2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to give notice that on Fridaynext, after the disposal of non-contentious business, I intend to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of affording an opportunity to those honorable senators who desire to discuss the Public Service classification scheme, and submit any views they wish to the Senate.
– On a motion for adjournment?
– Suppose that we were to carry the motion ?
– I should not mind.
– Following upon that announcement, I wish to ask Senator Keating, without notice, the following questions : -
– I desire to know, sir, whether the questions are in order?
– It is difficult for the Chair to say whether a question is in order without seeing its terms. It seems to me that the honorable and learned senator has been arguing the point.
– I was only following the practice which you, sir, haveal- ‘ lowed, and which I thought was an unwise one.
– If the honorable and learned senator gives notice of a question which is not in accordance with the standing order it will be altered.
– I am perfectly willing, sir, to bow to your ruling, and I only wish to point out that I have been following a. practice which you have laid down.
– The honorable and learned senator has not been following a practice I have laid down. He has been arguing the subject-matter of the questions when the standing order provides that no argument may be introduced.
– I desire, sir, to call your attention to the fact that in these questions the honorable and learned senator reflects upon honorable senators, because he says that public servants have broken the regulation, and that members of the Senate have encouraged them to do so.
– I shall see that the questions are in order before they appear on the notice-paper.
– Do I understand you, sir. to rule that I am not at liberty to read questions which I am asking without notice ?
– If the honorable and learned senator will refer to standing order 94 he will see that -
In putting any such question, no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor inference nor imputation made.
Whether the questions are in accordance with the standing order I am not prepared to say, because I have not seen them, but if they are not it will be my duty to alter them.
– I beg pardon, sir, I thought thatyou were objecting to my reading the questions.
– The honorable and learned senator is quite in order in reading any question which he is asking without notice.
– I must ask thehonorable senator to give notice of the questions.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the. Senate at its rising adjourn until half-past 3 p.m. to-morrow.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
I might add that by section 3 military staff clerks are exempted from the operation of the Public Service Act.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The matter will be considered when the alternative tenders, which are to be invited, have been received.
– Arising out of that answer, I desire to ask the Minister what steps, if any, have been taken to adopt the recommendation of the inspector, and to approach the State Government?
– I would ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– The honorable senator cannot give notice of a question now, as the time for giving notices has expired.
– I amnot in a position to answer the question. If the honorable senator desires the information privately, I shall endeavour to get it for him.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - .
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I wish to ask another question arising out of the answer given by the Minister. I wish to know whether the Mr. Joseph Cook referred to as representing New South Wales was the Postmaster-General in the Reid Administration in that State ; and, if so, has Mr. Reid ever publicly repudiated or signified his disagreement with the action of Mr. Cook?
– The answer to question No. 3 states that Mr. Joseph Cook was Postmaster-General in New South Wales.
– In the Reid Government?
– The Conference took place in 1895. Therefore the question is one that honorable senators can decide for themselves. The question as to whether Mr. Reid has ever repudiated the action of Mr. Cook is one with which this Government has nothing whatever to do.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 th August (vide page 1 103), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Givens had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “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.”
– In addressing oneself to the question that this Bill be read a second time, the thing that strikes one most strongly is the extent to which the Bill itself has been ignored by almost every speaker on the subject. There has been a deliberate conspiracy on the part of its opponents to talk about everything except the Bill itself.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator said that there has been a “ deliberate conspiracy “ on the part of the opponents of the Bill.
– I do not think that remark is in order.
– I withdraw the term “ deliberate conspiracy,” and say that there has been an unanimous desire. I- think that is equally good. I did not mean the word “ conspiracy “ in an offensive sense, and the phrase which I have substituted for it will equally well suit my purpose. The Bill is an extremely simple one. It is very short, and is for the purpose of the authorization of a survey. Its opponents with one consent have discussed at length the cost of a railway which the Federal Government may think fit to advocate years hence. They have discussed at nauseous length the possible loss. They have drawn freely on their imagination. They have ignored all facts and all statistics which have been placed before them by their paid representatives, the experts who were employed to consider this question. When they had nothing else to say, they enlarged on the inequity of the Commonwealth dreaming of the construction of such a railway as this which, as they said, could benefit only Western Australia and South Australia. What I wish to ask the Senate, first of all, is why the opponents of the Bill have, almost with one accord, come to the conclusion that the expert evidence before them is unreliable; because that has been the basis of nearly everything that has been said so far. The railway experts who have made their report to the Federal Government, are, as I understand it, men who are at the head of their profession in each State. I will mention their names in order that their evidence may be challenged if honorable senators choose to do so. They are Mr. H. Deane, New South Wales, Mr. William Pagan, Queensland, Mr. Alex. B. Moncrieff, South Australia, Mr. Maurice E. Kernot, Victoria, and Mr. C. S. R. Palmer, Western Australia. These gentlemen, if not engineers-in-chief, are at any rate at the head of the engineering departments in each State. They are gentlemen upon whom their States must absolutely rely for the conduct of railway business. They are paid large salaries, and apart from their report, I have been absolutely unable to find’ a single objection taken to their professional capacity.
– No one would do that.
– Yet nearly every speaker who opposes the Bill has condemned the statements made by the experts over their signatures.
– Either their capacity or their honesty has been challenged.
– They admit that they put forward their reports on insufficient evidence.
– It is inconceivable that honorable senators should really imagine that professional men, whose professional reputation might be destroyed bv their making false estimates in connexion with a Commonwealth project, would do such a thing.
– They said themselves that they had not sufficient evidence.
– The only thing about which they said they had not sufficient evidence was the water question, and they added’, “ If we had the fuller information which we desired to have, we have every reason to believe that our estimate might be largely reduced.” In fact, these gentlemen were so careful of their reputation that they gave an unduly high estimate of the cost of finding water for the construction of the railway. So much for Senator Givens’ suggestion that their reports were made on insufficient evidence. If the evidence was insufficient, it was used to the detriment of the project, and not for bolstering it up. The fact that this is a mere survey Bill has been left out of consideration altogether, and when, by way of interjection, I have endeavoured to call the attention of honorable senators to that fact, I have been accused of lack of intelligence. One honorable senator deliberately accused me and Senator Playford of a lack of ordinary intelligence, and of endeavouring to hoodwink the Senate. I want, at any rate, to commence by dealing strictly with the Bill that is now before us. The motion is that this Bill be read a second/ time, to which Senator Givens has moved an amendment to the effect that the Bill be not further considered until evidence is laid’ upon the table of the Senate that the Parliament of South Australia has formally consented to the construction of that portion of the’ railway which would be in South Australian territory. That amendment is an extremely ingenious form of direct negative. It seems to have been left out of sight that this is a Federal project, and that we should be stultifying ourselves absolutely by going to a State and asking it in advance to allow the Federal Government to take steps for the construction of the railway.
– We have not the constitutional right to build the railway without the consent of South Australia.
– We have to make a survey before we can be convinced that the railway should be built, and the State of South Australia will naturally wait until that survey is made before granting its consent. Only one who was absolutely prejudiced against this scheme would dream of looking at the matter in the way that Senator Givens asks us to regard it. The position is this : The Federal Government brings forward this Bill for the purpose of obtaining a survey by its experts. That survey having been procured, and full information having been placed in our hands, it will, then be for the Federal Government to go to the Government of South Australia and say, “ This is our project.”
– And perhaps get a refusal.
– What rubbish it is for honorable senators to prejudge this question ! What evidence is there that we should get a refusal?
– What evidence is there that we should get the consent of South Australia ?
– The evidence of common sense. Here we should have the Federal Government approaching the Government of South Australia with a project which, as every honorable senator has pointed out, is undoubtedly to the advantage of South Australia ; and yet Senator Givens, would have us believe that the South Australian Government would decline to authorize the Federal Government to embark on such a scheme.
– They have so far declined.
– Obviously, because the scheme could not be properly put before them. This is not a case in which a railway is being planned in the interest of one State alone, or of two States. This is the case of a Federal project which is essential to the completion of the unity of Australia. On those lines we ought to discuss the question, and not on the petty parochial lines followed .by Senator Dobson and others ; and it is on those lines I hope the Senate will eventually vote. A question has been raised in connexion with the reservation of a belt of land on each side of the proposed railway. I do not deny that it would be undoubtedly to the advantage of the Commonwealth of Australia that such a belt of land should be reserved, because a stipulation of the kind would be made by any private promoter of a similar work. Projects were placed before the Western Australian Government, prior to Federation, in- connexion with the transcontinental line, and a subsidy of land was then asked for. What is the position? The Government of Western Australia have deliberately reserved from selection a belt of twenty-five miles on either side of the proposed line.
– For what purpose?
– For the purpose of facilitating the construction of the line by the Federal Government. It will be perfectly possible for the Federal Government, when the*’ deal with the Railway Construction Bill at some future date, to stipulate that this belt of country, or some similar belt, shall be transferred. ‘
– Will the line be so crooked that, a reservation of twenty-five miles on either side will be necessary?
– I ‘do not know what the honorable senator means by “crooked.” What I am dealing with is the question,! as I understand it, of a bonus in land. Senator Styles, and others, for instance, have advocated that a strip of land should be reserved as a bonus to the Federal Government.
– I never understood that before.
– If the honorable senator had paid the attention I have to the debates, or had read Hansard, he would have seen that the suggestion for a strip of land has been repeatedly made in a negative sense. Senator Millen complained’ that the Western Australian Government had- not reserved an area of land on either side of the line, and a similar statement was made by Senator Styles, as will be found on reference to Hansard for 1904. Western Australia has made such a reservation; and it will be extremely simple for the Federal Government, when they introduce the Railway Construction Bill, to stipulate that this land shall be transferred. Tt is quite open to the Western Australian Government to refuse to comply with such a condition, as it would be for the South Australian Government, as Senator Givens has pointed out,, to refuse to allow a line to be constructed on the route adopted by the survey. But I appeal to honorable senators, whether it is reasonable to expect that the South Australian Government or the Western Australian Government would so refuse? To assert that a refusal is probable, is forcing the most impossible arguments against the construction of the line.
– We shall not have to wait long for consent, if the South Australian Government are ready to give it.
– I can assure the honorable senator we should have a very short time to wait for the consent ; but it is impossible to obtain that consent until we have placed some tangible project before the States concerned.
– Why should the Commonwealth be called upon to propose a tangible project?
– This is a Federal project.
– It will be when it has passed both Houses, but at present it is merely a Ministerial project.
– It is a Ministerial project placed before us bv the Federal Government, and vet Senator Mulcahy asks why it should be introduced by us. To show the prejudice with which this matter is approached bv all its adversaries on the eastern side of the continent, one has only to turn to the Melbourne Age of Saturday last, the 19th inst.
– Do not make us responsible for the sins of the Age ?
– I have no desire to make any one responsible for the sins of the Age. I merely wish to quote the article as an example of the inveterate prejudice with which this question is treated. The Age in ‘ that issue had a leading article descanting on desert railways generally, and this is what was written -
There is a perpetually recurrent legend in Australia that, as far as the great interior is concerned, it must all be classed as desert. It is the hardest thing in the world to persuade Australian State Legislatures that the pushing of railway lines into the interior would prove a paying investment.
The leading article goes on to speak of possible gold-mines, suitable sheep areas, fine cattle country, and the cultivation of semi-tropical products in Central Australia, all of which, the article points out, are languishing on account of the existing terrible drawback of dear transport. The article concludes -
The construction of 300 miles of railway to open up Central Australia is one of the most important duties which now lie before the people of the Commonwealth. There ought no longer to be any narrow provincial feeling among the various States.
One would have supposed from reading that article, that the Age, at any rate, would be found supporting the scheme for a railway to Western Australia.
– It is a coastal line with which this Bill deals, whereas the Age article refers to a line to the interior of Australia.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about the matter - this is not a coastal line. As the honorable senator very well knows, there can be no line prior to a survey being made - no project, even, of a line. When that survey comes before us, we can discuss where the line shall go. I do not wish to elaborate that point, further than to say that two days later, on the 22nd August, the Age devoted itself specifically to the question of the railway contemplated by this Bill, and, after condemning it in no measured terms, and speaking with the most buttery flattery of the “hostility of Senator Dobson–
– The honorable senator must not quote newspaper articles commenting on the debates of the Senate.
– I do not propose to quote the article, but merely tostate its effect in general terms.
– The honorable senator must not refer to newspaper articles, or give the opinions of newspaper editors, on debates in this Senate.
– The remarks of the newspaper were on Senator Dobson’s. attitude, and I fancy that reference to the debate was particularly left out. Everything said in the course of the debate infavour of the line was omitted, but Senator Dobson’s remarks-
– -We do not wish the Parliament of the Commonwealth to be governed by newspapers.
– I shall not proceed to give the comments of the Age on the remarks of Senator Dobson, but only in general terms indicate the views of the newspaper. After saying that there should be no longer any provincial feeling amongst the various States, this newspaper, in connexion with the transcontinental railway,, asks -
Why should Tasmanian and Victorian moneygo to pay for it?
I think I may fairly quote that without any breach of the rules of this .House or of debate. -I wish to emphasize the fact that this is the way in which the opponents of the line invariably deal with the question. Any other line or project for spending Federal money, is approved, whether one, three, or six States are interested ; but once we approach this railway, which is essential for the defence of the whole of Australia, we find the narrow provincial view instantly coming to the front, and we are asked the question I have just quoted* A great deal has been said on the question of the cost of this proposed railway. I do not propose to go into the figures which have been vouched for by the experts. It would be folly for me to pretend1 to criticise them, seeing that I have not before me the data on which those estimates were formed. But I wish to most solemnly protest against the gross exaggeration we have heard in connexion with the cost. Senator Dobson, for instance - and I shall quote Hansard, and not the Age - says -
There is nothing, from the defence point of view, which could possibly justify the expenditure of the seven millions or eight millions of money which this line must inevitably cost.
– Has not Western Australia spent about £8,000,000 in the construction and equipment of about 1,500 miles of railway?
– What Western Australia has done in the past is as immaterial as what Queensland has done, or may do in the future. What we have before us is an estimate of the cost by the .experts, who, according to Senator Higgs, are so unreliable that he is prepared to dismiss their views with contumely. I should like to ask Senator Higgs about Mr. Pagan, the Queensland engineer employed to report on this matter. I should be quite prepared now to hear from Senator Higgs that Mr. Pagan has been dismissed from his position as incompetent or incapable; but Senator Higgs is dumb. I have made inquiries, and I find that Mr. Pagan is extremely respected in his profession. He is at the head of the branch in which he is employed in Queensland, and ‘in that State nobody would sooner accept his estimates than would Senator Higgs. But just because this railway is connected with Western Australia, not a word that the unfortunate Mr. Pagan has put his name to in the report is to be taken as reliable; and the estimate which he gave of £4,500,000 is swelled and exaggerated by honorable senators into £7,000,000 or ^£8.000,000.
– - Is the honorable senator discussing a Bill for a survey or a Bill for the construction of the line?
– I am rebutting statements made in connexion with the cost of the railway, as I am fairly entitled to do,’ quite outside this Bill. Honorable t senators have endeavoured to prejudice this Bill by introducing those extraneous questions, and I am entitled to traverse and deal with their arguments in the fullest way possible.
– What was Senator Styles’ estimate of the cost?
– Senator Styles has had no data placed before him, and I dismiss his estimate as valueless. And of what value is the opinion of Senator Dobson or Senator Millen?
None of those honorable senators are in possession of the data necessary to enable them to form an opinion, and yet speaker after speaker has gone into calculations to prove that right must be wrong. The next point on which various honorable senators have dwelt at length is that of the loss which may fall on the Commonwealth if the railway is constructed. In this connexion, the experts are equally explicit. They point out that the loss on the working of the first year may amount to £68,000, but that at the end of ten years the profit arising from the line will probably amount to £18,000.
– Is that profit after interest has been paid, or only after working expenses have been paid?
– If the honorable and learned senator had read the report - and it is again obvious that he has not done so - he would find that 3J per cent, is allowed as interest on cost of construction. In fact, every provision has been made which any reasonable engineer would make in dealing with these estimates of cost.
– Then the rate of interest, as well as the cost of construction, has been grossly under-estimated.
– That is again in. the opinion of the honorable and learned senator.
– I know something about that as well as any engineer.
– I quite admit that the honorable and learned senator may give a valuable opinion on the point, but his use of the word “ gross “ again shows his inveterate tendency to exaggerate. At the very outside, there could only be a difference of one-quarter per cent., and that is what the honorable and learned senator refers to as a “gross” difference. To call the difference between 3J and 3f per cent, a gross discrepancy is characteristic of Senator Dobson.
– Some engineers- have put it at only 3 per cent.
– As a matter qf fact, the total loss which these ‘ engineers estimate could possibly arise during the first ten years would amount to only £250,000.
– Does the honorable senator think that estimate’ reliable?
– I think it perfectly reliable.
– I should say it was impossible to . make any estimate of the traffic on that line. A man might as well guess at it.
– On that question I have an interesting statement from Mr.- Palmer, who was one of the five engineers whose report ora the subject of the line has been so scathingly dealt with by certain honorable senators.
– He was a Western Australian engineer.
– Yes, he was the Western Australian representative on the Commission. Writing on the 19th April, 1905, only two or three months ago, Mr. Palmer said -
Having been the Western Australian member of the Commission, I can testify to the efficiency of the engineers’ figures, and to the fact that had the views of the Commissioner of Railways of South Australia prevailed - and he cannot be held as prejudiced in favour of the railway - the probable net results would have been even more satisfactory than those adopted by the Commission.
That is a very valuable piece of evidence. He goes on to say -
Moreover, and I think this should not be forgotten - though Senator Dobson will probably say it is ridiculous - the figures are those of professional men who are accustomed to consider and advise on such matters, who hold no political brief for either side, and who have reputations to lose should their figures be proved incorrect ultimately.
That is a point I wish to lay stress on. In the Senate, no doubt, we are all more or less influenced by the political brief which we must hold for our constituents. One is prepared to make very large allowances for differences of opinion arising from that cause. ‘ But the gentlemen who made this report had nothing of that kind to influence them. The sole thing they had to consider, especially in a report made to the Federal Government, was, as Mr. Palmer has said, their reputation which they would lose if their figures were proved to be incorrect ultimately. If some honorable senators who have spoken on the question had given a little reflection to this point they would have hesitated before they said some of the things which they have said about these estimates. To show the way in which Senator Dobson treats this matter, I point out that the honorable and learned senator at the close of his speech does not even remember what he said at the begin-‘ ning of it. I must make some allowance for the fact that some few months elapsed between the commencement and the conclusion of the honorable and learned senator’s speech. This is what he said last, year in reference to the South AustralianGovernment -
They had approved of getting the line inspected, the route inspected, and the survey made at the expense of the Commonwealth.
The honorable and learned senator’s point was that the Commonwealth was to be saddled with the expense, and he made a very great grievance of it. I shall not quote his remarks on that occasion) at ‘length.
– The honorable and learned senator was talking against time then.
– Later on, during the present session, Senator Dobson! said something about the survey and the impossibility of passing this Bill until South Australia had consented to- the survey. As I had read the honorable and learned senator’s previous speech, and knew what I thought he knew, I interjected immediately, “ I thought South Australia had consented to the survey being made.” At page 966 of Hansard for this year it will be found that Senator Dobson replied -
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 iri a very fulsome message that he was delighted to receive the assurance. Are we to. be put off with such stuff as that ?
– Hear, hear.. What we require is an Act of Parliament.
– The honorable and learned senator now says that we require an Act of Parliament. He was so disappointed to find that the South Australian Government had consented that he instantly raised his figures, and wanted to make it more difficult still.
– I have never varied in my opinion about the necessity for an Act of Parliament.
– The honorable and learned senator could not have been listening when I quoted from his speech of last year to show that he was then perfectly satisfied that we had the consent of the South Australian Government, and made a grievance of it. The honorable and learned senator now speaks as though that consent had never been given. I now come to deal with Senator Styles and his arguments. What could be more illogical than the position in which that honorable senator finds himself to-day. He interjected during the debate the other day that there was a loss of £ 1,000,000 a year on the railways of the States, and when I said “ What ?” the honorable senator repeated the statement.
– On the railways of the other five States.
– That is quite right. I should have said that the honorable senator’s statement was that there was a loss of£1, 000,000 a year on the railways of the five eastern States. Yet Senator Styles has actually a motion on the noticepaper to the effect that, in the opinion of the Senate, these particular railways should be “ transferred to the Commonwealth with as little delay as possible.”
– In order to relieve the taxpayers of a part of that loss.
– To relieve the taxpayers of the eastern States by throwing a portion of the burden on to the taxpayers of the western State ! Could selfishness or want of logic be more emphasized? In the speech which Senator Styles made last year, the honorable senator was horrified at the idea that South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland with deficits in their revenues should be asked to contribute to this necessary defence work. The honorable senator said -
This wealthy State, with a surplus, asks Queensland, with a huge deficit, to assist in building an Inter-State railway.
The honorable senator now thinks nothing of moving, as he proposes to do later on, that Western Australia should shoulder a portion of the burden of these non-paying railways in the eastern States.
– The honorable senator has not heard what I have to say about that.
– The honorable senator must not anticipate a debate.
– I have no desire to do so, but Senator Styles proposes to move that these railways should be transferred to the Commonwealth with as little delay as possible.
– Including the Western Australian line.
– These railways have cost £1 19,000,000, according to figures furnished by Senator O’Keefe, on whom I place the whole responsibility for their accuracy, because I have not checked them.
– They are sure to be absolutely correct if I used them.
– I assume them to be absolutely correct for the purposes of the argument. These railways are incurring the following losses : - The New South Wales railways,115 per cent; Victorian, 139 per cent. ; Queensland, x’48 per cent. ; South Australian, ‘66 per cent. ; Northern Territory, 4 50 per cent.; and Tasmania, 2`20 per cent. The only railway system in Australia that is earning a profit to-day is that of Western Australia.
– The South Australian and Victorian railways have both shown surpluses in the last year.
– The honorable senator is not up to date.
– I am sorry if that should be so, but I quote the latest figures which were available to me. The profit on the Western Australian railways was27 per cent.
– I used that as an argument why Western Australia should make this survey herself.
– I am quite aware of that, but that is owing to the honorable senator’s inveterate parochial attitude. He was arguing quite apart from the merits of the railway, and contended that simply because Western Australia showed a profit on its railway system, that State should go to this undue expense in order to relieve the Commonwealth of its bounden duty.
– I argued that because the other States had built their railways, and they were not paying, Western Australia should build her railways, especially in view of the fact that her present lines were paying.
– The honorable senator now corrects his argument, and says that because the other States had built their railways, and theyare not paying, Western Australia should build a defence railway for the Commonwealth.
– No; no.
– A defence railway, as has been most properly pointed out bv Senator Playford - a railway whose chief justification is its necessity for the defence of Western Australia.
– The other States have built their own defence , railways.
– The other States have spent money on fortifications, and they have now to be paid for by the Commonwealth. They have been taken over, and will be valued, and Western Australia will have to bear her -per capita proportion of the cost of these fortifications.
– What did MajorGeneral Hutton say about the defence view of this railway?
– I shall give the honorable senator that information in a few minutes. I am again obliged, unfortunately, to come back to Senator Dobson. The honorable and Yearned senator has spoken so voluminously on this subjectthat it is impossible to deal with it without dealing at the same time with the views he has expressed. He takes objection to any connexion between this railway and defence. The honorable and learned senator said that this Bill really was not for the purpose of building a line which would be of benefit to the Federation for defence purposes. I asked -
Does the honorable and learned senator deny that the railway is wanted for defence purposes?
And the honorable and learned senator replied -
I think that Major-General Hutton did what perhaps would have been done by any big-wig who was asked by his Minister to furnish a report on the subject. His report bears, on the face of it, evidence of having been written a little bit to order when he states that this railway might be required for defence.
That, I submit, was a most disgraceful thing to say of an absent man, and it was most characteristic of Senator Dobson.
– That is a most disgraceful thing to say.
– Major-General Hutton was about the last man to take any orders.
– I was going to lay stress on that fact. What do’ we know of Major-General Hutton? He was, T suppose, the most pig-headed, obstinate’ man in this Department, whom we have had the pleasure of paying for.
– The honorable senator has just characterized a similar statement as being disgraceful.
– No. Major, General Hutton took his own view and stuck to it. At any rate, if there was an honest man in Australia who stuck to his own views, and whom nobody could move, he was Major-General Hutton.
– Did Sir John Forrest bring before Major-General Hutton a minute on this railway ?
– I do not know that the opinion of Sir John Forrest is of much value in this matter. -He has expressed many opinions, and I would rather leave him out of the argument, because, if ever I say anything about him, it is supposed to be prejudiced. He did make several minutes, and Major-General Hutton absolutely refused to budge an inch, so much so, that it lends particular stress to the cowardice of Senator Dobson’s attack.
-Col. Neild. - Is that remark in order, sir?
– I do not think the honorable senator ought to use such language. »
– I withdraw the word, sir, and say that it was an unjustifiable unprovoked assault ion an absent man who could not defend himself.
– Senator Dobson is absent now.
- Senator Styles has pointed out that Major-General Hutton’s report bears on- its face evidence that Sir John Forrest could not move him an inch. Going. beyond that, on the 7th April, 1902 - that is, anterior to the question of the railway cropping up - Major-General Hutton made his first report on the question of defence. On page 2 he said -
I.t is, however, necessary to deny access to all cities, towns, and harbors of commercial importance, and to make it impossible for a hostile expedition to establish itself upon Australian soil. To this end careful arrangements must be made to concentrate on any threatened point as many available field troops as circumstances may render necessary. It te hoped that the contem-plated extension of railway communication between South Australia and Western Australia may be accomplished at an early stage, as without such extension Western Australia is always liable to isolation in time of war.
Again, he said -
It follows, as a matter of vital importance, that the security of Australia should be placed beyond doubt, and that the security to capital in this country should be assured in the event of any warlike complications.
– Is that all he said about it?
– In reply to a request from Sir John Forrest he made a specific report on the railway question as it .concerns Western Australia. He said -
The contemplated extension of railway com- .munication between Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Port Augusta in South Australia is, from a strategical and military point of view, of unquestionable value.
Again, he made this statement, which is most interesting and valuable, as coming from him- -
The potential wealth of the gold-fields, and the vast extent of valuable and unoccupied land in the territories of Western Australia render the acquisition of that portion of the Australian Continent a most valuable prize -to foreign nations.
– The honorable senator does not say that a portion of that potential value might be used to build1 480 miles of railway line?
– There, again, we have a parochial view expressed. Why, because Western Australia has these advantages, should she go outside the lines of the Constitution, which says distinctly that these expenses are to be borne per capita? The honorable senator is dumb for the second time in this debate. MajorGeneral Hutton went on to say -
The strategical situation, moreover, of Western Australia, dominating as it does the southern side of the Indian Ocean, and the converging trade routes from the West, must be considered as of the greatest importance to British and Australian interests.
What could be more conclusive as to the absolute necessity of this line than these remarks by Major-General Hutton? I know what honorable senators will say - that hewent on to state that until the equipment and armament of the eastern States were completed, the railway would be of no value for defence purposes. That, of course, is equally sound; but do honorable senators suggest that because we have not yet quite completed our equipment- and armament on the eastern side we should delay this very necessary survey? Surely that argument would be a most ridiculous one to advance. Knowing that the survey must take several years to complete, are we to wait until, our military equipment is complete before we enter upon that work ?
– Spend some of the money on defence works in Western Aust tralia, and1 not on this railway.
– I shall deal with that point directly. The honorable senator is honest in his objections, but he fails to see that it is the isolation which is the difficulty. That is the point on which Major-General Hutton laid stress time after ; time. You may have your defence works there, but if you are isolated, unless the works are equal to the expedition which is to be brought against them-
– That is what they, should be.
– That remark can be applied to every part of the Commonwealth. Where is the isolation if Great Britain has the command of the sea?
– If the honorable senator had studied the subject, he would know that it is now universally admitted that the Colonies will have to defend themselves in time of war. All the battleships are, very properly and naturally, to be concentrated round the British Isles, and we are to be left to take care of ourselves.
– Fortify every port and build a railway to it, then.
– Undoubtedly, let us fortify every important port. The honorable senator has never heard, and will never hear, me cavil at the defence of Hobart.
– We had reports written about Hobart twenty years ago, and still not a pound has ever been spent in this direction.
– Does the honorable senator think that because we have slept for twenty years, we are to sleep on for twenty-five years more?
– It is better to sleep over some things.
– This idea of Major-General Hutton’s is not a new one. The memorandum circulated by Sir John Forrest shows that, in 1.889, MajorGeneral Edwards expressed exactly similar’ views. He 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 was established in either Western Australia or at Port Darwin, you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is, therefore, a menace to the rest of Australia. . . The interests of the whole Continent, therefore, demand that the railways to connect Port Darwin and Western Australia with the other Colonies should be made as soon as possible.
It is as essential to have proper means of access to Port Darwin as to Western
Australia, but it is not as urgently necessary, because nobody in his senses would dream of saying that the Northern Territory has what has been pointed out in connexion with Western Australia, and that is that the potential wealth of the goldfields would render its acquisition a valuable prize to a foreign nation.
-Col. Neild. - The strategical value of Part Darwin is immensely greater than that of Fremantle.
– The honorable senator will not find that many experts share his view. The majority of experts consider that the necessity for defending Albany, and that corner of Western Australia, is infinitely superior to the necessity for defending Port Darwin. In dealing with this defence question, Senator Styles has, by interjection, suggested that we should be put into a position to resist such’ attacks as may be made upon us. I do not suppose that any honorable senator has really any notion of the position of Western Australia in respect to defence. To quote from an appendix to the report of the General Officer Commanding for 1903-4, we have a force of 1,603 men according to the establishment, and with the men in the rifle clubs, who are used for filling up the ranks in time of, war; we have 2,700 men for the defence of the whole coast. The actual force, however, in the State is only 1,233 men. We have two breach-loading field guns, fifteen pounders, of a type now being discarded by the British Government. The men have no efficient instructors, and are trained to artillery practice with six muzzle- loading guns.
– What has that to do with the railway ?
– It shows the absolute necessity for constructing the line.
– It shows the necessity for instructing the men in the State.
– Could an interjection be more puerile? Fancy the idea of instructing 1,200 men to defend that enormous coast-line, together with Perth, Fremantle, and Albany ! .
– How many soldiers would it take to defend all that country?
– This shows the necessity for universal training.
– In the eastern States we find not 1,233, but 56,691 men as a provision in time of war, and the 28,000 men in Victoria could be thrown into South Australia or Queensland by rail. There is ample provision made for the protection of the eastern States. Yet we find that Senator Lt. -Col. Neild in dealing with the question last session expressed this view: -
The present military organization does not permit the bringing together in the eastern States of a number of troops sufficient to defend Western Australia.
And no doubt he is right. He is an authority. I am not cavilling at the authority. He merely emphasizes the discrepancy between the provision made tor . us and the provision made for the eastern States- -
No arrangement is contained in the defence scheme which is being adopted by the Government whereby the eastern States should be stripped of troops for the defence of the western State. I say emphatically that we. have not a man to spare now.
Does this not emphasize the necessity for the construction of the railway ?
– No; the necessity for universal training.
– It may emphasize anything which Senator Dobson likes, first of all ; but undeniably we come down to this fact, that Western Australia at the present moment, with the military system in vogue, cannot possibly be defended without the railway. ‘
– It is the military system that is at fault.
– It will come in time.
- Senator Dobson sa,,s that our proper defence will come in time; but he shows no desire to facilitate our getting it.
- ‘-I laid down a policy.
– The honorable” and learned senator’s policy was to take all “the little boys and teach them to shoot. Are we to wait until the little boys grow up before we can be defended? What arrangement is to be made with foreign nations not to attack us in the meantime ? I wish to know whether section 119 of the Constitution has any value in the minds of honorable senators or not? Because section 119 deliberately provides that the Commonwealth shall be responsible for the defence of Australia. It does not say, as honorable senators would like us .to believe, that the Commonwealth shall be responsible for the defence of the eastern States. We have our experts telling us that it is essential for the defence of Australia that this railway should be built, and yet we actually have people cavilling at the expenditure of ^20,000 for a survey- of the line.
– The honorable senator acquiesced in cutting ^170,000 off the Defence Estimates.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– Some of the honorable senator’s friends did.
– Really, Senator Dobson should’ be more accurate.
– The honorable senator acquiesced in it.
– I never acquiesced in it. It has been pointed out that no expedition could land in these States from a foreign country with less than 20,000 men. If such an expedition came to Western Australia, it .would find from 1,500 to 2,000 men opposed to it.
– There are 80,000 men in Western Australia between the ages of eighteen an3 forty-five capable of bearing arms. Why not train them?
– It is all very well to say why not train the whole of our men capable of bearing arms. Why not do the same in the eastern States? What I wish to point out is the discrepancy between the existing arrangements for the defence of the eastern States and those for the defence of Western Australia.
– The discrepancy is that, as Major-General Hutton pointed out, we have not an army.
– The discrepancy is that we have 50,000 men armed for the defence of the eastern States because the majority of the legislators live in these States, and desire, to see their own homes protected; but because we have only eleven representatives from the West, and legislators can afford to disregard our interests, we have only 1,500 armed men.
– Western Australia did nothing more before Federation.
– That is quite true ; but it must be remembered that there is every reason why she did nothing more. Until fifteen years ago there was not the development of wealth that has subsequently taken place in Western Australia. It was only fifteen years ago that that State began, to develop her own resources.
– - Western Australia could raise more than 1,600 men in five years, surely?
– The honorable senator evidently does not understand that in Western Australia expenditure has been limited bv the Federal Government, and in spite of all my efforts I have been unable to get more money spent for defence purposes in Western Australia ; because, forsooth - here is the ridiculous thing - the money is allocated on a population basis. One might as well say that, because there are no more than 150,000 people in Western Australia, foreign nations may be expected only to send an expedition against that State proportionate in number to her population. Therefore, the defence force of Western Australia is to consist of only 1,500 men.
– Has the number of men in the defence force in Western Australia been cut down since Federation?
– Yes, the number was larger before. Now I come to the Federal aspect of this matter. So far I have ‘ simply touched upon the defence question. ‘We are accused of taking a parochial view, just as we accuse our opponents of taking a parochial view of the matter. I want to deal with this aspect at some little length.
– The Western Australian representatives were the first to make that accusation?
– Yes, and I think very properly. I expect to convince, not the honorable senator, but the public, that we are thoroughly justified in looking at it from that point of view. Senator Dobson said in 1904 -
I now come to deal with the Federal aspect of the matter. In this regard the proposal stands in about as unhappy a position as it possibly could. The very gentlemen who accuse us of a want of the Federal spirit are themselves the persons who are guilty of an anti-Federal spirit in this matter.
His grievance was that Western Australia expects Tasmania to help. He went on -
So far from the anti-Federal spirit being on this side, it is all on the other side. So far from parochialism being on this side, and honorable senators here taking an unfair or an unjust view of the matter, that charge could be made with a great deal more truth in respect of the supporters of the measure.
Then he went, on to say that two. States would benefit most enormously from having this territory opened up and made available for settlement. He grudges us that because it is incidental to this great Federal question.
– I do not grudge that.
– The honorable senator said -
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 take place. It is idle to compare the direct advantages which they will get with any indirect advantages which can possibly accrue to 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 question fairly, 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.
Then he said -
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.
Further, he went on - »
I take it that I have acquired some facility for looking at both sides of a question.
I really do think that I can cordially agree with Senator Dobson in that last expression. I take it that he has acquired a most marvellous capacity for looking at both sides, of a question - especially when it is his question, or the other fellow’s question. When he was speaking the other day about the advantages that Western Australia would derive from this railway, he enumerated some of them, and I interjected, “ What about the tourist’ traffic ?” It occurred to me that, as Senator Dobson was president of the Tourist Association of Tasmania, and knew what a great advantage the tourist traffic was, not of course to Tasmania alone, but to the Commonwealth, he might have had something to say as to it. He is a great authority on the tourist traffic. He appeared before a Select Committee of the Senate on the 13th January, 1902, and gave some very instructive and valuable evidence as to the tourist traffic. He had some very definite views as to encouraging the tourist traffic of Australia to centre in that marvellous little State of Tasmania.
– At our own expense.
– I wish to quote a little of the evidence that this honorable and learned senator gave when it was a question of spending Federal money in his own State.
– Our own money, not Federal money.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. As a matter of fact, the money spent is State money, but Senator Dobson did not advocate that.
– Did I advocate anything in my evidence?
– Curious as it may seem to the members of the Senate, the honorable senator did. He has forgotten that, however, as he forgets many other things. He appeared before the Commission as president of the Tasmanian. Tourists’ Association, and he said -
I desire to point out that Tasmania is the onlyocean State, separated from the mainland by 160 odd miles of sea. I think it is the duty, of the Commonwealth to take that matter into consideration. I believe that Tasmania has special claims on account of its attractive scenery and its healthiness, which are essential to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth, and that it must become absolutely the sanatorium, as well asthe pleasure ground, of Australia. I have had considerable experience with tourists for the last thirty-five years, and I know that it is essential to many of the men and women of Australia, and especially for the mothers of young children, to visit Tasmania, not only for pleasure, but also, as a matter of health and for the proper bringing up of their children.
– Does the honorable senator think that the question of the mothers of young children visiting Tasmania has anything to do with this Bill?
– Undoubtedly ; I wish to connect Senator Dobson’s views and his advocacy of a Commonwealth subsidy with his peculiar and parochial objections to a similar subsidy in the case of the Western Australian railway. Senator Dobson lays considerable stress on the 1 60- odd, miles of sea as a gap. But when it is a question of bridging over a gap between Western Australia and the eastern States he says nothing at all.
– Adopt the same means as we did, and build your own trunk line.
– The honorable senator did not advocate each State building its own trunk lines, but advocated the Commonwealth providing means of communication with Tasmania.
– Only so far as it is in the interests of the Commonwealth to do so.
– Because it is in the interests of ‘Tasmania. Senator Dobson went on to say -
I also think that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to do something in this matter. I think so, first of all,’ because as between State and State, a water-way has a right to be placed tosome extent in the, same category as a railway.
That is the point: - “ the duty of the Commonwealth.”
– I used the words “to some extent.”
– It is perfectly obvious that Senator Dobson claims those privileges for Tasmania because steamer communication, should “ to some extent “ be placed in the same category as a railway. It would seem, therefore, that a railway has the larger claim - that steamer communication can only “ to some extent ‘ ‘ be placed in the same category. Yet Senator Dobson desires the Commonwealth to subsidize the steamer communication, completely.
– I never said “ completely.”
- Senator Dobson went on to say -
Tasmania, as a State pf the Federation, has a right to have its outlying position in the ocean considered.
Has Western Australia no right to have its outlying position considered, separated as it is from the eastern States by 1,000 miles of unexplored country, and over 1,000 miles of ocean?
– The matter was considered, and yet nothing was done.
- Senator Dobson went on -
What I mean is, that the time will come when, I suppose, a good case will be made out for a railway across the Continent to Western Australia, and the argument will be used that it is absolutely essential, even if that railway does not pay, that the outlying State of Western Australia should be brought into touch and close communication with the other States of the union, and with the more populous parts of the Continent.
I say that the same argument does apply to Tasmania ; but how shall we find Senator Dobson voting when he comes to apply his own logic to the unfortunate State of Wes- tern Australia ?
– I said that the steamers should be subsidized according to the benefits received from them.
– I shall not further quote the actual words of Senator Dobson, but merely inform honorable senators that he went on to say that it was in the interests of the whole Commonwealth that the Federal Parliament should pay the subsidy, which he regarded as essential to the development of Australia, and to the interests of the business of the Commonwealth itself.
– I advocated the payment of a subsidy in proportion to the benefits received. I did not advocate that the Commonwealth should pay the whole subsidy.
– The honorable senator said nothing about “ proportion “ when giving evidence - that is a fresh development.
– It is not; the honorable senator has read the words - “ to some extent be considered.”
– Senator Dobson left the distinct impression by his evidence that the Commonwealth ought to bear the whole burden.
– And what was done? Nothing. “Senator MATHESON. - Dealing with the argument of the rough sea voyage, which equally applies to Western Australia, Senator Dobson said -
I have had it from perhaps a dozen men who are accustomed to travel between Tasmania and the mainland that it is an absolute advantage to lose an hour for the sake of letting the bad sailors among the passengers have a little quiet water between the Tamar Heads and Rosevears or Launceston. If a number of passengers, who are bad sailors, are asked to get out of the steamer, which is perhaps rolling or pitching, and to jump directly into a train, they would probably find it a very terrible ordeal. Going by the Tamar, I should like to see the distance shortened by perhaps an hour and a half, or an hour at least. The passengers would then have a sail on perfectly smooth water, and would thus have a chance of pulling themselves together. Many people cannot afford to go further than Launceston, and great complaints have been made as to the discomforts between Sydney and Hobart where travellers are three or four nights at sea.
On those grounds, Senator Dobson advocated a Government subsidy for the steamers to Tasmania ; but he entirely ignored the fact that there is a rougher voyage for the unfortunate traveller who proceeds to Western Australia by sea. Finally, Senator Dobson was asked the following question : -
I understand from your evidence that you are in favour of increased or better communication between Tasmania and the mainland, and that you would improve it by means of a subsidy?
The reply of the honorable senator was perfectly unqualified.
I think that is the practical and ordinary way of doing it.
– I spoke of a subsidy in proportion to Federal benefits.
– There was no discussion of proportionate benefits when the honorable senator appeared before the Select Committee. He was the advocate for the Tourists’ Association, and went straight-out for a subsidy from the Federal Government. Those arguments, he held, apply to the special means of communication with the little island of Tasmania, but he persistently refuses to apply them in the case of a railway to Western Australia. Still the honorable senator says that he is not parochial, and that the advocates of the transcontinental railway are.
– I applied those very arguments in my speech, but the honorable senator has omitted fo quote them. I not only say, but assert the fact, and defy the honorable senator to contradict lt.
– Unfortunately I have not been able to commit the whole of the speech to memory.
– The honorable senator has picked out the parts which suit him.
– I have picked out those parts which show deliberate hostility to Western Australia and deliberate parochialism. Indeed, the honorable senator adds to the argument; he shows how he can look at both sides of the question by maintaining that in his speech he first said one thing and then the other.
– No; in my speech I said that the Commonwealth ought’ to assist in the matter of the railway in proportion to the benefits which the Commonwealth would receive. I pointed out that the two States concerned “would receive 80 per cent, of the benefits, and the rest of the States 20 per cent. I went into details, and laid down a policy.
– And yet the honorable senator calls the proposal before us “as grossly unfair a proposal as possibly could be made to this Parliament.
– And it is grossly un> fair.
– What would Senator Dobson have said if any representative of Western Australia had used such words in reference to a recommendation that the steamers to Tasmania should be subsidized?
– I advocated a subsidy only in proportion to the benefits received.
– Nothing was said about that whatever.
– That is plain on the face of my evidence, if the honorable member will read it.
– The report of he Select Committee contains the followtig:
That it is desirable that there should be established a daily mail service each way throughout the whole year between Tasmania and Melbourne, and that, as far as practicable, the hours for arrival and despatch of mails should be on every day approximately the same. . . . Your
Committee recommend the Government, in the meantime, to invite tenders for the performance of a six days a week steam service each way between Melbourne and Tasmania, such service to be three alternate days of1 the week by way of Launceston, and the remaining three days of the week by Devonport and Burnie, due consideration being given to improved passenger accommodation and increased speed.
There is nothing said about the State bearing any proportion other than its due population proportion.
– The honorable senator’s construction is preposterous.
– Are we, after all, so very parochial in Western Australia. Honorable senators seem to forget that West ern Australia bears a proportionate share, per capita, in a very large amount of Federal expenditure, in which it has no interest of any sort or kind. Yet we have never heard a word of remonstrance from Western Australia.
– Wait a bit !
– As the honorable senator says, “ wait a bit.” I can wellconceive that no representative of Western Australia would dare to sit in this chamber and support such legislation as has in the past been accepted by that State in a purely Federal spirit.
– “ No parochialism “ !
– Western Australia has shown no parochialism in those matters.
– Is the honorable senator not doing so now ?
– Has Western Australia not- had a Customs revenue in a sense in which the other States have not ?
– And Western Australia, would not join Federation unless she was promised that Customs revenue.
– That is such an old “ gag “ as to be scarcely worth’ dealing with. Still, honorable senators are. well aware that Western Australia never had any voice in making that arrangement.
– Western Australian delegates had.
– Western Australian “ delegates” ! They were the delegates of Sir John Forrest. The honorable senator knows that it is not a fact that Western Australia’ ever asked for this arrangement.
– The Treasurer of Western Australia has had the benefit of the arrangement.
– And the State has deliberately accepted the benefit.
– Senator O’Keefe is perfectly accurate; the Treasurer of Western Australia has had the benefit of a special Tariff ; but at whose expense? At the expense of the residents in Western Australia. Last night the Commonwealth Treasurer laid it down as ..an axiom that where the Treasury benefits the pockets of the people suffer; and I should be diffident in disputing such an authority on a question of this sort?
– The honorable senator does not always accept that authority.
– I do not, but on a question of finance of such’ importance I should not care to dispute such an authority. I should like to touch shortly on the Federal burdens of which Western Australia bears her proportion without receiving the slightest benefit - burdens against which we have never raised a protest. First of all, £273,000 has been paid in sugar bounties, and it is estimated that this year another .£150,000 will go in the same direction.
– Does Western Australia object to that?
– Western Australia has raised no objection. I merely point out that the Western Australian proportion was £26,414, for which that State has received no benefit whatever.
– Is there not a White Australia? Is that not of some benefit to Western Australia?
– The sugar bounty has nothing to do with a White Australia; the bounty is a protectionist gift to encourage the growth of sugar by means of white laBour.
– Directly it can be shown that it has nothing to do with a White Australia, I shall vote against the bounty.
– The honorable senator knows the fact perfectly well. New South Wales has received ,£112,000 Kid for growing sugar with white labour, although in that State sugar has always been grown with white labour, and always will be. The papers which, were laid on the table yesterday will give honorable senators full particulars.
– Most of the New South Wales representatives voted against the sugar bounty.
– I do not care who voted* against the bounty. What I say is that Western Australia has, without the slightest objection, paid its share of the cost in a truly Federal spirit. Yet the representatives of that State are accused of parochialism. Then there is Western Australia’s share in the cost of administration, amounting to ,£56,657 last year, with’ probably a similar amount to be paid this year.
– From the expenditure of which Western Australia gets benefit.
– Western Australia gets no benefit. What does Western Australia get from the sugar bounty.
– What benefit does, Victoria get?
– If the eastern States were filled with coloured labourers, how would Western Australia be able to defend itself ?
– I say that the ‘ whole thing is humbug. The coloured labour, going out of Queensland must go out of it according to law. But the coloured labour that will remain in the State will work there, and therefore this is not a question of black and white labour, but it simply means that the sugar industry is being fostered to this extent as a protected and exotic industry. The coloured labourers who remain in Queensland must be employed. Do honorable senators suggest that they are to starve? I should advocate their deportation.
– I do not think the honorable senator should go into that matter ; he is wandering from the question before the Senate.
– I quite agree that I am, but I should like to say that, as a matter of fact, the area under sugar cultivation in New South Wales by white labour has fallen off instead of increased.
– But it has increased in Queensland.
– It has increased in Queensland to a very slight extent. Another thing to which we have to contribute our quota, without objection, though I opposed the matter when it was before the Senate, is the Pacific subsidy. We are paying our share of a subsidy of £8,400 to foster the trade of Sydney with the Pacific Islands.
-Col. Neild. - The honorable senator knows that that is a mail subsidy. <
– It is nothing of the kind.
– Order 1 I do not think the honorable senator should discuss these extraneous questions, though he is quite in order in briefly mentioning them.
– I have no desire to discuss them in the least, but to mention them one by one. The next item is the expenditure under the Naval Agreement Act. We are to pay a subsidy of ^2,000,000 to the British Government, that is, ^200,000 a year for ten years.
– For defence purposes.
– For defence purposes, and the sole result brought about by that Act is the expenditure by the squadron of ^300,000 per annum in the ports of Sydney and Hobart. I make that statement on the authority of Senator Walker, who, during the discussion on the subject, interjected that that would be the effect of the measure. That statement is absolutely true. Then we have, in connexion with British New Guinea, another Federal expenditure. We contribute ,£20,000 to the expense of governing British New Guinea, from which Western Australia derives not one scintilla of benefit.
– What State in Australia derives any benefit from our connexion with New Guinea?
– Undoubtedly Queensland does. The entire trade between British New Guinea and the Commonwealth is carried on between that territory and Brisbane, and other Queensland ports. Though .Western Australia derives no benefit from this expenditure, we are paying our share of it. I notice in the Estimates for the current year a proposal to inaugurate an expensive and luxurious telephone system between Sydney and Melbourne at a cost of £34,000, with a balance to be brought forward later on, making the total cost £50,000. The Government propose to spend this money on a luxury for the benefit of Sydney and Melbourne.
– If the Commonwealth were to stand on one side private people would soon undertake that work.
– Of what use is it for Senator Millen to split hairs in that way ? I am not arguing as to what the Commonwealth might or might not do.
– Are these parallel cases ?
– Yes, they are; but with the difference that the railway to Western Australia is infinitely more vital.
– One is a Commonwealth function, clearly, and the other is not.
- Senator Millen denies that the railway has any value for defence purposes, and it is only in that view that it cannot be said to be a Commonwealth function. On the other hand, the leader of the Government in the Senate asserts that this is a defence line
– The leader of “the Government in the Senate also said that South Australia would never agree to the line.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– That is only another instance showing the grossly unfair way in which this matter is dealt with by certain honorable senators.
– Senator Playford said that South Australia would never agree to the line unless she could dictate the route and the gauge.
- Senator Playford did not say that South Australia would dictate in the matter, but that what was proposed must be to her satisfaction.
– That is the same thing, in another way.
– I do not think it is the same thing.
– The honorable senator said, in answer to my interjection, “ Quite right, too.”
– He said that South Australia must be consulted.
– It is quite right that South Australia should be consulted. Another expenditure to which we have contributed, though not without a word of protest, is that connected with the up-keep of Government House in Sydney. This costs £3,000 per year, and though Western Australia pays her share of that expenditure she does not derive the least benefit, from it.
– Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania also pay their share of that expenditure.
– I admit that. T wish to lay stress on this, because Senator Millen was at pains the other day to deny that there was a general understanding in connexion with this railway. Five leaders of the Federal movement have been quoted by Senator Smith as having expressed the opinion that there was some pledge or understanding.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Mr. Deakin is quoted as having said that in consequence of Federation the transcontinental railway would ultimately be built. That might be twenty years hence. I could say the same thing.
– None of the gentlemen named affirmed - that any understanding had been arrived at.
– I like to be accurate, and I admit that Senator Trenwith has stated what was said by Mr. Deakin. In that sense, we understood that the construction of this railway would follow on Federation. What is the position in connexion with Government House in Sydney ? Here also it is claimed teat there was an understanding, and that it was arrived at, not between the leaders of the Federal movement, but between Sir William Lyne and Mr. Chamberlain. The other understanding may be put on one side, but the understanding between. Sir William Lyne and Mr. Chamberlain is not to be cavilled at or even questioned. It is the sacred inheritance of New “South Wales. It is amusing to find honorable senators from Tasmania talking so much about the Federal spirit, because, as a matter of fact, even before Federation, Tasmania showed herself singularly lacking in any Federal spirit. My memory goes back to a meeting of the Federal Council of Australasia, held in Melbourne in’ 1889. Before that body there was laid a most important measure dealing with quarantine.
– Quarantine has nothing to do with this railway.
– It has to do with the Federal spirit, and we have been accused of a want of Federal spirit in this matter.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he is wandering from the point?
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know if the honorable senator is in order in discussing the question of quarantine?
– I have called the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he seems to me to be wandering from the subject. I cannot say that his reference to quarantine is out of order, be cause I do not know What he proposes to say.
– I intended to say that this quarantine proposal, to which I have referred, involved Federal expenditure in exactly’ the same way as this railway.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Federal Convention?
– No, to a meeting of the Federal Council of Australasia. I am referring to a proposal involving Federal expenditure, to which Tasmania declined to accede, with the result that a very valuable measure was shelved.
– I cannot see that that has anything to do with the question before the Senate.
– The Federal Council of Australasia! !was’ a non-representative body.
– The instance to which I have referred marks the attitude of Tasmania in Federal matters.
– It marks the attitude of only one man.
– What has the attitude of Tasmania to do with the question?
– Honorable senators from Tasmania have accused us of a want of Federal spirit.
– Honorable senators from Western Australia accused other honorable senators of a lack of Federal’ spirit.
– To return to the question of Federal expenditure, I point out that Tasmania has hitherto absolutely refused to share in the expenditure on the forts at Thursday^ Island and Albany, although they are Federal forts, on the ground presumably that no enemy could reach her until after he had passed either one or. the other.
– The honorable sena.T tor means prior to Federation?
– No, at the present moment the whole of the expense of the garrisons at Albany and Thursday Island are borne by the other States, and Tasmania pays no share of the cost.
– That has never been put before the people of Tasmania.
– What do we find in Victoria in respect to the Federal spirit? It is the practice of Victoria to export her undesirables to the other States.
This is the way in which Victorians show their Federal spirit. We should never dream of doing such a thing in the West. I have here a newspaper cutting of the 19th June, 1905, from which I learn that a; Miss Forbes, a girl with a bad record, got ;i chance from a court on promising to leave Victoria. She was subsequently sentenced by the City Court in Melbourne lo twelve weeks’ imprisonment, because she had not gone to another State.
– Has that anything to do with this Bill?
– I cannot see that it has.
– Other honorable senators have been permitted to accuse representatives of Western Australia of displaying an un-Federal spirit. I have quoted Senator Dobson’s actual words, and I am prepared to quote them again if the President forgets them. I point out that the Federal spirit is lacking in Victoria most, and the want of it is displayed in an objectionable form.
– Senator Dobson did not go into all these details.
– Senator Dobson made a general statement which he did not attempt to substantiate. I am making particular statements which I can substantiate.
– I have no wish to hamper the honorable senator in his argument, but I really think he is wandering from’ the question.
– I may say in general terms that I have six most interesting items of evidence to show an absolute want of the Federal spirit on the part of Victoria. I should like to refer to them, but I am debarred from doing so by the ruling of the President. What does it all amount to? The real objection to this line has never been brought to the surface. The real objection of the Age is that it would facilitate the emigration of persons to Western Australia from this State, which is going on day by day There is no doubt that, with the finest climate on our western coast, with our magnificent land, with our regular rainfall, and with unparalleled openings for investment, the entire stream of emigration which flows weekly from Victoria to both Canada and South Africa, would be diverted to Western Australia. I take it - and I make the remark with the conviction that it is absolutely true - that the opposition which is fomented by the newspapers in this State entirely arises from that cause. They are anxious that the people in the eastern States should be debarred from facilities to reach our glorious State.
– Speaking to the amendment, I wish to congratulate Senator Matheson upon the splendid fight he has made for his State. During the. debate the representatives of Western Australia have presented the case in as strong a light as it could be put. If any honorable senator is wavering as to whether he should vote for the Bill or for the amendment, he certainly has had very fair reasons furnished in a number of the speeches to assist him in coming to a decision. Having listened to their speeches, both last year and this year, I regret to say that I cannot bring myself to vote for the Bill. I shall vote for the amendment, and, if it is defeated, against the second reading of the Bill.
– Is the honorable senator sorry that he is going to do violence to his conscience ?
– No ; I regret that safer reasons for supporting the Bill have not been furnished. I regret that the representatives of Western Australia, who, I am satisfied, voiced the opinion of a large majority of its people, have not been able to satisfy the representatives of other States that it would be a fair and equitable thing to pass this Bill. To put it briefly, they have a bad -case. A few months ago, I had the honour of being a guest of the Government of their State. I found amongst all sections of the community an almost unanimous opinion as to the desirability of constructing this line. I found that a large number of the people in all classes of business were of opinion that the State had been persuaded by false pretences to join the Federation.
– The honorable senator is now discussing the main question, and not the amendment.
– If any reason were wanting to make honorable senators vote for the amendment ji would be found in the speech delivered last Thursday night bv the Minister of Defence. It certainly must have decided the votes of two or three honorable senators, who were wavering in their minds. He laid it down clearly that the Government of South Australia desires a controlling voice as to the route. of the sur.vey. He mentioned that the present Premier, Mr. Price, is of opinion that the people and Government of the State should be able to direct the route of the survey. In most emphatic terms he declared that this was a question in which South Australia should have a controlling voice. We are now told in very forcible language by Senator Matheson that the chief reason for the construction of the line is the necessity for perfecting the defences of the Commonwealth. So far, that reason has always appealed to me more forcibly than any other. If, however, that is the chief reason for advocating this project, I think it is not fair that South Australia should have a controlling voice as to the route. Surely that is entirely a question for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to .deal with.
– So it is ; they only want to lay down the route.
– I am referring to the speech of Senator Playford, in which he said that he, as a resident of South Australia, decidedly agreed with the attitude of its Premier that the Government would not be justified in agreeing to a survey unless they had the right to indicate which route should be taken. It seems to me that the question is inextricably mixed, and that we are not justified in going on with the Bill. We should have a clearer understanding as to whether, in the event of the Bill being passed, the route of the survey is to be decided by the Commonwealth Government and its officials, or whether the Government of South Australia shall be able to step in at any moment, as they could db unless the Bill were altered, and refuse to allow a survey to be taken along the selected route.
– They could refuse eventually to pass a Bill to give their consent?
– The Premier of South Australia said that unless the survey were taken in a direction which would suit the Government of South Australia they probably would not consent to the construction of the railway.
– They never said anything of the kind.
– They agreed to a survey being made, but reserved the right to criticise the route.
– When they reserved the right to criticise the route, they also reserved the right to reject it, when probably all the work would have to be done again. Where does the Commonwealth come in? Last Thursday night the Minister of Defence said that the Govern ment of Western Australia were charging 100 per cent, more for carrying Tasmanian goods by rail than for carrying locallymade goods. To me that is the strongest evidence of parochialism that we could have. Perhaps the strongest argument which could appeal to the representatives of other States was furnished last night by the Treasurer, when he mentioned that since Federation three States had gained a large amount, and three States had Jost a large ‘amount. New South Wales has gained £5,941,408, Western Australia has gained £’580,079, and South Australia has gained £49,244. Queensland has lost £2,180,587, Tasmania has lost ,£7,96,601, and Victoria has lost £72,792.
– Has this argument any reference to the amendment?
– I intended to connect the argument with the amendment, just as Senator Matheson did, but of course I am willing to withdraw the figures if that is your ruling. That is one of the strongest arguments which .appeal to the representatives of other States, whose finances have suffered since the establishment of Federation.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to continue a line of argument which has no relevancy to the amendment.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. I regret that the representatives of Western Australia, who have made such a strenuous fight for the passage of the Bill, and have worked so hard to bring forward every conceivable detail in support of it, have not been able to make out a stronger case, quite apart from any feeling of parochialism or anything of that sort. Until fuller information is furnished I shall have to support the amendment.
– I wish to compliment those honorable senators who have so ingeniously manufactured this amendment. It appears to me that it is a beautiful subterfuge.
– I do not think the honorable senator is in order in characterizing the amendment as a subterfuge.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and withdraw the remark. At any rate, the amendment is a most ingenious method by which honorable senators may be able to avoid giving a vote on the direct issue. To ignore the right of South Australia to be consulted in a matter that affects her would be absurd. As a Western Australian, I feel quite sure that the position taken up by South Australia does not in any way warrant the amendment. The South Australian people merely ask that they shall be consulted by the Commonwealth; authorities in respect to the route to be chosen in order that an arrangement may be made satisfactory to both parties. There is nothing more reasonable than that such a course should be pursued. We, as Western Australians, can heartily indorse the position of the South Australians in that respect. But for this Senate practically to endeavour to compel South, Australia to express herself as to building a railway before the survey is made, is certainly an entirely different question. When an analysis is made of the whole of the facts the evidence may be such as to convince even some Western Australians that the project is one that could not be carried to a completion until years and years have passed. In that case they, as men having an idea of what is right and wrong, would probably consider seriously before attempting to launch the Commonwealth in a project that looked hopeless from the outset. I entirely oppose the amendment, believing that it is simply an ingenious attempt to evade the main question.
– May I point out in passing how exceedingly awkward it is to have one’s remarks on the main question re’ported in Hansard for one session, and one’s remarks on the amendment in another set. But unless the Standing Orders are altered, I suppose that that is inevitable. I wish to address a few words to the Senate with reference to the amendment, which proposes the postponement of this matter until the South Australian -Government has shown a willingness to permit the construction of the line. It is clearly indicated in the quotations from the official correspondence, read by Senator Playford last week, and published in Hansard, that while South Australia does not object to £20,000 of Commonwealth money being spent upon, a survey, she most carefully refrains from any indication of her willingness that the railway shall be built if the Commonwealth desires to build it. Those who know anything of matters in South Australia are aware that that State is making a great and costly effort to provide shinning facilities in the Gulf that do not at present exist in the port of Adelaide. There is a strong feeling in portions of South Australia - I have no means of knowing whether that opinion expresses the views of the majority - in opposition to this proposal.
– There is not even a fairly large majority.
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator has more knowledge of the opinions of the majority in South Australia than I or any one else not living in has State can possibly have. But the fact remains that it is well known that the desire of those who wish to see the railway built is to bring about a terminus of mail routes at Fremantle, thereby taking from Adelaide the position of a place of call for mail boats. Undoubtedly that would be greatly to the disadvantage of South Australia, as is shown clearly by the official correspondence. It is for this reason that South Australia in the correspondence is so careful to say, “ You may spend as much money as you like, but we will not give the slightest promise that the line shall be built.” I should like to be able to apply these remarks to the general question, but as I spoke on it last session, I cannot do so again. But I think it would be very desirable to add to the amendment of Senator Givens another amendment, that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee for inquiry and report.
– Such an amendment could only be moved after the second reading.
– I was not aware of that peculiarity in our standing order ?
– It is a standing order of every Parliament in Australia.
– Not, I think, of the Parliament of which I was a member for twenty years.
– I think so.
.- However, I am not proposing to move such an amendment at this stage, though it is a matter that is well worthy of consideration. I make the suggestion in the hope that some other honorable senator who has the right to move such an amendment will consider it.
– Why should not the honorable senator move it after voting for the second reading?
– I am . being supplied with such a large amount of pleasant advice that I ami afraid I shall run some risk of being bogged amongst the various proposals.
– Especially as the honorable senator is so unsophisticated !
D- I think it would be better for me to suspend operations with a view to take action at a subsequent stage of the proceedings if I think it desirable. But, meanwhile, I strongly emphasize my view that it is undesirable until South’ Australia has given an indication of her willingness that we should take further steps in regard to the construction of the line. I do not think we should be justified in spending the considerable amount of the Commonwealth money involved with the almost certain prospect of it being insufficient until we know the mind of South Australia. I would point out also that the Minister in charge of the Bill has carefully hedged himself by not limiting the amount. He does not indicate a belief that £20, 000 will be sufficient.
– Oh. ves, it will.
– Under the circumstances, the amendment should, in the interests of the Commonwealth, be carried at the present stage.
– I desire to say that I am opposed to the amendment, because it is entirely unnecessary. No honorable senator has yet shown that the telegrams which have been received from the South Australian Government indicate any desire that its consent to the proposed survey shall be obtained. I think it is as well that honorable senators should look to the history of this matter. If they do so, I. am sure that there are some who will be surprised to know whom they are supporting, and what led to South Australia taking the attitude that she did in reference to the scheme. What is the history of this ………. . Up to a certain period South Australia was heartily in favour of this proposal, so much so that leading public men of the State pledged themselves to do their utmost to carry out this railway proposal on the accomplishment of Federation.
– Not a word was uttered against the railway.
– Not even the leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament raised .any objection when the promises referred to were made by the Premier. But something happened. The Jenkins Government entered into a most iniquitous scheme to give away half of the State for the purposes of a railway on the land grant system; and they saw that the
Commonwealth proposals for a transcontinental railway would be likely to operate to the disadvantage of the railway they were prepared to support. It was then, and not until then, that some politicians in South Australia began to raise objections; and I ask honorable senators who are now clamouring for the consent of South Australia to remember that they are playing the same game that was played by. the Jenkins Government.
– Surely the honorable senator will admit that it is necessary to get the consent of South Australia?
– It is, but consent to “ what? It is not necessary to get the consent of South Australia to make a survey. That State has never thrown any obstacle in the way of that proposal. What South Australia claims is that, when the question of constructing a transcontinental railway, arises, the Government of that State ought to be consulted as to the route. My point is that politicians and others of South Australia never raised this question of consent until they saw that a transcontinental railway constructed by the Federal Government would be likely to hinder the progress of the land grant system line which they favoured. Personally!, I do not believe that the people of South Australia regard the proposed Commonwealth railway in the light of a rival to the other scheme. In my opinion,, each scheme ought to stand on its own merits, and, under proper conditions, I should be prepared to vote for both. There is no doubt that the suggested Commonwealth railway interfered with the success of the land grant scheme, to which a large section of the public of South Australia” were opposed, simply because it was a land grant scheme. The leader of the Labour Party in the State was against the land grant proposal; but the Jenkins Government, in order to further its interests, attempted in every way to block the Federal survey proposal. The whole of the letters and telegrams sent by the Federal Government to the State Government of South Australia, were couched in the most respectful terms, merely asking that the constitutional obligation should be carried out, and that the State Government should make known their views. On the other hand, the letters from the State Government to the Federal Government were written in most insulting and disrespectful language, calculated in every’ way to force a breach and to drag the Federal Government into disrepute. One of the blackest deeds which stand to the record of the Jenkins Government is their attempt to gain their object by means of such language. What is the attitude of the people of South Australia? I am not concerned with what is the attitude of the late Jenkins Government. That Government represented those who wished to give away one-half of the freehold of the State to people who were prepared to carry out an iniquitous gambling scheme. I am concerned with the attitude of the representatives in this Chamber of the people of South Australia. Is there an honorable senator from South Australia who was elected as a declared opponent of the railway in respect of which it is proposed to have a survey ? Is there one honorable senator from South Australia who was elected pledged to vote against and to block this Bill ? I have not heard of one.
– Neither is there one from Queensland.
– At the late Federal elections in South Australia, Senator McGregor, Senator Story, and Senator Guthrie raised this question on many platforms. Those honorable senators, I believe, told the people that if they were elected they were prepared to carry out South Australia’s part in assisting to bring about the construction of the railway ; and those honorable senators were returned at the top of the poll.
– Senator Guthrie does not say that now.
– I think that the division list will show that Senator Guthrie is for the Bill.
– But Senator Pearce is speaking about the construction of the line.
-I am speaking of the Bill before us. South Australia’s attitude in regard to the measure is shown by the attitude of the representatives of that State within this Chamber in a more impressive manner than it is by the attitude of those who tried to engineer the land grant railway through the State Parliament. I am surprised that some of our Queensland friends, who in that State fought the greatest fight in Australia against the principle of land grant railways, should be prepared to take the opinion of men who tried to bring about the construction of a railway of the kind in South Australia-
– Every word the honorable senator says proves that an Act of
Parliament by the South Australian State is the only satisfactory form of consent.
– The Commonwealth Government have received a telegram from the Premier of South Australia in these words -
We have no objection to the survey of the Western Australian railway -
– There is no “ provided “ in it - but we desire to be consulted as to the route. It must be understood that this in no way binds our hands to the ultimate approval of a policy.
I challenge those who wish to put a certain construction on that message to send a telegram to the Premier of South Australia asking whether he and his Government wish to bind the hands of the Federal Parliament as to the number of surveys that shall be made, or as to the route of any survey.
– That telegram says so.
– I have the assurance of the Premier of South Australia, given to me personally - and so has another honorable senator - that his construction of the telegram, which was laid before him, is - “So far as we are concerned, you can survey any route you like, and as many routes as you like; the meaning of the telegram is that we are not concerned with the survey which we wish you to go on with, but what we ask is that, when the survey is made, and the Federal Parliament is asked to commit itself to a Railway Construction Bill, the measure shall be submitted to us, in order that we may be consulted as to the route the line is to follow.” I say that that is a perfectly justifiable course to take. The Constitution gives the State certain power, inasmuch as the railway cannot be built by the Commonwealth through any territory, without the consent of the State concerned. The Premier of South Australia would be false to his trust if, while consenting to the survey, he did not notify that, before proposals for construction were introduced, he should be allowed to exercise the right given to him by the Constitution - that he should be consulted as to the route. It is a mere quibbling with the position to say that the State Government ever laid down any condition as to which route should be surveyed ; it is ridiculous to suppose that any Government would seek to bind the Commonwealth in that way. The surveyors themselves will not know the exact route until they have completed the survey, and, therefore, it is impossible for the State Government to tie us down to so many miles north or south of’ a certain line. The proposition has only to be looked at to reveal its absurdity. It has been said that South Australia objects to any route being selected, because the building of the line would make Fremantle the terminus for the mail boats. In the first place the Western Australian people generally have never expressed any such belief, and, as a Westralian, I have no idea of the sort. I do not think the time will ever come when any port of Australia will be the sole terminus for the mail boats. The disposition is not to shorten, but to lengthen the voyage of those boats, and propositions are already being made to extend the run to Brisbane.
– Is the honorable senator discussing the main question ?
– I am dealing with the contention that South Australia’s objection is based on the ground that such a railway would make Fremantle the terminus for the mail boats. I am showing that Western Australia has not expressed any such opinion - that it is an unreasonable contention, which bears no weight.
– Not the terminus for the mail boats, but the terminus for the mails.
– Senator Givens has raised another important question. What would South Australia lose by Fremantle being made the terminus for the mails? What on earth does South Australia gain by the handling of a few hundred mail bags at Largs Bay?
– South Australia may think that, if the mail terminus were Fremantle, the boats might not call at Adelaide.
– And, of course, the boats would not call.
– The mail boats would continue to call at Adelaide, especially in view of the fact that the expansion of the export trade of South Australia in apples, butter, and farm produce generally would make it worth their while. Are we to understand that the mail boats at present call at Largs Bay for the purpose of giving a few hours’ work to the crew - and not to lumpers and wharf labourers, who are not employed in this way- - in the handling of a few hundred mail bags ? Is that the awful loss that South Australia is to suffer? Is that the secret of the opposition which Ave are told exists in South Australia to this railway, but which, I think, I have shown does not exist? Is it not strange to see the wonderful anxiety on the part of Queensland members for South Australian interests ?
– I am not anxious for the interests of South Australia, but for the interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– Would it not rather be thought that Senators McGregor, Story, or Guthrie, would rush into this awful breach to save the downfall of the shipping industry of South Australia? No; it has to be left to our Queensland friends to discover that the whole State edifice of South Australia will tumble into ruin because a few mail bags are not landed at Adelaide, but, at Fremantle. I think that the people of South Australia should make some sort of presentation to those honorable senators in acknowledgment of their vigilant and valiant efforts to protect the interest of that State.
– The honorable senator is entirely begging the question.
– As Senator Givens well knows, I am prevented from debating the main question, and confined to the matter of South Australia’s attitude. I think I have shown - at any rate, I am satisfied on the point - that the amendment is unnecessary. It is not asked for in the interest of South Australia; and, even if it were in those interests, it would be a reflection on the representatives of that State that they should not have been the first to move.
– I moved the amendment in the interest of the Commonwealth.
– I am satisfied that South Australian representatives are the best guardians of South Australian rights. South Australian senators, however, have satisfied themselves that the amendment is unnecessary, and the Premier and Government of the State have shown by their telegram, that they are prepared to guard their rights when the proper time arrives, which will be when t’he proposal is made to construct the railway. Senator de Largie reminds me that, while Senator Givens has never gone to the trouble to go to South Australia to find out the opinion of the people there. Senator de Largie. Senator Smith, myself, andvarious other Western Australian members have been to that State for that purpose. We have addressed large meetings there, and at every one of those meetings resolutions were carried, not only in favour of this Bill, but of the construction of the railway.
– Why not come to Tasmania and enlighten the people there about it?
– We are prepared to do that, and, judging from the remarks of some honorable senators from Tasmania on this Bill, they badly need enlightenment on this question. I should think that Senator Givens, having the interests of South Australia in this matter so much at heart, might have consulted the South Australian people. I am not aware that at any big public meeting in South Australia the honorable senator has been called upon to stand up for the rights of that State.
– I am not so much concerned1 with the interests, of South Australia as with the interests of the Commonwealth in the matter.
– I take it that a certain provision was inserted in the Constitution in order to safeguard State rights. You, Mr. President, were a member of the Federal Convention, and helped to frame the Constitution. When agreeing to the provision to which I refer I have no doubt it was your intention that South Australia should have the right to say in the last resort whether a certain railway should be built through her territory. We have a State Government charged with the duty of seeing that the Federal Parliament d’oes not impinge on their authority. We have in this Senate six representatives of the State, whose particular duty it is to see that the rights of the State are not impinged on. The State Government of South Australia have not yet said that they object to the construction of this line, or that they object to this proposed survey. I understand that the six honorable senators representing the State here -will vote for the proposed survey.
– We have not heard anything from the State Parliament at all.
– It remains for a Queensland representative to step into the breach and save South Australia from having her rights voted away by her representatives in the Senate.
– If the opinion in South Australia is as the honorable senator has stated, there will be no trouble in getting her consent to this proposal, and we can then proceed properly
– Senator Styles has stated that the South Australian Parliament has said nothing on this matter. I remind the honorable senator that there is in the South Australian Parliament a very vigilant Opposition, and if Mr. ‘Price in his. telegram has in any way jeopardized the rights of South Australia-
– He could not do it.
– Or had done anything against the interests of that State, the very vigilant Opposition would be the first to raise an outcry on the subject in the South Australian Parliament. This incident has occurred at a very crucial period in the history of the present South Australian Government, when the Opposition are looking for something with which to fight them, and yet no member of the South Australian Parliament has objected1 to the terms of Mr. Price’s telegram.
– He is not entitled to speak for the South Australian Parliament.
– He is more entitled to do so than is any other member) of that Parliament, because he is the leader of a Government which possesses the confidence of that Parliament, or it would not be where it is. I take it that in this matter Mr. Price has spoken for the South Australian Parliament, because every member of that Parliament was free to criticise the telegram adversely, and no -member raised his voice against it.
– Let the South Australian Government introduce a Bill onthe ‘‘subject, and there will soon be voices heard against it.
– I think I have shown that we have the consent of South Australia for all that is necessary for the purposes of this Bill. I have shown that that State is prepared to support the Bill from the statement of a representative of her State Parliament, and from the statements of her Federal representatives. It is, therefore, hypocritical that an amendment of this character should be brought forward by an honorable senator representing a State within whose borders no part of the proposed railway will be constructed,, and which cannot be affected by South Australia giving up any of her rights under the Constitution in this matter.
– I should like to begin my .remarks by expressing a hope that the compliments which have been passed from one side to the other about parochialism will cease. I should be the last to accuse honorable senators who are so strongly supporting this Bill of being actuated solely by parochial motives. I have interjected, during the debate that I think they should be the last to attribute such motives to any one opposing the Bill.
– Therefore, we are most likely to be provincial?
– I think it might be admitted that honorable senators from Western Australia are looking forward to a benefit to be gained by their State in which the other States will not participate, and therefore they should not be the first to make these somewhat offensive charges. Honorable senators will admit that Tasmania can receive absolutely no benefit from this proposal.
– I do not admit anything of the kind. Tasmanians will get their letters from Western Australia two days sooner.
– I do not propose to deal with, that now. I hope to be able to get through my speech without saying anything to wound the susceptibilities of honorable ‘senators from Western Australia. I believe I can suggest sufficiently strong reasons for opposing this measure without descending to anything of that kind. Whatever action may be taken, I trust that the Bill will be defeated or carried by an absolute majority of the Senate. I have already shown that I shall not be one to participate in any unfair tactics in order to defeat the measure.
– All the tactics have been tried; it is too late now to make excuses of that kind.
– I make no excuses of any kind. I have not so far spoken on the Bill, and I have no need to make excuses for other people. I do not propose to discuss the question as to whether this so-called transcontinental railway shall be constructed or not. I admit frankly that the expansion of Western Australia, and of her sister State, South Australia, will probably in the near future afford a very much better justification for the construction of this line than any that now exists. I believe that the construction of a railway connecting Western Australia with the eastern States in the Federation will become a national necessity in a short time. The question we have to discuss is whether, as senators who have in a particular way intrusted to them the guardianship of the rights of their States, we can consent, to the Commonwealth directly, or by implication, assuming the responsi bility for the construction of this line. Several honorable senators have stated that this vote of £20,000 is asked for merely for investigation purposes. They have denied that they will attach any further responsibility to the action of the Federal Parliament than can be associated with the mere voting of this £20,000 for this purpose of inspection. -I differ from honorable senators on” that point, because, even in their speeches on this Bill, they have referred over and over again to the construction of the line.
– In answering arguments put forward by those who oppose the Bill.
– Senator Croft did good service for his State by dealing with technical matters which threw a greatdeal of light on the question. The honorable senator appeared to think there was some reason for showing that the construction of the line would not be so costly as some honorable senators assume. What was the honorable senator’s object? The honorable senator also said that he would not ask any member of the Senate to vote for the construction of the line if the survey disclosed that there would be particular difficulties. With all due respect to the honorable senator, I say, “ Thank you for nothing.” Who would think of asking the Senate to vote for the construction of a line if the surveyors reported that it would be inadvisable, or very costly ? To follow the argument used by Senator Croft and his colleagues to its logical conclusion, if we vote for the survey, and the subsequent report from the surveyors is to the effect that the line can be constructed comparatively easily, and for £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, the average estimate of its cost of construction, we shall be bound to support it. Senator Croft and his colleagues will in such a case contend that we have committed ourselves.
– Surely the honorable senator is not afraid of that?
– Why are we asked by the wealthiest State in the Federation to vote this paltry sum of -£20,000, unless there is something behind it?
– Because it is a Federal matter.
– Who says it is a Federal matter?
– The Government - the honorable senator’s Government.
– There is no Government here that is my Government. I am quite an independent member of the Senate. What is behind this vote for a survey ? Is it not the construction of the railway?
– That will not follow necessarily.
– It will not necessarily follow if the surveyors report that it would be too costly, or that it ought not to be constructed, but if the survey discloses that it can be constructed within the estimates, or guesses which have been made of the probable cost of construction, what will be expected of us? Will it not be said that having al read v put our hands to the plough,- we should not turn back, but should go on and construct the railway ?
– If any other inquiry should justify action on the part of the Commonwealth, would not the honorable senator support it?
– I quoted* Sir John Forrest’s words, in which he said that any one voting for this Bill must vote for the construction of the line.
– I propose to quote the words of some honorable senators on this question. Senator Pearce has said with regard to it - >
This is a proposal for making Federation with Western Australia a real Federation.
I shall have some reference to make to a real Federation before I sit down.
I , refer, of course - to what ? to the construction of the proposed railway from the east to the west.
A little later on the honorable senator said -
They would not be doing their duty if they consented to the construction of this railway merely from a spirit of good fellowship.
Quite a sound principle -
They had the right to ask for.’and they should be given good reasons why the railway should be constructed.
Is there anything about the survey there?
– I want the survey to enable honorable senators to get those reasons.
– I suppose the Premier of Western Australia is responsible for the issue of the verv interesting pamphlet entitled, “The West Australian Union Railway.” I suppose he may be taken to speak for the people of Western Australia, as Senator Pearce claims Mr. Price to have spoken for the people of South Australia.
– No; that was Mr. James, and he has been rejected by the people of Western Australia.
– Not on this question.
– On every question.
– Then I suppose that by-and-by, when Mr. Price is rejected, the honorable senator will turn round, and say that what he said on the subject of this railway has been rejected by the people of South Australia?
– He is not going to be rejected.
– These may not be the words of the Premier of Western Australia, but they are contained in a pamphlet issued with his authority. I find this statement made -
The bridging of this gap with the iron road is an undertaking which it is proposed that the Federal Government shall now carry out as a work of national interest, and one essential to full Federal security.
– Some prominent Federalists of Tasmania used that as an argument to induce Western Australia to join the Federation.
– I am not concerned with the inconsistencies of other persons, and I am not to be saddled with their sins.
– Repudiation is so general that no one is surprised at it.
– I dislike the use of that word, and the honorable senator is not helping his cause by using it.
– It is the truth, all the same.
– Order !
– The more temperately this debate is conducted1 the better it will be for the question under consideration, and the dignity of the House. Who is asking for this vote of £20,000 to carry out a survey ? It is asked for by Western Australia, a large and important State, with a population of .200,000.
– It is part of our defence scheme.
– I do not accept the Minister as a satisfactory authority on matters of defence.
– But look at the reports of Major-General Edwards and MajorGeneral Hutton.
– It is proposed to see if the two railway systems can be connected by a .line 1,100 miles long, and to carry out the inquiry at the expense of the Commonwealth. I admit that South Australia is associated with Western Australia in this matter, but the request for an inquiry comes from the latter State, which joined the Federation under specially favorable terms. I object to the Federation assuming a large responsibility of this kind until we are truly federated. Western Australia was allowed to tax the products of other States on a diminishing scale for a period of five years, and, acting with New South Wales, she secured the adoption of that wretched un-federal system known as the book-keeping arrangement.
– It was the Convention which framed that provision.
– It was done at the instance of New South Wales, and it is a most un-federal provision. Western Australia, which yields nearly £9,000,000 worth of gold annually, is asking little Tasmania to bear the expense of this project.
– Does it want to get its hand into our pocket?
– No; I desire all the States to be partners on even terms. I do not like the idea of Western Australia carefully conserving to herself every penny of her revenue during the time of prosperity and preparing to bleed the Commonwealth when the time of adversity comes round. With the enormous debt she is piling up, the time will come when she will be glad to get assistance and will come to the Commonwealth for it. The Constitution contains a provision which is said to have been put in for the benefit of Tasmania, and which allows the Commonwealth to assist a State in financial difficulties. I have always advised the electors of Tasmania to pay their way, and not to appeal for help to the Federation, no matter what expense it may have caused to them. This is a very great question, indeed, but behind it is a still greater question, and that is the nationalization of the railways of the States. What sort of a business proposition is the project to which we are now asked to commit ourselves, and the Commonwealth must look at it as a business concern ? Suppose that we offered this as a concession, with a land grant thrown in, to a number of capitalists, and said to them, “ Here you can come in, and construct 1,100 miles of railway under certain conditions. The position when the line is constructed’ will be that the front door of it will belong to Western Australia, and the back door to South Australia. The intervening section will be yours.” How many capitalists would touch it? And this will be the ownership the Commonwealth will have.
– Who would work it?
– South Australia would” work one end, and Western Australia the other. It would not pay the Commonwealth to work the line.
– Who would make any profit out of the working of the railway ? Who would have to foot the bill for its loss each year? Even the advocates of this scheme estimate a loss of £60,000 a year, to start with. If that is the case, what sort of a business scheme can it be called?
– Tasmania would not lose much.
– The Minister of Defence said more the other night to damage this proposal in the eyes of business men than did all the arguments which had been advanced against it.
– No. What did I say ?
– The honorable gentleman pointed to that which must be evident to every one. He said, “ You are going to have a break of gauge.”
– There need not be a break of gauge.
– Then what becomes of the argument that, by the construction of this line, we should save a vast amount of time?
– A train could be run on a 3 ft. 6 in. line as fast as the express trains are now run from State to State.
– The figures which have been quoted’ to the Senate are. not calculations, but mere guesses. No one need discount the ability of the engineers to deal with the subject, but they frankly admit that they had to make their report on second-hand evidence, and verylittle of that, indeed. Let us take the evidence of Mr. O’Connor, who cannot possibly be said to be prejudiced against the proposal. I shall select his first report, which was dated1 the 1st May, 1901.
– Surely the last report is the best one to take?
– Can the honorable senator tell me truly that there was very much more information before the engineers who made the last report than there was before Mr. O’Connor?
– Yes; an enormous amount of additional evidence.
– They got the opinions of Mr. Muir, M.I.C.E., who had travelled over the whole line.
– Yes ; and they demonstrated that there is water to be had at one spot in a distance of 1,100 miles. Senator de Largie. - There have been two parties over the line since then.
– I suppose I can read this portion of Mr. O’Connor’s report -
In an undertaking of this magnitude, traversing 1,100 miles of country, which is mostly uninhabited, and uncultivated, and waterless, although there are no engineering difficulties to contend with, there is necessarily a good deal of uncertainty as to its probable cost.
That text is as good to-day as it was in 1 901.
– The honorable senator is arguing in favour of a survey being carried out.
– I am arguing in favour of a survey being made, if the Minister so wishes, by those who are interested in the construction of this railway, and not at the expense of Tasmania, which has no interest in the project further than the possibility of losing, through its construction and working, a large sum which she cannot afford to lose. Mr. O’Connor’s estimates of the traffic on the line have quite reeentlv been adopted. But I wish to point out the absurd basis on which they have been built. In his report he says -
As regards basis for estimate of probable receipts, we have data as follows : -
The average number of passengers each way per week, between Fremantle and the Eastern States, for the last three years, has been about 400, and it has been fairly uniform for each of the three years.
Counting both journeys, this means 800 passengers per week, namely, over 40,000 a year, the majority of whom reside upon, or are connected with the gold-fields, and would consequently probably go by overland railway in order to save time, and to keep in touch with their business, unless it involves considerable extra expense. Instead of involving extra expense, however, it will, on the contrary (as is evidenced by tables “A” and “ B “ herewith), be, in many cases, much cheaper for them to go by overland railway, if constructed, than to go by sea.
Side by side with the cost of travelling by rail from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle, and thence by water to Adelaide, this engineer put down the charges then made by the deep-sea boats, and also by the Inter-State boats. Since that time I understand that the rates on the latter have been reduced. But, adopting that basis, it seems to me, from a careful perusal of the report, that Mr. O’Connor assumed that every one of these 40,000 passengers would forsake the boats immediately and travel by the transcontinental railway.
– Not one-fourth of them would.
– I do not think it is at all likely that they would.
– If cheaper I think they would.
– In some cases the passengers might use the railway-.
– This estimate is calculated on the ordinary Australian rates.
– No; there are two rates, namely,1d. and1¼d. per mile.
– There is no such rate as the latter in Australia.
– Taking the second case, what revenue would be obtained from the carriage of 40,000 passengers at £411s. 8d. each?
– The honorable senator might as well discuss the tariff in the refreshment bars.
– Although the honorable senator deprecated the introduction of extraneous matter, still he erred a great deal in that respect. In my opinion, this calculation is relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. At the ratelaid dbwn by Mr. O’Connor, 40,000 passengers per annum would give a revenue of£183,333 6s. 8d. His estimate of the total receipts was £240,000. Apparently, he has only allowed £56,000 for goods traffic. But it goes without saying that the goods traffic along 1,700 miles of railway would not be very considerable in competition with sea traffic, though there may be some intermediate traffic in stock and perishable goods.
– What does the honorable senator mean by speaking of 1,700 miles?
– I was speaking of the whole line between Adelaide and Fremantle, because not much stuff is likely to be taken, on at Port Augusta. The traffic, if there is any, will be between Adelaide and Fremantle. But even if we knock off 600 miles, howmany people will send goods 1,100 miles by rail when they can send them by water at one-half the cost ? I mention this to show the wretched manner in which this project has been put before us. No harm will be done if the matter is delayed. On the contrary, great good will be done if an opportunity is afforded to Western Australia and South Australia to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposal. /Then they can come to the Federal Parliament and ask for Commonwealth assistance, in which case I venture to say that even the Tasmanian ‘representatives will be prepared to give them a fair hearing. But if once we put our hands to the plough, and plough this furrow right out, we shall be initiating a departure from the very safe non-borrowing policy which the Commonwealth ,has hitherto followed. If there is one thing more than another which stands to the credit of the Labour Party it is the non-borrowing policy, for which I believe they are responsible, and for which I have. always given them every credit. But how are we going to construct 1,100 miles of railway at a cost of £4,000,000, at the lowest estimate, without borrowing? Will Western Australia, which has no income tax and no land1 tax, consent to direct taxation to provide the money ?
– This Bill is merely for a survey.
– I believe that the honorable senator is satisfied that that is the case. No doubt he is voting for the survey under the impression that he is not committing himself to go any further. I can quite understand that the representatives of South Australia feel interested in this line, and in obtaining information about it. They are deeply interested in getting the Commonwealth to construct the line without it costing their State anything.
– South Australia does not want the line if it is not warranted.
– It is pleasant to hear that South Australia is so unselfish.
– The honorable senator would not give us the chance to find out whether the. construction of the line would be justified or not.
– I would give to South Australia and Western Australia every possible chance. We are doing nothing to prevent those States from spending £20,000 for the purpose of a survey if they wish to do it. Nobody would attempt to interfere with them. After they had obtained that information, we should be willing to consider it.
– Would the honorable senator accept that survey? He would not accept the report of the engineersinchief.
– We have no report worth the paper it is printed on. I decline to accept a report signed by people who have not passed over the ground. The engineers themselves admit their inability to form a just estimate. Senator Smith knows something about surveying, and he knows that a mere traverse of the country is not sufficient to give any idea of what the cost of a railway will be. There are many other things in connexion with the line than the engineering difficulties. There is the possibility of sand-drifts covering up the railway altogether. When Federation has had time to develop, and we have fuller information, we may be more inclined to look at this,matter in the light of a national work than we are able to do now. But at present, I doubt whether we should be justified in authorizing even the beginning of such a work on grounds such as have been put before us. The most that has been said in favour of it is that the line will possibly be useful for defence purposes. I am sorry that Senator Givens has proposed an amendment. I should prefer to defeat the Bill straight-out but I feel that it is my duty to support the amendment as it has been proposed, because we ought to take all fair means to postpone the consideration of this subject by the Federal Parliament until all the information which can be supplied by the States most interested is forthcoming.
– It seems to me that since this question has been under discussion, senators from two StatesQueensland and Tasmania - have been more particularly assailed by honorable senators who support the project. Senator Pearce was very much put out this afternoon because Senator Givens had moved the amendment that is now before the Senate. Evidently, in Senator Pearce’s opinion. Senator Givens had no right to move in this direction, because he happened to come from Queensland. Nor had he a right to decline to vote for the project, because he wanted further information, and desired to have the assent of the State which, after Western Australia, is most deeply interested - not through its Premier, but through its Parliament. It is not sufficient that the Premier of a State should say that this or that thing should be done. During the course of this debate, we have had brought up the opinions of various men in politics before Federation took place in reference to the transcontinental railway.
– We cannot hear of any one who was against the railway before Federation.
– No one ever heard of the matter in Queensland prior to Federation. It was only after the Commonwealth was established that we heard that there was such a proposal as this Western Australian railway.
– The honorable senator never said a word against it during his election campaign.
– I absolutely deny the honorable senator’s statement.
– Give us some proof.
– I could give proof from the mouths of honorable senators who heard me answer questions from the platform.
– We have the word of other Queensland senators against Senator Turley’s.
– The reply which I gave from the platform was that I was totally impartial as far as this project was concerned. It is a matter of absolute indifference to me whether the honorable senator who interjects believes me or not.
– There is no doubt about the honorable senator’s impartiality r
– I can easily understand why the South Australian senators are in favour of the survey being made. But how many are prepared to pledge themselves to the construction of the railway ? That is another question altogether. If the Commonwealth were prepared to spend £50,000 on a survey of a line from one end of Queensland to the other, I do not believe that a single senator from Queensland would object. The money would be spent in Queensland, and it would not be natural for us to object. Again, if the Commonwealth proposed to spend money on a survey of a line to Port Darwin, I do not believe that a single South Australian senator would object. And why ? Because the money would be spent in their State. But I do not look at the present proposal from that point of view. The question is whether we should be justified in spending this large sum of money when the people who are asking for something to be done for them are able to do it for themselves. If has been stated by Western Australian representatives that a former Western Australian Premier has re marked that his Government were prepared to do this work, but could not get the assistance of South Australia. I have heard Sir John Forrest say that the State of Western Australia was prepared to put down her proportion of the money necessary to carry out the survey if South Australia would consent to do her part. But South Australia declared that it would not spend a solitary penny, but that if Western Australia could get the Commonwealth Government to step in, well and good. The position that is taken up by myself and others is that the two States most nearly concerned, altogether outside the question of defence, are South Australia and Western Australia; and that if one State is prepared to vote money for a portion of the survey, the other State should, at least, be asked to give its consent to the construction of the line before anything is done regarding either survey or construction. In my opinion, the survey is part of the construction of a railway, and the cost of the survey is merged in the whole cost all the world over. In Queensland I know that the cost of the survey is reckoned as part of the total expenditure on a work of this kind ; and when we are asked to pass this Bill I contend that we are asked to start the work of construction.
– Absolutely, yes.
– Surveys are sometimes made, and no railway is constructed in consequence.
– That is so, but in such cases the money spent on the survey might just as well have been thrown into the sea, and I am sure the Minister of Defence would not like that to be the destination of Federal money.
– But a survey may prevent large unnecessary expenditure.
– We know that surveys are sometimes made with other objects than that of constructing railways. In Queensland I know that surveys have been consented to by Ministries, simply in order to gain support when support was impossible by any other means, and I fancy the same sort of thing has occurred in other States.
– Not in South Australia.
– No doubt they are very nice people in South Australia ; at any rate, they do not object to the Commonwealth spending money on a survey, while reserving to themselves the right to say, after the money has been spent, that they will have nothing further to do with the project, because the wrong route has been chosen.
– Or the wrong gauge has been proposed.
– As pointed out by the Minister of Defence the other day, South Australia does not intend, in his opinion, to have anything to do with the matter if the Commonwealth is not prepared to make the gauge 3 feet 6 inches instead of 4 feet 83^ inches. As the Minister said, the cost of that would be £400,000, and South Australia is not prepared to go to that expense in connexion with a railway constructed for defence. Senator Pearce has expressed his surprise that Queensland senators support the action of the late Premier of South Australia, Mr. Jenkins, who engineered the biggest land steal ever attempted in the Commonwealth. The senators to whom reference is made have not been in the habit of supporting people who engineer land schemes of the kind, but, on the contrary, they have strongly opposed any lines being built in Queensland except by the State. At any rate, I atn not prepared to be held up now as one who is following the lead of a man who carried, or attempted to carry, this great land steal. I take up my present position in regard to this Bill, in the belief that the great bulk of the people in the State which I represent are absolutely opposed to the construction of this transcontinental railway.
– The honorable senator has.no authority for making that statement.
– Senator Turley has no warrant for the statement.
– I’ believe that if the honorable senators who interject travelled from the Tweed to Cape York they would find the bulk of the people absolutely opposed to the construction of this line. I have been in Queensland since Senator Dawson was there, and have addressed public meetings’ at a considerable number of places, and I found the consensus d? opinion everywhere absolutely opposed to the Commonwealth spending money either on a survey or construction at the present time.
– Has the honorable senator ever heard any persons speak about the matter in Queensland?
– I have dealt with the subject on the platform, and have heard the opinions expressed by my auditors. There is one little matter which I should like to clear up. When Senator Croft was speaking the other day, he stated that every means had been tried to block this proposed survey, and he suggested that when I raised the question whether this Bill was in accordance with our Standing Orders, I was goaded on by Senator Symon, That means, I- take it, that I was “used” by Senator Symon with’ the object of raising a point of order which he himself did not care to raise. That suggestion is entirely without foundation. The gentleman who directed my attention to the matter was Mr. McDonald, a member of another place, and it was only when I was entering the chamber, two or three minutes before I raised the point of order, that I asked Senator Symon his opinion. The honorable and learned senator was not sure about the matter ; but when I had laid the facts before him he, in an offhand way, said that my point of order seemed to be pretty conclusive. So far as I know, Senator Symon had not considered the point before, and I was influenced in no way by that gentleman when I drew attention to the matter. I make this statement in order that the credit of looking into the matter may be given to the right person, namely, Mr. McDonald. We have heard a good deal about the attitude I took up in Queensland, but Senator Stewart and Senator Givens heard me asked the question, when I was contesting an election for this Chamber, as to what my opinion was. I have been told by Western Australian representatives that I was totally opposed to this railway, and prejudiced in regard to it, before I entered the House, and that no proper consideration of the matter could be expected from a person like myself. When I was asked the question at the election meeting, I answered that, according to the information I then possessed, I was not in favour of the project; but that, when I came to Melbourne, I should get all the available information, and then, if I thought it to be a fair proposal, I should hold myself free to support it. I did not in any way quibble about the question, as Senator de Largie seems to insinuate. If senators in Western Australia are elected by shirking questions, that is not the way to which the’ people of Queensland are accustomed.
– The honorable senator shirked the question when he was in Western Australia.
– I did not. Before I came to this Chamber I had no information on which to make up my mind, except what had appeared in the press, and I was chary of taking that as reliable.
– Did the honorable senator say that he had not made up his mind?
– What I said I have already (informed the honorable senator, and I take up the same position now.
– And the honorable senator led the “stone- wall” to show his impartiality !
– When Icame to Melbourne I got all the reports and other publications on the subject, and, having read them carefully, I asked Senator de Largie himself, on one or two occasions, whether there was any further information to be obtained. His reply was “ No ; the reports ought to satisfy any one.” The reports might satisfy any one who had very little experience of Australia, but any one who knows anything about this Continent would not be induced by such information to vote for the project. In my opinion, the proper course is for the two States more immediately concerned to arrange this matter between themselves, and then to demonstrate to the Federal Government that this is a fair and reasonable enterprise. The only objection raised by Western Australian senators to this suggestion is contained in the words, “ You would not believe us.” If that be their objection, the way out of the difficulty would be for the two States Governments to offer to bear the cost, and ask the Commonwealth to appoint the officials and carry out the work. The Western Australian senators, however, are not prepared to take a course like that.
– That argument has been answered so often.
– On the contrary, it has never been answered yet. Western Australia is prepared to bear her share of the expense, but the other State insists that the Commonwealth shall do the work.
– The honorable senator will see how Queensland will have to bear the expense of the sugar bounties, when they come up for consideration.
– Order; sugar bounties have nothing to do with the question before us.
– We are now threatened with what Western Australian representatives may do when something happens ;. but when that something happens, we also may be prepared. If Western Australian senators are opposed to the policy of a White Australia, I hope they will say so, openly and candidly. .
– Western Australia gains nothing by the sugar bounties, whereas Queensland does.
– A great deal of information is given in the report about the income likely to be derived from this line when it is completed. But all who have had experience know that very few people travel overland when there is the competition of sea communication. A firstclass return ticket between Brisbane and Melbourne costs £12, which, in addition to 50s. for sleeping berthsand meals, makes the cost of an overland journey something like £16. For one passenger who travels by train from Brisbane to Melbourne a dozen travel by boat, for the simple reason that you can get a first-class return ticket by boat from Brisbane to Melbourne, for which you will be fed all the way, six days coming down and six days going back, for £7 10s., or about one-half of what it would cost by rail without those advantages.
– What do the shipping companies pay their men as compared with the wages paid to railway men?
– The shipping companies on this coast are paying better wages than are paid by shipping companies anywhere else in the world.
– About £5 per month.
– I ask Senator Turley not to be led away by irrelevant interjections.
– Senator Dawson is attempting to correct me on a question of seamen’s wages.
– The honorable senator should take no notice of the interjection. We cannot have a discussion as to the rate of wages paid to seamen, in dealing with this Bill.
– I have only to say that the honorable senator’s statement regarding the rate of wages paid to seamen on our coast is absolutely incorrect, and I speak as a member of the Seamen’s Union. What is our experience of the railway line running between the two capitals - Brisbane and Sydney ? We have been told that all passengers from Western Australia will travel over the proposed line, not only those from Kalgoorlie, but also those from Fremantle, Perth, Coolgardie, and other places in Western Australia, who now go through Fremantle to the other States. According to this return, it is estimated that all those passengers will travel by this railway. No one with a grain of common sense can believe that that will be so. If we take the experience of the railway from Brisbane to Sydney we can say that for one person who travels by the railway between those places twenty travel by boat.
– Fifty by boat at least.
– Twenty at any rate. It is further said that because passengers from Coolgardie have now to travel from Fremantle to Coolgardie after coming from the other States by boat they will prefer to travel by this railway if it is constructed. In answer to that, I take the case of people travelling from Longreach to Sydney. They do not travel by rail. With the exception of very few, indeed, they come by rail to Rockhampton, and go from there to Sydney by boat, or they come by rail to Brisbane, and there take the boat for Sydney. The passenger traffic on the Inter-State line in Queensland is so small that the line from the border to Gowrie Junction, where it joins the Southern and Western Railway, has paid only about 1 per cent, over interest and working expenses. Now, as to goods traffic, what goods traffic is it expected will be taken over this line?
– Very little. There is some talk, about perishables, and we are invited to believe that fruit and vegetables will be taken for hundreds of miles by this railway. There is a great deal of fruit and vegetables leaving Brisbane for the North, but how much is taken from Brisbane to Rockhampton by rail? The distance is 340 miles by rail, and 500 miles by water ; but I venture to say that 90 per cent, of the produce carried from Brisbane to- Rockhampton goes by boat, though there is an additional disadvantage in that when it gets to Keppel Bay it has to be lightered and carried forty miles up the Fitzroy River, which involves two or three different handlings. Even with these disadvantages shippers of this produce find it to their advantage to send it by water rather than by rail. The same thing applies to all goods with the exception of small parcels carried from Brisbane to Rockhampton, and even to goods which have to be carried west from Rockhampton on the Central Railway.
– Why does not Queensland close up her lines if they are of no use?
– The railways of Queensland are doing fairly good work. The State is losing £200,000 or £300,000 a year on her railways, but a very great deal of good has been done in the opening up of the country by those lines. I have referred to lines in Queensland which can be compared with the proposed line to Western Australia, inasmuch aa they have to compete with water communication. When we have such experience in other parts of Australia to show that water carriage can always successfully compete with railway carriage, we cannot expect that that experience will not also apply to this proposed line. I contend that this report is absolutely unreliable in the light of experience gained in other parts of Australia, where railways have to compete with water carriage. I do not know that I need go through the report. I read it very carefully, because I thought there might be something in it which would throw some, light on the subject, and enable me to support this proposal. I understand that it is estimated that this line with rollingstock and all complete will cost something like £4,400 per mile. I can take the case of lines running over the western plains of Queensland, far better country for railway construction than that outlined by the Minister of Defence when he ‘told us that the route of this railway would traverse a belt of country with sand-hills 200 feet high.
– The honorable senator has doubled it straight away ; I said 100 feet.
– I have just referred to the report of the honorable senator’s speech in Hansard.
– I think I said 100 feet.
– I find from the Hansard report that the honorable senator stated that the sand-hills were in some instances 200 feet high, with valleys in between, and he did not know whether the surveyors would take the railway over the tops of the sand-hills, or around their bases. If the honorable senator now says that these sand-hills are only 100 feet high, I am willing to accept that statement.
– I may inadvertently have said 200 feet ; I meant 100 feet.
– Many of our railways in Queensland are built over absolutely level country, involving very little construction work, but we have not yet been able in that State to build substantial railways on which trains can travel faster than fifteen miles an hour for anything like the sum estimated here.
– We have done it for less in South Australia.
– Substantial railways on which trains can travel forty miles an hour?
– The railway from Broken Hill to Petersburg was constructed for a little over £3,000 per mile.
– Not including the cost of rolling-stock.
– What has that railway cost since? It has been reconstructed.
– It was only a tramway.
– I am1 speaking of a substantial railway on which trains can be driven forty miles an hour. That is what is expected of the proposed line.
-Co!. Neild. - The Broken Hill Une made at the price mentioned had to be pulled up.
– It never was pulled up.
– I could understand Senator Playford if he referred to a line laid down with little or no ballast, and on which trains might travel from ten to fifteen miles an hour. We have lines of that kind in Queensland on which there is very little ballast, and in some cases none. The sleepers are laid down, and the rails run over the top of them, but trains on those lines do not travel at more than from ten to fifteen miles an hour.
– Where are those lines ?
– I refer to the line from Hughenden to Richmond.
– Is that not because patent steel sleepers are used?
– No, the patent sleepers used on that line are cut out of ironbark or gum trees. I do not know whether Senator Dawson has been over that railway, hut I know the rate of speed at which trains are taken over it. If rain has recently fallen, those in charge of the train must be very careful not to travel too fast. The justification for the line is that it serves the district better than a bullock dray would serve it. But we are dealing here with a line which is to carry passenger and goods traffic at a speed of forty miles an, hour, and the question is whether that line can be constructed at a less cost, including rolling-stock, than any line which we have been able to construct in Australia up-to-date. Even in Western Australia it is not claimed that they have been able to construct any section of their existing lines at the same price, including rolling-stock.
– Yes, and for much less.
– Take the line from Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie.
– I take from Cogh lan the cost of State railways as a whole.
– They go through mountainous country in many places. Look at the immense cuttings and tunnels on the line from Brisbane to Wallangarra.
– I have been speaking of the cheapest railways constructed in that State, and apart from the cost of rolling-stock, they have cost from £2,000 to £2,200 per mile In his book, Mr. Coghlan gives the cost of railway construction per mile in each State. In 1903-4 the mileage in Western Australia was 1,541 miles on the 3 feet 6 inch gauge, and the cost per mile was £5,812. In all probability light rails were used, and the rolling-stock did not cost nearly as much as it would have done had the 4 feet 8j inch gauge been adopted.
– The honorable senator’s experience of Western Australia is not very great. That ought’ to show him the unfairness of quoting these figures.
– When a Federal party was travelling in Queensland not long ago, the honorable senator was christened the seventh representative for that State. It is quite true that I have been in Western Australia only once, but I am not stating my experience. I am quoting the figures of. a statistician who I believe is a competent man. Seeing that, according to Senator Playford, the transcontinental line would pass through sandhills 100 feet high, the cost of construction must be very expensive.
– There is only a limited extent of that country.
– Outside the strip which has been travelled, no one knows the character of the land through which the line would pass. It is the duty of Western Australia and South Australia to demonstrate that this is a fair proposal for the Federal Government to take up, and the expense should be borne by those States. It is certainly no part of the duty of the Commonwealth to send out exploring parties.
– Not for Federal purposes ?
– There is no Federal purpose .involved here. The Minister of Defence said, in his speech, that the only reason he knows of which would warrant the construction of the railway is that it might be useful for defence. Are we in a position at the present time to spend that money on defence? Because no one contends for a moment that the line would pay.
– Yes, the experts do.
– Not in one report do the experts say that the line would pay for at least some years.
– Not for ten years.
– That means a loss of £60,000 a year for ten years, plus the cost of construction.
– I said that the loss would be £60,000 in the first year, and it would gradually decrease.
– It is estimated that a great deal of freight would be carried by the line, but we know from experience that there is no chance of that estimate being realized. Coghlan says that in Queensland the average cost of railway construction was ^7,194 per mile. In that State we have a verv large area in which railways have been easily built. We have some very bad examples, such as the Cairns line, and the line round the Toowoomba ranges.
– And the Blackall range.
– That line was fairly expensive, but others have been more expensive. If honorable senators will go across the Darling Downs they will find railways traversing for hundreds of miles land better than any I saw in Western Australia. The land is pretty flat, the grades are very easy, and the cuttings were not very expensive.
– How much of the cost of those lines was due to the repurchase of land?
– In some cases a good deal, but in the majority of instances nothing.
– In the case of the transcontinental line there would be nothing to pay for the repurchase of land.
– In some portions of the western district of Queensland railway construction cost about £2,500 per mile, but that work was carried out under most favorable conditions, with easy access to the coast, and the cost of provisions was considerably lower than would be the case in Western Australia. I do not propose to quote the figures for the other States, but to point out that even in Queensland, despite the cheapness of railway construction, we have not been able to get a reasonable return from our expenditure. In 1903-4 the interest returned on the capital was z’36 - that is a loss of 1*56 per cent, on the total outlay. While Queensland has spent a great deal of money on railway construction, and is still losing at the rate °f £300,000 a year, it is not in a position to help to build a railway in another State which would involve an expenditure of, at the least, nearly £5,000,000. The proportion of Queensland might amount to only £600,000 or £^700,000, but it is asked to find this money for the building of a line which every one who has reported on the project has admitted cannot possibly pay. Every honorable senator who has occupied a seat in the State Legislature knows that a railway has never realized the anticipations of its advocates. I remember projects being introduced into the Queensland Parliament with very glowing accounts as regards the probable returns from the carriage of stock, wool, and passengers. It was very easy for the supporters of a proposal to demonstrate that the income would be more than sufficient to pay the working expenses and meet the interest on the outlay. But I never knew a case in which there was not a loss on the working of the line for a considerable time.
– There are so many prevaricators in that State.
– I do not know that the railways of South Australia have been doing too well. I believe that in many cases a project has been painted in such glowing colours as to induce) the State Parliament to build the line, even although it would entail a considerable burden on the taxpayers.
– Our railways are paying.
– I am glad to hear that they are, but for a good while the State was losing money on the working of its railways. The railway from Sydney to Brisbane has been worked for seventeen years. The length is 700 miles, and the fare is, I think, £2 10s. second class, and about £4 first class. In 1903-4 only 13,000 passengers travelled by.it.
– Does that include the intermediate passengers?
– It represents the number of passengers who travelled from State to State, and not only the through passengers from Brisbane to Sydney, and vice versa. If a person went from Warwick to Glen Innes he was reckoned in the count. It is easy, therefore, to see that the number of through passengers would be considerably less than the number stated here.
– Thousands of persons who went from Warwick and Toowoomba to Glen Innes, and vice versa, were not counted.
– Although the line runs through a fairly thickly populated country, with towns and settlements along its route, still it does not pay. Except during a drought there has ‘been practically no goods traffic. At that time some hay was sent up from the Hunter to the Darling Downs for feed. That, I believe, was the only time when produce of that kind was carried over the line. I have been twitted with having made up my mind and being (prejudiced against the project to build a railway to Western Australiat and therefore I wish to say why I believe that, from the Federal stand-point, it is a bad proposal. Senator Matheson quoted the names of the engineers who constituted the committee of inquiry, and wished to know if they, retain, their positions. I believe that they do. But when the inquiry was made they were practically limited to going to Port Augusta, calling at another little port, and then proceeding to a port at the far end, where information was gleaned from the reports of a few men.
– Information which satisfied them, anyway.
– I do not think it did satisfy the engineers. Have they given any information as to the advisable- ness of constructing the line at the present time? They say -
We beg respectfully to suggest that, in view of the direct monetary loss involved, this islargely a question of policy and sentiment -
– Is the honorable senator quoting from the first or the last report ?
– From the first one-
– They give a different report later on.
– The quotation proceeds - depending on many issues regarding which we have no information, and we hope we may be excused from expressing any other opinion than that, if the past progress of Western Australia is maintained, the line will ultimately be a necessity and a financial success.
– That is not the final report.
– But they say something similar to that in their final report. They say that they are not prepared to express an opinion on the direct question that is put to them. They go on to say further that there will be a lot of pastoralcountry opened up. I do not know how they were able to say that. They base their opinion on reports which have been submitted to us by other men who were sent out by the Western Australian Government. Those reports ought not to induce us to vote for a line like this. Senator Matheson has referred me to the final report of the experts. I will quote from it. They say -
To question No. 8 we find it very difficult to give an answer, in view of the fact that the monetary loss will, for the first few years, beconsiderable. The revenue may prove to behigher than we have estimated, and the deficiency may tend to diminish from year to year more rapidly than has been assumed. It will be for the Commonwealth Government to decide whether the immediate pecuniary loss is so serious as tooutweigh the beneficial effects pointed out in our answer to question No. 7.
– That shows that, in their opinion, the loss they mention is a maximum.
– No; they say that the loss “may” diminish. They leave it perfectly open. They do not say for a moment that it will probably be less than they have estimated.
– That is very ingenious.
– They throw the responsibility on the Commonwealth Government,
– The whole of the responsibility is thrown by them on the Government. I have seen nothing in this report to justify any sanguine hopes, except that they say -
New tracts of country would be opened up for pastoral settlement, both, in South Australian and Western- Australian territory, the chief difficulty
At present lying not so much in the want of fertility of the country and the absence of water as in its inaccessibility.
I do not know that there is any part of Australia that is inaccessible, provided it carries good grass and water.
– People will not go 1,100 miles into the back country for the sake of grass arid water.
– Does not the honorable senator know that Queenslanders have gone more than 1,100 miles into the back country for that purpose? They have gone 3,000 miles from the eastern coast, and taken cattle across. Does the honorable senator think that if the land which would be traversed by this railway were good the men who went to the north-west of Queensland would- not be prepared to take it up? Most decidedly they would, and they are men who understand country.
– Do the men to whom the honorable senator refers take feed with them?
– No, they do not, and it is only in good seasons that they can carry the cattle over. If the honorable senator had seen the report of the last <drover who came across he would be aware of the difficulties that man found in traveling his cattle hundreds of miles without water. I come now to the report of Mr. Muir, which Ave are told is sufficient to convince any one, that this railway ought to be built. On page 4 of his report Mr. Muir writes as follows about a watercourse which he saw -
At some considerable time back a large volume of water must have gone down this creek in order to cut such a distinct channel through the country ; but,- judging by the heaps of decaying timber and debris lying in its bed, this has not occurred for at least ten years, and probably not for a longer period.
What sort of country is it where, as this gentleman points out, there are very few water-courses at all, and where the one that he Saw, Goddard’s Creek, had debris lying in it, which indicated that, though there might have been a considerable amount of water in it at one time, there had not been any for the last ten years?
– It must have been very like Queensland, where they have had a ten years’ drought, which only. recently broke up.
– They have not had a ten years’ drought in Queensland. I know they have had a drought for about six years, but in a considerable portion of the country, that drought broke up a good while ago. I would point out that men went out into the back country of Queensland, and made it habitable because it would produce grass, and there Avas plenty of surface water that could be made available for stock. If the country through which this railway is to go were as good as the Queensland country to which I refer, it would have been put to a similar use many years ago.
– What about the Northern Territory?
– Some men who have been dealing in cattle in the Northern Territory have simply been, making fortunes since the drought broke up a few years ago. That statement can be borne out by honorable senators opposite who are interested in the business. They have been enabled, through the break up of the drought, to travel their cattle into country where they could sell to advantage.
– There are only about 120 white settlers altogether in the Northern Territory.
– I am not saying how many white people there are there, but I know that thousands of cattle every year are brought from the Northern Territory to South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria.
– I understand that many persons who took up land in Queensland prior to the drought have gone under.
– I believe that a good number of men have gone under. Do8s the honorable senator know the reason?
– The drought.
– No; it was simply because young men were sent out from the old country whose people had no use for them there, and were given a few thousand pounds Avith which to embark in the pastoral industry in Queensland, in which there was a boom at the time. Big profits were being made out of the land because the settlers were working their holdings economically. But when these young men came out with -a few thousands of pounds behind them, they bought up properties, probably for £40,000 or £50,000, the greater part of which they borrowed from the banks, and upon which they had to pay interest.
– Experienced men went under also.
– A large number went under because of the heavy interest that they had to pay. I know of one estate that has been paying 10 per cent. for years past, and has actually paid a great deal more in interest than the amount of capital firsf invested in it.
– Some of those who went under were the sons of experienced people in Victoria.
– Some of them came from just over the border in New South Wales, and went to country where I suppose the rabbit pest was worse than it has been in any other part of Queensland. But let me continue my references to Mr. Muir’s report. He says-
On the morning of the 16th June I made another start out northward, accompanied by two members of; the party, carrying five days’ provisions and water. I was anxious to thoroughly test this portion of the country for water, but our efforts were quite fruitless, and we had no better luck than on our previous trip ; Babington meanwhile taking the “main caravan down the creek to the water discovered thirty miles below.
There is evidence time aftertime in Mr. Muir’s report that though he discovered land that was carrying fairly good grass, there was no water to be found, except just a little between the rocks. I think that the biggest supply of water which he found was a basin that contained about 10,000 gallons. He camped near it, and filled up his water vessels to allow him to go on. He points out that there are comparatively few water-courses in this country. Any one who has been in the back country, knows that if there isany rainfall there are bound to be water-courses. There are verv large water-courses in the back country of Queens, land, although there is not a large rainfall there! As you go further north where the rainfall is fairly regular, and you get 50 to 60 inches per annum, you meet with big rivers every few miles. In mountainous country where the water comes down with a rush, there are deep water-courses. Everv ten or fifteen miles vou come across a large water-course. But this engineer who was sent out specially to report on this country, finds practicallyno watercourses. Why should we be asked to sup port a survey like this when everything points to the fact that it would be a very expensive job to put the line through? In spite of the evidence which we have had, we should certainly ask that the Western Australian and South Australian Governments shall prove that this is a fairly feasible project. When I spoke last year, an interjection was made to the effect that Western Australia had been to the expense of sending out a man who had done a good deal in the way of proving that it would be a good “ spec “ to construct a railway, because there was artesian water. I have read the report of Mr. Castilia, and I do not gather that any artesian supply has yet been discovered.
– I am quite sure there has not?
- Mr. Castilia states that he came across a deserted station, and that is some evidence that the country was at one time taken up. No doubt it was deserted simply because of the seasons, jusr in the same way as a considerable area has been abandoned in the western part of Queensland. When the drought came in Queensland the stock died, and the people were obliged to leave, just as I suppose the people were obliged to abandon their station on the route of the proposed railway.
– The honorable senator admits that people have had to abandon their stations in Queensland.
– A considerable area of country was abandoned in Queensland on the border of the Northern Territory, for the same reasons that other areas have been abandoned in every State of the Commonwealth.
– That country is perfectly capable of carrying stock in good seasons ?
– Yes, but beyond that the country is no good, and when a long drought came it had to be given UP-
– Because there were no tanks or artesian water.
– Some settlers had tanks and artesian water. The honorable senator seems to imagine that there can be nothing but a water famine in the western part of Queensland ; but what really happens is not a water famine, but a grass famine.
– The country on the route of the proposed railway is a thousand tinesbetter than that in Queensland, be- causeitiscoveredwithsaltbush.
– How long will salt bush last if cattle are left to feed on it? I know what the country is in Queensland, and there the salt bush is nearly all eaten out, even before the grass in finished ; and there has been some talk of growing this bush in some of the western stations, because the cattle need the salt obtained in that way. This report of Mr. Castilla, which was going to convince me as to the splendid prospects ahead of the line, goes on to say -
Some seventy miles east of Twilight Cove there is a place called Madura, at which an attempt was once made by a company to establish a station. Buildings were erected and tanks made in the gorges, but the venture fell through, and the place has lapsed to the Crown, everything being in a very ruinous condition.
There is no doubt that the people mentioned tried to make a success of this country. I have heard, although I -have not such definite information, that in other parts of the country men representing considerable capital have prospected with the object of taking up country. Mr. Castilla proceeds -
Boring for water at site No. 2, sixty miles from the coast, and thirty north of Madura, 7th September, 1902, and water was struck at a depth of 411 feet. . . .
It has been reiterated in this chamber that artesian water has been found, but, as a fact, the water mentioned in the report is all sub-artesian water, and has to be pumped up. Artesian water, as I understand it, flows over the casing without any pumping; and if sub-artesian water is regarded in Western Australia as artesian, that is the only place in the world where it is so regarded. I have read this report very carefully, and I see that at some distance away from Madura, Mr. Castilla struck water at a depth of 2,101 feet, the flow being about 70,000 gallons. Why were not further steps taken to demonstrate that this is country where good water is obtainable along the proposed route? Do honorable senators think that when they read of water being struck suitable for stock, that it is water which can be used for engines? In Queensland there are bores returning water fit for stock and for human use, but it is not used by railway experts for engines if any other can be obtained. Wherever possible a tank is erected near a creek, and a man kept constantly at the pump, in order to supply the locomotives. There is not, so far as I know, a supply of artesian water in Australia that does not carry a considerable quantity of magnesia or other salts, which have a most injurious effect on boilers.
– Does the honorable senator not know that some of the best water in the western district of Queensland, both for engines and human consumption, is got at a depth of 4,001 feet near Winton?
– Water is got at a depth of 4,000 feet, and it contains any quantity of mineral salts, a fact of which the honorable senator is as well aware as myself. Artesian water is never used for engines where other water can be obtained. Of course, T know there are places where artesian water has to be used for engines, but that is simply because no creek can be found in the neighbourhood. Mr. Castilla goes on to tell us what the land is like, and points out that there is a considerable area of sand hills. The report proceeds -
Clear of this belt, which is several miles wide, proceeding north, the country is nicely timbered with mallee, sugar tree, and mulga.
I do not know what the sugar tree is, but I know that mallee is a bush which grows in very dry country, and that mulga is not found where there is much water from the clouds. During the great drought, mulga was used by settlers both in Queensland and New South Wales in order to keep some of their stock alive ; but, at the same time, it only grows in countries where the rainfall is very light. The soil in which it grows is practically useless for cultivation without a good rainfall, because it hardens very quickly. Indeed, in mulga country in Queensland, I know lanes which are just as hard as the streets in the city of Melbourne ; and without a heavy rainfall nothing can be done in the way of production.
– What about the mulga country between Fremantle and Kalgoorlie?
– I saw some mulga country as I ‘was travelling to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, but it would not feed a bandicoot to the acre.
– And yet the honorable senator saw some prize cattle which came off that land.
– I did not see prize cattle which came off country like that. I do not know whether there was other mulga country further inland, but it was not alongside the railway on which I travelled.
– There are miles and miles of mulga there.
– The honorable senator ignores the report about fodder plants, although he has said a great deal about other points in the report.
– Why should I? I know the sort of country on which is found the timber Mr. Castilia mentions. It is very dry country, because such timber does not grow where there is a good rainfall.
– The honorable senator acknowledges that the country grows natural grasses and other fodder plants which Mr. Castilia mentions?
– Western Australian parliamentary representatives some years ago asked the Federal Government to bring pressure on the Parliament of that State to induce them to build a railway from Esperance to the gold-fields, but the Federal Government did not see their way clear to accede to the request. I have in my possession a newspaper article written when I was in Kalgoorlie, and it is there stated that such a line would save hundreds of miles of sea and land carriage from the eastern States to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. Even if the transcontinental line were proceeded with, we know perfectly well that, as soon as that part of Western Australia was fit for development, the State Government would, by means of the suggested local Line, endeavour to divert the traffic. There is, therefore, in the hands of the Western Australian people, a solution of, at any rate, a part of the difficulty. This has been a question between the dwellers on the coast in Western Australia and the dwellers in. the back country. Those on the coast have had an advantage, owing to their larger representation in Parliament, those in the back blocks, while able to make a noise, not possessing much influence. I have given aofew reasons why I intend to oppose this Bill. We are continually told that this is only a proposal for inquiry - a proposal that the Federal Government shall send out an exploring party to tell us what the country is like. I decline to be a party to any such undertaking. If the States concerned want an exploration to be made they should make it at their own expense. It is their duty to demonstrate to the Federal Government that the proposed railway is not only feasible, but reasonable, and to that end they should provide the money, even if the Federal Government have to appoint Federal officers to do the work.
– With reference to this question, I feel very great difficulty. Last session I was altogether uninformed on the matter, but I had a gen eral feeling that the Bill ought not, at that stage, to be carried. If the question had gone to a vote last session I should have been against it, but I refrained from saying anything, being anxious to find reasons for voting infavour of the measure. I see a great many sentimental reasons why the Bill should be carried ; and I feel great sympathy with the people of Western Australia, and with honorable senators from that State. I have taken every opportunity in my power to acquire information on the subject, and the more I look into it, and the more I hear about it, the more positively my judgment is against the proposal. I feel that to discuss the question at this stage would be unwise, and I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Senate for very many minutes. But, broadly speaking, “I feel that we do not know enough about thecountry to warrant us in taking this step at the present stage. Suppose we made the survey, and decided that it was a good railway to construct, the fact that we have not the power to carry out the work is another strong reason why I think we should not undertake this expenditure. The strongest reason of all, to my mind, is that if we take any positive action in this direction we shall be initiating a railway policy for the Commonwealth. I think that some day the Commonwealth will have to adopt a railway policy, but when it does, it should be on some general principle, and after mature and careful consideration.
– It can only be with the consent of the States in which Commonwealth railways are to be constructed.
– I hope we shall have the consent of the States when the time comes. In connexion with this particular railway, if it is made at all in the near future it seems to me that it ought to be made on the land grant principle. The Commonwealth, at present, has no land. There are continual suggestions that the Commonwealth should do something to facilitate immigration, but, as a Commonwealth, we have nothingthat we can offer to persons abroad to induce them to come here, and if we make railways we ought to provide some means bv which the increment arising from (Federal expenditure shall go into the Federal exchequer. I think, therefore, that if this railway comes to be made by the Commonwealth, it should be only on such conditions as would give to the Commonwealth the increment which Commonwealth expenditure in connexion with’ it would create. If that were arranged for it might bring this question within the realm of practical politics, and of the possibility of accomplishment in the somewhat near future. But that can only be done by an overt act on the part of the two States interested. I would therefore suggest to honorable senators from Western Australia and South Australia that they should urge in their respective States the desirability of initiating legislation for the making of a definite legislative offer in this direction. There has been a good deal of talk as to whether we have, or have not, power to make this survey. My own view is that we have not the power.
– With consent, we have.
– We have got permission.
– We have not got permission on which we could proceed at law. Suppose that after carrying this Bill, we proceeded to make the survey, and were confronted by an objection from one of the ‘States interested, we should have no power to proceed.
– Or from an individual property owner.
– I am not lawyer enough to be able to speak in reference to all details, but I feel sure that we should have no power to proceed with this survey if South Australia or Western Australia objected.
– Why assume that they would object when they have said that they will not object?
– In the first place, they have not said that they will not object.
– Senator Pearce explained the position fully this afternoon.
- Senator Pearce, after all, is but one citizen of Western Australia. He is a representative citizen in whom I have very great confidence, and for whom I have the highest possible regard; but he is not empowered to make a promise .which will hold water if contested.
– He has made no promise, but he has explained the situation.
– Western Aus- tralia is not the only State interested. Even if we were to proceed to do anything in this matter, which we have not the power to do, I believe that Western Australia would make no objection ; but the Minister of Defence has told us the opinion held in South Australia. Senator Playford has no power to make a definite promise on behalf of South Australia; but we may consider that the honorable senator has been fairly accurate in describing the will of the South Australian people, when he told us that the reason why Mr. Jenkins, as Premier of that State, did not proceed with the Bill after having made a promise to do so, was that he knew perfectly well that he would not have a hundred to one chance of carrying it into law.
– I do not know that I said a “ hundred to one chance I think that is a little of the honorable senator’s gloss.
– I shall not insist upon the figures. I think the honorable senator was sufficiently emphatic to say that the South Australian Premier knew he had not the remotest hope of carrying it. That is strong enough for my purpose.
– He had no chance of carrying it.
– No chance of carrying it ! It is above hundreds and millions to one if he had no chance at all. Then the Minister of Defence, who represents South Australia, told1 us that that. State would not consent to the construction of this line unless it traversed a route that met with its approval, and was constructed on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. These are two conditions which I think extremely important. Therefore Ave may reasonably say that if we believe it is desirable to make this railway in the interest of the Commonwealth we are still not in a position to embark in an expenditure of this character until Ave get a more definite legal permission to proceed. I do not propose to further discuss the question, which has been argued until it is threadbare, but I say that my judgment at present is entirely against supporting this Bill. I should feel personally glad if there were reasons which would justify us in proceeding to make this line.
– I do not propose to occupy the time of the Senate by making a speech in support of the construction of a line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. During, the time I have been a member of the Senate, I have engaged the attention of honorable senators to a very limited extent. Being new to parliamentary life, I thought I could better employ myself in endeavouring to learn ihe procedure of Parliament and its methods of carrying on legislation. It has occurred to me, especially in the course of this debate, that, although honorable senators sometimes profess to have open minds on a subject, in most cases they decide, first of all, that they are for or against a motion. They then proceed to get up all the arguments which will back up the particular line they have decided to take; they carefully shut their ears to anything said on the opposite side, and refuse to believe it ; and in quoting from reports they select only such passages as suit their own side of the question, and they carefully avoid reading, in some cases, the whole of a report, which would justify the arguments of their opponents.
– The honorable senator is very rough on the Western Australian senators.
– I might refer to a remark made by Senator O’ Keefe this afternoon, who congratulated honorable senators from Western Australia on the excellent case they had made out.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon.
– On the excellent speeches they h,a*d made in advocating this measure.
– That is a very different thing from saying thev have made out an excellent case. I admit they have made as good a case as they could.
– The honorable senator followed up that statement by saying that they made no impression on him, and he appeared to regret the fact that honorable senators from Western Australia had been unable to convince him that it is desirable to pass this Bill.
– The honorable senator must have listened with his ears shut.
– I think that the statement made is an indication that Senator O’Keefe has been listening to the debate, with his ears shut,, and it is an illustration of the old adage that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see. When Senator Symon was leader of the Senate, and moved the second reading of this Bill, he was careful to point out that it is not. a Bill for the construction of the line, but a Bill to authorize a survey. If honorable senators who have spoken to the question had confined themselves more to the proposed survey, and less to the probable cost of construction of this line, very much valuable time would have been saved. The honorable senator who immediately followed Senator Symon was Senator Styles, who claims to be an expert in railway construction. That honorable senator made a long speech against the construction of the line. He disputed to some extent the statement that £20,000 would be sufficient to defray the cost of the proposed survey, and, speaking as a railway contractor, the honorable senator expressed the opinion that at least £50,000 would require to be spent on the survey before it would be one on which he could give an estimate as to the probable cost of the line. In the same breath the honorable senator proceeded to inform the Senate that the line, if constructed, would cost a certain amount of money, and he got up, I think, to somewhere about £8,000,000. Senator Mulcahy interjected that the line would probably cost £8,000,000, and Senator Styles proceeded to give figures to show that it would cost about that sum.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. £5,000,000 was my estimate.
– If the honorable senator will refer to Hansard he will find that in reply to an interjection by Senator Mulcahy, he said that. £8,000,000 would be near the mark. He proceeded to produce figures to prove that. If Senator Styles could not make an estimate, except on the details supplied by a survey costing £50,000, how is it possible for the honorable senator to form the remotest idea of the cost of this line when no survey whatever has been made?
– I had the same information as the engineers had.
– The information which the honorable senator had came from the engineers. Senator Styles has put the worst possible construction on their estimates, although in their reports the engineers have said that thev made ample allowance for everything. Senator Styles has stated that in his opinion they have supplied under-estimates in several cases. The honorable senator has placed his opinion in the matter very much above that of the engineers.
– I have a right to my own opinion.
– Even the engineers have had no certain data on which to base their estimate of this line. The object of this Bill is to enable people to form a correct idea as to what the cost of the line will be.
– And we say that the two States immediately interested and to be benefited should defray the cost of the survey.
– In my opinion this is a Federal matter, although the State of Western Australia would probably benefit more than any other from the construction of the line, and South Australia might also derive some special benefit from it. We are assured by Senator Styles that the construction of this line would be the worst possible thing that could occur for the State of South Australia, and that practically it would half ruin the State.
– The honorable senator does not think so.
– No. I do not think that South Australia would derive very great benefit from the railway for some time. It appears to me that some honorable senators will only look at this question from one point of view, and refuse to listen to arguments on the other sid’e. Because Senator Playfords who had such a reputation for being fair in the State Parliament that he was called “ Honest Tom,” referred to some possible objection to this survey, and pointed out that Western Australia had been unfair in its treatment of the products from other States, especially from South Australia, one or two honorable senators interjected, “ Well, after making that admission you ought to withdraw the Bill.” They appeared to suggest that it was entirely wrong for a member of Parliament to say anything on the other side of a question. When Senator Givens rose to speak the other evening he said that he did not intend to occupy the time of the Senate at any verv great length, chiefly because he was weak physically. He made a very energetic speech, and finished by moving an amendment. If he was really honest in his action - if he thought that his amendment would be accepted by South Australia - he must have been weak mentally, as well as physically. At any rate, he must have formed the impression that the electors of South Australia have returned to its Parliament men who are mentally weak. Because his amendment simply means that, prior to a survey being made,’ the Parliament of South Australia is to practically agree to a railway being constructed without being consulted in the slightest degree as to route, or gauge, or the conveniences to that State. Suppose that a Minister of the Crown were weak enough to ask the State Parliament to pass a measure agreeing to the building of the line. The very first questions he would be asked by honorable members would be, “ Which route is the line to take, what sort of country is it to traverse, and is it likely to injure our State?” They certainly would refuse to entertain the measure until a survey had been made. The reason why every honorable senator, no matter what State he may represent, should support the making of a survey is because the railway will ultimately have to be built. I am sure that the great majority of honorable senators think that there must be a railway built at some time, if it is only for defence purposes.
– I believe that for defence purposes it will be built.
– That is a different thing from saying who shall build the line
– We are not stopping the survey.
– It is the business of the Commonwealth to construct the railway if it is required for defence purposes, because it has control of the defences. Events are moving very fast in the East. It is the opinion of men best able to judge that in the near future, within the next fifteen or twenty years, the Chinese and Japanese may make up their minds that they would like to occupy Australia. That decision may be come to even during the next ten years. It is well known that a very large number of Chinese are serving with the Japanese army. The Chinese are learning Western methods of fighting, and when they are as well trained as the Japanese they may, simply in retaliation of the measures which we in Australia have taken to prevent an influx of Asiatics, decide to come in here by force.
– I’ am glad1 that the honorable senator admits that our measures do justify retaliation on their part.
– Uncle Jonathan has the Philippine Islands.
– Nearly all honorable senators admit that this railway must be made at some time. Previous to its construction being commenced there must be a survey, and, whether it is made now, or next vear, or ten years hence, it will cost just about the same amount of money. Any information collected as the result of a survey at the present time would be just as useful ten or fifteen years hence as now. If it were necessary for defence purposes to hurriedly construct a line to connect the western with the eastern States, the fact that a survey had already been made would be a very great help.
– It would only be a preliminary survey.
– It would save a very considerable amount of time if the railway had to be constructed for defence purposes. A good deal has been said by the last two speakers about the two States particularly concerned paying the cost of the survey. But South Australia has no more interest in the construction of the line than has Queensland. If Australia were invaded on the north-east or the west or the north, South Australia would be no more interested than any other State. If it wishes to spend a large sum on railway construction, undoubtedly it will do so on the line from Adelaide to Port Darwin. I believe that it will go on with the construction of that line, but whether it will be finished or not I am not prepared to hazard a guess. The line must ultimately be constructed, I think, for defence purposes. In an oft quoted report, Major-General Hutton said our defence system would never be complete until Western Australia and. Port Darwin were connected by rail. I ask honorable senators who have cavilled at the expenditure of £20,000 on a survey to put themselves, if they can, in the position of the representatives of Western Australia, and consider whether they would not then look at this project from a different point of view. Here we have a very rich part of Australia not altogether undefended, but with nothing like the defence it ought to have. In the case of invasion, the people of Western Australia would be entirely helpless. It would be utterly impossible for any assistance to reach them from the eastern States by water, A hostile force would naturally come in ships, and any relieving force which attempted to go round to Western Australia by water would be very soon destroyed. The only way by which assistance could be rendered to that State would be bv land communication, and that is by a railway. Whether it is advisable to spend even £4,500,000 on a railway at present I do not intend to argue at this stage; but I submit that it is advisable to make a survey, because it would save time hereafter, and when the formal consent of South Australia was given, the
Federal Parliament could then consider the question of constructing the railway.
– Why do not the two States make the survey, if it would cost only £20,000?
– I ask why should these two comparatively weak States incur this enormous expense of £20,000, which, according to Senator Styles and others, is too much for the Commonwealth to incur? That is a most unfair position, for honorable senators to take up, because the two States are no more interested in the line, for defence purposes than are Victoria and New South Wales. If a hostile force were to invade Western Australia it would gain a footing from which it could not be dislodged, and that certainly would be a verv bad thing for Victoria and New South Wales.
– There could be no invasion of Western Australia unless the British Fleet were destroyed.
– I believe that the mind of every honorable senator has been made up for a considerable time. If the Bill is defeated now, and is introduced once or twice more, the cost of printing the speeches of its opponents will amount to quite as much as would be required to make the- survey of the line. If honorable senators are not iri favour of passing the Bill, and they have any real desire to obtain fuller information, a reference of the Bill to a Select Committee, as Senator Neild suggested, would result in very valuable information being obtained, and the question could afterwards be discussed from a better stand-point. I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and I sincerely trust that, in the interests of defence and of the .welfare of Australia, it will be passed.
– I do not propose to speak at any great length, because nearly all the arguments against the proposal have been dealt with very exhaustively, I think that the proposal might be very well used as a very strong argument in favour of elective Ministries. I am not allowed by the Standing Orders to go into that matter, except for the purposes of illustration. This Bill has found a place on the programme of every Government, for some reason or other.
– On its merits, undoubtedly.
– No. I believe that, if a majority of the Parliament had a chance of voting on the proposal apart from the exigencies of the situation, so far as the Government is concerned, it would not have a chance.
– It was carried by a majority of twenty-two in the other House.
– Take the case of the Minister of Defence, to whom I refer with a great deal of compunction. It is really painful to me to consider his position, because I have such a great respect and regard for him. He is, as we all know, a gentleman who believes in government by the people and for the people. He is a very strong democrat; and indeed, if I may say so in his presence, a very lovable person. His present attitude on this Bill, however, shows that he is not only a politician and a statesman, but a consummate actor. Any one who has watched the honorable senator throughout this debate, and has heard him cheer the supporters of the measure, and glory in the downfall of its opponents, must have come to recognise that the stage has lost a very eminent ornament. Speaking on the defence aspect of this question, the honorable senator said last week -
It is an unmistakable Federal obligation that, for defence purposes, the line should be constructed, and sooner or later, it must be constructed.
That is what he said as Minister of Defence, but when he was speaking from the Opposition benches, referring to this very question, he said -
There is only one ground on which its construction can be defended. If it is required for defence purposes, then the rest of the community might put their hands in their pockets to the tune of, say, ^50,000 or ^100,000 to make up the loss which would be occasioned. They might find that sum every year for defence purposes just as we find the money to insure our buildings against fire.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from a debate during the present session?
– No, I am quoting from last session’s Hansard. I wish also to point out that Senator Matheson, who at great length quoted Major-General Hutton’s views, refrained from giving his opinion as expressed to the Minister *of Defence. On the 14th May, 1903, MajorGeneral Hutton said -
As long as the supremacy of the sea is in the hands of the Royal Navy no serious attack on Australia, upon a large scale, may be considered as practicable. In this regard little attention need be paid to the temporary or local effect of a raid upon one or two of the- undefended ports.
That means that so long as the British Navy is a fighting force, there is no possible chance of any attack being made on Western Australia, or on any other part of the Australian Continent.
– Major-General Hutton went on to point out that there was.
– But if the British Navy no longer existed as a fighting force, and if an enemy attacked Australia, presuming that, the line were constructed between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, the enemy would simply have to go to some other part of Australia in which there was not a railway. He could then carry out his plan just as- effectively as if there were not a line between the two points mentioned.
– What other part of Australia is open to attack?
– From Fremantle to Port Darwin, and’ right round the northern coast to Townsville.
– The only two parts of Australia that are open to attack are Western Australia and Queensland.
- Senator Playford’s speech last week is best answered by his speech reported in Hansard, on the 3rd June, 1903, page 438, when the honorable senator said -
I am highly amused at my honorable friends from Western Australia referring to what they call the transcontinental railway. I have never heard of a railway to run along a coast being called a transcontinental railway. The general understanding of a transcontinental railway is that it is one to run from the coast on one side of the Continent to the coast on the other side. But our honorable friends from Western Australia - that land of sin, sorrow, and sand - will insist upon using this high-sounding phrase of “ transcontinental railway.”
The phrase came %’ery glibly from the honorable senator last week.
– I never used it once last week.
– The honorable senator used it once or twice, as Hansard will show. In his speech in. 1903, he continued -
I have some knowledge of the territory in SouthAustralia; first, from having seen some of the land ; second, from talking with those who have gone over the route of the line ; and third, from having, when Commissioner of Crown Lands, sent out an expedition to report to me oh the Nullarbor Plains. The fact is that on the border line of Western Australia and South Australia there is an immense area of well-grassed land. The puzzle is that it grows good bushes and is well grassed. It is one immense crystalline limestone formation, in which all the water runs away, in which you cannot make a dam until you get to some granite outcrop. I thought that we might be able to get artesian water. When I was in office I suppose I spent over ,£5,000, and I believe that South Australia has spent from £10,000 to ,£20,000 to that end. We sank to a depth of 3,000 feet, but we never got artesian water. … It appears to me that our experience on the Nullarbor Plains will be repeated elsewhere along the route of the line. The country, with the exception of a slip round Port Augusta, right away to Kalgoorlie, with the exception of a slip round Eucla, has never been taken up by the pioneering squatters. If they could have made dams they would have taken up the land. It has not been taken up, not because it has no food for stock, but simply because it is waterless. For the whole distance from Port Augusta, except near that port, to Kalgoorlie, the railway would not pick up one ton of freight on the one hand, or one passenger, practically on the other hand. It would never pay.
That is Senator Playford’s speech, in Opposition, in answer to the Minister of Defence, in office. Now: I wish to say a word or two in answer to Senator Matheson ‘s very positive statement that the Western Australian Government had reserved some twenty-five miles on either side of the route as a bonus.
– I did not say as a bonus.
– I appeal to honorable senators as to whether Senator Matheson did not say that it was proposed to reserve twenty-five miles on either side as a bonus to the Commonwealth for constructing this line.
– I said that if the Commonwealth wanted it as a bonus they could insert it in their own Bill.
– I have asked other honorable senators from Western Australia, who tell me that they know nothing of such a proposal. Senator Matheson’s statement may be calculated to appeal to those mem.bers of Parliament who favour land nationalization, but of what value to the Commonwealth would twenty-five miles of territory on either side of the line be? If the land is of any value, the construction of the railway would enhance that value, but the increase would go to the people of Western Australia, and not to the people of the other States, who would have heavy burdens to bear in connexion with it.
– Parliament can stipulate in the Railway Construction Bill that the Commonwealth shall get the enhanced value.
– Why does not the honorable senator nave these proposals made in some substantial form? His statement is comparable to that of Mr. Walter James, that if we constructed this line Western Australia would pay her fair share of the loss for the first ten years, ‘ though he was not prepared to say what that share would be. I do not wish to go into the question of the value of the calculations of the engineers, but I may remark that their calculations are based on 3J per cent, interest being paid on loan money. But Western Australia itself, which is one of the richest of the States, has had to pay 4 per cent, for money borrowed to complete the goldfields water scheme. Mr. Gardiner, the exTreasurer of the State, on his return from England, stated that for some time the -States would bave to pay 4 per cent, for any moneys they might require. The extra per cent, would make a considerable addition to the £5,000,000 that would have to be paid for the construction of the line. Another point is that on the showing of the Western Australian senators this State is more prosperous per -head of the population than any other State in the group. In a pamphlet issued bv the Western Australian Government, entitled “ The Western Union Railway,” various facts are given to prove the prosperity of the State. By the way, it is noticeable that since the criticism of the title, “ Transcontinental Line,” the supporters of the measure have rather dropped that term. Probably they have done so largely owing to Senator Playford’s remarks in 1903. Now it is termed “ The Western Union Line.” In this pamphlet a great number of facts are given as to the prosperous condition of Western Australia. It is shown that the trade per head of the population of Western Australia is £77 per annum, and, singular to 9.V, that is compared with the trade nlf Tasmania, which amounts to about £33 per head. The prosperous State of Western Australia is asking the poorer State of Tasmania to meet the interest which will fall due for a great many years in connexion with losses on this line.
– Does not the honorable senator believe that all the railways ought to belong to the Commonwealth ?
– I think it would be an advantage if the railways were in the hands of the Federal Government ; but it does not follow that because we favour the federalizing of the State railways that we are prepared to construct railways through any part of the Commonwealth a particular State may desire.
– Should not all new railways belong to the Commonwealth?
– The Standing Orders do not allow me to have a dialogue with the honorable senator. We have been told by some of the supporters of the measure, though not, perhaps, so emphatically as was the case last year, of the anxiety amongst Western Australians for the construction of this line, and of what may happen if the Commonwealth refuse to construct it. When I had the good fortune to visit Western Australia- along with other members of this Parliament, we were met in the great mining districts which this proposed railway is to serve, by men bearing banners and streamers, on which were the words, “ We want the Esperance Bay railway.” That was the railway Federal members appeared to be asked to support ; and it is singular that in the pamphlet which I have referred to as issued by the Western Australian Government in order to convert people to this railway, the Bay of Esperance, although it occupied a prominent place in the debates, does not appear on the accompanying map; it is absolutely blotted out. Inasmuch as Esperance Bay offers a kind of alternative route, it ought to have found a place on that, map, so that we might have been seized of the facts from all standpoints. The real opinion of Western Australia is, I think, voiced by Mr. Frank Wilson, attorney to the Collie Proprietary Coal Company. Mr. Wilson, speaking at the Wallsend mine, is thus reported in the West Australian : -
Referring to the transcontinental railway, he predicted that if the Federal Government were not prepared to construct the line, the Western Australian Government would undertake its portion, if the State of South Australia would do likewise.
It seems to me that that is more likely to represent the feeling of the independentspirited people of Western Australia than the suggestion that they are coming to the Commonwealth, cap in hand, for the necessary money. The Bill itself - which Senator Matheson was going to justify so conclusively, but with which, although he mentioned it, he failed to deal - is a Bill to survey “ a route for a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.” There is not a’ single letter in the Bill which suggests to those who are to make the survey that they have to institute any inquiries whatever as to the cost of construction and equipment. That latter question has apparently been decided, and what the Government ask for is £20,000 for a permanent survey of a route for a railway.
– Not a permanent survey.
– -It is a preliminary survey; a permanent survey will have to be made afterwards.
– Senator Playford describes it as an inquiry; but what does Sir John Forrest say ? When asked in the House of Representatives whether this was to be a flying or a permanent survey, Sir John Forrest said that it was intended to be a permanent survey.
– Sir John Forrest is wrong.
– When this Bill and the question of the revenue which the railway would produce was before us, I wrote to the Commissioners of the Victorian Railways, asking them if’ they would be good enough to give me the rates of freight charged for goods between Melbourne . and Brisbane. It struck me that the distance between those places is about the distance that the proposed railway would traverse, The information supplied to me by the Commissioners was as follows : - From Melbourne to Sydney, a distance of 583 miles, the freight in the A division is 55s. 6dper ton; B division, 85s. nd. ; C division, 128s. id.; first class, 175s. 3d.; second class, 218 s. 5d. ; third class, 240s. 8d. Between Fremantle and Kalgoorlie, a distance of 397 miles, the freight is - A division, 28s. 9d. ; B division, 36s. 5d. ; first class, 82s. 6d. ; second class, 103s. 8d. : third class, 152s. 7d. From Brisbane to Sydney, a distance of 723 miles, the freight is - A division, 58s. 4d. ; B division, 104s. 5d. ; first class. 198s. 6d. ; second class, 268s. 6d. ; third-class, 310s. 8d. From Brisbane to Melbourne, a distance of 1,306 miles, the freight is - A division,. 99s. 6d. ; B division, 164s. 2d. ; first class, 322s. 6d. ; second-class, 422s. 3d. ; thirdclass, 475s. 5d. The very lowest rate in the very lowest and cheapest class from Melbourne to Brisbane is £4 19s. 6d.’ I consulted the steam-ship companies as to the rates of freight charged bv sea, and I was informed that it is anything from 12s. 6d. to ,£2 per ton from Melbourne around to Fremantle. Honorable senators will very easily see from the difference between shipping freights and railway freights the improbability that the proposed railway would be remunerative in this connexion. The Secretary to the Victorian Railway Commissioners said in the letter which accompanied the information I have given -
I may add that it is a very rare occurrence for goods to be forwarded by rail from Melbourne to Brisbane.
Why? Because they are carried round by water. I might give a little time to Sir John Forrest’s predictions about what is likely to happen if this railway be not constructed ; but life is too short. I may mention, however, that Sir John Forrest has referred to the Coolgardie water scheme^ and to the prophecies made that it would be a financial failure. No doubt that scheme is a very great enterprise, and Sir John Forrest, in speaking of it, has said -
The Coolgardie water scheme was carried out at a cost of ,£2,500,000, and we are now told <in 1903) that even before the reticulation is completed, and in the winter time, it is returning a revenue of ,£112,000 per annum. When the summer comes, ft is said that this return will be doubled, so that the scheme may, in its very early days, be regarded as a paying concern.
The scheme, much as may be said to its credit, is not a paying concern. A very recent return which I saw showed that the loss on the scheme is some £80,000 per annum.
– Will the honorable senator look at the other side of the question? Water on the gold-fields is about only one-third the price now that it was before this scheme was carried out.
– The question asked by business people is whether the scheme is a paying concern. I understand that on the gold-fields water is now 7s. 6d. per thousand gallons, whereas previously it was 7s.. 6d. per hundred gallons.
– It was much more than 7s. 6d. per hundred before the scheme was carried out.
– If_the price were higher than I have stated, it furnishes a further argument against this Bill. Sir John Forrest’s proposal is to supply the water necessary for this railway by means of pipes from Kalgoorlie. If a work of that kind is proposed, a considerable addition, running, if not to . millions, at any rate to hundreds of thousands of pounds, will have to be added to the estimates of Senator Matheson’s experts. And if this idea of Sir John Forrest is not carried out, water will have to be condensed on the spot; and we have just been told that condensed water costs 7s. 6d., or even more, per hundred gallons. I am sorry to find that the supporters of this measure have been so emphatic from the first in their various statements regarding it. First, they based their claim on a compact which they said had been entered into between the people of the Commonwealth and Western Australia.
– We said there was a promise by leading Federalists.
– The only two leading Federalists I can find who made anything like a promise were Sir Frederick Holder and Mr. Kingston.
– And . also Mr. Deakin and Senator Symon.
– Mr. Deakin never made a promise.
– As elected representatives, we hold a very Sigh place in the community., but, after all, what are the promises of three or four of us, when balanced against the wishes and determination of the rest of the four millions of people in Australia? I do not think they amount to very much. We find two Premiers of South Australia supporting this proposal, but we find other Premiers of that State taking the opposite view, men like Mr. Jenkins, who has lately gone to England. It seems to me that, in their anxiety to have this proposal carried, honorable senators from Western Australia have been willing to interpret anything as a promise in support of this railway. I remember that Mr. Reid made a speech some time ago at Fremantle. The right honorable gentleman avoided for some considerable time giving any reply on the railway question. He was interrupted frequently by persons amongst his audience, who asked, “What about that railway, George?”
– Be fair to him; he spoke straight out in favour of the railway on every occasion.
– He spoke straight at the Conventions, when he said that the States must build their own trunk lines.
– I can give Senator Dawson, if he desires it, a printed report of the right honorable gentleman’s speech. He said, in effect, “ I was met at the door by somebody, who put a pistol to my head and asked me what about the railway from somewhere to somewhere else.” When a person in the hall said, “ No, no,” Mr. Reid said, “What is a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, but a railway from somewhere to somewhere else?” He said he was in favour of a trans-Australian line, and he was very glad to find that the Western Australian people had altered the term from “Trans-continental” to “TransAustralian.” He also said to his questioner, “ If he can assure me that the route is all right, I can assure him that I will vote for the railway if the route is all right.” Immediately after that there appeared throughout Western Australia statements to the effect that Mr. Reid had agreed to support the railway. The right honorable gentleman said that he would support the railway if the route was all right.
– The route is all wrong.
– Did the right honorable gentleman give any indication as to what he meant bv the route being all right?
– That was the mental reservation, and if, in the opinion of the right honorable gentleman, the route was not all right, of course, he would not vote for the railway. Our Western Australian friends, in their eagerness, said that Mr. Reid was for the railway, and I remember that Senator Pearce was interviewed by a reporter, who asked him whether he was aware that Mr. Reid had expressed himself in favour of the railway ?
– I have heard Mr. Reid make very emphatic statements in support of the line.
– That was after he became Prime Minister, and honorable senators must see the difference in the position. I do not wish to make any suggestions, but if honorable senators cannot read such signs for themselves, it is not my fault. I believe that if Western Australian representatives had come before us from the commencement with a proposal that the Commonwealth should inquire whether there should be a trans-Australian line running throughout the Commonwealth, they might have found a greater number of supporters. But they have come here, and have endeavoured to force us - because they have exerted considerable pressure, and Western Australia is to be congratulated upon having such strenuous advocates-
– If we knew as many tricks as do honorable senators from Queensland, we should have carried the whole thing.
– They have endeavoured to force us by appealing to our
Federal sentiment, and our sympathies with the Commonwealth. If they had asked for an inquiry as to whether a transcontinental railway ought to be constructed, and as to which should be the route chosen for a trans-Australian line, they would have had a stronger vote in their favour, because in that case many of us who come from Queensland, would have been able to put in a claim for a trans-Australian line, connecting a section of the Queensland railways with Port Darwin.
– That would be a very much better line than this.
– I think there would be evidence that that would be a much more payable line. South Australian representatives would be able, in those circumstances, to put in a claim for their line running north, right through the centre of the continent. Western Australian representatives have not deemed it wise to adopt the course of asking for such an inquiry, and have preferred to ask us to vote for this route.
– Only for a survey?
- Senator Playford is endeavouring to persuade us that we are being asked to vote only for a survey of this line, but the view I take is that which. Sir John Forrest has expressed.
– He is not everybody.
– There is very little in Sir John Forrest’s political economy that I find myself able to agree with. When a man can go to England and tell the British people-
– The honorable senator is not discussing the Bill.
– I proposed, Mr. President, to refer merely as an illustration to certain things to which I shall not now refer in deference to your ruling. But Sir John Forrest has told us that if we vote for the expenditure of this £20,000 on a survey, we must vote for the construction of the line. He does not desire that any one should vote for this survey who is not prepared to back up that vote by supporting a proposal for the construction of the line. I take the view already voiced by some honorable senators that if honorable senators from Western Australia can induce us to vote £20,000 for the survey of a line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta the people of Western Australia will be able to say that we believe there is a compact between the Commonwealth and Western Australia for the construction of this line. It will be another piece of evidence to add to the promises of Sir Frederick Holder and Mr. Kingston.
– Every Western Australian senator has given the assurance that he regards this Bill only as a measure to provide for the survey, and that if the result of the survey is not in favour of the construction of the line he will not press for its construction.
– It is true that they have said that this is only for a survey, but it has already been pointed out that if the Government get this through they can appoint surveyors who will not be charged with any duty other than that of making the survey, whilst we know that there are a number of inquiries that ought to be made before a permanent survey of this line is undertaken.
– Why not have a Select Committee to deal with the matter ?
– Honorable senators from Western Australia should have come forward with a proposal for a Select Committee, but they have not done so.
– What information could a Select Committee get, any way ?
– I do not intend to support a Bill for the purpose of spending ^20,000 on a permanent survey of this line. The idea of having a flying survey or a preliminary inquiry has been lately suggested by a gentleman who is not in favour of the construction of the line. We cannot consider his views, but we must consider the views of the strongest supporters of the proposal. In the circumstances, I do not propose to vote for the second reading of the Bill.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I should like to be permitted to ask the Minister in charge of the measure whether, in view of what has been said during the debate, if the second reading of this Bill should be carried, he will be prepared to support the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee, as suggested ? .
– Yes, I will do so.
– That is not sufficient.
– That promise would absolutely depend on the second reading being carried?
– I should like to say that, during my parliamentary career, I have very often been astonished at the acrobatic feats of politicians.
– The honorable senator is not now referring to Senator Playford, I hope.
– I am referring to Senator Higgs. Listening very carefully to Senators Turley and Higgs, I was very much astonished to find that they both assumed to know more about the opinions of the people- of Western Australia and South Australia than honorable senators representing those States in this Chamber.
– I never said a word about the opinions of the people in either State.
– Senators Turley and Higgs in the most emphatic manner declared opinions of the people of Western Australia and South Australia which were opposed to the opinions of the people of those States as submitted by honorable senators representing them.
Senator- Turley. - I did not say a word about the opinions of the people in either of those States.
– The honorable senator did, and so did Senator Higgs. Honorable senators coming from other States should, in fairness, be prepared to admit that the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia know best what are the opinions of the people of those States.
– I did not deny that.
– Senator Playford gave us the opinions of the people of South Australia.
– I am not sure whether Senator Turley or Senator Higgs is a Mahatma, and has sojourned for some time in Thibet; but they seem to know something which the elected representatives of those States do not know. In connexion with this railway, I am not concerned as to whether there was an understanding or even an implied understanding that this railway should be built, in order that Western Australia might be induced to’ join the Federation. . The question, to my mind, is, is it a good thing for Australia that this railway should be built ? In my opinion it is. _ In the most contemptuous tone, and in the most insulting way, the Melbourne press have referred to “this railway as “ The Desert Railway,” and I regret very much to say that there are certain honorable senators who jump at the crack of the whip of the Melbourne press. When it is called the “desert” railway in the
Melbourne press, they echo the term like a taught parrot, and talk about a “ desert “ railway. Senator Turley, although he is not a “Victorian, has to-night shown that he has been influenced by this talk about desert country. What does he mean by the desert country ? What do the opponents of the railway mean by that term? I believed that to a large extent the portion of Western Australia between Fremantle to Kalgoorlie was a desert. But I never before had such an eye-opener as I got when I went over the country. While it is not a forest, and while there are no running streams and rivers which Senator Turley seems to think so much about, and which he does not find in the western part of his own State, still, it has the richest soil to be found in the whole of Australia, although it is called a desert.
– What is the good of that country without a rainfall ?
– All it needs is water. Sir John Forrest was brave enough to propose, and his Parliament was game enough to supply, a water scheme, and at Kalgoorlie and the Boulder City are the finest gardens to be seen in any portion of Australia. To talk about this place being a desert is to utter an absolute scandal. It is a disgrace to any man to utter such a remark.
– It is nothing else. Is it settled upon?
– It certainly is.
– Oh !
– I may tell the honorable senator, who is a Victorian, that had it not been for the enterprise of Western Australians in this desert country, Victoria would have been insolvent to-day.
– Oh !
– It was the wealth of Kalgoorlie, Boulder City, and Coolgardie which saved Victoria from insolvency.
– That is all bosh.
– It certainly is not.
– The honorable senator does not know anything about it.
– I say that £83,000 per month came through the Government Savings Bank to starving families in Victoria from Western Australia, and it is a disgrace to any man to even hint that this country is a desert.
– The honorable senator had better settle upon it and see how he will get on.
– I am prepared to show from the records of the Senate that for over two years, £83,000 a month was sent through the Government Savings Bank to the wives and families of Victorian miners who were working in Western Australia. Yet some men have the sublime audacity to say it is a desert. For several reasons, I think that this railway ought to be constructed. It would complete the railway systems of Australia. No one can deny that it is absolutely essential that one of the open gates of Australia - that is Western Australia - should have one means of concentration apart from the sea. We have no chance of considering a proposal to establish a navy. We must have some other means of communication between the east and1 west, and that is a railway. I should not care if it were to be built on a sand bank, or to go over ice, so long as it connected our railway systems. This line ought to be constructed in order that we may be able, at the point of danger - Queensland in the north, or Western Australia in the west - to concentrate our forces to repel an enemy. “ Desert railway “ is a contemptuous term which has been used by the unspeakable press of Melbourne, and taken up in a parrot-like way by some honorable senators. To my mind, their action is absolutely disgraceful. Senator Givens and Senator Turley know that the best paying railway in Queensland passes through country which is not settled. The line from Townsville to Charters Towers pays 12J per cent. It traverses poor .country, but when it gets to the terminus it pays.
– Our eastern goldfields’ railway is the best paying line in Western Australia.
– Exactly, and it has the best service to be found in all Australia. Senator Turley knows just as well as I do that the railway from Maryborough to Bundaberg goes through grass-tree country which would not feed one cow to forty acres, but when it gets to Bundaberg, and the Isis scrub, it pays. The opponents of this line talk about a desert railway.
– Can the honorable senator show that it is anything but a desert railway?
– I can show that the country it .will traverse isi not a desert.
– Well, what is it?
– It is one of the best growing places in the world. I can assure the honorable senator that in Kalgoorlie and Boulder City-
– The honorable senator is talking about the country round Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta.
– The line traverses the same class of country.
– Nonsense !
– The line traverses a rich, red loamy soil with a good subsoil.
– But where is the settlement?
– The settlement is in Kalgoorlie and Boulder City.
– That is on the ^old-fields.
– I can assure my honorable friend that there will not be found in any part of Australia, not even in the garden city of Bendigo, so many comfortable cottages, with little vegetable and flower gardens, as are to be seen in either Kalgoorlie or Boulder City.
– No one disputes that.
– Does the honorable senator call a country in which these gardens abound a desert? In Boulder City I stayed with a friend, Mr. Banham, who, on a quarter-acre allotment, grows all the vegetables he requires for his wife and family of five children. He has the water at his service, and he has no need to buyany article from a Chinaman. He would, of course, rather starve than buy from a celestial.
– Does the honorable’ senator bring an instance of irrigation cultivation as proof that it is not a desert? If it is not a desert, what does he want the water for?
– When the honorable senator talks of this country as a desert he conveys to the mind’s of those who do not think that it is either a mountain or a plain of sand. It has a rich loamy soil which merely needs water. The country to Kalgoorlie was called a desert. Owing to the intrepidity and pluck of a man called Hannan they found a gold-field there,, and it is to-day a more prosperous city than Melbourne. The country from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta is also called a desert. But is that so? Have we not heard that a man went across this country with his 1 wife and family in a “ prairie schooner,” without losing a goat, or fowl, or sheep? When a man takes his family in a covered-in cart he does not ride through the country like Lindsay Gordon would ride on Carbine. He must travel by easy stages with his stock, and have a camping place by night. A man travelled across this country without losing one head of stock.
Senator -Millen. - The only evidence we have of that is a telegram from the Perth correspondent of a Melbourne newspaper.
– We have an interview with the man by a representative of the South Australian Advertiser.
– We have the evidence of experts that for five days they had to camp without finding water.
– Did the experts go over the country? Here is the evidence of a man who travelled with his wife and family in a “ prairie schooner,” and did not lose a head of stock on the way. Yet it is called a desert country !
– I will give ,£100 to the hospital if the honorable senator will produce the man at the door and let him give evidence.
– What time will the honorable senator allow me in which to produce the man?
– A reasonable time.
– This man travelled across the country.
– He never did.
– I know that the honorable senator will not doubt the word of Sir Langdon Bonython, who caused a reporter to interview the man and ascertain how he got through the country. It was elicited at the interview that he got water at about every fifteen miles.
– Is the South Australian Advertiser much better than the Argus or the Age?
– It is the best daily newspaper in Australia, and, in my opinion, the Argus and the Age are about the worst.
– They get credit all over the world for being very good newspapers.
– Understanding or no understanding, in the interests of Australia as a whole this railway should be built. It will be a sorry day for Australia if it does not get railway communication between the east and the west. Do the opponents of this proposal think that Federation between the east and the west, is a mere breath on the atmosphere, or a reality? If it is to be a reality this line must be built. As one who represents a State which has suffered financially from Federation up to the present time, I support the Bill.
– Indeed it has not. It has been treated very liberally in the matter of the bonus to the sugar industry, and in one way and another.
– That is quite another matter, and I say to our Queensland friends that when they are opposing this railway to Western Australia, they ought to remember that the people of that State, if vindictive and vicious, could refuse to support the bounty to the sugar industry. As we have been liberally and well treated, we ought to be grateful and patriotic enough to give to Western Australia a chance to prove its case.
– I do’ not think it proper to allow this measure to go to a vote without giving my reasons for my attitude towards it. The Bill provides that the Federation shall exercise the power contained in the 34th article of section 51 of the Constitution - that is, “Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.” It is clearly laid down by the Constitution that before the Federal Parliament can do anything towards the construction of railways in any State, it must have the consent of that State; not merely a telegram from the Premier of the State, Or an assurance or a letter from him, but an Act passed by the- .Parliament of the State assenting to the Commonwealth entering upon the business of construction. Senator de Largie and Senator Matheson insist on the fact that we are not engaged in considering a proposal for construction. What is the meaning of this Bill? Do those honorable senators think that we are a lot of school boys who cannot see an inch before our noses? Is not this Bill a preliminary to construction ? My opinion is that the Senate ought not to embark on a policy of railway construction without very serious consideration. In the first place, this question ought to have been prominently brought before the constituencies at the last general election. We are asked to enter on a policy which involves a great many other things. It involves borrowing money. If persisted1 in, it will interfere with the railway policv of every one of our States. From whatever point of view one likes to regard it, one must see that it is one of the most serious matters that has been brought before the Federal Parliament. Although I, in common with other Queensland representatives, have been accused of coming here with a biased and prejudiced mind,. I can assure honorable senators from Western Australia that it would give me the greatest possible pleasure if I could vote with them. I know that they feel that their credit will be impaired in their State if thev fail to carry this measure through the Senate.
– The honorable senator need not believe that.
– They feel that way, rightly or wrongly. Honorable senators have no right to impute motives to those who do not agree with them. I am not imputing motives to any one. I come here to do my duty, first to the Commonwealth, and secondly to the State to which I belong. If Senator de Largie thought more of the Commonwealth, than he does of the State of Western Australia, he would not be supporting a proposal of this character. Why should the Commonwealth embark on a policy of railway construction? Is it not incumbent on those who wish us to embark on this policy to give good reasons? The conduct of both Western Australia and South Australia on this question - more particularly of South Australia - has been absolutely contemptible, if I may use such a word with regard to a State. Just look at the dog-in-the-manger attitude of South Australia. That State says, “You can go on, and spend Commonwealth money, but
Ave pledge ourselves to nothing.” Apparently it is that State which is conferring the favour of allowing the Commonwealth to build a railway within its territory. Instead of these two States spending their money, one of them - which, as its representatibes are fond of telling us, is the richest State in the Commonwealth - asks the Common.wealth to spend the money of all the States. I Avas over in Western Australia lately, and heard and read glowing accounts of the prosperity of the State. It reminded me of Joseph when he went to Egypt. Joseph was a most successful young man. By-and-by his poor brethren came along, and if Joseph, instead of concealing his identity from them, had taken them round Egypt, and advertised all his magnificent surroundings to them, he would have occupied just the position that the Western Australians occupied towards those who went over from the other States. They said, “Just look at this rich, glorious, magnificent territory of ours ! All that we want to make us comfortable is a little railway, which we invite you poor chaps from the other States - who have built your own railways - who have connected your capitals with the capitals of the other States at your own expense - to build for us.”
– As a matter of fact, the honorable senator, while in Western Australia,” never talked about anything except protection.
-I am not saying what I talked about. I read of one mayor in Western Australia who gave as a reason why this railway should be built the fact that the mines in a certain district had paid £20,000,000 in dividends. “ Yet,” he said, “ the Commonwealth is afraid to spend a paltry three or four millions in building a railway for us !” It occurred to me that the Western Australian Government acted very foolishly in not taxing such huge dividends as that, and retaining in its own hands a sufficient sum to build the. railway, if they thought it necessary. I do not wish to go into the merits and demerits of the proposal. We know very little about the country through which this line is proposed to be constructed.
– The honorable senator does not want to inquire.
-I say that it is not our business. I know that my honorable friends from Western Australia say that it is a national work. When I hear that phrase I think I am back in the State Parliament, where the member for Cow Flat gets up and says that he wants a bridge across a creek, and that it is a national work. Of course it is a national work; and it the member can persuade the people of the State to build the bridge across his creek it is all right. Similarly, our friends from South Australia and Western Australia say that this line is a national work, which ought to be constructed by the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator savs that the sugar bonus is a national work.
SenatorSTEWART. - Every question should be tested on its merits. The sugar question has nothing to do with the transcontinental railway. I am surprised that honorable . senators opposite, whose purity of motive in public life I should be the last to question, should try to play off the one matter against the other. So far as I am concerned, if every member of the Senate who is in favour of this Bill voted against the sugar bounty, it would not influence my vote in the slightest degree. I judge every question on its merits.
– The sugar bounty is the honorable senator’s particular parish pump.
– It is not my particular parish pump. I have not any parish pump. I try to think continentally. I do not wish to introduce the word parochialism, but if it is to be applied to any one I think I could fix it. If the people of Western Australia and South Australia are really in earnest about this railway, they ought to get the route ‘surveyed themselves. Senator Mulcahy suggested that the Western Australian and South Australian Governments should find the money, and that, so that we should not be accused of having no faith in the survey made under the supervision of those States, they should permit the Federal Government to spend the money for them. I think that is a very fair proposal. My honorable friends from Western Australia sneer at it. Of course it does not suit them. But if they have a good thing, and can show the people of the Commonwealth that it would pay to build the railway, I hold that it is their duty, seeing that they are the people who require the railway, to give reasons why the present policy of the Commonwealth should be departed from. It has been said that those who share my view do not represent public feeling in Queensland. So far as I know that public feeling, I do represent it when I vote against this measure. Whenever I spoke on the question - and that was not very often, because it was not really a burning question with us - opposition to the proposal was displayed. The people of Queensland argue that they have incurred a heavy debt in building their own railways - in fact, that they are so deeply in debt that it is not wise to borrow money even to construct railways that are absolutely necessary. In Queensland, the burden of debt is very serious, and it is not desired to add to it if that step can be avoided. I do not wish to enter into the question whether this railway is necessary from a defence point of view. A great many things are necessary for the defence of Australia. We require harbor defences, and not only a railway to Western Australia but a railway to Port Darwin, and also to the Northern Territory, opposite Thursday Island. In fact, if we had the money we could spend £50,000,000 on works which are necessary - if we put it that way - for the defence of Australia. But we “have not the money, and we cannot embark on those works, and for that reason ‘we must be content to go on for some time as we have been going. I .have no doubt that some day, probably in the near future, the east and west will be joined by a railway. It is more than likely that the people of ten years, twenty years, or twenty-five years hence will see their way clear to carry out such a work, but it would be folly on our part, situated as we are, to embark the Commonwealth on an expenditure which might reach to even more millions than have been mentioned during the course of the debate. I intend to support the amendment, because I think that we ought to have had the consent of South Australia before we even considered the matter.
– I should not have troubled the Senate again but for the fact that the public opinion of South Australia on this matter has been questioned. I took part in a series of meetings in all the principal towns of South Australia, and at those meetings, and others, resolutions in favour of this railway were passed without, I think, a dissentient voice. South Australian opinion, so far as I “can interpret it, is undoubtedly in favour of the proposals in this Bill, and that being so, I regard the amendment as a mere subterfuge.
– When I move an amendment in accordance with the Standing Orders, am I to be accused of subterfuge ?
- Senator de Largie is not in order in saying that another honorable senator has been guilty of subterfuge, and the word must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the word, because I do not wish to throw a discordant note into the debate at the last moment. There need be no doubt about the public opinion of South Australia. South Australian public men both in the State Parliament and in the Federal Parliament, are undoubtedly in favour of this survey being made. If the rules of debate had been put strictly in force, I am afraid that many of the speakers, during the debate, would have been called to order for departing from the subject-matter of the Bill. We ought to keep the question of the survey before us ; and I am anxious that the matter should be left open for further investigation, if possible. Like other Western Australians, I am not afraid of investigation, though we have had to listen to many remarks to which exception might be taken as to the public opinion of our State on this question.
– Does the honorable senator think that he is discussing the amendment, which has reference to the consent of South Australia?
– I am contending that the consent of South Australia is quite unnecessary, but I am prepared to accept the suggestion thrown out by Senator’ Neild, that a Select Committee should be appointed, as one way out of our present difficulty.
– Is the honorable senator discussing the amendment?
– I do not think the honorable senator is discussing the amendment. I know it is difficult to speak to an amendment without dealing, in some degree, at all events, with the main question. But the amendment is simply to strike out certain words with a view to inserting others providing for the formal consent of South Australia, and that has nothing to do with public opinion in Western Australia or a Select Committee. I do not want to hamper honorable senators or to apply the rules too strictly ; but I ask the honorable senator to confine himself, as far as possible, to the amendment.
– Senator Fraser has questioned the proof to-night of certain statements put before the Senate, first of all baldly denying that Mr. Deakin ever gave a promise prior to Federation.
– The honorable senator must know that that has nothing to do with the amendment.
– When there are interjections, surely an honorable senator is entitled to make : some kind of reply. Senator Fraser, further, has questioned whether Mr. Halford took his family across this country. If I were permitted to read as evidence Mr. Deakin’s statement delivered at Albany before Federation, I could show that he made a very clear and explicit promise.
– The honorable senator must really confine himself to the amendment.
– I wish to show that not onlySouth Australia, but the whole of Australia, is in favour of the Bill.
– It does not matter, so far as the amendment is concerned, whether the whole of Australia is in favour or against the proposal. The amendment simply asks that certain things shall be done by South Australia.
– I see no necessity for asking the consent of South Australia. That consent has already been given through the representatives of that State in the Senate, and in the telegram of the present Premier of the State. The consent asked for is also to be found in the resolutions I have referred to as passed at public meetings. The amendment will merely have the effect of causing delay, and I think there ought to be a straight out vote as to whether the Bill should, be read a second time.
– Before putting the question, I should like to say a word or two as to the vote I am about to give. I am going to vote for the second reading of the Bill. When I was before my constituents in South Australia I was asked on several occasions whether I would vote for the construction of this railway by the Commonwealth, and I said I would; and I am going to carry that promise into effect. Whether I was wise in making such a promise or not is another question, and whether I should make that promise again after what I have heard in the debate, is also open to doubt. But I made the promise, and I am going to keep it.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed tobe added be added - resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the Bill be 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 - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I desire to move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I do not know that I would be strictly in order in receiving the motion, We have a standing order under which, it is provided that no new business shall be taken after 10.30 p.m.
– There must be some motion on the subject. Having received the Bill from another place, we cannot kick it under the table.
-The honorable senator should blame the Standing Orders. Perhaps it would be better for the honorable senator to move that the first reading of the Bill be made an order of the day for to-morrow.
Motion (bv Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the first reading of the Bill be made an order of the day for to-morrow.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - I suppose I shall require to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to-morrow for the consideration of the Bill, but there should be no objection, as it is the ordinary Supply Bill.
– By leave of the Senate, the honorable senator can give notice of his intention to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to-morrow to enable the Supply Bill to be carried through all its stages.
– I ask leave to give notice accordingly.
– The question is - That leave be granted.
– I object.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050823_senate_2_26/>.