2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 12 o’clock noon, and read prayers.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following papers: -
Regulation under the Excise Act1901. - New Regulation in lieu of No. 14 of Sugar Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1904, No. 75
Regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1903. - Statutory Rules 1904, No. 76.
Bill returned with a message stating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments to its amendments Nos. 2 and 5, and to the consequential amendments to its amendment No. 3.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question, of which I gave him verbal notice yesterday. In view of the decision of the High Court in the brewer’s licensing casein Sydney, which practically laid it down that theCommonwealth cannot interfere with the internal trade of a State, is it the intention of the honorable and learned senator to make this law known to the Select Committee on the Tobacco Industry, and, if it should still propose to go on with its inquiry, and should find that it is desirable to nationalize the industry, whether it is the intention of Ministers to ask the Parliamentto amend the Constitution in order to enable that to be done?
– My honorable friend very courteously gave me verbal notice of this question yesterday evening. I have not had an opportunity to consider the case to which he has referred, and therefore I think he will not regard it as disrespectful if I say that I am not in a position to express an opinion either as to the intention of the Select Committee, or in reference to the very large question involving the suggested amendment of the Constitution.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General some questions without notice, and if he is not prepared to give answers now, I think it will be desirable to let them appear in the press, so that we may understand them hereafter.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should express an opinion in any question he asks.
– I very greatly regret that I am quite unable to give my honorable friend any information on the subject.
– I desire to ask the
Attorney-General,without notice, a ques tion relating to the case of two messengers which I brought underhisnotice when we were discussing the Estimates of the Postmaster-General. I drew his attention to the fact that these messengers were receiving considerably less than the minimum wage -£61 each - and he promised to furnish some particulars.
– I have sent for the information, and if it is not available before question time has expired, I shall take care that it is given to ray honorable friend later on.
Ocean Mail Service.
– I desire to move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3. o’clock p.m. to-morrow, with a view to the debating of a matter of urgency, namely, “the threatened discontinuance of the regular transit of mails between Australia and the rest of the world.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I am very loth to move the adjournment of the Senate, and I do not remember that I have ever done so before, but I think we can hardly disperse without taking some notice of the very serious condition of affairs with which, apparently, the whole of the Commonwealth is threatened. One of the great lines which have been serving Australia for many years intends to discontinue allowing its boats to call at Largs Bay, which is the port of Adelaide for the purpose of mail steamers.
– I riseto a point of order. Was there not a full opportunity given to the honorable senator to discuss this matter on the Estimates yesterday, without bringing it forward to-day to block other business?
– I do not think that because there has been an opportunity to discuss a question, and it has not been discussed, an honorable senator is prevented from bringing it forward.
D- It is pointed out very clearly in the morning journals of this city to-day that for the future there will probably be only one mail a fortnight from Adelaide to the rest of the world. If the people of South Australia desire to communicate with the rest of the world more frequently, they will then have to do so under the serious disability of having to send their mails either to Melbourne, when they will ‘have to travel the distance of 600 miles twice, namely, once by land, and once by water, or to send them, if opportunity should offer, all the way to Fremantle by probably less speedy means of transit than now exist. This is not a question affecting merely merchants’ letters or commission agents’ communications. It involves not only an interruption to the transit of letters, but also to the transit of produce of a perishable character, arid the delivery of which with speed to the markets of the world is of the utmost consequence to the small producer as well as the large. We find from these announcements with reference to the intentions of the two great mail lines, that the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies are contemplating the placing of their great mailboats in other trades, where, apparently, the people concerned have more appreciation of the value of such means of communication, and proposing to supply Australia, in a somewhat uncertain manner, with steamers, apparently very much of the character of ocean tramps, which are to proceed, not via the Suez Canal,’ but round the Cape, just as the ordinary cargo boats go, with a corresponding loss of time in respect to the delivery of letters and the perishable goods to which I have referred. It is also worthy of note t’hat the statements in the morning press point out the very large expenditure of these companies in Australia ; an expenditure that must be of the greatest advantage to the workers and give an amount of employment which it is difficult to estimate. Apparently ^130,000 a year is spent by one company alone in Australia, and a very large portion of that expenditure must involve the employment of labour. An expenditure of that kind for coal and provisions, and laundry work, cannot be discontinued without depriving many people settled in the great shipping centres of the Commonwealth of their means of livelihood. Furthermore, it must diminish the incomes of a large body of men employed about our wharfs and warehouses, and also place at a serious disadvantage many small producers of all the odds and ends which go to make up the continuous food supply demanded by these great boats. Instead of having our letters, both inwards and outwards, delivered in a manner such as has been in vogue for much over a quar ter of a century - I might say for almost half a century - the Commonwealth is threatened with being placed at a disadvantage, compared with most, if not every, civilized country. No one who is interested in the well-being and growth of Australia can lightly regard so serious a blow at the very means of communication that enhances our position, and’ places us before the world as one of its civilized peoples. If we are to degenerate into the position of a community which is only connected with the rest of the world by the medium of ocean tramps - and we know that an ocean tramp is a ship which plies for the carriage of cargo and incidentally sometimes carries human beings - our trade and commerce must suffer. That is the class of communication with which the Commonwealth is now so seriously menaced. Long and strenuous though our labours have been, we should not be justified, as the phrase goes, in “ putting up the shutters” of Parliament this afternoon, without some notice being taken of this very serious blow that threatens Australia’s wellbeing. I hope that 1 shall not be misunderstood. I am not standing here merely as the advocate of the rapid carriage of letters for any class of the community. But as a necessary incidence of the carriage of mails and goods, the interests of many producers and labourers in this community are affected j and if any serious alteration takes place, there will be a corresponding interruption of the earnings of the workers and of many small producers, whose interests are infinitely more important than are those of the comparatively few persons who are concerned with the rapid delivery of mails. I regret that owing to the duration of our sitting yesterday I do not feel able to deal with this matter as I should have liked to do. But I wish to place these statements on record in Hansard, because a newspaper is very often an ephemeral production, which is lost sight of in a day or two. The cablegrams are of so much consequence that they ought to be embodied in our records. I feel sure that the matter will be deemed to be of sufficient importance to warrant attention at the hands of the Senate. Having drawn attention to it, I leave it open for discussion by other senators, who will be able to speak at such length as the case warrants, and as the circumstances of to-day’s sitting justify.
– For the purposes of discussion, I beg to second the motion, though at the same time I deprecate Senator Neild’s endeavour - not intentional, perhaps - to inflame the public mind of Australia by an alarmist speech. I look upon the statement which Sir Thomas Sutherland, the chairman of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, has made, as one about which we need not be in any way excited. He says that the company will consider the abandonment of the mail contract. They will “consider” it. That is a threat, to endeavour to influence the mind of the Government of the Commonwealth and induce them to pay a huge sum as a subsidy for the. carriage of mails. As we can get the work done in a very much cheaper way under the poundage system, I trust that honorable senators will not be so foolish as to be influenced by such a threat. When
Ave were discussing the Immigration Restriction Act, it will be remembered that the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, sent a telegram to the Governors of the States, and also to the Governor-General, to the effect that if some of the provisions were passed the Japanese line of steamers would no longer visit Australia. He dwelt upon the fact that if that happened there was no doubt that Australia would lose a great deal of money, and that trade would be diverted to other channels. The restrictive legislation was passed, but the Japanese steamers have continued to call from that time up to the present, notwithstanding the fact that Japan has in the meantime had to carry on a very serious naval war.
– The honorable senator will recollect that that line is subsidized by a foreign Government.
– Does the honorable senator think for a moment that the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient companies’ vessels visit Australia merely because they receive the mail subsidy?
– They have said time after time that the carriage of mails does not pay them.
– Quite so. As business men, the directors of these companies are not likely to send their ships here merely for the benefit of the Commonwealth. They will continue to visit Australia for the purpose of carrying Australian exports, and bringing imports to our shores. The powerful Peninsular and Oriental Company is not going to leave to ocean tramps the carriage of Australian goods. This company finds it to be to its interest to be one of the shipping ring, which has so far succeeded in curtailing the visits of other vessels to these shores. It has, at any rate, curtailed the visits of the vessels of the Aberdeen line. Some time ago it was proposed that they should visit Australia a certain number of extra times. But pressure was brought to bear, and now the Aberdeen liners make fewer visits. These companies are not going to throw up a lucrative business merely because the Commonwealth Government will not allow them to have things all their own way.
– It is a piece of pure bounce.
– It is nothing but bounce. It is time the various shipping companies engaged in the ring had some attention paid to them.
– We certainly ought not to become hysterically alarmed by suggestions of this kind.
– Quite so. I understand that these companies actually charge the butter producers of Australia one penny per pound, although they unload the butter to other steamers at a half -penny per pound. They have such influence that they are able to do that.
– Can the honorable senator give an instance?
– Let Senator Gray apply to the Butter Commission. He will get plenty of information! from that source. I urge Senator Neild not to press the Senate to devote attention to this matter, which is merely a business method of trying to dragoon the public and the Government of Australia into paying a very much larger sum than we ought to pay”. I notice, with approval, the stand which the Federal Government has taken against these efforts.
– I certainly think that this is a matter of sufficient importance for the Senate to give grave consideration to it. It affects the welfare of the whole Commonwealth to a great extent.
– Why did not the honorable senator bring it up yesterday when the Appropriation! Bill was before us ? Then all of us would have had an opportunity to discuss it.
– It is one of the most important things that has happened to the Commonwealth for a con- siderable time. There is actually a possibility of our being shut off from the enjoyment of the communication which we have hitherto had with other parts of the world. No doubt honorable senators feel that to a certain extent they are responsible for the difficulty in which we find ourselves. It has always been the boast of Australia “that we were determined to be a go-ahead people, and to keep abreast of the rest of the world. We were determined to obtain our letters in as expeditious a manner as possible. The separate States were enabled to carry on these mail services for about half a century. But when the Commonwealth, which was to do such great things for the whole of Australia, got hold of the postal business, this miserable fiasco was brought about purely through our experiments in extreme legislation. While I am well aware that a large sum of money was demanded by the Orient Company for the carriage of our mails in future, still if some of our legislation had taken a different shape, I believe we should have found that the companies would have been disposed to negotiate with us on much more advantageous terms- than formerly. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, when they made their contract, would not enter into special stipulations with regard to the Australian trade, because they did not feel safe in respect to our legislation. The Orient Company find themselves in the position that they are unable to continue carrying mails in as speedy a manner as hitherto, unless they receive a substantial consideration. Honorable members may say that we shall be able to do very well under the poundage system. But under that system we shall have no control with regard to the time within which mails shall be delivered. Vessels will be able to call at whatever ports they please, and to take their own time. But honorable senators say that there are other lines besides the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies which may be able to do our business fairly expeditiously. The reply is that honorable senators propose to put our mails on board foreign ships, which are subsidized by foreign Governments to help them to build up a mercantile marine in competition with our own British marine. We, who call ourselves patriotic citizens of a great Empire, are going to play into the hands of these foreign companies, and to take such a course as will enable other nations to strike a blow at the mercantile marine of the nation to which we are proud to belong.
– Does Senator Gould call lascars British marines?
– They are British subjects; but they are not the people to whom I was particularly alluding.
– There is to be a Conference of Deputy Postmaster-Generals next week.
.- They may be able to take the subject into consideration, and to make some recommendations to the Government. Certainly, steps ought to be taken to prevent us from being deprived of the regular and rapid services to which we have become accustomed.
– What is the object of this discussion? Yesterday we had the Appropriation Bill before us, and if this subject had been introduced, we could have debated the whole policy of the Commonwealth, so far as concerns the carriage of mails to and from Australia. But this discussion seems to me to be abolutely purposeless. Another consideration occurs to me, and that is that if we adopt this attitude with regard to every cablegram which we may read in the newspapers, the Peninsular and Oriental or Orient Company, which are powerful concerns, will only have to hold a meeting, and have its deliberations cabled out to Australia and published in the press, to send the Senate into a state of hysteria.
– They can always keep us in a state of ferment.
– Legislation by newspapers !
– It is not so much due to newspapers as to companies interested in contracts with Australia; and, because at a company meeting at the other end of the world, one of the directors, in a fit of irascibility, or something of the kind, chooses to speak as strongly as we are told a director spoke in London yesterday, the Senate has to set aside all public business in order to discuss dangers which are said to be threatening this country. I hope that the discussion will not continue any longer, but that we shall proceed with the business over which we spent so much time last night.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).Considering the importance of the subject, I am rather surprised at Senator Keating lecturing honorable senators on the time spent in this short discussion. I do not think I should be doing my duty if I did not express my opinion on the question which has been raised, especially in view of the fact that Parliament is to prorogue to-day.
– Did the honorable senator not know all the facts yesterday ?
– I do not know that that -question is relevant. Those who know Sir Thomas Sutherland will admit that he is about the last man in England to express in a spirit of bluff any views on commercial matters. I may say that eighteen months ago I was in personal communication with the representatives of two of the large steam-ship companies - before the question of the contracts was raised - and I know they were then seriously considering at head-quarters whether the bi-weekly service should not be made a monthly service. The unprofitable nature of the Australian business, so far as the two main shipping companies are concerned, was regarded as a serious matter by them at that time, and they were considering the advisability of limiting the services. Any one who is familiar with the legislation which has been passed since then must admit that further reason has been given to those companies for economy. I cannot understand how an . honorable senator from Tasmania can regard the utterances of Sir Thomas Sutherland as a piece of bluff, considering that the producers of that State will feel the effects of any change which may be made very seriously. At present there are not sufficient cooling chambers on the vessels to meet the demands . of good seasons ; and yet we are threatened with the reduction of this accommodation by one-half.
– The unsubsidized steamship companies give better space than does the Peninsular andi Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
– At present more space cannot be obtained than is necessary, and shippers have to make arrangements months beforehand. Notwithstanding the view which the Attorney-General takes of the matter, I seriously ask the Government not to regard the statement of a gentleman like Sir Thomas Sutherland as bluff. The remarks of that gentleman were made at the annual meeting of the shareholders of his company, and, if I know Sir Thomas Sutherland aright, we may take it for granted that he did not make the statement-
– Without expecting it to have an influence.
– We may take it that the utterances of Sir Thomas Sutherland are likely not only to exercise some influence, but to have a direct effect on. the trade of Australia. If Sir Thomas Sutherland’s words are disregarded, I can only say that the Government will exhibit a surprising luke-warmness in reference to the practical business aspect of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– We shall run our own steam-ships yet.
– That is what I believe is aimed at by the honorable senator.
– I can assure Senator Gray that there is not the remotest ground for any suggestion of luke-warmness on the part of the Government in respect of the mail services, between outside countries - whether Great Britain or any other - and Australia. We fully realize, as everybody must, the vital importance of having an effective and regular service, not merely in regard to the mails themselves, but also in regard to what might in this connexion be regarded to some extent as secondary, namely, the trade of Australia. Every one is anxious that, by our mail arrangements, all present facilities in regard to passengers and trade traffic shall be in no way lessened. I do not regard the statements made by those great companies or their governing authorities as bluff exactly, but merely as made in the way of business. Those statements are made> of course, with the view to promote, in the best way possible, the interests of the companies; and that may be regarded as perfectly legitimate. At the same time, we in Australia must take many of those statements - just as we do other utterances in diplomatic and commercial affairs - with a little grain of salt. Senator Neild has done right to call attention to these things, which are of importance; and I can assure him they occupy a prominent and an anxious place in the considerations of the Government. Nothing shall be lacking on our part, not only to protect, but to advance the interests of Australia in that respect. We have been told that the unfortunate State of South Australia is to have only one mail a fortnight - that apparently it has been settled that the steamers of the Orient Company shall ns longer visit Largs Bay - but, as an authority for this statement we have only news- paper paragraphs, which, though not perhaps inserted for sensational purposes, have the effect of being sensational, and very often do not bear out the startling headings with which they are ornamented. In a Melbourne morning newspaper of to-day are to be seen the following headings: - “The Orient Company - Important Changes - No Call at Largs Bay.” I may say that that heading brought me up with a sort of round turn. I began to fear for my own State ; but when I looked beyond the introductory, and more or less dramatic, part of the paragraph, I found that it contained a report of an interview with Mr. David Anderson, the manager of the company, who said -
I do not like to say for certain that our boats’ will not call at Adelaide, because the point has not yet been finally decided ; but it is more than probable -
And here comes the kind of statement to which we might apply the words “willing to wound, yet afraid to strike “ - we shall have to drop calling at Largs Bay.
That is the situation. Whilst I think that we should, even in anticipation, direct our attention to these matters, it is, at all events, proper that we should see exactly what the newspaper statements mean. After all, the newspaper announcement does not contain that element of despair - up to now, at any rate - which one might have been led to expect from the headings.
– We must all acknowledge the importance of this subject, and I believe the Government will rise to the occasion and deal with it in a practical and business-like way. To me it is sad that this great country of Australia should be thus disturbed. After our experiences of last night, I feel more inclined to shake hands with everybody than to strike a discordant note, but I may express the hope and belief that the party which is primarily responsible for the disorganization of our mails will see the necessity to act with more prudence in the future. The disturbance of arrangements which have been in existence for a great number of years will not, I am sure, commend itself to honorable senators, on whatever side of the chamber they may sit, whether they be Mannites or the most blueblooded of Conservatives. Surely the producer who corresponds with his agent at home–
– Has a right to be protected from the aggression of shipowners.
– Have I not supported a Bill which does protect the shipper? I am not a shipping partisan, nor, I hope, a partisan of any description.
– Is the honorable senator not a distinct party man in one respect ?
– I am glad to support any honest Government. It is difficult for an Administration, in view of the pressure which is brought to bear, to at all times go in the right direction, and it is often the first step aside which brings about ultimate disaster. We have undoubtedly gone in the wrong direction in regard to the matter immediately under discussion. This country lives by its natural products -by its wheat, wool, butter, cheese, hides, tallow, gold, and coal. We cannot progress without shipping facilities. The vessels which come to Australia are a credit, and every additional vessel which leaves our shores is a further indication of our prosperity. If a hardship is imposed on shipping by the imposition of high local charges, the primary producer will be the sufferer. We have to meet our obligations at home and elsewhere, and we shall not be able to do so if we do not help the primary producers, and do all we can to prevent any disorganization of our trade and shipping services.
– The matter which has been referred to is no doubt of very great importance. We can all agree with Senator Neild, and other honorable senators who have spoken, in desiring that the producers of this Commonwealth shall have every facility for the transport of their products to the European markets. But we should not allow ourselves to be alarmed by what appears to be merely a business move on the part of these shipping companies. They, no doubt, desire to get as much out of Australia as they possibly can. They are evidently annoyed at the prospective withdrawal of the mail subsidy. I point out to honorable senators that one matter has been referred to by Mr. Anderson which throws a lurid light on this subject. I refer to that gentleman’s references to Canal dues. He is reported to have said -
The Canal dues are very heavy. Last trip the Orontes paid£2,100 in Canal dues. . . . The subsidy we received practically went in payment of Canal dues.
I read a paragraph in a newspaper a few days ago which stated that the£4,000,000 worth of shares in the Suez Canal, which were purchased by Lord Beaconsfield on behalf of the British Government are now worth ^20,000,000. The paragraph also stated that the Canal dues charged are exorbitant.
– When the Nicaragua Canal is opened, there will be keen competition between it and the Suez Canal. (Senator STEWART.- The newspaper paragraph to which I refer stated that the Panama or Nicaragua Canal would soon be opened, and would be placed in competition with the Suez Canal.
– That will take eight years.
– It might. But there is no reason why we should alarm ourselves. So long as there is business to be done in ‘Australia, the ships of these companies will continue to come here, even in larger numbers than they have done hitherto. In the interview with Mr. Anderson, which is published in this morning’s Age, I find that that gentleman says that his company contemplates sending out even larger vessels than those at present engaged in the Australian trade.
– Big cargo steamers that will go round by the Cape- is what he re,ferred to.
– They will go round by the Cape, in order to save Canal dues.
– I do not believe that either of these companies will carry out their threat, and, further, I believe that if they do, there are other companies which will be found ready to step into the breach to provide the Commonwealth with the necessary shipping facilities to carry on its business with the’ old country.
– It was not to be expected that the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies would be satisfied to lose the subsidies which they have hitherto been paid for the carriage of mails. When the Post and Telegraph Bill was being passed, a clause was inserted requiring that vessels employed in connexion with Australian mail contracts should carry white crews. A great many persons said at the time that that provision would be the means of preventing these companies from carrying out their contracts. I speak with some knowledge in this matter, because I had to do with the framing of the tenders which were called for. As soon as it was proposed to call for tenders for these services, and the form of invitation was drawn up, a number of requests were received by the Government from various quarters, suggesting extra conditions with which the companies should be asked to comply. For instance, there was refrigerating space, ventilating machinery, and accommodation for crews and passengers dealt with in these recommendations. These requirements so overloaded the conditions that it became almost impossible for any company to comply with them without making such structural alterations in their steamers as would render it necessary for them to demand a very much higher subsidy. There can be no doubt that the conditions imposed with regard to the carrying of cargo and the accommodation to be provided for passengers and crews had more to do with an increased subsidy being demanded than did the section of the Act requiring that white crews should be employed.
– Did not Mr. Anderson himself admit that in some correspondence on the subject?
– It was stated in the ‘ correspondence. The various conditions to be complied with were such as to almost render it necessary for any company tendering to provide a new line of steamers. It was, therefore, no wonder that difficulty was experienced in getting shipping companies to tender under the conditions imposed.
– The conditions have been altered since.
– They have. I do not know whether there is any novelty in the idea, but it seems to me that in connexion with the shipping trade between Europe and the Commonwealth, it would be found an advantage to separate the carriage of mails from the carriage of cargo, and no longer insist upon their being taken together. This is done by some of the States. For instance, the Queensland Government have now a contract with the Aberdeen Line, a very fine line of steamships, for the carriage of cargo, chiefly dairy produce and meat, in refrigerating chambers. If we were to separate the carriage of mails from the carriage of cargo, under such conditions as it was suggested we should impose, I think we should have a better prospect of securing a tender for a mail service with the condition that white crews should be employed, in accordance with the section of the Post and Telegraph Act to which I have referred. I may perhaps repeat again what I have already said so often, that it does not seem to me to be a fair thing to load up the expendi- ture of the Post and Telegraph Department with subsidies paid for other than postal services. In Canada I believe that a different ‘ system is adopted. They have what they calla “ Commercial Fund,” from which they draw for the payment of subsidies for commercial purposes, and they are under the control of a separate Minister, and are separately voted. That appears to me to be a business-like arrangement, because under such a system the Post and Telegraph Department is debited only with the actual cost of the carriage of mails. That has not been done in the Commonwealth up to the present time, and as a consequence we are unable to get a separate mail service, and have to depend for the carriage of mails on the poundage system. Many persons have a habit of saying that this system has proved to be practically a failure.
– Surely the honorable and learned senator does not deny that it has proved a failure?
– It is not a failure on account of the section in the Post and Telegraph Act requiring the employment of white crews, but on account of the other conditions which were demanded by the Commonwealth Government when tenders for these services were invited.
– Of which Government the honorable and learned senator was a distinguished member.
– I was PostmasterGeneral at the time, and drew up the advertisement calling for tenders. But as I have said, a great many applications were made to the Government to insist on this and that condition, in order that the service might be made more beneficial in the interests of persons engaged in the various exporting industries. I rose mainly to point out that if there has been a failure to secure a satisfactory mail contract such as we enjoyed before, that is not to be put down solely to the section of the Post and Telegraph Act to which I have referred, and to which so much exception is taken.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - In bringing this matter under the notice of the Senate, I scrupulously avoided any controversial questions with reference to white labour, conditions of contract, or anything else. These matters have been introduced by other honorable senators, and for their introduction I am not responsible. I introduced the matter in the broadest way in which it could be submitted. I made no charge against any one, and did not indicate at whose door responsibility should lie for the imminent failure of the communication with Europe which Australia has enjoyed for so many years. I cannot help commenting, upon the strange unrest on the part of one honorable senator in particular who has occupied a vast deal of time in addressing the Senate on matters of interest to himself, while I have remained silent day after day. It does seem a little ungenerous that on the only occasion on which, since I have been a member of the Senate, I have moved the adjournment of the Senate, my motive in doing so should be attacked. I think that, having drawn attention to a matter of the gravest public consequence, I might have been spared ungenerous remarks from honorable senators who do not take the same view of the question that I do, not because of any want of goodwill on their part, but simply on account of their lack of knowledge. Senator Keating thought I had done something which was not right. The honorable and learned senator has got his turbine steamer, and he should be satisfied with his little glory, and the advantage derived by his State. I was saying nothing on behalf of my State, but speaking for the people of Australia so far as I could in a public sense, and in no narrow or parochial sense. The matter to which I directed attention has been discussed,and, the AttorneyGeneral having given his assurance that the Government will take such steps as may foe possible to prevent the great injury to Australia’s interests that is now threatening them, I am satisfied with having done my duty, and in order to permit of the speedy transaction of the business with which we have yet to deal I ask leave of the Senate to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Attorney-General -
Carroll, Retired List. “ Sir, - With reference to your letter of the 14th inst., I am desired by the General Officer Commanding to inquire whether you are prepared, in the event of being placed on the Unattached List as requested, to refund the gratuity awarded you on retirement. - I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant, “j. C. Hoad, Colonel, “D.A.G. and C.S.O.”
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator PEARCE.(for Senator Mathe-
SOn) asked the Attorney-General -
Does the Government intend that the professional member of the proposed Naval Board should also hold a State command ?
Yes, for the present, in the interests of due economy.
Debate resumed from this day (vide page 8458), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I take it, sir, that a condition precedent is that the consent of the State shall have been obtained in a constitutional manner, namely, by Act of Parliament, before any such Bill as this can be introduced into this Parliament. I should have taken the point yesterday but for the fact that we were all in a great hurry, and there was hardly time to think of it. The Attorney-General has greatly strengthened my contention by showing the utter farce to which the Senate would be reduced if the debate were allowed to proceed. Speaking yesterday on behalf of South Australia, he said, “ We are not in favour of the railway ; we are in favour of the survey, and we shall give our decision after the survey has been made.”
– The question as to whether the Attorney-General is or is not in favour of the Bill does not involve a point of order.
– If the Constitution empowers this Parliament to do a certain thing, with the condition precedent that the State affected has to consent, and no consent has been given, how can you, sir, rule that this Bill is in order? Every Prime Minister and every Premier who has touched upon the matter in the published correspondence has taken it for granted that the consent of South Australia was a condition precedent. They have written and telegraphed time after time to get authority to proceed with the survey, but in every instance South Australia has declined to give its consent, and when the AttorneyGeneral gives away the whole case-
– That is not a point of order.
– I am only instancing that as evidence that it is absolutely wrong to say that South Australia has consented to the construction of this railway. The Attorney -General does not approve of the construction of the line, and he tells us that the Government will give its decision when it has seen the survey. The High Court could be appealed to to grant an injunction to prevent this money from being spent, or, if it were spent, South Australia could decline to allow theCommonwealth to enter its territory or build a yard of the railway. It could change its mind and say that, as it was such a good thing, it would build the line for itself. I believe that South Australia could sue the Government for its proportion of the £20,000. If it did, I believe that every other State could follow its example, and that the High Court would be bound to say that before the Federal Parliament could touch this subject, it must have obtained the consent of the two States concerned, in the form of an Act of Parliament. Unless you, sir, can hold that this sum of ^20,000 is not for the construction of the railway, I submit that you are bound to rule in my favour. We are talking about the survey, the construction, the equipment, and the maintenance of a railway, but all those four things are included in the word “construction.” If any company had power to buy the line, the cost of survey would be included in the purchase money. The cost of the survey of the line cannot be separated from the cost of its construction any more than we could separate the cost of the plans from the cost of a house.
– Could we not vote something for exploration for the development of the Commonwealth?
– There is no occasion to discuss what we could do; I am talking about what it is sought to do.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator see that the question he is raising is not a point of order at all ? It is a question of the construction of the Constitution, and that is a matter for the High Court to decide.
– If you, sir, hold that the construction of the provision is so complicated that you do not think that you ought to decide the question, I can understand your point of view, but I think that the construction is so plain that the AttorneyGeneral ought not to be allowed to take up the time of the Senate, and play fast and loose with politics.
– Whose politics am I playing fast and loose with?
– I do not think that the honorable and learned senator is arguing the point of order.
– If you, sir, rule against me, I must leave it to the AttorneyGeneral to take the responsibility of introducing a Bill which he must know is merely waste paper.
– Under the plea of raising a point of order, the honorable and learned senator has raised a question, which may or may not be well-founded, as to what the Constitution means when it states that no railway shall be constructed without the consent of the State in which it is to be built, and also the question as to whether the voting of the money for a survey is part of the construction of the railway. With all due respect to him, I do not think I ought to rule on these points. These are questions for the High Court to decide. It is not for me to say whether the Senate shall or shall not pass a Bill which is alleged to be in contradiction of the Constitution. I do not think there is any point of order raised.
– Do you, sir, think that the honorable and learned senator is in order in imputing that I am introducing a Bill which I must know is mere waste paper?
– I do not think he is.
– I think, sir, that you ought to know that my statement is correct.
– I know the contrary - that the honorable and learned senator is constitutionally wrong.
– When I moved the adjournment of the debate at the last sitting, I had an idea that a true reflection of the opinion of the Senate was not likely to be ascertained, owing to the refusal to adopt certain procedure. I had intended to speak to the main issue purely or mostly from a national point of view. But I was led to believe that some honorable senators were particularly anxious that the question should go to a division at the earliest possible moment. I am somewhat awe-struck to find that so small a particle of national feeling is exhibited in debates relating to questions which may be particularly applicable to one State whilst being generally applicable to us as a nation. We were practically accused of desiring to do something which would benefit Western Australia, but would be unjust to the ‘Other States. That mode of reasoning may be very good on questions which relate purely to local purposes and local events. But I opine that there is no honorable senator who will so far shut his eyes to the actual facts as to entirely ignore and deny the immense obligation of the Commonwealth in regard to this proposed line. It would be illadvised on my part, I think, to enter into any lengthy discussion of the question. It has been said by some honorable senators that until a bridge is erected over Bass Strait we have practically no claim to this line. We have not attempted to take up that position. But we have said that Nature herself has emphatically denied the. logic of that argument. Nature has bound five States in one strip of. land from east to west, whilst she has provided a broad stream of water between the Commonwealth and Tasmania. Therefore, Nature has certainly repudiated the argument. We know that we cannot possibly have a proper system of national defence until we have adopted all modern means for the transport of our stores, ammunition, and men, from one end of this vast continent to the other. The absence of a national spirit, and the indisputable parochial spirit which has been imported into this debate, is decidedly to be deplored. I sincerely trust that I shall never witness again an occurrence like that which I witnessed here last night. I trust that in the future, honorable senators will be capable of looking more fairly at any question which may be submitted than they looked at this project last night. I sincerely hope that there will never be the semblance of a repetition of the tactics which have been adopted in the Senate during the last four or five days, with a view, in my opinion, to prevent this Bill from becoming law. It is obvious to any honorable senator, who has watched the proceedings, that the intention of certain honorable senators has been to use every facility afforded by the Standing Orders to delay business in order to defeat the Bill. I trust that the time will come when every honorable senator will be able to look from a more exalted point of view at the position which he holds as a representative of the people.
– Would it not be better to go into the merits of the case instead of lecturing the Senate?
– Probably so, but I wished to make these few observations in order that those who are opposed to the Bill might give us some reasons for their attitude.
– The honorable senator, who has just resumed his seat, did not deal quite fairly with those who are opposed to him. I, for one, repudiate any idea of wishing to prevent the Senate from coming to a decision on this most important question. I know that Senator Henderson’s remarks did not apply to me, because, unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from being present last night. I am sorry I was not here. We have not had much excitement during the session, and I should have liked to take a back seat, and to view the heated scenes that occurred. I know that this Bill was strenuously fought by those who do not believe in it, but it is not fair for my honorable friend, Senator Henderson, to charge his opponents with deliberately wishing to prevent a decision being arrived at.
– That was the impression.
– It must be remembered that we had’ no opportunity to discuss this Bill, which involves most important considerations, until yesterday. There are some honorable senators who were not then prepared to come to a vote upon it. I admit that my mind is made up. After having learnt all I possibly could, I formed my opinion some time ago. But though I oppose the Bill, I should be quite opposed to any resort to what are called “tactics” to prevent a decision being arrived at. I do not believe in that kind of thing. Coming to the merits of the Bill, late though the hour is, and though we are within a short time of putting up the shutters for the session, I think the question is too important to give a silent vote upon it. I speak as a representative of a State which has incurred very great expenditure in building railways. Nearly half the national debt of Tasmania was thus incurred. I believe that nearly all the other States are in the same position. It seems to me to be hardly fair for one State, or for two, to come to the other States in the Union and to say, “ We wish to have a railway built, and we believe that it is a national work, which will benefit the whole of Australia; we believe that it will advance the interest of the people of the Commonwealth in regard to the quicker transit of their mails, and the more convenient carriage of passengers. Therefore, we ask that the people of Australia shall share the cost of construction.” It is impossible for any one to shut his eyes to the fact that, although in a small sense this railway may be called a national work, it is a work which will particularly benefit two States. An honorable senator who takes that view cannot be called parochial. Other States have built railways for the benefit of their own people. If this Transcontinental Railway is going, to be a good work - and if it is ever constructed, I hope it will prove to be good - it is clear that Western Australia and South Australia will get at least ninetenths of the benefit from it”. If then they desire that the rest of the people of Australia shall undertake the cost of construction, they might at least undertake the preliminary survey, so as to obtain all the necessary information to enable the’ repre- sentatives of the other States to decide whether it will be advantageous to undertake the work or not. After the survey has been made, the two States particularly interested may be able to come to the Commonwealth Parliament and say that they have something like a good case for the construction of the work.
– Would not the other States say that the report of the surveyors was biased?
– Not at all. There are surveyors in this country who cannot be bought. It is putting a very low estimate on the honesty and integrity of the surveying profession to insinuate that we cannot obtain the services of surveyors who would undertake this work and present an absolutely fair report. Surely that, is a very weak argument. It does not matter whether the survey is undertaken under the auspices of the Federal Government or of the States Governments. The result will be very much the same. We can implicitly rely on the reports of some men in Australia who might be chosen for* this duty. Western Australia would naturally take very good care to employ officers whose reports would carry conviction, and whose integrity and honesty were undoubted. If this preliminary work were done, Western Australia might have some claim to come to the Federal Parliament, and say, “We have shown that this railway is likely to be payable ; we know that it is going to be a very great convenience to the people of the eastern States as well as a direct benefit to Western Australia and South Australia. We now ask you to assist us to build the line.” It is all very well for Senator Henderson and my other honorable friends from Western Australia to charge the opponents of this Bill with holding parochial views. We are justified in placing on record our opinions, as representatives of the people of the other States.. It might be well in answer to the rather serious charges that have been made against the opponents of the measure, to call their attention to certain facts. In round figures, New South Wales has expended £41,000,000 in railway construction ; Victoria has expended £40.000,000 : Queensland, £20,000,000 ; South Australia, £ 13, 000,000 ; the Northern Territory, .£1,000,000; Western Australia, £7,000,000; and Tasmania, nearly £4,000,000. It is also instructive to follow up the figures given in Coghlan in connexion with the railways of Australia. We find that the State which stands better than any other in regard to the amount of interest earned by the railways in proportion to capital cost, is Western Australia. In view of that fact, it seems to be rather unfair that when that State is interested in the construction of this line, it should not be prepared to spend £20,000 on this preliminary survey, but should ask the other States of the Commonwealth to incur the cost. Coghlan says : -
A true comparison is afforded by taking the rate of interest payable on the actual sum obtained by the State for its outstanding loans. On this basis, the only Stale which shows out advantageously during the year ending 30th June, 1902, was Western Australia, where the lines returned a profit of 0.27 per cent. after defraying interest charges on the capital cost. In New South Wales the receipts were adversely affected by the unfavorable season, and the interest returned only reached 2.52 per cent., while the actual rate payable on outstanding loans was 3.67 per cent., so that there was a deficiency of 1.15 percent, on the year’s transactions. Victoria also experienced the effects of the adverse season, the net receipts being only 2.47 per cent, on the capital cost, while the actual rate of interest on outstanding loans was 3.86 per cent., there being thus a shortage of 1.39 per cent, on the year’s working. The receipts of the Queensland lines also suffered, the return being at the rate of 1.48 per cent, on the capital cost, while the interest charge on the loans of the State was equal to 3.92 per cent., the loss on the year’s business being, therefore, 2.44 per cent. In South Australia proper, the net return for the year was equal to 3.08 per cent, on capital cost, and according to the method of comparison above adopted, this represents a loss of 0.66 per cent, for the year. As explained in subsequent pages, the lines in the Northern Territory are handicapped to such an extent that they do not pay even working expenses, the loss on capital cost being at the rate of 0.13 per cent., and this figure added to 4.37, the actual rate of interest payable on outstanding loans, gives a deficiency of 4.50 per cent, on the year’s transactions. The Tasmanian railway revenue showed a return equal to 1.56 per cent, on the capital cost, an improvement on the figures of previous years, but, as the actual rate of interest on loans outstanding was 3.76 per cent., there was a deficiency of equal to 2.20 per cent.
It is shown that in every State except Western Australia, after deducting the expenses, the earnings do not pay the interest on the cost of construction.
– In Western Australia the gold-fields line, which is Ohe best paying in the State, will junction with the proposed line.
– That is a very good argument why Western Australia should defray the cost of the survey. If the Western Australian people take a statesmanlike view of the matter, they will endeavour to come to some arrangement with the South Australian people for a survey to be made. If it could be shown on good expert evidence that the cost would be, as we have been told, something like ^5,000,000, and that within a reasonable number of years the line would pay not only working expenses, but interest on the capital expended, there would be better ground for asking the Federal Government to take some action. We all admit, of course, that t’he construction of this line would be a very large undertaking for Western Australia and South Australia; but I cannot be charged with taking a parochial view, when I complain that Western Australia, which is the most interested State, is npt prepared to spend £x more than any other State is asked to spend. It must be admitted that Western Australia would derive nine-tenths of the benefits which accrue from the construction of a Transcontinental Railway.
– We admit nothing of the kind; the whole of Australia would benefit.
– No doubt; but Australia as a whole would not benefit in a very large degree.
– The mails would arrive sooner.
– We might get quicker transit of mails, and carriage of passengers, but I do not know that it would be of very great benefit to nine-tenths of the people of the Commonwealth to receive their letters two days sooner than hitherto. No doubt a quicker mail service is of some advantage, but to the great bulk of the people it is not an exceptionally great benefit. The sum proposed for the purposes of a survey is not very large, perhaps, when spread over the population of the whole of the States. I do not think, however, that the Western Australian people have taken a fair view of the question. It is not honorable senators who ought to be charged with taking an un-Federal view, but the Western Australia people themselves; but, in saying that, I do not refer to the parliamentary representatives of that State. Western Australia has had the “ best of the deal “ throughout under Federation, and cannot complain if the people of the other States do not regard with favour the proposal before us.
– What does Western Australia get from Tasmania?
– Just what Western Australia gets from the other States.
A great deal of benefit is derived by Western Australia from Tasmania under the special Tariff of the former State.
– The people of Western Australia pay every penny of the duties imposed under that Tariff themselves.
– Under the special Tariff Western Australia has benefited at the cost of Tasmania to a very great extent. But for that provision, Tasmania would have been able to do more trade, and on better terms, with the western State, and, altogether, the Western Australian people cannot grumble at the treatment they have received under Federation. I do not wish to re-open the question of the special Tariff; but the interjection by Senator de Largie compels me, in the defence of my own State, to show that Western Australia has enjoyed a great deal of benefit which would not have been received if that State had entered Federation on the same terms as did the other States. Having received that differential treatment, Western Australia ‘ now asks the Commonwealth to legislate to her advantage, by providing ^20,000 for the purposes of t’he proposed survey. The information up to the present is not -as full as it should be before we embark on this expenditure of ^20,000. However, it is not only the immediate expenditure we have to consider, but that which may follow. It is nonsense to say that if we spend ^20,000 on the survey, and the reports are favorable, the. Commonwealth will not be committed to the construction of the line. I do not contend that Western Australia and South Australia should be asked to provide, without some guarantee, the whole of the money necessary for the construction of the line; and if some assistance of the kind had been asked for, in view of the loss which must occur for the first fifteen or twenty years, a better case could have been made out, and no doubt the representatives of the other States would have been willing to extend the fullest consideration under such circumstances. But as it is, the people in the extreme south of Tasmania, and in the extreme north of Queensland, who can never possibly benefit from such a railway, are asked to subscribe to the proposed ^20.000 in equal proportion with those who will derive all the advantages. As I have said, if we pass this Bill we shall be committed to the construction of the railway.
– Not necessarily.
– I am perfectly willing that there should be a vote, but I trust that the Senate will not agree to the second reading of the Bill. I should like to offer a kind of personal explanation why my name will not be found on the division list. I should have liked to record my vote against the proposal, and I do not remember any other occasion on which I have so unwillingly consented to grant a pair ; but an honorable senator cannot be here except at great risk to his health. That honorable senator at first was inclined to oppose this measure - indeed, he said he would do so - but, on fuller consideration, he decided to afford it his support; and he has asked me to pair with him. This’ is a question on which very keen feeling has been exhibited during the last twenty-four hours, and I can quite understand honorable senators having a great disinclination to grant pairs. But, as under similar circumstances, I have been under an obligation to the honorable senator to whom I refer, I could not refuse to return the courtesy. It may be said that that honorable senator first pronounced himself against the Bill, and is now in favour of it ; but that has nothing to do with me. If that honorable senator, or any other honorable senator, chooses, on fuller information, to change his mind, that is a question between himself, his conscience, and his constituents. I regret very much that this honorable senator has changed his mind, but I have explained why my name will not be found recorded in the division list amongst the “ Noes.”
– For many reasons I desire to say something about this proposal. First of all, I should like to make my own position clear, and to place before the Senate and honorable senators opposite the position of Tasmania; secondly, I should like to show that so far from the anti-Federal spirit being on this side, it is all on; the other side - that so far from parochialism being on this side, and honorable senators here taking an unfair or an unjust view of the matter, that charge could be made with a great deal more truth in respect of the supporters of the measure. This is one of the most extraordinary pieces of legislation I ever had anything to do with, and I propose, for the benefit of the AttorneyGeneral, who must be held responsible for his conduct in the matter, to dwell for a moment or two on the constitutional aspect with which the President said he could not deal, but which I deem it to be the bounden duty of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General to consider. The Bill comes before us in’ a most extraordinary shape-
– The Government considered the matter, and decided that the Bill is all right.
– The Bill cannot constitutionally be before us unless Western Australia and South Australia have consented, by Act of Parliament, to the railway being constructed by the Federal authorities. Every Premier and Prime Minister who has dealt with the question has regarded the consent of those two ^States as a condition precedent under the Constitution. In a telegram to the Prime Minister the Premier of South Australia asked -
Shall be- glad to be advised whether . . you will be prepared to pass Act authorizing Federal authority to proceed with work of construction.
The following message was sent by the Premier of South Australia to the Prime Minister : - . . we would be agreeable to ask Parliament when next assembled to pass a short measure with that object. I do not suppose you intend to ask your Par’ lament to pass legislation providing for the construction until survey is made, and some reliable estimate prepared of probable cost.
Then there is this telegram from the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia -
Shall be glad if you will kindly advise me disposition of your Government towards question of authorizing construction.
That was followed by a telegram from the Premier of South Australia to the Prime Minister -
Replying your wire nth, Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway, when survey is made, and reliable estimates of probable cost are prepared, we should be pleased to advise you as to what action we shall then ask the State Parliament to take.
Here are the very words of the Premier of South Australia, which the Prime Minister used last “night. That they do not approve of the railway, but do approve of getting the land inspected, the route inspected, and the survey made at the expense of the Commonwealth. And when we have done that t’hey will be kind enough to make their decision as to whether they will consent to the construction of the line or not. I ask whether it is right for any Government to ask us to pass a measure which places the Commonwealth in such a terrible position as does this Bill - that we should te at the mercy of South Australia, though that State has not consented to the railway, and at the present moment declares that she will not consent to it, but waits to know the result of the survey, and then when she sees how the cat jumps, will make up her mind.
– She consents to the survey, but not to the construction of the line. The honorable and learned senator’s contention is that the survey is a part of the construction, which it is not.
– Certainly, it always is. Let us see what Mr. Deakin had to say on this question. When Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin wrote a long letter to the South Australian Government, in order to make them toe the line, and1 to induce them if he could to pass the Enabling Act, which is absolutely essential before this Bill can be properly considered in this Chamber. The South Australian Government had been putting him off, and would not consent to what was proposed, and he writes -
The request for further information comes unexpectedly at this .stage, when all the knowledge that could be expected prior to a detailed examination of the route has already been acquired. Even this would probably alter the sum quoted but very slightly, if at all.
To make a complete survey might cost ^20,000, and before asking the Commonwealth Parliament to approve of this expenditure, it is only reasonable that the consent necessary under sub-section 34 of section 51 of the Constitution should be obtained. Your Government and Parliament have much better information now as to the probable cost of the work than when Mr. Holder’s promise to the Government of Western Australia was made in 1900, and I shall be glad if you could see your way to consider this sufficient for present purposes, and at the earliest date pass an Act authorizing the Federal Parliament to proceed with the work. This has already been done by the legislature of Western Australia.
In regard to your apprehension as to cost, it may be fairly pointed out that the ultimate decision with respect to this great project rests with the Federal Parliament, and it may, I think, be presumed that that Parliament, in which the interests of South Australia are fully represented, will in this, as in all other matters, be careful not to involve the people of Australia in a large expenditure without a reasonable prospect of commensurate benefits to the Commonwealth.
May I ask you, therefore, relying on this assurance, to take an early opportunity of complying with the undertaking entered into by the Premier of your State in 1900, an undertaking which I have said, was widely published at the time, and which has been implicitly relied on ever since by the Government and people of Western. Australia, as well as by the Government of the Commonwealth in the action it has already taken.
That is Mr. Deakin’s opinion.
– Everybody agrees with that.
– If my honorable friend agrees with it, he now says that this survey is not to be considered as part of the construction of the railway. If this Commonwealth Parliament had a right to erect buildings in any part of the States with the consent of the States, we might as well say that we could get plans for the erection of those buildings ‘before we secured the consent of the State. I take it that in such a case the High Court would forbid us to spend the money. The High Court is the interpreter of the Constitution, and is charged with the duty of seeing that the Constitution is carried out. If this Bill does pass, I hope that my State - and it certainly will if it is guid’ed by my advice - will immediately apply for an injunction to prevent one shilling of this money from being spent.
– The injunction would cost the State more than the survey.
– I come now to deal with the Federal aspect of the matter. In this regard this proposal stands in about as unhappy a position as it possibly could. The very gentlemen who accuse us of a want of the Federal spirit are themselves the persons who are guilty of an antiFederal spirit in this matter. All my life I have been engaged as a family solicitor in the endeavour to see that what is right and just shall be done between parties, and, acting as an arbitrator, inducing men to settle their differences outside a Court of law. I take it that I have acquired some facility for looking at both sides of a question. I have been frequently, and most unjustly twitted in the Senate, with changing my mind and altering my opinion, but I never do so when I have a conviction that I am right. I should like to direct the attention of the Senate for a moment to the spirit in which this whole venture is thrust upon us. Western Australia gets it into her head’ that she cannot induce South Australia to come into this matter with her, and because something has been said about this being a Federal matter, and about the Federal Parliament helping, she at once devotes the whole of her energies to inducing the Federal Parliament to take up this work. In a word, she expects Tasmania, with 430 miles of railway, which for many years did not pay 1 per cent., and which have been an enormousdrain upon that small State, to help in the construction of 625 miles of railway in South Australia, and 480 miles of railway in Western Australia, whilst there is not a single suggestion submitted in a legal shape to guarantee us against loss, or to provide that the land for twenty-five or fifty miles on each side of the line shall be placed in trust to meet any loss that may be involved. The two States of Western Australia and South Australia expect to reap enormous benefits by the construction of this railway, in the development of this enormous territory, of the mineral resources, if there are any there, and of the land1 if it is fit for pastoral pursuits. They expect to largely increase their population and the revenue from existing State railways. The papers are teeming with the advantages and benefits which they expect to obtain, whilst there is not a single suggestion that they are prepared to in any way help the other States by keeping in trust land to meet any loss that may accrue. Is that in accordance with the Federal spirit? Is that either just or fair? How well I recollect the debates of the Federal Convention, when Sir John Forrest, and every representative of Western Australia, hour after hour, unceasingly, and at all times, insisted that Western Australia could not, and would not, enter the Federal Union unless she was given some right with respect to her Tariff, which was denied to all the other States.
– That was not proposed by a Western Australian representative.
– Whilst the basis of the Union was admitted to be unfettered trade throughout the Commonwealth, Westem Australia laid it down by her representatives - whose action I understand is now being repudiated, although we are living in a democracy - that she could not be expected to enter the Federation unless she were conceded the great boon of being allowed to charge duties against the people of the other States. I am aware that the men who agitated for this concession were honest and sincere, but we all know now that they were absolutely and entirely wrong.
– Who proposed it?
– The proposal, as a matter of justice, was not entitled to a moment’s consideration, but, after getting that concession and securing its embodiment in the Constitution, they have now the temerity and the audacity to say that, although it is not stated in the Federal bond, the construction of this railway was an implied condition and a part of the bond. Is it showing a Federal spirit, after having fought out the Tariff question, and insisted that the concession should be granted, that Western Australia should now, four years afterwards, contend that something else was implied in the Federal bond? In order that I might makenomistake in this matter, and might not misrepresent the case of the other side, I wrote to my right honorable friend, Sir John Forrest, and told him that the more I looked into this proposal the more I was opposed to it ; but, in order to prevent me from doing his side an injustice, I asked him if he could point to a single page in the records of the Convention on which the Transcontinental Railwaywas mentioned. I got a reply marked private, but I desire now to state that I have not the faintest recollection, not only of that railway having been discussed in the Convention, but of ever having heard it mentioned there during the whole of the sessions of the Convention.
– It was never referred to.
– If that be so, how comes it that this great “ King of the West” should now feel himself entitled to foment this agitation, and bring forward this scheme of his at all times and in all places, inviting people to believe that if the construction of this line is not actually a part of the Federal bond, it is an implied condition on which Western Australia entered the Federation. Such a statement is absolutely contrary to the facts. We all know that the Constitution, as framed by the Convention, did not meet with the acceptance of the people. I do not know what took place at the subsequent Conference of Premiers, beyond that which was made public. Was the construction of this railway ever made a condition of Federation there? We all know that New South Wales, at that Conference, insisted upon having in the Constitution a provision that the Capital should be in the mother State, and that Sir George Turner insisted that it should not be within 100 miles of Sydney. Certain alterations were made in connexion with the Braddon clause, the operation of which was extended for ten years ; but we never heard on this second occasion one word about this transcontinental desert railway. I therefore say that if any one inside or outside of this chamber amongst the four millions of people of the Commonwealth is influenced in any way by the utterances of Sir John Forrest and other Western Australian representatives to alter his opinion on this question, or give one vote hereafter in support of this proposal, that vote will have been obtained by statements which are utterly without foundation. I deny the right of any State to bring a matter of this kind before the Federal Parliament, and try to force it through. Because some honorable senators, having regard to the fact that we are ‘trustees for the whole of the Commonwealth, and particularly for our own States, will not agree to that, they are accused of showing an anti-Federal spirit. I may say that the phrase about a “ bridge across Bass Straits,” on which the AttorneyGeneral has chaffed me, is not my phrase at all; I got it from Hansard. It was used in another place. An honorable member in another place, listening to Sir John Forrest, asked the question, “Why should not Tasmania ask for a bridge ?” We might as well ask for such a bridge, and we could then say to Senator Pearce, “ If you do not support us in securing the construction of that bridge, to link us with the Federation and with the Empire, as Sir John Forrest has said, you will fail to show the Federal spirit ; you will be vile and contemptible.” Simply because the proposal to construct this railway was opposed in another place, one honorable member supporting it characterized those who opposed it as “ vile and contemptible.” I must admit that the honorable member subsequently withdrew the words, and while I am sure sure that he was very pleased to do so, when representatives of Western Australia talk in that way we can understand what their thoughts are. We might suggest railways up and down Australia from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. Each State might come forward with a proposal for a public work involving an expenditure of ,£5,000,000 of money, and then the representatives of the other States might complain, if it were opposed, that the feeling exhibited was anti-Australian, anti-Federal. There is no foundation for any of these arguments in support of this, line, and I am dwelling upon them, not only because they are spoken arguments, but because they have absolutely been introduced .into the preamble of this Bill, ls mat a proper way in which to treat people? Do we not, as politicians, understand that it is easy to work up a case, no matter how bad and rotten it may be, if we only go the right way about it. If we were to shout hard enough, cry loud enough, and do sufficient log-rolling, we should be able to secure a vote of money to build a railway to the moon. This proposal has been brought to its present position only by the exercise of unfair means.
– Is that how the honorable senator got his duty on hops ?
– What has the duty on hops to do with the question?
– Was not the honorable and learned senator speaking about log-rolling ?
– The honorable senator forgets that the duty on hops under my tariff was 3d., and when the Commonwealth Government proposed a duty of 6d. we accepted it. Not only did the representatives of Western Australia at the Federal Convention bargain for the right to keep up their duties against the other States, and thereby prevent Inter-Colonial free-trade with them for five years, but they also strongly objected to parting with their revenue. They objected to having one people one purse. They were content that we should be one people, but they desired to keep their own purse, because their gold-fields were’ attracting population from the other States, and they were far richer than any of the other States. The very men who wanted this great concession for themselves in regard to the Tariff absolutely deny the possibility of giving up the book-keeping system and pooling the revenue, so as to let the poorer States share their much larger revenue. It does not lie in the mouths of my honorable friends opposite to talk about selfishness or parochialism. If they wish to sanction the construction of this railway on the terms contained in this Bill, with all its nakedness, with not a single safeguard -to the States for all the advantages which are to be conferred on Western Australia and South Australia, the bookkeeping system should go. If we are asked to build 1,100 miles of railway for two States, and my honorable friends wish to be just and equitable, they will have to give up the bookkeeping system and pool the revenue. Are they prepared to take that course? If they are not so prepared, the representatives of Western Australia are coming before us with smiles on their faces, generosity on their lips, and selfishness and greed in their hearts. I have written letters to engineers who could help me, and from all the inquiries I have made I believe that in every particular the estimates put before the Senate are grossly understated. I do not think there is any possibility of 1,100 miles of a line being surveyed through a waterless country for anything like £20,000. I believe it will cost £50,000 at the very least, and even then I do not believe it will be sufficient to provide for taking out all the quantities and giving all the information which will be required by contractors before they can submit a tender. My honorable friends will see an enormous sum of £200,000 for engineering and survey in the cost of construction. Again, it is absolutely impossible to conceive that a railway through this country could ever be undertaken for the sum which is named, and I quite agree with Senator Zeal when he says that it would cost nearer ,£8,000,000 than £5,000,000. The gravest question of all is that of water. Is it the duty of the other four States to prospect Western Australia and South Australia for a distance of 1,100 miles, and ascertain what water they have? Certainly not. It should be the duty of each State to send out its own prospecting party.
– The honorable senator must remember that it was also proposed that a search for minerals should go on simultaneously.
– Any party which goes out to survey ought not to prospect for minerals, but to look at the land for a distance of thirty or forty miles on each side of the line and try to find water. ‘ All this is more for the benefit of the two States concerned than for the benefit of the Commonwealth. The right course for Western Australia to have adopted, if it had desired to be fair, was to send out parties to search for minerals, to ascertain the character of the land, and, above all, to look for water.
– Does not the honorable senator know that the State has done that?
– I know that it has not. I hold in my hand the report of five engineers who were sent out to examine each end of this line, and to make ‘a report. In early paragraphs of their first report, dated 12th March, 1903, they say -
The information to hand is not sufficient to enable us to speak with certainty and accuracy on all points. For instance, the particulars as to possible sources of water supply, both for construction purposes and for locomotive use, are 13 p 2 extremely meagre, and the best route cannot be determined without further data, the obtaining of which will effect both the length of the line and its cost.
With regard to estimates of revenue and expenditure, we are faced with the difficulty that both these items depend - the first wholly, and the latter largely - on the traffic to be expected over the line, and this can only be estimated in_ the vaguest manner.
There is a request for information about the water. The first paragraph of a second report, dated the 29th July, 1903, reads as follows : -
Having been requested to furnish our final report on the above subject, upon the basis of such data as are now available, we have ths honour to do so, but we wish respectfully to point out that it must necessarily be less complete than we could wish through our not having received all the in-formation asked for in our first report, dated 12th March last.
The particulars still lacking are those referring to the Gawler Range route, results of bores and test wells which we recommended should be deepened or started on the Nullarbor Plain and in the Sand Hills country.
What could be plainer than that? In the first report they ask for particulars about water, and in their final report, on which we are asked to vote, they regret that that information has not been supplied.
– Will the honorable senator now read the report of the survey party which was sent out by the Government of Western Australia? It is lying upon the table by his side.
– I have too many quotations to read to do that.
– The honorable senator contradicted me by saying that no survey party had been sent out by the State Government.
– I did not say that.
– If the honorable senator makes that admission it is all right.
– I admit that Western Australia sent out some survey parties, and that they met with difficulties. In the first place, they went down 400 feet, and when they went down 2,000 feet what did they find ? They found water which was fit for stock only. They found water which might be fit for human consumption, but which, was very bad at that. Finding it an expensive matter, my honorable friends have the selfishness to come and ask every other State to join in the cost of seeing whether Western Australia has water in its territory. I was in the House of Lords when Lord Knutsford moved the second reading of the Constitution Bill for Western Australia, and’ I remember how startled I was at the generosity with which the mother country was proposing to hand over these millions of acres to 40,000 persons. If Senator de Largie is so anxious for the other States to help him to search for, and find water in Western Australia, is he prepared to hand over to each State a block of its enormous territory ? I suppose he is not. The engineers say that a- great deal of the revenue is to be derived from the payments by the Federal Parliament for the carriage of mails. From inquiries of the best official sources. I find that they are absolutely wrong, and that their paragraph on that point is absolutely misleading. It reads as foi lows : -
We would like to refer to a remark made under paragraph 8 of our first report, that the one item which can be determined with accuracy is the price to be paid for the carriage of mails. We have received no definite information on this subject from the Postal authorities in reply to our request for it. We would point out that in the States of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, an average yearly payment of about £20 per mile on all lines is now made to the Railway Commissioners by the Post and Telegraph Department, and we find that in Victoria a sum of about ;£2o per mile per annum over and above the ordinary mileage rate is paid solely for carrying European mails passing through Adelaide. In view of those payments, we feel that it is quite justifiable to expect that a sum of ^25 per mile of line per annum would be credited to the revenue o£ the new line, and this we have included. £25 per mile is the estimate of revenue, and I am supplied with this information from an official source.
If payment were made on the same basis as the arrangement between this Department and the Railway Commissioners of Victoria, the rate of payment for the carriage of mails over the proposed railway would be £6 per mile per annum
If mail vans be used, an additional payment of 8d. per train mile would be made for each mail van so used.
It is thought, however, that mail vans would bc required only once a week in each direction, i.e., in connexion with English mails despatched and received, respectively.
The poundage rates payable on mails des[atched by sea to and from Adelaide and Western Australia, per non-contract vessels, are 2s. per lb. of letters and post-cards, and 4s. per cwt. 0/ other articles.
The annual amount se payable under existing conditions is about ,£1,050 per annum.
So that from the £6 per mile paid in Victoria, the £1,050 per annum paid to all the sea-going ships taking mails, and the 8d. pet train mile for a postal-car once a week, the engineers estimate a revenue of £25 per mile. The exaggeration there is about 150 per cent. Let us see what is said about the interest on the railways. One engineer has the temerity to put the rate of interest on £5,000,000 at 3 per cent. I shall pass that over, because I suppose that, however admirable an engineer he may be, he knows nothing about finance. The others put the rate down at 3! per cent., but I should say it would be nearer 4 than 3J per cent.
– Besides that, a portion of the capital would be lying idle before it could earn a penny.
– I made inquiries on that point, and found that that has been allowed for to some extent. The engineers who made up the estimates reckon that the Commonwealth would borrow £1,000,000 per annum for four or five years, and that if the loan were borrowed all at once, it could be deposited in the banks at an interest of ii or 2 per cent. The interest is put down at per cent., when every one knows that it will be nearer 4 per cent. There would be an enormous commission for underwriting, and so forth, and there would be great loss of interest. There are some very large amounts under the head of maintenance which the engineers have underestimated. Then we come to the interest on the money during the construction of the line, and before it commences to be revenueproducing. One engineer puts it down at £300,000 ; another engineer puts it down, with compound interest, at £315,000, and the five engineers put it down at £178,000. It would be nearer £400,000, I think, so that the five engineers under-estimate the interest during the time of construction to the amount of £100,000 at the very least. When we come to the item of water supply we find that the representatives of Western Australia are very much to blame for pitching this proposal at our head without sufficient information. But taking the available information, which is entirely guess work, and of the vaguest kind, what do we find ? Mr. O’Connor says that the water will cost £594.000. Mr. J. Muir says that for the Western Australia portion of 480 miles the cost will be £183,000, and if you a little more than double that sum for the 625 miles in South Australia, you get £400,000 for the cost of the water, as against Mr. O’Connor’s estimate of £594,000. The five engineers, however, say that it would come to only £330,000. These are the gentlemen who, in their first report, were asked for detailed particulars about water supply, and who in their second report regretted that they had not been furnished with the informa- tion. Then we have Mr. Muir giving an alternative estimate. He says that if the water is brought down from Kalgoorlie, it will cost £1,200 per mile. What does the Attorney-General think the Senate is to make of such figures? Is it fair to ask us to vote for a survey which is to lead to the expenditure of five millions of money on a railway, on the strength of vague guesses concerning a vast waterless waste? My honorable friends who support this Bill will naturally insist that it merely provides for a survey, and that if we vote for it we shall not be pledged to support the construction of the line afterwards. I certainly agree that I should not feel compelled to vote for the construction of the railway, even if I were induced to ‘vote for this Bill. But are my honorable friends who use that argument entitled to do so? They tell us that the only way to make the unity of Australia a reality is to construct the line. What are we to think of an argument of that kind, when we are told at the same time” that if we vote for this Survey Bill, involving the expenditure of £20,000, it is not to be taken as pledging us to vote for the construction of the line? The one argument contradicts the other, because, although efforts are made to induce us to support the survey on the ground that it pledges .us to nothing further, a pistol is presented to our heads in the form of the second argument that the railway is absolutely essential to carry out the Federal compact.
– If a pistol could only shoot some fairness into the honorable and learned/ senator it would be a good thing to fire one at him.
– I can imagine nothing more unfair than to tell us that the construction of this 1,100 miles of railway is the only way to carry out the Federal compact. Then we are urged to vote for the Bill on the ground that the railway is necessary in the interests of defence. In order to support that contention, it was necessary to obtain a report from MajorGeneral Sir Edward Hutton. But that officer, so far from telling us that the railway is necessary, assures us that it would be of very little use until we have an army to transport across it. I might have used that point yesterday to support my contention in favour of the compulsory training of our youths to participate in the defence of the country. If by adopting the policy which I advocate we are able to raise and train an army to transport over the railway in case of necessity, there would be something to be said for it. But when we have not sufficient money to buy arms and accoutrements for the handful of soldiers we have got, what a monstrous thing it is to say that we ought to spend £5,000,000 upon a railway to transport them to ihe other end of the continent ! I should also like to comment upon the fact that in ;he first report of the five engineers they put down contingencies at 10 per cent. It is to be remarked, however, that they say distinctly that they have not included in the 10 per cent, anything to cover a rise in the cost of material, such as rails, sleepers, steel, fastenings, and everything’ of that kind. But in their second report they have absolutely reduced their 10 per cent, to 7 *</inline> per cent. Knowing nothing about the details of the country, except that for hundreds of miles there is absolutely no water, and knowing that in constructing a railway through an uninhabited desert of that sort we should have to contend with diseases, to pay exceedingly high wages, and should have no end of trouble to engage labour at all, the engineers absolutely reduce the ordinary 10 per cent, down to. 7 J per cent. When a railway is being built through the populous parts of Queensland or Victoria the engineers put down 10 per cent, to cover contingencies, but when you are building a railway through an uninhabited desert the engineers, in order to make the thing more feasible, actually reduce the amount by
– It is no wonder that Tasmania lags behind, when she has such politicians as the honorable and learned senator.
– Tasmania is doing very well, although, like all the other States, she has borrowed too much money. We are told that the crab progresses backward. Many of the Australian States have been going backward lately. I should like to see them go forward cautiously, and on sound lines.
– It is no wonder that the youths and the young men have left Tasmania to go to Western Australia.
– I am surprised at a statement like that being made. If my honorable friend Senator Pearce would examine the census returns for the different States, he would find that there are 7,000 youths in Western Australia, and 29,000 youths between fifteen and twenty years of age in Tasmania A very great part of the prosperity of Western Australia depends upon its gold mines. The richness of those mines has attracted the manhood of the other States. The permanence of the settlement there depends entirely upon the gold mines. When I was in Western Australia some time ago I was pleased to notice that of the thirty -one men in the charming band which we heard playing in the gardens, eleven came from Tasmania. Even the bandmaster was a Tasmanian I was astonished at an argument used a little while ago, by my honorable friend Sir John Forrest, with regard to the amount of money sent over to the other States by Western Australian miners. He spoke of £2,000,000 per annum, being sent to wives and children living in the other States, and he based upon that fact the argument that Western Australia was, to a large extent, supporting the other States, especially Victoria. But that money represents the wages earned by the sweat of the brow of our own people. That is a sample of the arguments with which the case for this railway is bolstered up. Now I wish to make another point. I hold in my hand the diary written by Sir John Forrest when he was a very young, energetic, and splendid fellow.
– As he still is.
– Yes; but he is very misguided on this point. Let me read a few extracts from this very interesting book. Sir John Forrest says at one part of his narrative -
On the 3rd, went on a flying trip to the Northeast, returning on the 4th along the cliffs and Point Culver. I found the country entirely destitute of permanent water, but, after leaving the coast for a few miles, to be in places, beautifully grassed. On the coast near the cliffs, it was very rocky, and there was neither feed nor water. Finding there was no chance of permanent water being found, that the only water in the country was in small rocky holes - and those very scarce indeed - and the feed being very bad at Point Culver, I determined, after every mature consideration, to attempt at all hazards to reach the water shown on Mr. Eyre’s track.
In another part of his book, he refers to the absence of good grass, and says -
There is nothing in the settled portions of Western Australia equal to it, either in extent or quality ; but the absence of permanent water is the great drawback, and I do not think water ‘ would be procured by sinking, except at great depths, as the country is at least 300 feet above - the sea, and there is nothing to indicate water being within an easy depth from the surface. The country is very level, with scarcely any undulation, and becomes clearer as you proceed northward. Since leaving Cape Arid I have not seen a gully or water-course of any description for a distance of 400 miles. . . . Very little game exists along the route; a few kangaroos were seen, but no emus - an almost certain sign, I believe, of the scarcity of water.
– That was before Sir John Forrest was an advocate of this railway.
– Of course it was. In another part of the volume, he says -
July 8th. - Started, in company with my brother and Hilly, having three riding horses and a pack- horse, to penetrate the country to the northward . . did not meet with a drop of water on our way, and, having brought none, we had to do without it.
At another stage of his journey, he wished to ascertain something about the interior of the country. He therefore went inland 50 miles from Eucla, and this is how he describes his journey -
On the 8th July, started on a flying trip north from Eucla, with fourteen days’ provisions, but was unable to penetrate more than thirty miles.
On acount of the scarcity of water, not meeting with a drop of water on the whole journey, returned to Eucla on the 9th, and as summer had apparently set in, and there appeared no likelihood of rain, I decided to at once start for Fowler’s Bay and Adelaide.
The journey could not be continued because the party could not get enough water to drink.
– In what year was that?
– In 1870. Sir John Forrest goes on -
On the 14th we started, carrying with us about thirty gallons of water. After great privation to our horses, and not meeting with a drop of water for 135 miles by travelling day and night, we reached the head of the Bight on the evening of the 17th July, and found abundance of water by digging in the sand hills. Our horses had been ninety hours without a drop of water, and many of us were very weary from long marching without sleep. Many of the horses could scarcely walk, and a few were delirious ; they, however, all managed to carry their loads. They have not, however, yet revived, but, with a few days’ rest, I hope to see them well again. There being very little feed at the head of the Bight, we continued our journey.
I should like to know what genius from heaven could estimate the cost of a survey over a tract of country where water is not to be found for 400 miles at a stretch.
– Did the honorable senator ever know of an exploring party who took a boring plant with them? They would have to depend upon surface water.
– I am showing that as a matter of fact, upon Sir John Forrest’s own testimony, for 400 miles the party could not obtain water of any description. An enormous amount of boring plant would be required to obtain water in this country. And yet, because I oppose this railway, I am told that I am a fraud, and that I am making Federation a fraud. In another place Sir John Forrest says -
Left Israelite Bay on 30th May, and reached the waters shown on Mr. Eyre’s track, in longitude 126 deg. 24 minutes east, on 14th June, depending wholly on rock water holes during the journey. Here we recruited, and made a trip inland for fifty miles, finding the country to be very clear and well grassed, but entirely destitute of permanent water.
– Did the honorable and learned senator expect that Sir John Forrest found cemented tanks?
– I did not; but Senator Pearce ought to admit that this is a most waterless country.
– On the surface, yes.
– Bores have been made, in one instance, to a depth of 400 feet, and in another instance to a depth of 2,000 feet, and in neither of which water was found.
– Water has been found wherever a bore has been put down.
– Yes, water of a brackish and salt description ; and I could read pages describing how the explorers came across salt lakes in the sand. The diary proceeds -
After despatching the coaster on her return to Swan River, attempted to get inland northof Eucla; but owing to the scarcity of water, and the dryness of the season, was unable to get more than thirty miles inland. I. therefore concluded to continue the journey towards Adelaide, and, accordingly, left Eucla on 14th July, reaching the Head of the Great Australian Bight on the evening of the 17th, after a very hard and fatiguing journey without a drop of water for our horses for ninety hours, in which we travelled 138 miles.
On our route we passed over many millions of acres of grassy country, but I am sorry to say, I believe entirely destitute of permanent water.
What has the Commonwealth Parliament to do with finding permanent water in Western Australia? This tract of country is entirely wanting in water, and to a great extent in timber ; and Sir John Forrest
States that he does not think there are any minerals more than 250 miles east of Kalgoorlie.
– And no settlement along the whole of the 1,110 miles.
– Yes, there is.
– I have had mentioned to me the names of six or seven men, or companies, who have tried to utilize some of this country for pastoral purposes. One family lost, I believe, over £100,000 ; another family lost £40,000, while two other individuals, or companies, lost £40,000 and £7,000, and one man became insolvent. I have further had the advantage of a chat with a gentleman who was intimate with Captain Howard, of one of the surveying vessels engaged in the AustralianBight, and his evidence was that on the coast there may be six or seven inches of. rain per annum, and that the further one goes inland, the less rain there is. Sir John Forrest tried to go fifty miles north, and the gentleman to whom I have referred, informed me that even at a distance of eight or nine miles from the coast, if he kicked a mallee bush, the whole of the leaves tumbled off, so devoid were they of moisture.
– Why should there not be a drought there as well as in other parts of Australia?
– That question suggests a very alarming prospect. We all know what a drought is in Queensland, New South Wales, Riverina, and other places where we have rivers, permanent springs, and modern tanks, and other improvements made during the last forty or fifty years. If millions of sheep and stock are lost in the eastern States under such circumstances, what would be the loss to a man who ventured to enter into pastoral pursuits in the country proposed to be traversed by this railway? It would require only one bad season to sweep the land of all living things.
– In the first place, stock could not be got to this land, owing to want of water.
– I can quite believe that. Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, EngineerinChief of the Western Australian Railways, states in his report on the proposed railway -
In an undertaking of this magnitude, traversing 1,100 miles of country, which is mostly uninhabited, and uncultivated, and waterless, although there are no engineering difficulties to contend with, there is necessarily a good deal of uncertainty as to its probable cost, a large element in the matter being the difficulty of supplying water to the men and animals - and machines employed on the construction works, and in carrying forward the requisite materials, including rails and fastenings and sleepers for the permanent-way, and timber and iron work and cement, &c, &c, for the various structures required.
It will be seen from this, that the finding and supplying of water is, so to speak, a condition precedent to the whole scheme. If horses and other animals cannot live in such country, and human beings find it diftic 11It to find any sustenance, how can we talk of making a. survey, much less of constructing a railway in such country ? Mr. O’Connor goes on to say -
During its construction very considerable benefit would accrue to several of the States of the Commonwealth, and more especially to Western Australia and South Australia, through the supply of various materials required for construction works, and also food, for the men engaged, including increase in revenue of railways by carriage of same over local lines.
There may also possibly be settlement along the railway, not alone in connexion with mining, but also in the nature of pastoral pursuits, but I have not estimated anything for that, as there is no data to go on.
Here we have a man who has the candour to state, in the face of all the talk about pastoral pursuits and opening up the land, that he does not consider himself justified in giving any estimate whatever in the absence of data. I wish there was time to continue the debate, and deal with the Bill on its merits, because I am sure the measure would be defeated. Can any one instance a railway in the world, on all fours with that proposed between Western Australia and South Australia? The line starts at Port Augusta, where there is practically little population, and traverses waterless, unsettled country to Kalgoorlie, 380 miles from Perth, which is comparatively a small city. I asked All engineer to mention a similar railway anywhere else, and to my surprise, he instanced the Canadian Pacific Railway. He told me a fact worth remembering, however, namely, that in order to induce a company to build that railway, the Government handed over 25.000,000 acres of land as a start. But the settlement’ along that line is enormous - such as never could take place by means of a railway through waterless country. When I asked for a parallel case during the discussion, some one suggested the railway to California, but I happen to know something about railways in that country. When I arrived in the United States, it was in the depth of winter, and instead of going across the continent, I travelled a distance of 4,500 or 5,000 miles in order to find a warmer climate. I passed through the Texan desert for 200 miles, and I never want to pass through such country again. The population consists of a few natives, who sell bows and arrows, in the making of which string from an English store is used ; and I was twice stuck up. The line, which also traversed some mountainous country, was practically insolvent. In the report by Mr. John Muir, inspector of engineering surveys, Western Australia, we find the following : -
I am quite satished that the country wc hail been exploring- is almost, if not quite, waterless. The natives evidently obtain their water supply from the mallee and other roots, numerous heaps of which are to be seen lying about; and a blackfellow will not, I believe, have recourse to those roots if he can obtain water in anything like a reasonable distance. . . . On my arrival at the main camp (then situated in latitude 31 deg. n minutes south, longitude 120 deg. 1 minute east) Babington, who had been out looking for water during my absence, reported that no water was to be obtained to the east, and our position at this stage was - no water to ihe north, south, or east. We had, therefore, either to retrace our steps or make for Eyre, 150 miles or so to the southeast. . . . With all despatch we then pushed on to Eyre, reaching there on the afternoon of the 3rd July, and found, greatly to my relief, that the main party had arrived on the previous evening, its members all well and hearty. The camels had answered the call made upon them splendidly, and, although they had done a trip of nine days without water, on salt feed, there had been no signs of knocking up.
Throughout the reports we find similar evidence, horses and camels being in a state of semi-starvation for want of food and water. In another place, Mr. Muir reports, the grass was two years old, showing that there had been no rain for a considerable length of time. .We are told that seven (inches of rain may be depended on along the coast, but no man can say that there are four inches inland. Before we are asked to entertain the idea of a railway survey, the Western Australian and South Australian Governments ought not only to send out exploring parties, but to establish stations, equipped with rain gauges, so as to obtain important information in this connexion. With regard to the country a little further north, I should like to read another extract from Sir John Forrest’s diary: -
It is a marvel to me how we got through at all….. The country is most wretched-
When the sterility of the country is considered, it will be readily seen what a disadvantage one labours under without camels. . . . It is 140 miles to the nearest Adelaide station. Not a drop of water. Country to the south seemed most uninviting. Near to Eucla, sand hills, as far as could be seen, covered with spinifex. A spinifex desert; spinifex everywhere. We had one wurrung, four chockalocks, and three emu eggs for tea, so we fared sumptuously.
I understood Senator Pearce to say yesterday that there were no sand hills on the line of proposed railway, but I think I could point to three or four different places at which, according to the evidence, sand hills are to be found. I have seen one of the engineers, who was engaged in making one of the reports, and he admits that there are sand hills, which had to te faced with clay or cement to prevent the sand falling down and hiding the surveying line. I should like now to ask honorable senators to consider what is paid by the railways between Melbourne and Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, and Hobart and Launceston. In view of the very small percentage which some of these lines pay, I. ask how they can think it possible that the proposed 1,100 miles of railway will pay. In Tasmania the railway connecting Hobart and Launceston, did not pay one-half per cent, for years. In .1896 it paid “87 per cent., in 1897 ‘96, in 1898 “98, in 1899 126, in 1900 T ‘Q2. and it is now paying 277 per cent. This is the highway which connects Hobart and Tasmania with the rest of the world, and the traffic on which is very considerable. If we take the railway between Melbourne and Sydney, I gather from what I have read in *Hansard that it pays a little more than interest on cost of construction. It pays possibly from 4 to 4^ per cent., but along the whole of that line there are farms, population, and produce. We all know the enormous number of persons who travel by it every day, and the enormous tonnage of goods carried over that line by every train running on it. We cannot possibly compare such a railway as that with the proposed Transcontinental Railway.
– We do not know what the latter will be like.
– We do know that the whole of the country along its 1,100 miles of length is unsettled, and can never be settled until the difficulty of finding water is overcome. I should like to know what our honorable friends from South Australia propose to do about the jetty at Eucla, and the railway which is to connect that port with the proposed transcontinental line? Are we, as a Commonwealth, to improve their jetty, and their port, and lay down this branch railway for them? All these things should be considered in the Bill. Legislation dealing with a matter of this sort should not be passed in three or four sections. I should like to know what arrangements have been made with respect to running powers. When this line reaches Kalgoorlie it joins a length of railway running 380 miles to Perth. I am reminded that some most amusing things occurred in another place. The Prime Minister said that if the Bill passed there was no doubt whatever that as those two States would be only too glad to have the help of the Commonwealth in building the line, they would be very gladto treat us liberally and give us what we require. Another honorable member expressed the hope that we would get what we require. Another expressed the fear that we ought in the Bill - as of course we ought - to insist that fifty miles of land on each side of the route should be held in trust as an indemnity against loss. Another” honorable member asked that Western Australia should be prepared to pay the greater part of this survey fee. Sir John Forrest, or some other representative of Western Australia, said that if that State were asked to pay the £20:000, he did not think there would be any ‘difficulty in inducing the State to pay that sum. That is taking a reasonable view of the matter. Western Australia should not pay the £20,000. but it should be divided between Western Australia and South Australia. They are prepared, after all the explorations and inspections have been made, and it is shown to be a really feasible scheme to treat it as a Federal matter. If they desire that it should be dealt with as a Federal matter, they should propose terms which are just and .fair. In a matter of this kind, when they are to gain such enormous advantage, the obligation rests upon them to pay a share of the cost of the line, and undertake responsibility for the enormous loss involved in proportion to the advantages which each will derive. Will Senator Pearce contend that that is an unfair proposal ? If this is to be made a Federal scheme, there must be provision for contributions in proportion to advantage gained. We have never had a single suggestion to show that these States are prepared to do the fair thing. I believe that they are. but it ought to be provided for in the Bill. It is not, and that only shows that the matter is being proceeded with before we are ready. It is being proceeded with in a slip-shod manner, and without sufficient information, and when expert engineers are asked for information, they are compelled to make a second report before the informationasked for is obtained. I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that in a short time we shall have to consider the book-keeping system, and the way in which surplus revenue is to be returned to. the various States. I point out that the financial position of Tasmania is very unsatisfactory. We have been deprived, by the Federal Tariff, of revenue to the extent of some £80,000 or £90,000 a year, and we can never be in a proper position unless in the exercise of the Federal spirit, we have one Commonwealth and one purse - one revenue, as we are one people. I point out that one-fourth of the Tasmanian Customs revenue amounts to £85,547. The expenses of the Commonwealth debited to Tasmania, and taken from this sum, amounts to £79,160.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the question of the cessation of the book-keeping period has anything to do with the proposed railway ?
– I cannot see that it has much to do with it.
– It is only killing time.
– Order. Senator Dobson is in possession of the Chair, and he is entitled to address the Chair so long as- his remarks are relevant to the subjectmatter under discussion. I confess that I do not see much relevancy in what the honorable and learned senator is now saying.
– I consider that my remarks are entirely relevant. The balance of revenue left to us out of the onefourth of our Customs revenue, after Commonwealth expenses have been provided for, amounts to £6,387. If we are called upon to pay our proportion of this survey fee, and of the inevitable loss which must be sustained, the whole of that balance will disappear, one-fourth of our Customs revenue will not be sufficient to meet Commonwealth expenditure, and we shall have to fall back upon State sources of revenue to meet Federal outlay. This, in my opinion, is a most important argument, and it follows naturally the argument which
I used five minutes . before to show that this scheme cannot be made a Federal scheme, and never will, I hope, unless it is based on the principle of comparative advantage. In view of the fact that the two States to which this railway will run will reap enormous advantages from it, whilst Tasmania will reap no direct advantage, to suggest that the people of Tasmania should be called upon to pay the same rate per head as the people of the States who will have the1,100 miles of railway is preposterous and monstrous. I contend that the only way in which we can make this a Federal railway is to get rid of the book-keeping system, to have one people, one revenue, and everything conducted in the true Federal spirit. Do honorable senators suppose that we shall be prepared to treat this 1,100 miles of railway in a Federal spirit, if the revenue of the Commonwealth is not to be dealt with in the same spirit ? I remind honorable senatorsalso that Queensland has absolutely a deficiency of £97,000, inasmuch as, although the Commonwealth Government retain the whole of the one-fourth of her Customs revenue, it is short by £97,000 of the amount required to meet Commonwealth expenses in that State. These are all matters of the very greatest importance, and I am surely entitled to direct honorable senators to the financial aspect of this question. An estimate with respect to the water along this line has been put in’ by a gentleman named Palmer, and there are some four or five other estimates of the water. When Mr. Palmer gives his estimate of the cost of supplying locomotives with water, he puts in the words “ exclusive of water.” This is throwing dust in the eyes of the Federal Parliament. Is water obtainable in this country, with ‘such an expenditure as will induce settlement and enable a thriving population to earn a living by producing butter and other produce, for the gold-fields of Kalgoorlie and other places in Western Australia? Mr. Muir, in his report says that the cost of constructing a railway from Kalgoorlie to Eucla direct, length 480 miles, would be £1,750,560. My honorable friends who support this proposal might just as well ask us to build a railway, and after bringing a number of labourers to the place say, “ There areyour estimates; everything will depend upon there being oxygen, so that the men employed to construct the line will be able to breathe and work.”
– Is not the honorable and learned senator aware that since the publication of that report actual boring operations have proved that there is water in that country?
– I have read the paper to which Senator Smith refers me. I find that three bores were put down, that salt water was found, and water fit for stock, but my honorable friends will not listen to the professional man, Senator Zeal, who tells them that locomotives require better water, and that if they are supplied with unsuitable water they will spew it out. It is impossible for us to consider this proposal until the difficulty of securing water is overcome. In another part of his report Mr. Muir, dealing with the water supply, says: - . . . the one difficulty that exists is that of water supply.
As will be seen by my general remarks, the proposed railway would traverse about 470 miles of country in this State which is, to all intents and purposes, waterless.
– They can carry water for that distance.
– They can carry water at a cost of £1,200 per mile from the end of the Kalgoorlie system.
– Trie honorable and learned senator mav tell that to the marines.
– I give the honorable senator the engineer’s estimate, and that is what we have to go upon. The proposal is to bring water from the end of the existing Western Australian system in pipes, and the cost is estimated at £1,200 per mile. ‘ The report to which I refer proceeds : -
Of this length, for the first 100 miles, water can be conserved in tanks, using the granite and ironstone ridges in the localities as a means of catchment, but for the remaining 375 miles, in the limestone country, the poor nature of the soil precludes any hope of being able to conserve surface supplies.
I ask Senator Smith to make a note of that. Therefore I am inclined to think that the articles in the Age on this desert railway are much truer and fairer comments on the facts than the objectionable epithets which have been hurled at our heads simply because we decline, under the guise of showing a Federal spirit, to do a gross wrong to our own States, and give these gentlemen 1,100 miles of railway at the cost of the Commonwealth. The report goes on to say - . .
Two ways of solving the difficulty suggest themselves to my mind. One, to carry the water from a reliable source by means of pipes, and the other to obtain supplies at various points along the route by boring.
With regard to the first suggestion, the country is fairly well adapted for the purpose, and, doubtless, on the completion of the Coolgardie water supply scheme water would be available from that source. The cost of -this service would, however, entail the expenditure of a large sum . of money. Taken at £1,500 per mile, for which I think it could be done, the outlay of nearly three-quarters of a million pounds would be necessary.
All through my remarks I have been quoting the cost , at £1,200 per mile. I had forgotten that Mr. Muir, of Western Australia, had said that it would cost £1,500 per mile to take the water in pipes, from their own supply, along the desert railway.
Concerning the second proposal, it would be necessary to put down bores at, say, distances of thirty miles apart, for 375 miles, or twelve bores in all, with an average depth of perhaps 2,000 feet, costing, say, £60,000
May I ask Senator Smith if the Government of Western Australia have put down twelve bores to a depth of 2,000 feet, and run the risk of going into this waterless country ? My honorable friends are not prepared to ask Western Australia to take that risk, but they are prepared to ask poor little Tasmania to help rich Western Australia to do it, when a month’s revenue from their gold mines could buy up almost the whole of my State. Yet that is called the Federal spirit. Here is a further statement from the report : -
Of course we have no warrant for concluding that we would be able to obtain artesian water supplies, nor is there any certainty that the water, if struck, would be fresh ; but I am strongly inclined to think that water would be found if the effort were made, and it certainly would be wise to put down one test bore at a cost of ^5,000 or so, before incurring the large expenditure which would be necessary if the first proposal were adopted.
Western Australia can better afford to find twelve times £5,000 than Tasmania can afford to find £1,000.
Apart from the facilities that would be afforded to railway construction, and the maintenance of the railway service when completed, by artesian water being struck on this waterless tract of country, it would be of incalculable profit to the State in another direction. ‘
– The honorable senator will please take his seat. r ‘ .
NOR-GENERAL entered the Chamber, arid, being seated, a message was forwarded to the House of. -Representatives intimating that His Excellency awaited the attendance of the members in the Senate chamber, who, being come with their Speaker,
The Clerk of the Parliaments received from Mr. Speaker the Appropriation Bill.
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to notify to the Clerk of the Parliaments his assent to the following Bills : -
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
Sea Carriage of Goods Bill.
HIS EXCELLENCY was then pleased to deliver the following speech : -
I am sure you will regard with satisfaction the fact that I am now able to release you from further attendance upon your Parliamentary duties.
The extreme length of the session, and the small number of measures passed, are both, no doubt, largely owing to the changes of Ministry which have taken place.
You will be pleased to learn that a Conference is to take place in Hobart in February next, between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Governments of the several States. Friendly co-operation between the State and Federal Governments in matters of mutual concern is of vital importance to the Australian people.
I trust that the Conference will bring about a wise and amicable settlement of existing differences, and furnish a solution for some, at least, of the difficulties which prevent the Commonwealth from reaping in full measure the promised benefits of Federation.
It is the intention of My Advisers to bring prominently before the Conference the urgent necessity for a better representation of the Commonwealth and of the Australian States in the Mother Country, and for the diffusion of useful knowledge throughout the world concerning the resources of Australia, and the openings which exist for desirable streams of immigration.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
My Advisers are of opinion that the adoption of Standing Orders which, whilst recognising the right of every honorable member to the fullest expression of his views, will offer no opportunity for the obstruction of public business, is a matter of grave urgency.
My Advisers intend during the recess to take the steps authorized by law in order to submit early next Session proposals for the re-arrangement of the electorates. The Members of your Honorable House from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia still represent constituencies temporarily delimited before Federation by the State Parliaments, and the difference in the numbers of the electors in many of these electorates is so great that the provisions of the law are being seriously violated.
My Advisers will also devote special attention to the improvement of the electoral machinery.
Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives :
I thank you in the name of His Majesty for the supplies which you have granted.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which you have passed represents protracted legislative labour, and has revealed strong differences of opinion upon one or two important matters. I trust that the Court now to be established will secure, upon a basis just to all the great interests concerned, the peaceful settlement of any industrial disputes that may unhappily arise and extend beyond the limits of a State.
The Bill passed this session for the selection of a Capital Site in New South Wales is now being considered! by the Parliament of that State. I feel sure that the matters not yet settled will be dealt with in a conciliatory spirit on both sides.
The position of shippers of Australian produce has made it necessary to pass as an urgent measure a Bill restraining shipowners from contracting themselves out of their lawful obligations to take due care of goods in transit between the different States or to other countries.
The amendment of the law relating to Defence, of which you have approved, enables My Advisers to place this important Department upon a basis which should secure more thorough consideration of the problems of Military and Naval Defence, and more satisfactory method’s of inspection and administration.
A Royal Commission to inquire into the’ working of the Customs Tariff, and its effect .upon Australian industries, has been appointed. We may confidently hope that the labours of this Commission will be of value to Parliament and the Commonwealth.
I now declare this Parliament prorogued until Saturday, the twenty-first day of January next.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041215_senate_2_24/>.