I should hardly like to glide over country in a train running on one rail, and that is why I favour the adoption of the broad gauge. I prefer to ride in a vehicle with a fair sized under-carriage.
– So far the mono-rail is only used for light traffic.
– I believe so. Probably before our transcontinental railway is completed we may find that the engineers in some parts of the world have changed their minds in respect to the laying of railway tracks. I propose to make other quotations. I have shown that the engineers at one time decided that the gauge for South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales should be 5 ft. 3 in. ; but, owing to a change of engineer, and perhaps to a change of Government or policy in the Mother State, they decided to have a 4-ft. 8-in. gauge. In fact, I understand that an Act was passed to fix the gauge at 5 ft. 3 in., but afterwards the narrower gauge of 4’ ft. 8 J- in. was adopted. Referring to gauges, in the address he delivered before the Society of Engineers, this speaker - Mr. Alex. Smith, President of the Australian Institute of Engineers - said -
For instance, Britain, with every point comparatively near to a port, furnishes no parallel.
That is a very important matter. That is where narrow gauges apply, owing to the mountainous condition of the country, such as in Tasmania and New Zealand. Tasmania is a country with many ports, New Zealand is in a like position. That is a great advantage, because in each case it has led to that decentralization which we all desire to see brought about. On the mainland the produce of each State is practically shipped to one port. In New South Wales they are doing better than they did owing to the national programme which was recently submitted. I believe that in Queensland produce is shipped from more ports than one. In New Zealand and Tasmania the people enjoy what may be termed that decentralization which leads to great development of the country. New Zealand has very many ports at which boats call and take in produce. That means that a railway is running to each port, and that the whole traffic is not concentrated in one great centre, as in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and, I presume, Perth, too.
– The size of the continent accounts for that.
– To a large extent. A considerable quantity of the produce of Victoria should be shipped at Portland. That would lead to decentralization and to producers having a lot more money left in their pockets, instead of having to pay it away in freights. I do not think for a moment that the fact that Great Britain has adopted a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge is an argument in favour of its adoption by Australia. Certainly we find a nearer parallel in America, where goods are carried vast distances. Mr. Smith continues -
For instance, Britain, with every point comparatively near to a port, furnished no parallel.
The writer has computed, by graphic approximation, the relation of area served to length of haul in Australia. The mean direct distance from the coast of the whole area of the continent proves to be about 219 miles. The maximum haul is measured by the distance between the oceans.
As regards haulage, the comparisons with the other countries run as follow : -
United Kingdom, 25 miles; Russia, 152 miles; Germany, 62 miles; France, 78 miles; Austria, 65 miles; Canada (Companies), 183 miles; Canada (Government), 234 miles; Argentine, 63 miles; United States, 132 miles.
These figures indicate that Australian lines, with the exception of Government lines in Canada, have the longest mean direct distances. That we have vast distances to travel is, I believe, an argument, especially if the country is fairly level, in favour of adopting a wider gauge. I hope that the question of gauge will be thoroughly discussed, so that we may be able to give an intelligent vote. Continuing, Mr. Smith says -
Thus, the Australian gauge must be an economic long-distance gauge; for every ton carried should earn a return over -all charges, when rated at a tariff which permits of worldcompetition. If the products are carried at rates less than reproductive rates, then the disabilities of the transport facilities are being covered by undue charges upon those short hauls, or those valuable commodities, upon which surcharge is not so easily apparent. Or, still more important, development by rail is confined to a coastal fringe, or regions of special fertility or wealth, whilst the interior is neglected. But a national, in contradistinction to a parochial, policy of gauge must ‘contemplate the development of the whole of the resources of Australia, as well poor land as good, as well distant as near.
These appear to me to be words of wisdom coming from an acknowledged authority whose opinions are corroborated and substantiated by the opinions of others.
Wherever such conditions arise, financial success has been sought in the direction of increasing the train weights and decreasing the relative number of trains run, in an endeavour to minimize labour costs and ensuing expenditures. The United States again furnish the nearest parallel. Their freight trains have obtained abnormal weight. They are drawn by locomotives twice, and even thrice, the weight of the heaviest Australian engine. All this on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, and until we have reached a similar intensity of traffic, that gauge would suffice here.
That bears out what I stated a little while ago, that while some of our heaviest engines pulling the biggest loads weigh only a little over 100 tons, in America they are running engines weighing nearly 400 tons, and on a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. According to the best judges, they have reached a limit beyond which they cannot go, and it is either a question of increasing the weight, size, and haulage power of the engines, which, of course, can only be done by widening the tracks, or of continuing as they are doing. It is well known that on many of the American railways the traffic is congested. If they have arrived at that position in America, should we not be very careful here in our choice of a gauge? Regarding the cost of conversion, Mr. Smith gives an example -
As an example : In 1S97 a Railway Commission met to determine the relative costs of conversion of the 4-ft. 85-in. to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge’, or vice versa, in the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. The mileage then involved, considered as single track, totalled 7,849, as against 9,407 now, the length to be altered being dependent, of course, upon the gauge selected. The conversion costs, including rolling stock and all charges, were estimated to be : -
If the broad gauge possesses the advantages claimed for it by experts, the estimated cost of under £2,000,000 does not appear to me to be very great ; indeed, if the Commonwealth and the States were prepared to share the expenditure it would be a mere bagatelle to each. The only other question is whether the Western Australian . Government and the South Australian Government intend to treat the Commonwealth fairly in respect to land grants on either side of the line. Certain powers of resumption are given by the Bill ; but, considering the immense value of this project to the two States concerned, and the vast tracts of territory at their disposal, it would be only fair that certain areas should be handed over as I suggest. This line will undoubtedly lead to considerable development; and if the desire is to encourage settlement along the route, I know nothing that could be more conducive to that end than liberality on the part of the two State Governments in the matter of land concessions. Before the Bill passes, I hope we shall receive some kind of assurance that the States will, I shall not say come to our rescue, but come to our help in the construction of the line. Although the preponderance of evidence appears, at present to be on the side of the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, we should consider the question well ; and I- am not inclined to take exception to the gauge favoured by the Government, if we can; as the result of negotia tions, obtain considerable concessions in land along the route. There will be a great army of railway men employed in the construction and management of the line ; and, doubtless, at stopping places and railway stations, centres of population will have to be provided for ; and, under all the circumstances, the State Governments should in no way stint the Commonwealth in regard to land. Without reference to arbitration or litigation, it ought to be an easy matter to arrange for the granting of land along either side of the railway ; and there is not the slightest doubt that such land would be put to the best use by the Commonwealth. In many instances the Western Australians, advanced as they are, might by this means be given many object lessons in agriculture. The majority of honorable members seem to be against the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge; and we should weigh well the opinions of men who know what they are talking about. Above all, I hope that strong pressure of the right kind will be brought to bear on the two State Governments to induce them to confer on the Commonwealth the benefit of extensive land grants in connexion with this great project of railway construction.
.- It is a matter of great satisfaction to a Western Australian like myself, who has been in the House since its inception, to notice the great change in the opinion of honorable members with regard to this railway scheme. During this debate the issue has been one of ways and means rather than one involving any condemnation of the project as a whole; and yet not so many years ago the proposal was as often as not jeered at as an utterly impracticable and wild-cat notion. However, we are leaving that tendency almost entirely behind ; and it is only by way of interjection that I have heard any of the old objections raised during this debate. The ‘ ‘ desert ‘ ‘ in some way or other has mysteriously disappeared, in the opinion of honorable members, who are actually realizing that this part of the continent has great potentialities, and that it is worth the while of the Commonwealth to acquire some portion of it for special development. That of itself is a very significant change. I suppose that if a few years ago the country between Kalgoorlie and the confines of settlement in South Australia had been offered to the Commonwealth, it would have been rejected with scorn ; but now we are confronted with quite a series of proposals, which show that this so-called worthless country is highly desirable to the Commonwealth for the purposes of settlement, and is worth casting envious eyes on. It is by no means the best part of the continent ; but I have always held, and hold now more strongly than ever, that, when the railway is constructed, there will practically be added to Australia a new province. We hear occasionally, even now, in certain quarters, of the “ sands “ of Western Australia. I am, perhaps, as well acquainted with Western Australia as most people. I have travelled many thousands of miles in that State, and I am also fairly well acquainted with the other States; and I say, without hesitation, that, if we exclude the coastal strip, especially on the western part, which undoubtedly is a sandy belt deriving its origin from the sea, there is as little sand relatively in Western Australia as in any State of the Commonwealth. On the gold-fields honorable members will be surprised to discover, instead of sand, a soil of a very high character indeed - a rich chocolate loam that only requires water to be made to produce in abundance. As one with some interest in horticulture, I think the finest display of flowers I ever saw in my life was in the gardens of the Kalgoorlie racecourse.
– Native flowers?
– No ; and it was a display which for quantity, quality, vigor, and variety of bloom, I think I have never seen equalled. While it is admitted that most of the country to be traversed by the railway is suitable for pastoral purposes, it will be found, I think, that much of it is excellent for wheat-growing. To my mind, it resembles very much, both as regards the character of the soil and the rainfall, the Mallee country of the north of Victoria. Again, we have history repeating itself. When I came to Australia twenty years ago, I was assured on all sides that the Mallee was an absolutely worthless desert. To-day, it is, as Ave know, a great wheat-producing area. I have also in my possession a book giving the experiences of an old pioneer in Australia some sixty years ago, in which he stated that at that time all the land west of the track between Melbourne and Sydney was considered worthless. Thus we see that time brings with it very significant changes, and in no respect shall we have a greater change of opinion than will follow the opening up of the alleged desert of Western Australia.
– The use of superphosphates has helped us greatly of late years.
– That is true. This line will traverse a lot of limestone country, and nothing better could be found for wheat-growing. It is interesting to notice how, in connexion with this railway scheme, we have repeated practically the experience of Canada. British Columbia, the western State of Canada, for many years agitated, and even threatened separation, in a vain attempt to obtain railway communication with the eastern States. The people of the eastern States, however, scoffed at the idea. Such a railway, it was said, would not pay the cost of greasing the axles. It was absolutely impracticable as an engineering proposal, it was urged, but the scheme was at last carried into effect. The line was completed, I think, in 1885, and since then Canada has never looked back. Most of those who have written and spoken authoritatively on the affairs of Canada have stated very definitely that its progress and development have been due to a very large extent to the construction of that great transcontinental railway. The Canadians are now about to carry a second line through even more formidable country, and I believe it will again open up large areas for settlement, and so help very largely to develop the material resources of Canada and of the Empire as a whole. The honorable member for Melbourne Forts suggested, I think, that if a certain area of land on each side of the railway were granted to the Commonwealth we should be able to proceed with its development and settlement in a much better way than would be possible on the part of any of the States. I wonder whether he made that statement in earnest? I wonder if he thought for a moment of the scant encouragement given to immigration up to the present by the Commonwealth? Did he wish us to believe that the Commonwealth policy of leaving immigration almost severely alone, and, consequently, of doing little or nothing to settle our waste areas, was likely to be modified in any respect by the present Government? When the little that has been done by the Commonwealth in settling people on bur waste areas is compared with the work of such a State as Western Australia, we must come to the conclusion that such lands as we are now considering can be much better left in the hands of the States to develop.
The question of gauge is being discussed with a good deal of vigour, but it is not one in which I am particularly interested. The gauge, in all probability, will be either 4 ft. 8J in. or 5 ft. 3 in. It is a matter of comparative indifference to Western Australia which of the two is selected. Whichever gauge is chosen will be, in the near future I hope, the uniform gauge for Australia. The 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge appears to be the one which could be adopted as the standard for Australia with the least possible delay and expense. For that reason, therefore, I am inclined to favour it. We have been, given some interesting figures showing the comparative cost of construction of the railways of the various gauges in the several States, but those figures prove nothing unless all the circumstances are taken into consideration. Without going fully into all the pros and cons, it is obvious that, other things being equal, a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge railway can be constructed for less than a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line. With all respect to those who have brought forward extracts from a pamphlet which was recently circulated, I have not yet heard in this House any definite proof that a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge offers advantages over a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. Mr. Harriman has been quoted, but his opinions are not those of an engineering expert. Moreover, it is more than possible that in representing his railways as being overcrowded with traffic, he knew that he was doing something that would have a material effect in increasing the price of the shares. It is a fact, however, that his engineers reported adversely on every proposal to broaden the lines, and recommended instead a duplication of the existing lines on a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. I understand that many engineers ‘who have considered this matter quite impartially have come to the conclusion that to put the heavier weight of engines and rolling-stock generally on a broader gauge would of necessity interfere seriously with the efficiency of the work performed, and that, all things considered, we get a maximum of strength and lightness, combined with carrying powers, from a 4-ft. 8J-in. line. That, at all events, as I understand it, is the conclusion of engineers in general. There may be one here and there who differs from that view, but I have yet to be made acquainted with any considerable body of thought in engineering circles that has been directed against the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. Incidentally, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, in dealing with the railways of Natal, brought out an interesting compari- son of the cost of railway construction by white and black labour. Many years have elapsed since the father of the present Lord Brassey demonstrated to his own satisfaction, and afterwards to the general public, in a book which he wrote, that the white navvy is far and away superior, even from the point of view of cheapness, to the coloured navvy, and that the British navvy was again superior to the Continental. Mr. Brassey actually took his British navvies to various parts of the world, where he had to pay them higher rates than usual, because he found that they were so much more efficient than the native labour in those parts. I have no hesitation in concluding that if the supervision is effective, and the work carried out in a business-like way, we shall be able to put this railway through at, perhaps, .as low a cost as has been the case in any other part of the world. We have discussed all the other phases of this project ad nauseam, and I am glad that we have reached the point when we are all convinced that the railway must be constructed, and that we differ only in matters of detail. I hope that no time will be lost in carrying the project into effect, and feel sure that the benefit will not be so much to Western Australia as to the Commonwealth as a whole. Western Australia does not stand to gain such a great deal from this railway as very many people imagine, and may be rather the loser by it, in some respects. In the early days of Federation, and previous to that, the people who came to Western Australia during the gold boom looked with anxious eyes to that great extent of country between themselves and their homes in the eastern States, and wished ardently for the time when it would be bridged by steel rails. That state of mind on the part of the residents of Western Australia is now disappearing. The people are settling down in the State for good. They are finding out that it is by no means so bad as it was represented. Their experiences of it have been, on the whole, satisfactory, even in the case of those who have put in a few years on the gold-fields. Instead of going back to the eastern States, they have made up their minds to use the little money they have saved, in order to settle on the land in the agricultural districts. Consequently, there is not such a great and overwhelming desire in Western Australia for this railway as there used to be. Again, we have a very efficient fleet of steamers, equal in point of comfort to any in other parts of the world, and the majority of people who travel to and from Western Australia find the sea voyage by no means unpleasant. It offers attractions by way of a change that many would continue to take advantage of, even though the railway were constructed. No doubt some people refrain from visiting the West because of the sea voyage. I know many who take that view. However, in my experience, the people of Western Australia, and especially those of the coastal parts, are not so anxious for this railway as they were a few years ago. They realize that it will give the direct trade of a considerable portion of the gold-fields into the hands of the business men of the eastern States; and there is no doubt that, on the whole, it will pay to send perishable products across by rail to the gold-fields, rather than by the roundabout route which has now to be -traversed. The people of Western Australia’ desire to see the line constructed, largely for a sentimental reason. They feel that they are outside of the Federation, and that, until the line is constructed, Western Australia will remain practically an island isolated by a sea voyage from the rest of the continent. They look forward to a time when, with the assistance of the railway, the port of Fremantle will be one of the front doors of the Commonwealth. It will be, at any rate, the front door to Europe, just as, I believe, Sydney will be the front door to America. On account, also, of the railway, we in the West will, perhaps, acquire a greater amount of popularity, by reason of our insularity being diminished. People will get to know Western Australia better, and we shall benefit by reason of the amount of traffic to and through our country, which to many outside of the State is, at the present day, a country notable for its disadvantages rather than its advantages. ‘The future, I believe, is all with the West, and we have only relatively started on our career of progress. This railway will not make us or mar us to any great extent, but it will carry out the Federal compact. In constructing it, we shall be adding very materially to the general prosperity of the Commonwealth, increasing its efficiency in the matter of defence, and enhancing that solidarity of the nation which we all desire to see built up.
– 1 wish to congratulate the Honorary Minister, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, upon having had sufficient influence with the Cabinet to have this measure placed in the forefront of the Ministerial programme. It is certainly a great achievement on his part, and merits recognition; and I have great pleasure in extending to it my recognition at this moment. The Government, before bringing down a proposal to expend £4,000,000 or £5,000,000-
– Say ,£3, 000,000 or £4,000,000.
– I was giving what I understood was the present estimate. The Government, before launching the measure, should have given the House some idea of how they intended to raise the money. We should be told whether the non-borrowing policy is to be adhered to in regard to the line, and whether, when the Budget is brought down, it will contain a proposal for a further instalment of taxation to meet the cost of construction. It was certainly the duty of the Government to give some intimation to the House as to the method to be employed to find the very large sum of money necessary in this case. Whatever objections I have to the Bill can well be reserved for the Committee stage. My principal objection relates to the question of the gauge, which has been exhaustively dealt with by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. I hope, when the Bill is in Committee, an opportunity will be given to take a test division on the question of the gauge to be adopted. The proposal to construct this line on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge will, in my opinion, only accentuate the difficulties of the battle of the gauges experienced in Australia at the present time. Our railways have cost £150,000,000 to construct, and the expenditure of £1,000,000 or £2,000.000 in addition in laying down the very best possible gauge for the future need not weigh with this House to any extent. Although the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge is the standard gauge in the leading countries of the world, it is not by any means proved that it is the best gauge to adopt. All the world over improvements are being made in railway construction, and the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge has failed where the greatest test has been applied to it. We have American experience showing that the matter of the gauge has been seriously discussed by the greatest railway authorities in the world, and they have arrived at the conclusion that a wider gauge than 4-ft. 8j-in. is better suited than is that gauge for densely populated districts with long haulages of heavy traffic. “ The Western Australian people have made good their claim to be connected by railway with the eastern States. When the Bill for the acceptance of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth was under discussion, the immediate construction of a transcontinental line through that Territory was successfully challenged in some quarters, on the ground that there was no reasonable objective for it. But the people of Western Australia, by their efforts in the development of the State, and the extension of their public works, have established a claim for the construction of this line ‘ which can no longer be denied. I think the Government might, in submitting this proposal, have given the House some further information respecting the mono-rail, which has not been tested to any considerable extent in Australia. New systems of railway construction are being continually proposed, and we might have had the latest information on that new proposition in railway construction before we were asked to commit ourselves to the expenditure involved in the construction of this railway.’ I have said that I intend to reserve what I have to say on the question of the gauge for the Committee stage. I trust that when that stage is reached we shall be given an opportunity to test the opinion of honorable members on the subject. From recent reports of the’ country through which this line will pass, and in view of constant discoveries of new methods of agriculture, I hope we shall find that, as the honorable member for Perth has suggested, this line will open up a new agricultural province for Australia. I hope also that before very long the great western State of this Commonwealth will be connected by rail with the eastern States.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Roberts) adjourned.
– I ask leave, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, to give notice of a motion for Tuesday next.
– I desire, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, to give notice that on Tuesday next he will move -
That, in the opinion of this House, the preferences in obtaining and retaining employ ment, recently introduced into his Department by the Minister for Home Affairs, are unjust and oppressive, prejudicial alike to the public interest, to the Public Service, and to the relations between Parliament and the public servants.
No-ConfidenceMotion - Wireless Telepathy.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I am very glad that the Opposition have decided to take the step indicated in the notice of motion given on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition by . the honorable member for Swan. I think the motion might, with advantage, have been differently stated; but I shall say nothing further about that. I am glad that a day will be saved by the course adopted, and I intimate now that I shall look upon the motion as one of no-confidence, and will treat it as such when the House meets on Tuesday next.
-I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if hecanfindout in the course of a few days how muchof the machinery in connexion with the wireless telegraph installations at Sydney and Fremantle has been manufactured in Australia. The importance of the matter lies in the fact that the contractor has made a statement in the letter concerning his tender that he proposes to manufacture his apparatus in Australia.
.- I may be allowed to point out that the honorable member for Wentworth has , been so long in Parliament now that he ought to be aware of the rule under which Ministers refuse to answer questions while a vote of noconfidence is pending.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I should like to be allowed to say that, the Minister has misrepresented me. I did not ask the honorable gentleman to answer a question, but to obtain certain information.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19110922_reps_4_60/>.