2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to lay upon the table the following paper: -
Copy of correspondence relating to the appointment of the President of the Arbitration Court, and to move -
That the document be printed.
– My reason for seeking that these papers should be laid upon the table, and also, if I may say so, for congratulating the Minister in moving that they be printed, is that they relate to the first appointment to an office of great importance and of great significance. It is desirable that there should be on the records of Parliament the conditions of the appointment in question, and the papers showing that the intention of the enactment, which was passed last year, has been faithfully observed, and carried into effect, by the Government intrusted with the inauguration of that tribunal. It is the more important in view of, as honorable senators will recollect, recent inconveniences which occurred in New South Wales. It will be a source of gratification to all of us that care has been taken to insist upon the mandate of Parliament, with regard to the duty of a Justice of the High Court, to undertake the office, and that it is recognised that, under the enactment of last year, a Justice is neither entitled to decline to accept the office, nor to resign before the term of the appointment is at an end.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I beg to lay upon the table the following paper : -
Copy of correspondence relating to the charge of neglect of duty by Mr.. Castle, AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and to move -
That the document be printed.
– The reason why the production of these papers has been called for is in order that an act of simple justice may be done to an excellent and efficient officer in the Public Service, against whom this charge of neglect was made. I think every one occupying a high and important position ought to be specially careful that charges involving imputations of dereliction of duty should not be lightly made against a subordinate who is not in a. position to publicly defend himself. I shall always endeavour to see that justice is done in that respect, and that it is recognised that every officer, however humble - the humblest doorkeeper in this Parliament - is entitled to the same degree of justice and fair play as the highest personage in the land. In this particular instance, the officer accused is a most faithful and efficient officer, who passed through a considerable term of public service in South Australia. He was the Judges’ Associate for some years, and the right-hand man of the Crown Prosecutor’s Department in that State for a number of years, discharging all his duties with faithfulness and loyalty.
– The honorable and learned senator will recollect that the motion is that the papers be printed, and has no reference to what should be done after they are printed.
– I am giving reasons why they should be printed.
– The honorable and learned senator seemed to me to Be discussing the other question.
– With great respect, sir, I think I am entitled to give reasons why the papars should be printed.
– It will be an act of simple justice, because the charge of neglect of duty against this; officer was publicly made, and at a time when his explanation and defence was actually in the hands of the high judicial officer who made the charge. It was made without any intimation that that explanation and defence was then in the possession of the accuser, but was not made public at the same time as the accusation, And in the absence of that vindication on the occasion when the charge was made in the High Court, the least we can do is to see that it is made public through the High Court of Parliament.
Question’ resolved in the affirmative.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Pursuant to the Electoral Act 1902. - Provisional regulations, Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 47.
Ordered to be printed.
Pursuant to the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act. - Notification of the acquisition at Bodangora, New South Wales, of a site for a post-office.
– Before the busi ness of the day is called on,. I wish to make a notification to the Senate, and that is in reference to private business. I am afraid that the rule laid down last session as to alternate Thursdays has not worked well, and that in future it will be better tolay down this interpretation of the sessional order, that alternate Thursdays shall be counted as if the ‘Senate sat on each Thursday. I am afraid that honorable senators have had some difficulty in ascertaining when notices were to come on, and if we lay down a rule that each Thursday shall be considered as a Thursday under the sessional order, it will be a convenience to the Senate.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear:
– I shall do that in the future.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government inform the Senate when they propose to give the Senate an opportunity of considering the Classification Scheme of the Public Service Commissioner?
– We propose to give an opportunity, if possible, on Friday next.
John Forrest), in the House of Representatives, on 16th November, 1904, describing section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act as “ a wrong, foolish, and dishonest thing “ ; and to ask -
Whether the Government intend to take steps to remove from the Commonwealth statute-book an enactment pronounced by the Treasurer in his place in Parliament to be “ wrong, foolish, and dishonest “ ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned senator’s questions is as follows : -
The Government consider that whatever the Treasurer’s individual opinions might be on this important subject, it would not be possible to repeal the provision referred to, in view of the emphatic statements by the Right Honorable G. H. Reid in the House of Representatives on July 25, 1901, as reported in Federal Hansard, volume 3, pages 3063-4, from which the following extracts : are taken : - “ I can only state that so far as I am concerned - and I believe I speak on behalf of every member on the Opposition side of the House - I wish the Prime Minister to understand that we are heartily with him in any efforts which he may make in order to diminish the employment of coloured labour on board ships, which are related to us, as these ships are under a postal contract.” Then further on the right honorable gentleman said - “ But it will greatly strengthen the Prime Minister when he knows that he has practically a united House behind him in this matter.”
Having regard to the fact that the foregoing were the views of the leader of the Government of which the honorable and learned senator was Attorney-General for nearly a year, without any action being taken-
– The honorable senator is not in order in arguing the question.
– I raise the point of order that the honorable senator is making a speech.
– I think the Minister of Defence will see that the standing order provides that in asking or answering a question, no argument shall be adduced.
– Or inference.
– The question itself is in the form of an argument or an inference.
– No; the question can be answered by “Yes “ or “ No.”
– There are only a few more words in the reply. The honorable and learned senator evidently does not like it.
– Answer it straightforwardly.
– A point of order has been raised as to whether the Minister of Defence is in order in bringing forward an argument in the form of an answer.
– The conclusion is -
His anxiety as to the course the present Government intend to take would seem uncalled for, considering that the remarks of the Treasurer referred to were made when he was a private member.
– Is that respectful to the Chair on the part of the leader of the Government?
– I will, ask the. Minister of Defence toconform to the standing order.
– I will give an absolute and definite answer. Considering that the remarks of the Treasurer were made when he was a private member, I have nothing further to say upon the matter.
– I would ask the Minister to give a definite answer, “Yes” or “No” - are the Government going to take steps to remove that blot from the statute-book?
– Decidedly not. We do not consider it to be a blot either.
– I desire to obtain your ruling, sir, as to whether the answer given by the Minister of Defence to my question a few minutes ago, being in contravention of the Standing Orders, ought to be printed upon the records ?
– What is the honorable and learned senator afraid of?
– I am not afraid of anything. I merely wish to conform to, the rules of the Senate.
– I think the best course will be to print the answer on the records, in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I am quite willing to state that we do not intend to alter the Act at all, especially in view of the remarks made by the Right Honorable G. H. Reid when he was a private member and not a member of a Government.
– I beg to present a Bill for an Act relating to Copyright;and to move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
The Bill is rather a lengthy one, and demands considerable care and attention on the part of the Senate. In the event of there being any other business to proceed with to-morrow, I shall ask that the second reading be deferred until the first sitting day next week.
– Does the honorable and learned senator intend to move the second reading to-morrow ?
– Only in the absence of any other, business.
– The Minister might as well move the second reading to-morrow, if he is ready.
– Perhaps it will be more convenient if the motion for the second reading is made an order of the day for Wednesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the second reading be an order of the day for Wednesday next.
– This Bill is, as the Minister has said, a lengthy one, and it is also, as he well knows, one of extreme difficulty and complexity.
– Does the honorable and learned senator second the motion ?
– Yes, I will do so. It is a Bill that was left over by the late Government. It deals with a very important subject, and one which, if the Senate is to do justice to it, will demand a very great deal of care and thought. Steps for fresh legislation on the subject have already been taken in England. The whole subject of copyright is, in fact, in a very unsettled condition. Therefore, the more time the Government can give the Senate for the consideration of the subject, the better. Even if the Minister moves the second reading next week, I would ask him to consider whether it would not be better to engage that the Government will not attempt to force a debate upon it then.
– Quite so.
– It is a Bill that it will be exceedingly difficult for lay members to understand, but, after the interesting and lucid exposition which I am sure the Minister will give to it, we shall be better able to comprehend it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Keating) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I do not intend to delay the passage of this Bill, because it, in common with the two succeeding Bills on the noticepaper, is a measure that was left by the preceding Government, but was not revised by them. Therefore, the object of it is good. But I am sorry that the Government of which I was a member had not an opportunity to revise the Bill, because then it would have been perfect. I wish to call attention to one point. It seems to me to be very undesirable that legislation should be thought necessary to exempt the GovernorGeneral from serving on juries. I never saw such an exemption before in a Bill. It is like exempting the King from serving on juries. I am not going to suggest that the Bill should be recommitted in this House for the purpose of making the amendment, but, nevertheless, it does appear to me to be undignified, and not in conformity with usage that we should introduce the GovernorGeneral in an exemption of this character.
– I wanted to wipe him out of the Bill, but .the Government objected.
– I am glad to observe that I am generally in accord with my honorable friend on these great constitutional questions. The GovernorGeneral, in my view, is just as exempt as is the King in the mother country from service on juries. I call attention to that point with a view to its being considered before the Bill passes out of the hands of Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I wish to call my honorable and learned friend’s attention to a matter that he has already dealt with, namely, that this Bill requires a great deal of revision. The point, to which I daresay the attention of the Government has been directed, is involved in clause 4. My honorable and learned friend took considerable pains the other day to explain away the ambiguities and difficulties in the language of the Bill, which goes to an extent that, I think, honorable senators will see would be ridiculous. A Court might so construe it as to impose limitations. I do not like the provision. It is better to attempt to limit the clause before passing the Bill than to have language in it which requires the interpretation of a Court. This is a difficulty which the Minister felt, and, very properly, tried to show would not be so troublesome and inconvenient as I fancy it would. The clause provides that the signature “ of any person who holds or has held “ any of these offices is to be taken as proved without the necessity of oral evidence. The result would be to patent the signature of a person who holds the office, quite irrespective of the office - not to merely patent the signature of the person who holds the office, but the signature of any person who has ever held the office. This might afford a very convenient and facile method of committing forgery. For instance, the signature of the President of this Chamber is one which is to be taken notice of, if affixed officially ; and that is right and proper. We hope that the event may be deferred, but the President may vacate the office; and at some future time his signature may be taken judicial notice of under the Bill. The Minister laid his finger on this blemish, for discovering which I claim no merit. But I differ from the ‘Minister as to the method by which this difficulty should be met. It is extremely desirable not to send a Bill from this Senate susceptible of such a construction, if we have the means, by the use of a word or two of common-sense English, to put the matter right. What is desired is to enable the Court to take notice of the official signature of the officer whose name is attached to any document which may be tendered as evidence in a Court of Justice. I suggest that the provision should be simply that a Court shall take judicial notice of the signature “of the Governor-General, every Minister of State, the President of the Senate,” and so forth ; that means, of course, the signature of the person at the time holding the office.
The Minister admits that what I have stated is the case, but he proposes to leave it to the Court to place a limited construction on the provision. My opinion is that we ought to put the matter right now. In the same paragraph we find provision made for judicial notice being taken of the signature of the “ President or DeputyPresident “ of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Is there a Deputy-President of that Court?
– I do not know, but there may be power to appoint a DeputyPresident.
– Is there a Deputy-President contemplated? The same paragraph speaks of “ The President or Judge, or member of any Federal Court.” There is at present only one Federal Court, namely, the High Court, though there are Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction, which are, in effect, Federal Courts, and ought to be so treated. At present, however,, these Courts are ignored to a large extent.
– The Constitution contemplates other Federal Courts, and, on their establishment, this provision would apply.
Senator -Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- At ‘ present there is no other Court of the kind, and these words are unnecessary. The Bill goes on to provide for all subsequent appointments by giving power to the GovernorGeneral, by order published in the Commonwealth Gazette, to declare the section to apply to any other officers on the creation of their offices ; and’ it is a pity to mention an office or officer at present unknown to the Constitution. Then I call attention to the fact that sub-clause c is really a limitation, of the present law. I allude to the provision that the signature of a person who “holds or has held” such office shall be taken judicial notice of, if it purports to be appended to an official document. That is the law at present, as the Minister knows. Anybody acting in an office is deemed to be properly appointed, until the contrary is shown; and that applies to the highest officer in the land, as well as to the humblest police constable. The provision is altogether inapplicable, and might lead to great inconvenience ; and all that is necessary is to show that the officer has been acting in a particular capacity or office. I also desire to point out that, under clauses 8 and 10, the mere production of a paper purporting to be the Commonwealth
Gazette shall in all Courts be evidence; and it ought to be made perfectly clear that it is onlyprima facie evidence, and that the Court is not left to say whether it is conclusive. It is not likely that a paper of such moment as the Gazette would be forged, but still I think it necessary to submit this point.. Then it should be provided in clause 9 that the production of a document purporting to be printed by the Government Printer shall be only prima facie evidence that the paper was printed by the Government Printer, or under authority ; otherwise there will be a premium placed on imposition. Clause 11, which deals with proof of judicial proceedings, ought to be limited to the Court we have at present. As I have said, the only Federal Court we have now is the High Court, though we have Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction, and if we establish a facile system of proof of judicial proceedings, it ought to be limited to the High Court or any Court exercising Federal jurisdiction. I propose to move the recommittal of the Bill, with a view particularly to setting right clause 4, which is the one most likely to cause inconvenience, and also to move the other amendments I have indicated. I should also like to submit whether, by clause 2, which gives a definition of “Courts,” we can make this Bill apply to States Courts. My view is that we cannot legislate with a view to establishing a code of evidence affecting States Courts, because to do so would be to attempt to regulate the procedure of tribunals over which the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction. Laws of evidence are as much part of the procedure of the States Courts as are the ordinary rules. The amendments I have indicated ought to be made in order that this Bill may provide what is intended. I move - That the Bill be recommitted.
– With all respect to Senator Symon, my opinion is that no reasonable grounds have been given for the motion.
– Does the honorable senator not agree with me as to clause 4?
– I do not agree with the construction which the honorable and learned senator has placed on that clause. In moving the second reading of the Bill, I said that at first glance it might be thought that if clause 4 were passed it would give to the ordinary private and unofficial signature of any one of the persons named, a value that we did not intend. Senator Symon suggests that if the Bill be recommittedthewords”ofanyperson who holds or has held the office of “ should be left out, and the clause simply providefor judicial notice being taken of the signature of the holder of an office. If wedid that, the Courts could only take judicial notice of the signature of the then existing Governor-General, Minister of State, and so forth.
– The point is not really whether the arguments adduced by Senator Symon are correct, but whether the Ministersupports the clause as it stands?
– I cannot see any necessity for an alteration of the clause asit stands.
– But the: Minister himself admitted that the clause did need explanation.
– When introducing; the Bill I pointed out to honorable senators, who had just then seem the provisions, that they need have no doubts about clause 4, because the words appeared at the end of the provision, “if the signature orseal purports to be attached or appended to any.judicial or official document.” I instanced thePresident of this Chamber, and said that his signature, which purported tobe attached byhim to an official document as President of the Senate, would be taken judicial notice of. without any oral evidence.
– But suppose somebody signed the President’s name to what purported to be an official document, after he had vacated the office?
– That could be done in any case, whether the Presidentwas in or out of office; anybody may attempt to forge the official signature of a: present or past officer. I do not thinkthat the amendment would get over anydifficulty of thatcharacter. The provision is absolutely necessary, because a long time after a person may have ceased to be official, it may be necessary to prove an official document that he had signed.
– A personcould not sign as Governor-General, or as an official of the kind, after he had vacated the office.
– But it would be a document signed when he was holding the office.
– That would be his signature as Governor-General.
– These are the reasons why the words objected to were inserted. If the words were struck out, the Court might feel restricted to taking judicial notice of the signatures of persons then presently occupying any of those particular offices. I think the honorable and learned senator must mave misunderstood my remarks. I wished to point out especially to laymen that the last two lines save the clause from creating any such dangerous position as that which Senator Symon is contemplating. He has ventured to throw doubt upon the existence of such an officer as the Deputy President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. But section 15 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act reads -
The President or Deputy President shall, before proceeding to discharge the duties of his office, take before a Justice of the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State an oath or affirmation in the form of schedule A.
– Is there any provision in the Act for appointing a Deputy President of the Court?
– I interjected that I presumed that there was. I have just picked up the copy of the Act, and have had time only to notice a provision for a Deputy President taking the necessary oaths of office before entering upon his duties. The Act which brings into existence the Court, and the President also, clearly contemplates the appointment of a Deputy President. We shall be safer in including :in this Bill a Deputy President when he is specially mentioned in section 15 of the Act, and probably in other sections. Senator Symon has criticised the drafting of clause 8 because the words “ prima facie “ are not used before the word “ evidence.” The clause reads -
The mere production of a paper purporting to be the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette shall in all cases be evidence.
-Col. Gould. - It is usual to say it shall be prima facie evidence.
– I understand that it was usual, but that in modern drafting the term prima facie is dropped.
– Wherever it is meant to be prima facie evidence, that is always stated.
– After all, it is only evidence for what it is worth. It is not conclusive evidence, and if other evidence in rebuttal, either oral or written, can be produced, it can be given. The same remark applies to the honorable and learned senator’s criticism of clause 9. With regard to clause 11, he has pointed out that it is scarcely correctly worded, because there is no other Federal Court than the High Court. In its judiciary provisions the Constitution contemplates the establishment of not only a High Court, but such other Federal Courts as Parliament may from time to time create. Such Courts may. be established at any time, and we wish to avoid the necessity of bringing in a small amending Bill, or of exercising too frequently the power which is given in paragraph a of clause 4.
Or any office to which the Governor-General by order published in the Gazette declares this section to apply.
We can now make our legislation apply to not merely the existing instrumentalities of Government, but also to those which we know are in contemplation, and will necessarily come into being by-and-by. With regard to the definition of the word “Courts” in clause 2, Senator Symon has suggested that it is not for us by Federal legislation to provide a code of evidence for States Courts, because that is a matter purely for their determination. But I would point out that, in several cases, our legislation has created offences. For instance, in the Customs Act, and we have declared what shall and what shall not be proof of offences before a Court and a State Court, too.
– Those are Commonwealth offences as to which we are entitled to prescribe the nature of the evidence, but this Bill is seeking to establish a new code of evidence.
– No, we are providing for the judicial recognition of the signatures of certain officials, whose offices have only come into existence since the Commonwealth was established.
– And we instruct the States Courts as to what kind of evidence they shall receive on every matter.
– I think we are entitled to do that in their cases. We are clothed with all the legislative powers that are necessary to the due discharge of the duties and functions which are cast upon us by- the .Constitution Act.
– Does the Minister mean to say that we can instruct a State Court that oral evidence shall be taken of an official document?
– We can instruct a State Court that if it is to take evidence relating to an official document of the Commonwealth, it shall be taken in the way prescribed in this Bill. The honorable and learned senator has expressed some doubt as to our right to pass this provision, but I understand that other learned gentlemen, after very careful consideration, have come to a totally different conclusion. I think that the reasons which have been advanced for a recommittal of the Bill are not sufficiently strong to warrant the non-adoption of the report.
– I trust that the Senate will consent to a recommittal.
– It is not usual for -a Minister to oppose the recom mittal of a Bill.
.- If the Minister will waive his objection to a recommittal, I shall reserve what I have to say until the Senate goes into Committee.
– Having indicated the reasons for my opposition to a recommittal. I have no objection to the Senate going into Committee on the Bill.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted - resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause i agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “Courts” include the High Court, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, all Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction, the Inter-State Commission, and all Courts of the several States and parts of the Commonwealth, and all judges and justices and all arbitrators under any law of the Commonwealth or of a State, and all persons authorized by the law of the Commonwealth or of a State or by consent of parties to hear, receive, and examine evidence.
– There is a difference of opinion as to our right to legislate in regard to evidence in States Courts. In the Customs Act we were perfectly entitled to declare what shall be evidence, either prima facie or conclusive, or upon whom the onus of proof shall lie in respect to any offence. But this is simply an Evidence. Bill. Un der the Constitution, it is not competent for this Parliament to legislate with regard to the procedure in States Courts, whether, by way of evidence or in any other respect. We all. know how susceptible the States are as to any encroachments upon their rights. I take a very strong view that we are not entitled to declare to the States Courts what shall be evidence,; generally speaking, in their code.
– I did not express any personal doubt, I thought that there might be a difference of opinion.
– Does my honorable and learned friend say there is no doubt that we have the right to legislate as to what kind of evidence a State Court shall admit?
– I think we have the power to pass this provision.
– Lately we have done a good many things which have not unnaturally affected the status of the States Courts, and I think we ought to abstain from doing any more. I move -
That the words, “ and all Courts of the several States and parts of the Commonwealth,” lines 7 and 8, be left out.
Subsequently, I propose to ask the Committee to omit the words, “ or of a State. “ If there is a doubt, or even a difference of opinion as to our power to pass this legislation we had better stay our hand until things are a little smoother, because the States are naturally sensitive.
– If these words are eliminated the clause will protect all cases in which a Federal law is being interpreted by a State Court when exercising Federal jurisdiction. It would be very unfortunate if the construction of this clause were to raise any question as to interference by the Commonwealth with the rights of the States. It would be unfortunate too, if we failed to make adequate provision for a case in which Federal jurisdiction was being exercised.
– Does not the amendment mean cutting the painter from the High Court?
– No, because an appeal will still lie to the High Court from the decisions of the States Courts. If I thought that it would cut the painter from the High Court, I should not support the amendment. In framing the Customs Act the Parliament clearly had a right to say what kind of evidence should be required in order to prove an offence,’ or in what way ‘documents should be admitted. I hope that honorable senators will see their way to omit what I regard as a very serious blot on this measure.
– I hope that the amendment will not be agreed to. The object of the Bill is to provide for an easy, safe, convenient proof of official documents, seals, and signatures. A similar law is to be found in practically every part of the British Empire. Under the operation of the Commonwealth Constitution new offices have come into being’ with their seals and officers, and it is necessary that we should have the means of proving any official document or signature when it is required. In this clause we provide that the term “ Courts “ shall include “ the Commonwealth Courts, the Inter-State Commission, and all Courts of the several States.” I think it is straining the position very strongly to suggest that we have not power to provide that the States Courts shall take official or judicial notice of signatures and seals in the cases .mentioned in the Bill. In the covering sections of the Constitution it is provided, in section 5, that -
This Act and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution shall be binding on the Courts, Judges, and people of every State, -and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State.
This afternoon, we passed through its third reading a Jury Exemption Bill, exempting from liability to serve as jurors certain officers who were not in existence prior to Federation. We have exempted them not only as regards Commonwealth Courts but also as regards State Courts.
– That is a doubtful provision, and certainly it is quite another thing from this. The one is an exemption of Commonwealth instrumentalities, and the other has relation to a code of evidence.
– We only exempted officers of the Commonwealth, not officers of a State. If we attempted to do that there would be an/ analogy. But we do not interfere with the States servants.
– Certainly not, but that does not destroy the parallel between the two cases. We have exempted the officers designated in the Jury Exemption Bill from liability to serve as jurors in
Commonwealth Courts or State Courts. To say that the argument is not parallel is not correct, because an individual might be summoned by a process, of a State Court to serve as a juror in that Court, and he might say that he claimed to be exempt under Commonwealth legislation. Are we not then interfering with a State Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction, and with the legislation of a State which has not already provided to exempt such officers? What we are now doing is to add ito those cases which already exist in every State where judicial notice is. taken, of certain officers, seals, and signatures. We add another list of officers, seals, and signatures, which every State Court should take notice of. The reason why we add1 to them is the reason why we added to the list of exemptions from serving on juries - .because these officers, seals, and signatures did not come into existence until the establishment of the Commonwealth. I venture to submit to honorable senators that we have the fullest power to legislate in this way, and to ask them not to accept the amendment.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - My honorable and learned friend has referred to two things. One is that we have just passed’ a Jury Exemption Bill. In the first place, I think it is a little doubtful whether even in that respect we have power to legislate - whether we can say that a State which has the control of its own Courts and the right to say who shall constitute its juries, should be disentitled to say that certain persons whom we, the Commonwealth, seek to exempt from serving on juries, shall not be exempt. A State regulates its own affairs in that respect, and I doubt whether we have power to say that certain persons shall be exempt from serving on juries in State Courts. I have no doubt that the States will make their exemptions co-terminus with ours, but that is quite a different thing from issuing our own exemptions with regard to juries in States Courts. But that is not parallel with this matter at all. What we are doing is to say that a State shall not impose the duty on an instrumentality of the Commonwealth, which may interfere with the exercise, by that instrumentality, of Commonwealth functions. That is analogous to the highly-debatable income tax decision.
-Col. Gould. - That is strictly limited to officers. ‘
– So is this.
– It may be. I do not express any opinion upon it. There is grave difference of opinion as to the force of that particular decision, which is1 now under appeal. It is doubtful whether we have the power to say that a State must not impose the liability on Commonwealth officers to serve on juries. Even if it is not doubtful it is not analogous. It would be analogous if we sought to exempt State officers from service. There the parallel would be, perhaps, complete. But I do not think that even Senator Keating will say that it is a very forceful argument for passing this Bill as it stands, that we have just passed the third reading of another Bill which contains that provision. The fact that State Courts are included in that Bill is no strong argument why we should include the States in this. The second argument to which I wish to direct attention is that section 5 of the covering sections of the Constitution enables us to pass a clause of this kind. That section provides that all laws passed by the Commonwealth shall be binding on the Courts and people of every State. This is the first time I ever heard it suggested that that should apply to a law which we are not competent to pass. It applies to laws which we are competent to pass, and an argument based upon that section begs the whole question, which is whether we have power to pass a law regulating the procedure of a State Court. If the Committee decides to pass this provision we shall have done our duty in seeking to eliminate it.
– I confess that I am not convinced by the arguments of my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon. It appears to me that we have full power to require that the signature of the Governor-General shall be recognised in all State Courts. It is very desirable that it should be made clear that the Courts must take judicial cognizance of the signature of the Governor-General. If that is not done, the position! will be that, in some of the Courts of the States, when a case comes on, if the signature of the Governor-General is produced, it will require to be proved’. So it will be also with the seal of the Commonwealth. If a document bearing the seal of a State is produced, that is accepted; but the seal of the Commonwealth will require to be proved.
– No, the laws of the States will provide for that.
– But the laws of the States at present will not. I know of no State law which ‘provides that the Commonwealth seal or the signature of the GovernorGeneral shall be taken as evidence.
– The ordinary law of evidence does that.
– The ordinary law of evidence is absolutely silent, as regards the seal of the Commonwealth or the signature of the Governor-General. In this Bill it is not proposed to provide any rules of procedure for State Courts beyond those relating to particular officers who have been brought into existence under the Commonwealth Constitution. The officers mentioned in this Bill have been created under the Constitution;. That being so, I think that the Constitution gives us the power under section 5 of the covering sections, to require that the signatures of those officers shall be accepted by the Courts of the States.
– Would the honorable and learned senator make it apply to the Courts of Great Britain?
– No ; because it is the Courts of the Commonwealth that are mentioned in covering section 5, which says that all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall be binding upon the Courts of every State.
– That means laws within our competence.
– It means laws made under the Constitution. Under the Constitution we have power to create these different offices, and I think we have power to require that these officers, when created, shall be judicially noticed by the Courts.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - I desire to give one illustration, which honorable* senators will appreciate, to show the importance of this matter. Clause 5- of the Bill provides that-
Evidence of any proclamation, commission, order, or regulation issued or made by the Governor-General or by or under the authority of a Minister may be given in all Courts - by the production of the documents mentioned in the four subsequent paragraphs. If we have not the power to legislate to compel the Courts of the States to take as evidence of any such proclamation, commission, or order, proof given in one of the manners prescribed in the clause, we are in this position: That the Commonwealth administration of a Department may be subjected to all the harassing inconvenience that a single recalcitrant State may see fit to impose upon it. It might be necessary to prove in the Court of a State a certain proclamation, commission, or order. That State might in effect say, “We will not take notice of any form of proof under the Commonwealth Evidence Act; we require that the original commission or document shall be produced here.” When the original commission was produced the attendance of some one who knew the signature to the commission or document might be required to prove it. Is it reasonable to suppose that the Commonwealth Parliament,vested with all the powers contained in the Constitution, is not in a position to legislate so that the ordinary machinery of our government can be carried on without the greatest danger of harassing and inconvenience? We have power to bring certain officers into existence under the Constitution. We have done so; and now we are entitled to require by our legislation - not in any high-handed fashion - that judicial notice of the existence of these officers and of their signatures when attached to official documents, shall be taken not only in the Courts of the Commonwealth but also in the Courts of the States. Senator Symon has argued that our powers are limited by the Constitution. So they are; but honorable senators will be aware that in paragraph) 39, of section 51, it is provided that we have full power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, with respect to -
Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof or in the Government of the Commonwealth or in the Federal Judicature or in any Department or officer of the Commonwealth.
That provision clearly covers this clause, and gives us power to legislate in this regard. Speaking for myself, the more I think over the subject and argue upon it, the more confident I feel that we have full power to legislate so as to obviate the possible necessity for any Federal officer being taken from head-quarters to some Court in a State, because the law of that State does not provide that judicial notice shall be taken by its Courts of official signatures to Commonwealth documents. We have power to legislate to obviate the necessity for officers of the central Departments of the Commonwealth being compelled to relinquish duty to go with original records to distant places in States in consequence of the failure of a State to legislate, or in consequence of the recalcitrancy of a particular State which might be at loggerheads with the Commonwealth. I appeal to honorable senators to oppose the amendment, which, if carried, may lead to the difficulties and dangers I have indicated.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - The Committee having signified its desire to retain the words which I moved to be left out, I shall not proceed with the other amendments I indicated in this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
All Courts shall take judicial notice of -
The signature of any person who holds or has held the office of GovernorGeneral, Minister of State . . . . if the signature or seal purports to be attached or appended to any judicial or official document.
– I move -
That the words “ any person who holds or has held the office of” be left out.
The object of this amendment is to make it clear that the signature is the signature of the officer holding the office at any time. It is the signature of the officer we desire judicial notice, to be taken of, and not the signature of the person “ who holds, or has held “ the office. The amendment is the simplest way of making perfectly clear the intention of the clause.
– I realize that Senator Symon has in view the same object that the Bill purports to effect, but I suggest that the excision of the words proposed will not bring about what we desire. It is necessary that judicial notice shall be taken of documents bearing the signature or seal, not merely.of the present occupant of an office, but of the person -who may, as the occupant of the office, have attached the signature twenty years or mote before. This Bill does not merely apply to present holders of offices.
– But if the signature was that of the Governor-General it would mean that of the Governor-General at the time when the document was signed.
– That is the reason I advance for the” retention of the words. It might be necessary to produce a document bearing, for instance, the signature of Lord Hopetoun, and, therefore,, the words were inserted, “ who holds or has held the office of.” A Court would not take judicial notice of Lord Hopetoun’s signature attached to a private letter; but it might be necessary to prove his official signature to an official document years after he had passed out of existence. So long as Lord Hopetoun had held the office, his official signature would be taken judicial notice of for what it was worth, and the Court would take judicial notice of the fact that he had held office at the time the signature was attached, and also of the seal if any on the document. It would be safer to leave the clause as it stands, because the amendment would practically confine the proving of documents of this character to cases where the person whose signature was in question, would be then occupying the office.
– What objection is there to the insertion of the word “official” before “ signature “ ?
– The only reason against such an amendment ‘ is that the intention is made clear in the last two lines of the clause which I have quoted. I do not think that the amendment before the Committee would improve the clause; in fact, I am inclined to think it would rather make the provision doubtful. .
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Of course our desire is to make the clause a credit to us by its intelligibility. It seems to me that if we say that the signature of the Governor-General shall be taken judicial notice of when attached to any official document, it will not matter whether the Governor-General be the present occupant of the office or any previous Governor-General. If a document be presented in a Court bearing a signature purporting to be that of the GovernorGeneral, or any of the high officers mentioned, it will be accepted as the signature of the person as the holder of the office, and he need not be the present holder of the office. This clause, which has the intention of facilitating the proof of signatures, is very cumberously expressed; and, no doubt, it is difficult to draft a provision of the kind simply. If we retain paragraph c, and also paragraph d, the amendment will simplify the provision,! and make it less susceptible ‘ of doubt. The first doubt is raised by the words which it is proposed shall be left out, and which, as Senator Keating has admitted, would seem, at first blush, to extend to signatures attached after the person had ceased to hold office, so long as the signatures purported to be attached to official documents. But if we limit the clause byusing the words “official signature,” the whole provision is complete in one sentence. Even if we leave out the word “official,” the clause is still clear, because what is meant is not the signature of a person who “holds or has held,” but the signature of the actual occupant of the office, even though it may be twenty years since the signature purports to have been attached.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister).- If the amendment were passed .would there not be a danger of the clause being confined to the present Governor-General, for example? In the Acts Interpretation Act there is the following definition: -
The “ Governor-General “ shall mean the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth, or the person for the time being administering the government of the Commonwealth, acting with the advice of the Executive Council.
From this it would seem that when the term “Governor-General” alone is used, it indicates the present Governor-General, or the person acting on his behalf.
– If the GovernorGeneral’ s signature is on the document, it will be tendered in evidence.
– We ought to make it absolutely certain that any one of those official signatures,’ whenever duly affixed, shall be capable of proof under the Bill.
– Does the Minister intend to insert the word “official” before “signature”?
– I have no objection to do that.
– Then I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) proposed -
That the word “ official “ be inserted before the word “ signature,” line 2.
– The amendment appears to me to be unnecessary, seeing that the whole ground is governed by the two concluding lines of sub-clause c.
– Of course it is.
– A signature must be the official signature before the Court can take judicial notice of it.
Question - That the word proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- In the last two lines of the clause we have something which purports to be a definition of what an official signature is, and yet we have inserted the word “ official “ before the word “ signature.” As this is surplusage, I move -
That the words “ in contra-distinction to his ordinary signature “ be inserted after the words “ official signature.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Affidavits for use in the High Court or any Court exercising Federal jurisdiction may be sworn before any Justice of the Peace without the issue of any commission for taking affidavits.
– I rise to ask Senator Keating whether a justice of the peace will be entitled to collect the fees which are usually paid in the circumstances ?
– There is no provision made here.
– It is rather hard that no provision should be made. The Bill makes every justice of the peace a commissioner of the High Court for taking affidavits. Ordinarily the commissioners for taking affidavits in the Supreme Court of a State are appointed by the Chief Justice. I never saw any reason why justices of the peace should not act in that capacity. It is only fair that they should beable to charge for the performance of this duty the same fees as a commissioner for taking affidavits who has been appointed by the Chief Justice of the High Court. I have not a copy of the schedule of fees before me, but I would suggest that a justice of the peace should be entitled to take such fees as may be prescribed by rule of Court.
– The Judiciary might prescribe a different scale of fees for justices of the peace who acted in this capacity.
– It is very unfair that the “ great unpaid “ should be expected to do this extra-judicial work without getting the remuneration which other commissioners are entitled to charge.
– In New South Wales a justice of the peace can take an affidavit in connexion with the probate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, but he is not entitled to charge a fee.
– It is unusual, I think, to have a justice of the peace taking these affidavits.
– In South Australia all justices of the peace have to pay into the consolidated revenue fund any fees which they collect.
– That is a very hard thing if it is the case.
– Since I called attention to this point at an earlier stage I have looked into the matter, and certainly my impression has been strengthened that a justice of the peace should be entitled to charge a fee for taking an affidavit. It is quite clear that a justice of the peace will be put to considerable inconvenience by the clause, because the tendency of a person will be to go to a man who can charge no fee, and not to a commissioner who is entitled to make a charge. The matter of attesting signatures causes serious inconvenience to justices of the peace who are engaged in business pursuits. It is desirable if it is possible to put justices of the peace on the same footing as the commissioners of the High Court.
– No man need be a justice of the peace unless he sees fit.
– He is actuated by a sense of public duty.
– That mayenable him to take these affidavits without requiring a fee. Commissioners are appointed by the Chief Justice of a Supreme Court, because they are supposed to be particularly fitted by education and position to attest documents of this character. So far as my experience goes, the Commission of the Peace is very frequently recruited from gentlemen who have proved themselves to be very successful electioneering agents. While there are many justices of the peace who are eminently suitable to act as commissioners, still, in country districts, there are a large number of justices of the peace who have not the necessary education ro enable them to attest these documents, unless they have some person to guide them. I think it is better not to make the amendment.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).When I first read this clause, I considered it a most excellent one. I thought that the Government intended to cheapen legal proceedings, but I was foolishly sanguine in hoping that it would pass without great opposition, because, undoubtedly, it strikes at the privileges of one of the strongest trade unions in the world. In this case, the objection is not to the justices of the peace being appointed commissioners, but to their working for nothing. At the present time, affidavits can only be taken by professional gentlemen, who are specially appointed to do the work, and they take very substantial fees for merely attesting signatures. I trust that the Government will not abandon the provision.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I agree with Senator Symon that justices, of the peace ought to be allowed to take a prescribed fee. If it is thought that it should not be a large one, then let it be small. In South Australia, a justiceof the peace collects a fee of is. for taking; an affidavit. I speak feelingly, because my office happens to be in the neighbourhood of five lawyers, and every day I havean application to take an affidavit or a declaration. I think it would cheapen legal process if the great unpaid were allowed’ to charge a small fee for doing this work.
– On a previous occasion,. I explained how the clause came to be inserted in the Bill on my motion. It makesno provision for the payment of ,1 CUb to justices of the peace. The High Courthas laid down a scale of fees which its., commissioners may charge for performingcertain functions. Senator Symon was surprised to hear from Senator Guthrie that, in South Australia, the fees collected by commissioners have to be paid into the publicrevenue.
– I did not doubt that it was done where the fees were received by public officers.
– I believe that last year the Premier of Victoria announced his. intention to submit a proposal of that kind, but whether it was passed or not, I do not know. “ The fees collected bv a commissioner of the Supreme Court are hisperquisites. We have some hesitationin providing in the Bill that justices of the peace shall be paid certain fees for doing work in connexion with the High Court. We do not wish to establish a scale which may be found to differ from the scale fixed by the High Court for its commissioners. Perhaps, if the Bill ispassed with this clause, the High Court may see fit to prescribe a scale of fees which shall be paid to justices of the peace. All that we are concerned with now is, to make it possible for a justice of the peace to as effectually attest an affidavit as a commissioner of the High Court can do. >
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported, with’ a further amendment!
In Committee (Consideration resumed from’ 4th August, vide page 622) :
Clause 9 and title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That the Bill be reconsidered for the purpose of dealing with clause 3, and with a new clause.
Clause 3 -
This Act shall not apply to ships belonging to the King’s Navy.
– The more I think over clause 3 the more desirable it appears to me that the amendment which I proposed when the Bill was last under consideration should be inserted. If I could only induce the Minister of Defence to get rid of “ that tired feeling,” and to fight for his Department, I think he would’ support me. The position in which the clause puts the Defence Department is not satisfactory. The forces are made entirely subsidiary to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and are obliged to content themselves with working under regulations made by the postal officials. I certainly think that the PostmasterGeneral ought not to have control of wireless telegraphy, which may be required for defence purposes. Therefore, I again move -
That the words “ ships belonging to the King’s Navy “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Naval and Military Forces.”
– In opposing this amendment on a former occasion I gave reasons why the control of wireless telegraphy should be in the hands of the Postmaster-General Since then I have had the opportunity to consult with some of the heads of the Departments, and I feel more strongly than ever that it is absolutely necessary that we should not pass the amendment. The1 object of the Bill is to invest the PostmasterGeneral with a monopoly in wireless telegraphy in Australia. All military and naval rights are duly preserved. We do not attempt to touch the King’s ships of war which may come into Commonwealth waters. But with regard to the” Military and Naval Forces of the Commonwealth the position is different. In time of war no Act upon the statute-book could in any way impede the officers of the Naval and Military Forces from doing what they consider to be necessary in connexion with wireless telegraphy, or. with our established telegraphic and telephonic systems. But in time of peace the Naval and Military Forces have no need to use wireless telegraphy, except, perhaps, for experimental purposes, and then it can be used under regulations. It would be dangerous to give the power to any officer in time of peace under cover of exemptions granted to the forces to establish another wireless telegraphy system, which, either designedly or otherwise, might tap or intercept messages transmitted through the system under the control of the post-office for ordinary commercial purposes. To show how messages might be intercepted, I may mention that the instruments on board the Times steamer while off Wei-hai-Wei, in China, during the war, recorded messages sent by the Russians in Port Arthur and by ships of the Japanese Navy, although long distances intervened, and both nations were probably using their best endeavours to keep their messages secret. Mr. Maskeline intercepted a message sent by Signor Marconi in London, although it was sent by a special instrument designed to prevent interception. It is very easy in the present stage of development of wireless telegraphy for one system to intercept messages sent by means of another. If we do not have a single system in Australia the commercial value of wireless telegraphy will be liable to be very seriously impaired. There is no question about the right of the Military and Naval Forces to use wireless telegraphy in time of war. Indeed, they have practically unlimited powers. They can use wireless telegraphy or anything else public or private which is necessary for the defence of the country. They can even go so far as to lay waste any private property. They can not only set up what telegraphic installations they please, but can seize and make use of any existing installations. Under these circumstances, I submit that the Defence Force are amply protected’, and that there is no need to pass the amendment in the interests of the defence of the country. It would be very awkward if the Defence Department were able to use wireless telegraphy under its own regulations, which might conflict with the regulations of the Post and Telegraph Department, and if different systems of wireless telegraphy existed side by side and in possible conflict. If the Military Forces desire to use wireless telegraphy for experimental purposes, an arrangement can be made for that purpose, but it is desirable that in time of peace they should be confined to working under regulations in regard to the use of a monopoly which belongs to the people of tne Commonwealth. Under these circumstances, I urge that the amendment is not necessary, and that if passed it would be a possible source of danger and trouble.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - The arguments put forward by Senator Keating, in my. judgment, merely strengthen the views which I have advanced. I cannot, understand how it is that if, in a crowded country like England, the Military and Naval Forces have the power to use wireless telegraphy on their own initiative the Military and Naval Forces of Australia should be denied that power in this sparsely populated country.
– The honorable senator must not forget that in England a licence to private persons has to be granted by the Postmaster-General, with the consent of the Admiralty, the Army Council, and the Board of Trade. The whole four of those authorities have to concur. Hereit is only the Postmaster-General who has to grant his consent.
– The power in Australia is to be concentrated in the hands of the Postmaster-General. The Minister of Defence seems to be content to say nothing and do nothing in the interests of his Department. I hope that at some time a more active Minister of Defence will come forward and represent its interests. I emphatically reassert that it is to the interests of Australia that the Defence authorities should have the right of initiative in regard to wireless telegraphy not only in time of war but also in times when they have to prepare for war. Therefore I shall press the amendment.
– I am sorry that the Minister in charge of the Bill finds it to be necessary to oppose the amendment. Judging from the feeling of the Committee, his opposition will be supported. I am afraid that it is another instance of the supineness of the people of this country with regard to defence. One rarely meets with a man in public life who is prepared to take up the cudgels in the cause of the defence of Australia with the view of putting the country in a state of preparedness for an emergency, when we may have to defend our hearths and homes.
– What has that to do with the present case?
.- If we wish to be able to defend our country we must learn to defend it, and our troops must be exercised in whatever appliances may be necessary. While it is perfectly true that in time of war the demands of the Military and Naval Forces will override all other considerations, yet we must have our men trained in times of peace. Why do we have camps of instruction, and why do military men set great store by having opportunities for bringing troops together for training? In order that they may be prepared to defend the country when an emergency arises. It is equally necessary that the men who have to use wireless telegraphy in time of war shall have an opportunity to make themselves acquainted with it in times of peace.
– They will get that opportunity.
– How much support did the honorable and learned senator give to the Watson Governmentwhen we wanted to increase the expenditure on military matters by half a million?
– I never opposed any proposal to put the defences of Australia on a sound and adequate footing. Although I recognise that the honorable senator who interjects did give a good deal of attention to the subject, and was desirous to improve the defences, I say that no Go vernment has yet arisen that has devoted sufficient attention to the necessities of the case. I am sorry that the Defence Department does not takeup this matter and point out the necessity for the opportunity to be given to the forces to make themselves acquainted with wireless telegraphy. Of course, the Bill does not interfere with the King’s Navy. It would be most unwise to attempt to do so even if we could. But if we recognise the necessity of giving these powers to the King’s Navy, why not also give them to our Military Forces? Whatever was done would have to be done under regulations which would have to be approved of by Parliament.
– There is always a danger in dual control, especially in regard to what should be a great public monopoly.
.- I am not saying that wireless telegraphy should not be a monopoly, but I do say that it is necessary that the system should be used in the training of bodies of men who may have to defend this country when its use may become an immediate necessity.
– Would the honorable and learned senator ask that the Military Forces should be given the same control over existing telegraphs and telephones ?
.- The same necessity does not exist. Wireless telegraphy offers great advantages in connexion with military matters.
– It can be used under this Bill.
.- But the forces will have to get licences in the first instance. That, I hold, is not a fair position in which to place them.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “8a. - (1.) Proceedings for any offence against this Act may be instituted in any Court of Summary Jurisdiction, and any person proceeded against under this section may be dealt with summarily or may be committed for trial. (2.) The Court in dealing summarily with any accused person under this section may, if he is found guilty of any offence against this Act, punish him by imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding six months or by a penalty not exceeding Fifty pounds.”
At a previous stage of the Bill clause 6 was amended, and, in addition to a maximum penalty of£500, provision was made for an alternative imprisonment for five years. In the Acts Interpretation Act passed’ last year, it is provided in section 5 -
Offences against any Act which -
As we have provided a punishment exceeding six months, it would not be competent to deal with the offence in a Court of summary jurisdiction ; and, therefore, a penalty of£500, with the alternative of five years’ imprisonment, would at once remove offences under this section, of every description, outside such jurisdiction. The proposed new clause means that a case which proves to be unimportant may be dealt with in a Court of summary jurisdiction and the Court, if satisfied of the trivial character of the offence, may impose a penalty not exceeding £50, with the alternative of imprisonment not exceeding six months. If, on the other hand, it appears, in the course of the evidence, that the offence is one that might warranta more severe punishment than that I have already mentioned, it will be competent for the Court of summary jurisdiction, instead of dealing with an accused, to commit him for trial.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Playford), agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until halfpast 3 p.m. to-morrow.
Debate resumed from 15th December, 1904(vide page 8587, vol. XXIV.). on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Having, already spoken for some time on this measure, it is not my intention to occupy honorable senators at much further length. I shall endeavour to make my remarks in a tone of fairness and in a Federal spirit - in a tone and spirit to which no objection can be raised by the supporters of the measure. I am, from conviction, after considerable thought on the matter, an earnest opponent of the Bill, which I believe is absolutely unconstitutional, and therefore improperly before us. The Bill, in my opinion, seeks to do what would be grossly unfair to every other State, and I find iti mv bounden. duty to oppose the proposed survey. All honorable senators will agree that it would be far better if we had the consent, by Act of Parliament, of the State of South Australia, as we have the consent of the State of Western Australia, before we proceed with such a measure. I am very glad that Senator Givens has an amendment dealing -with this important aspect of the matter. It will be remembered, Mr. President, that I brought the question before you on a point of order, but you ruled against me, on the ground that it is not the place of the President to construe the Constitution. I notice, however, that in a ruling which you, sir, gave a few days ago, you said there was an exception to that view of your duty, namely, when a ruling had to be given connected with the business of the House. As the Constitution lays down a very simple condition precedent to this matter being, dealt with by the Federal Parliament, I submit, with all respect, that it is the duty of the Minister leading the Chamber, and the duty, I think, of the President, to see that that condition is complied with. I do not take the view that, when I raised the point of order, I was asking you, Mr. President, to construe the Constitution, but that I was asking you to take notice of the fact that the simple and usual conditions precedent to giving us jurisdiction had not been complied with.
– What is the condition precedent?
– The consent of South Australia.
– Consent to what?
– To allow a railway to be constructed.
– This is not a Bill for the construction of a railway, but for a survey.
– I should have thought that the survey is part of the construction of a railway.
– A survey is indispensable to the construction of a railway.
– We cannot drive a peg in the South Australian territory without the consent of that State.
– -That is so. I was about to point out that South Australia had not agreed as to the route which it is desired the railway shall take, nor has South Australia agreed that a railway is wanted by the State. Through many public men and citizens, South Australia has said that such a railway would detract from the power and influence of Adelaide, and that, therefore, it is not wanted. This is not only a question of constitutional law, but a question of commonsense - a question of doing our business in a proper manner, by obtaining the consent of the State concerned before a shilling is spent on the railway.
– South Australia has consented to a survey being made.
– South Australia has not consented in any way of which we can take notice. When the present South Australian Government was -a few hours - or a few days - old, the Premier of that State sent a telegram to the Prime- Minister to the effect that the State Government consented to the passing of the present Bill, and Mr. Deakin replied in a very fulsome message that he was delighted to receive the assurance. Are we to be put off with such stuff as that? Do we not know that the moment we commence to survey a route through South Australian territory - the moment we send any men, horses, or camels there - we may be proceeded against for trespassing, in spite of the telegram of the State Premier and the extraordinary reply of Mr. Deakin ?
– Rubbish !
– The leader of the House is of opinion that what I say is rubbish.
– Of course it is.
– When Sir Frederick Holder was Premier of South Australia he regarded the consent of the State as absolutely necessary before this work could be proceeded with.
– South Australia has consented.
– The Governments of both Western Australia and South Australia acted on the assumption that their consent was necessary, and the present Prime Minister, in writing on the subject, spoke of the necessary consent, and urged the Premier of South Australia to see that it was given.
– That was the consent to the construction of the railway; we are now asking only for a survey, to which South Australia has agreed.
– The interjections of Senators Playford and Matheson show me that they would use any argument their ingenuity could suggest’ to force this unjustifiable measure through the Federal Parliament. Is it not an argument that I have a right to dwell on, that we ought to commence to do our business in a constitutional manner? Have I not a right to urge that, because the rich State of Western Australia was blocked by the poor State of South Australia bv the latter withholding consent, the idea was conceived of pitchforking the proposal into the Federal Parliament, and using all the influence possible to get it passed? I use those words advisedly, and I say distinctly that Sir John Forrest and Mr. Reid have both gone out of their way to get parliamentary representatives to vote for a measure which otherwise they would have voted against. Every device, every art, and every effort has been made to carry the Bill - to get parliamentary representatives to vote for it, notwithstanding what their own opinions or honest convictions may be. I believe that when the proposal was first made there “was an absolute majority of both Houses against it. But when men in high places, who have great influence both politically and privately, use their power in a certain direction, it is not surprising to find that in the end they get what they want, no -matter how unjustifiable that may be. I have said that I desire to make my remarks in a tone which cannot be objected1 to. I should like now to say what I think is the alternative policy - what is the fair Federal and constitutional policy. The two States which are directly and absolutely concerned more than any of the other States should agree between themselves, first of all, that they want a railway. That these two States have not yet done. The two States should then make a searching inquiry into the question of all others which lies at the root of the matter, namely, the question of water supply. This is a Bill to provide ,£20,000 for the survey of ‘a route of a railway line, and I undertake to say that it will cost fully £20,000 or more to ascertain whether there is sufficient water to supply the reasonable requirements of the men, horses, and camels which must be employed to carry tools, tents, and other supplies to the spot before a single mile of railway can be surveyed. After that full inquiry, the two States should be able to decide whether the project is feasible for them, or feasible for the Federal Government. Until we have all this information before us it is absolutely futile to talk about a Survey Bill. When the Bill gets into Committee, if ever it does reach that stage, I shall move an amendment to the effect that not one shilling be voted until the two States concerned are satisfied that the survey party, when on the ground, will be supplied with sufficient water to keep life in them. Having proved that a railway is feasible, what should be the next thing for the two States to do ? The two States concerned ought to construct their trunk lines themselves,. J?ut inasmuch as the Federation is indirectly concerned, they ought’ then to ask what we are prepared to do in the way of a liberal subsidy for the carriage of the mails. They ought to ask us in what way we are prepared to help them. This should be the course pursued in face of the fact that 8o> or 90 per cent, of the advantagesof such a railway would be enjoyed By the two States, as compared with the rest of the Commonwealth.. We could then make some fair, honest, and Federal proposal. The fact of the matter is that these two States are directly concerned in the construction of this line. It will go through South Australia for a distance of 625 miles,, and through Western Australia for a distance of 480 miles. The two States will benefit most enormously from having their territory opened up and rendered available for settlement and inspection as regards minerals, for I understand that some good land is to be found along a part of the route. The States will benefit from the increased settlement which must takeplace. It is idle to compare the direct advantages which they will get with any indirect advantages which can possibly accrueto the other States. To ask us to treat this proposal as if it were a Federal concern is an act of unfairness which I regret and’ deprecate. I find it most difficult to carry out my desire to deal with the questionfairly, because my friends from Western Australia, who are so deeply concerned’ in this matter, have been unjustly accusing every opponent of it with showing -an un-Federal spirit. I pass by thesuggestion of one honorable member in another place, that we were vile and contemptible because we opposed the project,, and fall back upon the oft-repeated statement of Sir John Forrest, with a sneer, that any man who voted against the proposal was showing an un-Federal spirit. I come to a passage in the speech of Senator Pearce, in which he regretted the fact that its opponents approached the discussion of the project with prejudice. Is it unnatural to suppose that the honorable senator cannot understand that the representatives of the two States concerned are those in whom the prejudice exists? It may be called conscious or unconscious prejudice, but it is idle to talk about men who are only indirectly concerned being prejudiced. The opponents of the proposal have a duty to perform to the general taxpayers. We have a right to ask our honorable friends to get rid of their prejudice, to drop this Bill, to search for water and prospect the land, and to submit a reasonable proposal to the Federal Government. Let them take upon their own shoulders the construction of these enormously long trunk lines, and do for’ themselves what every other State has done. All the world over the survey of a railway line is regarded as part of the construction.
– Many lines are sur.veyed that are never constructed. We have dozens of lines which have been surveyed, but have not been constructed.
– - My honorable friend will forgive me, I hope, for remarking, that he may have contracted hundreds of debts which he has never paid. I ask the honorable senator to remember, and I throw upon you, sir, the obligation to bear in mind that this proposal is unconstitutionally and improperly before the Senate. If the Parliament should be unwise enough to pass the measure, I feel perfectly certain that the High Court will prevent the money from being spent. Since I had the pleasure of speaking on this Bill last session, I have looked up the debates in the Federal Convention on the little provision which authorizes this Parliament to legislate with respect to -
Railway construction and extension in any. §tate with the consent of that State.
I desire to briefly call the attention of honorable senators to what was in the minds of the framers of the Constitution when that provision was agreed to. Mr. Wise was the first to express an opinion. He said on the 25th January, 1898 -
In the last division I felt the impracticability of giving Federal control and the power to construct any railway.
Then Mr. Barton, the leader of the Convention, who was asked what the meaning of a small amendment was, said -
It means this : That if the Federation wishes to construct a railway iri any State, it can do so only with the consent of the State in which the railway is to be made. Having obtained that consent they can carry it out.
That is exceedingly plain.
– No one doubts that.
– My honorable friend does, and he is trying to get round the provision in a very improper manner. The Commonwealth cannot construct this line without the consent of South Australia. The Constitution is being absolutely strained, and under the Bill the Government are trying to construct for a State a trunk line which was never in the mind of the framers of the Constitution. Mr. Reid expressed himself in these terms -
I wish to have an opportunity of saying that I have a very strong objection to the whole of this sub-section, unless it is restricted to railways for defence purposes. Any confusion in connexion with the powers of the Federal Government, and any exceptional powers, would be likely to create great mischief in the future. In this Constitution we have left the control of the railway systems of the States to the States, and this power to construct railways on the part of the Federal Parliament is an entirely new departure from the structure of the Bill, and a most extraordinary one. We have just said that the railway systems of the States shall be kept absolutely free from interference by the Commonwealth, and for good reasons. All these reasons lead me to inquire why, in the next breath, we should give the Federal Parliament, even with the consent of a particular State, the power of undertaking the task of railway extension and construction. For defence and military purposes that is perfectly justifiable. For any other purpose it is absolutely unjustifiable. If we study the history of America, where such powers are so persistently abused, we can see that it might even become a question in the Federal Parliament that would exercise a malign influence upon the public life of the Commonwealth. For instance, take my friend, Sir John Forrest. No more upright public man exists in the world than Sir John Forrest ; but if a Federal Government should tempt him with a transcontinental railway to Perth I should tremble for the public virtue.
I am afraid that the public virtue has disappeared long ago, and that this project is the cause of its disappearance -
I am putting the strongest case, and we all’ admit it. I would have no trouble with my friend Mr. Gordon ; but I do put it to the Committee that we should clearly understand what sort of railways this power is intended to refer to, and what sort of railway construction. It should be no other sort than that connected with the military necessities of the Commonwealth.
Fancy this remark coming from a gentleman who has been supporting this project.
I admit at once. that that is an excellent power to give, but for any other purposes it is a dangerous power to give. It often occurs in Federal Constitutions “that words intended for one purpose are persistently used for every other purpose but that. I would like the leader of the Convention to just consider this point. Would it not be well to limit this power of railway construction in the Commonwealth, so long as our basis is at present, to railways connected with the military defences of the Commonwealth?
Dr. Cockburn made these observations
I am entirely against the amendment at present under consideration, that the construction of any railway should take place without the consent of the States concerned.
We are asked to take the first step in the construction of this railway without having obtained the necessary consent of South Australia. Mr. N. J. Brown, who for many years was Minister of Railways in Tasmania, urged that this power should only be used for Federal purposes, and he proposed to move an amendment. He said that if-
The words “ for Federal purposes “ were adopted they would include not only railways designed for purposes of defence, but also railways required for the carrying of mails and similar purposes.
Sir Edmund Barton seemed to think thai the great objection was the one which was raised in the Convention of 1891, viz., that if we had these long lines of railway constructed by the Federal Government after we had agreed most absolutely to leave the States their railway systems, we would have dual control, and no end of trouble and bother. Sir John Forrest said -
I can only say that we have already built our railways up to within ‘400 miles of our boundary, and we shall be quite able to build other lines for ourselves when we can agree with our friends to join us on the border.
There is a distinct suggestion by Sir John Forrest that the people of Western Australia were perfectly able to build their own lines. The words I have just read cover the proposal we are considering. He admits that they would build a line for themselves when they could get South Australia to join with them, and because they cannot get that consent they ask the Federal Government to undertake the work. He goes on to say -
As far as we are concerned, we should like to see a great trunk line running across the Continent from east to west, and another from north to south, and we look forward to seeing this accomplished.
Not one word did he say about the line before the Senate -
Western Australia does not ask for any concessions.
Yet Western Australia is asking the Commonwealth to build 480 miles of railway to her border.
We ask for nothing which is not reasonable. We are not here to ask for concessions, but simply for the treatment to which we are entitled. I do not think it should be forgotten that, although we are probably not so important as some of the other Colonies represented here, we are the owners of one-third of this Continent, and no Federation will be complete unless it embraces that great Western third.
He wound up with this remark -
If it does not remain, some other words will certainly have to be introduced, because it will be foolish to give the Commonwealth power to take over railways or parts of railway systems, and not give them power to construct and extend those railways in such manner as may be necessary.
Sir John Forrest, after saying that he wanted no concessions for Western Australia, pointed out that some amendment would.be necessary, because as the Federal Parliament was being vested with power to take over railways it was necessary to take power to .extend and construct railways after that event had taken place. There is not one word here to show that the idea ever entered his mind that this particular railway would be undertaken by the Federal Parliament. Yet, again and again he has foreshadowed that there was an implied, if not a direct agreement that it would be done. Sir William McMillan asked that the words should not be cut down,i that the Federal Parliament should have absolute power to build what railways it liked. He spoke of a trans-continental railway, and he wound up with these words -
But we all think that the. time is not ripe for that yet, and that it would over-burden Our Federal Constitution at present.
An exhaustive inspection as to water and other matters should take place, and in time to come a scheme may be presented. Mr. Solomon who, I believe, came from South Australia, wished’ to confine the application of the clause to railways which had been taken over by the Commonwealth, and he moved this amendment -
That after the words “in any State” the words “ if the whole of the railways have been taken over by the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
I cannot ascertain from the debates that it ever entered the head of any man that within a generation the Commonwealth would begin to construct a trunk line over two States vhen the other States had all constructed their trunk lines.
– What became of Mr. Solomon’s amendment?
– It was defeated. Mr. Kingston, who also came from South Australia, said -
I know of no public works more likely to engage the attention of Parliament, provincial or otherwise, than the construction of railways; and if we are to confer on. the Federal Parliament, with the consent of a State, the power to construct railways in that State, a railway may be constructed to the injury of another State - possibly a. competitor with an” existing line - and if we empower the Commonwealth to bring into existence rival railway lines, we shall increase the probability of friction and provincial jealousies by inviting the Federal Parliament to enter a sphere of jurisdiction which it is in no way called on to enter.
Dr. Quick spoke of a time when we might need to have trunk railways, and then Mr. Reid interjected, “ In other words, Colonies which have trunk lines will pay for the Colonies which have not “ ? Is there anyway of getting round or explaining away those simple words? In Tasmania we are paying an annual loss of £80,000 a year on our 430 miles of railways, whereas in Western Australia the railways, after returning the working expenses and interest, yield a profit of -27 per cent. Yet the people of that State ask us to build their trunk line, to open up their territory,, and to enrich them at the expense of those who have no interest in the project. I now desire to point out that in the Federal Convention of 1891 the great objection to this clause was the system of dual control which it would involve. If this Bill is ever passed, and the railway is ever built, we shall have in existence the very thing which I believe 90 per cent, of those who framed our Constitution dreaded and tried to avoid. Here we shall “have a Federal Government starting off on its own railway ventures, not for the purpose of building a line which will benefit the whole Federation, nor for “defence purposes; but building’ 1,100 miles of railway, and creating an enormous Federal Railway Department on the top of all our other expenditure.
– Does the honorable and learned senator deny that the railway is wanted for defence purposes?
– I think that Major”General Hutton did what perhaps would have been “done by any bigwig who was asked by his Minister to furnish a report on the subject. His report bears upon the face of it evidence of having been written a little bit to order, when he said that this railway “ might “ be required for defence purposes, but at the present time we had not an army to transport over it if it were built. Does not Senator Matheson see that not once in a century shall we require to transport our troops from this side of the Common wealth to Western Australia?’ My honorable friend is a great believer, as I am, in the Naval Forces. I venture to think that, so long as the British Navy is victorious at sea, we shall never require this line for defence purposes; and if the British Navy is not likely to be victorious, and to: retain khe command of the se’a, we had certainly better not incur expenditure of this kind. There is nothing from the defence point of view which could possibly justify the expenditure of the seven or eight millions of money which this line must inevitably cost. The Federal Government is being blamed, and to some extent rightly so, for the increase of the “other,” or new expenditure. That expenditure will be shown to have increased when Sir John Forrest brings forward his Budget next week. If we have to go to the English people for three or four million pounds to build a capital in the bush, which no one will require for a generation or two, or to build miles of railway, all I can say is that our credit at home will be seriously damaged. The people at home scrutinize our doings most carefully.
– Where is “home “ ?
– “Home “ is Great Britain; that. is what I mean by “home.-‘ It is my home when I am not in Australia. I think that the people of England who have lent us money - we cannot get on without them; we have already ^230,000,000 of public debt - will” naturally conclude that “it is extravagant on the part of this young Commonwealth to launch out into such enormous expenditure. Some time ago my honorable friend, Senator Mathe=son, was airing his eloquence in London on this very topic. He told the good folks who were listening to him that the people of Western Australia were very much aggrieved on account of the action of certain members of this Parliament, and of Senator Dobson in particular. I believe that he gave the unfortunate senator from Tasmania a good dressing down. If I could have bad fifteen minutes to reply to the honorable senator’s criticisms I believe I should have done more to settle this Bill than I can do by talking for a long time in this Senate I could have shown the people in London, who are our bankers, that we really cannot afford this railway ; that, though in time to come the Capital and the Transcontinental Railway may be required, they are not necessary now. I. could have shown those unprejudiced men in a very few minutes that this is as grossly unfair a proposal as could possibly be made to this Parliament. I should like to know what our expenditure will be when we have established a Federal Railway Department, and have a general manager, an engineer of lines, construction engineers, and all the rest of the paraphernalia. If the line is built, what is its gauge to be? In the State of South Australia they have 225 miles of railway, with which the transcontinental line will connect, part’ of which is 5 ft. 3 in., and part 3 ft. 6in. Who is going to incur the expenditure involved in an alteration of one of those gauges? I understand that the Parliament of Western Australia says that it is ready to make the gauge on its State lines conform to the gauge of the transcontinental line. I should think they would, if they could get the Federal Government to build the line for them.
– Is not the honorable and learned senator aware that Western Australia has passed a Bill authorizing expenditure for that purpose?
– After all is said and done, there is a gleam of conscience, a spark of national righteousness, in our Western Australian friends. ‘ When they found that the railway scheme was not to pass without a little honest and justifiable criticism, they at once said, “ We will give you twenty-five miles of territory on each side of the line, to be vested in the Federal Government as a guarantee against loss.” When they found that this was not enough they said, “ We will give you a guarantee for ten years against any loss that the railway may create.” Why should the Western Australian people step out’ of their way to give us so’ many millions of acres of land and such a guarantee if this is really a Federal matter? They covered up their conscience in asking the Federation to build this line for them, but under the influence of honest criticism they have revealed their conscience again, and have asked us to take this territory and a guarantee against loss. I desire to see the railway constructed some day, but I wish to see k built on fair terms, and if the two States immediately interested will make a proposal based upon community of advantage, and which does not ask people who get little or no advantage to bear the whole of the cost, we may be willing to consider the matter.
– When did the Western Australian Government offer twenty-five miles of land on each side of the line?
– They never offered it.
– I understood that the debate on the subject in the House of Representatives showed that the leaders in Western Australia were prepared to vest land on each side of the line in the Federal Government, and to give a guarantee. I was immensely amused by Sir John Forrest, or Mr. Reid, or some one else, saying in the other House, “ When the Bill is passed, of course, we may rely on our friends in Western Australia doing the fair thing.” I never read such rubbish as ari argument in favour of a proposal of this sort, in my life. The only way to impart to this proposal even the appearance of fairness, is for a definite guarantee to be given ; and we should abstain from taking any steps in regard to it until some scheme of that sort is laid before us. I find from the- reports with regard to the line, that it will traverse, what is described as some “exceedingly good grass land.” I understand that some efforts have been made to settle squatters upon it. But such attempts have all ended in absolute failure.
– They have driven sheep across from South Australia to Kalgoorlie.
– I have seen it stated* that some flocks of sheep have been driven across. But Sir John Forrest records that he travelled 400 miles, and found no signof water whatever. I should like to know from the man who drove the sheep across, how he managed to do it. We should’ probably find, if inquiries were made, that while he was there it happened to rain inthe place where usually there is not more than six inches of rain per annum. Let me read some of the headings of Sir John Forrest’s account of his expedition. He relatesthat he “ found the country destitute of water “ ; he found “ neither feed nor water, and no chance of a permanent supply “ ; “ absence of permanent water is a great drawback “ ; “ water could not be procured by sinking, except at great depths, as the land is 300 feet above the sea “ ; “I have not seen a gully or water-course of any description for 400 miles “ ; “ there ‘are no» emus, which are a certain sign of water “ ; “ there does not seem to be a drop of water.” That term, “not a drop of water,” seems to have stuck in Sir John Forrest’s mind. When I was dealing with this matter last session, Senator de Largie interjected with the question, “ Has the honorable senator read Mr. Castella’s report “ ? I thought, when he mentioned it, that it was a document which had escaped my notice.
– How far from the sea coast did Sir John Forrest travel? He skirted the coast, but the route of this line is sixty miles inland.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that, in the interior, there is a heavier rainfall than there is on the coast?
– There is more water in this particular instance.
– In reading Senator Pearce’s remarks on the subject, I am glad to notice that my honorable friend said that he admitted that it was the duty of the Western Australian Government to solve this water problem. Let the Western Australian Government solve that problem before they ask us to build the line. He also quoted from this wonderful report of Mr. Castella’s. I have since read it. The Western Australian Government sent out an expedition at a cost of £1 100, which made two bores in two parts of the country. The land was reported to be very destitute.
– Where does the honorable and learned senator get those words from? Mr. Castella’s report says that it is splendid pastoral country.
– I think that Mr. Castella put down bores in the most difficult part of the country for finding water. He says that one bore was put down 430 feet, and they found water good enough for stock and “ even fit for human consumption.” It seems to have knocked him almost S iii to find that there was water “even fit for human consumption,” bearing in mind Sir John Forrest’s evidence, that he did not believe that it would be possible to find permanent water. Mr. Castella next put down a bore 2,101 feet. It took twelve months to do it, and he found water which was fit for stock only. This is the wonderful evidence which Senator de Largie asked me to read ! It corroborates all the other evidence, which describes this country as waterless. Any body who describes it as not being a waterless country must be fit for Yarra Bend that is all I can say about him. May I remind Senator Pearce that to put down a bore to a depth of 2,000 feet, and to find no water fit for human consumption is not solving the water problem, which the honorable senator admits is an obligation that devolves on Western Australia? I say that it is the duty of the State to send out another expedition to try to find water, and to prove to us in a reasonable way that there is water enough to keep the survey party supplied.
– Would the honorable and learned senator vote for the Survey Bill then?
– No, I would not vote for the railway at all, unless my honorable friend could submit a proposal to make the Federal Government and the States concerned, pay for the whole undertaking, including construction and maintenance, in something like a proportion to the advantages received. Is not that Federal ? If I ask, as I do, for an undertaking which will put upon the Federal Government the obligation to pay for any indirect advantages to me, whilst my State and other States concerned pay for the immediate advantages which they get, is not that Federal ? Of course it is, and anything that is opposed to that is un-Federal. The reason why Western Australia is charged with this obligation is that the five engineers’ representing the whole of the Railway Departments of the States, except Tasmania, said in their first report that they had not sufficient evidence with regard to water supply, and wanted more bores to be put down, as the whole thing depended upon water. Then this other report was issued. Sir John Forrest, in his anxiety, got the matter pushed forward, and asked the engineers for a second report, and they all regretted that the information about the water supply had notbeen supplied, and that the test bores and! wells had not been made. They are still without information on this important question, which lies at the very foundation of the whole matter. Therefore I have a right to point out that this Bill is prematurely before us, and that we are not really able to deal with the matter. When these five engineers tell me that ‘they want more evidence I have no business to be satisfied, without, at least, such evidence as would be sufficient to satisfy them.
– :Is the honorable and learned senator aware that they gave an estimate presuming that they would have to carry water along the line? He does not even accept that evidence.
– I can understand that the engineers made the best -report they could from the evidence available ; but no one can make any reliable estimate until further evidence is obtained with regard to the water supply. This Bill, on the face of it, “is a farce. I must not call- it a fraud, but I must say that it does not deal fairly with the matter, or with the Senate. From the evidence before us, it is perfectly certain that the great bulk of the £20,000 will have to be spent in ascertaining that there is water sufficient to keep the men, horses, and camels alive before a survey party can be sent out. Will any honorable senator from Western Australia contradict that ?
– Yes; the engineers say that there is sufficient water.
– All along the line?
– I utterly disagree with the honorable senator; but that is not the point. What I say is that the greater part of the ^£20,000 will have to be spent in ascertaining that there is sufficient water to keep the survey party and their animals alive.
– The engineers say that there is sufficient water for the purpose.
– When did the engineers say that?
– They have so reported to the Government.
– I have read the report of the engineers, and I saw no statement of that kind. How can we send an expedition into this waterless country - for there is no water on the surface - unless we prospect first? Instead of £20,000 being spent from the start on the men using the surveying instruments, the whole amount will go in the search for water.
– The Government are acting on the estimates’ of the Engineers in Chief of Western Australia and South Australia, and surely these gentlemen ought to know the country and their business.
– The engineers whom I am quoting presuppose, in their report, that there will not be sufficient water found in the whole of the district, and they foreshadow, as plainly as men can, that water will have to be carried from the terminus of the Western Australian line at a cost of £1,500 per mile, according to the estimate of one engineer, and £1,200 per mile according to another estimate. On behalf of my State, I have a right to inquire whether I am being asked to vote for the survey of a railway in country where water can be found, or whether there will have to be added to the estimated cost of the line some £1,200 or £1,500 per mile for water?
– The engineers gave that as the estimate of the amount which will be necessary for waterworks, in connexion with the line.
– Can the honorable senator tell me what was the estimated cost of the line, with this £1,200 per mile added ?
– Under £[5, 000,000.
– I think the estimate was under £5,006,000, without the cost of the water.
– No; the estimated cost is only a little over ^4,000,000, without the cost of carrying the water.
– I shall look forward with some pleasure to the answer which the Minister will give to the question I asked to-day. It appears to me that Sir John Forrest has done a verywrong thing. We may read in the Argus of the 7 th of this month some remarks byMr. John Gwynneth, ‘ who happens to have been secretary or clerk to the five engineers, on whose report we are asked to place some credence. Two years after the report of the engineers is made, Sir John Forrest gets hold of this secretary or clerk, and from him obtains an opinion, which is published broadcast, that if the ballast and sleepers be reduced, and the Western Australian Government carry the sleepers at a cheap rate, the cost of the line will be £3.700,000.
– Where is the impropriety ?
– I think it is hardly decent, simply because the report of the experts does not happen to suit, to get a private report from the experts’ clerk, behind their backs, and publish it to the world. I ask the Minister whether he approves of such a course?
– Mr. Gwynneth made a report previously.
– I .should not attach any value to a report from Mr. Gwynneth.
– I have asked the Minister to supply us with the details <if Mr. Gwynneth’s estimates; and I hope the particulars will be supplied with the same classification of figures as was used by the live engineers, because we shall then be able to establish a comparison, and see whether the clerk’s report is worth the paper it is written on.
– We want a survey to prove which is right.
– If Mr. Gwynneth says that the line can be constructed for ^3,700,000 he has some data, and I want to know the data.
– Mr. Gwynneth has apparently been employed by the Government of Western Australia to report to the Premier of that State, so that he has some official status.
– What sort of an official status had Mr. Gwynneth when he left the Queensland service?
– There is only one point more to which I desire to allude. We were assured by Senator Symon, when he introduced this Bill last session, that any honorable senator who voted for it would not be in any way bound to vote for the construction of the railway. That, of course, goes without saying ; but I am perfectly certain that if this Bill becomes law, and if, after the survey, it can be shown that the railway may be constructed for anything near ^5,000,0100, we shall be told that, having voted for the survey, we ought to vote for the Bill. I have here Sir John Forrest’s opinion on that point, expressed when he was. speaking on the Bill in 1903, as reported in Hansard for 1903, page 6365-
I do not consider that we should incur expenditure merely for the sake of making people believe that we are going to do something in this direction unless we really intend to do so. . I am not in favour of making surveys for any proposed railway unless the project is entered upon in a bond fide way, and unless those who are prepared to support the necessary expenditure are ready to follow up their action in this respect by supporting the construction of the line.
Sir John Forrest is in every conceivable way trying to push this Bill through. While it may be evident that those who vote for the Bill are not bound to vote for the construction of the railway, Sir John Forrest in those few remarks has a sentence or two which a few years hence he may hurl ar our heads.
– Sir John Forres” has used similar words quite recently.
– And so have honorable senators.
– Who ?
– The- honorable senator himself, and Senator de Largie.
– When previously speaking on this matter I dealt with a. phase of it which was then said ‘to havenothing to ‘do with the proposal. But only one reason could possibly justify trunk linesbeing undertaken at any time by the Fede- ral Government, and that would be the divi - sion of the Customs revenue p-er capita, doing away with the bookkeeping system - one purse and a Federation in every senseof the word. But the Premier of Wes:ern* Australia, when he attended the Conference at Hobart a few months ago, said mostdistinctly that Western Australia would not: consent to a division of the Customs revenue per capita, but that he would not object to the other States adopting that course,, provided an exception was made, and Western Australia allowed to keep its enormousCustoms revenue. According to Sir JohnForrest, the Western Australian people,’, who, from beginning to end, have been soanxious to keep their large Customs revenue, are quite able to construct this railway for themselves, provided they get theneighbouring State to agree to their proposals. If the people of Western Australiashow a provincial spirit, and will not sharetheir Customs revenue, because it is greater than that of the other States, let them build! a railway for themselves, and not ask thepoorer States to contribute.
– - I may be allowed to compliment Senator Dobson on a speech which* is at least remarkable, beginning as it did’ in December, 1904, and being brought lo a happy conclusion in August, 1905. Bur, having said that, I feel I cannot felicitateSenator Dobson any further on his remarks. In the course of his speech, which he has taken nine months to deliver, hardly a valid reason has been mentioned why this railway should not be constructed. Thehonorable and learned senator commenced.’ with some legal quibbles as to whether or not there should be a survey - as to whetherSouth Australia had given a legal consent or only a consent. Then the honorable and’ learned senator concluded with a statement that there is no water in the territory, and ‘ : clinched his argument on that point by reading a report which showed thereis not only water, but drinkable water, tobe obtained along the route. The object of” this Bill is simply to make an investigation,.. on the results of which it may be decided whether this line is advisable or inadvisable from a Federal point of view - whether its -construction is justifiable as a Commonwealth undertaking. Senator Dobson himself has said that those who vote for this Bill will be in no way bound, either individually or collectively, to vote for the carrying out of the construction work. Honorable senators will recollect that Western Australia was the last State to come into the Federal union, and in that State was waged one of the biggest fights between federalists and non-federalists. It was felt that Western Australia had nothing material to gain from Federation for some years to come, with the exception of an InterState railway.
– Are defence works no material gain?
– “Those defence works are paid for by Western Australia, and are not claimed as “ new expenditure.”
– The Commonwealth is constructing defence works in Western Australia now.
– The -other States had an incentive to federate beyond mere sentiment. They were all exporting States, and the union meant an enlargement of their immediate markets. Western Australia had no such advantage to gain, because, as yet, the productions of that State have not overtaken the local consumption. The only material advantage that Western Australia could see in Federation was that contained in the promises made by all leaders of the Federal ‘movement that “this railway would, be constructed.
– Will the honorable senator mention the names?
– The promise of this railway won the day for “Federation in Western Australia. Senator ‘Millen has asked me to give instances in which Federal leaders stated that this line would be built if Federation were con.summated
– I did not ask for instances ; the honorable senator said that all “the leaders of the Federal movement had :made the promise, and I asked him to mention their names.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.”Senator Symon, in a letter published in the Westralian of 9th July, 1900, said -
Federation must inevitably give to Western Australia, at a very early date, the transcontinental railway, upon which your and our hearts are set. That will be one outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the Federation. In my belief, the acceptance j)i the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of the work.
That letter was published just before the referendum was taken, when the great question was whether the State should join Federation.
– It turned thousands of votes.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Senator Symon was recognised as a great Federalist, and the letter had tremendous weight.
– For whom could Senator Symon speak at that time but himself?
– He spoke as a great Federal leader.
– Senator Symon was not even in Parliament at that time.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Then Mr. Deakin, the present Prime Minister, about the same time said -
Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation.
– When and where did Mr. Deakin say that?
– I have not the particulars, but I shall get them for the honorable senator.
The question was one of national policy, and, personally, he advocated the construction of that railway at the earliest possible moment. For years that railway would not pay, but he believed the State of Western Australia would be connected by rail with the other States just as the State of British Columbia had been connected with the other States of Canada.
I need not quote the statements of other Federal leaders, because they have alreadyappeared in Hansard.
– Where is -there a prominent New South Wales Federal leader who told the New South Wales people that there- was an understanding to the effect indicated about this proposed railway ?
- Mr. Reid has stated that he has been in favour of this line from the start.
– That does not imply a compact.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The Right Honorable C. C. Kingston and Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Holder wrote strongly in favour of the construction of this line. The point I wish to make is that as all these principal Federal leaders had stated that the railway would be the natural corollary of Federation, and as it was impossible to obtain any stronger guarantee, seeing there was no mandatory provision in. the Constitution, we naturally and logically concluded that its construction would be one of the results of Federation.
– The honorable senator has spoken of only three of the Federal leaders.
– I have spoken of five.
– Three leaders in South Australia, one leader in Victoria, and Mr. G. H. Reid, who never expressed an opinion publicly.
-SMITH. - I do not wish to enter into an altercation. It may be urged by Federal members that the statements and the “promises made by Federal leaders before Federation are not binding upon them. They may urge that they are pledged to their constituents and to no one else. There may be a good deal of truth in that claim, and they may consider that there is no moral obligation upon the Commonwealth to even survey the route of this line as a matter of investigation. But I fail to see how they can escape from some moral responsibility when the recognised leaders of Federation held out the construction of this line as one of the advantages which it would confer upon Western Australia.
– Does not the honorable senn tor think it is an exaggeration to speak of the leaders doing this when he can only mention two or three who did it?
– If honorable senators do not consider those promises binding upon them, then I contend that they should not object to the investigation of a national project which is bound to eventuate sooner or later. This is not a case of throwing away money. The passing of the Bill will not bind honorable senators either collectively or individually to the construction of the line.
– The honorable senator does not agree with Sir John Forrest, who said that if members vote for this Bill, it will bind them to the construction of the railway.
– In voting for the Bill honorable senators will not commit themselves to vote for the construction of the railway. It would be unfair to ask them to vote for an investigation of the route and before it is made to pledge themselves in favour of the construction of the line. If, in spite of the belief which was entertained in Western Australia, they refuse to undertake an investigation, they will stultify the leaders in that State who fought for Federation, and by whose act a union was consummated which has been beneficial to the Eastern States, as the imports therefrom to Western Australia testify.
– The condition which they laid down in the Constitution was that they should be free to levy Customs duties on the imports from other States.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The special duties, being of an ephemeral nature, have practically ceased to exist. I have always regretted that they were ever imposed; but that provision was inserted in the Constitution at the request of a delegation which was not elected by the people of Western Australia, but which was selected from a Parliament not representative of the people. However, these duties will have ceased to exist by the time this investigation is finished. Honorable senators, I think, ought not to make that a strong reason for voting against the Bill. If they will not even authorize an investigation, their action will create a feeling of bitterness in Western Australia. Those who desire to see federation a success, as I believe we all do, will regret that such a condition has been brought about. Another House has by a very large majority passed this Bill, and thereby expressed a desire that an investigation of the route should be made. Surely that fact ought to influence honorable senators to some extent !
– The honorable senator would scout that argument at another time.
– If the popular House desires that this project should be investigated, surely the States’ House should not withhold its consent. The true spirit of Federation necessitates sacrifices on the part of individual States in order to obtain something that is for the benefit of the Continent. Continually such cases are submitted to us. Senator Dobson said he was aware of no case in which a State had tried to get an advantage at the expense of the others. If on these great matters we do not think “ continentally,” as some one has said, the result will be that, the various States1 will vote for legislation which would primarily benefit themselves. If we. arrive at a stage of provincialism that will necessitate honorable senators voting in such a manner, it will be a sorry day for Australia. It will be a reproach if, when a question is submitted* honorable senators are to ask, “ Is this going to benefit my State ?” instead of asking, “ Will this be in the. larger interest of the Commonwealth ? “ Since Federation Western Australia has made sacrifices by voting for legislation which, I believe, has been beneficial to Australia, but which certainly has been only indirectly beneficial to that State. Take, for instance, the question pf the sugar bounty. It amounted to £60,826 in 1902-3, £90,806 in 1903-4, £121,406 in 1904-5, and the estimate for 1905-6 is £150,000, of which Western Australia bears her per capita share.
– That is largely because of the White Australia policy, remember.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes, and I think we had a great object in view when we passed the Immigration Restriction Bill, and when we said we would encourage the growth of sugar during the transition stage. The annual subsidy to Burns, Philp and Company amounts to £8,400, and the annual contribution towards the administration of British New Guinea is £20,000. From all these expenditures Western Australia can only benefit in an indirect manner. It is probable that the expenditure on the Vancouver mail service will be classed as other, or new expenditure. This amounts to £26,626. The naval subsidy amounts to £200,000 a year, and we are told that the navy itself expends in Australia about £300,000 a year. Although we contribute a certain amount towards the Auxiliary Squadron, yet Considerably more is spent in the Commonwealth bv the Squadron. The payment of the naval subsidy, which is borne equally by the people of Australia, simply results in a large advantage being given to Sydney and Hobart. In King George’s Sound, Western Australia, we have a harbor which, for naval ships and as a strategic base, is equal to any harbor in the Commonwealth. Although Albany is one of the three strategic bases in Australia., still a vessel of the squadron has never been seen in that port. I hold that a squadron which is subsidized to protect Australia should, at any rate, visit annually the various ports where it can get proper anchorage and ‘ protection. Roughly .speaking, £800 or £900 a week is spent by the squadron in two ports of the Commonwealth. There is no reason why it should not annually visit the port of Albany, and benefit it to a very considerable extent. It would enable the naval authorities to understand the conditions of that important strategic base.
– Does the honorable senator think that these remarks have anything to do with the question of the railway ?
– I am pointing out the expenditure on the squadron.
-The honorable senator is quite right in pointing out the expenditure on the squadron, but I do not know that his other remarks are relevant to the question of the railway
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.While we have a port which entitles us to a considerable share of the expenditure that is disbursed by the squadron, we have never had any of it. That is my point. Now I come to another question: It is proposed by a Bill before another place to grant iron bonuses. That will involve an expenditure of a quarter of a million. I do not suppose that there is any likelihood of Western Australia gaining amy direct benefit from that large expenditure, though she will have to contribute equally with the other States, if the Bill is enacted. If a protective duty follows as a corollary, the result to Western Australia will be a greater expenditure by our metal trades in the purchase of their raw material. I see from this morning’s newspapers that it is proposed, and that the Government have under consideration, to grant bounties on agricultural exports. As Western Australia has not reached the stage of an exporting country, except in the matter of gold, bounties on agricultural exports would not benefit her, at any rate for a considerable time to come.
– She has great agricultural possibilities, has she not?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes ; but I am speaking of present conditions. Western Australian bears her proportion of the cost of the services that I have enumerated as being already in existence, and will bear her per capita share of the cost of other schemes that I have mentioned. I say at once that I know of no actual benefit received by
Western Australia as a result of Federation. Honorable senators who speak subsequently may be able to point out some benefits that she receives, but at the present moment I know of none. When We ask for an investigation with regard to a great public national matter, which is of great importance to Western Australia and to the whole Commonwealth, we are practically told by Senator Dobson and others that we are thieves and pickpockets.
– I do not think that he even used language that would justify that remark.
– I hope he did not, but he certainly used language which indicated, to my mind, that he thought that we were adopting most improper tactics, in order to foist upon the Commonwealth something distinctly Western Australian. I am proud to think that Western Australian representatives have voted for the various services involving Commonwealth revenue, knowing that their State would receive no advantage. I may add that I do not mention these matters in any possible sense of log-rolling. Neither I nor any of my colleagues has ever discussed with other members of Parliament questions involving expenditure by saying, “ We will vote for this if you will vote for something of benefit to us.” These subjects have been discussed by Western Australian representatives purely on their merits, and in voting for them we have been actuated by a Federal spirit. Senator Dobson seemed to labour the point as to whether Western Australia should bear more than her per capita share qf the cost of the construction of this line. We are not now considering the cost of construction. This Bill is one involving an investigation of the probable cost of the undertaking. But when, we have data as to the cost, when we have full information as to the route, and everything that is necessary to create such a service - 4.. Western Australia will be prepared, L believe,’ to bear more than her per capita hare of either construction or maintenance. Indeed, we have it on the authority of the ex-Premier of Western Australia hat such would be the case. Writing to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in May, 1904, he stated -
On condition that Commonwealth is allowed a free hand as to route and gauge of railway, this State will be prepared, for. ten years after line constructed, to bear a share of any loss in excess nf our contribution on a population basis.
– Was that offer accepted ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Considering that there has been no decision as to the construction of the line, I do not see how it could be accepted.
– Has South Australia accepted the conditions as to route and gauge ?
– She has not said that she opposed them.
It would be premature to fix exact proportion we are prepared to pay at this stage, but I am confident it will be liberal and satisfy Federal Parliament of our sincerity and our belief that the work will soon be a directly paying one.
I think honorable senators will see that it is clear that Western Australia is prepared to pay more than her per capita share of the cost, but until we get the necessary data on which to base our conclusions it is impossible for her to say what proportion she is prepared to pay. She does not know what financial sacrifices it will involve.
– Now. the honorable senator is edging in the direction of fairness.
– My honorable and learned friend could never be accused of even edging in the direction of fairness.
– We do not want sincerity ; we want business.
– My honorable and learned friend has so many estimable qualities that I never wish to say anything against him; but if he would take off the winkers of prejudice, and put on the bridle of reason, he would see that this was a great Commonwealth work, that was in the interests of (Australia as a. whole. But he is so afflicted with prejudice that he is unable to see more than that this will cost Tasmania so much - probably ^1,000 for a couple of years - and that she will receive no direct benefit from it. When he gets o.ut of the Stygian darkness which envelops him, he will be able to assist us in promoting this great enterprise. Honorable senators must agree that such a great national work as this cannot be constructed by a State having a population of a quarter of a million. If the railway is to be built, it must receive the assistance of the Commonwealth. What that assistance shall be, is a matter to be considered when we know the probable cost. Whether -we give a subsidy, or agree to bear a certain proportion of the cost of the construction of the line, cannot be discussed now. But I say, without fear of contradiction, that there is no example in the history of the world of one State constructing a line across a Continent from its own resources.
– No one State is asked to do so.
– This line is not across the Continent, either.
– It completes railway communication across the Continent. It is a national matter, and can only be considered from a national stand-point. The great Canadian railways were not built without assistance from the Federation. Mr. Goldwin Smith speaks as follows:^ -
The first was the intercolonial, spanning the vast and irreclaimable wilderness which separates Halifax from Quebec, at a cost to the Federal Government of ^8,000,000.
– How long was that after the Canadian Federation?
– I do not. think that that affects the question. The point is that the population of Canada then was not greater than the population of Australia is now. The CanadianPacific line was built at a cost to the Dominion Government of £20,000,000 sterling.
– That was only a subsidy ; the Canadian Government did not build a yard of it.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No; it was a privately-owned company. But the Dominion Government recognised that the railway was a national work, and paid £20,000,000 towards its construction.
– I think the sum was in dollars, not pounds.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The honorable senator will find that I am right; but even if the amount were $28,000,000, it is more than the whole cost of the construction of the line now under discussion. Then we will turn to the United States. “ If honorable senators will look up the Acts of Congress of the 1st July, 1862, the 3rd March, 1874, and other amending Acts, they will find that the money subsidies amounted to $64,000,000 for the great line across the United States; and that land subsidies were granted amounting, to 220,000,000 acres. Further than that, heavy bond subsidies were given. That was a privately-owned railway, but the United States Government recognised it to be a national matter. They recognised that if theirs was to be a true Federation, it was necessary to have that line, even at the cost of the people as a whole. The reasons which actuated the United States and Canada are exactly the same reasons as actuate us in advocating this line. Those reasons were - first, the isolation of the Western, or Californian, and British Columbian States from the Eastern States; secondly, the necessity of having a railway across the Continent in order to complete their national defences ; and, thirdly, that for mail purposes the line was highly advisable. Every reason that we can adduce for this line seems to have been used as a reason for the construction of the great railway across the United States and Canada.
– The difference was that America had so much revenue that she found a difficulty in spending it; whereas we have a difficulty in finding the revenue.
– No nation desires to throw money away, and if the United States Government paid away this large sum of money, surely we are justified in investigating a proposal which would only involve one-tenth of that cost.
– There are seventy millions of people in the United States.
– There were not then, lt cost the United States people as much per capita then as this railway would cost the people of Australia per capita to-day. Then, take the Trans-Asian railway through Siberia. That line was not built by the Siberian people, but by the taxpayers of Russia, to secure some great national end. My object in pointing out these examples is this : thai there has been no trans-continental railway that has not been recognised as a great national work, and that has not been either built, or largely subsidized, by the national Government. It may be said that South Australia is connected with Victoria, and that Victoria is connected with Sydney and Brisbane. But the conditions are not analogous. In those cases, the railway lines pass through rich agricultural country, much of it already settled. The lines link up one hamlet with another, and there was almost an immediate return for the money expended.
– Those lines barely pay now, with all those advantages.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Will the honorable senator say that they are not justified?
– No, I will not.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They fulfil a great arid important function, and are necessary in the interests of Australia.
– The Eastern States do not ask the’ Commonwealth, as a whole, to share the cost.
– Because they are lines which run through land capable of dense settlement, whereas the trans-continental line is one that unites two great centres of population, and two great railway systems, but does not pass through such rich agricultural land as would justify any one State in building it at its own cost. Senator Dobson has made the point that South Australia has not given her consent to the construction of this line. But she has given her consent to the survey.
– The honorable senator might allow me to put my own construction on the facts. If I am wrong, he will be able to point out how egregiously wrong I am. When Mr. Jenkins was Premier of South Australia, he said -
It would not only be unjustifiable, but useless, to submit to Parliament a Bill for the construction of this railway (of which this State’s share of the cost would amount to a very large sum) without being in a position to give Parliament more reliable information as to the cost of the scheme.
That seems to une to be an attitude that can be defended by the people of South Australia, though I believe that it was not an attitude that should have been taken up by Mr. Jenkins, on account of previous promises.
– He had made no previous promises.
– But previous Governments had. South Australia says. “ We have got to bear our proportion of the cost of the line, and all that we ask is, before we state that we are willing to consent to its construction, that we shall know what it is going to cost.”
– Will you give me some information as to the promise made by the South Australian Government as to the sur.vey being made?
– ExPremier Jenkins stated, though . I do not know on what date, that he had no objection to the survey.
– Provided ?
– There was no provision. I believe that his own words were, “ The consent of South Australia is not necessary for the survey of this line.”
– Is that the same Jenkins who said that no promise could be considered binding unless incorporated in a Bill?
– ExPremier Jenkins has passed awa.v politically, and we have now a new Premier in South Australia who says -
We have’ no objection to a survey for the Western Australian railway, but desire to be consulted as to the route.
There is nothing mandatory about that; it is a mere request. He goes on -
It must be understood that this in no way binds our. hands to ultimate approval of the policy.
I answer Senator Dobson by saying that if this money be voted, and the South Australian Government can validly object, the money will not be expended, and it will cost the Commonwealth nothing. That argument is one that cannot be used -against the construction -of the line.
– Why not first get legislative authority from South Australia?
– Legislative authority is not necessary for the survey.
– A survey is a part of the railway.
– What difference would it make to Senator Styles if there were legislative authority?
– I know that Senator Styles is against the construction of this line. I impute no wrong motives to that honorable senator, but only regret that he should look at the matter with such oblique vision. Every candidate returned at the last South Australian election was pledged to his constituents to support this railway.
– Oh, no !
– Then I have been misinformed, but,, at any rate, I believe that the whole were pledged to support the survey.
– That is another matter.
– I distinctly disclaim that any honorable senator who votes for this survey, is pledged in any way to vote for the construction of the line. Until an investigation be made, we have to rely on the estimates given by competent engineers, who have been paid to report, and who show that ‘the different estimates coincide to a remarkable degree. The late Chief Engineer of Western Australia, a man who was justly held to be the highest authority on the subject, stated that the cost would be £4,400,boo
– Did he not add something to that estimate?
– Not that I am aware of. The chief engineers of the Railway Departments of the various States made an exhaustive report on the subject. It is true they did not travel over the route, but they went to Port Augusta, and there collected all the data possible, obtaining the testimony of an engineer who had been over the route. They then went to the other terminus at Kalgoorlie; and, in spite of the quidnuncs in this Chamber, who have estimated the cost from £8,000,000 to something like £6,000,000, I say that those engineers represent the highest authority we have up to the present time.
– And they refused to recommend the railway.
– Those engineers had no reason for advocating the line, because, presumably, their own States were not favourable to its construction. Including a line to Eucla, they estimated the cost at £4,459,000, with a line composed of the heaviest rails, and a four-feet eight-and-a-half -inch gauge.
– Did that estimate include the cost of altering the gauge of the other lines?
– They were estimating the cost of a line from1 Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. Why should honorable senators at public meetings make statements in which that estimate is nearly doubled, when this tribunal after an exhaustive inquiry-
– Not exhaustive ; the honorable senator said just now that they did not go over the line.
– The estimate of the State engineers was £4,459,000; and until we get an accurate survey, we must take that as the probable cost. They estimated that in the first year there would be a loss of £68,168, which would be decreased each year, until, at the expiration of ten years, there would be a profit of £18,219.
– Not calculating the interest on the cost of construction, but only over working expenses.
– They calculated there would be that profit on the whole undertaking.
– The prospects are so good, that I wonder Western Australia does not construct the railway.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.How could a quarter of a million of people spend over £4,000,000 of money? It seems obvious that one State cannot undertake the work, and an investigation is desired in order to see whether the Commonwealth Government is justified1 in assisting or giving some subsidy.
– Is that estimated profit after calculating interest and working expenses ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes.
– At what rate is the interest calculated?
– At 3J per cent.
– It will be 3! per cent. 3,t legist
– We will not quarrel about £ per cent. I should now like to speak of the advantage that would accrue from the construction of this . railway. In the first place, it would mean the acceleration of the mail service by two and a half days, or sixty hours. At the present time we are paying a subsidy of £120,000 per year for the carriage of our mails by the Oriental boats, and statements have been made by Ministers that those mails could have been carried at poundage rates at £40,000 a year. We are therefore paying £80,000 a year in order to have a more regular service, which is accelerated by one day. It is a question, however, whether the service is accelerated, because unsubsidized boats of other nations do the voyage just as quickly. Would it not be better to subsidize the Australian section of the mail route by £68,000 a year, which would mean a service accelerated by two and a half days, or a saving of five days in the answering of a letter from Europe or the United Kingdom, instead of paying £80,000 a year to accelerate the service by . one day ? The Panama Canal . has been mentioned, but the route would be very little shorter by that canal than by. the Suez Canal ; it would certainly be no shorter for. South
Australia to go by the Panama route than by the Suez Canal.
– The steam-ship service from Perth would still be wanted.
– But we are paying £120,000 a year, when the work could have been performed for £40,000 a year.
– Shall we go back to poundage rates?
-If we went back to poundage rates between Fremantle and Europe, and had a transcontinental railway, we would have a better and less expensive service. To use a protectionist argument, I do not see why we should not spend the money in the country, and subsidize Australians, instead of a shipping company which belongs to one of the greatest rings in the world. Surely some of this £68,000 could be debited to the increased mail service. I have already stated that some of it may be debited to the Treasury of Western Australia. Then we come to the question of military defence Senator Dobson, I am sure not intentionally, made some misstatements with regard to Major-General Hutton’s remarks. The honorable and learned senator inferred that MajorGeneral Hutton was not’ in favour of the transcontinental railway from a military point of view. But MajorGeneral Hutton in that speech was urging that it was useless to have a railway to Western Australia unless we had arms for the men who are to defend the country. An analogous argument would be that it is useless to have soldiers unless they have arms; but, in expressing that opinion, one does not say that soldiers are useless. Major-General Hutton was not saying that the railway line was useless, but that it was useless unless we had properly armed troops, and I shall read an extract from his remarks which will put the matter on quite a different basis -
It is hoped that the contemplated extension of the railway communication between South Australia and West Australia may be accomplished at an early date, as without such extension West Australia is always liable to isolation in time of war.
I presume that Senator Dobson did not see those words, or in fairness he would have quoted them. Then Major-General Sir Bevan Edwards, in his report on the military defences in 1899, said -
No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless its distant parts are connected with the more populous Colonies in the south and east of the Continent. If an enemy were established in Western Australia you would be powerless to act against him. . . . The interest of the whole Continent, therefore, demand that railway to connect Western Australia with other Colonies should be made as soon as possible.
– What did he say about Port Darwin?
– I will read what he said about Port Darwin, because I desire to be absolutely fair.
If an enemy was established in either Western Australia or Port Darwin you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is therefore a menace to the rest of Australia.
As has been stated before, the country through which this railway will run is not the desert that Senator Dobson has pictured from certain extracts from a work by Sir John Forrest. In that book, Sir John Forrest stated that he came across some magnificent grass country, but Senator Dobson did not quote that.
– I admitted that in my speech. I said it was waterless country.
– Did the honorable “and learned senator say that this country was well grassed?
– I did.
– Then I beg the honorable and learned senator’s pardon; I did not understand him to say so. To give honorable senators an idea of the character of the country, I shall read an extract from the Melbourne Age, of the 28th November, 1904. I do not think any one will say that that newspaper is a violent supporter of this line, and it may, therefore, be taken as unprejudiced.
Mr. Halford, who recently travelled overland from Adelaide with his wife and family and stock, applied for a pastoral lease of 60,000 acres east of Gardunia, but the application was refused, because the land came within the reserve for the proposed transcontinental’ railway. The Minister of Lands now thinks he can suit Mr. Halford by granting him a grazing licence in recognition of his plucky journey.
Can it be a waterless country through which this man took his stock and his family over a thousand miles? Surely honorable senators will not persist in the statement that this country is a desert when sheep can be travelled right across for that distance.
– How many sheep did he start with, and how many did he finish with ?
– He had more when he finished than when he started.
– If honorable senators desire further information they can refer to the report of Mr. Muir, a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, which contains photographs of the country over which the proposed railway will run.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that this is well-watered country ?
– I shall deal with that point, but at present I am discussing the broad question whether this is a desert. Starting from Port Augusta, we come, at a distance of 100 miles, to the Mount Gunsen copper mines, which contain tens of thousands of tons of ore.
– When I was at Port Pirie, there were men carting ore over 100 miles, right into Port Augusta, and making a profit. We have the right to assume that if this railway passed through Mount Gunsen copper-field a payable industry would be established there. Then 200 miles further on we come to the Tarcoola gold-field, which is being worked, and in which the Government of South Australia is working a mine at a profit. That is the centre of an auriferous tract of country extending over a distance of 100 miles. At the present time it is 300 miles distant from the nearest railway. Any honorable senator who is conversant with the conditions of gold mining knows that no field which is 300 miles distant from railway or water communication can have a fair chance. The prospects and the assays of the ore at Tarcoola would justify us in believing that it would be a payable field if it had railway communication, and would employ a large number of men. When we cross the South Australian border we come to a stretch of country which Mr. Muir states is some of the finest pastoral country he has seen in Australia. He went across this country for a distance of 250 miles. He saw 3,000,000 acres, and he estimates the total area at 10,000,000 acres. When Sir John Forrest came across from Perth to South Australia about thirty-six years ago, he passed through that very country. He reported then the magnificent pastoral country which he had gone through, although there was no surface water ; and you, sir, who I believe met the explorer on that occasion, can bear me out in that assertion. Therefore, the country which he passed through” is not of that arid nature which would justify any one in calling it a desert. The rest of that country in Western Australia is salmon gum country. Much of it is auriferous land, which, if provided with proper communication, might become mining fields. We can estimate very roughly what the profit from the traffic ‘on the line would be, even assuming that it would pass through an absolute desert. It is undeniable that live stock, such as cattle and sheep, could be sent from Port Augusta to the gold-fields - to the great consuming market - much more cheaply by a direct railway than by sea to Fremantle and thence by rail to Kalgoorlie, a distance of 370 miles.
– Does, not this magnificent country supply any cattle to the goldfields ?
– It is situated 300 miles from the gold-fields.
– There are cattle coming from the north of Queensland into. Sydney.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Artesian bores are required before the country will be suitable for cattle.
– Besides, it is exempted from lease for the purposes of this railway.
– In the first three months of this year there were sent over to Western Australia 518 horses, 1,315 cattle, and 14,378 sheep. In 1903, during a time of drought here, there were sent over 12,213 cattle, 1,332 horses, and 88,381 sheep.
– Does the honorable senator think that they would go by railway ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I do.
– I do not.
– ‘ I shall leave honorable senators to judge whether greater knowledge is possessed by my honorable friend or by the engineers of the different States.
– It was all based on “if.”
– Any estimate is based on an “ if,” and we ask for a proper survey to.be made so that definite information can be obtained. We are discussing this project in the light of the report of the highest tribunal we have been able to get so far. The cost of sending cattle by rail from Port Augusta to .Kalgoorlie is estimated at ^,3 4s. 6d. per head; the freight by sea to Fremantle is £4 per head; and the freight by’ rail from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie is £1 3s. 6d. per head. So that the trucking of cattle to the gold-fields, with a population of about 80,000 persons, would cost about £3 4s. 6d. per head, and the cost of sending them by sea and rail, as at present, is £5 3s. 6d. per head. If the cattle I have mentioned were sent bv the proposed railway, that in itself would create a very large revenue. Since Port Augusta would be thirty hours distant by rail from the goldfields, the people of South Australia could supply immense quantities of butter, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. It would open up a magnificent market for that State.
– The Lands Department of Western Australia is urging settlers to take up land on the ground that they could produce all these commodities in the State.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.We do not advocate a policy of monopoly. If the people of South Australia can compete with the growers of these commodities in the south-west of Western Australia, by all means let them do it. The carriage from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie would be less by direct railway than by sea to ‘Fremantle and thence by railway to Kalgoorlie. The passengers who travel to and from Western Australia average 1,000 per week each way. A second-class railway ticket from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is estimated to cost £3 8s., while a secondclass ticket by rail and sea costs £4 19s. 10s. Most of the persons who land in Western Australia go to the gold-fields. Many persons travel bv rail in preference to going by boat, even if it costs more, because, perhaps”, they are not good sailors or because time is an important factor with them. The construction of this “line would provide an absolutely cheaper route than the present one by sea and rail to the goldfields. I do not think I should exaggerate if I said that two-thirds of the people who go to and from Western Australia would travel by this railway, seeing that they could travel more cheaply and quickly than they could do by boat and rail. But if that is an over-estimate, we can add the large number of passengers who go to and from Europe, and some of whom would travel by railway to and from Fremantle. If two-thirds of these passengers were to travel by the railway, assuming that 1,000 passengers travel each way per week, that would bring in a revenue of £100,000 a year.
– Does the honorable senator differ from the estimate of the engineers that the loss would .be £68,000 a year ?
– I am prepared to accept that absolutely until we get a better tribunal. Senator Fraser has interjected that the railway would not traverse artesian country. Mr. Gibbs Maitland, an eminent geologist, who has served in Queensland and New Guinea, and is serving in Western Australia now, believes that the whole of the country from the South Australian border to within 100 miles of Kalgoorlie is either artesian or sub-artesian.
– Has he ever been over it?
– I believe he has been over a portion of this country. Professor Gregory, of the Melbourne University, who is considered to be one of the ablest geologists who have ever come to Australia,- and who has made a specialty of artesian water, told me that, in his belief, the whole of the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie is either artesian or sub-artesian. I can show Senator Fraser a map, in which the artesian country is marked out by these geologists, and that, I think, is better than a mere supposition as to whether or not it is artesian.
– But they have not been over the country to collect the necessary data.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They know the character of the country, and collected all the material they could before they came to that decision.
– Is there a single artesian well in Western Australia?
– Yes, I have one.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Honorable senators are making a great point of the fact that there is no water on the route of this line. We know that the country has a fair rainfall, because splendid grass has been found on a great portion of the route. The ground is porous, and, therefore, the water sinks in. A boring plant was sent over to put down a bore at a place called Madura,_ and the water is sub-artesian. It rises to a certain height, is easily pumped, and is not only good for stock, but suitable for human consumption. Going on to one of the routes of the pro- posed line, the party struck good’ stock water. That being the case, 1 think Senator Fraser will admit that it can be called artesian or sub-artesian country.
– There are thousands of bores in Queensland.
– I regret that I have taken up so much time in discussing this question. I assume that all honorable senators have a perfectly open mind, and, holding that belief, I desire to put the case plainly before them. I hope I have said nothing which is offensive to any one, and I trust that I have not exaggerated. We ask honorable senators to recognise that Federation, if carried out in a proper spirit, must mean sacrifices by the various States in order to carry out national works. We ask honorable senators to say whether this is a national work, and, if so, to sanction an investigation, at a cost of £20,000, to be expended in two years, which they can do without committing either the Senate or themselves individually to the construction of the line. We have pointed out that Western Australia has received no material benefit from Federation, and that the only material benefit it can hope for is from the construction of this railway. If it be proved that its construction was not justified from the national point of view, let it not be built.’ After investigation was made negotiations could bc entered into as to what proportion Western Australia was prepared to pay above her ordinary *-per capita contribution. We could then consider whether the construction of the line was justifiable from the Federal point of view, and if so, vhat amount we should be willing to pay, or what subsidy we should be prepared to give in order to secure its construction. When the inquiry was completed, we believe that an overwhelming case would be made out in favour of the project. If it should be found that it was premature to construct the line - and that is the only argument used by honorable senators - then that sum of £20,000 .would not have been wasted, because the survey would remain ; and the railway will be constructed, either now or later on, as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow morning. There would be no waste of public money. Perhaps there .would be no immediate return from the expenditure. But for Federal reasons, we. ask that an investigation should be made. If as a result of the investigation it could be said that this was not a national work, or if difficulties should be discovered which rendered its construction inadvisable, then let it not be built.
– I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Senate very long, because, unfortunately, I am suffering from influenza, and I am physically incapable of doing justice to so great a subject. I wish to compliment Senator Smith upon his very able exposition of this project. He certainly put the case as inoffensively as he possibly could to those who are opposed to the Bill, and I think his speech must commend itself to its supporters as being a most capable one. I am sorry that I cannot agree with those representatives of Western Australia who are so anxious to see the Bill, passed. It is not pleasant at any time to have to differ with honorable senators with whom one is in daily,- perhaps hourly, friendly intercourse. I hope that in anything I have to say I shall not be offensive to any one, and that I shall” not say anything which may create a feeling of soreness on the part of the friends of the Bill. For various reasons I am not in favour of the Bill being passed at the present time. The main reasons which animate my opposition to the measure are not concerned with the merits or demerits of the line. At present I shall only refer casually to the .merits of the project. In the first place, we are told that, if constructed, it would be of enormous benefit to Western Australia. I take leave to differ from that view. I believe that it would not be of enormous benefit to the whole people of that State. I admit that it would be of enormous benefit almost immediately to a portion of its people, but as to being of ser- ^ vice to its whole people, that is a pro position which I absolutely deny, because we have the experience of Australia to guide us. We know that railway carriage, as regards either passengers or goods, cannot compete with water carriage. Although in going through the eastern States we find a perfect line of railway communication, duplicated in some places between several capitals, still the great bulk o”f the passenger traffic between the States is done by steamers. We also know that the great bulk- of the carrying trade in goods is done by steamers, notwithstanding the existence of these railways. In view of these facts, is it reasonable to expect that an entirely new condition of things would spring up when this_ transcontinental railway was built, as regards the carriage of goods and passengers between the east and the west? It is not reasonable to expect that it would happen. There is one thing which the advocates of this line entirely overlook. If the Government of Western Australia really desire to build a railway which would be of immediate and lasting benefit to its people, which would cheapen the cost of living and enhance the means of communication with the eastern States, there is a very easy way to do it. If a line were built from the gold-fields to Esperance Bay it would shorten the distance to the coast by 120 miles, and would bring Western Australia nearer to the eastern States by two days’ steaming. That fact is undeniable. I was over in Western Australia a little while ago- I have to thank the people and the Government of that State for an exceedingly interesting and instructive trip into its territories - and while there I talked to many old ‘friends, mates of mine on the gold-fields of Queensland, about this and other matters. They are people who are thoroughly in touch with Western Australian affairs. It must be remembered that the gold-fields of Western Australia practically represent the whole State. Fully one-half of the population of Western Australia reside there, and a very large proportion of the inhabitants of the’ remainder of the State draw their sustenance from the gold-fields. Take the gold-fields away, and what would be the population of the coast towns? It would immensely cheapen the cost of living to the people of the gold-fields if a railway were built to Esperance. Why is not that railway built? It is only a small task for 0 the people of Western Australia to undertake. Other States have undertaken enormously greater works than that in the way of railway construction. That line would be of immediate and lasting service to Western
Australia. It would be a paying line, and not one such as that which ‘is now contemplated, which would be too long, too costly, too expensive to work, and too difficult to be used with economy and benefit to the people. I hear Senator de Largie behind me say that a man who has been five minutes in Western Australia is apparently able to speak with greater authority on its affairs than those who have lived there for years. I do not think that he has been in Western Australia very long, and I may state that I derived my information from people who have lived there many more years than he has done.
– The honorable senator did not talk in that way when he was in Western Australia.
– I did talk in that way while I was there. I talked in that way when I was driving in a drag with Sir John Forrest. If the Esperance line were built instead of being a drag on the people of Western Australia as the proposed line would be - because they would have to pay a very large proportion of its: cost - they would have a railway which would serve every purpose which they have in view. What advantage would be derived from this transcontinental railway ? It would only achieve two great objects. First, it would enormously enhance the value of freehold land owned by people in Fremantle and Perth. The second object is the glorification of Sir John Forrest. I maintain that it would be a crime to expend so large a sum of money for the mere purpose of increasing the value of property in Perth and Fremantle.
– Sir John Forrest did not originate this scheme.
- Sir john Forrest acted very cleverly when he originated the idea. At that time there was an agitation for the separation of the gold-fields from the remainder of the State of Western Australia unless they got a railway to Esperance.
– The honorable senator must have a very, poor knowledge of the history of Western Australia if he is not aware of that.
– I was a. member of the Separation League, and I therefore, know all about it.
– The raison d’etre of the agitation was the lack of railway communication with Esperance. The people of the gold-fields wanted railway communication so as to shorten their journey to the eastern States, decrease the cost of the carriage of goods by steamer, and bring them nearer to the coast. But Sir John Forrest, acting in the interests of Perth and Fremantle, would not give them the line. Then he flew his kite and said, “ Wait until we get Federation^ and then we will give you railway communication with the eastern States.’
– He did not; it was “ Mr. Vosper who advocated the transcontinental line during the Federal- campaign.
– It was Sir John Forrest who advocated it so cleverly in Order to divert attention from the Esperance Bay railway proposal. I have 110 intention to vote a large sum of money for the glorification of Sir John Forrest. Why was it that the people of Perth and Fremantle secured the calling of the mail steamers there instead of at the beautiful port of Albany? The influence of the property-owners of those towns has practically killed that port. Now the mail steamers pass it by, and have lengthened the time that it takes to bring the mails to the eastern States by so doing. The same policy is being pursued in the agitation for the transcontinental railway. The object is to put money into the pockets of the property owners of Perth and Fremantle.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the present Government of Western Australia is proposing to build the Esperance railway?
– I am pleased to hear it, because when that line is built it will entirely remove the necessity for the construction of this line. The proposed transcontinental line would be absolutely useless if the Esperance railway were constructed, because we could not have a hope of competing for passenger and freight traffic of any kind with that railway. We hear a great deal about the Federal spirit. A Federal spirit which wants a material advantage for itself does not commend itself to my mind. We heard much when we were in Western Australia about there being no Federation unless the west is linked with the east by bands of steel. I suppose that if the railway were built, and if by any accident a’ pair of fishplates were missing, the Federal spirit would be destroyed ! If that is the way to build up a nation, I do not think much of the spirit of federalism that is animating the people of these States. But I have a much better opinion of the Western Australian people than to believe anything of the kind of them. I believe that they are just as much concerned for the building up of an Australian nation as are the people of the eastern States. Certainly, if my assistance is to be given to this project, .it will have to be secured by the adducing of more logical reasons than I have heard up to the present.
– T - The question is the expenditure of £20,000 for the survey.
– It is. all part and parcel of the same policy. We are told that Western Australia has reserved 25 miles of land on each side of the proposed route until the line is built. But that is no guarantee so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. Western Australia has reserved that land for her own use and benefit, and if there is any unearned increment accruing in consequence of the building of the line the value will’ be pocketed by Western Australia, and not By the Commonwealth. But the great question that should influence our minds is whether the line, if built, would pay.
– On that question has the honorable senator read the report of the engineers?
– That report can only give us a mere guess or estimate. The original estimate was based on the supposition that every ounce of cargo taken from the eastern States to the west would, if the line were built, go by rail, and not by sea. That was an absurd idea.
– That never was the estimate.
– I understand that Mr. C. Y. O’Connor formed his estimate on that basis.
– The honorable senator is absolutely mistaken.
– We.have Inter-State railways in Australia connecting four States, but the whole of the passenger and goods traffic passing between those States does not go by rail. As a matter of fact, only a small fraction of it passes over the railway, and to suppose that the entire traffic between the eastern States and Western Australia will be carried on this line is absurd.
– Mr. O’Connor reckoned on only a proportion going by rail.
– A vast proportion, I think.
– “We have been careful not to over-estimate,” Mr. 0’Cor nor says. We should like the honorable senator to deal with the question of probable profits.
– We have the best proof possible with regard to’ the possibility of the line paving in the fact that we already have a line of railway running continuously through four States. It traverses the four principal cities of” Australia, and runs without interruption through the’ finest land in the. continent, and through om busiest towns, apart from the four capitals. When that line does not pay, is it to be supposed that a’line running through what is at the very best comparatively poor country can possibly pay?
– Can the honorable senator produce figures to show that the Melbourne to Sydney line does not pay?
– I am talking of the whole line, from Brisbane to Adelaide.
– Has the honorable senator particulars of the working expenses and revenue?
– I will produce them to-morrow. I repeat that a continuous line of railway running from Brisbane to Sydney, from Sydney to Melbourne, and from Melbourne to Adelaide, through the four largest cities in Australia, and tapping our best land, does not pay.
– It certainly pays in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales.
– Then it just, barely pays, and no more.
– And there are 1,300,000 people living in the four capitals.
– How is it to be expected that this transcontinental line, running through country that is almost uninhabited, and which at the very best has only second-rate possibilities, can pay in view of these facts? Now, what is the character of the country in question ? We have heard statements from both sides. Senator Dobson has put his views before the Senate, and Senator Smith has made copious quotations from all the reports available. There is no necessity to go into those reports at all. All that we have to do is to consider the absolute fact that this line will never be more than 150 miles from the coast, and in many places not sixty miles from the coast; that the climate is the most temperate in Australia, and yet the land is absolutely uninhabited^
– Does the honorable senator say that Kalgoorlie is not more than 150 miles from the coast? It is over 200 miles from the coast.
– The average distance of the route from’ the coast is not more than 150 miles.
– It would not be more than 100 miles.
– It is only towards the very end of the line that it reaches the distance, stated from the coast.
– It is more than that from Port Lincoln.
– At other places it is not more than 40 miles distant. What is the reason why all the rest of the territory of Australia even reaching up to the tropics is inhabited whilst this stretch of country is absolutely without population.? If land is worth a straw it is occupied. There is land in the far north of Australia, in the tropics, that has been occupied forty years. Right round Australia, even in the north-west, where the climate is far more uncongenial than it is along the route of this line there are settlements! That fact is conclusive as to the character of the country in question.
– Not only is there no population, but they want us to spend money to find out what the country is like.
– This is the only part of Australia that is favorably situated as to climate that is not occupied. That fact . speaks volumes for the character of the country, showing that it is very poor indeed, and that the possibility of railway traffic being developed is extremely remote. Another consideration is that the most arid portions of Australia have not deterred prospectors. Kalgoorlie and some of the other great gold-mining centres are’ situated in the midst of arid country. Is it reasonable to suppose that if there were not greater disadvantages in the country to be traversed by this line than there are in any other portions of Australia, the land would be prospected? If there were any prospects of fair encouragement, it would’ be traversed from end to end. But there is no reasonable ground for expecting that any great developments in gold-mining or in any other industry would result frombuilding a railway through it. Another great objection which I have to the building of the line is that it would immediately usher us into an enormous borrowing policv. If the country agrees to build’ the line it means borrowing £5,000,000.. I do not suppose that anybody, at this time,, proposes that the £5,000,000 should beprovided out of revenue. But £5,000,000- will not be all that we shall have to bor- ‘ row, because it must -be remembered that there are other transcontinental’ lines on whose behalf our consideration will be claimed. Supposing that we built this transcontinental line with a view to defence, there is another large portion of the continent which is much more helpless in this respect than is Western Australia, and to which it is even more necessary to build a railway with that object in our mind. I refer to the Northern Territory, which is much nearer to the East, where many people look for the enemies of Australia. The Northern Territory is a large empty country, which forms a tempting bait for the invader. If we desire to maintain Australia intact, and defence railways are necessary, surely the claims of the Northern Territory are equally strong, if not stronger, than those of Western Australia.
– A railway to the Northern Territory is not more necessary than one to Western Australia, but there is nothing against the former.
– The Northern Territory is nearer to any possible hostile nation, and is certainly more vulnerable than is Western Australia.
– There is less to protect in Western Australia.
– It is an open question whether the Northern Territory is less valuable than Western Australia. In the latter State there is a considerable population, who would almost be able themselves to repel any invading force, whereas, as I have said, the Northern Territory is unoccupied, and, therefore, more attractive to an invader. If, following on the transcontinental railway to Western Australia, a line is built to Port Darwin, the other States of the Commonwealth will certainly put in a claim to have their railway systems connected with the great trunk lines, and possibly Queensland will desire to have direct communication with the Western State. Every State will have a good claim if we once initiate such a policy, and we should be launched on a borrowing scheme of£30,000,000 right away. As a member of the party which has, so far, set its face against public borrowing by the Commonwealth, the possibilities I , have mentioned are, to me, a very strong argument against the construction of the proposed line.
– We have other means of raising money.
-I quite agree with the honorable senator, and if he, and his colleagues from Western Australia, would all vote against the expenditure of any money on. this survey or line, except put of revenue, it would minimize my opposition very much.
– I am prepared to raise money in the same way as Canada did, namely, by using a portion of the gold reserves. Is the honorable senator prepared to help me in that direction ?
– I am prepared to assist in the carrying out of public works on any honest system, but I am strongly opposed to a huge public works policy, based on borrowing from the old country. If the object of building this railway is the defence of the country, the money could be applied to much better purpose. The sum of£5,000,000 would provide a swarm of torpedo boats, which wouldbe a much better means of defence than any transcontinental railway.
– Torpedo boats would produce no revenue.
– And they would cost something for their upkeep.
– Neither would a transcontinental railway produce any revenue, while it certainly would be very costly to keep up. A railway can only be a means of carrying men from one place to another. It is not a weapon of offence or defence.
– The. enemy might capture the railway.
– It would be quite easy for an invading force to go into an uninhabited part of the country and cut the railway communication. As to the carriage of mails, we expect the Panama Canal to be constructed in a very short time, when the mail route will be entirely diverted. The Panama Canal will provide a quicker means of communication than we have at the present time, and, therefore, the argument as to the acceleration of the mails by means of a railway does not seem to carry, much weight. It is quite possible, indeed, that the Panama Canal may be ready almost as soon as the railway would.
– How much time would the Panama route save?
– I have not run my rule oyer the route, but I think the time would be shortened by three or four days: I am not so much opposed to the Bill for the reasons I have stated, as for a further reason which is based on what I deem to. be an insuperableobjection - an objection which honorable senators who are freefrom any conscious or unconscious bias must seefor themselves. My contention is that we have no right to build this railway, and therefore have no right to incur the proposed expense.
– We certainly have the right, with the consent of the State concerned.
– But we have not that consent.
– It is time to ask for consent when we wish to build a railway.
– I should like to see Senator Playford testing foundations and preparing plans and specifications for. a house before he was satisfied that he was sure of getting the site. Honorable senators would not spend a farthing of their own in that way ; and what we would not do with our own money we have no right to do with the money of the taxpayers.
– If I wanted to build a house, and I was doubtful about the foundation, I should certainly make tests before buying the land and commencing operations ; and that is exactly the position in regard to the railway.
– It has been contended that we have the right to build railways for defence purposes without the consent of the States,
– It may be possible that we have, though I do not think anybody has said so.
– My contention is that we have no right.
– I do not think we have.
-According to subsection 32 of section 51 of the Constitution, we have the right to make laws for -
The control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth.
That is the only right we have, though I am perfectly satisfied that if we were in a state of war, we should have power to lay rails for conveyance of troops.
– And also to control existing railways.
– But I do not think that any stretching of the Constitution could justify us in building the proposed transcontinental railway for defence purposes. Sub-section 34 of the same section of the Constitution gives us power to make laws in regard to -
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
Now, South Australia has very definitely refused to consent to the building of this railway.
– South Australia is willing to wait until the result of the survey is known.
– Honorable senators would support the Bill, although they are opposed to the construction of this line through South Australia. There are a dozen other men in South Australia who arequite willing to have this survey, because it means the spending of £20,000 or £30,000 in that State.
– The honorable senator never heard anybody say such a thing in South Australia.
– Why do the South Australian Government tell us that they will allow us to make a survey, but, at the same time, refuse to give formal consent to the building of the line?
– Because they have to look after their own interests.
– Then, South Australia claims, with regard to the survey, to have a say as to the route of the line.
– Quite right.
– The Commonwealth has to incur all the responsibility and expenditure, and South Australia may insist on the line running right up to the centre of the country before it turns to the west. It has been very seriously proposed in South Australia, that the line should go as far up as Tarcoola, in order to serve the interests of that State. This Bill is to authorize the expenditure of £20,000 only, but does any honorable senator, who has any experience of the cost of railways in other States, really suppose that a permanent survey will cost no more? It is nonsensical to maintain that such a survey can be made for £18 per mile, when we know that in favorable country the average cost is over , £20. Without making any allowance for the character of the country through which it is proposed to build this railway, a permanent survey, on the basis of the cost of surveys in other States, will cost, at least, , £60,000.
– Who said it was to be a permanent survey?
– Is it not to be a permanent survey?
– Not necessarily.
– If it is not an effective survey, on which estimates can be based, it will be no good.
– The proposed survey will be sufficiently effective to enable estimates to be made.
– Let us clearly understand whether it is to be a flying survey or a permanent survey.
– I understood Senator Pearce to say that it is to be a permanent survey.
– Of course it is, and I do not see why we should deceive the people by saying that the cost will be only £20,000, when we know that it will be £60,000. This Bill is to authorize the survey of a “ route for a railway,” and honorable senators who vote for the Bill will be committed to the necessary expenditure for the construction of the line. This is not a Bill to authorize the exploration of the country, but to authorize a survey of a “ route for a railway.”
– Mr. Muir has already conducted a flying survey at a cost of a little over £2.000.
– That could not have been a flying survey, or the cost would have been over£2,000 for a less distance. Of course, if the honorable senator means that a flying survey consists in a man riding over the country, it is a different matter. One-half of the advocates of the line say that the survey is to be a flying one, while the other half say that a flying survey has already been made.
-The position is perfectly clear. According to Mr. Muir’s report -
The country traversed is, on the whole, flat and uninteresting. There are no hills of any magnitude, no lakes, and very few water-courses.
– Has the honorable senator ever been away with a survey party ?
– I have seen many surveys of railways.
– Undoubtedly a permanent survey is part and parcel of the building of the line, just as the preparing of the plans and specifications for these Houses of Parliament were part and parcel of the whole cost of the scheme.
– The Parliament Houses are not finished yet.
– That does not matter, because the cost is there, and the interest has to be paid. If we vote for the Bill with this preamble, we must vote for the construction of the line, and we shall certainly not be justified in constructing a railway in the absence of the consent of South Australia. South Australia consents to a survey only on condition that that State is consulted in regard to the route.
Are we so foolish as to start a railway on a route overwhich we have no control ?
– The Premier of South Australia assured me two days ago that a survey could be made all over the country if we liked.
– I do not care what was said to private members; what we have to regard is what is contained in official communications. In order to meet the difficulty to which I have directed attention, I have given notice of an amendment, because I did not wishto take any honorable senators by surprise. Under the Constitution, we have no right to build a railway, and therefore we are not justified in incurring so large an expenditure as £60,000 until we have the formal consent of South Australia tothe carrying out of the work. If we had that consent it might have the effect of altering my attitude towards the Bill. But no honorable senator is justified in playing ducks and drakes with the taxpayers’ money in the way proposed in the Bill. I move -
That all. the words after “be “be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ not further considered until evidence that the Parliament of South Australia has formally consented to the Commonwealth constructing that portion of the proposed railway which would be in South Australian Territory has been laid on the table of the Senate.”
Debate (on motion by Senator Croft) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 August 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050816_senate_2_25/>.